At, In the High Court of Bombay at Nagpur
By, THE HONOURABLE MRS. JUSTICE VASANTI A. NAIK
For the Petitioner: N.R. Saboo, Advocate. For the Respondent: S.C. Mehadia, Advocate.
By this petition, the petitioner impugns the judgment passed by the Industrial Court in a revision filed by the corporation reversing the judgment passed by the Labour Court and allowing the complaint filed by the petitioner and holding that the respondent corporation had committed unfair labour practice under the M.R.T.U. And P.U.L.P. Act 1971.
2] Few facts giving rise to the petition are stated thus - The petitioner is working as a Conductor with the respondent corporation. On 25.7.1995, he was working as a Conductor on a bus which was being plied from Amravati to Paratwada. The bus was a Janata Bus. The bus was checked near the naka of Chandur Bazar Municipal Corporation. The checking party made a report that 10 passengers were found without ticket and the petitioner had collected the fare from them, though the tickets were not issued to them. The weigh-bill was also not properly filled and on seeing the checking the party the petitioner tried to issue tickets to the passengers. On the said report of the checking party, a departmental enquiry was held against the petitioner. A witness was examined on behalf of the respondent corporation. The petitioner was dismissed from service for the misconduct committed by him. The petitioner challenged the action of the corporation in a complaint filed before the Labour Court under the provisions of the M.R.T.U. & P.U.L.P. 1971. The Labour Court on an appreciation of the evidence on record, allowed the complaint and directed the respondent ? corporation to reinstate the petitioner in service with continuity of service, but without back wages. The order of the Labour Court was challenged by the corporation before the Industrial Court in revision. The Industrial Court, however, by the impugned order dated 31.7.2004 allowed the revision filed by the corporation and dismissed the complaint filed by the petitioner. The order dated 31.7.2004 is challenged by the petitioner in the instant writ petition.
3] Shri N.R. Saboo, the learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the Industrial Court was not justified in re-appreciating the evidence and holding that the findings recorded by the Labour Court were incorrect. The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the Labour Court had considered the entire evidence on record to hold that the petitioner was in the process of issuing the tickets to the 10 passengers and the findings of the enquiry officer that the petitioner had committed misconduct was incorrect. The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that Shri More, the witness examined on behalf of the corporation did not state in his evidence that the petitioner tried to issue tickets to the 10 passengers on seeking the raiding party. The learned counsel for the petitioner submits that it was clear from the evidence on record that the petitioner was about the issue the tickets to the other passengers, when the raiding party arrived and it is clear that the petitioner had not committed misconduct.
4] Shri S.C. Mehadia, the learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the findings recorded by the Industrial court are pure findings of fact based on proper appreciation of material evidence on record and hence they can not be interfered with in exercise of writ jurisdiction. The learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the previous record of the petitioner showed that the petitioner was punished at least on five earlier occasions and increments for three months were stopped on the charge of non issuing tickets after collection of fare. The learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the Industrial Court rightly held that the findings of the enquiry officer were based on reliable evidence and the Labour Court was not justified in interfering with the findings of the enquiry officer, merely because another view of the matter was possible. The learned counsel for the respondent sought for the dismissal of the writ petition.
5] I have considered the submissions made on behalf of the parties and also perused the impugned order along with the record. The defence of the petitioner in the enquiry was that he was transferred to Morshi just few days prior to the incident and since it was his first duty on that road, he was not knowing the fare and the stage table of the route at the relevant time. In such circumstances, it was the defence of the petitioner that it took some time for him to issue tickets to the passengers and hence there was some delay in issuing the tickets. It is necessary to note that though it was the defence of the petitioner, that he was not knowing properly about the fare and the stage table of that particular route, he had issued the tickets to the 7 other passengers who were travelling from Riddhapur to Chandur Bazar. The Industrial Court rightly held that the defence of the petitioner was not well founded as he had already issued tickets to 7 other passengers who were travelling from Riddhapur to Chandur Bazar. The defence of the petitioner that he did not know about the fare and the stage table and therefore, there was some delay in issuing the ticket, was incorrect. The Labour Court held that the bus had traveled only a distance of about 3.00 to 3.5 k.m. from Riddhapur, where it was checked and hence it cannot be said that the petitioner was not going to issue the tickets to the 10 passengers, who had paid the fare but they were not issued the tickets. It is necessary to note that the distance between Riddhapur to Chandur Bazar is only 5.8 k.m. and till the distance of 3.00 to 3.5 k.m. the tickets were not issued to 10 passengers. There were two stops at Riddhapur only. The Industrial Court rightly held that the petitioner could have issued the tickets to the passengers at the second stop at Riddhapur. However, this was not done. It is observed by the Industrial Court that the enquiry officer rightly held that the petitioner started issuing tickets to the passengers after he saw the checking party. Since the Labour Court did not consider the matter in the right perspective, the Industrial Court rightly interfered with the order passed by the Labour Court and reversed the findings recorded by the same. The Industrial Court was also justified in observing that the findings of the enquiry officer were based on reliable evidence and therefore the Labour Court ought not have interfered in the matter merely because another view was possible. The Industrial Court rightly relied on the default card of the petitioner to hold that the punishment awarded to the petitioner was not harsh and the petitioner deserved no sympathy as he was punished on f
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ive previous occasions. On one of the occasions three months increments were stopped on the same charge, that the tickets were not issued by the petitioner after collecting the fare from the passengers. Since there was no improvement in the conduct of the petitioner inspite of inflicting minor punishments on him, the Industrial Court held that the petitioner was rightly dismissed from service and the said punishment was not shockingly disproportionate to the act of the misconduct committed by the petitioner. The findings recorded by the Industrial court are just and proper and call for no interference in exercise of the writ jurisdiction. 6] In the result, the writ petition fails and is dismissed with no order as to costs.