2010(1) ALL MR 751
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY(NAGPUR BENCH)
V.A. NAIK, J.
State Of Maharashtra & Anr.Vs.Ghanshyam Krishnarao Morghated
Writ Petition No.1631 of 2002
25th November, 2009
Petitioner Counsel: Smt. SHARDA WANDILE
Respondent Counsel: Miss. KALPANA PATHAK
Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act (1971), S.28, Sch.IV, Item 9 - Unfair labour practice - Departmental enquiry against respondent - Charge of misuse of Govt. vehicle and causing damage of the same - Non-supply of documents relied on by petitioners to respondent - Violation of natural justice - Admitted fact that respondent had merely asked for a lift to reach his residence - No material to show that he had taken the vehicle out of lawful custody without permission and that he had caused damage to same - Order of disciplinary authority punishing respondent with stoppage of one increment permanently, not justified - Hence, liable to be set aside. (Para 6)
JUDGMENT :- By this petition, the petitioners impugn the order passed by the Industrial Court, Nagpur on 5.12.2000 allowing the complaint filed by the respondent and setting aside the punishment imposed by the petitioners on the complainant on 22.5.1990.
2. The respondent had filed a complaint before the Industrial Court Nagpur under section 28 read with item no.9 of Schedule IV of the M.R.T.U. & P.U.L.P. Act. It was the case of the complainant that while he was working as Milk Dispatcher, he was served with the charge-sheet. It was the case of the petitioners that the respondent had boarded the jeep of petitioners, bearing No. MZV 1207 without permission of his superior and misused the vehicle. While the jeep was being misused it met with an accident and loss was caused to the petitioners. Departmental enquiry was conducted against the respondent/complainant. After holding the departmental enquiry the punishment was inflicted on the respondent of stoppage of one increment on permanent basis. The respondent challenged the order passed by the petitioners by filing the complaint.
3. The Petitioners filed reply and resisted the case of the respondent. It was denied that false charges were leveled against the respondent and he was not allowed to engage a lawyer. It was denied that the petitioners did not supply the necessary documents which were demanded by the respondent. According to the petitioners the order dated 22.5.1990 was legal. The petitioners pleaded that the respondent had committed serious misconduct by unauthorizedly utilizing the vehicle of the petitioners when the respondent was not on duty. It was stated that the departmental enquiry was held by following the principles of natural justice. Since the misconduct was proved against the respondent, the petitioners sought for the dismissal of the complaint. The Industrial Court, however, by the impugned order dated 5.12.2000 allowed the complaint and set aside the order of punishment dated 22.5.1990.
4. Mrs. Sharda Wandile, the learned AGP appearing on behalf of the petitioners submitted that the Industrial Court was not justified in allowing the complaint, by holding that the enquiry was not fair and proper. The learned AGP submitted that ample opportunity was granted to the respondent and that was demonstrated from the cross-examination of the respondent. The learned AGP submitted that the enquiry was in accordance with the principles of natural justice and the Industrial Court was not justified in holding that there was no evidence to show that the jeep was taken out of lawful custody without prior permission of the authority and the same was misused, thereby causing loss and damage to the petitioners. The learned AGP submitted that the punishment of stoppage of one increment permanently was just and proper and the Industrial Court was not justified in holding that the respondent had no nexus or concern with the use of government vehicle.
5. Miss. Kalpana Pathak, the learned counsel for the respondent supported the order passed by the Industrial Court on 5.12.2000 and submitted that the documents sought by the respondents in the departmental enquiry were never furnished to the respondent though the petitioners relied on the same. The learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the Industrial Court had rightly held on a proper appreciation of the record that the respondent was not responsible for taking the government vehicle out of lawful custody and causing damage to it. The learned counsel for the respondent sought for the dismissal of the writ petition.
6. I have considered the submissions made on behalf of the parties and have perused the impugned order dated 5.12.2000. On perusal of the same, it appears that the Industrial Court was justified in allowing the complaint and setting aside the order of punishment dated 22.5.1990. The Industrial Court held that the enquiry initiated against the respondent was not based on principles of natural justice. The Industrial Court observed and rightly so, that the documents on which the petitioners placed reliance during the enquiry were not supplied to the respondent and hence the case of the respondent was prejudiced. The Industrial Court observed that there was no evidence to show that the documents mentioned in application Exhibit 21 were ever supplied to the respondent. The Industrial Court considered the evidence of the respondent which showed that he had only asked for a lift in the jeep and Shri. Gotmare had allowed him to sit in the jeep and except this the respondent had no role to pay in the matter. In such circumstances, it was the case of the respondent that he cannot be held responsible for using the government vehicle without prior permission or for causing damage to the vehicle. The Industrial Court found, on an appreciation of material on record that there was no evidence to show that the jeep was taken by the respondent out of lawful custody without prior permission and that he had misused it and caused loss or damage. The Industrial Court considered the evidence of Shri. Zade who had admitted that the respondent had never demanded the government vehicle and the respondent was not at fault as he had merely asked for a lift to reach his residence and the permission was granted by Shri Gotmare. The findings recorded by the Industrial Court are pure findings of facts based on a proper appreciation of the material on record. They call for no interference in exercise of the writ jurisdiction.