BAREILLY ELECTRICITY SUPPLY COMPANY, LIMITED Vs. SIRAJUDDIN
LAWS(SC)-1960-3-45
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on March 21,1960

Bareilly Electricity Supply Company, Limited Appellant
VERSUS
SIRAJUDDIN Respondents




JUDGEMENT

GAJENDRAGADKAR, J. - (1.)AN award directing the appellant, the Bareilly Electricity Supply Company, Ltd., to reinstate its employee, the respondent Sirajuddin, has given rise to this appeal by special leave. The respondent had been employed by the appellant in December, 1951 as an unskilled labourer, viz., cooly. He was first working in the mains department as a cooly and then in September, 1952 he was transferred to the meter department in the same capacity and in the same scale of wages. While he was working in the said department he was required to keep a cycle of his own for the company's work for which he was allowed an allowance of Rs. 6 per month. Later, on 21 December, 1956 by a verbal order he was retransferred to the mains department and naturally the cycle allowance paid to him whilst he was working in the meter department was discontinued. The respondent challenged the validity of this order of retransfer and that became the subject-matter of an industrial dispute which was referred for adjudication to the industrial tribunal. It is in the said reference that the award under appeal was passed by the tribunal.
(2.)THE point raised by the appellant before us lies within a very narrow compass. It appears that the respondent challenged the validity of the order of retransfer on several grounds. The tribunal was not satisfied with most of them; in fact it has serially rejected one ground after another taken by the respondent in support of his plea that the order of retransfer was invalid. The tribunal, however, thought that the order of retransfer having been passed verbally by a person not competent to alter the previous order under which the respondent had been asked to go to the meter department, the retransfer was invalid. It has also observed that there has been such a hue and cry about the retransfer and yet the management has not given any reason why the retransfer was made. On these grounds the tribunal said that its opinion veered round to the conclusion that the retransfer was mala fide, that is to say, on other than bona fide grounds, and it added that it may be for the union activities of the respondent that he was retransferred.In our opinion, it is very difficult to sustain this award. The appellant asked its officer to retransfer the respondent from the mains to the meter department, and in its pleadings before the tribunal the appellant has urged that the order for retransfer was properly and validly made. It is difficult to understand why a verbal order should be held to be necessarily invalid and what authority is expected in the person who made the said order. Transferring a cooly from one department to another is a matter of internal arrangement and industrial tribunals should be very careful before they interfere with the orders made in the discharge of the management function in that behalf. The argument that the appellant did not give any reason for this retransfer though there was hue and cry against it seems to us to be wholly beside the point. Even the tribunal did not feel inclined to make definite finding that it was because of the union activities of the respondent that he was retransferred; it has only suggested that as a possibility. The failure of the appellant to give specific reason for the retransfer of the respondent appears to be the sole basis on which the conclusion of mala fides is founded. It is hardly necessary to emphasize that the findings of mala fides can be made by industrial tribunals only after sufficient reliable evidence is led in support of it. Such a finding should not be made lightheartedly or in a casual manner as has been done by the tribunal in the present case. Therefore, without deciding the other points raised in the pleadings and confining ourselves to the only ground on which the tribunal has based its decision, we must hold that the order of reinstatement is patently unreasonable and must be set aside.
In the result the appeal succeeds and the award under appeal is set aside. There will be no order as to costs.

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