Co-Ordinator & ANR Vs. Abdul Kareem & ANR  INSC 1588 (18
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5815 OF 2008 (Arising
out of SLP(C) No. 17820/2006) DISTRICT PROGRAMME CO-ORDINATOR, MAHILA ...
APPELLANT(S) SAMKHYA AND ANR.
Karnataka, is a society registered under the Karnataka Societies Registration
This society is
engaged in various activities, like encouraging, assisting, promoting, decision
making and encouraging group action by women as means of their empowerment and
equal participation in the process to bring about social changes and to empower
the women. The activities of the said society is being carried out in the
districts of Gulbarga, Bidar, Raichur, Bijapur, Bellary, Koppal and Mysore in the
State of Karnataka. It has been receiving funds from the Government of
Netherlands for the aforementioned activities.
2 The services of
respondent No.1 herein as a driver were hired by the appellants. He was
initially appointed in the year 1992 on fixed tenure basis. On or about 20th
October, 1997, his services were again hired inter alia for the period
1.11.1997 to 31.10.1999. Appellants were, however, entitled to terminate his
services with 30 days notice on either side or by payment of compensation of
one month's honorarium in lieu of notice.
It is now not much in
dispute that some acts of omission and commission on the part of the 1st
respondent were brought to the notice of the authorities of the Society and
some purported oral enquiry was conducted at Bangalore in connection with some
vehicle bearing No. KA-39 M-42.
By reason of a letter
dated 3rd July, 1998, however, the services of respondent No.1 were terminated
in terms of para 14 of the offer of appointment, stating:
"Vide the above
referred letter, you were appointed as a driver in MSK, Gulbarga as per the
terms and conditions mentioned therein.
In accordance with
para XIV of your appointment letter, your services are no longer required in
this organization and hence your services are terminated with immediate effect,
i.e. with effect from 3.7.98 with one month notice in lieu of which you are
being paid one month's honorarium."
An industrial dispute
was raised by the 1st respondent before the Labour Court at Gulbarga. Both the
parties adduced their respective evidences before the Presiding Officer, Labour
Court. Having regard to the deposition of Ms. Jyothi Kulkarni examined on
behalf of the appellants as NW-1, the Labour Court opined:
3 "The main
contention of the 2nd party is that the termination of the workman 1st party
was only a termination simplicitor and the same cannot be disturbed by the
Court. In this case the 2nd party has produced the letter dt. 3.7.98. Of course
the said letter shows that the appointment was only temporary in nature. This
statement as reflected in the letter cannot be accepted. In fact the 1st party
has produced before the court the letter issued by the establishment.
The said letter
issued by the officials of the 2nd party marked as W1 clearly indicates that the
service of 1st party was terminated not on account of temporary work but it was
due to the fact that the same was not proper."
Holding that as no
disciplinary enquiry was conducted, the termination order dated 3.7.1998 was
illegal, an award of reinstatement in service with full back wages was made.
Aggrieved by and dissatisfied with the said award the appellants filed writ
petition in the High Court. The High Court while upholding the award of
reinstatement in service reduced the back-wages to 30 per cent.
Appellants are, thus,
Mr. Nath, learned
counsel for the appellants would submit that the Labour Court and consequently
the High committed a serious illegality in passing the impugned award and the
judgment, in so far as they failed to take into consideration that the order of
termination did not attract the provisions contained in Chapter VA of the
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 inasmuch as the termination of services of the
1st respondent came within the purview of clause (bb) of Section 2(oo) of the
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
Mr. Naik, learned
counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents, on the 4 other hand, would
urge that from the letter dated 6th August, 1997 issued by the Ministry of
Human Resource Development, Department of Education, Government of India, it
would appear that the Project during the 9th Plan period was to continue from
1997-98 to 2001-2002 and in that view of he matter, the services of the 1st
respondent should not have been terminated before the Project came to an end.
From the deposition
of Ms. Jyothi Kulkarni herself, the learned counsel submitted, it is abundantly
clear that the services of the 1st respondent were terminated by way of
punishment in lieu of dismissal from service as his behaviour was not proper
and, thus, this Court should not exercise its discretionary jurisdiction under
Article 136 of the Constitution of India.
Section 2(oo)(bb) of
the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 reads as under:
the service of the workman as a result of the non- renewal of the contract of
employment between the employer and the workman concerned on its expiry or of
such contract being terminated under a stipulation in that behalf contained
It is not a case
where the termination of the services of the 1st respondent emanated from
non-renewal of contract of employment. Under the general law, the appellants
might have been entitled to take recourse to clause XIV of the offer of
appointment dated 20.10.1997, but in view of the fact that the terms and
conditions of services of the 1st respondent were governed by the provisions of
the Industrial Disputes Act, the order of termination must satisfy the
We may place on
record that although a contention has been raised both 5 before the Labour
Court as also the High Court that the society does not satisfy the test of an
'industry' as contained in Section 2(j) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947.
Mr. Nath did not
raise any such contention before us.
A finding has been
arrived at by the Labour Court that the termination of the services of the 1st
respondent, relying on or on the basis of clause XIV of the offer of
appointment, is a camouflage and the said finding has been affirmed by the High
Court. We are not inclined to interfere therewith, being a finding of fact.
It is, however, not a
case where an award of reinstatement could be made.
The Society runs the
project. The project came to an end in 1999. The plea that the tenure of the
project was extended by the Government of India was not put to the Management.
Such a plea cannot be raised for the first time before us.
We, therefore, are of
the opinion that as the services of the 1st respondent could be terminated on
or about 31.10.1999, i.e. at the end of the tenure of the project, interest of
justice will be subserved if in stead and place of upholding the award of
reinstatement in service, we direct the appellants to pay a sum of Rs. 56,000/-
to the 1st respondent by way of compensation which would cover the amount of
honorarium to which he would have been entitled to for the period July, 1998 to
October, 1999. We direct accordingly.
The said payment
shall be made within a period of eight weeks from the date of communication of
this order, failing which the same shall bear interest at the rate 6 of 12 per
cent per annum.
The appeal is allowed
in the above terms.