corporate laws – service of employees = “Badali Kamdars” = The dispute was essentially as to from which date this benefit, namely, to make them permanent and the benefit of time scale should be granted to such “Badali Kamdars” = there is no basis for the appellants (employees) to claim the aforesaid benefit from the date of their initial appointment as “Badali Kamdar”. Indeed, there is neither any factual foundation nor any legal foundation to claim such benefit. – The concept of “Badli Kamdar” is statutorily recognized under the Act. Explanation to Section 25C defines the term “Badli Kamdar”. The appellant never questioned his status as “Badli Kamdar”. Indeed, it is due to the status of “Badli Kamdar”, which he enjoyed for few years in the service of Corporation, he got the benefit of absorption in permanent cadre.

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REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO.2546 OF 2018

(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.6105 of 2018)

(D.No.35250 of 2017)

Bhupendra Kumar Chimanbhai

Kachiya Patel ….Appellant(s)

VERSUS

Divisional Controller GSRTC

Nadiad ….Respondent(s)

WITH

CIVIL APPEAL Nos.2594-2598 OF 2018

(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) Nos. 28519-28522 of 2017)

Prakashbhai Ishwarlal Dave ….Appellant(s)

VERSUS

Divisional Controller GSRTC

Junagarh ….Respondent(s)

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WITH

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2556-2592 OF 2018

(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) Nos.6115-6151 of 2018)

(D. No.30838 of 2017)

Ghanshyam Pratapsinh Parmar ….Appellant(s)

VERSUS

Divisional Controller GSRTC

Rajkot ….Respondent(s)

AND

CIVIL APPEAL NO.2547-2555 OF 2018

(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) No. 6106-6114 of 2018)

(D. No.30615 of 2017)

Pradhyumansinh Lakhuba Jadeja ….Appellant(s)

VERSUS

Divisional Controller GSRTC ….Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T

Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.

1. Leave granted.

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2. These appeals are filed against the final

judgments and orders passed by the High Court of

Gujarat at Ahmedabad dated 28.06.2016 in L.P.A.

No.550/2016, dated 22.08.2017 in L.P.A.

Nos.1344-1347/2017, dated 04.07.2017 in L.P.A.

Nos.1185/2014, 1199, 1252, 1254-1259, 1261,

1264-1278, 1281-1282, 1284, 1286, 1288,

1291-1296, 1298/2014, dated 21.06.2016 in L.P.A.

Nos.497-500/2016 and dated 04.07.2017 in L.P.A.

Nos.1200, 1287, 1289, 1297 and 1299/2014

whereby the Division Bench of the High Court

dismissed the appeals filed by the appellants herein

and upheld the orders passed by the Single Judge

of the High Court.

3. In order to appreciate the issues involved in

these appeals, it is necessary to set out the facts in

detail. The facts and the legal issues arising in all

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these appeals are similar in nature except the date

of their initial appointment and absorption, which

vary from case to case in the service of the

respondent.

4. For the sake of convenience, the facts

mentioned in Reference I.T. No.44/2011 (Annexure12)

of the paper book of SLP Nos. 28519-28522 of

2017 are mentioned hereinbelow.

5. Prafulbhai Hirabhai Solanki, one of the

appellants herein, whose name appears at page 18

of the SLP paper book joined the services of the

respondent-Gujarat State Road Transport

Corporation (hereinafter referred to as “the

Corporation) on 04.06.1999 as “Badali Kamdar” at

Mangrol Depot of Junagadh Section. He was

employed as a daily wager.

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6. On 21.12.1989, the Corporation and the Union

of the workers entered into a settlement to resolve

several issues in relation to the service conditions of

the employees working in the Corporation.

7. Clause 20 of the Settlement, which is relevant

for the disposal of these appeals, deals with the

placement and absorption of the “Badali Kamdar” in

the permanent cadre of conductor and grant of time

scale to such workers. It provides a procedure as to

how, when and in what manner, the services of a

“Badali Kamdar” shall be regularized and absorbed

in a particular time scale.

8. In terms of clause 20 of the settlement dated

21.12.1989, the Corporation considered the case of

the appellant when the vacancy occurred in the

permanent cadre on the post of Conductor and

accordingly he was absorbed as permanent

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employee in the services of the Corporation on

27.08.2008 as Conductor. He was given the time

scale with effect from 27.08.2008 with

consequential benefits.

9. Like the appellant, there were hundreds of

“Badali Kamdars” who were working in the set up of

Corporation at all relevant time. The cases of these

“Badali Kamdars” were also considered with a view

to find out as to whether they fulfill the conditions

set out in clause 20 for making them permanent in

the set up of the Corporation as and when

permanent vacancy arose in the cadre of the

Conductor. Those who were found eligible and

fulfilled the conditions were absorbed in the services

as permanent employees on the post of conductor

and were accordingly given the time scale on the

expiry of completion of 180 days in the cadre. They

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were accordingly made permanent in terms of the

procedure prescribed in clause 20 of the Settlement.

