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The Associated Cement Companies Ltd., Mancherial Cement Works, Mancherial, Adilabad District, rep. by its Vice-President v/s Chairman-cum-Presiding Officer, Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, Godavarikhani, Karimnagar District & Another

    Writ Petition No. 5566 of 2001

    Decided On, 24 December 2013

    At, High Court of Andhra Pradesh


    For the Petitioner: K. Srinivasa Murthy, Standing Counsel. For the Respondents: R2, M.V.S. Sarma, Advocate.

Judgment Text

1. The removal of the second respondent from service by the petitioner-company was questioned before the first respondent-Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, Godavarikhani. When the Tribunal allowed the representation of the second respondent through award dated 27.11.2000 in I.D.No.184 of 1997, the management of the petitioner-company has come forward with this Writ seeking a Certiorari to set aside the award passed by the Tribunal.

2. The second respondent was working as a Watchman in the petitioner-company since 1984. He was involved in a criminal case as he allegedly assaulted and caused injuries to one Smt. Nazeer Hussain, wife of an employee of the petitioner-company. A case in Crime No.3 of 1992 on the file of the Mancherial Police Station was registered under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC, for short). The complaint came up before the Judicial First Class Magistrate, Luxettipet, Adilabad District as C.C.No.338 of 1993. The second respondent was charged for the offences under Sections 325 and 324 IPC. However, through judgment dated 07.09.1995, the learned Judicial First Class Magistrate, Luxettipet acquitted the second respondent for the offence u/s.325 IPC. He, however, was convicted for the offence u/s.324 IPC. He was sentenced to undergo Rigorous Imprisonment (R.I.) for a period of one year and also to a fine of Rs.500/- with appropriate default sentence. The second respondent preferred Criminal Appeal No.47 of 1995 before the Sessions Court, Adilbad. The learned Sessions Judge, through judgment dated 22.03.1996 confirmed the conviction. However, the sentence was modified. Instead of R.I. for one year and fine of Rs.500/-, a total fine of Rs.1,000/- together with appropriate default sentence was imposed.

3. Subsequently, the management of the petitioner-company issued termination orders on 03.12.1997. Questioning the same, the second respondent raised I.D.No.184 of 1997 before the Tribunal u/s.2-A (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. As already pointed out, the order of termination was set aside by the Tribunal, which ordered reinstatement together with back wages and continuity of service.

The second respondent was also granted costs of Rs.1,000/- payable by the petitioner-company.

4. The learned standing counsel for the petitioner-company submitted that the petitioner was not hasty in proposing action against the second respondent. She drew my attention to the fact that while the alleged offence occurred on 5.01.1992 and First Information Report was registered and the petitioner was convicted by the trial Court on 07.09.1995, the petitioner did not take any action till the conviction was confirmed by the appellate Court on 22.03.1996. Thus, from 05.01.1992 till 03.12.1997 on which date the second respondent was removed from service, no action was taken against the second respondent. Admittedly, the removal of the second respondent is on the ground of conviction by a competent criminal Court.

5. The learned standing counsel for the petitioner-company contended that if an employee is convicted, his services can be terminated without any enquiry. In Deputy Director of Collegiate Education (Administration), Madras v. S. Nagoor Meera (AIR 1995 1364), a government employee was convicted by a competent court; the Court held that the competent authority need not wait for the decision of the appellate Court before which conviction is questioned. The Court considered that there is no need to hold elaborate enquiry before the government servant is dismissed from service on the ground of conviction in a criminal case.

6. In Swarn Singh v. State Bank of India (1986 (Supp) SCC 566), an employee who was convicted u/s.61 (1) (a) of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914 was released on probation u/s.4 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958. The Supreme Court upheld the removal of such an employee under the provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 on the ground that the offence involved moral turpitude. In State (Union of India) v. Ram Saran ((2003) 12 SCC 578), a reserve constable of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF, for short) was prosecuted by the Assistant Commandant by exercising powers of the Judicial First Class Magistrate. When the constable was convicted, his removal from service was held to be just and reasonable.

7. In J. Jaishankar v. Government of India ((1994) 6 SCC 204), an employee was convicted for the offence u/s.509 IPC. Although the offence u/s.509 IPC is a very petty offence, the offence u/s.509 IPC was considered to be an offence involving moral turpitude. Once an employee was thus convicted for the offence u/s.509 IPC, dismissal of the convicted worker from service was held to be proper, albeit no enquiry was held before the dismissal of such an employee. In State of Mandhya Pradesh v. Hazarilal ((2008) 3 SCC 273) the Supreme Court held that mere conviction for a criminal offence need not imply the dismissal from service in every case. The Supreme Court distinguished between the offences involving moral turpitude and heinous offences and held that the dismissal from service for a conviction for an offence of moral turpitude is just and unreasonable and would be proportionate to the conviction.

8. In Pawan Kumar v. State of Haryana ((1996) 4 SCC 17) moral turpitude was defined. Conviction for the offence u/s.324 IPC may or may not be a conviction for the offence of moral turpitude; but conviction u/s.324 IPC for causing simple injury to the wife of a co-employee, more so by a watchman certainly is an offence of moral turpitude. Watchman is a protective security guard of the estate of the petitioner. I am afraid that he himself cannot create law and order problem. The only question before the court is whether the removal of the second respondent without any departmental enquiry is justified or not. Various decisions referred to above, are cases where the erring employees were allowed to be removed/dismissed from service without any enquiry.

9. I consider that when the employee is involved in an offence involving moral turpitude and when he is found guilty, the removal of such an employee is more axiomatic. The removal/dismissal in such a case would be the rule in the ordinary circumstances; more so, in a case where the employee was a watchman and assaults the

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wife of other employee and suffers punishment from a competent criminal court and confirmed by the criminal appellate Court. I consider that the Tribunal has no justification in reversing the removal order and ordering reinstatement with all consequential benefits. The removal of the second respondent by the management of the petitioner-company is justified. The award which does not contain proper reasons is perverse and is consequently set aside. The order of removal of the second respondent is restored by setting aside the order of the award. 10. Accordingly, the writ petition is allowed. Miscellaneous Petitions, if any, pending in this writ petition shall stand closed. No costs.