State Road Transport Corp. Vs. Suresh Chand Sharma  INSC 421 (26 May
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION Civil Appeal No. 3086 of
2007 U.P. State Road Transport Corporation ..........Appellant Versus Suresh
Chand Sharma .........Respondent With Civil Appeal No. 3088 of 2007 Suresh
Chand Sharma .......Appellant Versus State of U.P. and Anr.
Dr. B. S.
these appeals have been preferred against the impugned judgment and order of
the High Court of Uttaranchal at Nainital in Writ Petition No. 4143 of 2001 by
which the Writ Petition filed by the Respondent-employee of the U.P. State Road
Transport Corporation (hereinafter referred to as the `Corporation') has been
allowed directing his re-instatement in service, but without back wages. The
Corporation has filed appeal being aggrieved of the order of re- instatement
and reversal of the Award of the Labour Court dated 28.4.1995, while Civil
Appeal No.3088 of 2007 has been preferred by the employee Shri Suresh Chand
Sharma claiming full back wages.
and circumstances giving rise to these appeals are that the said employee while
working as a Conductor on bus No.UTL-9194 on the route Haridwar Rishikesh was
found, on checking on 24.5.1987, carrying 13 passengers without ticket from
whom he has already recovered the fare and on 10.5.1988 on bus No.UGA-9059 on
which he was working as a Conductor, 10 passengers were found without ticket.
the employee had already recovered the fare from them. The Corporation served
charge sheets upon the employee on 16.5.1988 and 7.7.1988 in respect of the misconducts
dated 10.5.1988 and 24.5.1987. Employee submitted his reply to the charge
sheets. However, the management not being satisfied with his reply decided to
proceed with the regular enquiry and one Shri H.L. Saxena, a retired I.F.S.
Officer was appointed as Enquiry Officer. The enquiry was conducted on both the
charges giving full opportunity of hearing/defence to the employee. Enquiry
Officer submitted the enquiry report wherein charges in respect of both the
misconducts had been found proved. The Disciplinary Authority accorded its
concurrence thereto. The management served the copy of the enquiry report and
issued a second show cause dated 14.12.1988 to the employee to which he
submitted his reply on 9.1.1999. The Disciplinary Authority was not satisfied
with his reply and after considering the material on record, the Authority
passed the punishment order dated 29.1.1989 dismissing the employee from
aggrieved, the Employee preferred a Departmental Appeal which was duly
considered by the Appellate Authority and rejected vide order dated 21.3.1990.
The Employee raised an industrial dispute and thus, the matter was referred by
the 3 Appropriate Government to the Labour Court vide reference dated 19.12.1991
to the following effect:
the termination of the services of the applicant/workman Shri S.C. Sharma s/o
Late Shri Om Prakash, conductor by the employer from 29.1.1989 is unjustified
and/or illegal? If so, which benefit/compensation the applicant/workman is
entitled and to what extent?
the parties appeared before the Labour Court, filed their replies and
affidavits. Both parties filed documentary evidence and also led oral evidence
and advanced submissions in support of their respective cases. The Labour Court
considered all aspects and vide Award dated 28.4.1995 held that enquiry had
been held strictly in accordance with law and both the charges in respect of
both the incidents were found duly proved. Therefore, the employee was not entitled
to any relief whatsoever.
aggrieved, the employee challenged the Award by filing C.M.W.P. No.9129 of 1996
before the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad which was transferred to the
High Court at Nainital after Re-organisation of States and the said transferred
case was registered as Writ Petition No. 4143 4 (M/S) of 2001. The High Court
allowed the Writ Petition partly vide impugned judgment and order dated
7.9.2005 and directed the re-instatement of the employee without back wages. Hence,
have heard Shri Suraj Singh, learned counsel appearing for the Corporation and
Dr. J.N. Dubey, learned senior counsel appearing for the employee. Large number
of submissions have been made by the parties and it has been contended on
behalf of the Corporation that the High Court has not recorded any reason
whatsoever while setting aside the Award of the Labour Court. No fault could be
found with the Award of the Labour Court and it was not necessary for the
checking authority to record the evidence of the passengers who were found
travelling without tickets nor it was necessary to check the cash at the hand
of the employee.
Court mis-directed itself while setting aside the well- reasoned Award of the
Labour Court without giving any reason whatsoever. Thus, the appeal of the
Corporation deserves to be allowed and Award of the Labour Court deserved to be
contra, Dr. J.N. Dubey, learned counsel appearing for the employee has
submitted that the High Court was justified in accepting the submissions on
behalf of the employee that material witnesses were not examined. Thus, no
disciplinary proceeding could be initiated against the employee. There was no
justification for imposing the punishment of dismissal by the authority and
once the Award of the Labour Court is set aside, the employee was entitled to
full back wages. Thus, the Corporation's appeal is liable to the dismissed and
appeal filed by the employee deserves to be allowed.
have considered the rival submissions made by learned counsel for the parties
and perused the record.
Labour Court has considered the matter at length and came to the conclusion
that enquiry had been conducted strictly in accordance with law. There has been
no violation of the principles of natural justice or any other statutory
provision. The employee was given full opportunity to defend himself, cross
examined the witnesses examined by the Corporation. The Enquiry Officer has
rightly appreciated the 6 evidence and found the charges proved in respect of
both the incidents. The Disciplinary Authority has taken a right decision
accepting the enquiry report and punishment order was passed after serving
second show cause to the employee.
