Reporter’s Diary: When HC vetoed labour court to punish conductor

The theory of proportionality of judgment came into play at the Madras High Court recently with regard to the punishment granted to a conductor of the TNSTC (Villupuram).
Representative image
Representative image


The conductor was punished with minor punishment for 64 times for temporary misappropriation and short payment of the amount collected. He was also punished nine times for not remitting the collection within the time stipulated and six times for unauthorised absence. This led to him being dismissed from service.
But the Labour Court ordered his reinstatement with back wages, accounting for the welfare of his family. However, Justice K Ravichandrababu, before whom the appeal by TNSTC came, upheld the conductor’s dismissal and even refused to modify the punishment as one of compulsory retirement.
Observing that consideration of proportionality of punishment should be based on the assessment of the gravity of the misconduct, the judge held such consideration is required only when the past conduct of the delinquent is normal and does not carry any adverse impact. 
Holding that a repeated offence, though minor in nature, becomes a grave misconduct warranting major punishment, the judge said, “The moral of the story is that if one commits misconduct repeatedly and suffers only minor punishment for the same, he should not be under the false notion that he will be able to escape all the time.”
— D Sivarajan

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