According to the petitioner, the respondent – employee was working in the engineering branch of the petitioner who has reached the age of superannuation. He was issued the charge-sheet for disobeying the lawful order of the superiors, and after a full-fledged inquiry, he was dismissed from service on 03.05.1995. At that time, he was paid gratuity and other retiral benefits. Thus, the total amount paid to the respondent was already sent by way of a cheque, and when he chose not to accept, the petitioner has deposited the amount with Gujarat Labour Welfare Commissioner. Therefore, the direction of paying gratuity with 9% interest is erroneous.
The respondent challenged this before the Labour Court. The oral evidence was given in respect of the legality and validity of the departmental inquiry by the respondent; however, on the aspect of back wages and the issue of penalty order of dismissal was left.
The learned Advocate for the petitioners, Mr A.K.Clerk, submitted before the Hon’ble Court that the judgment of the Labour Court and Industrial Court in relation to the misconduct suffer from a serious error of jurisdiction. The inquiry conducted by the petitioner – management was held to be vitiated. It would mean that those proceedings conducted were absolutely legal and proper. There is sufficient evidence led by the management to prove the misconduct. According to the respondents, the findings of the adjudicatory body to the effect that the proceedings have been vitiated were based on the contention of the delinquent workmen who, according to the respondents, did not get the opportunity to lead the evidence in support of their case. It is a grievance that the workmen did not enter the witness box nor had led the evidence, which by no stretch of imagination can be termed as an absence of opportunity during the inquiry. The proceedings of the inquiry conducted are already on record as far as the charges which are held to be proved, and hence, the findings of the Court recording contrary to what has been furnished in terms of the record is a severe error of jurisdiction.
The learned advocate for Respondent Mr Dave before the Hon’ble Court that it is the say of the respondent – employee that two orders have been challenged on the part of the employer, one passed by the Labour Court in the application as well as another passed by the Industrial Court, which virtually confirmed the said order was modifying the award of the Labour Court by curtailing the retiral benefits to a certain extent. The respondent – employee, therefore, has preferred the petition to the extent that total back wages have not been granted, and Industrial Court has granted a meagre sum of gratuity without any other retiral benefits. According to the respondent, all the employees have retired, and three of them have also died. They are clamouring for justice for several years. They are victims of the unfair labour practice adopted by the employer. According to the respondent, the petition deserves to be dismissed based on severe suppression of facts. The employer has preferred several revision applications before the Industrial Court during the pendency of proceedings, challenging the interim orders of the Labour Court. In the case of two employees (i) Kantilal A. Rana and (ii) Subhashbhai M. Panjwani, the Labour Court had held that the employer had absolutely on false ground initiated the inquiry and the orders of termination of the said employees were illegal. They were directed to be reinstated, but the back wages were also required to be decided by way of an interim order. At an interim stage itself, the Court had directed the reinstatement. It also did not permit, considering the gross facts, to allow conducting the inquiry as the allegation against those two Union Representatives was to the effect that they were not in service for half a day and the said charge salary was also deducted.
Regard was paid to the submissions advanced by the learned advocates for both the petitioners and the respondent. For the purpose of adjudication, the facts are drawn from Special Civil Application No. 20076 of 2017 essentially, and reference of SCA 7346/21, wherever necessary, was given in the petition. Shalini Shyam Shetty and Another vs Rajendra Shankar Patil [2010 AIR SCW 6387], Section 15 of the Indian High Courts Act of 1861, Laxmikant Revchand Bhojwani and another vs Pratapsingh Mohansingh Pardeshi reported in (1995) 6 SCC 576 and many other cases were also taken into consideration.
In the light of the submissions put forth by the learned counsel for the applicant, the Court held that in all the matters where the employer has challenged the judgment and award, the cost is to be imposed to the tune of Rs. 20,000/- (Rupees Twenty Thousand Only). Noticing throughout the conduct on the part of the employer, all the appeals preferred by the employees are allowed partly in the above terms.
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