1. The petitioner in this case is an employee of respondent 1. He applied to the first labour court, respondent 2, for recovery of wages due from respondent 1 from July, 1964 to August 1965 and 63 days' earned wages for the years 1962-63, 1963-64 and 1964-65 amounting to Rs. 73.50. Respondent 2 dismissed this application on the ground that as the petitioner sought to recover earned wages the matter did not lie within the provisions of S. 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act as it was a claim arising under a contract which the employer was bound to pay. We find from the labour court's order that though respondent 1 was served it did not care to appear but satisfied itself merely by filing an affidavit and yet the labour court dismissed this matter only on the ground that it had no jurisdiction.
2. Instead of wasting time in this manner in making discovery of law regarding the question of jurisdiction, if the labour court had considered the question on merits, probably, it would have taken lesser time than it took in disposing of this matter only on this limited point. Obviously, the labour court is in error when it says that as the wages are paid under a contract, they cannot be recovered under this sub-section. The opening words of S. 33C(2) of the Act of 1947 are very clear and put no limitations of any sort, for they say :
'Where any workmen is entitled to receive from the employer any money ... and if any question arises as to the amount of money due ... then the question may ... be decided by such labour court as may be specified in this behalf by the appropriate Government.'
3. The labour court read the decision of the Supreme Court in Punjab National Bank, Ltd. v. Kharbanda : (1962)ILLJ234SC on the interpretation of the words 'any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of money' in connexion with S. 25I of the Industrial Disputes Act, which now stands repealed and held that the claim on account of wages could not be the subject-matter of the application under the said sub-section. In view of the words, which we have quoted above, we have no doubt that even a claim for wages payable under a contract is covered by the provisions of S. 33C(2) of the said Act.
4. We, therefore, set aside the order made by the labour court and direct it to decide the matter on merits within one month of the order and record reaching it. The petitioner will get his costs from respondent 1.