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The Management of Hyderabad (Usha Works) Proprietors Jay Engineering Works Ltd., Hyderabad Vs. the Industrial Tribunal Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Appeal No.151 of 1968
Judge
Reported inAIR1971AP108; [1971(22)FLR250]; (1970)IILLJ315AP
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 15
AppellantThe Management of Hyderabad (Usha Works) Proprietors Jay Engineering Works Ltd., Hyderabad
RespondentThe Industrial Tribunal Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad and anr.
Appellant AdvocateK. Srinvasa Murty, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateGovt. Pleader, ;K. Satyanarayna and ;P. Nageswara Rao, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....and their policies - management inflicted penalty by deducting 4 day's wage of workers who went on strike - strike unconnected with terms of employment and contravened clause 22 - held, action of management in levying penalty justified as strike was illegal. - - it is to question the validity of this order of the industrial tribunal that the above said writ petition was failed. while the workmen wanted to do their best to mitigate the fault, the management would stand on its rights. the conditions of service were not well defined, and sometimes they were ambiguous and there were doubts in regard to their scope and their effectiveness. the conditions of service were not well defined. merely because the tribunal thinks that by allowing the workers to work on the alternate day, it will..........their representation that the government referred the following questions for adjudication to the industrial tribunal, hyderabad-'whether the action of the management in deducting four days' wages of workers who participated in bharat bandh strike on 25-9-1964 is justified? if not, to what relief the workers are entitled whether the action of the management is deducting four days' wages of workers who participated in the protest tools down strike no 9-11-1964, is justified if not, to what relief the workers are entitled?'6. the industrial tribunal by its order held that the strike on 25-9-1964 was illegal an unjustified. it was brought about for a political purpose. the tribunal, however, took into consideration the offer made by the workmen to work on a holiday to compestate the loss.....
Judgment:

Goplarao Ekbote, J.

1. This is an appeal against order of a learned Single judge given in W.P.No.1201 of 1965 on 18th March, 1968 whereby the learned Judge dismissed the writ petition with costs.

2. The material facts in order to appreciate the contentions raised before us may briefly be stated.

3. In response to a call given by the Samyuktha Socialist Party to protest against soaring prices and alleged ineffective Governmental Policies to meet the situation arising out of that the workmen of Jay Engineering Works Limited, Secunderabad went on a day's strike on 225-9-1964. They gave notice of that on 23-9-1964. The strick admittedly was unconnected with the terms of their employment and it was directed against the Government and their polices rather than against the employer or its policies. It was in clear contravention of Cl.22 and certified under the provisions of the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders)Act, 1946. That standing order required a notice of a fortnight to go on strike. If further provided that the Management can deduct 8 day's wages if the workers go on illegal strike by was of penalty.

4. The Management in exercise of the power thus vested in it under Cl. 22 of the standing Orders read with the proviso to section 9(2) of the Payment of Wages Act inflicted a penalty on the workers who went on such illegal strike and directed them to pay four days' wages by way of openly and dedicate the same from their wages. They were also not paid their wages as they were absent from duty on 25-9-1964.

5. The workmen staged another strike as a protest against the said action on the part of the Management They made a representation to the Government. It is on their representation that the Government referred the following questions for adjudication to the Industrial Tribunal, Hyderabad-

'Whether the action of the Management in deducting four days' wages of workers who participated in Bharat Bandh Strike on 25-9-1964 is justified? If not, to what relief the workers are entitled Whether the action of the Management is deducting four days' wages of workers who participated in the protest tools Down strike no 9-11-1964, is justified If not, to what relief the workers are entitled?'

6. The Industrial Tribunal by its order held that the strike on 25-9-1964 was illegal an unjustified. It was brought about for a political purpose. The tribunal, however, took into consideration the offer made by the workmen to work on a holiday to compestate the loss of production because of the strike on 25-9-1964. The Tribunal therefore directed the Management to refund to the workers the penal deduction of four days' wages. The Management was asked to take on day's work from the workmen who went on strike on any alternate holiday. It is to question the validity of this order of the Industrial Tribunal that the above said writ petition was failed.

7. The learned Judge reached the conclusionthat the participation in the illegal strike by the workers was certainly an act of indiscipline. He however, felt that the strike in the present case was not meant to sting the employer at all, and if there was any sting at all, it was taken away by the offer made by the workmen to the employer when giving notice of strike that they will make up loss of production by working on a holiday. The learned Judge therefore though that the action of the Management inn ignoring the offer of the workmen and persisting in deducting wages for your days as punishment for one day's absence from duty does not appear to be an action meant to enforce discipline but is an action meant to extract its pound of flesh. The Management was simply taking undue advantage of the fault of workmen. While the workmen wanted to do their best to mitigate the fault, the Management would stand on its rights. The attitude of the Management therefore was wholly unreasonable. The learned Judge therefore concluded that the Tribunal cannot be said to have erred in exercising its jurisdiction or to have acted with any gross impropriety or illegality when it though that in the interest of the industrial peace and the maintenance of harmonious relations between the management and the workmen. the Management should be directed to refund the wages deducted by it and it does not therefore call of any interference at the hands of the Court. it is this view of the learned Judge that is now challenged in this writ appeal

