1. The petitioner seeks the issue of a writ of certiorari quashing an award of the Industrial Tribunal, Hyderabad, dated 4 October 1957. The petitioner is the management of the Chittoor Public Transport Service Company, Chittoor. On 10 April 1956, it dismissed one M. Krishnamurthi, an employee in its service. A number of fellow-workers took up the cause of the dismissed employee and demanded his reinstatement. Upon the refusal of the petitioner to reinstate him the matter was taken before the Government who referred the dispute for adjudication to the industrial tribunal. The tribunal found that there was deliberate disobedience by the workman of an order issued by the management but being of the opinion that order of dismissal was unnecessarily 'harsh and unjustified,' directed reinstatement of the employee, 'with continuity of service but without payment of back wages.'
2. It is argued for the petitioner that once it is found that there was misconduct on the part of an employee, it is not open to the tribunal to substitute its own punishment in lieu of the punishment actually Inflicted by the management. Reliance is placed by learned Counsel on the following passage in Indian Iron and Steel Company v. their workmen 1958-I L.L.J. 260 at 269-270 where their lordships of the Supreme Court observed as follows:
Undoubtedly, the management of a concern has power to direct its own internal administration and discipline, but the power is not unlimited and when a dispute arises, industrial tribunals have been given the power to see whether the termination of service of a workman is justified and to give appropriate relief. In cases of dismissal on misconduct, the tribunal does not, however, act as a Court of appeal and substitute its own judgment for that of the management. It will interfere
(i) when there is a want of good faith,
(ii) when there is victimization or unfair labour practice,
(iii) when the management has been guilty of a basic error or violation of a principle of natural justice, and
(iv) when on the materials the finding is completely baseless or perverse.
3. But it is contended by Mr. Venkata Subba Rao for the workmen that the finding of the industrial tribunal that there was deliberate disobedience of the order of the management is perverse and opposed to the evidence on record and that in the circumstances the order directing the reinstatement of the worker should stand. There is, it must be conceded, some force in this contention. There is nothing in the order of the industrial tribunal to indicate that its finding that Krishnamurti was guilty of deliberate disobedience is based upon the evidence before it. The charge of management against Krishnamurthi was that in spite of the circular issued by it to all its workers a circular which was in force for more than two years, that they should not carry on the company's stage-carriages any person free of charge, Krishnamurthi carried seven passengers free of charge on 1 April 1956. Krishnamurthi contended that he was not aware of the circular that some of these free passengers were inducted by an inspector of the company at Chittoor who was his superior and that the other three were policemen and that they persisted in occupying the seats in spite of his protest. The management conducted an enquiry which, it is stated, lasted about ten days and ultimately decided to dismiss Krishnamurti. After stating the contentions of the parties before it, the tribunal straightaway observed as follows:
I considered the above contentions carefully. There is no doubt that Krishnamurthi did carry the seven persons free in spite of his knowledge of the circular Ex. M. 4, which was more than two years old, as it was issued on 22 May 1954. It is, therefore, evident that he disobeyed the clear instructions of the company.
The tribunal thereafter proceeded to consider the question as to whether a charge was framed and an enquiry duly held, but it apparently reached no conclusion on the matter and then added:
I am of the opinion, that though it was wrong on the part of Krishnamurthi to carry the seven persons free in spite of his knowledge of Ex. M. 4, still the extreme punishment of dismissal does not seem justified.
Then harking back to the question of enquiry it added:
As here, the enquiry was oral. I have nothing on record to judge whether it was full and fair, especially I have no record to know whether and what evidence was adduced then. . .
Then It concluded thus:
I am of the opinion that considering the six years of service of Krishnamurthi the non-enforcement of Ex. M. 4 with strictness and the unproved accusation of misappropriation, the dismissal of Krishnamurthi was unnecessarily harsh and unjustified.
This sentence is followed by the remark:
I withhold the payment of back wages, because the contravention of Ex. M. 4 was deliberate ...
I cannot help observing that the order of the Industrial tribunal is thoroughly unsatisfactory. There is hardly any discussion of the evidence before it and the reasoning is vague and incoherent. But I do not think that it is open to me on that account to ignore its findings of fact. Mr. Venkata Subba Rao argues that the tribunal has recorded no findings that the respondent was aware of the circular but this is not correct because it has definitely stated that 'Krishnamurthi did carry the seven persons free in spite of his knowledge of the circular.' Nor does it seem to me likely that a conductor, who must have been in service for at least four years at the time when the circular was issued, could have been unaware of it. The further contention of Mr. Venkata Subba Rao, that as the circular was not strictly enforced, its disobedience, although deliberate, cannot be said to be misconduct, hardly bears scrutiny. Once it is found that an employee was guilty of disobedience of an order of the management, he cannot excuse himself by saying that the management was generally overlooking such disobedience.
4. Mr. Venkata Subba Rao has also argued that Krishnamurthi was helpless in the matter and could do nothing but protest when the passengers in spite of his demand declined to pay the fare. Even If that were so, it was clearly his duty to have reported the matter to the management as early as possible. It is not stated for him that he did so.
5. Then it is contended that there was no fair and full enquiry into the matter by the management. But once the fact is proved before the industrial tribunal that there was misconduct, the question whether there was a fair and full enquiry as to it by the employers ceases to loom large. An enquiry is held only for the purpose of establishing the workman's guilt and if the workman is found by the tribunal to have been guilty, as a matter of fact, the circumstance that the enquiry made by the management was not satisfactory does not invalidate the dismissal. The dismissal follows the guilt and though in order to establish the fact of guilt there should be an enquiry, if the guilt itself is undeniable, the consequences of dismissal may properly follow.
6. Unsatisfactory as the order of the tribunal is, it is clearly found by it that the employee in the present case deliberately disobeyed the express directions of his employers. Upon that finding it follows that there was misconduct on the part of the employee. That being so, it was within the discretion of the management to direct his dismissal. The order of the tribunal substituting its own punishment for that imposed by the management ....(?) quoted from the judgment of the Supreme Court and the order therefore must be quashed.
7. The result is that a writ of certiorari will issue quashing the order of the industrial tribunal. In the circumstances of the case, I make no order as to costs.