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Mangalambiga Lodge Vs. Kutti Krishnan and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1968)ILLJ347Mad
AppellantMangalambiga Lodge
RespondentKutti Krishnan and ors.
Cases ReferredP.J. John v. State of Travancore
Excerpt:
- - it could very well be that questions were put and answers obtained and the answers were recorded in the narrative form without being recorded in the form of questions and answers. apparently, the labour officer takes objection only to the narrative form of the record of answers to questions, find, according to him, if the statements were recorded in the form of questions and answers, the workers would have had better opportunity to cross-examine the defendants......19(2) of the madras catering establishments act, 1958, to the appellate authority, namely, the labour officer, tiruchirappalli. before that officer the workers pleaded that the management did not at all hold an enquiry, but what they made was an attempt to obtain the signatures of the workers to a sheet of paper, which they refused and thereupon they went away. the management, however, stated that they did hold an enquiry by examining witnesses before the workers, but the workers deliberately refrained from taking part in the enquiry and, therefore, they were to blame. the labour officer took evidence afresh himself as he is empowered to do under rule 23, sub-rule (3), of the rules framed under the madras catering establishments act, and found that the workers in fact disobeyed the.....
Judgment:

P. Ramakrishnan, J.

1. The petitioner, the management of Mangalambiga Lodge, a hotel in Thanjavur, dismissed three of its workers, Kutti Krishnan (respondent in Writ Petition No. 860 of 1864), Ramaswami (respondent in Writ Petition No. 861 of 1964), and Gurunathan (respondent in Writ Petition No. 862 of 1964) on the ground that as cleaners in the hotel, they refused to do the task of backyard work, that is, removing fuel from the backyard to the even, a work which they were asked to do as part of cleaners' duty. The management conducted a domestic enquiry at which the workers refused to take part and went away in the middle of the enquiry. Thereafter, the management terminated their services. The workers appealed under Section 19(2) of the Madras Catering Establishments Act, 1958, to the appellate authority, namely, the labour officer, Tiruchirappalli. Before that officer the workers pleaded that the management did not at all hold an enquiry, but what they made was an attempt to obtain the signatures of the workers to a sheet of paper, which they refused and thereupon they went away. The management, however, stated that they did hold an enquiry by examining witnesses before the workers, but the workers deliberately refrained from taking part in the enquiry and, therefore, they were to blame. The labour officer took evidence afresh himself as he is empowered to do under Rule 23, Sub-rule (3), of the rules framed under the Madras Catering Establishments Act, and found that the workers in fact disobeyed the direction of the management. But, at the same time the labour officer was of the opinion that the enquiry conducted by the management was ' technically' mala fide. Because of the last-mentioned finding, the labour officer, while not interfering with the directions of the management terminating the services of the workers, directed that compensation should be given to them and awarded amounts varying from Es. 100 to RS. 200 under Section 19(2) of the Act. The management has filed these writ petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution for quashing the order of the labour officer by a writ of certiorari.

2. It is represented on behalf of the petitioner herein that the finding of the labour officer that the enquiry conducted by the management was 'technically 'mala file has no basis at all on the evidence or the data available on the record. The record of the enquiry conducted by the management was recorded in a narrative form and when the worker who was present up to that stage was asked to cross-examine, he declined to put any question. The labour officer, while dealing with the nature of the enquiry that recorded by the management in the enquiry proceedings, has made the following observations:

Exhibit R. 3 is the copy of the enquiry proceedings which contains the statements obtained from different persons. The statement made by the assistant manager is in the nature of a complaint and that has been used as the basis for the misconduct alleged. Other statements prove the fact that the cleaners are in the habit of supplying firewood to different ovens and the job is known as backyard job. The petitioner left in the middle of the enquiry contending that the statements obtained are fabricated. in a domestic enquiry there is every chance of statements being prepared beforehand and then put to a cross (cross-examination) to the witnesses who have interests in common with the respondent, in P.J. John v. State of Travancore-Cochin : (1956)ILLJ235SC , the Supreme Court has held that the entire evidence must be taken before the delinquent worker and opportunity should be given to the worker to cross-examine, in the present appeal the appellant has left the enquiry proceedings on the ground that the statements were obtained from persons who implicate him and which are ready-made. The statement made by the assistant manager is in the nature of a complaint and there has been no opportunity given to the appellant to rebut the compiaint. If questions wore put to the witnesses and answers obtained, then the appellant would have had opportunity to crose-eximine and there would not have been any apprehension on the part of the appellant that the statements obtained are false.

In view of the foregoing, I am constrained to hold that the enquiry conducted is technically mala fide.

3. It appears to me that the labour officer has made a confusion between recording a statement in a narrative form after putting questions and eliciting answers and recording the statement in the form of questions and answers. A perusal of the narrative form of the statement recorded by the assistant manager does not support the Inference that a prior complaint given by the assistant manager had been recorded enlace and treated as constituting his statement at the domestic enquiry. It could very well be that questions were put and answers obtained and the answers were recorded in the narrative form without being recorded in the form of questions and answers. The labour officer has himself conceded that in the case of other witnesses, there is no room for such complaint and he has referred only to the statement of the assistant manager. This would make it probable that the management held an enquiry in the proper form, but the statement was recorded as a narrative, and that the workers were to blame for refusing to take part in the enquiry. in fact the specific plea of the workers was that no enquiry at all was held and faked statements were prepared as if they constituted a record of the enquiry, and they were asked to sign on blank sheets of paper. It is necessary to observe that the labour officer has carefally refrained from giving a finding on this plea of the workers about the nature of the enquiry, but has contented himself with describing the enquiry as mala fide only in a ' technical' sense. It is not clear from the order what' technical' mala fide means. Apparently, the labour officer takes objection only to the narrative form of the record of answers to questions, find, according to him, if the statements were recorded in the form of questions and answers, the workers would have had better opportunity to cross-examine the defendants. But there is no rule that a statement recorded in the narrative form would prejudice the workers in such an enquiry, and that the statements should be recorded only as questions and answers.

4. I am, therefore, of the opinion that the finding of the labour officer that the enquiry is technically mala fide and the workers even though they have been guilty of misconduct should be given compensation cannot be supported. The order of the labour officer is quashed by a writ of certiorari. The petitions are allowed. No order as to costs.


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