JURISDICTION UNDER SECTION 11A OF INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES ACT MUST BE EXERCISED JUDICIOUSLY BY THE LABOU
CASE : Standard Chartered Bank v. R.C. Srivastava
The respondent was dismissed by the appellant on the pretext of manhandling and assaulting senior officers, for drinking in the premises and for hurling abuses at the management.
Before dismissing, the enquiry officer conducted an enquiry following the principles of Bipartite Settlement and natural justice and held the respondent liable for his acts. The same was upheld by the Disciplinary Authority.
The Industrial Tribunal reversed the finding and asked the bank to reinstate the respondent with entire wages, seniority and employee benefits. While upholding the judgement of the tribunal, the High Court stated that the bank failed to prove the charges that were levied against him.
Aggrieved with the judgment, the appellant approached the Apex Court.
COURT OBSERVATION :
The court observed that the jurisdiction under 11A gives a wide discretion to the tribunal to reinstate any worker, but this discretion cannot be used on a mere hypothesis or any unproven statement.
In the present case, if the enquiry was not done following the principles of Bipartite Settlement or the principles of natural justice or there was a doubt that the enquiry was not fair and proper, then the order of the tribunal to reinstate the employee would have been a valid one. Here, the domestic enquiry was held to be fair and proper.
But the Tribunal and the High Court while verifying the domestic enquiry, ignored the doctrine of preponderance of probability and applied the theory of beyond reasonable doubt that is followed in criminal suits and ordered reinstatement. While doing so, the tribunal acted as a Court of Appeal and exceeded the authority given under Section 11A.
Domestic Enquiry has to be judged upon the doctrine of preponderance of probability, which means that the burden of proof is met if there are claims, which have a greater than 50% chance to be true. Here, it was only after the enquiry which was substantiated by the disciplinary authority that respondent was dismissed.
Thus, in this case, the court while overruling the decision of the tribunal and the high court, upheld the dismissal to be proportionate with the misconduct on the basis of the enquiry report.
LEGAL PROVISION :
SECTION 11A, INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES ACT, 1947
Powers of Labour Courts, Tribunals and National Tribunals to give appropriate relief in case of discharge or dismissal of workmen - Where an industrial dispute relating to the discharge or dismissal of a workman has been referred to a Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal for adjudication and, in the course of the adjudication proceedings, the Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal, as the case may be, is satisfied that the order of discharge or dismissal was not justified, it may, by its award, set aside the order of discharge or dismissal and direct reinstatement of the workman on such terms and conditions, if any, as it thinks fit, or give such other relief to the workman including the award of any lesser punishment in lieu of discharge or dismissal as the circumstances of the case may require:
Provided that in any proceeding under this section the Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal, as the case may be, shall rely only on the materials on record and shall not take any fresh evidence in relation to the matter.