SL SC | Appellate Court cannot re-examine or re-appraise evidence analyzed by the Labour Tribunal unless there is a question of law on the face of record

Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: The Three-Judge Bench of Vijith K. Malalgoda, M.N.B. Fernando and E.A.G.R. Amarasekara, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the Judgment of the High Court whereby it was held that the Labour Tribunal had failed to correctly analyse the evidence placed before it.

Appellant herein had instituted proceedings before the Labour Tribunal of Galle against the respondent alleging that they had wrongfully and unlawfully terminated his services as Superintendent of a cinnamon plantation called ‘Punchimalakanda’. Respondents denied the employment of the appellant and in an inquiry before the Labour Tribunal, he was granted a compensation of Rs 3,75,000 for wrongful termination. Being aggrieved, respondent appealed to the Provincial High Court of Galle which set aside the findings of Labour Tribunal. Hence, the present appeal. 

The Court opined that it is well settled legal principle that it is not open for an Appellate Court to re-examine and re-appraise evidence analyzed by the Labour Tribunal unless there is a question of law on the face of the record. Further, Section 31 D of the Industrial Dispute Act No. 43 of 1950 states that the order of a Labour Tribunal shall be final and shall not be called in question in any court except on a question of law. Reliance was placed on Ceylon Cinema and Film Studio Employees’ Union v. Liberty Cinema Ltd., 1993 SCC OnLine SL SC 19 where it was held that “it may be possible that the Appellate Court may come to a different finding on facts but the evaluation of the facts is a matter for the tribunal.”

In view of the above, it was opined that the High Court Judge had misdirected himself when it concluded that the President of the Labour Tribunal had failed to give due consideration to evidence placed before him. Thus, the impugned judgment was set aside.[Shanthi Sagara Gunawardena v. Ranjith Kumudusena Gunawardena, SC Appeal 89 of 2016, decided on 02-04- 2019]

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