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Somnath Sahu Vs. State of Orissa and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtOrissa High Court
Decided On
Case NumberO.J.C. No. 205 of 1963
Judge
Reported inAIR1967Ori26; [1968(16)FLR428]
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 2; Orissa Welfare Officers (Recruitment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 1951 - Rule 6; Constitution of India - Articles 226 and 311
AppellantSomnath Sahu
RespondentState of Orissa and ors.
Appellant AdvocateS. Acharya, ;A.K. Dutt and ;J.N. Nanda, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateAdv. General for Nos. 1 to 3, ;Asokdas and ;L. Rath, Advs. for No. 4
DispositionApplication dismissed
Excerpt:
.....in the activities of the union which does not come within the purview of any one of his duties. on a reference to the petition of appeal, we are satisfied that the admission relied upon by the appellate authority, finds place in the petition of appeal. ' 11. all the contentions fail......of all details, the facts may be stated in a narrow compass. the petitioner was working as a welfare officer under opposite party no. 4, the indian aluminium company limited (hereinafter referred to as the company) having its factory at hirakud in the state of orissa. for appreciation of facts, the relevant portions of the latter terminating the services of the petitioner are quoted hereunder. :'in a conference held in writer's office on the afternoon of march 10th, 1960 in which our personnel manager mr. p.k. krisha pillai, production manager mr. s.s. narayan. personnel superintendent mr. s. misra, yourself and the writer (v.s. sachdev, asst. works manager) were presnt, you have stated : 1. that you have no confidence in the fair dealings of the company.2. that you would be.....
Judgment:

Misra, J.

1. This is an application under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India asking for a writ of certiorari to quash the order dated 11th March, 1960 terminating the services of the petitioner.

Shorn of all details, the facts may be stated in a narrow compass. The petitioner was working as a Welfare Officer under opposite party No. 4, the Indian Aluminium Company Limited (hereinafter referred to as the Company) having its factory at Hirakud in the State of Orissa. For appreciation of facts, the relevant portions of the latter terminating the services of the petitioner are quoted hereunder. :

'In a conference held in Writer's Office on the afternoon of March 10th, 1960 in which our Personnel manager Mr. P.K. Krisha Pillai, Production Manager Mr. S.S. Narayan. Personnel Superintendent Mr. S. Misra, yourself and the writer (V.S. Sachdev, Asst. Works Manager) were presnt, you have stated :

1. That you have no confidence in the fair dealings of the Company.

2. That you would be looking for another job elsewhere and that you are only continuing your services with Company till you secure another job.

3. That you have staled in the presence of the abovementioned officers of the Court and the writer that you have no interest in the company and further that you will not be showing any general interest in your work, and,

4. That you will not be extending co-operation to the Personnel Superintendent who is your immediate Superior Officer.

On the above grounds we have completely lost confidence in you and, therefore, it is not in the interest of the company to keep you in our services in the responsible position of Welfare Officer.

You will please vacate the Company quarters which you are presently occupying and collect your duag including one month's notice pay which the Company is pleased to give ex gratia, though under the terms of contract you are not entitled to it.

The petitioner admits that a conference was held in the Office of the Asst. Works Manager on 10th March 1960 in the presence of the persons referred to in the letter. In course of discussion, the question of activities of the workmen eropped up. The Production Manager Mr. Narayan wanted the petitioner to disclose the names of the members of the supervisory staff who were raking part in the activities of the Union. The petitioner refused to disclose the names as he bona fide felt that such disclosure might lead to victimisation of the supervisory staff. It it on account of this refusal, the letter terminating his services was issued forthwith on 11th March, 1960 without holding any enquiry in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

The petitioner filed an appeal against the order of termination before the State Government. The appeal was heard and dismissed by the Secretary to the Government of Orissa, Health Department. The writ application has been filed against the appellate order.

2. In its counter opposite party No. 4 takes the plea that the letter of termination is valid and is in accordance with the contractual terms between the parties and that no enquiry was necessary in view of the petitioner's own admission in the appeal petition and in the facts and circumstances of this case.

3. The petitioner first questioned the jurisdiction of the Secretary, Health Department, to hear the appeal. This was however, not ultimately pressed.

4. The petitioner urges that his services could not be terminated under Rules 6 and 7 of the Orissa Welfare Officers (Recruitment & Conditions of Service) Rules, 1951 hereinafter referred to as the Rules framed by the State Government under the provisions of the Factories Act, without proper enquiry into the charges made against him.

He further contends that the duties of the Welfare Officers have been enumerated in Rule 7, and as he has not failed to perform any of the duties, his services cannot be terminated merely for non-disclosure of the names of the members of the supervisory staff suspected to have been associated in the activities of the Union which does not come within the purview of any one of his duties.

It is conceded that the petitioner, as a Welfare Officer, does not come within the definition of 'workmen' under the Industrial Disputes Act. The appellate authority, basing its finding on the admission of the petitioner held that the refusal of the petitioner to disclose the names of the members of the Supervisory staff associating themselves in the Union activities amounted to lack of co-operation and disobedience of the orders of his superiors. It found that the Company was justified in suspecting the petitioner's loyalty to it and doubting his usefulness for the post held by him, and that as per the terms of the appointment the Company was justified in terminating the petitioner's services.

