Decided on January 09,1961

Amarnath Mukherjee Appellant
Turner Morrison And Company (Private), Ltd. Respondents


P.N.MOOKERJEE, J. - (1.) THE rule is directed against an award of the Second Labour Court, West Bengal, holding, inter alia, that the dismissal of the petitioner, Amarnath Mukherjee, by the company opposite party [Turner Morrison and Company (Private), Ltd.,] is justified. The award in question was given in the reference made for adjudication of the industrial dispute between the parties in the following circumstances: - - The petitioner was a clerk in the marine department of the company opposite party for nearly 22 years. He was granted sick leave for five days from 23 June 1958. The three subsequent days being holidays, he was to Join office on 1 July 1958, He, however, actually Joined on the third and, on the fifth following he was chargesheeted and a charge -sheet was issued to him on that day. In the said charge -sheet against the petitioner, two charges were mentioned: (1) absence from work on 1 and 2 July 1958 without official leave; and (2) habitual neglect of duty in spite of previous warning.
(2.) ON 7 July 1968, the petitioner submitted his explanation to the effect, inter alia, that he could not attend office on first and second due to illness and that he had applied for leave for the same, that is, for his said absence. On the tenth following, an enquiry was held by Captain Young, who was the head of the above marine department of the opposite party company and, upon his report, holding inter alia, that the petitioner was guilty of both the aforesaid charges, the company opposite party dismissed him from service on 16 July 1958 with immediate effect. This dismissal was confirmed on appeal by Mr. Fountain, the Senior Managing Director of the company and its head at Calcutta, to whom a representation in the matter was made on the petitioner's behalf by the Turner Morrison and Company Employees Union. Thereafter, the present reference was made, culminating in the award referred to hereinbefore.' The petitioner's case is that the charges mentioned in the charge -sheet were vague, that there was no proper enquiry in the matter, that the finding of the company against him was perverse and that his dismissal, in any event, was unjustified. Ha also complains of bias of the enquiry officer Mr. Young and, further, that his report contained an untrue statement that the petitioner had pleaded guilty before him. The company, on the other hand, maintain that everything in the matter was done fairly and squarely and that the enquiry was held in a proper and perfectly legitimate manner after giving the petitioner full opportunity to meet the charges against him which, according to the company, were specific and, in no way vague. The company also denied the petitioner's allegation of bias and specifically asserted that Mr. Young's enquiry report containing the petitioner's plea of guilt, was a true record and had been countersigned by the petitioner after verifying its contents, his allegation to the effect that such signature was obtained by force or fraud or without giving him any opportunity to go through the said report being unmitigated falsehood.
(3.) THE rule before me is one under Article 227 of the Constitution and it is directed against the award of the tribunal below. I shall accordingly confine myself only to the question whether the said tribunal in giving the aforesaid award has done its duty in the matter and done it in the manner required or enjoined by law, or whether it has exercised a jurisdiction, not vested in it in law, or has failed or refused to exercise any jurisdiction so vested in it, or exercised it illegally or irregularly, that is, with material irregularity. The enquiry, held by the company, or its action in the matter will come in only incidentally for my consideration in the above connexion. Even this limited investigation, however, convinces me that the reference should be reheard and properly disposed of according to law, as in my view, there has been no proper hearing and disposal of the same as contemplated by law. The tribunal below appears to have been too much influenced by the petitioner's recorded plea of guilt in the enquiry report of Mr. Young without any consideration however of the petitioner's allegations against the same or the context or circumstances, in which the same was made, if it was made at all. It has not also adverted to certain basic facts which appear in the evidence of the opposite party company itself before it and some of which I shall presently set out. The petitioner's allegations and the basic facts to which I have just referred to, in my opinion, at least require consideration, whatever be the result of the same, before the reference can be properly disposed of and any disposal of it without such consideration would obviously entail an error of jurisdiction and would be tainted with illegality or material irregularity in the exercise of jurisdiction vested in the tribunal, if not amounting to a failure or refusal to exercise the same. I would even say that the disposal of the reference without adverting to the above facts and allegations or ignoring them may well tantamount to exercise by the tribunal of a jurisdiction, not vested in it by law, as the law never contemplated such disposal and never intended to vest the tribunal with a jurisdiction to do so.;

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