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Dharmaraj Sharma v. P.A., Industrial Tribunal Alld. & Others - WRIT - C No. 28351 of 2000  RD-AH 7490 (14 December 2005)
Civil Misc.Writ Petition No. 28351 of 2000
Prescribed Authority, Industrial Tribunal, Allahabad
Hon.Shishir Kumar, J.
This writ petition has been filed for quashing the order-dated 8.3.2000 passed by the respondent No.1 (Annexure 6 to the writ petition) as well as the order-dated 28.10.1978 passed by the respondent No.2.
The petitioner was appointed as a Conductor in the year 1973. In the year 1977 the petitioner was given a charge-sheet by the Assistant Regional Manager, Allahabad on false and baseless grounds. The enquiry was conducted and the petitioner without affording an opportunity in the domestic enquiry an order was passed terminated the service of the petitioner on 28.10.1978. The petitioner preferred an appeal before the respondent No.3. The appeal too was rejected then the petitioner filed a revision before the Transport Commissioner that too has been dismissed. The petitioner filed an application in the year 1987 for making reference to the Labour Court but the matter was kept pending therefore the petitioner has filed a writ petition in the year 1994 directing the Labour Commissioner for making the reference. Then on 9.5.1995 the matter was referred to the Labour Court for adjudication under section 4K of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947.
It has been submitted on behalf of the petitioner that the prescribed authority passed an order on 14.5.1998 and framed a preliminary issue Nos.1 and 2 and both were decided by the prescribed authority holding therein that the domestic enquiry which was to punish the workman cannot be treated to be valid piece of evidence though a liberty to that effect has been given to prove by adducing evidence. It has been submitted on behalf of the petitioner that when the prescribed authority has recorded a finding on the preliminary issue on 14.5.1998 then on the basis of same evidence and statements the claim of the petitioner cannot be rejected but the Labour Court by order dated 30.8.1999 has rejected the claim of the petitioner. Aggrieved by the aforesaid order, the petitioner has approached this Court.
It has been contended on behalf of the petitioner that the Issue Nos. 1 and 2 were decided by the prescribed authority on 14.5.1998 holding therein that the reference is within time and it is not belated and barred under the provisions of Article 137 of the Indian Limitation Act and it has also been held that the domestic enquiry conducted was not in accordance with law and the enquiry report submitted by Sri Taneja who had no opportunity to see the demeanour of witness who had appeared before the enquiry officer cannot be treated to be valid piece of evidence to punish the delinquent workman. Then it has been submitted on behalf of the petitioner that no further evidence was held, therefore, the Labour Court on the basis of issue which has already been decided in favour of the petitioner cannot reject the claim of the petitioner. The Labour court was bound to pass an award in favour of the petitioner and cannot dismiss the claim of the petitioner that it is highly belated.
On the other hand Sri Sheshadri Trivedi, Advocate, holding brief of Sri Samir Sharma has stated that admittedly, the reference before the Labour Court was highly belated as the services of the petitioner were terminated in the year 1978 and the petitioner has raised the dispute in the year 1987. It has further been submitted on behalf of the respondents that the Labour Court has not rejected the claim on the basis that it is highly belated but as the considerable period of time has already lapsed, therefore, the Labour court has every jurisdiction to deny the relief. It has further been contended that from the record, which was produced before the Labour Court, it was found that the 14 passengers were traveling without ticket and it was not the case of the petitioner that there were any defect in the domestic enquiry, therefore, the Labour Court has rightly dismissed the claim of the petitioner.
The reliance has been placed by the petitioner in the judgment reported in 2005(3) Supreme Court Cases 241 Cholan Roadways Ltd. Vs. G.Thrugnanasambandam and has placed reliance upon paras 13 to 15, 16, 17, 19, 27 and 32 to 37 and has submitted that as in the enquiry against the petitioner it has fully been proved on the basis of evidence that charges are proved, therefore, the Labour Court has no option except to reject the claim of the petitioner. Paras 16, 17, 18, is being reproduced below-
16. In Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education V. K.S.Gandhi it was held:(SCC P. 748, para 237)
"37. It is thus well-settled law that strict rules of the Evidence Act, and the standard of proof envisaged therein do not apply to departmental proceedings or domestic tribunal. It is open to the authorities to receive and place on record all the necessary, relevant, cogent and acceptable material facts though not proved strictly in conformity with the Evidence Act. The material must be germane and relevant to the facts in issue. In grave cases like forgery, fraud, conspiracy, misappropriation etc. seldom direct evidence would be available. On the circumstantial evidence would furnish the proof. In our considered view inference from the evidence and circumstances must be carefully distinguished from conjectures or speculation. The mind is prone to take pleasure to adapt them to form parts of one connected whole. There must be evidence direct or circumstantial to deduce necessary inference in proof of the facts in issue. There can be no inference unless there are objective facts, direct or circumstantial from which to infer the other fact, which it is sought to establish. ... The standard of proof is not proof beyond reasonable doubt ''but '' the preponderance of probabilities tending to draw an inference that the fact must be more probable. Standard of proof cannot be put in a straitjacket formula. No mathematical formula could be laid on degree of proof. The probative value could be gauged from facts and circumstances in a given case. The standard of proof is the same both in civil cases and domestic enquiries."
17. There cannot, however, be any doubt whatsoever that the principles of natural justice are required to be compiled with in a domestic enquiry. It is, however, well known that the said principle cannot be stretched too far nor can it be applied in a vacuum.
18. The jurisdiction of the Tribunal while considering an application for grant of approval has succinctly been stated by this Court in Martin Burn Ltd. V. R.N.Banerjee. While exercising jurisdiction under Section 33 (2)(b) of the Act, the Industrial Tribunal is required to see as to whether a prima facie case has been made out as regards the validity or otherwise of the domestic enquiry held against he delinquent, keeping in view the fact that if the permission or approval is granted, the order of discharge or dismissal which may be passed against eh delinquent employee would be liable to be challenged in an appropriate proceeding before the Industrial Tribunal in terms of the provision of the Industrial Disputes Act. In Martin Burn case this Court stated : (AIR p.85, para 27)
" A prima facie case does no mean a case proved to the hilt but a case which can be said to be established if the evidence which is led in support of the same were believed. While determining whether a prima facie case had been made out the relevant consideration is whether on the evidence led it was possible to arrive at the conclusion in question and not whether that was the only conclusion which could be arrived at on that evidence. It may be that the Tribunal considering this question may itself has arrived at a different conclusion. It has, however, not to substitute its own judgment for the judgment in question. It has only got to consider whether he view taken is a possible view on the evidence on the record. (See Buckingham & Carnatic Co. Vs. Workers of the Company.)"
After hearing counsel for he parties and after perusal of the record in my opinion the Labour Court has considered the each and every aspect and has come to the conclusion that misconduct against the petitioner has been proved on the basis of the relevant record and the statement of the witnesses. The Labour Court has also found that as the services of the petitioner have been terminated in the year 1978 and the Court was considering adjudicating the case in the year 1999, after a lapse of 20 years therefore, taking into consideration the fact that the reference is highly belated and as such, the Labour Court was of the opinion that the petitioner is not entitled for any relief. In my opinion, the contention of the petitioner to this effect that as the issue of delay of the reference has already been decided, therefore, the Labour Court has no jurisdiction to dismiss the claim on that ground. I am of the view, that the Labour Court has not dismissed the claim of the petitioner only on the ground that the reference is belated. The claim of the petitioner has been rejected on merits also.
I see no infirmity in the order given by the Labour Court. The writ petition is devoid of merits and is hereby dismissed. Interim order, if any is hereby vacated.
There shall be no order as to costs.
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