A.K. SIKRI, J.
(1) THIS writ petition is filed by the petitioner which is aimed against ex-parte award dated 27/10/1993 passed by the Labour Court-IV. By that award the L abour Court has held that the services of respondent no. 3 Prithviraj were terminated by the petitioner illegally and unjustifiably. It has directed the re-instatement of respondent no. 3 along with full backwages and continuity in service.
(2) THE case of the petitioner set out in the petition is that the respondent no. 3 was employthout the permission of the competent authority. By order dated 1/9/1961 Managing Officer of the Regional or parted with possession of the whole premises allotted to him to the defendant No. 3 M/s. Tej widers passed by the Settlement commissioner as per which Shri R. N. Rai had sub-let, assigned ship of landlord and tenant.
(3) BE as it may one cannot turn a blind eye to the various oraches Civil Court the plea is taken that he should have approached Rent Controller as there is a relatiosses on the ground that there is no relationship of landlord and tenant and when the plaintiff approating such a situation, namely, when the plaintiff approached the Rent Controller his petition is dismied finality and has become resjudicata. The defendants cannot render the plaintiff remedyless by are just to cover up the irregularities committed by him and to pressurise the petitioner so that the petitioner may not pursue the matter against him with the police in respect of aforesaid theft. On his raising the dispute regarding his alleged termination, it was referred to the Labour Court with the following terms of reference: "whether the termination of services of Sh. Prithviraj Raj Saini is legal/ justified, if not to what relief is he entitled and what directions are necessary in this behalf?
(4) PARTIES appeared before the Labour Court. Respondent no. 3 filed his statement of claim to which the petitioner filed its written statement. After the pleadings, issues were framed. One of the issues was as to whether the applicant was workman. When the case was at evidence stage, the petitioner stopped appearing and on 3/01/1991 it was proceeded ex-parte. Evidence of the workman was recorded by way of affidavit and it resulted in ex-parte order dated 22/8/1991. The petitioner filed application for setting aside the ex-parte award which was dismissed by the Labour Court vide order dated 24/2/1992. The petitioner approached this court by filing CW No. 238/92 which was disposed of by order dated 19/4/1993. By this order this court set aside the ex-parte award on the statement made by counsel for respondent no. 3 that because of the peculiar circumstances of the case and if time bound directions are given, the respondent no. 3 had no objection for setting aside the ex-parte award. Order dated 19/4/1993 reads as under: "c. W. 3485 and CM 6486/92: counsel for the respondent stated that because of peculiar circumstances of the case and if time bound directions are given, the respondent will not object to the impugned order being set aside and the case being tried de novo. In view of the statement of counsel for the respondent, who we feel, has taken a very fair stand and who is to be commended for that we allow the writ petition and set aside the order dated 24/2/1992 and also the ex-parte award dated 22/8/1991 and we further direct the Labour Court v, Tis Hazari, Delhi, to take up the case afresh and dispose of the same within a period of six months from the date of communication of this order to the labour Court. The parties to appear before the Labour Court for further proceedings on 18th May. 1993. The petitioner shall also deposit with the Labour Court a sum of Rs. 25,000. 00 which can be withdrawn by the respondent no. 1 on furnishing a security for restitution to the satisfaction of the Labour Court and after notice to the petitioner. This deposit will be made by the petitioner within eight weeks from today. There will be not order as to costs. "
(5) AS per the aforesaid order, the petitioner was to deposit a sum of Rs. 25,000. 00 within eight weeks from the date of the order. This order further categorically directed both the parties to appear before the Labour Court for further proceedings on 18/05/1993.
