In this appeal the Supreme Court was compelled to wonder whether a Legal forum should allow itself to imagine facts and conceive of perverted situations to brush aside the material brought on record and then for contrived reasons arrive at a conclusion that there was possibly of no embezzlement or personal gain. The first respondent, a conductor in the service of the U.P. State Transport Corporation, despite the fact of carrying 25 passengers without ticket being proved, was relieved and assuaged by substitution of punishment of dismissal with stoppage of two annual increments with cumulative effect taking aid of Section 6(2-A) of the U.P. Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 by the Labour court in invocation of the doctrine of reformation and principle of mercy. The High Court, in exercise of its supervisory jurisdiction has given the stamp of approval to the award by treating it as just and defensible fundamentally resting its conclusion on the foundation that the controversy hinged on the factual score.
The High Court, appreciating the reasons ascribed in the award passed by the Labour Court, came to hold that it had not been proved that the workman concerned had taken fare from 25 passengers and not issued tickets to them and, therefore, there was no embezzlement. Being of this view, the High Court concurred with the award relating to reinstatement but as far as the grant of back wages is concerned, it reduced the same to 25 percentage.
On a perusal of the award passed by the Labour Court as well as the order passed by the High Court, the SC found that a categorical conclusion has been arrived at on the basis of the evidence on record that the respondent who was engaged as a Conductor had allowed 25 passengers to travel in the bus without ticket. It was obvious that the primary and core duty of a conductor was to collect fare and render true and correct account. This was the mainstay and centre piece of his work and faith reposed on him by the employer. The SC further stated that the Labour Court as well as the High Court had been guided by the perception that there was no recovery of money and, therefore, there was no corruption or embezzlement. But it failed to notice the nature of duties and obligation of a conductor. Even the finding on no corruption or embezzlement was ambiguous and contradictory.
SC further added that when a power is conferred on the Labour Court, it was obligatory on it to record satisfaction that the order of dismissal was not justified and thereafter proceeded to award a lesser punishment in lieu of discharge or dismissal. The thrust of the matter is whether the present case was one where a lenient attitude was required to be shown by the Labour Court and the High Court. In the instant case, as accepted by the Labour Court, the first respondent was carrying 25 passengers without tickets which had caused financial loss to the Corporation. That apart, the workman had also violated the postulates under the Rule and committed misconduct. Two aspects were absolutely clear.
Finally it was held by the SC that on a mere glance at the said reasons are really imaginary and reveal some kind of unacceptable theoretical perceptions by the Labour Court.
Consequently, the award passed by the Labour Court as well as the order passed by the High Court was set aside and the order of dismissal imposed by the Corporation is restored.
(Reference: Judgement of SC dated September 1, 2015 in CIVIL APPEAL NO.2038 OF 2012)
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