At, High Court of Delhi
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE R.C. CHOPRA
For the Appearing Parties: A.S. Chandhiok, Bhagvat Prasad Gupta, Jyoti Mendiratta, Mira Mathur, S.K. Taneja, Advocates.
R.C. CHOPRA, J.
(1) THIS petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India assails the concurrent findings arrived at by learned Additional Rent Controller, vide orders dated 24. 9. 1997 and Rent Control Tribunal, Delhi vide orders dated 18. 11. 2000. Both the Courts below upheld the plea of the respondent-landlord under Section 14 (1) (i) and Section 22 of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 (hereinafter referred to as the Act only) and passed an order of eviction against the petitioner.
(2) THE facts relevant for the disposal of this petition, briefly stated, are that therespondent-landlord,a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, having its research Institute at 19, University Road, Delhi is a Public Institution involved in research in science. The petitioner who was employed as Research Assistant was allotted the suit premises on 4. 11. 1987 as an employee of the respondent Institute. In 1989, she was charge-sheeted for misconduct and her services were terminated vide a letter of termination dated 8. 1. 1990. when the petitioner failed to vacate the suit premises allotted to her by the respondent society, an eviction petition was filed against her under section 14 (1) (i) and Section 22 of the Act. The petitioner raised various grounds including a pl,ea that the validity of her termination was pending before the appropriate authority and as such, no eviction order could be passed against her till the dispute regarding the termination of her services was adjudicated upon. Both the Courts below were of the view that for the purpose of Section 14 (1) (i) of the Act, the question to be seen by the Controller was not as to whether a bonafide dispute in regard to the validity of the termination of the services existed but the bonafide dispute in regard to the cessation of the employment was there or not.
(3) I have heard learned counsel for the petitioner and learned counsel for the respondent. I have gone through the records of the case.
(4) LEARNED counsel for the petitioner has vehemently argued that both the Courts below failed to appreciate that a bonafide dispute regarding the termination of employment of the petitioner by the respondent was still existing and as such no eviction order could be passed against her under section 14 (1) (i) of the Act. He relies upon Sub-clause (9)of Section 14 of the Act to contend that during the existence of a bonafide dispute regarding cessation of the employment, the Rent Controller has no Jurisdiction to pass eviction orders under Section 14 (1) (i) of the Act. Relying upon a judgement of the Apex Court in Fakirbhai Fulabhai Solanki Vs. The Presiding Officer and Anr. reported in II L. L. J. 1986 page 124, he submits that Section 33 (3) of the Industrial disputes Act prohibits any employer from taking any action against a workman concerned in a dispute by altering to the prejudice of such workman, the conditions of service applicable to him immediately before the commencement of such proceedings; or by discharging or punishing whether by dismissal or otherwise, such protected workman, save with the express permission in writing of the authority before whom the proceedingsarepending. It is argued that since the dispute in regard to the validity of the termination of the services of petitioner by the respondent is pending before the Labour Court and inquiry is going on, the petitioner cannot be thrown out of her residential accommodation which was allotted to her as per conditions of service at the time of her appointment.
(5) ON the other hand learned counsel for the respondent submits that a distinction has to be drawn between a dispute in regard to the validity of the termination and a dispute in regard to the factor of termination. He argues that Section 14 (9) of the Act does not speak of a bonafide dispute in regard to the validity of the termination but speaks of a bonafide dispute regarding cessation of service only and as such upon satisfaction that the services of an employee have ceased to exist the Controller assumes jurisdiction to issue order of eviction Under Section 14 (1) (i) of the Act. It is pointed out that in the petition before this Court ay well as in her submissions before the Courts below petitioner had admitted that her services had been terminated and as such there was no dispute in regard to the question of the termination of her services. It is further argued that eviction order against the petitioner was passed not only under Section 14 (1) (i) of the Act but under Section 22 of the Act also which was neither challenged before the Rent controller nor has been assailed before this Court and as such there are no good grounds for protecting the possession of the petitioner in regard to the premises allotted to her by the respondent. It is submitted that Labour Court has marely ordered an inquiry in regard to the payment of subsistence allowance and has neither stayed nor set aside the termination order against the petitioner. It is submitted that Section 33 of the Industrial Disputes Act does not come into play and does not advance the petitioner's case in any manner. He relies upon a Judgement of this Court in shri Ram Saran Vs. M/s Gian Chand Kedar Nath reported in 1978 (1) RLR 100 in which a similar question was raised and was answered against the employee.
