The Supreme Court of India recently observed that an order of termination approved by an Industrial Tribunal is binding on the parties and a Labour Court cannot take a contrary view against it.
Highlighting this, a Bench of Justices MR Shah and Krishna Murari observed,
“Once the order of termination was approved by the Industrial Tribunal on appreciation of evidence led before it, thereafter the findings recorded by the Industrial Tribunal were binding between the parties. No contrary view could have been taken by the Labour Court contrary to the findings recorded by the Industrial Tribunal.”
The Court was considering an appeal plea by the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation.
A workman was subjected to departmental enquiry for not issuing tickets to 10passengers after collecting the fare. On conclusion of the departmental enquiry, his services were terminated. The termination was the subject matter of the approval application before the Industrial Tribunal in an application under Section 33(2)(b) of the Industrial Act. In the said proceedings the management was permitted to lead the evidence and prove the charge/misconduct before the Tribunal. The Tribunal by order approved the order of termination.
After a period of approximately 19 years from the date of passing the order of termination, the workman again raised an Industrial Dispute challenging the order of termination of 2001. By Judgment and Award in 2019, the Labour Court, Jaipur allowed the said reference and set aside the order of termination. The Labour Court passed an order awarding 50% back wages from the date of termination till his death i.e. December10, 2018. The Judgment and Award passed by the Labour Court was challenged before both, Single and Division Benches of the High Court. However, both times, the petitions were dismissed.
After going through the relevant facts, the court observed that once the order of termination was approved by the Industrial Tribunal, thereafter the fresh reference under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act challenging the order of termination was not permissible.
“It is required to be noted that the order dated 21.07.2015 passed by the Industrial Tribunal which as such is a higher forum than the Labour Court had attained the finality”,the Court added.
Though the aforesaid fact was pointed out before the High Court, it did not consider this aspect and confirmed the judgment and award passed by the Labour Court for setting aside the order of termination, which was approved by the Industrial Tribunal.
With these observations, the Supreme Court held that the judgment and award passed by the Labour Court, confirmed by the High Court is unsustainable and allowed the appeal plea.
“The High Court has committed a very serious error in dismissing the writ petition/writ appeal confirming the judgment and award passed by the Labour Court setting aside the order of termination.”
Case Title: Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation vs Bharat Singh Jhala (Dead)Son of Shri Nathu Singh, through Legal Heirs & Anr | CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6942 of 2022
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 818