ANGLO AMERICAN DIRECT TEA TRADING COMPANY Vs. WORKMEN OF NAHORTOLI TEA ESTATE
LAWS(SC)-1960-12-29
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on December 05,1960

ANGLO-AMERICAN DIRECT TEA TRADING COMPANY, LTD. Appellant
VERSUS
WORKMEN OF NAHORTOLI TEA ESTATE Respondents





Cited Judgements :-

MANAGEMENT OF SOCKLATINGA TEA ESTATE VS. PRESIDING OFFICER, LABOUR COURT AND ORS. [LAWS(GAU)-1961-12-12] [REFERRED TO]
STATE BANK OF PATIALA VS. UNION OF INDIA, ETC [LAWS(P&H)-1973-9-35] [REFERRED]


JUDGEMENT

- (1.)This is an appeal by special leave in an industrial matter. The appellant is a tea company in Assam. Dhaneswar Bhumiz and his wife Taramani were workmen under the appellant. The case of the appellant was that dhaneswar was given certain orders on 13 December 1952 by the assistant manager. He did not carry out those orders and was guilty of disobedience and insubordination. Consequently, he was suspended on 15 December. On the same day he was given a charge-sheet and was asked to explain why he should not be dismissed or otherwise punished for gross misconduct inasmach as he refused to carry out the orders of the assistant manager and became insolent. He was also charged with having worked in the tea garden on 17 December while he was under suspension. He gave an explanation with respect to the first charge as to the incident of 13 December, but said nothing in his explanation as to his having worked on 17 December, after his suspension. An enquiry is said to have been held into both the charges on 18 December. The record of the inquiry, however, shows that all that had happened in that inquiry was that certain questions were put to Dhaneswar to which he gave replies. When he was asked to sign his statement he refused to do so. Thereafter, no further enquiry seems to have been held ; there is however nothing to show that Dhaneswar had refused to take part in the enquiry. On 22 December 1952, Dhaneswar was dismissed. His wife was also dismissed on the same day without any charge being framed against her and without any inquiry.
(2.)Thereupon a dispute was raised by the union and eventually two references were made by the Government of Assam on 15 September 1953, and 9 December 1953. The first reference was with respect to the dismissal of Dhaneswar and the second with respect to his wife. The industrial tribunal heard the two references together and came to the conclusion that Dhaneswar was guilty of misconduct inasmuch as he had disobeyed lawful orders and consequently upheld the dismissal of Dhaneswar. As for his wife, the industrial tribunal was of opinion that as her husband was dismissed and it was desirable that Dhaneswar should have no footing in the garden, services of his wife were also rightly terminated, as otherwise Dhaneswar would have an excuse to live in the garden, which would lead to untoward incidents.
(3.)The matter was then taken in appeal to the Labour Appellate Tribunal. A preliminary objection was raised there as to the maintainability of the appeal on the ground that no substantial question of law was involved in it. The Appellate tribunal repelled this contention on the ground that the industrial tribunal had relied on the statements of some witnesses, who had not been examined either in the managerial inquiry or before the industrial tribunal. Because of this error in law as to the manner in which the tribunal below relied on evidence which was inadmissible, the Appellate Tribunal held that it was entitled to go into the question whether the remaining evidence which was admissible was sufficient to support the conclusion of the industrial tribunal. After examining this evidence, the Appellate Tribunal came to the conclusion that it had not been proved in the case of Dhaneswar that he was guilty of misconduct, which would justify his dismissal. Further, in the case of his wife, the Appellate Tribunal held that there was no justification whatsoever for her dismissal. Eventually, the Appellate tribunal considered the question of reinstatement and was of the opinion that in the circumstances of this case the proper course was that Dhaneswar and his wife should not be reinstated but should be compensated for premature termination of their employment. It, therefore, ordered that they should be paid all their wages up to the date of its decision and one month's wages as notice pay. Besides, they were to be paid fifteen days' average fray per year of completed service as retrenchment compensation and fifteen days' pay per year of completed service as compensation for unjustified and premature termination of their employment. The appellant then came to this Court and prayed for special leave which was granted, and that is how the matter has come up before us.
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