Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation v. Gajadhar Nath

Labour Law – The initiation of criminal proceedings against an employee or not initiating the proceedings has no bearing to prove misconduct in departmental proceedings.

Industrial Disputes Act 1947 – Section 11A Scope of an adjudicator if a domestic inquiry has been held and finding of misconduct is recorded, the authorities under the Act have full power and jurisdiction to reappraise the evidence and to satisfy themselves whether the evidence justifies the finding of misconduct. But where the inquiry is found to be defective, the employer can lead evidence to prove misconduct before the authority.

Principles

1. The right to take disciplinary action and to decide upon the quantum of punishment are mainly managerial functions, but if a dispute is referred to a Tribunal, the latter has power to see if action of the employer is justified.

2. Before imposing the punishment, an employer is expected to conduct a proper enquiry in accordance with the provisions of the Standing Orders, if applicable, and principles of natural justice. The enquiry should not be an empty formality.

3. When a proper enquiry has been held by an employer, and the finding of misconduct is plausible conclusion flowing from the evidence, adduced at the said enquiry, the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to sit in judgment over the decision of the employer as an appellate body. The interference with the decision of the employer will be justified only when the findings arrived at in the enquiry are perverse or the management is guilty of victimisation, unfair labour practice or mala fide.

4. Even if no enquiry has been held by an employer or if the enquiry held by him is found to be defective, the Tribunal in order to satisfy itself about the legality and validity of the order, had to give an opportunity to the employer and employee to adduce evidence before it. It is open to the employer to adduce evidence for the first time justifying his action, and it is open to the employee to adduce evidence contra.

5. The effect of an employer not holding an enquiry is that the Tribunal would not have to consider only whether there was a prima facie case. On the other hand, the issue about the merits of the impugned order of dismissal or discharge is at large before the Tribunal and the latter, on the evidence adduced before it, has to decide for itself whether the misconduct alleged is proved. In such cases, the point about the exercise of managerial functions does not arise at all. A case of defective enquiry stands on the same footing as no enquiry.

6. The Tribunal gets jurisdiction to consider the evidence placed before it for the first time in justification of the action taken only, if no enquiry has been held or after the enquiry conducted by an employer is found to be defective.

7. It has never been recognised that the Tribunal should straightway, without anything more, direct reinstatement of a dismissed or discharged employee once it is found that no domestic enquiry has been held or the said enquiry is found to be defective.

8. An employer, who wants to avail himself of the opportunity of adducing evidence for the first time before the Tribunal to justify his action, should ask for it at the appropriate stage. If such an opportunity is asked for, the Tribunal has no power to refuse. The giving of an opportunity to an employer to adduce evidence for the first time before the Tribunal is in the interest of both the management and the employee and to enable the Tribunal itself to be satisfied about the alleged misconduct.

9. Once the misconduct is proved either in the enquiry conducted by an employer or by the evidence placed before a Tribunal for the first time, punishment imposed cannot be interfered with by the Tribunal except in cases where the punishment is so harsh as to suggest victimisation.

10. In a particular case, after setting aside the order of dismissal, whether a workman should be reinstated or paid compensation is, as held by this Court in The Management of within the judicial decision of a Labour Court or Tribunal.

Whether the employer is required to seek liberty to prove misconduct in the written statement or could lead evidence at a later stage ?

Case Law Reference

  1. U.P. State Road Transport Corporation through M.D. v. Rajendra Prasad, 2019 SCC OnLine All 5152
  2. U.P. State Road Transport Corporation v. Suresh Chand Sharma, (2010) 6 SCC 555
  3. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation v. Lakshmidevamma, AIR 2001 SC 2090
  4. Rajendra Jha v. Presiding Officer, 1984 Supp. SCC 520
  5. Shambhu Nath Goyal v. Bank of Baroda, (1983) 4 SCC 491
  6. State of Haryana v. Rattan Singh, (1977) 2 SCC 491
  7. Workmen of M/s Firestone Tyre and Rubber Co. of India (P.) Ltd. v. Management, (1973) 1 SCC 813
  8. Panitole Tea Estate v. The Workmen, (1971) 1 SCC 742