Transport Corporation Vs. Sanjay Kumar Nautiyal  Insc 309 (27 February 2008)
Arijit Pasayat & D.K. Jain Dr. Arijit Pasayat, J
this appeal, Uttaranchal Roadways Transport Corporation (in short the
'Corporation') calls in question legality of the judgment rendered by a learned
Single Judge of the Uttaranchal High Court partly allowing the writ petition
filed by the appellant-Corporation. Before the High Court the Corporation had
challenged the order passed by the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Dehradun in Reference Case No.25
of 2000 whereby it had ordered that respondent shall be re- instated into
service with 50% back wages with minor punishment of stoppage of two increments
without cumulative effect.
Background facts in a nutshell are as follows:
Kumar Nautiyal-respondent was employed as conductor in the
appellant-establishment and was posted at Saharanpur Depot at the relevant
time. On 22.4.1996 respondent was assigned duty of conductor in bus having
registration No.UP-15-9496. Duty of respondent included booking of tickets and
collecting money when the said bus plied on its assigned route. The respondent
was duty bound to keep correct accounts by filling details of tickets and
making entry in the waybill sheet provided by the appellant, thereby showing
number of passengers travelling, place of boarding and destination of
same day i.e. 22.4.1996, surprise checking was conducted by the personnel of
appellant under the supervision of Jamil Ahmad, Traffic Inspector with M.A.
Khan and Nandan Singh, Assistant Traffic Inspectors. The bus was plying on the Saharanpur
Haridwar route. On checking by the above-mentioned persons it was found that
the respondent had not mentioned the destination and boarding places of the
passengers in the waybill. The column pertaining to above-mentioned details was
left blank deliberately in order to mis-appropriate public money. Further, the
respondent had also manipulated the entries and had entered wrong/lesser
amounts charged from the passengers. Tickets issued by the respondent also did
not clearly show the destination and boarding places of the passengers and it
was deliberately written in the said manner, by the respondent in order to
conceal the correct information in case of any cross verification.
tickets issued by the respondent did not show any destination or boarding
place, which was left blank deliberately. The respondent had not issued tickets
to about half of the total passengers travelling on the bus and had also
charged money against the un-issued ticket, from the passengers. Entry
regarding the above- mentioned irregularities by the respondent had been made
by checking staff in the waybill. Therefore, it is absolutely clear that
respondent had mis-appropriated the public money, and had deliberately made
wrong entries to such effect in the way bill.
staff of the Corporation made the complaint against respondent on the same day
i.e. 22.4.1996. The conduct of respondent from the above- mentioned facts was
treated to be grossly improper and against the Service Rules as framed for the
employees of appellant. The conduct also amounts to mis-appropriation of public
money and cheating.
receiving complaint from checking staff, Assistant Regional Manager, Saharanpur issued directions to Senior
Station-in-charge, Saharanpur to give report after examining the
documents regarding the previous way bills and ticket counter foils submitted
by the respondent. On examination of the way bills and ticket counter foils by
Senior Station-in-charge it was found that the respondent attended duties only
for four days in the relevant month before the surprise checking was conducted.
It was found that on all occasions respondent had taken recourse to similar
tactics in filling up of passenger tickets and waybills, as was found by
checking staff on 22.4.1996.
writing in the tickets, destination and boarding place of passenger not
mentioned in the ticket, if it was mentioned, the same was not clear or legible
was no carbon impression found on backside of ticket. In the waybill the amount
of money has been altered by over writing and deducted from the original.
was submitted to Assistant Regional Manager, U.P. SRTC, Saharanpur on 9.7.1996.
receiving report Assistant Regional Manager, Saharanpur forwarded the matter to
Regional Manager, Dehradun with recommendation of disciplinary enquiry along
with the above mentioned enquiry report. Regional Manager, Dehradun after
consideration of complaint against the respondent by checking staff, report of
Traffic Inspector, recommendation of Assistant Regional Manager, Saharanpur and seriousness as well as gravity
of the matter, initiated disciplinary proceedings against the respondent.
Charge sheet was served upon the respondent and in total 13 charges were framed
against him on the basis of above mentioned records, by the appellant.
respondent filed reply to the charge sheet served upon him by the appellant.
Respondent could not explain the irregularities committed and took the way of
general defence that the column in the waybill was left blank due to the fact
that large number of passengers were travelling in the bus. The respondent
further claimed that there was no over-writing done by him on the waybill, and
someone else may have done it, in order to falsely implicate him.
respondent refused to cross-examine the witness produced by the appellant
before the enquiry officer, Shiv Ratan Kumar, Traffic Inspector. The witness
who had conducted enquiry proved the report before enquiry officer. The
respondent also failed to give clarification to enquiry officer regarding blank
columns in tickets and carbon impression. Again he took the general defence
that it has been made by mistake. The enquiry report was submitted to Regional
Manager, Dehradun and in the report it was found that charges proposed in the
charge sheet were proved against the respondent on the basis of documents, oral
statement and circumstances of the case.
report was submitted to Regional Manager, Dehradun.
