1. The petitioner, Ramesh Hydromachs, Belgaum, has presented this petition questioning the legality of the award made by the Labour Court, Hubli, declaring the termination of the services of the 2nd respondent by the petitioner as invalid and making a consequential order of reinstatement with back wages.
The facts of the case in brief are as follows :
2. The second respondent was a workman in the service of the petitioner. He joined service as a watchman on 11th May, 1976. He was in continuous service till 24th January, 1979 on which date his services were terminated by the petitioner. The copy of the order or termination is produced as annexure-A. The relevant portion of the order reads :
'It is hereby informed that from today dated 24th January, 1979, your services are no longer required and hence you have been permanently terminated. As per rules one month pay (notice pay) will be given. Similarly according to rules you are entitled for following dues as follows :
Rs.1. Notice Pay 155.002. leave Salary due 85.003. Current month's earned wages upto23rd January, 1979 11.75(ESIC, PF and Advanced deduction)4. Compensation (two years service put in 155.00---------Total 406.75--------- The above amount you can collect from office during office hours and can go.'
3. Aggrieved by the order of termination, the second respondent raised an industrial dispute. It was referred for industrial adjudication. Before the Labour Court the facts stated in the Statement of Objections by the petitioner to the Claim Statement of the second respondent were as follows :
'The termination of service of the second respondent became inevitable consequent on reduction of post. Therefore, an order of termination dated 25th January, 1979, was prepared (the contents of which is extracted earlier) and was sought to be served on the second respondent. He did not receive it therefore it was despatched to him by registered post on next day. It was received by him on 30th January, 1979. Though the order of termination expressly stated the notice pay and retrenchment compensation payable under S. 25F(a) and (b) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter called the 'Act') had been kept ready and can be collected from the office of the petitioner, the second respondent did not collect the same. Therefore, it cannot be said that the petitioner bad violated the mandatory requirement of S. 25F of the Act. The required intimation to the Government about the retrenchment had also been given. The evidence was given by the manager of the factory supported by the documents. The Labour Court accepted every one of the factual statements made on behalf of the petitioner. However, the Labour Court took the view that there was no compliance of provisions of S. 25F(a) and (b) of the act for the reason, the notice pay and retrenchment compensation had not been sent by money order and that a mere statement in the order that the said amount could be collected from the petitioner did not meet with the requirement of S. 25F(a) and (b) of the Act. Accordingly, the impugned award was made by the Labour court.'
4. The view taken by the Labour Court on the point is untenable. Section 25F does not state that retrenchment compensation and notice pay should be sent only by Money Order. If the view of the Labour Court is that money should reach by hands of the workman, then even sending a cheque or demand draft would be non-compliance of S. 25-F as the workman has to go to the bank to receive the money. Sending money, payable under S. 25-F to a workman by cheque or draft certainly amounts to compliance with S. 25-F. Similarly, keeping the amount ready in the office of the employer is sufficient compliance. In one case, he had to go to the bank, in the other to the office of the employer, to collect the money. It makes no difference. The question is also covered by a Division Bench decision of this Court in Workmen of Davangere Cotton Mills v. Industrial Tribunal, 1973 (1) Mys. L.J. 262. The Division Bench held that such an intimation given in the order of termination itself was sufficient compliance with S. 25-F of the Act.
5. Apart from the merits of the case, the fact remains that the second respondent, though on account of his own fault had failed to collect the amount of Rs. 406.75 till now, though he could have collected in January 1979, itself. As more than 5 years have elapsed, it appears to me that in the interest of justice a direction to the petitioner to pay a sum of Rs. 1,500 to the second respondent should be issued.
6. In the result, I make the following order :
(i) This impugned award in so far it relates to the declaration that there had been no valid retrenchment of the second respondent from the service of the petitioner and the direction that he should be reinstated in service with back wages and continuity of service, is set aside. In its place, a direction shall issue that the petitioner shall pay a sum of Rs. 1,500 to the second respondent inclusive of the amount offered in the order of termination.
(ii) The petition shall pay the amount to the second respondent within one month from today, and if it is not paid within the said period, the second respondent shall be at liberty to proceed to recover the same in accordance with law.
7. Ordered accordingly.