State Rd Trans. Corp. & Anr Vs. S.G. Kotturappa & Anr  Insc 151 (3 March 2005)
Hegde & S.B. Sinha
W I T
H CIVIL APPEAL NO.4869 OF 1999 S.B. SINHA, J:
Respondents were appointed as Badli Conductors by the Appellant herein. Their
services having been found to be not satisfactory were terminated by an order
dated 11.11.1983 and 9.9.1980 respectively.
disputes in relation thereto having been raised by the Respondents herein,
references were made by the State of Karnataka for adjudication thereof before the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Bangalore which were marked as Reference Nos.57 of 1986 and 42 of
1983. By reason of awards dated 21.3.1987 and 31.10.1986, the respective orders
of termination of the Respondents passed by the Appellant herein were held to
be bad in law on the premise that the principles of natural justice had not
been complied with and the workmen were directed to be reinstated in service
with full back wages. The Appellant herein filed writ petitions thereagainst
before the Karnataka High Court which by reason of the impugned judgments were
dismissed. The Appellant is, thus, before us.
factual aspect of the matter may be noticed by us from Civil Appeal No.4868 of
Respondent was appointed by a Memo. Dated 13.5.1982 in substitute vacancies
arising out of Suspension Pending Enquiry/Suspension as a measure of specific
punishment and absent cases etc., inter alia, on the following terms and conditions
You as a Badli (sic) is not an appointee in the Corporation and do not have any
right merely because your services are so utilized on day-to-day basis.
are not entitled to any kind of leave or other facilities to which the regular
employees are entitled to.
are not transferable from place of your utilization so long as you remain Badli.
will be eligible for payment of wages for the number of days you are utilized
for the job as such either daily or mothly, as per the rates prevailing in the
Your utilization as Badli will be discontinued if for any reason, your services
are found not suitable for the job for which you are utilised as Badli."
Allegedly, the Respondent committed misconduct on 13 occasions and upon enquiries
held in that behalf, minor punishments were imposed upon him. The history-sheet
in relation to the said Respondent is as under :
SHEET Name : H.S. Keshav Murthy, Conductor Sl. No.
of misconduct reported or nature of good work reported Punishment Imposed
1344/79 Non account of one un-punched ticket. 6.00 1.12.99 Warned
1343/79 Non account of two tickets. 5.60 Warned
1480/79 Non account of one luggage ticket Non account of one ticket. 2.30 9.11.79
1612/79 Non account of 2/1 tickets Issue of tickets on sight Disorder by behaviour
Way bill irregularities 13.11.79 Service Withdrawn
1615/79 Not issual of 4 tickets 22.11.79
1617/79 Not issual of 4 tickets Non account of 4 tickets Stopped from duty.
Finally warned 25.2.80
900/80 Damages to the property door of Veh. No.6651 and insubordinations 1.5.80
Memo cost recovered and continued.
1166/80 Hurriedly issue of 4 tickets & issued the same to the passengers
without punching 11.5.80 Stopped duty for 7 days
625/80 Possession of excess cash of Rs.45.30 3.6.80 Stopped duty for 10 days
1457/80 Non issual of one ticket 9.8.80 Stopped duty for 2 days
1115/80 Re-issual of 14 tickets 14.8.80 Removed from Badli list.
Relying on or on the basis of the said purported conduct on the part of the
Respondent herein during the aforementioned period, he was discontinued from
the select list as Badli and his name was removed therefrom by an order dated
11.11.1983, stating :
S.G. Kotturrappa was utilized as a Badli Conductor on badli basis under clear
terms and conditions stipulated in the order cited above as per which the
undersigned being the Competent Authority is empowered to discontinue from
utilization as Badli Worker any of the select list candidate as and when he is
found not suitable during the period he is engaged on badli duties.
the period of utilization as Badli Woker, his services were found to be
unsatisfactory. He is therefore found not suitable for the post for which he
was utilized as Badli and he is discontinued from utilization as Badli and his
name is removed from the Select list.
chance for further appointment as Conductor in terms of his selection, is
Court as also the High Court passed the impugned awards and judgment relying on
or on the basis of a decision of this Court in S. Govindaraju vs. Karnataka
S.R.T.C. and Another [(1986) 3 SCC 273] wherein it was held that as by reason
of such discontinuance in service, the Respondent had forfeited his chance of
being appointed having been found unsuitable therefor, it was imperative on the
part of the Appellant herein to afford an opportunity of hearing to him.
