P. Rajan Sandhi Vs.
Union of India & ANR.  INSC 758 (21 September 2010)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO(s). 4095 OF 2006 P. RAJAN
SANDHI Appellant (s) VERSUS UNION OF INDIA & ANR. Respondent(s) O R D E R
Heard the learned counsel for the parties.
This Appeal, by
special leave, has been filed against the impugned judgment of the High Court
of Kerala dated 29.07.2005 passed in W.A. No. 2131 of 2002.
The facts of the case
have already been set out in the impugned judgment and hence we are not
repeating the same here, except wherever necessary.
The appellant herein
was an Assistant Editor in Mathrubhumami Printing and Publishing Company
Limited, (respondent No. 2 herein) which is a newspaper publishing company. The
appellant was charge-sheeted for making false :1:
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).
4095 OF 2006 allegations against the Managing Director of respondent No.
2 and of using
discourteous language and for other various misconduct. An enquiry was
conducted and, after giving him opportunity of hearing, the enquiry office
found him guilty.
The appellant was
ultimately dismissed from service on 20.06.1988. An industrial dispute was
raised and the Industrial Tribunal upheld the order of dismissal. The appellant
challenged the order of the Industrial Tribunal by filing a Writ Petition which
was dismissed. Thereafter, the appellant unsuccessfully challenged the
dismissal of the Writ Petition by filing a Writ Appeal which was dismissed.
Petition filed by the appellant against the dismissal of the Writ Appeal was
also dismissed by this Court.
In this round of
litigation, now the question is about the appellant's claim for gratuity.
The claim of the
appellant for gratuity was rejected by the Management of respondent No. 2
against whose order the appellant has filed a Writ Petition which has been
allowed by the learned single Judge of the High Court. However, by :2: CIVIL
APPEAL NO(s). 4095 OF 2006 the impugned judgment passed in Writ Appeal No. 2131
of 2002 the Division Bench of the High Court set aside the judgment of the
learned single Judge. Hence, this appeal by special leave.
The learned counsel
for the appellant relies on Section 4(6) of the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
(39 of 1972) which reads as under :- "Section 4(6) Notwithstanding
anything contained in sub-section (1),- (a)The gratuity of an employee, whose
services have been terminated for any act, wilful omission or negligence
causing any damage or loss to, or destruction of, property belonging to the
employer shall be forfeited to the extent of the damage or loss so caused;
payable to an employee may be wholly or partially forfeited - (i)If the
services of such employee have been terminated for his riotous or disorderly
conduct or any other act of violence on his part, or (ii)If the services of
such employee have been terminated for any act which constitutes an offence
involving moral turpitude, provided that such offence is committed by him in the
course of his employment."
The learned counsel
further submits that since no damage or loss to, or destruction of, property of
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).
4095 OF 2006 employer was alleged or proved against the appellant nor was he
alleged to have committed any riotous or disorderly conduct or any other act of
violence or any offence involving moral turpitude, his claim for gratuity could
not have been denied.
On the other hand,
the learned counsel for respondent No. 2 relies on Section 5(1)(a)(i) of the
Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and
Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 [for short `the Working Journalists Act'].
The relevant part of Section 5 is as under :- "Section 5. Payment of
gratuity.-(1) Where - (a)any working journalist has been in continuous service,
whether before or after the commencement of this Act, for not less than three
years in any newspaper establishment, and - (i)his services are terminated by
the employer in relation to that newspaper establishment for any reason
whatsoever, otherwise than as a punishment inflicted by way of disciplinary
act, or X X X the working journalist or, in the case of his death, his nominee
or nominees or, if thee is no nomination in force at the time of the death of
the working journalist, his family, as the case may be, shall, without
prejudice to any benefits or rights accruing under the Industrial Disputes Act,
1947 (14 of 1947), be paid, on such termination, retirement, resignation or
death, by the employer in relation to that establishment gratuity which shall
be equivalent to fifteen days' average pay for every completed year of service
or any part thereof in excess of six months."
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).
4095 OF 2006 It may be seen that there is a difference between the provisions
for denial of gratuity in the Payment of Gratuity Act and in the Working
Journalists Act. Under the Working Journalists Act gratuity can be denied if
the service is terminated as a punishment inflicted by way of disciplinary act,
as has been done in the instant case. We are of the opinion that Section 5 of
the Working Journalists Act being a special law will prevail over Section 4(6)
of the Payment of Gratuity Act which is a general law. Section 5 of the Working
Journalists Act is only for working journalists, whereas the Payment of
Gratuity Act is available to all employees who are covered by that Act and is
not limited to working journalists. Hence, the Working Journalists Act is a
special law, whereas the Payment of Gratuity Act is a general law. It is well
settled that special law will prevail over the general law, vide G.P. Singh's
'Principles of Statutory Interpretation', Ninth Edition, 2004 pp. 133, 134.
The special law,
i.e., Section 5(1)(a)(i) of the Working Journalists Act, does not require any
allegation of proof of any damage or loss to, or destruction of, property, etc.
as is required under the general law, i.e., the Payment :CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).
4095 OF 2006 of Gratuity Act. All that is required under the Working
Journalists Act is that the termination should be as a punishment inflicted by
way of disciplinary action, which is the position in the case at hand. Thus, if
the service of an employee has been terminated by way of disciplinary action
under the Working Journalists Act, he is not entitled to gratuity.
For the reasons above
stated, we see no infirmity in the impugned judgment of the High Court. The
Appeal is dismissed accordingly. No costs.