Delhi HC pulls up Presiding Officer of Labour Court for passing harsh and hasty orders

Delhi HC pulls up Presiding Officer of Labour Court for passing harsh and hasty orders

Ashutosh Gambhir

The Delhi High Court recently pulled up a Presiding Officer (PO) of the Labour Court at Dwarka in Delhi, for passing harsh and hasty orders resulting in miscarriage of justice.

The judgment was delivered in a writ petition by Institute of Town Planners against the said orders of the PO, by which he had imposed costs on the petitioner organisation and thereafter proceeded against it ex parte.

The PO had passed the first impugned order for not filing duly signed written statement. The second order was passed when the petitioner did not file any authorization letter accompanying the written statement. Further, even after the proceedings were stayed by the Delhi High Court, the Officer went on to adjourn the matter for ex parte evidence.

Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Sanjeev Sindhwani argued that the PO had acted in a hasty manner. He submitted that the duly signed and verified written statement was not taken on record, and that the PO proceeded against the petitioner ex parte without applying judicial mind.

He further submitted that the rules of natural justice and fair play were violated, and that the petitioner had been denied its right to defend itself, without any justification and fault.

The Single Judge Bench of Justice Vinod Goel held that there was no justification to pass the orders ex parte by observing that there was no authorization.

“In view of the provision contained in Order XXIX Rule 1 CPC and judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in United Bank of India (supra), there was no requirement of any Board Resolution when vakalatnama was signed by Office Secretary of the petitioner.”

Justice Goel observed that the Labour Courts and Tribunals were enjoined to answer the references made to them within a period of six months, but the underlying object was to expedite the hearing, and not to scuttle the same.

“The process of justice may be speeded up and hurried but the fairness which is the basic element of justice cannot be permitted to be buried.”

The Court further observed that passing of such harsh and hasty orders by getting annoyed by a stakeholder does not serve the ends of justice. If such hasty orders are passed without recourse to judicial approach and going through the relevant provisions of law, justice is the ultimate casualty and litigant is the victim, the Court held.

It was observed,

“The post of a judge obviously is a seat of power. They have the absolute and unchallengeable control of the Court domain but they cannot misuse their authority by intemperate comments, undignified banter or scathing criticism of counsel, parties or witnesses or their authorized representatives.”

The Court, while quashing the said orders, also made scathing observations regarding the attitude of the concerned Presiding Officer towards higher courts. Justice Goel stated that the language adopted in noting down the stay order passed by this Court lacks sobriety, deference and humility to be shown to the higher courts.

“This approach shows the passion of the Judge, however, a judge always needs to be impassionate, to be learned, gracious in choosing the words, in expression and erudite in his writings.” 

In this light, the Court directed the District and Sessions Judge, Dwarka, to call the officer and counsel and guide him in choosing the right vocabulary in order to maintain temperance, sobriety, deference and decorum in passing judicial orders.

Read Judgment:

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