Decided on September 08,1962



Abhyankar, J. - (1.)The petitioner, the Ballarpur Collieries Company, is a registered partnership firm. It has its registered office at Bisesar House in Nagpur. The petitioner owns coal mines in chanda district in this region. The business of the company is to sell coal extracted from its mines. The head office of the petitioner is at Nagpur and that consists of office staff of 35 persons. It was stated by the petitioner that the head office at Nagpur carried on correspondence with lawful authorities, mines and customers and received amounts of the bills of coal supplied to the customers. The staff of the mines is transferable to the head office and vice versa.
(2.)Respondent 3 was a stenographer. He had put in about 24 years' service as such with the concern. The present petitioner has acquired interest in the coal business from the predecessor with whom respondent 3 was also working. He was drawing a salary of Rs. 317 per month including allowances, etc., at the relevant time. It appears that the petitioner permitted respondent 3 to go on leave and join duties on return from leave on or about 19 June, 1959. On 22 June, 1959, respondent 3 had an interview with Seth Sunderlal, junior partner of the petitioner-firm. What happened at this interview is a matter of dispute between the parties.
(3.)Respondent 3 worked as usual up to 30 June 1959 in the office. On that date, according to respondent 3 he had submitted the calculation of the amount that may be payable to him by way of provident fund, etc., to Seth Sunderlal. This fact is not admitted by the petitioner. On 1 July, 1959, respondent 3 attended office but when he was told by Sri Kothekar, who was his immediate superior officer, to take some work for typing, respondent 3 declined on the ground that he was no longer in service. It does not appear from the record that any immediate complaint was made about this alleged refusal to obey the orders of Sri Kothekar by respondent 3. On 10 July, 1959, respondent 3 submitted another statement purporting to be the calculation of his claim for gratuity or compensation if for any reason he was to retire from service, or cease to be in service, to Seth Jamnadas, the managing director of the petitioner-firm. On the next date, i.e., 11 July, 1959, respondent 3 addressed a letter to Seth Jamnadas. It is to be found at pp. 66-68 of the paper book. In this letter addressed to Seth Jamnadas he has made a grievance that he had approached the managing director to explain his case and that seems to have annoyed the managing director. Letter was therefore written to put on record what was his version of the circumstances in which he had approached the managing director. Either on the same date or on the previous date, the petitioner-company through its personnel officer issued a letter bearing No. 221, calling upon respondent 3, within 48 hours of the receipt of the letter, to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him and why his services should not be dispensed with. That letter is at p. 48-49 of the paper book. The charge imputed to respondent 3 in this letter is that he was not doing any typing work and whenever anyone called him or gave him work he refused to do the same on the pretext that he was unable to do it as he was on the verge of retirement, which was absolutely irrelevant in view of the fact that the terms of service expected him to work till he was in service or till he had submitted his resignation to the office. There is no reference in this letter to the alleged refusal to obey the orders issued by Sri Kothekar on 1 July, 1959. This letter was received by respondent 3 some time later and possibly on 13 July, 1959. On 11 July, 1959, respondent 3 had sent a note in the office that he would be unable to attend office on that date and he may be treated as on casual leave. He had sent another note on 3 July, 1959 that he was ill and would be unable to attend office for three or four days. Respondent 3 sent a reply to the show-cause notice received by him bearing No. 221 on 14 July, 1959. That reply is to be found at pp. 64 and 65 of the paper book, and is dated 14 July, 1959. He repudiated in this letter that he could be guilty of dereliction of duty. Respondent 3 in this letter in Para. 2 stated that in terms of the decision regarding termination of his services taken by the management and conveyed to him on 22 June, 1959, by Seth Sunderlalji in the presence of Sri Kanade, personnel officer, he ceased to be a member of the staff with effect from 1 July 1959.

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