(Prayer: Writ Appeal filed under Clause 15 of Letters Patent, against the order of this Court made in W.P.(MD) No.7558 of 2020, dated 28.07.2020.)
T.S. Sivagnanam, J.
1. We have heard Mr.R.Rajamohan, learned Counsel appearing for the appellant and Mr.Ajay Khose, learned counsel, for Mr.A.Rahul, learned counsel appearing for the first respondent.
2. This appeal filed by the State Express Transport Corporation Tamilnadu Limited is directed against the order and direction issued in W.P(MD).No.7558 of 2020. The said writ petition was filed by the respondent-workman challenging the order, dated 25.04.2020, directing the respondent- workman to remit Rs.75,900/- towards monetary value equivalent to non-implemented punishment of increment cuts and for a consequential direction to pay the recovered amount of Rs.75,900/- with 18% interest payable from 27.04.2020 to till the actual date, on which, the amount is settled.
3. The writ petition was allowed by the learned Single Bench following the decision of the Division Bench in the case of Management of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (Kumbakonam) Ltd., and others vs. J.Arumugam and another in W.A(MD).No.465 of 2013 etc., batch, dated 30.06.2017. The learned Single Bench also took note of the celebrated decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of State of Punjab and others vs. Rafiq Masih (White Washer) and others, (2015) 4 SCC 334.
4. The appellant-Corporation is on appeal before us by contending that though the decision of the Division Bench in the case of J.Arumugam (supra), was confirmed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court, since the Special Leave Petition in SLP(C) No.1755 of 2018 was dismissed on 09.02.2018, all the Employees Unions have signed a Settlement under Section 12(3) of the Industrial Dispute Act 1947, dated 04.01.2018 and in terms of Clause 8 therein, the appellant-Corporation is entitled to recover the said amount with regard to the unimplemented order of punishment passed against the workmen postponing the increment.
5. First issue to be considered in this appeal is whether the judgment rendered by the Court can be settled or not by entering into the settlement under Section 12(3) or 18(1) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947. The Settlement signed between the employer and the employee can at best have the binding inter-partly qua the claims made by the workmen against the management. No settlement can be entered into between the parties to nullify a judgment which has been rendered interpreting the Statutory Rules and Regulations, which are applicable to the Organisation. Therefore, the argument of the appellant that the settlement would supersede the decision on the legal issue is not acceptable and it is rejected.
6. Be that as it may, if we examine the condition No.8 of the 12(3) of the Industrial Dispute Act 1947 Settlement, we find that there is no such leverage given to the appellant-Management. The said Clause 8 reads as follows:
7. The above condition states that the increment postponement orders which could not be implemented prior to the superannuation of the employee can be implemented, but only in accordance with the Common Service Rules and the Standing Orders which are applicable to the organisation. This question was considered in the case of J.Arumugam (supra), as first among the several issues and it was held that there is no provision in the Certified Standing Orders enabling the Management to pass orders of recovery as passed in the instant case. In fact, the Court held that the Common Service Rules are not applicable to the workmen and there is no Standing Order framed by the Management and only Certified Standing Orders are in vogue and the Certified Standing Orders do not provide for any such recovery. The operative portion of the judgment reads as follows:
"5. Before deciding the merits of the case, firstly, it has to be seen, as to, under which Rule, the workmen of the Management are governed by. It is admitted by the Management that the workmen are governed by Certified Standing Orders, framed for the employees of the Management/Corporation by the Appellate Authority under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946 (supra), but, contrary to the same, the impugned orders of recovery were passed by the Management, by following the provisions of the Common Service Rules, viz., Rule 4 (1) (e). Pitted with this position, the learned counsel for the Management submitted that the Management has no option, except, to opt for Rule 4 (1) (e) of the Common Service Rules, for, the workmen suffered punishment of withholding of increment, which could not be given effect to, as the workmen did not have the requisite remaining years of service. That apart, such a remedy is not found in the Certified Standing Orders. This submission is untenable, for the reason that, when the Management has admitted that the workmen are governed by the Rules framed under the Certified Standing Orders, in violation to the same, it cannot follow Rule 4 (1) (e) of the Common Service Rules, by invoking Clause 25 (1) (iv) (b) of the Certified Standing Orders. Therefore, we have no hesitation to hold that the orders passed by the Management, recovering three times the monetary value equivalent to the amount of increment, are without jurisdiction, as there is no such provision in the Certified Standing Orders, enabling the Management to pass such orders. Therefore, on that ground, the impugned orders are required to be set aside."
8. Therefore, the contention of the appellant-Management that Clause 8 of the 12(3) Settlement provides for passing such an order in an Organisation, is stated to be rejected. Clause 8 cannot be used as a tool or a source of power to recover money from the workman, especially, when the Settlement only states that it can be done so, if there is a provision under the Common Service Rules or the Standing Orders.
9. Furthermore, the question as to whether the Management would be entitled to implement orders of postponement of increment, which was not implemented during the period when the workman was in service, was also considered in the case of J.Arumugam (supra) and it was held that the same cannot be done and it will be without jurisdiction. The operative portion of the judgment reads as follows:
"37. One more important aspect, which we wish to point out is that, the Management cannot plead ignorance of the fact that, on the date, when punishment was imposed on the workmen, the punishment was not capable of being implemented as workmen did not have the required remaining years of service. If that is so, the Management cannot take shelter under the explanation contained Clause 4 (1) (e) to suit its own convenience, and the workmen cannot be put in a disadvantageous position. In such circumstances, the Management cannot rely on the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Kshetrabasi Mohanti (supra) where, the Hon'ble Supreme Court considered the correctness of the order by substituting the punishment for a candidate, who was still in service. There, it was a case, where, it was not possible for the Corporation to implement the punishment, but, the case on hand, is a case, where, the Corporation was fully aware of remaining years of service in respect of each of the workmen, yet, chose to pass such orders of recovery. Thus, the Management, having failed to convert the punishment of stoppage of increment to that of order of recovery of monetary value, when the workmen were in service, it cannot turn around and say that those orders could be implemented by invoking Clause 25 (iv) (b) of the Certified Standing Orders."
10. In the light of the above legal principle and having found that there is no provision in the Certified Standing Orders to pass orders of recovery at the verge of retirement or after retirement proposing to recover the unimplemented orders of punishment of postponement of increment, is wholly without jurisdict
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ion. Hence, for the reasons set out by the learned Single Bench as well as the reasons which we have observed supra, the order passed in the writ petition does not call for interference. The learned Single Bench has allowed the writ petition as prayed for, which would mean that the respondent-workman is also entitled to claim interest at 18% per annum. In our considered view, 18% interest would be too exorbitant and we are of the view that a time frame can be fixed for the respondent-Management to settle the amount of Rs. 75,900/- and accordingly directed to pay the said sum within a period of 12 weeks, failing which, the Management is directed to settle the amount together with the interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of order passed in the writ petition, namely, 28.07.2020, till the claim is settled. 11. In the result, this Writ Appeal stands dismissed. No costs.