Failure of authorities to issue notice of enquiry to its employees is violative of principles of natural justice

High Court for States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh: In a writ petition filed, questioning the validity and legal sustainability of an award of the Labour Court, a Single Judge Bench comprising of A.V. Sesha Sai, J. held that the Labour Court had not exercised its jurisdiction under S. 11-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and therefore, the award was liable to be set aside. The aforementioned section grants powers to Labour Courts, Tribunals and National Tribunals to give appropriate relief in case of discharge or dismissal of workmen.

The respondent issued charge-sheets against the petitioner on his unauthorised absence from work and set up an enquiry, the notice for which was put up on the notice board of the office and it was contended that it was the petitioner’s fault that he did not show up and lost the opportunity to defend his case. The petitioner, on the other hand, contends that he had taken permission for leave from the Depot Manager and that the respondent’s failure to issue notice to the petitioner personally as per the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation Employees (Classification, Control and Appeal) Regulations, 1967 which require authorities to issue notices of enquiries to its employees.

Moreover, the petitioner argued that the respondents did not even provide him with an enquiry report and that the Labour Court did not take into account any of these factors while granting the award. All of this constituted a blatant violation of the Act, the Regulations and also the principles of natural justice. The Court upheld these contentions and setting aside the award stated that the removal, as confirmed by the award “was in violation of the regulations and also the principles of natural justice and is shockingly disproportionate to the alleged delinquency.” [P. Pullaiah v. The Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Hyderabad, 2017 SCC OnLine Hyd 219, decided on 29.06. 2017]

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