(6) ON 18/05/1993 the respondent no. 3 appeared before the Labour Court and produced certified copy of the order dated 19/4/1993 passed by this court. However, nobody appeared on behalf of the petitioner. Since the Presiding Officer was also on leave, the case was put up on 24/05/1993 for further order. On 2 4/05/1993 also nobody appeared on behalf of the petitioner and the petitioner was accordingly proceeded ex-parte. The Labour Court noted that Advocates were on strike and the case was put up for 7/07/1993 for further proceedings. On 7/07/1993 also nobody appeared on behalf of the petitioner. It was adjourned to 9/08/1993 which was declared holiday and the case was taken up on 1 3/10/1993. On 13/10/1993 representative of the petitioner appeared. Since the Presiding Officer was on leave, the case was put up on 26/10/1993 for re-arguments. On 26/10/1993 arguments on behalf of the respondent no. 3 were heard. However representative of the management sought an adjournment. Noticing that number of opportunities had already been given to the management to argue the case and that High Court had fixed the time limit for disposal of the case, the Labour Court fixed the case for orders on 27/10/1993 observing that the petitioner could argue the case on or before that date. It would be relevant to reproduce this order:
" 26. 10. 1993 present: Authorised representative for workman. Authorised representative for the management. Arguments on behalf of the workman heard. Authorised representative for the management has sought adjournment. Already number of opportunities have been given to the management to argue the case but the authorised representative for the management is not ready to argue it. Since the Hon'ble High Court has fixed up a time limit for disposal of the case, due to repeated adjournments sought by management, case could not be disposed of earlier. I fix the case for order on the submission of the workman for 27-10-1993 and authorised representative for management can argue the case on or before that date. "
(7) INSTEAD of arguing the case on 27/10/1993 the petitioner moved the application with the prayer that ex-parte proceedings against the petitioner vide order dated 24/5/1993 be set aside and petitioner may be allowed to deposit the amount in terms of order dated 19/4/1993. This application was dismissed by the Labour Court vide order dated 27/10/1993 which reads as under:
" 27. 10. 1993 Present A. R. for the parties. In this case, the court received on 24-5-1993 the order of the Hon'ble High court, Hon'ble Justice B. N. Kirpal and Justice Shri Arun B. Saharya, whereby the order of this court dated 24/2/1992 was set aside and also the ex-parte award dated 22/8/1991 was set aside and also the direction was issued to the court to take up the case afresh and dispose of the case within six months. The Hon'ble High Court also directed the management to deposit a sum of Rs. 25,000. 00 with the court within 8 weeks which can be withdrawn by the respondent no. 1 on furnishing security. The management thereafter did not comply with the directions of the Hon'ble High Court. It is argued by the a. R. of workman that since the order of the Hon'ble High Court was conditional and since the management has failed to fulfill this condition, this court should pass an ex-parte award against the management. The management has not disputed the submission of the workman deposited the amount but has moved an application before me stating that they had moved the Hon'ble high Court to extend the time and to allow to. deposit the amount in terms of the order dated 19/4/1993. However, no directions so far have been received from the Hon'ble High Court. This court is bound to comply with the directions of the Hon'ble High Court issued vide their order dated 19/4/1993. It is clear that the management had been seeking adjournments on one pretext or the other despite the specific directions of the Hon'ble High Court. The management did not appear before this court on 18-5-1993. Even thereafter the management did not appear. Since the management has not complied with the directions of the Hon'ble High Court and did not fulfil the conditions for setting aside an ex-parte award dated 22/8/1991 and an order dated 24/2/1993, the court is left with no option but to pass an ex-parte award against the management. I, therefore, pass an ex-parte award against the management. File be consigned to R. R. "
(8) DISMISSING the application of the petitioner, the Labour Court proceeded to give the award dated 27/10/1993 and this writ petition, as already noted above, is directed against this award.
(9) IT may be mentioned at this stage that this writ petition which was filed in April, 1995 against ex-parte award dated 27/10/1993 was dismissed by this court on the ground that it was highly belated. The petitioner filed SLPs. against the order of this court dismissing the writ petition on the ground of delay. By order dated 4/11/1996 the Supreme Court did not agree that there was delay in filing the writ petition and remanded the case back to this court for deciding the same on merits directing that the writ petition should be disposed of expeditiously.
(10) THIS is how the parties appeared in this writ petition once again. Without stating in detail as to what happened on various dates fixed, few notable events are required to be mentioned. On an application filed by the petitioner, this court granted stay of the impugned award vide order dated 5/8/1997. It noted that the petitioner had deposited a sum of Rs. 25,000. 00 with the Labour Court. The respondent no. 3 was also granted Rs. 5,000. 00 as litigation expense. Thereafter the respondent no. 3 filed application under Section 17-B of the Industrial Disputes Act for passing appropriate order regarding wages of the respondent no. 3 during the pendency of the writ petition. Notice in this application was issued. However, on 13/05/1999 counsel for the petitioner submitted that he would take only ten minutes to argue the petitioner, and therefore, instead of hearing the application under Section 17-B separately, the matter be listed for final arguments. The case was fixed for this purpose on 18/05/1999. Nobody appeared on that date and the matter was adjourned to 10/08/1999. On 10/08/1999 it was directed that reply to application under Section 17-B of the Industrial Disputes Act be filed and matter be listed on 23/08/1999 in the category of 'regulars' as item No. 1 subject to overnight part-heard. The matter reached on 1/11/1999 for hearing. As there was no appearance from either side it was directed to remain on 'regular' board till 8/12/1999 and as nobody appeared on that date also, the petition was dismissed for non-prosecution. The petitioner moved an application along with application for condonation of delay on 27/01/2001 i. e. more than one year after the dismissal of the writ petition or recalling of the order dismissing the petition for non-prosecution. Counsel for respondent no. 3 in all fairness submitted that the order dated 18/12/1999 be recalled subject to payment of cost. On his statement made on 9/03/2001 the order dated 8/12/1999 was recalled and the matter was listed afresh for arguments.
(11) THIS in nutshell is tell tale of the litigation between the parties.
(12) THE petitioner is seeking setting aside of award dated 27/10/1993. The way petitioner has been prosecuting this case tells a sordid story of its negligence at various stages. Even if we confine to the proceedings before the Labour Court after the setting aside of earlier ex-parte award dated 29/10/1991 by this court and remand of the case to the Labour Court, the situation is not any different. From the order dated 19/4/1993 by this court setting aside ex-parte award, three things are clearly discernible. These are: I
1) Both the parties were directed to appear before the Labour Court on 18th May,1993.
