M.P. State Electricity Board Vs. Smt. Jarina Bee  Insc 293 (15 July 2003)
Raju & Arijit Pasayat
out of SLP(C) No. 3092 OF 2003) ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
primal issue involved in this appeal is whether award of full back wages is the
natural consequence when an order of dismissal is set aside. The High Court of
Madhya Pradesh at Jabalpur held it to be so, and that is why
the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board (hereinafter referred to as 'the
Board') filed this appeal.
background which is almost undisputed is as follows :- One Habib Khan
(hereinafter referred to as the 'employee') husband of respondent Smt. Jarina
Bee, was employed as a Line Attendant, Grade-II in the Board. On the allegation
that he was responsible for theft of large quantity of aluminum wire, criminal
case was lodged and departmental proceedings were initiated. In the
departmental inquiry he was found guilty and was removed from service on
20.1.1996. Such removal was challenged by him before the Labour Court-I, Bhopal. The said Court held that since departmental inquiry was
not conducted in accordance with the principles of natural justice, the
dismissal was bad.
was given for reinstatement of employee by granting opportunity to the Board to
prove his misconduct.
directing reinstatement, it was held that he was not entitled to any back
wages. Both the Board and the employee preferred appeals before the Industrial Court, Bench at Bhopal. By order dated 11.2.2002, the Industrial Court allowed the appeal filed by the
employee, while dismissing the one filed by the Board. It was held that when an
order of dismissal was set aside, entitlement for full back wages was
the pendency of the matter before the Industrial Court the employee breathed his last. Therefore, the direction
for re-instatement has become infructuous.
Board challenged the order of the Industrial Court before the High Court which by the impugned judgment dated 8th October 2002 held that when a charge was not
established at all and the order of removal is set aside award of back wages
was the natural consequence.
S.K. Agnihotri, learned counsel appearing for the Board, submitted that the Industrial Court as well as the High Court fell in
grave error by holding that the award of back wages was the natural consequence
in all cases where the order of removal was set aside. Mr. B.S. Banthia,
learned counsel appearing for the respondent (widow of the employee) submitted
that the High Court was justified in its conclusion considering the fact that
the order of dismissal was without sanctity in law. Alternatively, it was
submitted that full back wages are to be paid, considering the nature of the
allegations and findings recorded by the Labour Court, Industrial
Court and the High
Court and the directions cannot be faulted on the facts of the case.
P.G.I. of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh v. Raj Kumar (JT 2001(1)
SC 336), this Court found fault with the High Court in setting aside the award
of the Labour Court which restricted the back wages to 60% and directing
payment of full back wages. It was observed thus:
labour court being the final court of facts came to a conclusion that payment
of 60% wages would comply with the requirement of law. The finding of
perversity or being erroneous or not in accordance with law shall have to be
recorded with reasons in order to assail the finding of the Tribunal or the labour
not for the High Court to go into the factual aspects of the matter and there
is an existing limitation on the High Court to that effect." Again at
paragraph 12, this Court observed:
of back wages having a discretionary element involved in it has to be dealt
with, in the facts and circumstances of each case and no straight-jacket
formula can be evolved, though, however, there is statutory sanction to direct
payment of back wages in its entirety." The position was reiterated in
Hindustan Motors Ltd. v. Tapan Kumar Bhattacharya and Another (2002 AIR SCW
3008) and Indian Railway Construction Co.
Ltd. v. Ajay Kumar (JT 2003(2) SC 295.
the legal principles, the inevitable conclusion is that the High Court
committed an error in holding that the award of full back wages was the natural
brings us to the alternate submission of the learned counsel for the
respondent. Considering the background of the case and the fact that the order
of dismissal was found to be defective as the principles of natural justice
were not properly followed, and an opportunity was granted to the Board to
proceed in accordance with law, and the fact that the employee has expired in
the meantime, we feel the payment of Rs.85,000/- towards back wages would meet
the ends of justice. The payment is to be made within a period of 8 weeks from
amount has been paid pursuant to the directions given by the Industrial Court
and/or the High Court, the same shall be adjusted from the aforesaid sum. If
any payment has been made in excess of the amount, the Board shall be entitled
to refund thereof.
appeal is allowed to the extent indicated above.