1. The petitioner Rameshwar was working as a Stripper in the Motilal Agrawal Mills (Private) Limited Gwalior (hereinafter referred to as the employer). An agreement was arrived at between the employer and the Mazdoor Congress Gwalior, which was the representative union of the employees, on 25th May, 1964, By this agreement, the strength of the Strippers was reduced from four to two. The reduction of strength resulted in the increase of work-load on the remaining two Strippers, but their basic wages were also increased from Rs. 31.50 P. M. to Rs. 48/- P. M. The petitioner after this agreement was transferred to the post of cane-boy. He was, however, not satisfied and challenged his transfer in Labour Case No. 57 of 1964, This case was decided by the Labour Court, Gwalior on 27th April 1965 and the employer was directed to post the petitioner as a Stripper. The petitioner was taken on duty as a Stripper on 29th April, 1966, but was suspended on the same date. After completion of a domestic enquiry, he was dismissed.
The petitioner filed a criminal complaint alleging that the employer with a view to victimise and punish the petitioner started harassing him and gave him two warnings at 10-15 A. M. and 12-30 P. M. on the very first day he joined his duty as Stripper; that the petitioner was punished by reason of the fact that he obtained an award against the employer; that his dismissal was in contravention of section 83 of the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Relations Act; and that the employer was liable to punishment under section 86 of the Act. This complaint was decided by the Labour Court Gwalior on 3rd August, 1966 in favour of the petitioner and the Managing Director of the Mills was fined a sum of Rs. 500/- under section 86 for contravention of Section 83 (1) (c). It was also ordered under section 85 that the petitioner be reinstated. The employer then went up in appeal before the Industrial Court, Indore which was allowed on 2nd November, 1966 and the order of the Labour Court punishing the employer and reinstating the petitioner was set aside. Aggrieved by this order in appeal, the petitioner has now come up under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution. The petitioner prays that the order of the Industrial Court be quashed and that of the Labour Court be restored.
2. It is first contended by the learned counsel for the petitioner that the Industrial Court had no jurisdiction to set aside the order of reinstatement passed under Section 85 of the Act. The learned counsel points out that although an order of punishment under Section 86 is made appealable under Section 65, an order under Section 85 reinstating the employee is not appealable and hence even if the Industrial Court had jurisdiction to set aside the order of the Labour Court as regards the order punishing the employer, it had no jurisdiction to set aside the petitioner's reinstatement under Section 85 of the Act.
3. The point raised by the learned counsel for the petitioner relates to the construction of Sections 65, 83, 85 and 86 of the Industrial Relations Act. The sections so far as relevant read as follows:
'65. Appeal, -- (1) An appeal shall lie to the Industrial Court-
(a) against a conviction by a Labour Court, by the persons convicted;
(b) against an acquittal by a Labour Court, by the State Government;
(c) for enhancement of sentence awarded by a Labour Court, by the State Government.'
'83. Employer not to dismiss, reduce or punish an employee.-
(1) No employer shall dismiss, discharge or reduce any employee or punish him in any other manner by reason of the circumstances that the employee-
(a) .. .. .. .
(b) is entitled to the benefit of a registered agreement or a settlement, submission or award; or
(c) has appeared or intends to appear as a witness in, or has given evidence or intends to give evidence in, proceeding under this Act or any other law for the time being in force or takes part in any capacity or in connection with a proceeding under this Act.'
'85. Power of Court to order reinstatement, etc. -
If the Court trying an offence under Section 83, finds that the employee has been dismissed, discharged or reduced in contravention of the provisions of Section 83, it may direct that the employee shall be reinstated forthwith or by such date as may be specified in the order.'
'86. Penalty for wrongful dismissal etc., of an employee.-
(1) Whoever contravenes the provisions of Sub-section (1) or (2) of Section 83, shall, on conviction, be punishable with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees.'