2) The Labour Court was directed to decide the case within six months.
3) The petitioner was to deposit a sum of Rs. 25,000. 00 with the Labour Court within eight weeks of the order dated 19/4/1993.
Inspite of fixing the date of 18/05/1993 for appearance before the Labour Court, nobody appeared on behalf of the petitioner. The reason now assigned is that the lawyers were on strike. That is hardly any reason for non-appearance by the petitioner. If the counsel of the petitioner was unable to appear due to lawyers' strike, the petitioner should have seen to it that some representative/official of the petitioner appears. The petitioner should have been more vigilant and cautious, particularly after it had already suffered an ex-parte award in this very case and the matter had been remanded back after setting aside the award on the concession made by the respondent no. 3. Neither anybody appeared nor attempt was made to know the next date i. e. 24/05/1993. On that date petitioner remained absent. Again reason given in this writ petition is that it was due to lawyers' strike. At the cost of repetition it is to be emphasised that lawyers' strike cannot be a justification for not appearing in the case at all and at least some person should have attended the hearing. After all respondent no. 3 appeared in person on 18/05/1993 as well as on 24/05/1993 as his authorised representative was also not appearing due to lawyers' strike. The Labour Court therefore had no option but to proceed ex-parte against the petitioner. Twice the case was listed thereafter but there was no appearance from the petitioner. However, when the case was listed on 13/10/1993 representative of the petitioner appeared. How it came to know about the hearing fixed on 13/10/1993 is a mystery as no revelation is made by the petitioner on this account. Be as it may, the Labour Court fixed the matter on 26/10/1993 for arguments in the presence of the counsel for the petitioner. No steps were taken to seek setting aside the ex-parte award dated 24/5/1993 or request made for leading evidence. Once the counsel for the petitioner appears, all of a sudden on 13/10/1993 and case is fixed for arguments on 26/10/1993 in his presence, it can be presumed that the petitioner knew about the various proceedings in this case and particularly order dated 24/5/1993 by which the petitioner was proceeded ex-parte. No steps were taken even till 26/10/1993 when the matter was to be argued. On 26/10/1993 representative of respondent no. 3 even argued his case. The petitioner sought adjournment. The Labour Court, to my mind, rightly declined to give this adjournment on the ground that the High Court had fixed time limit of six months for disposal of the case. Still while fixing the case for order on 27/10/1993 and the petitioner was given an opportunity to argue the case before that date. When the case was fixed on 27/10/1993 for the first time on this date an application was made for setting aside the ex-parte proceedings dated 24/5/1993 which in the circumstances explained above, was rightly dismissed by the Labour Court. It may be mentioned that as on 27/10/1993 the situation prevailing was as under:
(13) THE time limit fixed by the High Court for deciding the case was going to expire in November, 1993. Further this court had given eight weeks time to the petitioner to deposit the amount of Rs. 25,000. 00 with the Labour Court. Till that date no such money was deposited. Therefore showing its helplessness, being bound by the directions of this court contained in order dated 19/4/1993, the Labour Court rightly rejected the application of the petitioner. It may be mentioned that when aforesaid facts are seen coupled with the fact that the petitioner did not appear before the court on 18/05/1993 even when the said date was fixed by the High court in presence of both the parties, the conduct of the petitioner leaves an impression that the petitioner was deliberately not appearing in the matter on the pretext that lawyer
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s were on strike, although it knew the court proceedings including the fact that it had been proceeded ex-parte on 24/05/1993. What else could explain the sudden appearance of the petitioner on 13/10/1993? All these facts show that there was no justifiable excuse for not appearing before the Labour Court which rightly proceeded against the petitioner vide order dated 24/5/1993 and by not complying with the directions of this court contained in order dated 24/5/1993. Since no sufficient cause is shown and that the petitioner is guilty of protracting the litigation and is negligent in prosecuting its case, no further indulgence can be given to the petitioner who has dragged this litigation for almost ten years even after the initial ex-parte award dated 29/10/1991. The award passed by the Labour court on the basis of material on record i. e. unrebutted testimony of the respondent no. 3 and there being no evidence produced by the petitioner, cannot be faulted with. (14) THIS writ petition is without any merit and is accordingly dismissed with cost quantified at Rs. 10,000. 00. Since the petitioner has already given Rs. 5,000. 00, it would be entitled to adjust this amount already given by way of litigation expenses. CM No. 2421/99 (15) THIS application was filed by the respondent workman under Section 17-B of the industrial Disputes Act for payment of last drawn wages during the pendency of the writ petition. The application is supported by the affidavit that the respondent workman has remained unemployed during the pendency of the writ petition. Although there is no ground to deny this relief to the respondent workman, since the writ petition filed by the petitioner itself stands dismissed, no further orders are required in this CM. This cm is accordingly disposed of as such.