R.N. Misra, J.
1. This is an application for a writ of certiorari and is directed against the award of the Labour Court dated 16-1-73 (Annexure 5).
2. The State Government referred the following dispute for determination of the Labour Court under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947:
Whether the action of the management of M/s. Sundardas D. Hansraj, College Square, Cuttack-3 in terminating the services of SriGokulananda Tripathy with effect from 1-6-71 is legal and/or justified If not, to what relief Sri Tripathy is entitled
3. The short facts giving rise to the reference as available from the award and the writ application and the counter-affidavit, may first be taken note of M/s. Sundardas D. Hansraj, a partnership firm, stock and sell diesel and electric pumps for agricultural and industrial purposes. They also deal in other machineries and spare parts. With effect from 18-11-59, the petitioner was appointed by the firm to be in charge of promoting sales. His jobs was to give demonstrations and trials of pumps and machineries, to attend to difficulties experienced by customers and to facilitate technical advice to customers as and when necessary for the working of equipments sold by the management For these purposes the petitioner was required to contact Government Departments, industrial establishments and business houses as also other customers. He had to undertake tours now and then and provide effective liaison with Government and non-Governmental agencies. At the managements' expenses he was provided with the requisite training at Poona. According to the management the job handled by the petitioner demanded a high degree of trust and responsibility. The petitioner rendered good service for many years, but later got addicted to alcohol. Complaints started being received by the management of the unbecoming conduct of the petitioner. It is stated that he was found now and then in drunken conditions even in the office and misbehaved with his colleagues. The management persuaded the petitioner to change his habits, but there was no improvement. Ultimately mutual arrangement was arrived at as alleged by the management that the petitioner should quit and consequently a notice was issued terminating the petitioner's service with effect from 1-6-71 with a month's salary in lieu of notice.
4. The petitioner, on the other hand, while denying the allegation of his getting addicted to drinks disputed the settlement and laid claim for compensation and other reliefs on the footing that the termination order was high handed and arbitrary.
5. The Labour Court raised four issues for determination, namely, (1) whether there was any industrial dispute within the meaning of Section 2(k) of the Industrial Disputes Act and whether the petitioner is a workman within the meaning of Section 2(a) of the Act; (2) whether the reference under Section 2A is bad in law being ultra vires to the provisos of the Act; (3) whether the termination of service of the petitioner was legal and bona fide; and (4) what relief, if any, was he entitled to? The second question was not pressed at the hearing. The other three aspects were examined at some length by the Labour Court and ultimately the presiding officer came to hold that there was no industrial dispute which could form the subject-matter of the reference; the petitioner was a workman, the termination of service was bonafide and legal; and the petitioner was not entitled to any relief within the ambit of the reference.
6. Mr. Misra for the petitioner seriously disputes the conclusions of the Labour Court on the points indicated above and contends that the award is liable to be set aside.
7. The main point for consideration is as to whether the order of termination is legal, valid and binding, Oral evidence was led on the side of the management to establish the circumstances under which the order of termination was made. The petitioner did not choose to appear before the Labour Court to support his case. The Labour Court dealt with this aspect under point No. 3. It took note of the evidence and reached the following conclusion:
So, under such circumstances, I am bound to hold that the management have been able to prove that Sri Tripathy became incorrigible in the later part of his service by taking liquor and misbehaved with the principal and customers of the business firm. There is no gainsaying that for a business firm, reputation and goodwill are the main assets. By keeping Sri Tripathy in service, the management were likely to lose these assets and considered in that light it cannot be said that the order of termination has been mala fide.
Law is settled that the management have the power to terminate the service of an employee and the guarantees that have been provided by various labour laws have not taken away the right of the management to terminate the employment. Various safeguards have been provided to regulate that power so that the same may not be abused. We find nothing wrong in the approach of the Labour Court on the question of termination of the petitioner's services. Mr. Misra had provided the copies of the evidence adduced by the management. We do not think the Labour Court took an unreasonable view of the evidence. Rightly adverse inference had been drawn against the petitioner for not examining himself in support of his case. After all he would have been the best witness for his cause and many features which were within his special and personal knowledge could have been appropriately placed before the Labour Court. We, therefore, agree with the finding of the Labour Court that there has been a legal and valid termination of the petitioner's service.
8. The petitioner is entitled to certain dues. The management never disputed the petitioner's entitlement. The Labour Court has appropriately left that question open by taking the view that it is not within the ambit of the reference. Even if the termination be valid, the petitioner would be entitled to his legitimate dues under the law and that claim of the petitioner has not been dealt with by the award. The petitioner is free to lay claim thereto in accordance with law.
9. In view of what we have said on the question of termination of service the mixed question of law and fact as to whether the reference was competent or not depending upon the petitioner's raising the dispute before the management prior to initiation of the machinery under the Industrial Disputes Act recedes to the background. In fact, we are of the view that it need not be examined. Even if the petitioner succeeds in his stand on this point no material relief would be available to him.
10. We accordingly dismiss this application. Parties shall bear their own costs before us.
K.B. Panda, J.
11. I agree.