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Delhi Cloth and General Mills Company, Ltd. Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1961)IILLJ724All
AppellantDelhi Cloth and General Mills Company, Ltd.
RespondentState of Uttar Pradesh and ors.
Excerpt:
- - it will interfere (i) when there is a want of good faith; there appears to be no reliable evidence to prove those two. no good ground has been made out for interfering with the award of the labour court in the writ jurisdiction......labour court, meerut.2. the delhi cloth and general mills company, ltd., delhi, is the petitioner. shyam sunder lal, who is the opposite party 3 in the writ petition, was an employee of the petitioner. one tractor belonging to the petitioner was sold to one shiv narain of meerut. the company took the view that shyam sunder lal's conduct in connexion with the sale of the tractor was highly objectionable. two charges were framed against shyam sunder lal. the first charge was, that he delivered one fuel pump and a self-starter along with the tractor, although these two parts were not to be bold along with the tractor. shyam sunder lal acted in the transaction dishonestly. secondly, on 15 april 1959, be permitted several workmen to go on holiday without prior permission from either the.....
Judgment:

V.G. Oak, J.

1. This writ petition is directed against an award of the labour court, Meerut.

2. The Delhi Cloth and General Mills Company, Ltd., Delhi, is the petitioner. Shyam Sunder Lal, who is the opposite party 3 in the writ petition, was an employee of the petitioner. One tractor belonging to the petitioner was sold to one Shiv Narain of Meerut. The company took the view that Shyam Sunder Lal's conduct in connexion with the sale of the tractor was highly objectionable. Two charges were framed against Shyam Sunder Lal. The first charge was, that he delivered one fuel pump and a self-starter along with the tractor, although these two parts were not to be Bold along with the tractor. Shyam Sunder Lal acted in the transaction dishonestly. Secondly, on 15 April 1959, be permitted several workmen to go on holiday without prior permission from either the general manager or the deputy general manager. An enquiry into the two charges was made by a committee. The committee found against Shyam Sunder Lal. The finding of the committee was accepted. The management dismissed Shyam Sunder Lal from service.

3. The workmen of the concern raised a dispute challenging the propriety of Shyam Sunder Lal's dismissal. The dispute was referred to the labour court, Meerut. The labour court held that Shyam Sunder Lal's dismissal was not justified. The labour court, therefore, set aside Shyam Sunder Lal's dismissal. Other ancillary reliefs were also granted. The writ petition is directed against the award of. the labour court, Meerut, dated 9 September 1960. Annexure F to the petition is a copy of the award, dated 9 September 1960.

4. The main contention of Sri Shanti Bhuahan appearing for the petitioner la that, the labour court acted without jurisdiction in interfering with the findings of the enquiry committee. This argument was developed in two stages. Firstly, it was urged that, there was no industrial dispute at all. So the dispute could not be referred by the State Government to the labour court. In this connexion it was urged that Shyam Sunder Lal was an officer of the sugarcane farm, whereas the union which took up the cause on behalf of Shyam Sunder Lal was the union of workmen of the sugar factory. Both sugar factory and sugarcane farm are situate at Daurala in district Meerut.

5. In Assam Chah Karmachari Sangh v. Dimakuchi Tea Estate 1958-I L.L.J. 500, it was held that, the person regarding whom the dispute is raised must be one in whose employment, non-employment, terms of employment or conditions of labour, the parties to the dispute have a direct or substantial interest.

6. The labour court discussed this question under issue 1. The labour court considered the rival contentions of the parties that, Shyam Sunder Lal was attached to the sugar factory or the sugarcane farm. The labour court concluded that Shyam Sunder Lal was employed in the sugar factory, and not in the farm. The labour court noticed that Shyam Sunder Lal was governed by conditions of service applicable to the sugar factory. The labour court held that there was community of interest between the workmen of the sugar industry and Shyam Sunder Lal. Whether Shyam Sunder Lal was employed in the sugar factory and whether the workmen of the sugar factory had community of interest with Shyam Sunder Lal are questions of fact the findings of fact recorded by the labour court under issue 1 should be accepted for purposes of the present writ petition. The dispute, therefore, satisfies the test laid down in Assam Chah Karmachari Sangh case 1968--I L.L.J. 500 (supra). The dispute was, therefore, an industrial dispute. The industrial dispute could be referred to the labour court, Meerut, for decision.

7. The next contention of Sri Shanti Bhushan was that the labour court had no jurisdiction to interfere with a finding of fact recorded by-the enquiry committee appointed by the management. The scope for interference by labour courts with findings of fact recorded by departmental committees was explained by their lordships of the Supreme Court in Indian Iron and Steel Company, Ltd. v. Their Workmen 1958-I L.L.J. 260. Their lordships explained the point on p. 270 thus:

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 ft principle of natural justice; and

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

8. The labour court framed five issues. Issue a was:

Whether the findings of the management are perverse

The discussion on issue 2 was divided by the labour court in two parts. The first part of the discussion was devoted to the form of the charges as originally framed and as considered by the enquiry committee. The second part of the discussion was devoted to analysis of the evidence on merits. The two charges framed against Shyam Sunder Lal have been quoted on pp. 11 and 12 of the award. Charge 1 ran thus:.when a scrapped...tractor along with other spare parts was sold Co one Shiv Narain of Meerut, you also delivered to him one fuel pump and a self-starter, although these were not settled to be given along with the tractor at the time this deed was finalized....

