(1) This petition has been filed on the following allegations. Hans Raj petitioner was employed as an officer in charge, Hindustan Commercial Bank Limited, Patti (Pay Office), District Amritsar in the year 1955. While he was so working in the said office some irregularities were alleged to have occurred in the accounts of some of the constituents of the Bank: The petitioner was thereupon charge-sheeted and the charge-sheet was handed over to him on 8-7-1958. He pleaded not guilty to the various charges and Shri K. V. Soi an officer of the Bank, was appointed as an Enquiry Officer for conducting the enquiry as contemplated by para 521(10) of section III of All India Industrial Tribunal (Bank Disputes) Award which had been made under S. 17 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, in the dispute between certain banking companies and their workmen; this Award deals with the procedure for taking disciplinary action against the clerks and officers of the various Banks.
At the conclusion of the enquiry Mr. Soi reported to the Head Office of the Bank that the petitioner was guilty of the charges levelled against him and the Bank was directed to make adverse remarks, in the petitioner's service book, and also to stop all his increments earned after his suspension. In so far as the question of re-instatement of the petitioner and of granting increments was concerned. It was directed that the same may be deferred till after the substantive recovery of the Bank's dues from the various persons. This decision of the Enquiry Officer was also communicated to the petitioner. After the receipt of this decision, the Secretary of the Bank wrote to the petitioner on 30-11-1956, that instead of punishing him the manner decided by the Enquiry Officer, the Secretary proposed to dismiss him from the service of the Bank.
In reply to the aforesaid letter of 30-11-1956, the petitioner wrote back seeking a personal interview at the Head Office for clearing up his position. The petitioner was thereupon granted an interview by the Secretary on 18-1-1957, when he was informed that the Bank did not agree with the decision of the Enquiry Officer and that the bank proposed to institute fresh dismissal proceedings against him. The petitioner protested to this proposal and submitted that the Secretary had no jurisdiction to reopen the enquiry.
The Secretary, however, in spite of the petitioner's protest started proceedings in the month of January 1957 and a fresh enquiry was actually ordered to be conducted by one Shri C. G. Goel in place of Shri K. V. Soi, the old Enquiry Officer. At the conclusion of the second enquiry the Bank wrote to the petitioner that his services had been terminated. This letter is attached to the petition as Annexure 'F' (it appears to have been wrongly described as Annexure 'E' in para 10 of the petition). This was followed by another letter form the Bank by which the petitioner was informed that he had been dismissed from service.
This letter in Annexure 'G' to the petition and is dated 23-1-1957. Annexure 'F' it may be stated is dated 6-2-1957 which means that the letter in which the expression 'services have been terminated' has been used in subsequent to Annexure 'G' dated 23-1-1957 and not earlier as is suggested by the petitioner in para 10 of his petition. On receipt of Annexure 'G' dated 23-1-1957, the U. P. Bank Employees Federation, Kanpur, of which the petitioner is said to be a member, wrote to the Regional Labour Commissioner, Kanpur, submitting that no fresh enquiry should have been held into the petitioner's conduct in view of the Award mentioned above. Consequent to the representation of the aforesaid Federation the Bank re-in-stated the petitioner but contemporaneously with this, continued his suspension from service. The Bank also informed the petitioner that another enquiry for the very same charged would be conducted again into his conduct.
This letter is dated 13-12-1957 and forms Annexure 'H' to the petition. On its receipt the U. P. Employees Federation again wrote to the Regional Labour Commissioner, Kanpur, that the conducting of the fresh enquiry was unjustified, illegal and without jurisdiction and was being done with a view to harass the petitioner. On receipt of this representation the enquiry proceedings were stayed by the Bank as the case had been sent to the Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Government of India. The U. P. Employees Federation also wrote to the Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Government of India, representing that no fresh enquiry could be held into the petitioner's conduct.
The petition proceeds that no reply was received to this representation. The petitioner has, however, been informed that in view of the directions of the Regional Labour Commissioner, Kanpur, a third enquiry is going to be conducted into the charges by Shri K. N. Bhatnagar, Internal Auditor. In the writ petition which is dated 6-3-1959 it is submitted that the fresh enquiry which is sought to be started is illegal as it is against the spirit and letter of S. 3 of the Award aforesaid which deals with disciplinary action and that para 521(10) of this Award envisages is unfavorable to the Bank, the Bank cannot ask for a fresh enquiry through a new Enquiry Officer.
It is also submitted that the Bank realised this position when it re-instated the petitioner after his dismissal on23-1-1957. The Bank is now taking up the position of holding a new enquiry in deference to the wishes of the Regional Labour Commissioner, Kanpur, who, according to the petitioner, has no right to order any enquiry much less a fresh enquiry into the conduct of any employee of the Bank. The enquiry which was to start on 10-3-1959 is described to be without any legal sanction on the face of it. It is further submitted that the enquiry is unjust because the petitioner has been suspended since the year 1955 and has already faced two enquiries. Lastly, it is submitted that the enquiry is improper as the Bank cannot be allowed to hold a fresh enquiry merely because the first one did not suit their purpose. A prayer is made for appropriate writ, direction or order to the respondents to refrain them from conducting the fresh enquiry.
