1. This is a petition under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution for quashing and setting aside the order of the State Industrial Court passed in revision setting aside the order of the Assistant Labour Commissioner.
2. The relevant facts are briefly as follows : Respondent 2 was in the employment of the petitioner from February 7, 1952. He was challenged by the police for an offence under S. 304A of the Indian Penal Code alleged to have been committed by him on February 9, 1953. He was found guilty of the offence and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of six months. In appeal, the conviction of respondent 2 was maintained but the sentence was reduced to a fine of Rs. 150 or in default to rigorous imprisonment for a period of three months. Thereafter, the petitioner terminated the services of respondent 2 by giving him one month's salary in lieu of notice. This was in May 9, 1955. Respondent 2 received the salary but he moved the Assistant Labour Commissioner under S. 16 of the Central Provinces and Berar Industrial Disputes Settlement Act, 1947, for his reinstatement. The Assistant Labour Commissioner dismissed the application. Thereupon he preferred an application for revision before the State Industrial Court which granted it and directed the petitioner to reinstate respondent 2.
3. It was contended on behalf of respondent 2 before the Assistant Labour Commissioner that the action taken against him by the petitioner did not amount to a mere termination of his services by giving him a notice but to a dismissal on the ground that he was taking a leading part in the trade union activities. It was also contended on his behalf that the fault, i.e., the rash and negligent driving, committed by him, was condoned by the petitioner. On all these points the Assistant Labour Commissioner, after considering all the material adduced before him, came to certain conclusions of fact adverse to respondent 2. The State Industrial Court, however, has reversed those conclusions. The question which we must first consider, therefore, is whether it is open to the State Industrial Court sitting in revision to reverse the conclusions of fact arrived at by the Assistant Labour Commissioner.
4. The provision which confers revisional powers on the State Industrial Court is S. 16(5) of the General Provinces and Berar Industrial Disputes Settlement Act, That section and the proviso thereto read as follows :
'An application for revision made within the prescribed time, but no appeal, shall lie to the State Industrial Court against the decision of the Labour Commissioner, but no order passed by him shall be called in question in any civil or criminal court or made a subject of an industrial dispute :
Provided that the State Government may by notification direct that an order passed by the Labour Commissioner in any class of industrial dispute referred to in Sub-section (1) shall be final.'
5. It may be mentioned that no notification has been made by the State Government declaring the order of the Labour Commissioner passed in cases of this kind final. It will be clear from this provision that the legislature did not intend to confer wide powers, such as those that a Court of appeal has, upon the State Industrial Court but deliberately limited those powers to the exercise of a revisional jurisdiction. An appeal has been stated by Lord Davey in Ponnamma v. Arumogam 1905 A.C. 383 to be proceeding in which the question is whether the order of the Court from which the appeal is brought was right on the materials which that Court had before it. From this it would follow that an appellate Court has the power to go not only into the questions of law but has also the power to go into the questions of fact. Such power would further enable the appellate Court to review or reassess the entire evidence and come to its own conclusions. The legislature by saying that no appeal shall lie to the State Industrial Court clearly indicated that it did not want to confer powers of such wide amplitude upon the State Industrial Court. There is no further indication as to what were the precise limits of the powers which could be exercised by the State Industrial Court in revision. We have, therefore, to go upon the general principle.
6. In Ballentine's Law Dictionary it is stated that the word 'revision' in a local assessment proceedings refers to the fact that the board may be called upon to review that which has been done, and to make the proceedings conform to the law. In Rajeshwar v. Dashrath 1943 Nag. 176 F.B. a Full Bench of the Nagpur High Court had to consider the question whether the High Court can enter into questions either of law or of fact, such as limitation, or whether a transaction is a loan or a deposit, in a Small Cause Court revision, and if so, when and to what extent. The learned Judges came to the conclusion that under S. 25 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act there should be no interference in revision by the High Court with the judgment of a Small Cause Court on a question either of fact or of law even though the decision may appear to be erroneous, unless the conclusion of the Small Cause Court is one which no Judge acting judicially could reasonably reach.
