MALAYALAM PLANTATIONS LTD Vs. INDUSTRIAL TRIBUNAL
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
MALAYALAM PLANTATIONS LTD BY MANAGER OF ITS
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(1.) THIS original petition has been filed by an employer to quash an order, Ex. P. 1, dated 4 January 1966, passed by respondent 1 in this case, who is the Industrial tribunal at Calicut. During the pendency of an Industrial dispute before respondent 1, an enquiry was instituted by the petitioner against respondent 2 in accordance with the standing orders applicable to him, in regard to a matter, not connected with the dispute. As a result of the enquiry, respondent 2 was found guilty of riotous conduct and disobedience of orders ; and he was dismissed from service. As required by the proviso to Section 33 (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, an application was made by the petitioner before respondent 1 for his approval of the action of dismissal of respondent 2. This application was dismissed by respondent 1 as per Ex. P. 1, the order impugned in this case.
(2.) RESPONDENT 1 has stated two reasons for refusing the approval sought for. The first reason is that respondent 2 was suspended by the manager of the estate, in which respondent 2 was employed, on receipt of a complaint against him without seeking his explanation, and the charge was framed by the manager himself, and that the enquiry was also conducted by the same manager, according to respondent 1, this amounts to a same person assuming himself the role of the prosecutor and the judge, and this is a violation of the principles of natural justice. It is a well-established proposition of law that in domestic enquiries of this kind, the employer is entitled to frame the charge against the employee and also to conduct the enquiry by himself. The enquiry will be in order, unless it is established that the person conducting the enquiry is biased. There is nothing to show in this case that the manager, who conducted the enquiry, has any reason to be biased, nor has respondent 1 referred to any fact or circumstance, from which bias may be inferred.
(3.) THE second ground relied on by respondent 1 is that a copy of the complaint on the basis of which the charge against respondent 2 was framed by the manager was not given to respondent 2 nor was his explanation sought on any of the allegations contained in the said complaint. It is also stated by respondent 1 that a list of the witnesses examined by the manager was not given to respondent 2 in advance. I do not find any substance in any of these grounds. The enquiry was on the charge that was given to respondent 2, and not on the complaint that was made. No doubt the charge was made on the basis of the complaint. It is stated in the affidavit filed by the petitioner in this case that a copy of the complaint was made available to respondent 2 at the time of the enquiry. Only three witnesses were examined before the enquiry in support of the charge against respondent 2. There is no case that a list of the witnesses was asked for before the commencement of the enquiry, nor can I see in the simple nature of the charge made against respondent 2 that any prejudice could possibly be caused to respondent 2, because of the fact that the list of the witnesses to be examined in support of the enquiry was not made available to him in advance. I, therefore, hold that it was not necessary in the facts and circumstances of the case either to give a copy of the complaint to respondent 2 before the commencement of the enquiry or to seek his explanation to the complaint, or to give him a list of the witnesses before the enquiry was commenced. The power of the industrial tribunal under Section 33 (2) of the Act is very limited. All that is required is only an approval of the Action taken by the employer. The industrial tribunal cannot withhold the approval except on sufficient grounds. I find absolutely no ground to withhold the approval sought for by the petitioner. I, therefore, quash the order, Ex. P. 1, and direct respondent 1 to dispose of the application under Section 33 (2) of the Act according to law and in the light of the observations herein contained. In the circumstances of this case, I make no order as to costs.;
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