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SOUTHERN ROADWAYS (PRIVATE), LTD BANGALORE V. K.

PADMANABHAN AND ANOTHER

1. The petitioner-Southern Roadways, Ltd.-Has presented this writ petition praying for quashing the
award of Labour Court, Bangalore, dated 28 January 1976, (exhibit G), under which the Labour Court has
directed reinstatement of respondent in the service of the petitioner and for payment of 25 per cent of the
back- wages.

2. The brief facts of the case are these Respondent I was working as a clerk on the establishment of the
petitioner. On 17 August 1972, he was charged with an allegation that he committed theft of a woollen
rug and on the same day he tendered resignation. Respondent having taken the stand that the resignation
was secured by force and it was not given voluntarily, the dispute between the petitioner and respondent
resulted in an industrial dispute and the State Government, by its order, dated 15 July 1973, referred the
following question to the Labour Court, Bangalore "Are the management of the Southern Roadways
(Private), Ltd, Lalbagh Fort Road Bangalore 4, justified in refusing employment to Sri K. Padmanabhan
an ex-employee on the plea of alleged resignation?"

3. The petitioner and respondent 1 filed statements before the Labour Court and the Labour Court by its
award dated 28 January 1976 held that the petitioner- management was not justified in refusing the
employment to respondent 1 on the plea of alleged resignation. The Labour Court directed that respondent
1 is entitled to relief of reinstatement to his former post with continuity of service and 25 per cent of the
back-wages.

4. Sri V. P Ananthakrishna, learned counsel for the petitioner-management, raised the following two
contentions:

(1) As respondent 1 had tendered resignation it was only an individual dispute, and not an industrial
dispute and, therefore the reference made by the State Government as well as the award passed by the
Labour Court are without jurisdiction.

(2) The finding recorded by the Labour Court to the effect that the resignation of respondent I was
secured by force by the petitioner-management is perverse.

5. As regards the first contention, the Labour Court had held that it was not shown as to how the reference
is not maintainable and beyond the scope of S. 2A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and, therefore,
held that it is not beyond the scope of S. 2A of the Act. The learned counsel for the petitioner relied on S.
2A of the Act and submitted that the present dispute being-an individual dispute and as it does not fall
under any one of the matters referred to in S. 2A of the Act, the reference made by the State Government
to the Labour Court was without jurisdiction. Section 2A of the Act reads as follows

"2A. Where any employer discharges, dismisses retrenches or otherwise terminates the services of an
individual workman, any dispute are difference between the workman and his employer connected with
or arising out of, such discharge, dismissal, retrenchment or termination shall be deemed to be an
industrial dispute notwitstanding that no other workman nor any union of workmen is a party to the
dispute."

As it can be seen from the aforesaid provision, when any employer discharges, dismisses, retrenches or
otherwise terminates the services of an individual workman, any dispute relating to such discharge,
dismissal, retrenchment or termination is required to be treated as an industrial dispute notwithstanding
the fact that no other workman or any union of workmen has sponsored such a dispute. The learned
counsel for the petitioner submitted that there is no order of discharge, dismissal retrenchment or
termination in the present case and, therefore, the dispute between the petitioner and respondent 1 could
not be regarded as an industrial dispute and consequently it was not competent to the State Government to
refer the dispute for industrial adjudication under S. 10 of the Act.

6. I am unable to agree with the contention urged for the petitioner. If an employer secures resignation of
any of his employees by force or against his will, in substance, it amounts to the termination of the
services of the concerned employee. It is to cover such cases of termination brought about in any form
whatsoever the Legislature has designedly used the words" or otherwise terminate the services" in S. 2A
of the Act. The question whether in a given case the resignation was tendered voluntarily or secured under
duress, is a question of fact. Therefore, if a workman complaints that he has not tendered his resignation
voluntarily, but his resignation was secured under threat or coercion and by that process the termination
of his services is brought about, such a dispute between an individual workman and the employer is
squarely covered by the provisions of S. 2A of the Act as such a case falls within the scope of the words
"otherwise terminates the services. "In the present case, respondent complained that his resignation was
secured under threat and by that method his services were terminated by the petitioner. Therefore the
State Government was competent to refer the dispute between the petitioner and respondent 1 to the
Labour Court. Hence, I reject the first contention.

7. As regards the second contention, the Labour Court, after considering the evidence adduced, has
recorded a finding on a question of fact to the effect that the resignation letter was secured under threat of
handing over respondent to the police. Respondent 1 examined four witnesses including himself, the other
witnesses being W.W 2, K Ranganathan, W.W 3, Natarajan and W.W 4, Gopal Raju. The evidence
adduced on behalf of respondent 1 revealed that the allegation to the effect that respondent committed
theft of a woollen rug was levelled against him without any preliminary enquiry and that respondent 1,
who had put in loyal service of about nine years with the petitioner, got highly insulted and consumed
Tick-20 and, when he was not in a sound state of mind and before he was sent to the hospital in the
company's jeep his signature was taken on the resignation letter by threatening him that he would be
handed over to the police if he did not tender resignation. After considering the entire evidence on record
the Labour Court came to the conclusion that the evidence adduced on behalf of respondent 1 that
respondent 1 has consumed Tick-20 and he was sent in the company's jeep to the Victoria Hospital and
his resignation was taken when respondent I was not in a sound state of mind has been established and
also that the resignation was not voluntary and not out of free will. The learned counsel for the petitioner
was not able to establish that the finding of fact recorded by the Labour Court was perverse.

8. For the reasons stated above rule is discharged and the writ petition is dismissed. No costs.