7. Section 25 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act reads as follows :
'The High Court, for the purpose of satisfying itself that a decree or order made in any case decided by a Court of Small Causes was according to law, may call for the case and pass such order with respect thereto as it thinks fit.'
8. No doubt, the precise powers of the High Court in the matters arising out of Small Cause Court cases have been set out in S. 25 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, but those of State Industrial Court have not been set out in S. 16 of the Central Provinces and Berar Industrial Disputes Settlement Act, nor in any other provision thereof. Even so, we think that the general concept that the revisional power is only limited to satisfying the revisional authority of the legality or the correctness of the order passed by the subordinate tribunal should apply to a case where the statue does not expressly set out the ambit of the revisional powers. It may not be necessary to circumscribe those powers to the same extent as has been done by the Nagpur High Court with regard to the powers of the High Court under S. 25 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act. All the same we will have to place some limit on those powers. It would, therefore, be reasonable to hold that the legislature did not intend to confer greater powers on the revisional Court than to satisfy itself about the legality or the correctness of an order of the subordinate tribunal. Upon this view, it would not be open the State Industrial Court to reassess the evidence and to come to its own conclusion upon it. If any evidence has been ignored or if a decision has been given perversely by the Labour Commissioner, the matter would stand on a different footing. But where the Labour Commissioner has considered all the evidence and has come to a conclusion which does not appear to be unreasonable, though it may be one with which the revisional authority may not agree, it would not be open to that authority to set aside that conclusion and substitute it by its own.
9. Apart from that, we are satisfied that the conclusions of the State Industrial Court that the action taken by the management against respondent 2 was vindictive and that it amounted to a dismissal are not borne out by the material on record. While dealing with this matter, the Court observed thus in Para. 6 of its order :
'It appears to me that the management subsequently became inimical on account of his taking active part in the disputes between the management and the union or members thereof and they took advantage of the fact of conviction of the application in a criminal case to get rid of him after a lapse of eight months after the decision of the case by the Additional Sessions Judge and nearly one and a half years after the case had been decided by the original court, the Court of Magistrate, First Class. Warora. The action on the part of the management does not appear to me bona fide.'
10. There is no evidence on record to show that respondent 2 was taking an active part in trade union activities, apart from his bare statement in evidence that he reaffirmed all that he had stated in the application to the Assistant Labour Commissioner. The conclusion of the State Industrial Court to the effect that there was condonation of the lapse on the part of respondent 2 by the petitioner is also without any basis. With regard to this the Court has observed thus in Para. 5 of its order :
'The only real charge against the applicant was about his negligently driving the bus on February 9, 1953, but even for this charge, the applicant was punished by stopping him from running on the line for 3 months and 21 days as would appear from his explanation and the allegations in the applications which have been confirmed by him in his evidence on oath.'
11. There is no evidence to show that respondent 2 was punished in any way. On the other hand, though respondent 2 was not allowed to run the bus on the line for over three months for reasons of public safety, he was actually paid his entire salary for that period. The State Industrial Court has further observed in the same paragraph :
'Even assuming that they had not punished him, it is clear that in spite of the knowledge that the applicant had been convicted and fined, they contemplated taking no action against him and they had thus condoned the misconduct of rash and negligent driving.'
12. There is no basis for this conclusion either. No doubt, there was some delay in taking action against respondent 2 but that was occasioned by the fact that the management of the petitioner did not have a copy of the appellate judgment in which the sentence passed on respondent 2 was reduced. It had actually asked respondent 2 to produce the copy and the delay in its production was caused by respondent 2 himself. It was, therefore, clear that there was no condonation either.
13. In these circumstances, we allow the petition, quash the order of the State Industrial Court and restore that of the Assistant Labour Commissioner. Costs in this Court will be borne by respondent 2.