Decided on September 16,1970

P.GOPAL Respondents


- (1.) THE petitioner is the Management of Sri Siva Sakthi Bus Service. south Arcot dt. The first respondent was a conductor in the service of the petitioner. One sivalingam Chettiar was proprietor of the service. When he was alive, Alangarm chettiar was the power of attorney agent conducting the affairs of the service. After the death of Sivalingam Chettiar, Alangaram Chettiar continued to act for the petitioner, and, as it will be shown presently, his acts were ratified by the legal representatives of the late Sivalingam Chettiar. There was a dispute between the petitioner and its workers which resulted in an industrial dispute; but the same was ultimately settled. During the pendency of the dispute, certain charges were framed against the first respondent and the charge memo was issued by alangaram Chettiar. Interalia it is necessary to notice only the following three charges: "1. On 28-8-1967 the first respondent who was doing duty in M. D. F. 3385 collected fares from 5 passengers but did not issue tickets. 2. He did not pay the 0. 40 np to the relieving conductor Sri Sivaswami. 3. He made corrections in the duplicate of the tickets prepared by Sri S. P. Mani, the Checking Inspector. " the petitioner, therefore, after issuing the charge memo dated 30-8-1967, constituted a domestic enquiry by appointing one Ragothama Rao, and office bearer of the Employers' Association. to conduct the inquiry. The first respondent participated in the inquiry and he was represented by the Union Secretary. He did not want to let in evidence. The Management, however, examined four witnesses on its side and filed a few documents as well. The Inquiry Officer, after giving full opportunity to both sides, permitted them to file what he characterised as written arguments, and ultimately found the first respondent guilty of the three charges referred to above. The Management accepted the report of the Inquiry Officer and dismissed the first respondent from service on 20-10-1967. Thereupon, the first respondent directly filed an application before the Labour Court under Section 33-A of the Industrial Disputes Act questioning the report of the Inquiry Officer and sought for setting aside the dismissal order of the Management. The Labour Court went into the matter, found that Alangaram Chettiar was not competent to issue the charge memo, that the Inquiry Officer was not competent to hold the inquiry and that the finding of the Inquiry Officer was perverse. It, therefore, set aside the order of the Inquiry Officer and ordered reinstatement of the worker. It is as against this award of the Labour Court that this present writ petition has been filed.
(2.) I heard both parties and perused the necessary records. The first objection of the Labour Court that Alangaram Chettiar was not competent to issue the charge memo, is not supported by documentary evidence. It is no doubt true that, at the time when the charge memo was issued, no written authority enabling Alangaram chettiar to act on behalf of the petitioner was produced. But it is admitted that, when the dismissal order was issued by the Management, the proprietors of the petitioner's firm ratified the action of Alangaram Chettiar which obviously meant that they ratified the process beginning from the issue of the charge memo upto the acceptance of the report made by the Inquiry Officer. Even otherwise, it is common practice that if an agent functioning under a written authority of the principal holds himself out as such agent after the death of the principal and if persons competent to ratify his action after the death of the principal ratify the same in a manner known to law, then the agent should be deemed to have acted within the limits of authority and that he validly holds himself out as agent of the subsequent proprietors.
(3.) REGARDING the second objection of the Labour Court that the Inquiry Officer did not have the capacity or competence to hold the inquiry, it is now well settled that the Management can appoint an independent person, not necessarily the one who is inside the Management's activities, and, as a matter of fact the appointment of a stranger to inquire into such disputes is encouraged to a great extent. I do not find that the appointment of Ragothama Rao who is an office-bearer of the employers' Association, was in any way vitiated or against law.;

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