K.R. Nagaraja, the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Appellant herein,
raised two submissions before us. Firstly, the learned counsel would contend
that having regard to the offer of appointment, the Respondent did not derive
any legal right to continue as a Badli worker.
in this behalf has been placed on State of Uttar Pradesh and Another vs. Kaushal Kishore Shukla [(1991) 1 SCC 691].
The decision of this Court in S. Govindaraju (supra), according to Mr. Nagaraja,
is not applicable to the facts and circumstances of this case inasmuch as the
concerned workman therein having completed 240 days of service during the
preceding twelve months derived a right to continue, and, thus, the conditions
precedent for termination thereof as contained in Section 25-F of the
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 were required to be complied with, which
provision has no application in the instant case. Secondly, compliance of
principles of natural justice would have been rendered in futility inasmuch
past misconduct committed by the Respondent herein stood admitted. It is
further not in dispute that before imposing such punishment, the Respondent had
been given an opportunity of hearing.
learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Respondent, on the other hand, would
submit that the Respondent herein underwent the process of selection in terms
of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (Cadre and Recruitment)
Regulations, 1982 framed under Section 45 of the Road Transport Corporation
Act, 1950 and, thus, derived a right to continue in service. It was contended
that the conditions of service of the Badli workmen being governed by the
statutory regulations as contra- distinguished from contractual terms, the
right to continue in service is a statutory right. The disqualification as
contemplated under Sub-Regulation (5) of Regulation 10, it was urged, deserves
strict construction. As by reason of the order of termination of the service,
the right of the Respondent to be taken in permanent service of the Appellant
Corporation stood forfeited, the learned counsel for the Respondent would
submit, the Respondents must be held to have suffered civil consequences.
Road Transport Corporation Act, 1950 was enacted by the Parliament to provide
for the incorporation and regulation of Road Transport Corporations. The
Appellant-Corporation was constituted in terms of the provisions of the said
Act. Section 45 of the 1950 Act empowers the Corporation to make regulations
with the previous sanction of the State Government and the rules made thereunder
for the administration of the affairs of the Corporation. Pursuant to or in
furtherance of the said power, the Appellant framed the Karnataka State Road
Transport Corporation (Cadre and Recruitment) Regulations, 1982. Before coming
into force of the 1982 Regulations, the MSRTC C&R Regulations 1968 held the
field, Regulation 16 whereof reads as under:
Procedure for Appointment of Badlis.-
'BADLI' worker is one who is employed on a day to day basis in any vacancy
caused by the absence of any employee and who is paid for the number of days he
works as such, either daily or once in a month.
list of Badli workers shall be maintained in a Depot or Workshops. The
appointment of a Badli worker shall be made from among those in the list of Badli
workers who are present at the Depot/Workshop, preference being given to the
person who arrived first at the place of duty. If for any reason a Badli worker
is not found suitable for the post, his name may be removed from the list of Badli
3. A badli
worker would be eligible for such day to day appointment as long as his name
figures in the list of Badli workers." The regulations are pointers to the
fact that the rights of the Badli workers are not absolute in nature.
1982 Regulations came into force with effect from 1.1.1983 and Regulation 4
provides for eligibility for appointment and disqualifications for appointment,
Sub-Regulation (6) whereof reads as under :.
person who has been convicted in an offence, involving moral turpitude by a
Court of law or dismissed from service in this Corporation or Government, State
or Central or any Local Bodies or any Industrial or Commercial concerns or
other State Transport Undertakings for offence or misconduct involving moral
turpitude, or a selected candidate removed/terminated for offence of misconduct
while working as Badli in the Corporation shall be eligible for
appointment." The expression 'disqualification' in or opinion does not
require strict construction in all situations as meaning thereof must be
rendered keeping in view the text and context of the statute. [See K. Prabhakaran
etc. vs. P. Jayarajan etc. (2005) 1 SCC 754].