5. Sub-rule (2) of Rule 6 lays down that the conditions of service of a Welfare Officer shall be the same as of other members of the staff of corresponding status in the factory, provided that in case of discharge or dismissal, the Welfare Officer shall have a right of appeal to the State Government whose decision thereon shall be final and binding upon the occupier It is to be noted that in terms the rule does not prescribe the holding of an enquiry in case of discharge or dismissal. It is unnecessary to quote Rule 7 prescribing the duties of the Welfare Officer as admittedly none of the fourteen duties, prescribed therein, has been infringed. The conditions of service of the petitioner were incorporated in a letter dated 25th June 1956 under which the petitioner was appointed One of the conditions was :

'Infringement of this rule or any other misconduct, negligence or disobedience of your superior will make vou liable to inslanl and summary dismissal without notice, or salary in lieu of notice.'

In a subsequent paragraph in that letter, it was further inserted:

'The Company will have the right to dispense with your services at any lime without assigning any reason on giving vou one calendar month's notice dating from the lime of such notice or alternatively, salary in lieu of notice. This clause in no way affects the company's right to determine your engagement summarily as provided above for the infringement of certain rules, misconduct, negligence or disobedience of orders of your superiors.'

6. It is clear from the aforesaid terms of contract that the Company could dispense with the services of the petitioner for disobedience of the orders of his superiors without holding any inquiry. As found by the appellate authority, there were disloyalty and disobedience on the part of the petitioner in refusing to disclose the names of the members of the supervisory staff playing part in the Union activities, and there was no colourable exercise of power on the part of the Company. The order of the appellate authority is supported by the materials referred to in the order and there is no error apparent on the face of the record. In exercise of its jurisdiction in a writ of certiorari, the High Court can look into any of the documents referred to in the order itself or the pleadings which initiated the proceedings. On a reference to the petition of appeal, we are satisfied that the admission relied upon by the appellate authority, finds place in the petition of appeal. There is, therefore, no error apparent on the face of the record and that no exception can be taken to the order of the appellate authority.

7. It is however, contended that nondisclosure of the names of the members of the supervisory staff by the petitioner, as desired by the superiors, is not one of the duties enjoined upon in Rule 7. Obedience to superior officers and loyalty to the management are inherent in the jural relationship of master and servant and are not to be prescribed. Moreover the terms of appointment incorporated in the letter dated 25th June 1956, as indicated above, enjoin the termination of services without assigning any reasons in case of disobedience to superiors. The removal is, therefore, in accordance with the terms of contractual obligation.

8. The petitioner then contends that even in such a case, there should have been a regular inquiry affording Cull opportunities to the petitioner to defend himself before any termination of his services took place. The finding of the appellate authority that there were disobedience to the superior officers and disloyalty to the management directly refers to the fourth ground, mentioned in the letter dated 11th March 1960 that the petitioner should extend co-operation to the Personnel Superintendent who is his immediate superior. When the finding is based on the admission of the petitioner in the petition of appeal, an inquiry in the matter is thoroughly unnecessary and there is no prejudice to the petitioner and no violation of the principles of natural justice has been committed.

9. The petitioner further contends that the appellate authority had not recorded any finding on the first 3 grounds mentioned in the letter of termination: that the order of the appellate authority should be quashed and that there should be a remand for reconsideration of the punishment. This contention is untenable in the view of the latest pronouncement of the Supreme Court in AIR 1963 SC 779. Their Lordships have observed that if the order may be supported on any finding as tosubstantial misdemeanour for which punishment can lawfully be imposed, it is not for the Court to consider whether that ground alone would have weighed with the authority in dismissing the public servant. The Court has no jurisdiction, if the finding of the enquiring officer or the tribunal prima facie make out a case of misdemeanour, to direct the authority to reconsider that order, because in respect of some of the findings, but not all, it appears that there has been violation of the rules of natural justice.

10. It is next contended that as in paragraph 20 of the counter opposite party No. 4 denies the fact that Sri Naravan did not ask for the disclosure of the names of the members of the supervisory staff taking part in the union activities, the order of the appellate authority based on that finding alone should be quashed. There is no substance in this contention. The order of the appellate authority can be quashed either when it acts without jurisdiction and in excess of jurisdiction. The error apparent on the face of the record cannot be determined with reference to new and extrinsic facts transpiring in the writ petition or otherwise. That apart, even in that very paragraph, opposite party No. 4 stated that--

'Even assuming that the respondent would have wanted the names of any supervisory staff who were either members of the union or otherwise from the petitioner, the petitioner as an employee of the respondent was bound to disclose their names. There could be no bona fide belief in the petitioner that disclosure of such names to his employer would be inequitable or illegal. A Welfare Officer under no law or rules is authorised to indulge in any secret activities which would require concealment of facts from anybody. This respondent asserts that the said feeling in the petitioner is a feeling against the interest of the employer which amounts to a breach of faith.'

11. All the contentions fail. In the result the application fails and is dismissed. In the circumstances there should be no order as to costs.

Narasimham, C. J.

12. I agree.


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