(6) AFTER considering the submissions made by learned counsel for the parties and going through the records, this court is of the considered view that Section 14 (9) of the Act does not enjoin upon the Controller to form an opinion in regard to the validity of the termination of the service but merely calls upon him to see as to whether a bonafide dispute regarding the termination of the employment exists or not. The underlying object of this provision is to ensure that no workman/employee is thrown out of residential premises allotted to him by his employer during the subsistence of his employment but as soon as cessation of service or employment is shown on record the Controller assumes Jurisdiction to issue orders under Section 14 (1) (i) of the Act. This Court is further of the view that the question in regard to the validity/legality of the termination of the services is beyond the scope of Inquiry under Section 14 (9) of the Act. Forums for adjudication of such dispute are different. The controller under the Act is not vested with any Jurisdiction to adjudicate the question of the validity/legality of the termination of the services of an employee. In the Judgement of this Court In Ram Saran Vs. Kedar Nath (supra) a Single judge of this Court clearly observed that It was not relevant for the purposes of proceedings under Delhi Rent Control Act whether there was a dispute pending before the Labour Court or not. It was held that the requirement of law is that there should be a bonafide dispute regarding the termination of services. It was further observed that what was being disputed by the employee before the Labour Court was not relevant for the purpose of finding out whether there was any bonaflde dispute regarding the termination of the services and In case the Labour Court or Tribunal or any authority orders the reinstatement of the employee then contract of service will again come Into effect. The Apex Court In the case of Fakirbhai Fulabhai Solanki Vs. The Presiding Officer and Am. (supra) was dealing with a case of suspension only and as such held that the workman continued to be an employee during the period of suspension. Section 33 of Industrial disputes Act is also of no avail to the petitioner for the reason that respondent Is acting within the parameters prescribed by the provisions of Delhi Rent Control Act for evicting his employees whose services have been terminated.
(7) IN case the scope of Section 14 (9) of the Act is enlarged so as to enable the Controller also to examine as to whether any bonafide dispute regarding the validity/legality of the termination of the service exists or not then two courts exercising jurisdiction in different fields would be examining the issue of validity of termination of the services and an employee would continue to enjoy occupation of the premises allotted to him in the course of his employment in spite of the termination of his services and without doing any work for the employer. This would defeat the very purpose of Section 14 (1) (i) of the Act which enables an employer to recover possession of the premises from an employee after terminating his services so that the same accommodation may be offered to some other employee who is working for him and giving him services. Residential accommodation to an employee is provided primarily for the sake of efficient discharge of his duties and once an employee stops discharging the duties, on account of the termination of his services, the employer must be in a position to put some other employee in those premises from whom he requires efficient discharge of duties. The controller in terms of Section 14 (9) of the Act has only to see as to whether services of the employee have been terminated or not. The validity of termination is beyond the scope of his Jurisdiction.
(8) IT is also shown on record that learned ARC vide orders dated 24. 9. 1997 had held that the respondent was a public institution within the meaning of Section 22 of the act and had passed eviction order against the petitioner not only under Section 14 (1) (i) of the Act but under Section 22 of the Act also. The Rent Control Tribunal vide order a dated 18. 11. 2000 had dismissed the appeal filed by the petitioner and it appears that no plea was raised against the orders passed under Section 22 of the Act. Therefore, the orders passed under Section 22 of the Act were not disturbed by the rent Control Tribunal. A perusal of the petition filed before this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of india reveals that no plea was raised to assail the o
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rders passed by the Rent Controller under Section 22 of the Act and the only ground for agitation was that the petitioner was a licensee and not a tenant which plea has not been pressed by learned counsel for the petitioner in the course of the arguments of this petition. The only point raised by him is in regard to the effect of the pungency of the question of the termination of the services before the Labour Court. Therefore, the result is that the Order under Section 22 of the Act which has not been challenged in the petition filed. before this Court has already become final. (9) IN view of the foregoing discussion, this Court is of the considered view that this petition does not raise any question of law nor any grounds are made out for inter fering with the concurrent findings given by the two Courts below. The impugned orders passed by the learned ARC and learned rent Control Tribunal were fully justified and warranted under the facts and circumstances of this case and were in accordance with law. (10) THE petition, therefore, has no merit. Dismissed accordingly.