Wanchoo, J. -
(1.)These are two connected appeals by special leave in an industrial matter and relate to the dismissal of sixty workmen of the appellant-company. The dispute was referred by two references; one relates to 31 workmen and the other to 29 workmen. They have been disposed of by a common award, though, as the references were two, there are two appeals before us.
(2.)The brief facts necessary for present purposes are these:On November 10, 1953, a general meeting was held by the workmen of the appellant and a no confidence motion was passed against the executives of the workmen's union and Shri Shahabuddin Bari was elected as the new president of the union. On February 6, 1954, the newly elected president served a strike notice on the management. On February 18, 1954, a settlement was arrived at between the management and Shri Fateh Narain Singh, the general secretary of the old executive committee. On February 23, 1954, the strike was launched in accordance with the notice served by Shri Bari and the strike continued for about a month. The strike was called off on March 19 to 20, 1954. The case of the appellant was that the strike which began on February 23, 1954, was an illegal strike as it took place during the currency of a settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings with the assistance of the Labour Commissioner who acted as conciliation officer. Consequently, the appellant took steps to serve charge-sheets on the workmen, who had joined the illegal strike, on March 4, 1954. This was followed by the dismissal of these sixty workmen after a managerial inquiry. It is said that thereafter there were conciliation proceedings which failed and consequently the two references were made.
(3.)The main findings of the tribunal are that the settlement of February 18, 1954, was a bona fide settlement arrived at during the course of conciliation proceedings and was therefore binding on the workmen; and consequently the strike which began on February 23, 1954, was in breach of the terms of the settlement and was therefore illegal. The tribunal further held that the strike was staged in hot-haste and no reasonable opportunity was given to the management to reply to the demands made before launching the strike. It also held that the trouble arose because of the election of Shri Bari and the new office bearers. This matter was referred to the Registrar of Trade Unions and he held that the meeting at which Shri Bari and the new office bearers were elected was irregular and in consequence the old office bearers of the union continued to remain validly elected executives of the union. This decision was given on February 22, 1954, and the strike was launched on February 23rd immediately thereafter. The tribunal was not sure whether this decision had been communicated to Shri Bari before the strike was launched; but in any case it was of the opinion that there was no reason to stage the strike in such hot-haste after the settlement of February 18, 1954. Having thus held that the strike was illegal and there was no reason why it should have been launched in such hot-haste, the tribunal went on to consider the case of these sixty workmen who were dismissed. It held that no charge of violence was brought home to these workmen and even the charge-sheets which were originally issued to the workmen did not contain any charge of violence. The tribunal then divided the sixty workmen into three batches of 47, 11 and 2. In the case of 47 workmen, it held that they must be assumed to have been served with charge-sheets as they refused to accept them and that proper inquiry was held into the charges, though in their absence. In the case of 11 workmen, it was of opinion that charge-sheets had not been served on them and therefore any inquiry held in their absence was of no avail. In the case of two workmen, it held that no attempt was made to serve any charge-sheet on them. Further, it set aside the order of dismissal with respect to 13 of the workmen on the ground that they were either not served with any charge-sheet or no charge-sheet was issued to them; as for the remaining 47, though it found that charge-sheets had been issued to them and they had refused to accept them and proper inquiry had been held in their case, it set aside the order of dismissal on the ground that they had not been shown to have taken part in violence and there were extenuating circumstances in their case inasmuch as they were misled to join the strike in order to oust the old office bearers of the union so that others might be elected in their place. It further pointed out that though a much larger number of workmen had taken part in the illegal strike and the union took up their case, only these sixty were eventually dismissed while the rest were reinstated. It was of the view that there was no reason for the appellant to make any distinction between these workmen and the others who were reinstated. It therefore ordered reinstatement of these 47 workmen also. Finally, it held that the workmen were sufficiently penalised, they being out of employment form March 1954 to February 1959 when it made the award and that there was no reason in the circumstances to maintain their dismissal. It awarded 50 per cent of the back basic wages to the two workmen in whose case charge-sheets were not even issued and 25 per cent of the back basic wages to the 11 workmen who were not served with charge-sheets; no back wages were allowed to the forty-seven workmen who had refused to accept the charge-sheets sent to them.