K. Veeraswami, C.J.
1. This appeal arises from the order of Palaniswamy, J. which appears in Sri Rama Vilas Service v. Presiding Officer, Labour Court 1971 I L.L.J. 464. On June 13, 1966, two drivers' services were terminated by the management in terms of standing order 18(a). What led to this, according to the management, was a memorandum presented by about 114 conductors alleging that the two drivers were so discharging their duties that it was not possible for them to work with them. On this representation the management kept the two drivers without work till June 13, 1966. Finding, however, that there was no possibility of any reconcilement, the termination was brought about. According to the standing order we mentioned, the employment of any permanent worker may be terminated at any time for a reasonable cause by the manager upon the expiration of 14 days' notice in writing or forthwith on payment of an amount equivalent to the wages that would be normally earned by the employee if he had worked during the period of 14 days immediately following the date of termination of his employment. There is no complaint that the terms of the standing order were not duly complied with. An industrial dispute was, however, raised, which was eventually referred to the Labour Court by an order of the Government, dated October 15, 1966. The Labour Court was of the view that, since the management held no domestic enquiry, the termination was improper. On that view, it set aside the termination order and directed reinstatement of the two drivers. On appeal Palaniswamy, J. set aside the award on the view that the termination of the two drivers' services was warranted by the circumstances and the termination was bona fide. In doing so, the learned Judge went elaborately into the evidence as if he was sitting in appeal over the Labour Court's order.
2. It is contended that the view of Palaniswamy, J. that no domestic enquiry need have preceded the termination as a condition for its validity is erroneous. But the point is that the standing order relied on by the management is one of the terms of employment and forms part of the contract of service. Under the common law the management was entitled to rely on the standing order and terminate the services of the two drivers in accordance with it. But if the termination was challenged on the ground that it was an improper exercise of power or that it was mala fide or that it amounted to an act of victimisation, it was open to the aggrieved party to raise an industrial dispute, which the Labour Court would have jurisdiction to resolve. The question before the Labour Court in that case would be not whether the termination was invalid only because it was not preceded by a domestic enquiry but whether the termination amounted to a mala fide exercise of power on the part of the management or that in the circumstances it was unreasonable or arbitrary. In such an enquiry the workmen as well as the management would be entitled to adduce evidence which the Labour Court would have to consider comprehensively and record its findings in the light of which it will make an order.
3. In the instant case, the Labour Court merely on its view that a domestic enquiry should have preceded the termination, set aside the termination and directed reinstatement. The Labour Court's order does not disclose that the Presiding Officer properly applied his mind to the evidence on record in order to be in a position to record a finding as to whether the termination was bad because it amounted to a mala fide exercise of power or it was unreasonable or arbitrary. It is, no doubt, true that Palaniswamy, J., has fully dealt with the merits, but we think that this was not permissible within the narrow confines of the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. The power of This Court under the article is merely supervisory and not appellate in character. It is not expected and we do not think that This Court can legitimately convert this into one of appeal and deal with factual matters, record findings factual in nature and in the light of them come to a conclusion contrary to that of the Labour Court. The Labour Court is vested with the jurisdiction under the statute to go into factual matters and not This Court.
4. On that short ground the appeal is allowed and the industrial dispute is remitted to the Labour Court for fresh disposal. In doing so, it would follow the observations contained in this judgment and it would set aside the termination only if it finds that the termination was improper in the sense that it amounted to a mala fide exercise of power on the part of the management or that in the circumstances it was unreasonable or arbitrary. The Labour Court, if a request therefore is made by the parties, should permit additional evidence. No costs.