10 provides for procedure for appointment, Sub- Regulation (5) whereof reads as
selected candidate waiting for being appointed regularly in accordance with
these Regulations may be appointed as a temporary employee before such regular
appointment against a short term vacancy or as a substitute in place of regular
employee under suspension pending enquiry or suspension as a measure of
punishment or on leave for a period not less than one month but not exceeding 3
months." It is not in dispute that by a judgment and order dated 13.2.1987
passed in Writ Petition Nos. 14625 to 14627 of 1986, the Karnataka High Court
declared the last sentence relating to forfeiture in Regulation 10(5) as
invalid, whereupon an amendment was introduced therein with effect from
13.9.1989 deleting the last sentence.
power of appointment is vested in the Corporation by reason of the provisions
of the said Act and the Regulations framed thereunder.
candidate' has been defined in Sub-Regulation (3) of Regulation 2 to mean a
candidate whose name appears in a list of candidates selected for appointment
to any service, class or category by the Selection Authority.
said Regulations provide for method of recruitment, the qualifications required
therefor, the mode of selection, probation etc. A select list for appointment
of the permanent workman is contained in Sub-Regulations (4) and (5) of
Regulation 9. Such select list is to be prepared after interviewing the
candidates who were found suitable therefor in order of merit. Sub- Regulation
(5) of Regulation 10, however, postulates preparation of a wait list. The
person whose name appears in such wait list may either be appointed as
temporary employee or engaged as Badli worker on day to day basis in any
vacancy caused by absence of any employee and would be paid for the number of
days he works as such either daily or once in a month.
mode of appointment, therefore, postulates appointment in three tiers. The
status of a temporary employee is higher than a Badli worker.
names of Badli workers are not to be included in the select list but in the
wait list. A select list of selected candidates prepared by the selection
authority is required to be equal to the number of existing vacancies plus
vacancies that may arise over a period of one year from the date of publication
as may be assessed by the Selection Authority and only in exceptional cases,
the validity thereof can be extended for a period not exceeding six months. The
select list or the wait list, as the case may be, therefore, does not have an
indefinite life. A bare perusal of the memo. dated 13.5.1982 in terms whereof
the Respondent was appointed clearly states that he was appointed in the
Corporation and did not have any right merely because his services were so
utilized on day to day basis. The services of a Badli worker may be
discontinued, if for any reason he is not found suitable for the job for which
his services were utilized as Badli. A Badli worker is eligible for payment of
wages only for the number of days his services are utilized.
contentions of the parties as regard the status of the Respondent are,
therefore, required to be considered in the aforementioned backdrop.
not a case where the Respondent has completed 240 days of service during the
period of 12 months preceding such termination as contemplated under Section
25-F read with Section 25-B of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The Badli
workers, thus, did not acquire any legal right to continue in service. They
were not even entitled to the protection under the Industrial Disputes Act nor
the mandatory requirements of Section 25-F of the Industrial Disputes were
required to be complied with before terminating his services, unless they
complete 240 days service within a period of twelve months preceding the date
where an adverse report regarding the work of a temporary Government servant is
made or a preliminary enquiry on the allegation of improper conduct is carried out,
the same would not stand in the way of the employer to terminate his service.