Thus according to the case of the management, the fuel pump and self-starter were not to be sold away along with the tractor. Yet Shyam Sunder Lal delivered those two parts along with the tractor. In this connexion the labour court observed on p. 12 thus:

There is no evidence in the enquiry on the point as to whether the two articles had in fact been settled not to be given to the purchaser. It la indicative of the fact that the committee was not alive to this allegation and the charge on which it proceeded to make the enquiry remained vague in the mind of the committee.

Sri Shanti Bhushan contended that the labour court was wrong in observing that, there was no evidence in the inquiry on the point. He referred to certain circumstantial evidence on the point. It is true that there is some circumstantial evidence indicating that, the fuel pump and the self-starter were not to be sold away along with the tractor. At the same time there is no definite evidence to prove the exact terms of the transaction of sale. It was conceded on behalf of the petitioner that, originally the fuel pump and the self-starter did form parts of the original tractor. It is, therefore, possible that Shyam Sunder Lal was under the belief that the fuel pump and the self-starter were also to be sold along with the tractor.

9. Annexure C to the petition is a copy of the report of the enquiry committee. On p. 6 of its report the enquiry committee observed thus:

That two parts, the diesel pump and the starter were kept separately in the tractor store and were not lying with other lot of scrap material of the tractor. He got these two loaded under his instructions. His explanation that they were a part of the scrap tractor is contradicted by Naidu, tractor foreman and in the absence of technical adviser, his consent to their being taken away establishes his dishonest intention in the deal.

It is a fact that the fuel pump and the self-starter did initially form parts of the original tractor, there was hardly any question about the explanation of Shyam Sunder Lal being contradicted by witnesses for the management. Two elements necessary to support charge 1 were that, the fuel pump and the self-starter were not covered by the initial transaction of sale, and that Shyam Sunder Lal was aware of that position. There appears to be no reliable evidence to prove those two. elements of charge 1.

10. After discussing the evidence at some length, the labour court concluded on p. 20 thus:

From the above discussions it would further appear that the material on the record of the enquiry does not prove these points. That being so, the charges are not proved and the finding of the management to the contrary must be held, to be perverse.

The reasoning of the labour court is not sound. It is not correct to say that, the finding of the enquiry committee must be perverse, if charges were not proved from the evidence. There is a difference between a finding being incorrect and a finding being perverse. A finding can be said to be perverse, if no reasonable tribunal or reasonable person can possibly arrive at such a finding. The labour court did not discuss the matter in that light. In dealing with the form of the charges, the labour court observed:

The two charges on which the enquiry was in fact made by the committee against Shyam Sunder Lal being vague, the fnding of the committee on the basis of which the management adjudged him guilty of the charges mentioned in the charge-sheet, shall be perverse and I hold accordingly.

It is to be noted that, the labour court used the word 'perverse' in Para. 16 and also in Para. 26 of the award. The labour court appears to have used the word 'perverse ' in a loose sense.

11. One cannot, however, overlook the fact that the word 'perverse' figured prominently in issue 2 framed by the labour court. There is no reason to suppose that, the labour court deliberately made wrong use of the word 'perverse' in order to assume jurisdiction to interfere with the finding of the enquiry committee.

12. Sri Shanti Bhushan contended that the view taken by the labour court that the finding of the enquiry committee is perverse is itself perverse. In order to support this contention, Sri Shanti Bhushan invited me to go through the evidence. Copies of statements of witnesses have been attached to the petition. I, however, declined to go through the evidence at length. Although the petitioner did challenge the jurisdiction of the labour court to interfere with the finding of fact recorded by the enquiry committee, there is no ground in the writ petition that the finding of the labour court is itself perverse. Sri Shanti Bhuahan wanted to file an application amending the grounds. But since the proposed amendment related to a question of fact, I was not inclined to allow the proposed amendment of the grounds.

13. Under issue 2, the labour court decided to interfere with the finding recorded by the enquiry committee for two reasons. According to the labour court, the enquiry committee did not apply its mind to an important element of charge 1. That may be taken as a basic error or a finding that is completely baseless as laid down in Indian Iron and Steel Company case 1958--I L.L.J. 260 (supra). Secondly, the view of the labour court was that the finding recorded by the enquiry committee was perverse. That finding fell under Clause (iv) of the conditions enumerated on p. 270 of Indian Iron and Steel Company case 1958--I L.L.J. 260 (supra). It cannot, therefore, be said that, the labour court acted without jurisdiction in interfering with the finding of fact recorded by the enquiry committee. No good ground has been made out for interfering with the award of the labour court in the writ jurisdiction.

14. The petition is dismissed with costs (one set of coats to opposite party 1, another set of costs to opposite parties 3 and 4 jointly). The stay order dated 18 November 1960 la vacated.


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