Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation etc Vs. Jadeja Govubha Chhanubha & Anr.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 10690-10691 OF 2014

(Arising out of S.L.P. (C) Nos. 36800-36801 of 2012)

 Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation etc. …Appellants

Vs.

Jadeja Govubha Chhanubha & Anr. …Respondents

 

The respondent, it appears, was employed as a Conductor in the Transport Department of the appellant-Corporation on daily-wage basis in October, 1987. He claims to have served in that capacity till 31st March, 1989 when his services were terminated. Aggrieved by the termination, the respondent raised an industrial dispute before the Assistant Labour Commissioner, Bhavnagar who tried to resolve the same by way of conciliation but since the conciliation proceedings also failed, Reference No.459 of 1990 was made to the Labour Commissioner at Bhavnagar for adjudication of the dispute between the parties. The Labour Court allowed the parties to adduce evidence in support of their respective versions and eventually came to the conclusion that the respondent had indeed worked as a Conductor with the appellant-Corporation between 3rd October, 1987 and 31stMarch, 1989. The Labour Court in the process rejected the appellant’s case that the respondent had worked only for 58days as Badli Conductor and was not, therefore, entitled to protection of Section 25F of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The Labour Court placed reliance upon a Xerox copy ofa certificate allegedly issued by an officer of the appellant-Corporation certifying that the respondent had worked as a Conductor for the period mentioned above. The Labour Court drew an adverse inference against the appellant-Corporation for its omission to produce relevant record to prove that the respondent-workman had worked only for 58 days hence not entitled to the benefit of any retrenchment compensation. The Labour Court on that basis held the termination ofthe respondent from service to be illegal and directed reinstatement with 65% back wages. Aggrieved by the award made by the Labour Court the appellant-Corporation filed Special Civil ApplicationNo.11508 of 2002 which was heard and partly allowed by a learned Single Judge of the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad by his order dated 24th April, 2012. The High Court referred to the evidence adduced by the parties before the Labour Court and came to the conclusion that the appellant-Corporation had not been able to prove its assertion that the respondent had worked for 58 days only. The High Court held that the findings recorded by the Labour Court to the effect that the respondent had worked between3rd October, 1987 and 31st March, 1989 were supported by sufficient evidence and material on record. Having said so, the High Court opined that the award of back wages of 65%was not justified as the Labour Court had not given any cogent reasons while directing such back wages nor had the Labour Court examined whether the respondent was gainfully employed during the intervening period. The award to the extent it directed payment of 65% back wages was, therefore, held to be perverse by the learned Single Judge of the High Court which part was accordingly set aside and the writ petition partly allowed….read more