(2) To this petition the Hindustan Commercial Bank, Head Office, Kanpur, is the first respondent and the Amritsar Branch of the same Bank is the second respondent; the Regional Labour Commissioner and Conciliation Officer, Ministry of Labour, Government of India, Kanpur, has been impleaded as respondent No. 3.
(3) A written statement contesting the writ petition, has been filed on behalf of respondent No. 1; respondent No. 3 has however not appeared and has not submitted to the jurisdiction of this Court. In the written statement respondent No. 1 has amongst other pleas alleged that against the decision dated 23-1-1957 the petitioner did not go up in appeal and therefore this matter has become final. The reinstatement of the petitioner is expressly denied. It is, however, submitted that on a representation by the U. P. Employees Federation on behalf of the petitioner the order of dismissal was set aside and a fresh enquiry suggested. This order also directed payment of subsistence allowance to the petitioner during the period of fresh enquiry.
The Bank, it is submitted, did not want another enquiry. It was at the instance of the petitioner through the U. P. Employees Federation that the Regional Labour Commissioner set aside the order so that a fresh enquiry may be held. The Bank has also raised some additional pleas based on grounds of delay and laches and the petitioner's conduct in his failure to appeal against the order of dismissal or to raise the point of jurisdiction, to order fresh enquiry, before the Regional Labour Commissioner. It has also been alleged that the petitioner has suppressed material facts which disentitle him to obtain relief under Article 226 of the Constitution. The absence of the Government or the Enquiry Officers from the array of respondents has also been pleaded.
(4) The contention raised by Mr. Bhagat Singh Chawl may be briefly et out like this. An enquiry was held into the petitioners' conduct by Mr. K. V. Soi who suggested certain punishments. It is submitted that it was not open to the Bank to ignore this enquiry and hold a fresh one. It is next submitted that in any case after the second enquiry the Bank actually intimated to the petitioner that his services were terminated. He submits that having once informed the petitioner that his services had been terminated it was not open to the Bank to vary this penalty and to dismiss him from service.
Dismissal, according to the counsel, entails certain stigma and consequent disabilities. Lastly, his contention is that in any case when the Regional Labour Commissioner, Kanpur, set aside the order of dismissal that was the end of the whole proceedings and no fresh enquiry into the same charges could under the law be held. He has submitted that the Regional Labour Commissioner could set aside the dismissal but he had no pore to order any further enquiry. During the course of arguments Mr. Chawla had to concede that the final punishment could be imposed by the Secretary of the bank and that final orders could only be passed by the Secretary.
Mr. Chawla also conceded that the Bank could decide to hold an enquiry but he submitted that the Bank was not exercising its own discretion but was proceeding to hold an enquiry in pursuance of the order of the Regional Labour Commissioner Conciliation Officer, Kanpur. On this basis Mr. Chawla was constrained to admit that without getting the order of the Regional Labour Commissioner, Kanpur, set aside, he could not possibly secure any real relief in the present proceedings. In this view of the matter I think the present petition should be dismissed because this Court has no jurisdiction to issue any writs, orders or direction under Art. 226 of the Constitution to respondent No. 3 whose office is located at Kanpur. In Election Commission, India v. Saka Venkata Rao, AIR 1953 SC 210, Patanjali Sastri C. J. delivering the judgment of the Court and while dealing with the scope of Art. 226 of he Constitution, observed as follows:
'But wide as were the powers thus conferred a two-fold limitation was placed upon their exercise. In the first place, the power is to be exercised 'throughout the territories in relation to which it exercise jurisdiction', that is to say the writs issued by the Court cannot run beyond the territories subject to its jurisdiction. Secondly, the persons or authority to whom the High Court is empowered to issue such writs must be 'within those territories,' which clearly implies that they must be amenable to its jurisdiction either by residence or location within those territories'.
The decision of the Privy Council in Ryots of Garabandho etc. v. Zamindar of Parlakimedi etc., AIR 1943 PC 164, was distinguished on the ground that the observations contained therein were confined to the construction of a statutory provision which was not similar in scope, purpose or wording, to Art. 226 of the Constitution. The argument based on inconvenience was also repelled on the ground that the language of Art. 226 being reasonably plain, it was idle to speculate as to what was or what was not contemplated. The ratio of this case was again approved by the Supreme Court in K. S. Rashid and Son v. Income-tax investigation Commission etc., AIR 1954 SC 207, which was, on facts, a converse case to the one reported as AIR 1953 SC 210. Mr. Chawla, as noticed above, did not challenge the power of the Bank to hold an enquiry; he merely contended that the Regional Labour Commissioner had no authority to direct the Bank to do so. The Regional Labour Commissioner thus being wholly outside the territorial jurisdiction of this Court, it is not possible to issue any writ or direction to him.
(5) For the reasons given above, this petition fails and is hereby dismissed with costs.
(6) Petition dismissed.