Kishore Shukla (supra). This Court in Kaushal Kishore (supra) distinguished its
earlier decisions in Nepal Singh vs. State of U.P. [(1985) 1 SCC 56] and Ishwar Chand Jain vs. High Court of
Punjab and Haryana [(1988) 3 SCC 370]. The Court noticed that since a temporary
Government servant is entitled to protection of Article 311(2) of the
Constitution in the same manner as a permanent Government servant, very often
the question arises as to whether an order of termination is in accordance with
the contract of service and relevant rules regulating the temporary employment
or it is by way of punishment and held :
In the instant case the respondent was a temporary government servant and there
was adverse report regarding his work which was reflected in the adverse
remarks made for the year 1977-78. The competent authority held a preliminary
inquiry in the allegations of improper conduct in carrying out unauthorised
audit of Boys Fund of an educational institution, on result of the preliminary
enquiry no charges were framed against the respondent, no officer was appointed
for holding the departmental inquiry instead the competent authority chose to
terminate the respondent's services in exercise of its power under the terms of
contract as well as under the relevant rules applicable to a temporary
government servant. It never intended to dismiss the respondent from service.
Holding of preliminary inquiry does not affect the nature of the termination
order. The allegations made against the respondent contained in the
counter-affidavit by way a defence filed on behalf of the appellants also do
not change the nature and character of the order of termination. The High Court
failed to consider the question in proper perspective and it interfered with
the order of termination in a casual manner." The terms and conditions of
employment of a Badli worker may have a statutory flavour but the same would
not mean that it is not otherwise contractual. So long as a worker remains a Badli
worker, he does not enjoy a status. His services are not protected by reason of
any provisions of the statute. He does not hold a civil post. A dispute as
regard purported wrongful termination of services can be raised only if such
termination takes place in violation of the mandatory provisions of the statute
governing the services. Services of a temporary employee or a badli worker can
be terminated upon compliance of the contractual or statutory requirements.
(supra), the concerned workmen had worked for more than 240 days, his
retrenchment came within the purview of Section 2(oo) (bb) of the Industrial
Disputes Act. Despite the fact that provisions contained in Section 25-F of the
Industrial Disputes Act had not been complied with, this Court held that as in
terms of Sub-Regulation 5 of Regulation 10 his name should have been removed
from the select list, serious consequences entail as he forfeited his right to
employment in future and, thus, the principles of natural justice were required
to be complied with though no elaborate enquiry would be necessary, holding :
an opportunity of explanation would meet the bare minimal requirement of
natural justice. Before the services of an employee are terminated, resulting
in forfeiture of his right to be considered for employment, opportunity of
explanation must be afforded to the employee concerned. The appellant was not
afforded any opportunity of explanation before the issue of the impugned order;
consequently the order is rendered null and void being inconsistent with the
principles of natural justice." In that case it was held that the
provisions of Section 25-F were not complied with. As the statutory
requirements of payment of compensation were conditions precedent for
retrenchment of the workman, it was invalid and operative, and, thus, it was
not necessary for this Court to determine the larger question.
(supra) has been distinguished by this Court in Dr. J. Shashidhara Prasad vs.
Governor of Karnataka and Another [(1999) 1 SCC 422]. The observation as regard
the right of a person to remain in the select list was doubted in view of the
subsequent decisions on the point. This Court categorically held that a person
does not have a right to appointment only because his name had appeared in the
select list. In a case of Badli worker, his name appears not in the select list
but in the wait list. Even in a case where the order of termination is found to
be bad in law, his name can only be considered to continue in the wait list
and, thus, he could not have been automatically absorbed in the service.
