1. The petitioner was employed as a Supervisor by the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board. As a result of an enquiry held against him on certain charges, Ms services were terminated on 18th June, 1964. The petitioner after usual approach notice filed an application before the Labour Court, Ujjain under section 31 of the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Relations Act, 1960 for reinstatement with back wages. The Labour Court came to the conclusion that the domestic enquiry was defective. The Court then itself enquired into the merits of the charges after giving both parties opportunity to lead evidence. It was finally held that four of the six charges were proved against the petitioner and the order of termination of his services was proper. The petitioner then went up in revision before the Industrial Court, Indore, which was dismissed on 14th December, 1966. The petitioner has now come up under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution and prays that the order of the Industrial Court and the Labour Court be quashed and the Electricity Board be directed to reinstate the petitioner with full back wages and other benefits.
2. The first point raised by the learned counsel for the petitioner is that he was not given adequate opportunity to examine certain witnesses before the Labour Court. This point was not argued by the petitioner before the Industrial Court. The petitioner, therefore, cannot be allowed to urge this point under Article 226.
3. It was next contended that the Board by a notification issued in October, 1963 had applied the Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules as a regulation applicable to the employees of the Board; that because of this notification Rule 55 of the Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules applied to the petitioner; that as the domestic enquiry held by the Board was not in accordance with Rule 55, it was wholly invalid and that as the matter was not governed by standing orders but by Rule 55 of the Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, the Labour Court had no jurisdiction to enquire into the merits of the charges and after it was found that the enquiry was defective, the petitioner ought to have been reinstated.
4. This is also a point which the petitioner did not argue before the Industrial Court in that court it was never contended that the petitioner was governed by Rule 55 of the Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, and therefore, the Labour Court could not itself enquire into the charges. The only point argued in this connection before the Industrial Court was that, as the standing orders did not apply to the petitioner, the termination of employment should have been set aside without any further enquiry. The finding of the Industrial Court on that point was that if the standing orders did not apply, the petitioner was governed by ordinary law of master and servant and his services could be terminated for any act of dishonesty in the performance of his duties. As the petitioner did not argue the applicability of Rule 55 of the Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules before the Industrial Court, he is not entitled to urge that point before us. Even otherwise we are not at all impressed by the argument. We will assume in favour of the petitioner that Rule 55 of the Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules applied to him as a regulation made by the Electricity Board and the enquiry held against him did not comply with the requirements of that rule. The question on this assumption is whether the Labour Court could itself, on an application for reinstatement made by the petitioner, enquire into the charges and after holding the charges proved disallowed the relief of reinstatement.
It is not disputed by the learned counsel for the petitioner that if the procedure of enquiry be governed by standing orders and an employee be dismissed without an enquiry or on the basis of a defective enquiry, the Labour Court in an application made by the employee for reinstatement will have jurisdiction to enquire into the charges. According to the learned counsel this will not be the position when the mode of enquiry is governed by a regulation and not by standing orders. In our opinion, there is no room for any such distinction. The standing orders constitute the statutory terms of employment; Bagalkot Cement Co. v. R. K. Pathan, AIR 1963 SC 439 at p. 441, and similar Is the effect when conditions of service of employees are prescribed by regulations made by tile employer under statutory powers. If in cases where the domestic enquiry is not in conformity with the standing orders, the Labour Court can itself enquire into the charges before ordering reinstatement of the employee, there is no reason why it should not have that power when the domestic enquiry does not conform to a regulation which prescribes the mode of enquiry. There are two reasons why a Labour Court is recognised to possess the power of enquiringinto the charges. Firstly, an enquiry by the Labour Court itself is more advantageous to the employee, for he gets the benefit of a verdict of the Court on the merits and is not left to another domestic enquiry by the employer which if properly carried is conclusive on merits; secondly, the Labour Court by itself enquiring into the charges gets the opportunity of finally adjudicating the dispute and of doing justice between the parties thereby finally removing the cause of Industrial strife.
