The Karnataka High Court has ordered the reinstatement of a workman with back wages who was dismissed from service while there was an ongoing dispute under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (Act).

The Bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj observed that “the Labour Court having decided the issue by taking note the fact of the workman having been dismissed from service during the pendency of the proceedings before it, there being no permission under 33(2)(b) of I.D.Act which had obtained, no justification having been made as regards the order of dismissal, the Labour Court has rightly come to a conclusion that the dismissal was improper and directed the reinstatement of the workman with backwages.”

Advocate K.R. Anand appeared for the petitioner and Advocate K.S. Subramanya appeared for the respondent.

In this case, a domestic enquiry was conducted against the respondent. The respondent was found guilty of misconduct and was dismissed from service in the year 2003. The respondent along with the other four employees who were dismissed challenged the dismissal before the Labour Court. The Labour Court allowed the respondent’s application and ordered his reinstatement. Aggrieved by the order of the Labour Court, the appellant approached the High Court.

Issues dealt with were by the Court were -

  • Whether a workman could be dismissed without taking the approval of the Industrial Tribunal in terms of Section 33(2)(b) of the Industrial Disputes Act.

The Court observed “The dismissal of the respondent when the dispute was pending is a clear violation of Sub-Section (2) of Section 33 of the Act entitling such workmen to continue to be in employment notwithstanding the order of dismissal or discharge...without such permission having been sought for and obtained, the order of dismissal is to be treated non-est and never to have been passed.”

  • Whether the Labour Court had the power in an application filed under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act to direct reinstatement of the workman?

The Court observed “when disputes are pending before the Labour Court, the Labour Court could adjudicate all incidental matters relating thereto and relating to the industrial dispute which could include the setting aside the order of dismissal directing the reinstatement and ordering the backwages.”

Accordingly, the Writ Petition was dismissed.

Cause Title- Mulberry Silks Ltd. V. N.G. Chowdappa

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