Manager, Dehradun on perusal of enquiry proceedings as well as report and
evidence recorded by enquiry officer (documentary as well as oral) proposed
termination of services of the respondent along with forfeiture of salary
pertaining to suspension period of the respondent. Show cause notice to such
effect was issued to the respondent. Respondent replied to the show cause
notice and raised certain issues regarding the conduct of disciplinary
proceedings. However, Regional Manager, Dehradun found the respondent guilty of
gross misconduct on duty as well as mis-appropriation of public funds/ticket
money and also for submitting tempered waybills. Regional Manager, Dehradun
dismissed respondent from service and forfeited the salary for suspension
against the order of Regional Manager, Dehradun before General Manager, Western
Division, UPSRTC, Meerut filed by respondent was dismissed.
appeal before Assistant Managing Director, UPSRTC, Lucknow was also dismissed. Subsequently,
respondent filed Adjudication Case No.25 of 2000 before the Labour Court, Dehradun, thereby challenging the
dismissal from service by the appellant. The Labour Court vide order dated 31.7.2000 set aside the dismissal of respondent
by appellant. The punishment/penalty to respondent was considered to be harsh
in comparison to the quantum of misconduct and it was reduced to stoppage of
two annual increments in salary without future effect with forfeiture of 50% of
the back salary.
to be noted that the Labour
Court had found the
respondent guilty of charges framed in the charge sheet.
Court did not deem it
proper to record oral evidence of the parties and had only relied upon the
documentary evidence pertaining to the disciplinary enquiry.
by the above mentioned order of Labour Court dated 31.7.2000 in Adjudication case No.25 of 2000,
appellant filed Writ Petition before the High Court of Uttaranchal at Nainital.
The High Court dismissed the Writ Petition of appellant on the ground that the
presumption that the punishment of removal/dismissal from service was excessive
and Labour Court was correct in exercising powers provided under Section 6(2-A)
of U.P. Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (in short the 'Act') by setting aside the
order of removal/dismissal.
the High Court primary stand of the appellant was that in view of the proved mis-conduct
of respondent the punishment awarded was fully justified and the Labour Court should not have interfered with the
punishment. The High Court did not accept the stand. It noted that the amount
involved was meager and therefore the punishment awarded was dis-proportionate.
However, the High Court held that the respondent shall not be paid any back
wages but other punishments awarded were maintained.
support of the appeal, learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the Labour
Court and the High Court had unnecessarily given consideration to the amount
involved without appreciating the fact that the conductor holds a post of trust
and therefore the punishment of removal from service as awarded cannot be
submitted that order of the High Court has been passed without appreciating the
fact that termination of service is very appropriate to the seriousness of
charges levied against the respondent in view of fraud and misappropriation of
public money by the respondent clearly proved by the surprise checking team as
well. The station in charge and the court below have also held respondent to be
guilty of fraud and mis-appropriation of public money and the charges levied on
respondent were clearly proved after proper enquiry.
spite of service of notice the respondent has not appeared.
V. Ramana v. A.P. SRTC and Ors. (2005 (7) SCC 338) it was held as follows:
Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation v. B.S. Hullikatti (JT 2001 (2) SC
72), it was held that misconduct in such cases where the bus conductor either
had not issued tickets to a large number of passengers or had issued tickets of
lower denomination, punishment of removal is proper. It is the responsibility
of the conductors to collect correct fare charges from the passengers and
deposit the same with the Corporation. They act in fiduciary capacity and it
would be a case of gross misconduct if they do not collect any fare or the
correct amount of fare. A conductor holds a post of trust. A person guilty of
breach of trust should be imposed punishment of removal from service. The
factual position shows that the appellant's conduct in collecting fare at the
designated place and not collecting fare from persons who had already travelled
were in violation of various Regulations contained in The Andhra Pradesh State
Road Transport Corporation Employees (Conduct) Regulations, 1963 (in short
'Regulations'). In the Karnataka State Road Transport case (supra) it was held
that it is misplaced sympathy by Courts in awarding lesser punishments where on
checking it is found that the Bus Conductors have either not issued tickets to
a large number of passengers, though they should have, or have issued tickets
of a lower denomination knowing fully well the correct fare to be charged. It
was finally held that the order of dismissal should not have been set aside.
The view was reiterated by a three Judge Bench in Regional Manager, RSRTC v. Ghanshyam
Sharma (2002 (1) LLJ 234), where it was additionally observed that the proved
acts amount either to a case of dishonesty or of gross negligence, and Bus
Conductors who by their actions or inactions cause financial loss to the
Corporations are not fit to be retained in service.
principle was reiterated in Regional Manager, U.P.S.R.T.C. Etawha and Ors. v. Hoti
Lal and Anr. (JT 2003 (2) SC 27)
Above being the position, the Labour Court
and the High Court were not justified in holding that the punishment awarded
view of the above, the order of the High Court is set aside. The punishment
awarded by the disciplinary authority as upheld by the appellate authority
appeal is allowed with no order as to costs.