1. By means of this petition, under Article 199 of Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, the petitioner has assailed vires of judgments, dated 27.10.2001 and 29.04.2002, passed by the Presiding Officer, Punjab Labour Court No.9, Multan (respondent No.6) and the Chairman Punjab Labour Appellate Tribunal, Lahore (respondent No.1), respectively.
2. Unnecessary details apart, the facts, as spelt out in the instant petition, are that the petitioner joined Muslim Commercial Bank (the Bank) as Cashier, in the year 1972, and was posted at Chowk Bahadur Pur Branch, District Rahim Yar Khan. He was served with Charge Sheet, dated 13.09.1975, and upon finalization of the proceedings he was removed from service on 18.11.1975. Aggrieved by his removal from service, the petitioner filed a Grievance Petition, under section 25-A of the Industrial Relations Ordinance, 1969 (the Ordinance 1969), before respondent No.6 which was allowed through judgment, dated 18.02.1976, and the petitioner was re-instated in service with back benefits. Being dissatisfied by the verdict of respondent No.6, the Bank filed an appeal before respondent No.1, during pendency whereof the Bank served the petitioner with fresh Charge Sheet, dated 01.04.1976, and consequent upon the findings of the Inquiry Officer the Controller of the Bank dismissed the petitioner from service, through order dated 25.05.1976, which was assailed by the petitioner by preferring departmental appeals. As the appeals filed by the petitioner were not responded to, the petitioner served the Bank with Grievance Notice, dated 26.04.1997, which was responded by the Bank authorities in negative, through communication dated 08.05.1997, with the assertion that the appeal filed by the petitioner was time barred. Thereafter, the petitioner filed Grievance Petition, before respondent No.6, in terms of section 25-A ibid, which was contested by the Bank. Finally, respondent No.6, vide judgment, dated 27.10.2001, accepted the Grievance Petition of the petitioner to the extent of his reinstatement in service whereas his request for grant of back benefits was turned down. Aggrieved by the judgment passed by respondent No.6, both the parties filed independent appeals before respondent No.1, who, while dismissing the appeal filed by the petitioner, accepted that of the Bank, through judgment dated 29.04.2002. Aggrieved by the acceptance of appeal filed by the Bank and dismissal of his appeal, the petitioner has filed the instant petition.
3. The legal submissions, put forwarded by learned counsel for the petitioner, can be summed up in the words that as order regarding dismissal of the petitioner from service was passed by an incompetent person, the entire superstructure raised thereon was a nullity in the eye of law; that according to Appendix-VI to the Muslim Commercial Bank Limited Staff Service Rules, 1961 (the Rules), the competent authority in the matter of the petitioner was the General Manager of the Bank whereas order regarding dismissal of the petitioner from service was passed by the Controller of the Bank; that as the Inquiry Officer was not produced before respondent No.6, during the course of evidence, the contents of Inquiry Report remained unproved; that the Bank only produced Syed Muhammad Sajid, RW-1, whose statement could be considered mere secondary evidence; that findings of the Inquiry Officer being ambiguous inasmuch as liability of the petitioner was not determined in clear cut words, no adverse action could be taken against him; that under the garb of de novo inquiry the Bank introduced entirely fresh Charge Sheet which was not permissible under the law; that under section 15(4) of West Pakistan Industrial and Commercial Employment (Standing Order) Ordinance, 1968 (the Ordinance 1968) the Bank was bound to issue Charge Sheet within one month from the date of omission or commission, if any, on the part of the petitioner; that while submitting reply to the Grievance Petition filed by the petitioner the Bank instead of adopting clear cut stance contented with evasive denial; that no limitation runs against a void order and that when the Bank failed to establish that the petitioner remained gainfully employed elsewhere during the period of his ouster from service, respondent No.6 could not turn down his request for grant of back benefits.
4. Conversely, learned counsel representing the Bank, while defending the impugned judgment, passed by respondent No.1, submits that as respondent No.6, while ordering reinstatement of the petitioner in service, permitted the Bank to hold de novo proceedings against him, no exception can be taken against the findings of the departmental authorities mere on the ground that the petitioner was served with a fresh Charge Sheet during the course of de novo proceedings; that the petitioner was dismissed from service in the year 1976 whereas he served the President of the Bank with Grievance Notice in the year 1997, thus, the Grievance Notice was hopelessly time barred; that the petitioner was bound to serve Grievance Notice upon the competent authority but he served the same upon the President of the Bank which otherwise was inconsequential; that departmental appeal/representation cannot be considered as substitute of the Grievance Notice; that the point regarding incompetency of the Controller of the Bank to dismiss the petitioner from service was not agitated by the petitioner before the fora below, therefore, he is debarred to raise said plea before this Court; that as a matter of fact order regarding dismissal of the petitioner was passed with implied consent of the competent authority, therefore, it carries due weight; that instant petition is hit by the principle of laches; that the points raised by the petitioner in the instant petition have fully been discussed by respondent No.1, thus, the same deserves straightway dismissal; that findings of facts recorded by the fora below cannot be upset by this Court in exercise of its Constitutional jurisdiction and that the petitioner neither in his pleadings nor while appearing in the witness box has taken the plea that he filed appeals before the appellate authority which remained un-responsive, thus, he cannot be given any premium on that account.
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