Managing Director The North East Karnataka Road Transport Corporation Vs. K. Murti
 Insc 821 (17
Ar. Lakshmanan & Altamas Kabir
SLP(C) No. 16719 of 2005) Dr. AR. Lakshmanan, J.
sole respondent was served through the Court on 10.1.2005. However, nobody has
appeared for the respondent. We heard Mr. Basava Prabhu S. Patil, learned
counsel appearing for the appellant-Management.
appeal is directed against the final order dated 25.2.2005 passed by the High
Court of Karnataka at Bangalore in Writ Appeal no.1565 of 2004, wherein
Division Bench of the High Court rejected the appeal filed by the appellant
herein and ordered accordingly. This Court on 22.8.2005 issued notice to the
sole respondent and interim stay was granted in the meantime. The respondent
was in the employment of the appellant Corporation as a badli conductor .
During his course of employment as badli conductor between the period from 1992
to 1995, he had an unedifying history of misconduct and had been punished by
imposing fine. While he was conducting the bus on 12.8.1992, the said bus came
to be checked by the checking squad at stage no.2 and it was noticed that the
respondent had failed to issue tickets to 6 passengers despite collection of
money, failed to issue tickets to 4 passengers who were travelling from Sanganakal
to KEB, Bellary and had not collected the requisite fare. The respondent had
closed the stage no.3 by keeping single digit blank in respect of Rs.1.25
denomination with an intention to re-issue the said denomination tickets in the
next trip and the respondent had closed the CWP against the stage no.2 except
the Rs.1.75 denomination. The Disciplinary authority directed holding of an
enquiry into the articles of charge in terms of the Corporation C & D
Regulations, 1971 by appointing an Inquiry Officer. The Inquiry Officer after
having issued notices to both the parties conducted a detailed enquiry in
respect of the charges levelled against the respondent. The proceedings were
conducted following the mandatory provisions of the Corporation C & D
Regulations, 1971 and affording adequate opportunity to the delinquent workman
to defend his case. The Disciplinary Authority, on re-appraisal of the
connected records, came to the conclusion as of the Inquiry Officer and looking
at the nature of the offence and its result passed an order on 18.5.1998
removing the name of the respondent from the list of badli conductors.
by the order of dismissal, the respondent approached the Labour Court by filing
a petition under section 10(4-A) of the Industrial Disputes (Karnataka
Amendment) Act, 1947 challenging the legality and correctness of the dismissal
order passed against him on 18.5.1998. The Labour Court after issuing process to the parties concerned by its order
dated 2.1.2002 passed an order holding that the enquiry held was fair and
passing of the preliminary order on issue no.1, i.e. whether the domestic
enquiry conducted by the respondent against the claimant is fair and proper,
the matter was posted for recording of evidence. The respondent, however,
failed to appear before the Court and accordingly the evidence was taken as
closed. Later after hearing the arguments, instead of dismissing the petition,
vide order dated 25.3.2003 the Labour Court set aside the termination order
dated 18.5.1998 and directed the appellant- Management to take the respondent
back on the list of badli conductors. However, the Labour Court held that the respondent was not
entitled for any back wages and continuity of service.
appellant-Management aggrieved by the order passed by the Labour Court, approached the High Court of
Karnataka by filing a writ petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the
Constitution of India and urged several grounds for consideration. The
respondent-workman also approached the High Court by filing writ petition.
learned Single Judge of the High Court dismissed the writ petition and thereby
upheld the order passed by the Labour Court.
