Delhi High Court Dinesh Singh vs Air India & Others on 20 January, 2009Author: Ajit Prakash Shah
* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI + LPA 1362/2007
DINESH SINGH ….. Appellant
Through Mr. G.D. Gupta, Sr. Advocate.
Mr. S.K. Gupta, Advocate.
AIR INDIA & ORS. ….. Respondent Through Mr. Lalit Bhasin, Advocate with Ms. Ratna and Ms. Shreya,
HON’BLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SANJIV KHANNA
1. The appellant was working as a Junior Operator with the Respondent No.1 Corporation. On 7th October, 1989 he was on tractor duty in the make up area and was to attend the Saudi Air Flight which was schedule to arrived at 6.00 P.M.
2. One Mr. M.L. Kumar, Apron Supervisor of the same flight was also on duty. The appellant’s tractor dashed against a chain of container dollies, which were parked there. Mr. M.L. Kumar reprimanded the appellant for his careless driving and the appellant entered into heated arguments with him. Subsequently, appellant entered into office of the Shift Clerk and misbehaved with Mr. M.L. Kumar. He was suspected to be under the influence of alcohol. The respondent Corporation served a charge sheet on the appellant and an Enquiry Committee was appointed to enquire into the incident and give its report. The Enquiry Committee after considering the material placed on record came to the conclusion that the appellant was guilty of charge of leaving the appointed place of work during working hours without permission as well as of acts subversive of discipline as mentioned in the charge sheet. The disciplinary authority after considering the enquiry report and the past conduct of the appellant imposed a penalty of dismissal from service.
3. An application under Section 33(2)(b) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 was made to the National Industrial Tribunal for approval of the action of the dismissal. The Tribunal considered the entire proceedings of Enquiry Committee and came to the conclusion that the enquiry was conducted in accordance with principles of natural justice and the punishment imposed was not disproportionate to the charges proved against the delinquent and allowed the said application under. As against this order of Tribunal, the appellant preferred a writ petition, which was dismissed by the learned Single Judge vide order under appeal.
4. The scope of the proceedings under Section 33(2)(b) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 is limited. While granting approval or rejecting the application, the industrial adjudicator is only to examine the findings of the enquiry officer on the evidence adduced in the domestic enquiry to ascertain whether a prima facie case was made out on the charges leveled or if the findings are perverse and the principal of natural justice have been complied with. The Industrial adjudicator while granting approval does not act as a court of appeal, re-appreciating the evidence for itself. Nor the industrial adjudicator can go into the question whether the evidence was sufficient or not and whether the witnesses were rightly believed or disbelieved. The credibility of the witnesses, the sufficiency of evidence etc. are the areas in which neither the Tribunal nor the Writ Court can enter into.
4. Adequate opportunity was given to the appellant by the Enquiry Committee and it is not the case of the appellant that there was violation of Principles of natural justice. The only contention raised before us by the counsel for the appellant is that the evidence of Mr. M.L. Kumar should not have been believed because he was a interested witness. It is not a case of ‘no evidence’ or lack of evidence. Mr. M.L. Kumar, who was the complainant, has supported the version given in the charge sheet. The evidence was accepted by the Committee and it is held by the Committee that the charges against the appellant stand established.
5. Considering the nature of charge and proof against the appellant, the penalty of removal from service cannot be regarded as inappropriate.
6. The appeal is dismissed.
SANJIV KHANNA, J.
JANUARY 20, 2009