In Workmen of the Motipur Sugar Factory Private Ltd. v. Motipur Sugar Factory Private Ltd., AIR 1965 SC 1803 a case under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, the Supreme Court adverted to this matter and it was observed as follows:
'If it is held that in cases where the Employer dismisses his employee without holding an enquiry, the dismissal must be set aside by the Industrial Tribunal only on that ground, it would inevitably mean that the employer will immediately proceed to hold the enquiry and pass an order dismissing the employee once again. In that case, another industrial dispute would arise and the employer would be entitled to rely upon the enquiry which he had held in the meantime. This course would mean delay and on the second occasion it will entitle the employer to claim the benefit of the domestic enquiry. On the other hand, if in such cases the employer is given an opportunity to justify the impugned dismissal on the merits, the employee has the advantage of having the merits of his case being considered by the tribunal for itself and that dearly would be to the benefit of the employee. That is why this Court has consistently held that if the domestic enquiry is irregular, invalid or improper, the tribunal may give an opportunity to the employer to prove his case and in doing so, the tribunal tries the merits Itself. This view is consistent with the approach which industrial adjudication generally adopts with a view to do justice between the parties without relying too much on technical considerations and with the object of avoiding delay in the disposal of industrial disputes'.
These considerations will also be applicable when the termination of services of an employee is challenged before a Labour Court under Section 31 (3) of the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Relations Act on the ground that the domestic enquiry held by the employer did not conform to the requirements of Rule 55 of the Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules which the employer had made applicable to his employees in the form of a statutory regulation. The power of the Labour Court as conferredby Sections 61 (1) (A) (a) and 61 (2) are as follows:
'Section 61 (1) In addition to powers conferred under other provisions of this Act, a Labour Court shall have power to-
(A) decide -
(a) disputes regarding which application has been made to it under Sub-section (3) of section 31 of the Act;
X XXX XXX XX (2) For the purposes of deciding a dispute under paragraphs (A). ... .of Subsection (1) it shall be lawful for the Labour Court to determine questions of fact relevant to the dispute.' The power thus conferred is to decide the dispute and all questions of fact relevant to the dispute. When the dispute under Section 31 (3) is concerning termination of employment on certain charges, the existence and merits of the charges are relevant questions of fact within the meaning of Section 61 (2) and the Labour Court has power to decide these questions whether the conditions of service be regulated by standing orders or by statutory regulations. In our opinion the Labour Court in the instant case had jurisdiction to enquire into the merits of the charges.
5. Lastly it was pointed out that the Labour Court upheld the order of termination on proof of four charges out of which according to the finding of the Industrial Court, two charges did not amount to misconduct. It was argued that the Industrial Court should not have upheld the order of the Labour Court on a finding that the two charges which were held by it to amount to misconduct were in themselves sufficient for terminating the petitioner's employment. The four charges which the Labour Court found proved against the petitioner are as follows:
(i) Giving connections without estimated charges;
(ii) Giving connections without agreement;
(iii) Shifting connections without taking shifting charges according to rules; and
(iv) Misappropriating the property of the Board.
It will be seen from them that the third charge and the fourth one which related to the misappropriation of the property of the Board were serious charges and it could be very well said that they themselves were sufficient for passing an order terminating the petitioner's services. The petitioner's contention that it was not open for the Industrial Court to uphold the order of termination on these two charges alone is not correct in the exercise of its revisional jurisdiction under Section 66 of the Madhya Pradesh Indus-trial Relations Act, the Industrial Court is not bound to set aside the order of the Labour Court whenever any defect is pointed out. In revision it can pass such order 'as it thinks fit'. It was thus open to the Industrial Court to uphold the order of the Labour Court on the ground that the two charges held to be proved were sufficiently serious to sustain the termination of employment of the petitioner notwithstanding the fact that the two other charges also held to be proved did not amount to misconduct.
6. This petition fails and is dismissed. Counsel's fee Rs. 75/-. The outstanding amount of security shall be refunded to the petitioner,