Court should not adopt a lenient approach when employee holding a position of trust acts contrary to rules and such misconduct causes financial losses to the employer
Court should not adopt a lenient approach when employee holding a position of trust acts contrary to rules and such misconduct causes financial losses to the employer.
The matter relates to dismissal of a Bus Conductor who was alleged of allowing 25 passengers to travel in the bus without ticket. Pursuant to report, a disciplinary proceeding was initiated against him wherein he was found guilty and was accordingly dismissed. As per the report it was stated that the conductor had recovered the fare but did not issue the tickets.
The order upon being challenged, Labour Court held that the allegation of personal gain and corruption could not be established and accordingly it would be appropriate to give a chance to the workman for improvement in future. High Court in Corporation’s (employer) appeal held that it had not been proved that the workman concerned had taken fare from 25 passengers and not issued tickets to them and, therefore, there was no embezzlement.
Supreme Court reversed the findings of both the Labour Court as well as the High Court holding that in a case of such kind no mercy can be awarded.
It was observed by the Apex Court that the primary and core duty of a conductor is to collect fare and render true and correct account. This is the mainstay and centerpiece of his work and faith reposed on him by the employer. The Labour Court and the High Court were held to be incorrect in being guided by the perception that there was no recovery of money and, therefore, there was no corruption or embezzlement. Both the Courts failed to notice the nature of duties and obligation of a conductor.
It is obligatory for the Labour Court to record satisfaction that the order of dismissal was not justified and thereafter proceeded to award a lesser punishment in lieu of discharge or dismissal.
It was held that in the instant case the concerned conduct had caused financial loss to the Corporation and had also violated the postulates under the Rule and committed misconduct. Clearly the passengers were allowed to board bus without tickets and there was no material on record that they had entered by application of any kind of force. Court did not agree with the Labour’s Court finding that the erring workman should be given an opportunity to reform himself and to prove to be a loyal and disciplined employee.
It was held that the loss caused to the Corporation cannot be marginalized. In such a situation the question of reformation and to make him disciplined or giving him another chance does not arise. The Conductor holds the post of trust under the Corporation. It is extremely difficult on the part of the checking authorities to check in a constant manner. An employee holding the post that requires trust and confidence is expected to behave with discipline, loyalty and also maintain the fiscal sanctity. He should not allow anything to creep in which would make him a person of questionable integrity.
When an act of indiscipline causes financial loss to the employer (Corporation), adequate punishment has to be imposed and such misconduct does not stand on a lesser footing than embezzlement or corruption and more importantly results in loss of faith and breach of trust.
U.P. State Road Transport Corp. & Anr. vs. Gopal Shukla & Anr.
Civil Appeal No.2038 OF 2012