10. This led to dispute between these employees

and the Corporation. The dispute was essentially as

to from which date this benefit, namely, to make

them permanent and the benefit of time scale

should be granted to such “Badali Kamdars”.

11. According to the employee (appellant), he was

entitled to claim this benefit on his completing 180

days of the service from the date of his initial joining

of the service as “Badali Kamdar”, i.e., 04.06.1999

and not from the date of absorption whereas

according to the Corporation, the appellant and all

employees alike the appellant were rightly granted

the benefit on the expiry of 180 days from the date

when they were absorbed in the permanent cadre,

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i.e., as in the case of the appellant from 27.08.2008

as provided in clause 20 of the Settlement.

12. This issue was accordingly referred to the

Industrial Tribunal, Rajkot at the instance of the

appellant under Section 10 of the Industrial Dispute

Act (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”). Several

such references were made to the Industrial

Tribunal at the instance of similarly situated

employees.

13. By award dated 08.08.2013 (Annexure-P-12),

the Industrial Tribunal answered the reference in

favour of the employees and accordingly granted

them benefit, which the employees had claimed. In

other words, the Industrial Tribunal held that the

appellant (employee) is entitled to claim the

permanent absorption in his service in the time

scale as Conductor with effect from the completion

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of his 180 days of service period from the date of his

initial joining, i.e., 04.06.1999. The Corporation was

accordingly asked to pay all consequential benefits

from such date. In substance, the Industrial

Tribunal rejected the stand taken by the

Corporation.

14. The Corporation felt aggrieved and filed writ

petition in the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmadabad.

The Single Judge of the High Court, by order dated

18.09.2014, allowed the writ petition and set aside

the award of the Industrial Tribunal. The Single

Judge accepted the stand taken by the Corporation

and accordingly upheld their action in granting the

benefit to the employee (appellant) from 27.08.2008

as provided in clause 20 of the Settlement.

15. The appellants (employees) felt aggrieved and

filed intra court appeals before the Division Bench.

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By impugned judgments and orders, the Division

Bench dismissed the appeals filed by the employees

and upheld the orders of the Single Judge, which

has given rise to filing of these appeals by way of

special leave by the employees in this Court.

16. Heard Mr. Colin Gonsalves, learned senior

counsel for the appellants and Mr. Tushar Mehta,

learned Additional Solicitor General for the

respondent.

17. Mr. Colin Gonsalves learned senior counsel

appearing for the appellants(employees) while

assailing the legality and correctness of the

impugned orders contended that the reasoning and

the conclusion arrived at by the Industrial Tribunal

was just, proper and legal and hence it should not

have been interfered with by the High Court (Single

Judge and Division Bench).

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18. Learned counsel urged that the findings of the

Industrial Tribunal were based on proper

appreciation of evidence adduced by the parties and

hence such findings could not be faulted with.

Learned counsel took us through the evidence to

show that the findings recorded by the Industrial

Tribunal deserve to be upheld as against the

findings of Single Judge and Division Bench.

19. Learned counsel placed reliance on some

judicial orders passed in previous litigation between

the Corporation and its employees which, according

to him, decided the issue in question in favour of

the employees.

20. Learned senior counsel for the appellants

submitted that in the light of these judicial orders,

the similar order should be passed in these appeals

also.

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21. In reply, Mr. Tushar Mehta, learned Additional

Solicitor General, appearing for the respondent

supported the impugned judgment and contended

that the concurrent findings of the High Court

(Single Judge and Division Bench) deserve to be

upheld.

22. Placing reliance on clause 20 of the settlement,

learned ASG contended that the action taken by the

Corporation is in conformity with the requirements

of Clause 20 and hence deserves to be upheld.

23. Having heard the learned counsel for the

parties and on perusal of the record of the case, we

find no merit in the appeals.

24. As rightly argued by the learned ASG, the

issue in question has to be decided in the light of

clause 20 of the Settlement.

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25. One cannot dispute the legal proposition that

the settlement once arrived at between the employer

and the employees as provided in Section 18 of the

Act, it is binding on the employer and the

employees.

26. It is not in dispute that on 21.12.1989, the

Corporation and the Union of the workers of the

Corporation has entered into the settlement in

respect of various issues in relation to their service

conditions. One such issue was in relation to the

absorption of Badali Kamdars in the permanent

cadre of the Corporation. Clause 20 provides the

manner in which it is to be given effect to by the

parties.

27. Clause 20 of the Settlement dated 21.12.1989

reads as under:

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“In reference to the representation made to

delete the provision of the section 29 of the

settlement dated 23/11/1984 and implement

the provision of section 43 of the settlement

dated 22/10/1964 it is determined that after

preparing the Division wise list of the

selected employees they will be given

temporary/daily wager appointment against

the permanent posts in the division/unit,

and if such appointed temporary/daily wager

has worked continuously for 180 days

including the weekly holiday/paid holiday

and authorize leave then they will be taken

on time scale. This provision will not be

applicable to the employees on work charge

working in the Civil Engineering Department

and such appointed temporary/daily wager

has worked continuously for 180 days

including the weekly holiday/paid holiday

and authorized leave then they will be taken

in time scale and they will be entitled to all

benefits available to time scale employees.