8. The principal contention of Sri K. Srinvisa Murthy the learned counsel for the appellant, is that once it is found that the strike of 25-9-1964 was illegal and unjustified and when there was no defect in the conduct of the enquiry or any irregularity in inflicting the punishment which the Management did inflict, the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to interfere with the punishment inflicted by the Management. We find sufficient force in this contention.

9. It is no doubted that Clauses 17 (2) and 22 of the Standing Orders read with Section 9(2) of the Payment of Wages Act empower the Management to inflict punishment of deduction of eight days' wages in such cases.

10. It is also not inn doubt that the Standing Orders made by the Company in this case have a statutory force inview of the provisions of the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. Prior t the passing of the said Act the conditions of employment obtaining in several industrial establishments were governed purely under the terms of the contract entered into between the employer and their employees. It was also experienced that sometimes the conditions were reduced to writing but quite often they were not so reduced to writing, but were governed by oral agreements. The conditions of service were not well defined, and sometimes they were ambiguous and there were doubts in regard to their scope and their effectiveness. It is because of these uncertain conditions prevailing in an important about filed that anted the said Act. The Act made provisions for making Standing Orders which after they are certified according the statutory terms of employment between the Industrial establishment inquestion and their employees. it is in this background that one has to see the effect of Clauses 17(2) and 33 read with Section 9(2) of the Payment of Wages Act. That this is so is not doubted.

11. The principal contention of Sri K. Srinivasa Murthy, the learned counsel for the appellant, is that once it is found that the strike of 25-9-1964 was illegal and unjustified and when there was no defect in the conduct of the enquiry or any irregularity inflicting the punishment which the Management did inflict, the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to interfere with the punishment inflicted by the Management. We find sufficient force in those contention.

12. It is not doubted that Clauses 17 (20 and 22 of the Standing orders read with section 9(2) of the Payment of Wages Act empower the Management to inflict punishment of deduction of eight days' wages in such cases.

13. It is also not in doubt that the Standing Orders made by the Company in this case have a statutory force in view of the provisions of the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, Prior to the passing of the said Act the conditions of employment obtaining in several industrial establishments were governed purely under the terms of the contract entered to between the employer and their employees. It was also experienced that sometimes the condition were reeducated to writing but quite often they were not so reduced to writing, but were governed by road agreements. The conditions of service were not well defined. and sometimes they were ambiours and three were doubts in regard to their scope and their effectiveness. It is because of these uncertain conditions prevailing in an important labour filed that in 1946 the legislature interfered and enacted the said Act. The Act made provisions for making Standing Orders which after they are certified according to the provisions of that Act constitute the statutory terms of employment between the Industrial establishments inquestion and their employees. It is in this background that one has to see the effect of Clauses 17(2) and 22 read with section 9(2) of the payment of Wages Act. That this is so is not doubted.

14. What becomes immediately plain is that the domestic tribunal, that he to say, the management, according to those clauses of the Standing orders had the necessary power to impress penalty to the maximum extent of 8 days' wages. There was no allegation that in inflicting the punishment the principles of natural justice were not observed not there was any allegation made by the workmen that in imgulity of any fair labour practice or was acting with a view to victimize the workmen for going on such an illegal strike, It was also not the case of the workmen that the penalty so imposed was beyond the power of the domestic tribunal or that it was so shockingly disproportionate as to call for the interference of the Tribunal was, in these circumstances, the Tribunal. In these circumstances, the Tribunal was in our view, not empowered to interfere with such a decision of the domestic tribunal. Merely because the Tribunal thinks that by allowing the workers to work on the alternate day, it will bring about better relationship between the employer and the employees or bring about Industrial peace in the Industrial establishment, it has no jurisdiction to substitute its own opinion or punishment from that of the domestic tribunal. It has jurisdiction to interfere with the decisions of the Tribunal only in cases where there has been violation of the principles of natural justice or where the domestic tribunal has been guilty of some unfair about practice or of victimization. In cases of penalties, the Tribunal only in cases where there has been guilty of some unfair labour practice or of victimization. In cases of penalties, the Tribunal has got still a nature jurisdiction. It can interfere only in cases where the penalty imposed is shockingly disproportatinate to the charge found these facts, the Industrial Tribunal has no jurisdiction to inmterfere with the punishment imposed by the domestic tribunal

15. That this is so is seen from a decision of the Supreme Court reported in Hind construction and Engineering Co. v. Their Workmen, : (1965)ILLJ462SC , their Lords ships observed:

