Punjab & Ors Vs.
Jagjivan Parshad  INSC 536 (31 March 2008)
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT & P. SATHASIVAM & AFTAB ALAM REPORTABLE CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2256 OF 2008 (Arising out of SLP(C) No.
22333/2005) Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. Challenge in this appeal is to the judgment passed by a Division Bench of
the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissing the Civil Writ Petition No. 6622
of 2005. Challenge in the writ petition was to the Award dated 13.1.2005 passed
by the labour Court, Jalandhar.
3. Background facts in a nutshell are as follows:
Respondent was appointed primarily as a Gardner on 2.2.1989. The order was
revoked by the District Welfare Officer since the appointment was found
contrary to the instructions of the Government. Accordingly the services were
terminated on 25.1.1997. On a complaint being made by the respondent on
11.5.1999. the Labour Commissioner, Punjab, Chandigarh Bench referred the
matter for adjudication to the Labour Court under Section 10(1)(C) of the Industrial
Disputes Act, 1947 (in short the 'Act'). The Labour Court by Award dated
13.1.2005 held that the termination was illegal and that the workman was
entitled to reinstatement with 50% back wages, continuity of service and other
service benefits. A writ petition was filed challenging the Award. The Labour Court found that though the claim was that the respondent had not
worked for 240 days in any twelve calendar months preceding the date of
termination, yet finding was recorded that the absence from service on Sundays
and holidays have to be taken into account. Accordingly the Labour Court held
that the respondent had worked for more than 240 days. The High Court dismissed
the writ petition holding as follows: "For the reasons given in the paragraph No. 8 of the Award, we find no
merit in the writ petition. Dismissed." Stand of learned counsel for the appellant is that the High Court's order is
non-reasoned and the conclusions in paragraph 8 to which reference has been
made in the High Court's impugned order do not reflect the factual position
clearly. Reference is made to Exh. M2 series to show that during the period
from February 1996 to January, 1997 and February 1995 to January 1996 the
respondent had worked much less than 240 days. It is submitted that the onus is
on the respondent to prove that he had worked for 240 days in a calendar year
preceding the termination. Learned counsel for the respondent on the other supported the impugned order
of the High Court.
4. As the quoted portion of the High Court's order goes to show that no
reason was indicated except making reference to paragraph 8 of the Award. The
conclusions in the said paragraph were assailed in the writ petition. The
manner of disposal of the writ petition by the High Court leaves much to be
desired. Various contentious questions were raised including one relating to
whether the appellant could be treated as an industry. These aspects were not
considered by the High Court.
5. Reasons introduce clarity in an order. On plainest consideration of
justice, the High Court ought to have set forth its reasons, howsoever brief,
in its order indicative of an application of its mind, all the more when its
order is amenable to further avenue of challenge. The absence of reasons has
rendered the High Court's judgment not sustainable.
6. We find that the writ petition involved disputed issues regarding
eligibility. The manner in which the High Court has disposed of the writ
petition shows that the basic requirement of indicating reasons was not kept in
view and is a classic case of non-application of mind. This Court in several
cases has indicated the necessity for recording reasons.
7. Even in respect of administrative orders Lord Denning, M.R. in Breen v.
Amalgamated Engg. Union [(1971) 1 All ER 1148] observed: (All ER p. 1154h)
"The giving of reasons is one of the fundamentals of good
administration." In Alexander Machinery (Dudley) Ltd. v. Crabtree (1974 1
CR 120) it was observed: "Failure to give reasons amounts to denial of justice. Reasons are live
links between the mind of the decision-taker to the controversy in question and
the decision or conclusion arrived at."
8. Reasons substitute subjectivity by objectivity. The emphasis on recording
reasons is that if the decision reveals the "inscrutable face of the
sphinx", it can, by its silence, render it virtually impossible for the
courts to perform their appellate function or exercise the power of judicial
review in adjudging the validity of the decision. Right to reason is an
indispensable part of a sound judicial system. Another rationale is that the
affected party can know why the decision has gone against him. One of the
salutary requirements of natural justice is spelling out reasons for the order
made, in other words, a speaking-out. The "inscrutable face of the
sphinx" is ordinarily incongruous with a judicial or quasi- judicial
performance (See: Chairman and Managing Director, United Commercial Bank v.
P.C. Kakkar[(2003(4) SCC 364)]).
9. That being so, we set aside the impugned order of the High Court and
remit the matter to it for fresh consideration in accordance with law. We make
it clear that we have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case. It
goes without saying that the High Court shall pass a speaking order recording
reasons in support of its conclusions.
10. The appeal is allowed to the aforesaid extent without any order as to