AMARENDRA NATH SEN,J. -
(1.)An interesting question of some importance concerning the rights and obligations of the Management and the Award Staff of a nationalized Bank arises for consideration in this writ petition.
(2.)SIX employees of Bank of India, a nationalized Bank, (hereinafter referred to as the Bank), and Bank of India Employees' Union, the recognized union of the Bank, have presented this writ petition in which the validity of two orders or notices passed by the Management of the Bank have been questioned. The first order or notice dated 25.6.1975 is contained in Annexure ('A') to the petition and is in the following terms: NOTICE
Deduction of pro rata wages for mass demonstration.
Certain members of award staff of Calcutta Branch and Regional Offices held mass demonstrations on the following days leaving their respective desks:
Date Time3.6.1975 2 -30 p.m. to 4.30 a.m. 2 hours4.6.1975 11 -10 a.m. to 11 -35 a.m. 25 minutes6.6.1975 2 -30 p.m. to 3 -00 p.m. 30 minutes17.6.1975 2 -45 p.m. to 1 -15 p.m. 30 minutes(Note: -The duration of 20 minutes on 6.6.1975 from 2 -10 p.m. to 2.30 p m. has not been taken into account, since this is pan of the usual lunch hour recess of 30 minutes)
Since any cessation of work by employee amounts to a strike, it has been decided to make pro rata deduction of wages from the salary to staff members payable for July, 1975.
The members of award staff, who did not participate the mass demonstrations, should inform the Bank, in writing, by 10.7.75, individually or collectively, in this behalf, so that such deduction of pro rata wages in their cases may not be done.
25.6.1975(Sd.) R.M Bose Manager
The other notice or order dated 3rd July, 1975 which is contained in Annexure 'C' to the petition reads as follows:
Bank of India
Office of the Executive Regional Manager, Eastern Region,
23B, Netaji Subhas Road, Calcutta -1. July 3, 1975
Ref : RO SKC
Re : Deduction of salaries
(i) 30th June -Half Yearly Closing DayAbsence from duties on the above date by the award staff who did not obtain prior sanction of leave should be treated as leave without pay. The deduction of one full day's salary should be effected from the salary for the month of July, 1975 since June salary has already been disbursed.
(ii) Mass Demonstration and Meeting on 1st and 2nd July, 1975 between 2 and 2 -30 p.m.It has been noticed that lunch recess for the purpose of taking tiffin was availed of beyond the hours of 2 -00 p.m. and 2 -10 p.m. Therefore, pro rata salary for half an hour for each of these two days must be deducted from the current month's salary of the award staff on the principle of 'no work no pay '
Those members of award staff who did not participate in the mass demonstration and the meeting may apply for exemption from the 'pay cut'.
This may also be noted that mast demonstration and holding of meetings within the Bank's premises without Management's permission constitute violation of the bipartite agreement.
(Sd.) S.K. Chakraborty,
Executive Regional Manager, Eastern Region.
Copy to all Branches:
The Agents are requested to verify the factual position in their respective Branches relating to the subject -matter of the above note sent to the Manager. Calcutta Branch If the circumstances are similar kindly note that pro rat a salary will have to be deducted under advice to us without any exception.
Kindly acknowledge receipt in the cut out slip given below.
Ref. DateThe Executive Regional Manager,
I acknowledge receipt of your Circular Ref. Ref. SKC of 3rd July. 1975 and confirm that your instructions will be complied with meticulously without any exception.
It is not in dispute in the instant case that on the days mentioned in the notice or order dated the 20th of June, 1975 there was a demonstration by certain members of the Award Staff of the Bank for ventilating what the employee's considered to be their grievances. It may, however, be noted that though there is no dispute of the fact that there were mass demonstrations by the employees on the days mentioned, some disputes have been raised as to the hour and duration of the demonstration on some of the days mentioned in the said notice or order. It is also not in dispute in the instant case that on the 30th of June, 1975, a section of the Award Staff did not attend office on the ground that on the basis of the practice prevailing in the Bank, the employees who are not connected with the work of closing are not required to attend office and the days of half yearly and yearly closing of accounts of the Bank are holidays for them. It is also not in dispute that on the 1st and 2nd of July, 1975 there was a mass demonstration by the members of the Award Staff between 2 and 2 -30 p.m.
(3.)MR . Somnath Chatterjee, the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioners, has raised the following principal contentions: (1) In the absence of any specific provisions in the contract of employment or in any statute, the Bank has no power or authority to deduct any part of the salary of the Award Staff who are permanent employees of the Bank on the basis of monthly salaries payable to them under the contract of employment; (2) The monthly pay of an employee is his property and no employee can be deprived of his pay except in due process of law; (3) Any diminution in the monthly pay of an employee affects his rights and interests prejudicially and no order can be passed by the Back reducing the monthly salary under the contract or deducting any part there. from without giving the employee concerned a reasonable opportunity of making his representations; (4) The orders in question are mala fide; (5) If the Bank which is a statutory body passes any order in excess of its power or authority or in violation of the principles of natural justice, such an order can be questioned in a writ proceeding.