The absence due to authorized leave for the

above purpose will not be considered break

and these days will not be considered for 180

days service.

As per permission of S.T.T. 1981, if the

recruitment of the staff has been done as a

temporary or badli kamdar then after

completion of their 180 days of service on

the permitted vacancies they would be taken

on time scale serially.

Such workers will be granted all benefits as

per the Rules along with the notional

increment with effect from 1.8.87 and there

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will not be any recoveries made from them

nor there will be any arrears paid.

The workmen taken into service are not

required during the monsoon, therefore they

can be retrenched as per the requirement and

after the monsoon if their services are

required then again as per seniority they will

be taken in time scale. If there is any

permanent post vacant then the appointment

of the administrative staff will be made on

time scale.”

28. It is not in dispute that the Corporation has

followed the procedure provided in clause 20 while

granting the employees their permanent cadre and

the time scale of conductor. In other words, all

eligible “Badali Kamdars” were absorbed in the set

up and accordingly granted benefit in terms of the

procedure prescribed in clause 20 of the Settlement.

29. It is also clear from the undisputed facts that

firstly, the appellant (employee concerned) was

appointed as “Badali Kamdar” in the set up of

Corporation on 04.06.1999; Secondly, clear vacancy

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arose in the permanent cadre of Conductor in and

around 27.08.2008; Thirdly, as per the seniority list

of the “Badali Kamdars”, the appellant was

accordingly absorbed in the permanent cadre at the

time scale with effect from 27.08.2008 on

completion of 180 days of his service in the cadre

and, as a consequence thereof, was given all the

benefits of the said post from the said date; and

lastly, since then the appellant and all employees

alike him are continuing on their respective post.

30. In our considered opinion, in the light of what

we have held above, there is no basis for the

appellants (employees) to claim the aforesaid benefit

from the date of their initial appointment as “Badali

Kamdar”. Indeed, there is neither any factual

foundation nor any legal foundation to claim such

benefit. 

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31. Learned counsel for the appellants was also

not able to show any document, such as any

term/condition in the appointment letter or in the

settlement or any Rule/Regulation framed by the

Corporation recognizing such right in appellants’

favour to enable them to claim such benefit from

the date of their initial appointment.

32. Clause 20 of the Settlement is the only clause

which recognizes the appellant’s right for

consideration of his case on individual basis and to

grant him the benefit subject to his fulfilling

conditions specified therein which, in appellant’s

case, were found satisfied and accordingly, he was

granted the benefit along with each such employees.

33. It is pertinent to mention that the appellants

neither challenged the settlement nor its

applicability. In other words, the legality or/and

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binding nature of settlement dated 21.12.1989 was

never questioned in these proceedings. In this view

of the matter, the settlement is binding on both

parties in terms of Section 18 of the Act.

34. The concept of “Badli Kamdar” is statutorily

recognized under the Act. Explanation to Section

25C defines the term “Badli Kamdar”. The appellant

never questioned his status as “Badli Kamdar”.

Indeed, it is due to the status of “Badli Kamdar”,

which he enjoyed for few years in the service of

Corporation, he got the benefit of absorption in

permanent cadre.

35. So far as the reliance placed by the learned

counsel for the appellants on some previous judicial

orders are concerned, in our view, they are of no

help to the appellants inasmuch as those orders

turned on the facts involved in the case and

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secondly, we find that in those cases, parties did

not even lead any evidence (see Para-3 of the order

dated 27.01.2000 passed in SCA No. 393/2000

page 45 of Paper Book), and lastly, one case was

based on clause 49 of 1956 settlement and clause

19 of 1985 settlement.

36. In substance, in our view, those orders did not

directly deal with the issues, which are the subject

matter of these appeals and, even if, they deal with

the issue in question, as urged by the learned

counsel, then also, in our view, those cases turned

on their own facts.

37. In this view of the matter, those orders were

rightly not relied on by the High Court and we find

no good ground to take different view and

accordingly reject this submission.

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38. Mr. Colin Gondsalves, learned senior counsel

for the appellants then referred extensively to the

evidence led by the parties to support his

submission.

39. We are afraid we cannot appreciate the

evidence in the appeals filed under Article 136 of

the Constitution. It is more so when the Single

Judge and Division Bench did not agree with the

factual findings of the Tribunal and rightly reversed

those findings. It is binding on this Court.

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40. In the light of the foregoing discussion, we find

no merit in the appeals which thus fail and are

accordingly dismissed.

……………………………………..J.

[R.K. AGRAWAL]

……………………………………….J.

[ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]

New Delhi;

March 07, 2018