4. It will be seen that when an employee is dismissed, discharged, reduced or otherwise punished in contravention of Section 83, the employer commits an offence which is punishable under Section 86. While trying an offence relating to the contravention of Section 83 if it is found by the Court that any employee has been dismissed, discharged or reduced in contravention of Section 83 i.e. an offence under Section 86 is made out, it may direct the reinstatement of the employee under Section 85. It would be seen from the language used in Sections 83, 85 and 86 that Section 85 is not independent of Section 86 but confers jurisdiction on the Court to pass a consequential order of reinstatement after the contravention complained of under Section 86 is established. It is only when an offence is proved under Section 88 that an order under Section 85 would be made. The learned counsel for the petitioner was not able to point out any case under Section 85 where reinstatement would be ordered when no offence under Section 86 was made out.
Order under Section 86 is made appealable under Section 65. Under Section 65 (1) (a) the appellate court in deciding the appeal against the conviction under Section 86 can reverse the finding of the trial court and can hold that there was no contravention of Section 83 and no offence was made out. The appellate court will on such a finding acquit the accused. The finding in appeal that there has been no contravention of Section 83 and that no offence has been made out under Section 86 will demolish the foundation of the order of reinstatement under Section 85, and that order being of a consequential nature, the appellate court will have power to set it aside. The origin and existence of an order under Section 85 is solely dependent upon the existence of an order of conviction under section 86 and when the latter is set aside in appeal the former falls along with it. It was therefore, not necessary for the Legislature to make independent provision for appeal against an order made under Section 85,
If the argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner were to be accepted, most illogical result will follow. The position would then be that although the Industrial Court would be able to set aside the order of conviction under Section 86 on the finding that there was no contravention of Section 83, the consequential order of reinstatement under Section 85 which on this finding will be exposed to be wholly invalid will be allowed to perpetuate. In our opinion, such an illogical and anomalous result was never intended by the Legislature. The true construction of the provisions is that on a finding that the employee was not dismissed, discharged or reduced in contravention of Section 83, the appellate court has jurisdiction not only to set aside the conviction under Section 86 but also the consequential order of reinstatement made under Section 85.
5. It is next argued that the finding that there was no contravention of Section 83 is not correct. It is pointed out that when the petitioner was reinstated by order of the Labour Court in the earlier case, he was not liable to do the extra work resulting from the reduction of the strength of Strippers and was obliged to do only that much of work which a Stripper was doing before the reduction of strength.
6. The question to be determined before the Labour Court and the Industrial Court was whether the petitioner was dismissed by reason of the circumstances mentioned in Clauses (b) and (c) of Section 83, that is to say, by reason of the circumstance that he obtained an award against the employer or that he instituted the earlier proceedings against the employer. The finding of the Industrial Court is that the dismissal of the petitioner was not by reason of any such thing. The employer in accordance with the agreement with the representative union of Labour reduced the strength of the Strippers. Previously there were four Strippers and after the agreement, they were reduced to two. This naturally increased the work-load but the wages also increased. The employer wanted that the petitioner should do the work in accordance with this agreement. Before this agreement every Stripper was required to clean 35 machines, but after it each Stripper was required to clean 70 machines. The employer honestly believed that the petitioner on reinstatement was liable to do the work of cleaning 70 machines. The petitioner, however, refused to clean more than 35 machines. On complaint being made, he was given a simple warning at 10-15 A. M. and when he refused to do any further work, he was again warned at 12-30 P. M. Thereafter, he was suspended and a domestic enquiry was held.
The reason why the employee was dismissed was not the circumstance that he had obtained an award against the employer or that he had taken any proceeding against the employer under the Act, but because he refused to do the work of a Stripper of cleaning 70 machines. It is here not necessary to decide whether the petitioner was bound by the agreement made by the representative union and it is sufficient to say that the employer believed that the petitioner was bound and was liable to work in accordance with that agreement. What is material is that the dismissal of the petitioner was not by reason of the circumstance that he obtained an award or took proceedings under the Act against the employer. We are satisfied that the finding given by the Industrial Court that the employer did not commit any contravention of section 83 is not in any way erroneous.
7. The petition fails and is dismissed with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 50/-. The outstanding amount of security deposit shall be refunded to the petitioner.