Sambasiva Rao, J.
1. What are the circumstances in which the Government can refuse to refer a dispute to a Labour Court under the Industrial Disputes Act? What are the considerations which should weigh with the Government in referring or refusing to refer a dispute to the Labour Court? These are the questions which are raised in this writ appeal, which is directed against the decision of our learned brother Lakshmaiah, J., dismissing the appellant's Writ Petition No. 420 of 1974.
2. The material facts are very few and are not in dispute. From the year 1967, the appellant was a conductor in the service of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (hereinafter referred to as the Corporation). In December, 1971 certain charges were framed against him and a memo to that effect was issued by the District Manager, Kurnool. An enquiry was conducted into the charges by the Chief Ins. pector who found that all these charges were established and, consequently, recommended the removal of the appellant. A second notice dated 25th May, 1972 was issued calling upon the appellant to show cause why he should not be removed. On receiving his explanation, the appropriate authority passed the order of removal on 16th of June, 1972. The appellant preferred an appeal to the Divisional Controller, who dismissed the appeal. Then the appellant took the matter to the District Labour Officer under Section 12 of the Industrial Disputes Act. That Officer did not find a meeting ground between the management of the Corporation and the appellant and, therefore, his attempt at conciliation failed. He reported the matter to the Government under Section 12(5) of the Act. On a consideration of the report and the circumstances of the case, the Government refused to refer the matter to the Industrial Court. This order of refusal was passed on 30th November, 1973. The writ petition was filed challenging this order.
3. The only question argued before Lakshmaiah, J. and also urged before us by Sri S. Suryaprakasa Rao, is that the Government was bound to refer the matter to the Industrial Court and it failed in its duty to do so while refusing to refer the matter. In his submission, the reasons assigned by the Government for not referring the matter to the Industrial Court are irrelevant and insufficient and, consequently, the order is liable to be quashed and set aside.
4. At the outset, it is necessary to extract the material portion of the letter of the Government refusing to refer the matter for adjudication by the Labour Court. It is as fellows.
Hyderabad, dated the 30th November, 1973.
Sub: -Industrial Disputes Act, 1947- Dispute between the management of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation Depot, Kurnool v. Sri D. Prasad Babu, Ex-Conductor No. 355772--Conciliation failed-Reply under Section 12(5)-regarding
Ref;-1. From the Labour Officer, Kurnool, Letter No. A/484/73 dated 18th October, 1973.
2. From the Commissioner of Labour Hyderabad, Letter No C4/34074/73 dated 13th November, 1973.
I am directed to state that Government do not see any reason to interfere with the dispute between yourself and the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation, as the charges have been established during the domestic enquiry.
Government, therefore, do not consider the dispute fit for reference for adjudication.
(Sd.) S.P. Parvatheesam,
For Secretary to
5. It is seen from this communication that the Government took note of the dispute between the management of the Corporation and the appellant and also the fact that the conciliation failed. It read the report of the Labour Officer dated 18th October, 1973 and the communication from the Commissioner of Labour dated 13th November, 1973. It was only after examining these records that the Government came to the conclusion, that they did not see any reason to interfere with the dispute as the charges had been established during the domestic enquiry. Consequendy. it informed the parties that it did not consider the dispute fit for reference for adjudication. This decision of the Government was communicated to the parties concerned.
6. We may also refer to the material provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act. Section 10 provides for reference to Boards, Courts or Tribunals. Such reserence can be made by the appropriate Government if it is of the opinion that an industrial dispute exists or is apprehended. Section It A says that where an industrial dispute relating to the discharge or dismissal of a workman has been referred to a Labour Court, etc, the Labour Court, by its award, may set aside the order of discharge or dismissal if it is satisfied that the said order of discharge or dismissal is wrong, and direct rein, statement of the workman on such terms and conditions, if any, as it thinks fit. Thus, even the discharge or dismissal of a single workman can be considered as a subject-matter, of a dispute and can be referred to a Labour Court. That is the new development which the Law of Industrial Disputes has gone through in recent years. Section 12 refers to conciliation of disputes. Accor. ding to it, if there is any industrial dispute, the conciliation officer shall hold conciliation proceedings in the prescribed manner, if a settlement is arrived at, the conciliation officer shall send a full report to the appropriate Government. If no such settlement is arrived at, then also the conciliation officer shall send a full report to the appropriate Government setting forth the steps taken by him for ascertaining the facts and circumstances relating to the dispute and for bringing about a settlement thereof, together with a full statement of such facts and circumstances and the reasons on account of which, in his opinion, a settlement could not be arrived at. Sub-section (5) of Section 12 provides:-
If, on a consideration of the report referred to in Sub-section (4), the appropriate Government is satisfied that there is a case for reference to a Board (Labour Court, Tribunal, or National Tribunal), it may make such reference. Where the appropriate Government does not make such a reference it shall record and communicate to the parties concerned its reasons therefor.
