Cooperative Consumers, Store Vs. Labour Court, H.P. & Anr  INSC 247 (30 April 1993)
R.M. (J) Sahai, R.M. (J) Venkatachala N. (J)
1994 AIR 23 1993 SCR (3) 477 1993 SCC (3) 214 JT 1993 (3) 532 1993 SCALE (2)842
Illegal termination of service-Fruitless litigation- Satisfaction of misplaced
of backwages-Financial viability of the employer- Justification for exercising favourable
discretion by court.
reinstatement of the employee would come within bona fide conduct for
modification of the order of back wages.
private respondent was appointed as sales girl with the petitioner. The new
manager not only insulted, humiliated and he her, he also terminated her
plea, the Assistant Registrar who decided the case after seven years, held the
Impugned order as Illegal, arbitrary and passed without obtaining the requisite
approval. He ordered reinstatement of the private respondent but did am grant
petitioner Informed the private respondent that her joining report could not be
entertained. The letter was forced to approach the appellate and revising
authorities the labour court and finally the High Court for back wages and
approached this court to assail well reasoned finding recorded by the High
Court, without the least regard of the financial implications. Meanwhile as the
petitioner was unable to persuade this courtes of the case, the petitioner made
attempt to highlight the financial difficulties in payment of back wages.
Kumar Varma and others v. Central Government Industrial Tribunal- Cum-Labour Court, New Delhi & Anr.  4 SCC 443, referred to.
petitioner urged that the private respondent had been pursuing the 478 ` remedy
for 16 years. And the profit margin of the petitioner being very low and the
overhead expenses high.
State and the Centre who granted financial assistance for rehabilitation
subject to the condition that the amount be not paid towards past debts, would
be rendered in serious predicament.
facts this court found that it was the petitioner who was not complying with
the orders passed by the authorities from time to time, so there was no
justification for exercising discretion in favour of the petitioner.
the SLP and upholding the order of the High Court, this Court,
Public money has been wasted due to adamant behaviour not only of the Officer
who terminated the services of the private respondent but also due to
cantankerous attitude adopted by those who were responsible for pursuing the
litigation, and literally persecuted her.
life of the private respondent has been lost for more than twenty years. While
considering the agony and suffering, the amount of back wages exceeding three lakhs
could not be a proper recompense. And the reinstatement of the private
respondent could not be considered as bonafide conduct for modification of the
order of back wages. (480-D) Leaving it open to the petitioner to replenish
itself and recover the amount of back wages from personal salary of its
officers who were responsible for the endless litigation and for terminating
the services of the private respondents this Court clarified that this
permission shall have nothing to do with the direction and the step for
recovery be taken only after payment of back wages to the private respondent.
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 4460 of 1993.
the Judgment and Order dated 15.1.1993 of the Himachal Pradesh High Court in
Civil Writ Petition No. 566 of 1990.
and Maninder Singh for the Petitioner.
following Order of the Court was delivered:
statutory bodies waste public money in fruitless litigation to satisfy 479
misplaced ego is demonstrated by this petition.
opposite party was appointed as Sales Girl by the petitioner, a cooperative
society registered under Cooperative Societies Act, running a Super Bazar in Shimla.
one of the managers came there on transfer, her trouble started. Apart from
insult, humiliaton and harassment thrust on her, that manager terminated her
services illegally without being authorised to do so and without obtaining
permission of the Administrator and without giving any notice or hearing her.
The opposite party who had been apprising her superiors of that manager's misbehaviour
and of her apprehensions that he was out to get rid of her although was assured
not only of his good behaviour and security of her services, immediately took
recourse to legal action. To her misfortune the Assistant Registrar decided her
case after seven years. It was held by him that the order of termination was
illegal, arbitrary and was passed without obtaining approval of the
Administrator. He directed the petitioner to reinstate her but did not grant
any back wages. Even with this order which was prejudicial to her the opposite
party was satisfied but the ego of petitioner was hurt. For eight months the
order was not implemented by the petitioner as it was contemplating to file the
appeal. And when the petitioner succeeded in obtaining the order it informed
the opposite party that her Joining Report could not be entertained. Since then
the opposite party has been knocking at the door of the petitioner but she was
made to approach the appellate authority, the revising authority, the High
Court, the Labour Court and finally the High Court again as the petitioner did
not succeed anywhere but went on filing appeal and revision forcing the
opposite party to file cross appeal or revision or even writ for her back wages
and other benefits. Not one authority, even in the cooperative department found
in favour of petitioner. Yet the petitioner had the obstinacy not only to
approach this Court but to place the blame of inordinate delay on adjudicatory
process. Such obstinacy without the least regard of the financial implications
could only be indulged by a public body like the petitioner as those entrusted
to look after public bodies affairs do not have any personal involvement and
the money that they squander in such litigation is not their own.
Jaitley the learned senior counsel attempted to assail the finding recorded by
the High Court and the Labour
Court. Suffice it to
say that the conclusions arrived at are not only well reasoned but are based on
material on record and could not be demonstrated to be vitiated by any error of
failed to persuade us on merits the Learned counsel attempted to highlight the
financial difficulty of the petitioner and placed reliance on Surendra Kumar Verma
& Ors. v. Central
Government Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court New, Delhi & Another 4 SCC 443 in support of the submission that 480 the
Courts while directing payment of back wages should exercise discretion
considering the financial viability of the employer. It was urged that the
respondent has been pursuing her remedy for 16 years therefore the petitioner
whose profit margin is very low and the overhead expenses are very high
resulting in accumulation of losses for which financial assistance has been
granted by State as well as the Central Government for rehabilitation subject
to the condition that the amount shall not be utilised towards past debts,
shall be rendered in serious predicament brought upon it by the respondent for
which it is not responsible.
is farther than truth. It was other way round. In fact it was the petitioner
who had disputed, the finding of the Registrar, directing reinstatment without
back wages, and made respondent to run from court to court. When the petitioner
did not reinstate her and filed an appeal she too filed a cross appeal for back
wages. It is more than apparent that it was the petitioner who was not
complying with the orders passed by the authorities from time to time and was
leaving no stone unturned to see that an illegal order passed by its officer
was upheld. We, therefore, do not see any justification for exercising
discretion in favour of such a litigant.
money has been wasted due to adamant behaviour not only of the officer who
terminated the services but also due to cantankerous attitude adoped by those
responsible for pursuing the litigation before the one or the other authority.
They have literally persecuted her. Despite unequal strenght the opposite party
has managed to survive.
informed that the opposite party has been reinstated.
was put forward as bonafide conduct of petitioner to persuade us to modify the
order in respect of back wages.
speak otherwise. Working life of opposite party has been lost in this tortuous
and painful litigation of more than twenty years. For such thoughtless acts of
its officers the petitioner-society has to suffer and pay an amount exceeding
three lakhs is indeed pitiable. But considering the agony and suffering of the
opposite party that amount cannot be a proper recompense. We, therefore,
dismiss this petition as devoid of any merit and direct the petitioner to
comply with the directions of the High Court within the time granted by it. We
however leave it open to the society to replenish itself and recover the amount
of back wages paid by it to the opposite party from the personal salary of the
officers of the society who have been responsible for this endless litigation
including the officer who was responsible for terminating the services of the
opposite patty. We may clarify that the permission given, shall have nothing to
do with the direction to pay the respondent her back wages. Step if any to
recover the amount shall be taken only after payment is made to the opposite
party as directed by the High Court.