'the Tribunal's powers have been stated by this Court in a large number of cases and it has been rule that the Tribunal cab only interfere if the conduct of the employer shows lack of bona fides or victimization of employer employees or unfair about partake. The Tribunal may in a strong case interfere with a basic error on a point of fact or a perverse finding, but it cannot substation its own apprisaial of the evidence for that of the effuse for that of the officer somdustenve for a of the officer conducting the domestic enquiry though it may interest where the principle of natural of fair play have not been followed or where the enquiry is so perverted in its procedure as to amount to no enquiry at all. In respect of punishment it has been rules that the award of punishment for misconduct under the Standing Orders, if any, is a matter of the Management to decide and if there is any justification for the punishment imposed. the Tribunal should not interfere. The Tribunal is not required to consider the property or adequacy of the punishment or whether it is excessive or too serve. But where the punishment is shockingly disproportionate regard being had to the particular conduct and the past record is such, as no reasonable employer would ever impose in like circumstances, a Tribunal may treat the imposition of such punishment as itself showing civitmization or unfair labour practice.

16. If the facts of the present case are examined in the light of what is stated Court, one is not left in doubt that the Tribunal was wrong in considering the propriety or adequacy of the punishment, It is not entitled of consider whether it was excessive or too serious. It is only in a case where the punishment imposed was shockingly disproportionate regard being had to the particular conduct of the workmen that it can interfere as it would be a case of bicitmzation. No such circumstances exist in this case. The tribunal has not found that there has been a case of victimization because of the deduction of rout day's wages. It will thus be clear that the Tribunal plainfered with the punishment implode by the domestic tribunal. The Domestic Tribunal had not allowed a by such infirmity to creep have warranted interference at the hands of the Industrial Tribunal.

17. Our attention was drawn to a decision of the Madras High Court in Elector Mechanical Industrials v. Industrial Tribunal : AIR1950Mad839 . That decision, however has very little to do with the question involved in this case. In that case, their Lordships were concerned with a case arising our of Section 15 of the payment of Wages Act. The question raised before us was not before their Lordships, nor was it considered. In any case, in the light of the clear decision of the Supreme Court, it is not possible to allow the Industrial Tribunal to exceed its jurisdiction. It has time and again been laid down by the Supreme Court and this Court that wherever a Tribunal assumes jurisdiction which it does not have this Court is does not have or exceeds in the exercise of its jurisdiction, this Court is not only empowered but it becomes its duty to interfere with a view to keep the inferior tribunals within their bounds.

18. It is no doubt true that the workmen had made an offer to the employer when giving notice of strike that they would make up loss of production by working on a holiday. It is, however, not doubted that in spite of such an offer the strike is illegal and unjustified. The question is whether the tribunal has any jurisdiction to compel the management t take work from the workmen on a holiday to compensate the loss which the management suffered on account of the illegal strike. We do not think that the Tribunal has any jurisdiction to do so. The direction of the Tribunal amounted to wiping out the guilt of the workmen and forcing the management to work on a holiday. If the management, with view to enforce discipline, in the exercise of its undoubted power inflicted a reasonable punishment how can the management be accused of any vindictive action? There was no question of taking any undue advantages by the management. If the principle of thus wiping out the guilt by such offers is accepted as valid. lest in such cases, Since the workmen went on illegal strike totally unconnected with any question of their Industrial Establishment, they have been rightly visited with penalty and the idea behind such an action obviously is to enforce discipline which is soessential for maintaining good relationship between the empower and the employee and to the maintenance of Industrial peace. In any case, in the absence of any infirmity in the order of the domestic tribunal, the Industrial Tribunal had no jurisdiction to interfere on any such sentimental ground.

19. In the view which we have taken, it is not necessary consider the other argument whether in cases of workmen going on strike should there by any distinction between dumb followers and active instigators as was done in the cases cited below;

20. Model Mills Ltd. v. Dharam Das, : AIR1958SC311 : I.G. Navigation and Rely. Co.v. Their Workmen, : (1960)ILLJ13SC and I.M.H. Press v. Addl. I.T. Delhi, 1961-1 Lab LJ 499 = (AIR 1961 SC 1168). That question in fact does not arise here because neither before the Tribunal nor before the learned Judge that question was raised. It is therefore unnecessary for us to go into that question particularly in view of what is stated above.

21. We are therefore unable to share the view of the learned Judge that the Management in inflicting the punishment as it did was acting in any manner in objectionable way. When the tribunal has no jurisdiction to interfere, writ of certiorari has to go and the order of the Tribunal quashed.

22. We would therefore allow the appeal, set aside the judgment of the learned Judge and direct the issue of a writ of certiorari and quash the impugned order of the Industrial Tribunal. In the circumstances of the case, however, we leave the parties to bear their own costs throughout.

23. Appeal allowed.


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