S. Mohan, J.
1. This writ petition is to quash the order of the Labour Court passed in I.D. No. 139, of 1971, dated 3oth May, 1972. The short facts are as follows:
In G.O. Rt. No. 2o3o, Labour Department dated 1st October, 197 1, the question that was referred to the Labour Court for adjudication was, whether the non-employment of Thiru T. V. Balakirishnan (the first respondent) was justified And if not, to what relief he was entitled. The first respondent was in the employment of the writ petitioner from March, 1959 as a staff member, as an assistant clerk, who was later promoted as a Provident Fund and E.S.A. clerk. He was dismissed from service for certain alleged misconduct from 15th March, 1968 as per Clause 19(5) and (k) of the standing Order of the mills after enquiry. Contending that the dismissal was improper, he raised the dispute and prayed that he might be reinstated with back--wages. In the counter of the management, it was contended that there had been a proper and valid enquiry and in fact, notwithstanding the proper opportunities being afforded to the workman, he did not choose to participate in the enquiry and, therefore, it had to be proceeded ex parte. No exception could be takers to the procedure adopted during the domestic enquiry and the dismissal was valid and proper. There were criminal proceedings wherein he w?-s found guilty. However, that judgment was set aside on appeal by the District and Sessions Judge, Coimbatore and an appeal against the acquittal had also been filed to this Court.
2. The Labour Court held: (1) Section 11(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947, hereinafter referred to as the Act, was retrospective in its character; (a) The enquiry Officer was the person, who attested the evidence of the witnesses and, therefore, there was bias in the enquiry After holding so it proceeded to examine the entire evidence and came to the conclusion that the non-employment was not justified. However, instead of an order of reinstatement, it ordered compensation of nine months' wages in lieu of reinstatement computing the sum into Rs. 2,745.
Mr. A. Ramachandran, learned Counsel in attacking the award submits as under:
1. The finding of the Labour Court that Section 11(a) of the Act is retrospective in its character is directly opposed to the decision of the Supreme Court in Workmen of Assam Match Co. Ltd. v. Labour Court (1973) II L.L.J. 279
Merely because the enquiry officer attested the statements of the witnesses, it would not amount to bias, (vide W.A. No. 600 of 1969 E.I.D. Parry Limited - Appellant v. 1, S.M. Gangadharan, 2. The Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Madras, Respondents.)
3. There is no finding anywhere that the conclusion, arrived at the domestic enquiry was in any way perverse and, therefore without recording such finding, the Labour Court was not justified in appraising the evidence. Added to this, the criminal appeal, which was stated to be pending at that time before the Labour Court has now ended in conviction of the first respondent, in Crl.As. Nos. 1184, 1055 and 1053 of 1970 - State by the Public Prosecutor - Appellant in all the appeals v. T.V. Balakrishnan, Respondent in all the appeals (Accused)-and that judgment has to be given due weight.
4. Mr. K. Ramachandran, learned Counsel for the workmen would submit that no doubt it is not correct to hold that Section 11(a) of the Act is retrospective in its character and he fairly conceded that that part of the award is. wrong. He, further, concedes that the Labour Court was not justified in reappraising the evidence. But having regard to the fact that it had rendered a finding that the enquiry was biassed, this is a fit case in which the Labour Court should be directed to re-consider the matter which could also take note of the judgment in Crl.A. Nos. 1184 1055 and 1053 of 1970. According to him W.A. No. 600 of 1969 is applicable inasmuch as in that case, the evidence was procured by the General Manager whereas here actually he had attested the statements of the witnesses.
5. On a careful consideration of the above arguments, I have little hesitation in holding that the impugned award is liable to be set aside for more than one reason.
1. The decision in Workmen of Asssam Match Co. Ltd. v. Labour Court (1973) II L.L.J. 279, is the authority for the proposition that Section 11(a) of the Act is only prospective in its character. Therefore, that part of the award is clearly in correct in law.
2. The finding of the Labour Court in paragraph 6 of its award relating to bias, is based on the simple ground that the enquiry officer was an attestor and this is the reason why it states:
So, even without going into any other fact or taking into account it can be straightaway stated that Thiru N.V. Krishna Iyer, should be taken to be biased and he is not competent to enquire into his matter.
In W.A. No. 600 of 1969 the Division Bench held that in a case wherein the evidence is procured by the General Manager himself it would not constitute violation of principles of natural justice. Of course, it added that if nothing more appears on record to show bias and unfairness or arbitrariness. In this case that is the reason that I have quoted the award of the Labour Court in its own words. I do not find anywhere in it that the enquiry was otherwise biased or was unfair. Therefore, the judgment in W.A. No. 600 of 1969 would squarely apply to this case. It is the categoric stand of the management that when the enquiry was. commenced the workmen did not ask for any adjournment to produce documents and, therefore, to characterise the conduct of the management as the Labour Court did, that the management should have impressed upon the claimant that the management could not furnish him with the copies but he could try to get those copies from the postal department if it is possible and get ready for the enquiry but, 'on the other hand, the enquiry Officer straightaway started the enquiry and examined the head clerk' is not correct. Mr. K. Ramachandran, would', however, urge that the workman did want an adjournment. I find no basis for this argument in the award of the Labour Court. No where it is stated that he asked for adjournment and it was refused. On the contrary what the Labour Court would hold is as is seen above as if it is the duty of the management to inform the workmen about the non-availablity of the records; if really the workman was interested he ought to have taken Steps to procure those records or summon the same. Certainly, it was not the duty of the management to impress about the necessity of producing those records or to remind the workman of his duty. Therefore, this part of the award is also clearly vitiated.
6. The last straw on the camel's back appears to be the judgment of Krishnaswami Reddy, J., in Crl.A. Nos. 1184, 1055 and 1053 of 1970. The learned Judge has convicted the workman. I make it clear that I am not basing my conclusion on this criminal appeal and this is the reason why I say that happens to be the last straw on the back of the camel. There is absolutely no necessity to remand this matter. Having regard to the discussion above, by no stretch of imagination could it be held that the domestic enquiry was in any way biased or improperly conducted nor could the findings be characterised as perverse. Consequently, this writ petition will stand allowed and the rule nisi is made absolute. I make no order as to costs.