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Appellate authority permission needed to lead fresh proof: HC
December, 20th 2006

If an employer did not seek permission to lead fresh evidence as required under law against an employee whose services were terminated, consequence was obvious that the employer had missed the opportunity of proving to the satisfaction of the authorities the charges against the employee, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Hearing a writ appeal by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board challenging the order dated August 13, 1987 by the single judge of this Court dismissing a petition by the Board, the First Bench concluded that as the employer (TNEB) had not sought an opportunity to satisfy authorities before whom the first respondent (store-keeper in TNEB) initiated proceedings, there were no infirmities in the order of the single judge.

The services of the first respondent were terminated by TNEB on February 4, 1976. On appeal before the authority under Section 41(2) of TN Shops & Establishments Act, the Board's order terminating service was set aside and the Board was ordered to reinstate the employee. The Board's writ petition before this Court, challenging the order of authority under TN Shops & Establishments Act, was dismissed.

The single judge had ruled that the principles of natural justice stood violated in regard to the disciplinary action taken against the employee. There was no infirmity in the order of authority under Shops & Establishments Act.

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Mr Justice K. Chandru, said it was significant to note that order of authority under Shops & Establishments Act had become final, and even before the single judge, no permission was sought by TNEB to proceed against the employee on the basis of old charges.

Curiously, the TNEB on February 9, 1989 resurrected the old disciplinary proceedings and continued the proceedings from where, according to TNEB, a defect had crept in. The employee raised industrial dispute before Labour Court, which found that order of authority under Shops Act had become final, and therefore, there was no further course open to TNEB to conduct enquiry from the stage where defect had crept in.

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