7. Reading the provisions, it is manifest that the Government will have to consider the report sent up by the conciliation officer where there is no settlement and then must come to a decision whether it is a matter worthy of reference to the Labour Court, the Tribunal or National Tribunal. If the Government decides not to refer the matter it shall record and communicate to the par. ties concerned its reasons therefor. There is no doubt that the Government is not bound to refer to the Labour Court or the Tribunal, every matter which has been sent up to it by the conciliation officer. It has a discretion either to refer or not to refer, but that discretion must be based on reasons which are relevant and material. That decision should not be based or founded on irrelevant matters. Nor should its decision be vitiated by mala fides.
8. We will do well in extracting a passage from a recent judgment of the Supreme Court in Hochtief Gammon v. State of Orissa [1975-II L.L.J. 418]; AIR D75 S.C. 2226, which has a bearing on this aspect of the matter. In paragraph 13 of the said judgment, Alagirisvvami, J., who spoke for the Court, said thus:
The Executive have to reach their decision by taking into account relevant considerations. They should not refuse to consider relevant matter nor should take into account wholly irrelevant or extraneous consideration. They should not misdirect themselves on a point of law. Only such a decision will be lawful. The Courts have power to see that the Executive acts lawfully. It is no answer to the exercise of that power to say that the Executive acted bona fide nor that they have bestowed pains-taking consideration. They cannot avoid scrutiny by Courts by failing to give reasons. If they give reasons and they are not good reasons, the Court can direct them to reconsider the matter in the light of relevant matters, though the propriety, adequacy or satisfactory character of those reasons may not be open to judicial scrutiny. Even if the Executive considers it inexpedient to exercise their powers they should state their reasons and there must be material to show that they have considered all the relevant facts.
9. Though this opinion was expressed by the Supreme Court while considering the scope and amplitude of Section 10, it applies with equal force to a reference or refusal to make a reference under Section 12.
10. Now in the light of these principles, let us see whether the refusal on the part of the Government to refer the matter to the Labour Court is, in any way, vitiated. It cannot be said that it has not considered all the relevant and material factors. It has considered the report of the Labour Officer. Kurnool, who had attempted at conciliation between the two parties. That report, as required by Section 12(4) of the Act should contain a full statement of all the facts and circumstances and the attempts made by him to bring the parties to an understanding. We have also gone through the report of the Officer which was a very exhaustive one. The Government, while passing its order, considered that report and also the communication from the Commissioner of Labour dated 13th November, 1973. The Government took into account the fact that a domestic enquiry was held into the charges levelled against the appellant. Sri Suryaprakasa Rao, says that it is an irrelevant consideration. In our opinion, this is wholly an untenable argument. While taking a complete view of the entire dispute, the fact that, the charges levelled against an employee had been enquired into and found to have been established during the domestic enquiry, is not only a relevant, but also a very pertinent factor. The Government is fully justified in referring to this aspect of the matter. All relevant considerations have been taken into account and no irrelevant or alien consideration has been taken into account. There is no suggestion of mala fides against the Government in regard to the passing of this order. Therefore, we do not see any vitiating circumstance in this decision of the Government-
11. However, Sri Suryaprakasa Rao, relies on a Bench decision of the Mysore High Court in B.S. Rao v. State, : AIR1970Kant162 , where the Bench said that the Government s refusal to refer the matter on the basis of its own opinion as to the truth of the accusation was untenable. But that case can easily be distinguished for the reason that there was a criminal prosecution of the dismissed workman where he was acquitted. Further, the Court also pointed out that communication of the reasons for refusal of reference was an imperative requirement, which was not complied with. Consequently, this decision renders no help to the contention advanced by the appellant.
12. For the foregoing reasons, we hold that there is no substance in this appeal, which is accordingly dismissed. But having regard to the circumstances of the case, we direct the parties to bear their own costs.