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Bombay High CourtIndian Cases

Hafizullah Khan vs Maharashtra State Road Transport … on 25 November 1991

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Bombay High Court
Hafizullah Khan vs Maharashtra State Road Transport … on 25 November, 1991
Equivalent citations: [1992(65)FLR716], (1995)IIILLJ458BOM

H.H. Kantharia, J.

1. The petitioner was working as a Conductor with the respondent, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, through its Divisional Controller for Akola Division, Akola, effective from December 7, 1965. He was dismissed from service with effect from April 8, 1982 on the allegations of certain misconduct. He had filed a departmental appeal which was pending. In the meanwhile, he filed a complaint in the nature of unfair labour practice under Item I of Schedule IV of the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as the “MRTU & PULP Act”) in the Labour Court at Akola. The respondent Corporation had not filed even written statement resisting the said complaint. When the unfair labour practice complaint was pending adjudication before the Labour Court, the petitioner was given to understand that his departmental appeal was being taken up for hearing and, therefore, he sought permission of the Labour Court to withdraw his complaint. Accordingly, his complaint was allowed to be withdrawn by the learned Labour Judge, However, the departmental appeal preferred by the petitioner came to be rejected and hence the petitioner moved the Conciliation Officer under the provisions of Industrial Disputes Act, as a result of which a reference (I.D.A.) No. 46/84 was made to the Labour Court at Akola for his reinstatement with back wages and continuity of service.

2. At the hearing of the said reference, a preliminary objection was raised on behalf of the respondent that in view of the provisions of Section 59 of the MRTU & PULP Act, the reference was not maintainable. The learned Labour Judge upheld the preliminary objection raised by the respondent Corporation and rejected the reference of the petitioner by an Award dated January 22, 1986.

3. Being aggrieved, the petitioner invoked the supervisory writ jurisdiction of this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution by filing the present writ petition.

4. Mr. Khan, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, urged that the unfair labour practice complaint filed by the petitioner in the Labour Court was not decided on merits and it was disposed of as withdrawn, and, therefore, his reference under the provisions of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 later would not be barred by the provisions of Section 59 of MRTU & PULP Act. On the other hand Mr. Mehadia appearing on behalf of respondent Corporation urged that the very fact that the petitioner had instituted unfair labour practice complaint in the Labour Court would bar further reference under the Industrial Disputes Act under the provisions of Section 59 of MRTU & PULP Act and it is immaterial whether the unfair labour practice complaint was disposed of on merits or otherwise. In support of his contention Mr Mehadia relied upon two Judgments of the same Division Bench (V.A. Mohta & B.C. Deo JJ) of this Court. The first authority is in case of Shivaji Agriculture College, Amravati v. Mukhtyar Ahmed s/o. Haji Mian Sheikh and Anr. 1987 Mh.L.J. 646 and the second authority is an unre ported Judgment of the same Bench, as stated above, in case of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation v. Sk. Altaf s/o. Sk. Ibrahim in Writ Petition No. 1884/82 decided on October 11, 1985.

5. I am afraid it is not possible for me to pursuade myself to agree with the submissions of Mr. Mehadia for the simple reason that the two cases aforesaid of this Court relied upon by him are not relevant to the facts of the present case inasmuch as in both those cases the unfair labour practice complaints were decided on merits by the lower Court on the ground that they were barred by law of limitation whereas in the instant case the unfair labour practice complained of was not at all touched on merits and it was simply disposed of as withdrawn. The point in question is no more res Integra as the same was decided by a Division Bench of this Court (C.S. Dharmadhikari and S.W. Puranik JJ.) in the case of Consolidated Pneumatic Tool Company (India) Ltd. v. R.A. Gadekar, Member Industrial Tribunal and Ors. 1986 I CLR 322 in which it was specifically held that the withdrawal of the unfair labour practice complaint under MRTU & PULP Act does not attract the bar of Section 59 of the said Act and reference under Section 10 of Industrial Disputes Act is not in any way affected by earlier complaint having been filed, and later withdrawn. This Judgment which is later in point of time as being delivered on February 28, 1986 as against the earlier two Judgments by Mohta & Deo JJ. on September 27, 1985 and October 11, 1985 respectively, has settled the controversy raised before me now.

6. In this view of the matter, the writ petition succeeds and the same is allowed. The impugned award passed by the learned Labour Judge of Akola on January 22, 1986 in Reference (I.D.A.) No. 46/84 is quashed and set aside. The reference is remanded back to the Court of learned Labour Court, Akola with a direction to dispose it of in accordance with law. As the matter has been pending for long and the alleged wrongful dismissal of the petitioner had taken place in the year 1982, the learned Labour Judge of Akola is directed to dispose of the said reference as early as possible and at any rate within six months from the date of receipt of the writ by the said Court.

7. Rule is accordingly made absolute but with no order as to costs.