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Janardhanam (S.) Vs. Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation and Anr. (26.09.1967 - MADHC) - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1969)ILLJ507Mad
AppellantJanardhanam (S.)
RespondentAdditional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation and Anr.
Excerpt:
- - admittedly, the employer organization (the madras state electricity board) cannot dispense with the services of even a temporary employee, like the writ appellant though recruited as such, and on the basis of liability to termination of employment at any time, except within the terms of section 41(1). that necessarily implies two contingencies which are very clear from the section itself. the court has to be convinced that, not merely was the employer satisfied bona fide about the necessity for terminating the services, but that the necessity could be termed 'reasonable' ex facie......act (36 of 1947) to the facts of the case as appearing in the record. admittedly, the employer organization (the madras state electricity board) cannot dispense with the services of even a temporary employee, like the writ appellant though recruited as such, and on the basis of liability to termination of employment at any time, except within the terms of section 41(1). that necessarily implies two contingencies which are very clear from the section itself. one is that such an employee, whose services are dispensed with is entitled to ' at least one month's notice or wages in lieu of such notice.' the second is that his services ought to be dispensed with, only for a ' reasonable cause,'2. now, obviously, the question whether in a given case there was such ' reasonable.....
Judgment:

M. Anantanarayanan, C.J.

1. The only point involved in this writ appeal relates to the application of Section 41(1) of the Madras Shops and Establishments Act (36 of 1947) to the facts of the case as appearing in the record. Admittedly, the employer organization (the Madras State Electricity Board) cannot dispense with the services of even a temporary employee, like the writ appellant though recruited as such, and on the basis of liability to termination of employment at any time, except within the terms of Section 41(1). That necessarily implies two contingencies which are very clear from the section itself. One is that such an employee, whose services are dispensed with is entitled to ' at least one month's notice or wages in lieu of such notice.' The second is that his services ought to be dispensed with, only for a ' reasonable cause,'

2. Now, obviously, the question whether in a given case there was such ' reasonable cause,' or otherwise is a question of fact. It cannot be a, question of law for, in that event the legislature would have proceeded further, and enumerated the categories of what would be ' reasonable causes ' in law, for dispensing with the services of an employee. In the present proceeding, apart from the temporary nature of the employment, it is established, on the record, that the writ appellant was unqualified, according to the rules of service when he was entertained as a temporary employee. The reason assigned by the employer for the termination of service, is that other qualified persons, who were thereby entitled to preference for employment, became available for recruitment and it became a matter of necessity to employ them, in the interests of the efficiency of the organization and the economic conduct of its business. For this reason, the policy had to be implemented by the replacement of unqualified persons by qualified persons. The organization was, therefore, compelled to dispense with the services of the writ appellant. It appears to us that the cause assigned falls entirely within the scope of Section 41(1) of the Act, and must be construed as constituting a ' reasonable cause' in terms of that section. The learned Judge (Srinivasan, J.) was fully justified, therefore, in dismissing the writ petition.

3. Two authorities have been placed before us by the learned counsel for the writ appellant. The first is the decision of Raja-mannar.C.J., and Viswanatha Shastri, J., In re Tata Iron and Steel Company, Ltd. 1950 L.L.J. 1043. That was a very different case, of a person whose services were dispensed with by the employer under Section 41(1) and when the question of the existence of a reasonable cause therefor was mooted, the employer then turned round and said that the employee had been guilty of misconduct. Since there had been no hint of that charge earlier, the learned Judges, naturally, if we may say so, declined to accept such a justification as either true or valid. We may further point out that Section 41(1) itself refers to misconduct, in the latter part of the section, and requires that this must be supported by satisfactory evidence, recorded at an enquiry held for the purpose. The decision has no application here and, in the present case, the employer-organization has throughout consistently pleaded that the cause was a strict necessity to replace temporary unqualified persons by qualified persons in the interests of the organization.

4. The second decision is Working Journalists of ' Tamil Nadu ' v. ' Tamil Nadu,' Madurai and Ors. : (1959)IILLJ84Mad , That is upon the Industrial Disputes Act, and it would appear to have very little relevance here. The dicta in that decision have no bearing upon the simple issue with which we are now concerned. It may be that the regulation of the relations between industrial managements and their employees falls outside the realm of contract, as observed by the learned Judges. But the question here is whether Section 41(1) would justify the termination of service or otherwise. No doubt, this is not merely dependent upon the subjective satisfaction of the employer. The Court has to be convinced that, not merely was the employer satisfied bona fide about the necessity for terminating the services, but that the necessity could be termed ' reasonable' ex facie. In our view, that would have to be looked at mainly from the point of view of the employer-organization that has to take the decision, though, of course, this does not mean that the organization is free to act on any cause. Otherwise, it would mean that the test of ' reasonableness ' is not that of the person who is required by law to adopt a reasonable attitude, but of someone else. In our view, on the facts here, there can be no doubt at all that the termination was not wrongful as the cause was ' reasonable,' that is objectively convincing. The writ appeal is, therefore, dismissed. No order as to costs.


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