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Hyderabad Agriculture Co-operative Association Vs. Industrial Tribunal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1961)ILLJ25AP
AppellantHyderabad Agriculture Co-operative Association
Respondentindustrial Tribunal and ors.
Excerpt:
- - ..quite clearly the workers set the ball rolling; 17. we have clearly laid down there that the industrial tribunal has no jurisdiction while entertaining an application under section 33 of the industrial disputes act, 1947, to consider whether the punishment sought to be meted out by the employer to the workmen is harsh or excessive. 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 a violation of a. 7. none of the above conditions was present in the instant case and consequently the award of the industrial tribunal is bad as one made in excess of its jurisdiction......v. eugene fernandes 1957 i l.l. j. 1, the supreme court was considering the question whether the industrial tribunal has jurisdiction, while entertaining an application under section 33 of the industrial disputes act, to determine whether the punishment sought to the meted out by the employer to the workmen la excessive. delivering the judgment of the court, bhagvati, j., stated the legal position thus at p. 3:this appeal raises the identical question which has been the subject-matter of our decision in atherton west & co., ltd. v. suti mill mazdoor union 1953 ii l.l.j. 321, automobile products of india, ltd. v. rukmaji bala 1955 i l.l.j. 346, as also lakshmi devi sugar mills, ltd. v. ram sarup 1957 i l.l.j. 17. we have clearly laid down there that the industrial tribunal has no.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Basi Reddi, J.

1. In the circumstances of this case and on its own findings, the industrial tribunal has exceeded its jurisdiction in interfering with the punishment meted out by the management (the petitioners herein) to the workmen (respondents 2 to 7), in doing so, the tribunal has ignored the principles laid down by the Supreme Court governing this question.

2. The tribunal has recorded the following findings:

(1) I am quite clear that the workers struck on 13 September 1956; and the management did not effect a lockout.... Quite clearly the workers set the ball rolling; when the services of the 8 temporary workers were terminated, they staged a protest week from 10 September 1956. The management reacted and directed the 8 temporary workers to quit the premises of H.A.C.A.. One thing is quite clear that the workers did strike work without notice and resorted to direct action. The termination of the services of the 8 temporary workers was the immediate cause of the strike.... The termination of their services could not have validly caused any grouse. The strike was, therefore, not only not bona fide but was also launched for extraneous considerations.

(2) By Ex.M.8 dated 3 October 1956, notices to show cause why action for abstention from work from the thirteenth should not be taken, were issued against 8 persons including the complainants.... By Ex. M. 10 dated 6 October 1956, the complainant Hassan Khan was suspended and his enquiry was fixed on 8 October. The workmen reacted to all this.... Exhibits M. 11 to 12, dated 6 October 1956, will show that notices to show cause were issued to and were served on the other complainants. Exhibit M. 13 dated 8 October, Exs. M. 14 and M. 15 dated 12 October, will show that enquiries were held in which the complainants demanded that the enquiry of an individual should be in the presence of the other workers and, especially, in the presence of the complainant Hassan Khan; that on refusal they left in a body without attending the enquiry and, therefore, the deputy managing director, Mohan Reddi, completed the enquiry and reported that this behaviour itself was a misconduct, and otherwise also the complainants should be dismissed. Exhibit M. 16 dated 16 October 1956 will show that the President of H.A.C.A., Dr. Chenna Reddi, after circulating the reports regarding the dismissals to other members and taking the opinion of the legal advisers, approved of it and, therefore, the order of dismissal was passed on 31 October 1956.

3. Thus the tribunal found that the strike was unjustified, that the enquiry against the workmen was properly conducted and it was their own fault that the workmen did not take part in the enquiry. Having found all that, by a process of reasoning which is not easy to follow, the tribunal also found:

After careful consideration, I feel that even though both parties are to blame, yet more blame attaches to the workers than to the management.

4. Then the tribunal went on to consider what it termed 'the requirements of justice' in the circumstances of the case, and directed that five of the workmen, 'who were small fry in the hands of their leaders,' should be reinstated with continuity of service but without wages for the time they were out; and that one of the workmen, Hassan Khan, should be reinstated with continuity of service but without back-wages and that his increment should be stopped for two years as 'he has not shown the sense of discipline and responsibility which an employee holding a responsible position should show.'

5. Now the question for consideration is whether the tribunal had jurisdiction to substitute its own judgment for that of the management with regard to the nature and measure of punishment. In Caltex (India), Ltd. v. Eugene Fernandes 1957 I L.L. J. 1, the Supreme Court was considering the question whether the industrial tribunal has jurisdiction, while entertaining an application under Section 33 of the industrial Disputes Act, to determine whether the punishment sought to the meted out by the employer to the workmen la excessive. Delivering the judgment of the Court, Bhagvati, J., stated the legal position thus at p. 3:

This appeal raises the identical question which has been the subject-matter of our decision in Atherton West & Co., Ltd. v. Suti Mill Mazdoor Union 1953 II L.L.J. 321, Automobile Products of India, Ltd. v. Rukmaji Bala 1955 I L.L.J. 346, as also Lakshmi Devi Sugar Mills, Ltd. v. Ram Sarup 1957 I L.L.J. 17. We have clearly laid down there that the industrial tribunal has no jurisdiction while entertaining an application under Section 33 of the industrial Disputes Act, 1947, to consider whether the punishment sought to be meted out by the employer to the workmen is harsh or excessive. The measure of punishment to be so meted out is within the sole discretion of the employer who is to judge for himself what is the punishment commensurate with the offence which has been proved against the workmen. The only jurisdiction which the industrial tribunal has under Section 33 is to determine whether a prima facie case for the meting out of such punishment has been made out by the employer and the employer is not actuated by any mala fides or unfair labour practice or victimization. Once the industrial tribunal came to the conclusion in the present case that the enquiry which was conducted by the appellants was fair and no principles of natural justice had been violated in the conduct of the enquiry and the appellants bona fide came to the conclusion that dismissal was the only punishment which should be meted out by them to the first respondent, the industrial tribunal had no power to substitute another punishment for the one which was sought to be meted out by the appellants to the first respondent nor to impose any conditions on the appellants before the requisite permission could be granted to them.

6. The same principles were reiterated by the Supreme Court in Indian iron and Steel Company v. their workmen 1958 I L.L.J. 260 at 269-270. Speaking for the Court, S.K. Das, J., observed:

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 a violation of a. principle of natural justice, and

(iv) when on the materials, the finding is completely basesless or perverse.

7. None of the above conditions was present in the instant case and consequently the award of the industrial tribunal is bad as one made in excess of its jurisdiction. The writ petition is therefore allowed and the impugned award is quashed. There will be no order as to costs.


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