The Management preferred writ appeal no.1565 of 2004 and urged several grounds
for consideration amongst others. The Division Bench by a common order dated
25.2.2005 rejected the writ appeal filed by the Management and also by the
respondent, thereby confirmed the orders passed by the learned Single Judge and
the Labour Court. Aggrieved by the said order, the
Management has come up on appeal before this Court.
have heard learned counsel appearing for the appellant-Management and perused
the records. In our opinion, the order passed by the High Court is erroneous on
the face of the record. The High Court, in our opinion, ought to have seen that
the misconduct was duly established in the enquiry and despite it, the Labour Court had persuaded itself to reinstate
the delinquent in service.
learned Single Judge also confirmed the order passed by the Labour Court. In our opinion, the High Court was
not justified in altering the quantum of punishment when the enquiry was held
to be fair and proper, charge was proved and no evidence was led before the Labour Court while questioning the order of the
Disciplinary Authority dismissing the delinquent workman. Likewise, the High
Court also failed to notice the order removing the name of the respondent from
the list of badli conductors. The High Court has also erred in taking note of
the fact that the punishment imposed on the delinquent official was not
shockingly disproportionate to the gravity of the misconduct proved against him
coupled with his history and he being a badli conductor. In our opinion, the
Division Bench have erred in rejecting the plea of the Management that the Labour
Court was not justified in ordering reinstatement of the respondent as regular
employee on the ground that such a plea was not raised before the learned
Single Judge when as a matter of fact the plea had been taken both before the Labour
Court and the learned Single Judge of the High Court.
learned counsel for the appellant, at the time of hearing, placed strong
reliance on the two decisions of this Court, one reported in 2002 (10) SCC 330
(Regional Manager, RSRTC versus Ghanshyam Sharma), which was also a case of bus
conductor carrying passengers without issuing tickets. This Court, in the above
case, held that carrying the passengers without tickets amounts to dishonesty
or grave negligence and for such misconduct punishment of removal from service
is justified. This Court also further observed that the Labour Court was not justified in directing the
reinstatement with continuity of service but without back wages. This Court has
also relied upon a judgment reported in 2001 (2) SCC 574 (Karnataka SRTC vs.
B.S. Hullikatti). In the said judgment, this Court has held that in such cases
where the bus conductors carry passengers without ticket or issue tickets at a
less rate than the proper rate, the said acts would inter alia amount to either
being a case of dishonesty or of gross negligence and such conductors were not
fit to be retained in service because such inaction or action on the part of
the conductors results in financial loss to the Road Transport Corporation.
This Court has also observed that in cases like the present, orders of
dismissal should not be set aside.
learned counsel for the appellant also cited judgment reported in 2006 (6) SCC
187 (Divisional Controller, N.E.K.R.T.C. vs. H. Amaresh). In this case, this
Court was considering the case of misappropriation of a small amount of State
Road Transport Corporation's fund by a conductor and held it a grave act of
misconduct, which resulted in financial loss to the Corporation. This Court
also held that punishment of dismissal from service awarded by the Disciplinary
Authority did not call for any interference by the Labour Court or the High Court and hence the
order of reinstatement passed by the High Court was set aside. This Court also
in a catena of decisions held that the Tribunal should not sit in appeal over
the decision of any employer unless there exists a statutory provision in this
behalf. This Court also observed that the High Court gets jurisdiction to
interfere with the punishment in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article
226 of the Constitution only when it finds that the punishment imposed is
shockingly disproportionate to the charges proved.
instant case, the position held by the employee (conductor) is one of faith and
trust. A conductor holds the post of trust. A person guilty of breach of trust
should be imposed punishment of removal from service. The respondent's conduct
in not collecting the requisite fare at the designated place from persons who
had travelled were in violation of various regulations contained in the
provisions of the Corporation C & D Regulations, 1971.
following judgments can be usefully referred to for the above proposition. They
1 V. Ramana
vs. A.P. SRTC & Ors., 2005 (7) SCC 338 2 Madhur Coats Ltd. vs. Madhan Kumar
& Ors., 2000 (85) FLR 933 Madras 3
Management of T.I. Diamond Chain Ltd. vs. P.L. Ramanathan & Anr., 2005
(107) FLR 714 We, therefore, set aside the final order dated 25.2.2005 passed
by the High Court of Karnataka in Writ Appeal No.1565 of 2004 and allow the
appeal filed by the Management. The orders passed by the learned Single Judge
of the High Court and the Labour Court
are also set aside. No costs.
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