Labour Court recorded the findings on facts as under:
far as the question of conclusions drawn by the Enquiry officer is concerned,
in the enquiry conducted in respect of first charge sheet dated 7.7.1988
Ext.E/2, statement of Shri Atar Singh, Traffic Inspector has been recorded wherein
he has proved the report Ext.E/1 of Shri Atar Singh, Traffic Inspector. Shri
Atar Singh had checked the vehicle and 13 without ticket passengers have been
found travelling from whom the petitioner-workman had already taken Rs..43/- as
fare. Shri Atar Singh has accordingly made a remark on the way bill and
obtained the signatures of petitioner-workman also.
petitioner-workman did not ask any question in cross-examination to this
witness. The petitioner workman has also not asked any question in cross-
examination with the other witness Shri Kailash Chandra, Traffic
Inspector." (Ephasis added)
Labour Court recorded a finding of fact that in respect of both the
mis-conducts the passengers were found travelling without tickets and they had
already paid fare to the employee/Conductor. Thus, it is not a case where the
said employee could not issue the ticket and recover the fare from 7 the
travelling passengers, rather the finding has been recorded that after
recovering the fare from the passengers, he did not issue tickets to them.
Thus, there was an intention to mis-appropriate the fare recovered from the
passengers who were found travelling without tickets at both the times.
High Court dealt with the matter in a most cryptic manner. Relevant/main part
of the judgment of the High Court reads as under:
Inspector in the cross-examination has also stated on oath that the cash was
not checked. The learned counsel for the petitioner further submitted that when
the bus was checked, ten passengers were boarded on the bus and they were drunk
and they were also denying taking the tickets. The learned Tribunal has not
considered this fact at all. I find force in the contention of the learned
counsel for the petitioner. The learned Tribunal ought to have considered this
fact that neither the passengers were examined, nor the cash was checked.
Therefore, the order of the learned Tribunal cannot be sustained in the eye of
High Court has decided the Writ Petition only on the ground that the passengers
found without tickets, had not been examined and the cash with the employee was
reasoning has been given whatsoever by the Court.
1512, this Court has categorically held that in a domestic enquiry, complicated
principles and procedure laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and the
Indian Evidence Act, 1872 do not apply. The only right of a delinquent employee
is that he must be informed as to what are the charges against him and he must
be given full opportunity to defend himself on the said charges. However, the
Court rejected the contention that enquiry report stood vitiated for not
recording the statement of the passengers who were found travelling without
ticket. The Court held as under:
cannot hold that merely because statements of passengers were not recorded the
order that followed was invalid. Likewise, the re- evaluation of the evidence
on the strength of co- conductor's testimony is a matter not for the court but
for the administrative tribunal. In conclusion, we do not think courts below
were right in over-turning the finding of the domestic tribunal."
view of the above, the reasoning so given by the High Court cannot be sustained
in the eye of law. More so, the High Court is under an obligation to give not
only the reasons but 9 cogent reasons while reversing the findings of fact
recorded by a domestic tribunal. In case the judgment and order of the High
Court is found not duly supported by reasons, the judgment itself stands
vitiated. (Vide State of Maharashtra AIR 1990 SC 2205, this Court observed that
"giving of reasons is an essential element of administration of justice. A
right to reason is, therefore, an indispensable part of sound system of
2008 SC 2026, this Court held as under:
to reason is an indispensable part of a sound judicial system; reasons at least
sufficient to indicate an application of mind to the matter before Court.
rationale is that the affected party can know why the decision has gone against
him. One of the salutary requirements of natural justice is spelling out
reasons for the order made".
Raj Kishore Jha (supra), this Court observed as under:
we part with the case, we feel it necessary to indicate that non-reasoned
conclusions by appellate Courts are not appropriate, more so, when views of the
lower Court are differed from. In case of concurrence, the need to again repeat
reasons may not be there. It is not so in case of reversal. Reason is the
heartbeat of every conclusion. Without the same, it becomes lifeless".
fact, "reasons are the links between the material, the foundation for
these erection and the actual conclusions.
would also administer how the mind of the maker was activated and actuated and
their rational nexus and synthesis with the facts considered and the conclusion
Therefore, the law on the issue can be summarized to the effect that, while
deciding the case, court is under an obligation to record reasons, however,
brief, the same may be as it is a requirement of principles of natural justice.
Non- observance of the said principle would vitiate the judicial order.
in view of the above, the judgment and order of the High Court impugned herein
is liable to be set aside.
20. We do
not find any force in the submissions made by Dr. J.N. Dubey, learned Senior
counsel for the employee that for embezzlement of such a petty amount,
punishment of dismissal could not be justified for the reason that it is not
the amount embezzled by a delinquent employee but the mens rea to
mis-appropriate the public money.
& Ors., AIR 1996 SC 1249, this Court held as under:- "In a case of
such nature - indeed, in cases involving corruption - there cannot be any other
punishment than dismissal. Any sympathy shown in such cases is totally uncalled
for and opposed to public interest.
amount misappropriated may be small or large;
it is the
act of misappropriation that is relevant."
view has been reiterated by this Court in Ruston & & Anr., (1997) 11
SCC 370; Janatha Bazar (South Kanara 12 Secretary, Sahakari Noukarara Sangha
& Ors., (2000) 7 SCC Hullikatti, AIR 2001 SC 930; and Regional Manager,
(2008) 1 SCC 115, this Court held that the punishment should always be
proportionate to the gravity of the misconduct.
in a case of corruption/misappropriation, the only punishment is dismissal.
in view of the above, the contention raised on behalf of the employee that
punishment of dismissal from service was disproportionate to the proved
delinquency of the employee, is not worth acceptance.
preferred by the Corporation i.e. Civil Appeal No. 3086 of 2007 is allowed. The
judgment and order of the High Court dated 7.9.2005 is hereby set aside and the
Award of the Labour Court dated 28.4.1995 is restored. The appeal 13 preferred
by the employee i.e. Civil Appeal No.3088 of 2007 is hereby dismissed. No order
as to costs.
.........................................J. (Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN)