SIMMAKK, J.—Urban Council, Panadura v. Cooray
URBAN COUNCIL, PANADURA, Appellant,and M. E. COORAY, Respondent
S. C. 174170—Labour Tribunal, 11122116
Labour Tribunal—Inquiry before it—Duty of the tribunal to act judicially.
Though on employee’s application for relief before a Labour Tribunal shouldbe heard with sympathy and understanding, yet the tribunal must actjudicially. It should not, in an effort to help the employee, shut its eyesto positive evidence which plainly points to where the truth lies.
PEAL from an order of a Labour Tribunal.
K. Shinya, with Nihal Singaravelu, for the emjjloyer-appellant.
K. Shanmugalingam, with Prins Gunasekera, for the applicant*respondent.
Cur. adv. wit.
July 3, 1971. SraiMANE, J.—
The respondent to this application was employed by the appellant—the Urban Council of Panadura—as a Sub-Overseer in the ElectricalDepartment.
One of hiB chief duties was to go to the houses of consumers of electri-city and record the meter-readings in a book kept for this purpose.
As a result of complaints received by the Council, the applicant wasserved with a charge sheet containing five charges. Three of them relatedto false entries in the meter-book, and the others to absenteeism andfailure to perform his duties with due care and diligence.
A full inquiry was held into these charges by a Sub-Committeeappointed by the Council, and the respondent was found guilty of allthe charges.
SIRIMANE, J.—Urban Council, Panadura v. Cooray237
The evidence shows that one member of that Sub-Committee whowas the Chairman of the Council at the time, pleaded strongly on.behalfof the respondent to prevent his immediate dismissal, although thecharges were serious. The Council after considering the report of theSub-Committee unanimously decided that the respondent’s “ incrementshould be stopped for one year ; that the Electrical Superintendent shouldsubmit a report to this Council regarding his service for three monthsfrom today, and that he should be given a final notice that if hiswork is found to be unsatisfactory according to the report he would bediscontinued
It is common ground that the report of the Electrical Superintendentwas adverse to the respondent, and after consideration of this reportat a meeting of the Council, it was decided to discontinue his services.
The respondent then made an application to the Labour Tribunalwhich ordered his re-instatement, and awarded him compensation ina sum of Rs. 800.
The report was not available at the inquiry before the Labour Tribunalas it had been stolen from the office of the Council ; but the ElectricalSuperintendent himself gave evidence, in the course of,which he saidthat during the “ testing period ” of three months, the respondent’swork was unsatisfactory in that he did not submit the meter-readingsin time to enable the Council to send bills to the consumers, because“ he was going out always and he was doing some other things ”. He alsosaid that his attendance was very poor. The respondent had taken leaveso often that during the testing period he had absented himself practicallyhalf of each month. No allegation was made that this witness was partialor ill-disposed towards the respondent. The Vice-Chairman and theSecretary of the Council also gave evidence for the appellant beforethe Labour Tribunal in regard to the charges, the inquiries, and theresolutions, that led to the dismissal of the respondent.
The respondent gave no evidence.
He called the Chairman of the Council in 1964 whose evidence was oflittle relevance to the matters in issue.
The President in the course of his order said :
(а)“ No evidence or material have been placed either before meor the Council which took a decision to prove the said report.”
The President misdirected himself here because the author of thestolen report himself gave evidence.
(б)“ If the applicant had committed any offence during the 3-monthtesting period such offence, if any, should have been pin-pointed.As this tribunal has not been shown of any concrete instance of anyoffence committed this tribunal cannot hold that the termination ofthe services is justifiable.”
AndirU v. Thomaratna
The President has misdirected himself again ; for he appears to havethought that the respondent had to commit some “ offence ” withinthis period before he could be discontinued.
(c) “ This report does not say in what manner his work had notimproved or on account of what proved offence he should becompulsorily retired. In short, the report does not specify anydefects or faults on the part of applicant. In the circumstances, whilerejecting the arguments of tho counsel for the. respondent thiBtribunal strongly holds that compulsorily retiring the applicant on afictitious report of this nature is both unjust and wrongful.”
He is in error again when he looks for a proved offence, and forgetsor ignores the Electrical Superintendent's evidence relating to therespondent’s defects and faults.
As I have had occasion to point out earlier in similar matters, though .an employee’s case should be considered with sympathy and understand-ing, yet the tribunal must act judicially. It should not, in an effort tohelp the employee, shut its eyes to positive evidence which plainly pointsto where the truth lies. In this case the order of the President is not onlyunsupported by the evidence but is in direct conflict with it.
The order is set aside and the appeal is allowed with costs.
URBAN COUNCIL, PANADURA, Appellant, and M. E. COORAY, Respondent