1. W.P. No. 30418 of 2000 is by the workman and W.P. Nos. 26905 and 26906 of 2000 are by the management.
2. The writ petition by the workman is to the extent of not granting 50% back wages in view of the decision of this Court in the case of Abdul Gani v. The General Manager, Vishweshwaraiah Iron and Steel Limited, Bhadrauati and Anr, 1998(1) Kar. L.J. 58. The management has filed two writ petitions, one is against the award granting 50% back wages and another is for quashing of the notice issued by the Revenue Inspector to recover the amount of Rs. 2,25,450/- as arrears of land revenue.
3. The facts in this case are as follows:
The workman raised a dispute challenging the order of dismissal made by the management on the ground it is illegal and non est. Before the Tribunal one of the contentions raised by the workman is that no enquiry has been held by the management, on the article of charges served on him and therefore, the dismissal is illegal. On this contention, the Labour Court has held that the management has not held any enquiry on the article of charges. Consequent on this finding the Tribunal called upon the management to adduce evidence in support of the charge. Pursuant to this the management adduced evidence in support of the charge. The respondent-workman also adduced evidence denying the charges. The Tribunal on assessment of evidence adduced before it has recorded the finding that the charges framed against the workman have been proved. Consequent on this finding the Labour Court confirmed the order of dismissal made by the management.
4. The Industrial Tribunal though confirmed the punishment imposed by the management has awarded 50% back wages on the ground that there was no enquiry by the management before passing the order of dismissal. The grievance of the workman is that the Industrial Tribunal having held that no enquiry was held before passing order of dismissal, ought to have awarded full back wages. Sri P.S. Manjunath, learned Counsel for the management submits that the order of the Tribunal confirming the order of dismissal passed by the management relates back to the date of the order passed by the management and therefore he is not entitled for even 50% of the back wages as awarded by the Industrial Tribunal.
5. Sri Subba Rao, learned Senior Counsel for the workman relying upon the decision of the Division Bench of this Court in Abdul Gani's case, supra, submits that the workman is entitled for full back wages in view of the finding recorded by the Tribunal on the validity of the domestic enquiry. In this case, the Division Bench of this Court considering all the decisions on the point regarding payment of back wages in a case where there is no domestic enquiry has held that the workman is entitled for full back wages as the date of dismissal came into effect from the date of the order of the Labour Court as it does not relate back to the order of the management. In this case no doubt this Court after considering all the decisions of the Supreme Court on the point has held in a case where there is no enquiry, the workman shall not be made to suffer the order of dismissal till the charges are established before the Labour Court.
6. Sri Manjunath, learned Counsel per contra contended that the above said decision has been doubted by the Supreme Court in the case of Vishweshwaraiah Iron and Steel Limited v. Abdul Gani and Ors. AIR 1998 SC 185, by referring the same to the larger Bench and therefore, the decision of the Division Bench has no binding effect so as to award any back wages treating the order of dismissal effective from the date of the order of the Tribunal. In support of this contention he relied upon the decision in the case of Uttar Pradesh Rashtriya Chini Mill Adhikari Parishad, Lucknow v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors, . In this case, the Supreme Court has held as follows:
"The jurisprudence governing Court functioning in this country makes a judgment, delivered by a Judge or a Bench comprising of more than one Judges, the judgment of the Court and not of the person holding the judicial office. The judgment holds good till it is set aside or its correctness is doubted by the higher Court. Once the correctness of a judgment is doubted by the higher Court the judgment no longer remains the law of the land and it is treated as non est".
From a reading of the above judgment it is clear that once the correctness of the judgment is doubted by a higher Court, the judgment does not have any binding effect and it no longer remains the law of the land. In the instant case what is to be examined is whether the judgment rendered by the High Court in Abdul Gani's case, supra, is doubted by the Supreme Court. In the case of Abdul Gani referred to above, what has been doubted is the applicability of the judgment of the Constitution Bench rendered in the case of P.H. Kalyani v. Air France, Calcutta, , arising under Sections 10 and 10A of the Industrial Disputes Act. Nowhere in the said judgment, the Supreme Court has said that it has doubted the decision of the Division Bench in Abdul Gani's case, supra, in the matter of awarding of back wages consequent on the finding of the validity of domestic enquiry. If that is so, it cannot be said the decision of the Division Bench in Abdul Gani's case, supra, has no binding effect. Therefore, the decision of the Division Bench of this Court is binding on this Court. In the above said judgment the Division Bench has considered referring to various decisions of the Supreme Court, on the point involved. If that is so, I hold the said judgment is binding on this Court.
7. The next question that arise for consideration is whether the workman is entitled for full back wages as per the decision of the Division Bench referred to above. Under Section 11-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, the Labour Court has got discretion to give relief taking into consideration the surrounding circumstances. Admittedly, in this case, there is some material to show that the workman was gainfully employed and was also cultivating the lands which he holds. In addition, it is also not in dispute that as against the workman the management had filed a dispute for recovery of certain money alleging misappropriation of money belonging to the Society and it is pending consideration before the Arbitrator. Taking these facts into consideration, I am of the view what has been awarded by the Labour Court towards back wages is just and proper and it does not warrant any interference by this Court. Therefore, the challenge made to the award both by the management and workman are liable to be rejected.
8. In the writ petition filed by the management, the management has in addition to challenging the award has also challenged the notice issued by the Revenue Inspector, for recovery of the amount said to be towards back wages as arrears of land revenue. From the Annexures produced along with the writ petitions, I find that the workman made an application for recovery of back wages under Section 33-C(1) of the Act, before the Deputy Labour Commissioner. On that application, notice was served on the management. The management immediately after the receipt of the notice has filed its objections questioning the very jurisdiction of the Deputy Labour Commissioner. On this application and on the objections raised by the management no order appears to have been passed by the Deputy Labour Commissioner. Under these circumstances, it is not known how the Revenue Inspector issues a notice in the absence of quantifying the back wages in accordance with law. Therefore, this notice is liable to be quashed.
9. In the result, 1 pass the following order:
Writ petitions are disposed off in the following terms:
(1) Writ petition filed by the workman and the management insofar as it relate to questioning the correctness of the award are dismissed;
(2) Writ petition filed by the management challenging the notice issued by the Revenue Inspector concerned is allowed quashing the notice issued by the Revenue Inspector;
(3) The Deputy Labour Commissioner is directed to pass appropriate order on the application filed by the workman under Section 33-C(1) along with the objections filed by the management after due notice to both the parties.