event, in the instant cases, it has not been found that the Respondent was
entitled, before his services were terminated, to receive compensation in terms
of the provisions of Section 25-F of the Industrial Disputes Act. It was not a
case where the services of the Respondent could have been terminated only in
compliance with the provisions of Section 25-F and on the Appellant's failure
to do so he had derived a right to continue in service. Furthermore, in Govindaraju
(supra) there was no case of proved misconduct made out against the workman
unlike the present cases. In this case, the Appellant's contention that before
imposing the punishments upon the Respondent, opportunities of hearing had been
granted to the concerned workman is not denied or disputed. Imposition of such
punishment upon the workmen had not been questioned by them. They accepted the
same and, thus, the same attained finality. The history-sheet of the
Respondents clearly show that opportunities after opportunities had been given
to them to improve themselves but they did not avail the same. It was in that
situation if the services of the Respondents were found not satisfactory and
they were continued from service, no fault can be found with the action the
Appellant herein. There is another aspect of the matter which cannot be lost
High Court of Karnataka had declared the last sentence of Sub- Regulation (5)
of Regulation 10 as invalid. In view of such declaration, the Respondent did
not forfeit his right for being considered for appointment from the select list
subject, of course, to fulfillment of other conditions, if any. The question as
to what extent, principles of natural justice are required to be complied with
would depend upon the fact situation obtaining in each case. The principles of
natural justice cannot be applied in vacuum. It cannot be put in any straight
jacket formula. The principles of natural justice are furthermore not required
to be complied with when it will lead to an empty formality. What is needed for
the employer in a case of this nature is to apply the objective criteria for
arriving at the subjective satisfaction. If the criterias required for arriving
at an objective satisfaction stands fulfilled, the principles of natural justice
may not have to be complied with, in view of the fact that the same stood
complied with before imposing punishments upon the Respondents on each occasion
and, thus, the Respondents, therefore, could not have improved their stand even
if a further opportunity was given. [See Escorts Farms Ltd., Previously known
as M/s Escorts Farms (Ramgarh) Ltd. vs. Commissioner, Kumaon Division, Nainital,
U.P. and Others [(2004) 4 SCC 281, Bar Council of India vs. High Court of Kerala
(2004) 6 SCC 311, A. Umarani vs. Registrar, Cooperative Societies and Others
(2004) 7 SCC 112] and Divisional Manager, Plantation Division, Andaman & Nicobar
Islands vs. Munnu Barrick and Others (2005) 2 SCC 237].
OF BADLI WORKERS
have noticed hereinbefore the relevant provisions of the Regulations. The
status of a Badli cannot be better than a probationer. If the services of the
probationer can be terminated for not being able to complete the period of
probation satisfactorily, there is no reason as to why the same standard cannot
be held to be applicable in the case of Badli worker.
would be the legal requirements for discharging a probationer on the ground of
his unsatisfactory performance has recently been considered by us in Municipal
Committee, Sirsa vs. Munshi Ram [JT 2005 (2) SC 117], wherein it was held :
From the above, it is clear assuming that there was some sort of misconduct, as
noticed in the evidence of the witnesses of the management in the cross-
examination, the same could not be used as evidence by the Labour Court or by
the appellate court for coming to the conclusion that an order of termination
which is otherwise simpliciter in nature is motivated by any consideration
other than the decision of the management as to the satisfactory nature of the
workman concerned." It was further observed :
that there was an incident of misconduct or incompetency prior to his discharge
from service, the same cannot be ipso facto be termed as misconduct requiring
an inquiry, it may be a ground for the employer's assessment of the workman's
efficiency and efficacy to retain him in service, unless, of course, the
workman is able to satisfy that the management for reasons other than
efficiency wanted to remove him from services by exercising its power of discharge."
The Appellant watched the conduct of the Respondents for an year and only on
completion of the period during which the select list remained valid,
terminated their services as having been found not satisfactory.
Registrar, High Court of Gujarat and Another vs. C.G. Sharma [(2005) 1 SCC
132], this Court observed:
order of termination is termination simpliciter and not punitive in nature and,
therefore, no opportunity needs to be given to the respondent herein.
the overall performance of the respondent was found to be unsatisfactory by the
High Court during the period of probation, it was decided by the High Court
that the services of the respondent during the period of probation of the
respondent be terminated because of his unsuitability for the post. In this
view of the matter, order of termination simpliciter cannot be said to be violative
of Articles 14, 16 and 311 of the Constitution.
law on the point is crystallized that the probationer remains a probationer
unless he has been confirmed on the basis of the work evaluation. Unless the
relevant Rules under which the respondent was appointed as a Civil Judge, there
is no provision for automatic or deemed confirmation and/or deemed appointment
on regular establishment or post, and in that view of the matter, the
contentions of the respondent that the respondent's services were deemed to
have been continued on the expiry of the probation period, are
the reasons aforementioned, the impugned judgments cannot be sustained which
are set aside accordingly. The appeals are allowed.
in the facts and circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to costs.