W.P.No.19998 of 2008 filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for a Writ of Certiorari, calling for the records of the first respondent pertaining to his Award made in I.D.No.34 of 2004 dated 10.08.2007 and quash the same.
W.P.No.8810 of 2009 filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for a Writ of Certiorarified mandamus, calling for the records of the award passed by the first respondent in I.D.No.34 of 2004 dated 10.08.2007 and quash the Award in so far as back wages is concerned and directing the second respondent to pay all the back wages, arrears of salary and attendant benefits from 15.04.2002 to 10.08.2007.
C O M M O N O R D E R
1. Both the writ petitions challenge the same Award viz.,the Award of the Labour Court, Coimbatore in I.D.No.34 of 2004 dated 10.08.2007. By the impugned Award, the Labour Court directed reinstatement of the workman with service continuity but without backwages and without any annual increment for the interregnum period. While the Management of the Transport Corporation aggrieved by the Award filed W.P.No.19998 of 2008 challenging that portion of the Award granting reinstatement, the workman filed W.P.No.8810 of 1999 challenging that portion of the Award denying back wages.
2. In view of the inter-connectivity between the two writ petitions, they were grouped and heard together and a common order is passed.
3. Heard the arguments of Ms.Rita Chandrasekar, learned counsel for the Transport Corporation and Mr.P.S.Kothandaraman learned counsel for the workman.
4. Pending the writ petition, this Court by an order dated 16.12.2008 directed payment of last drawn wages in terms of Section 17-B of the I.D.Act.
5. It is the case of the workman that he was employed as a Conductor with effect from 19.04.1987. On 22.10.2001, while he was operating bus bearing No. TN38/692, which was plying from Palani to Coimbatore, at about 3.15 p.m., Checking Inspector stopped the bus near Poolankinar and got into the bus. During the course of checking, it was found out by the officials that the workman had issued only 62 = tickets as against 63= passengers and the workman did not issue one ticket. On enquiry, it was found by the Checking Inspector that the passenger had paid Rs.100/- for the ticket and received the balance amount of Rs.77/- but the workman did not issue the ticket. Therefore, it was alleged if the checking had not been done, the workman would have pocketed Rs.23/- thereby bringing loss to the Corporation and also acting in a dishonest fashion.
6. The workman was issued with a show cause notice on 31.10.2001 cum suspension from 15.12.2001 and called for explanation. The workman submitted his explanation denying the charges. It was the stand of the workman that one passenger did not buy the ticket and when he made a statement that he gave Rs.100/- for the purchase of ticket with a denomination of Rs.23/-, he did not care to show the balance of Rs.77/- when asked by the workman. Therefore, it was figment of imagination of the passenger that he demanded ticket but the workman did not issued the ticket. Not satisfied with the explanation, an enquiry was ordered to be conducted. The Enquiry Officer gave a report on 28.02.2002 holding the workman guilty of the misconduct. On the basis of the enquiry report, second show cause notice was given on 13.03.2002. The workman gave a reply dated Nil. Notwithstanding the reply, by an order dated 09.04.2002, the workman was dismissed from service.
7. The workman raised an industrial dispute before the Labour Officer, Coimbatore. The said officer as he could not bring about mediation gave a failure report dated 27.12.2002. On the strength of the failure report, the workman filed claim statement dated Nil (2004). The said dispute was taken on file as I.D.No.34 of 2004 and notice was issued to the Management. The Management filed counter statement dated 07.10.2005.
8. Before the Labour Court, on behalf of the Management, enquiry proceedings were filed and marked as Exs.M1 to M14.
9. The Labour Court on an analysis of materials placed before it came to the conclusion that the findings rendered by the Enquiry Officer was perverse because during the enquiry, the Checking Inspector admitted that as soon as they got into the bus, the workman informed that one ticket was missing. If that is true, there was no scope for holding the workman guilty of dishonest intention in the business of the employer. The Labour Court refused to accept that the workman had any dishonest intention of misappropriating the amount and therefore, Standing Order No.14(d) is not attracted. Therefore, the charge of not issuing ticket alone was proved and the other charge of misappropriation not being proved, the Labour Court in exercise of power under Section 11-A of the I.D.Act disagreed with the findings of the Enquiry Officer and held that the termination was not proper and the workman was entitled for reinstatement with service continuity but without backwages. But at the same time, the Labour Court held that during the period of his absence, he is not entitled for any annual increment.
10. This Court do not find any case is made out to interfere with the impugned Award. The contentions raised by the Management are not acceptable, but at the same time, the workman's contention that the charges were not proved altogether also cannot be accepted. In respect of proved charges, it is open to the Labour Court to mould the relief. In the present case, the Labour Court kept within its mind the parameters of Section 11-A and decided to interfere only with reference to re-instatement and denied the relief of back wages. Hence, this Court is also not inclined to accept the contentions raised by the workman.
11. Hence, both writ petitions will stand dismissed. No costs. Connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.