THE BHANJANAGAR CO-OPERATIVE URBAN BANK LIMITED Vs. S. JAGANNATH RAO AND ANR.
HIGH COURT OF ORISSA
The Bhanjanagar Co -Operative Urban Bank Limited
S. Jagannath Rao And Anr.
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G.K.Misra, J. -
(1.) OPPOSITE party No. 1 was appointed as a clerk under the Bhanjanagar Co -operative Urban Bank, Ltd. (Petitioner) on 20 -10 -1956. He was suspended from service on 4 -6 -1958 as he was prosecuted in a defalcation case. He was convicted under Section 408 109, Indian Penal Code by the Assistant Sessions Judge, Berhampur and sentenced to four years R.I. On 31 -7 -1964., He was acquitted by the Sessions Judge in appeal on 8 -5 -1965 on benefit of doubt. After acquittal he filed an application on 21 -8 -1965 for reinstatement and for payment of the arrear salary. The Petitioner passed an order on 1 -1 -1967 to the following effect:
After a good length of discussion it was held to terminate the service of Sri Rao from the date of his suspension. It was held not to pay anything from the Bank's funds towards his pay, D.A. or other allowances.
Opposite party No. 1 filed a dispute before the Industrial Tribunal (Opposite party No. 2). The Tribunal passed an award (Annexure -2) on 17 -9 -1969. The writ application has been' filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the constitution for issue of a writ of certiorari to quash Annexure -2.
(2.) MR . Murty for the Petitioner raised two contentions: (1) The termination of service of opposite party No. 1 was a termination simpliciter, and was not by way of disciplinary action and as such the dispute could be raised only before the Registrar of the co -operative societies under Section 68(1) of the Orissa Co -operative Societies Act, 1962 and (2) Even if the termination was by way of a disciplinary action, the Industrial Tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain the dispute as the Petitioner was not an industry. Before the Tribunal the ouster of its jurisdiction under Section 68 was raised but not subsequently pressed. The Tribunal however, went into evidence, examined a letter (Annexure -A) produced before it which had been issued by the Petitioner, and came to the conclusion that the termination of service of opposite party No. 1 was by way of punishment. The finding of the Tribunal may be extracted in its own language:
On the merits it is found that the employee Sri Rao was dismissed from service on the ground that he with others was responsible in sustaining the Bank's huge loss and that though he was acquitted in appeal, he is still liable to make good the loss and that a dispute for recovery of loss is still pending before the Assistant Registrar, Co -operative Societies, Aska. These grounds are set forth in the Management's letter Ext. A. This is therefore an order of dismissal by way of punishment and not dismissal simpliciter. Sri Padhi for the management has admitted that no regular enquiry was held by the management against Shri Rao before the order of dismissal was passed.
On the finding that the termination of service was by way of punishment, it comes within the exception in Section 68(1) of the act, which, so far as relevant, lays down:
68(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, any dispute touching the constitution, management or the business of a society, other than a dispute regarding disciplinary action taken by a society or its committee against a paid servant shall be referred to the Registrar x x
Thus a clear exception has been enacted in the section. A dispute regarding disciplinary action taken by a society is excluded from the jurisdiction of the Registrar. The first point has no substance same is rejected.
(3.) THE second question for consideration is whether the Industrial Tribunal had jurisdiction to entertain the application of opposite party No. 1 raising a dispute. Mr. Murty, contends that the Petitioner -Bank is not an industry, and therefore the Industrial Disputes Act has no application, and consequently the Industrial Tribunal had no jurisdiction. It is not necessary to examine several decisions of the Supreme Court as to the meaning of the word 'industry'. It will be sufficient to refer to Co -operative Central Bank v. Industrial Tribunal Hyderabad : A.I.R. 1970 S.C. 245. The facts of that case may be stated in short. A dispute was raised between a Co -operative Bank and its servants. The controversy was regarding alteration of the terms and conditions of service of the employees. The question was whether alteration of the terms and conditions of service of the employees comes within the ambit of the general expression touching the constitution, management and business of the society. Their Lordships held that the dispute did not come within the ambit of the sub -section. We are not concerned with that question in this case. After holding that the jurisdiction of the registrar was ousted, their Lordships did not quash the order passed by the Industrial Tribunal. This could be done only on the hypothesis that the co -operative Bank constituted as industry. Mr. Murty very seriously contended that the point was not directly raised before the Supreme Court and the point has not been answered that a Co -operative Bank constitutes an industry. We find no substance in this argument. The point is so simple that it is difficult for us to comprehend that it escaped the notice of the learned Judges of the Supreme Court and the advocates appearing there to contend that a Co -operative Bank did not constitute an industry so that the Industrial Tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain the dispute between the Bank and its employees. We are satisfied that the Petitioner is an industry, and the Industrial Tribunal had jurisdiction to entertain the dispute between the Petitioner and opposite party No. 1.;
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