KAKAJAN TEA ESTATE Vs. LABOUR COURT
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
Kakajan Tea Estate
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C.S.NAYUDU, J. -
(1.) IN this civil rule the validity of the award passed by the labour court, Assam, directing the reinstatement of Hardial Turi, a permanent workman of the petitioner tea estate, is questioned. The management framed charges against the workman to the effect that he severely beat up his step -daughter Dukhmi Turi on 21 October 1958 and that she was brought to the hospital in an unconscious condition. It was further alleged against the workman that in the post also he was found guilty of various kinds of misbehaviour and rowdyism by the garden panchayat. The second portion of the charge is vague and relates to some incidents which apparently were not made the subject -matter of any charge at all but were sought to be used in support of the charge now framed, namely, that he had beaten his step -daughter.
(2.) THE management, after holding a domestic inquiry, held that his conduct in beating his step -daughter severely, amounted to gross misconduct and violation of the standing orders and accordingly dismissed the work -man. An industrial dispute was raised and the matter came up for consideration before the labour court. The presiding officer of the labour court, after taking evidence and considering the same, came to the conclusion that the incident complained against did not take place during the duty hours or in the premises of the management, that the workman was not on duty at the time, that the beating was for a just cause for a father to control his daughter and this had no relation or connexion with the working and discipline of the industry, but this was purely a private incident. So holding, the presiding officer of the labour court followed the decisions of Central India Coalfields, Ltd., Calcutta v. Ram Bilas Shobnath 1961 -I L.L.J. 546 and set aside the order of the management and directed that the workman be reinstated giving him the normal relief of reinstatement with full back -wages are continuity of service.
The main and important question that falls to be considered in this civil rule is whether the conduct attributed to the workman in beating his step -daughter by way of correction could be held to amount to misconduct within the meaning of the standing orders, and whether it would have the effect of subverting discipline in the establishment; for, if the incident is purely a private affair between a father and his child, the management would have nothing to do with it and the incident would not have any effect on the general discipline obtaining in the management, in such cases the authorities have laid down certain tests, namely, whether the action attributed to the workman was done on the premises of the establishment, whether it was done during the working hours, whether the workman in question was at the time in the discharge of his duties as a workman of the establishment and whether it has any intimate or direct connexion with the performance of his duties as a workman in the establishment.
(3.) IN this connexion it would be useful firstly to refer to the case in 1961 -I L.L.J. 546 (vide supra). In that case the respondent had been employed by the appellant as a workman who performed his duties as an underground munshi. A complaint was received against the respondent from several other workmen in the appellant's colliery that the respondent was guilty of rowdy and indecent behaviour at night on 5 June 1957. He went to the quarters of his co -workmen drunk and in a state of heavy intoxication. First he knocked violently at the door of Sarkar Babu, then at the door of Srivastava Babu and used dirty and filthy language of abuse. Then he moved to the door of Madhu Babu and began to tear down the screens and abused Madhu Babu. He then knocked at the door of Tulsi Babu who thought that there might be same accident and so he left left his dinner and opened the door. The respondent then entered the room using filthy language and threw the articles in the room either and thither. The neighbours then collected on the scene and with great difficulty took out the respondent from Tulsi Babu's room. It was further alleged against, the workman that he was a drunkard and was in the habit of causing nuisance to his neighbours. In this context their lordships of the Supreme Court observed as follows at p. 548:
Normally the standing orders would apply to the behaviour on the premises where the workmen discharge their duties and during the hours of their work. It may also be conceded that if a quarrel takes place between workmen outside the working hours and away from the workspot, that would be a private matter which may not fall within the provisions of such standing order. But in the special circumstances of the instant case is clear that the incident took place in the quarters at a short distance from the work -spot. Hence, the action of the employer is dismissing such a workman must be held perfectly Justified. It was further proved that unlees the employer took some action against the concerned workman, breach of peace among the workman was threatened. The employer could not consider such a matter with complacence.
It follows from this decision that if a Quarrel takes place between workmen outside the working hours and away from the work -spot, that should be regarded as a private matter which may not fall within the provisions of the standing orders of the establishment. In the instant case, the incident occurred between the workman and his step -daughter. The suggestion in the case by both the workman as well as by the union representing him was that the step -daughter was contemplating to run away with a Koya boy of inferior caste against her father's will and the workman administered the chastisement to her in order to control her. No doubt the indications on record are that the workman handed his step -daughter rather brutally. But that by itself would not necessarily bring the case within the scope of the standing orders so long as the other conditions are not fulfilled, namely, the connexion with the establishment and the work that is bring performed by the workman is connexion with the establishment.;
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