Gajendragadkar, J. -
(1.)This appeal by special leave is directed against the order passed by the Additional Industrial Tribunal, Delhi, directing the appellant M/s. New India Motors Private Ltd., to reinstate its former employee K. T. Morris, the respondent, in his original post as field service representative and to pay him his back wages from the date of his dismissal till the date of his reinstatement. This award has been made on a complaint filed by the respondent against the appellant under S. 33A of the Industrial Disputes Act XIV of 1947 (hereinafter called the Act). It appears that before joining the appellant the respondent was working with a firm in Calcutta; prior to that he was field service representative of M/s. Premier Automobiles Ltd., Bombay. The respondent joined the service of the appellant sometime in May 1954 as Works Manager. Before he joined the services of the appellant he had been told by the appellant by its letter dated March 27, 1954, that the appellant would be willing to pay him Rs. 350/- per month and something more by way of certain percentage on business. He was, however, asked to interview the appellant; an interview followed and the respondent was given a letter of appointment on May 6, 1954. By this letter he was appointed as Workshop Manager in the appellant's firm on three months' probation subject to the terms and conditions specified in the letter of appointment (Ex. W-2). The respondent continued in this post till February 28, 1955, when he was given the assignment of the appellant's field service organiser with effect from March 1, 1955. A letter of appointment given to him on 28-2-1955 set forth the terms and conditions of his new assignment. It appears that on April 18, 1956, the management of the appellant called for an explanation of the respondent in respect of several complaints. An explanation was given by the respondent. It was, however, followed by another communication from the appellant to the respondent setting forth specific instances of the respondent's conduct for which explanation was demanded. The respondent again explained and disputed the correctness of the charges. On June 30, 1956, the respondent's services were terminated on the ground that the appellant had decided to abolish the post of field service representative. It is this order which gave rise to the respondent's complaint under S. 33A of the Act. The complaint was filed on July 18, 1956. The respondent involved S. 33A because his case was that at the time when his services were terminated an industrial dispute was pending between the appellant and 7 of its employees and the respondent was one of the workmen concerned in the said industrial dispute. The said industrial dispute had reference to the termination of the services of the said 7 employees who were working with the appellant as apprentices. On their behalf it was alleged that their termination of service was improper and illegal and that was referred to the industrial tribunal for its adjudication on August 20, 1955. The said dispute was finally decided on January 2, 1957.With the merits of the said dispute or the decision thereof we are not concerned in the present appeal. According to the respondent, since he was a workman concerned in the said dispute S. 33 (1) (a) applied and it was not open to the appellant to terminate his services save with the express permission in writing of the authority before which the said dispute was pending. It was on this basis that he made his complaint under S. 33A of the Act.
(2.)Before the tribunal the appellant urged that the respondent was not a workman as defined by the Act, and on the merits it was contended that the appellant had to abolish the post of the field service organiser owing to the fact that a part of the agency work of the appellant had been lost to it. On the other hand, the respondent contended that he was a workmen under the Act and the plea made by the appellant about the necessity to abolish his post was not true and genuine. His grievance was that his service were terminated solely because he had taken interest in the complaint of the 7 apprentices which had given rise to the main industrial dispute and had in fact given evidence in the said dispute on behalf of the said apprentices. The tribunal has found that the respondent is a workman under the Act, that there was no evidence to justify the appellant's contention that it had become necessary for it to abolish the respondent's post, and that it did appear that the respondent had been discharged because the appellant disapproved of the respondent's conduct in supporting the 7 apprentices in the main industrial dispute. As a result of these findings the tribunal has ordered the appellant to reinstate the respondent.
(3.)The question as to whether the respondent is a workmn as defined by S. 2 (s) of the Act is a question of fact and the finding recorded by the tribunal on the said question,after considering the relevant evidence adduced by the parties, cannot be successfully challenged before us in the present appeal. The respondent has given evidence as to the nature of the work he was required to do as field service organiser. The letter of appointment issued to him in that behalf expressly required, inter alia, that the respondent had, if need be, to check up and carry out necessary adjustments and repairs of the vehicles sold by the appellant to its customers and obtain signature of responsible persons on the satisfaction forms which had been provided to him. The respondent swore that he looked after the working of the workshop and assisted the mechanics and others in their jobs. He attended to complicated work himself and made the workmen acquainted with Miller's special tools and equipment needed for repairs and servicing of cars. He denied the suggestion that he was a member of the supervisory staff. On this evidence the tribunal has based its finding that the respondent was a workmen under S. 2 (s), and we see no reason to interfere with it.