1. This application arises out of darkhast proceedings. The petitioner obtained a decree for about Rs. 140 against the opponents, defendants 1 and 2, who are labourers in a textile mill at Ahmedabad, in the Court ' of Small Causes at Ahmedabad. Thereafter he filed a darkhast and applied for the attachment of the amounts of bonus for the year 1942 which the judgment-debtors were to receive sometime in the beginning of 1943. Notices were issued to the judgment-debtors and they resisted the darkhast on the ground inter alia that the amounts sought to be attached were part of their wages and that under Section 60, Civil P.C., 1908, no part of their wages could be attached. This contention was upheld by the execution Court which dismissed the application. It held that the payment of bonus which the judgment-debtors were to receive must be deemed to be 'by way of additional reward or remuneration to the employee for the labour rendered' by them and that, therefore, such bonus took the character of a part of their wages.
2. Mr. Dhruva, on behalf of the plaintiff-applicant, has contended that the bonus should not be regarded as part of the wages of the judgment-debtors, because it was decided to grant such bonus in a lump as a measure of encouraging saving by the workmen, not being payable under any term of the original contract between the mills and their labourers and that it can also be regarded as an amount paid in order to encourge more efficient work by the labourers. The expression 'wages' has been defined both in Workmen's Compensation Act, 8 of 1923, and Payment of Wages Act, 4 of 1936. Under the first Act 'Wages' is thus defined in Section 2 (i)(m):
'Wages' includes any privilege or benefit which is capable of being estimated in money, other than a travelling allowance or the value of any travelling concession or a contribution paid by the employer of a workman towards any pension or provident fund or a sum paid to a workman to cover any special expenses entailed on him by the nature of his employment.
Mr. Dhruva, has further contended that the bonus in the present case comes within the last part of this definition, i.e., it is 'a sum paid to a workman to cover special expenses entailed on him by the nature of his employment.' The 'special expenses,' according to him, include the higher cost of living prevailing at the present time. This argument does not appear to have any substance in my judgment, as even if such expenses can be regarded as covering special expenses entailed on the workman, it cannot be said that they are so entitled 'by the nature of his employment.' The higher cost of living would affect all members of society irrespective of whether they were mill labourers or otherwise employed. The definition of wages in the Payment of Wages Act, which is to be found in Section 2 (vi) of that Act, reads thus:
'Wages' means all remuneration, capable of being expressed in terms of money, which would, if the terms of the contract of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable, whether conditionally upon the regular attendance, good work or conduct or other behaviour of the person employed, or otherwise, to a person employed in respect of his employment or of work done in such employment, and includes any bonus or other additional remune ration of the nature aforesaid which would be so payable and any sum payable to such person by reason of the termination of his employment
Mr. Dhruva's argument in connexion with this definition is that as it specifically states that wages includes bonus, such definition must be taken to be for the special purposes of the Payment of Wages Act alone, and it ought to be held, therefore, that but for the inclusion of bonus-in wages they would ordinarily be excluded from the meaning of the expression. It does not seem to me, however, that such a. conclusion follows inevitably from the wording of the definition. The inclusion of bonus might show no more than an intention to put it beyond all doubt that for the purposes of the Act bonus is included in wages. It does not, therefore, appear to me that either of the two definitions quoted above is very helpful in the determination of the question whether bonus is ordinarily to be included within the meaning of the expression 'wages.' The definition in the Payment of Wages Act refers in the beginning to the terms of the contract of employment, and payment of bonus is no doubt ordinarily outside such terms. The definition in the Workmen's Compensation Act does not refer to any terms of employment, and prima facie the expression 'benefit' therein would perhaps include the payment of bonus.
3. In the present case, however, certain facts leading to the decision of the Mill Owners Association of Ahmedabad to pay bonus to their employees have to be borne in mind. In 1942 the Textile Labour Association of Ahmedabad, representing all the employees of the Textile Mills at Ahmedabad, represented to the Ahmedabad Mill Owners' Association that the wages of the employees were inadequate and that in view of the prosperity of the mills and of the hardships of the employees under the then existing scale of wages there should be an increase in their wages. Eventually an agreement was arrived at in January 1943, between the Ahmedabad Mill Owners' Association and the Textile Labour Association of Ahmedabad and the terms of that agreement are at Ex. 23. It shows that in view of the exceptional circumstances at Ahmedabad it was decided to give to the employees of the textile mills a regulated scale of bonus which, in the first place, was based on the different kinds of work done by the employees and, secondly, was regulated according to the number of days for which each employee worked in each calendar month. That being the basis of the scheme for paying bonus, it would appear prirna facie that the intention was to grant a temporary increase in the wages of the labourers. The scheme resting on an agreement, one of the parties to which was the Textile Labour Association, which was recognised as representing all the employees in the textile mills, it can be said, in my judgment, that though initially there was no agreement with any individual labourer that anything beyond the stipulated rate of wages was to be paid, the said subsequent agreement became binding on all the members of the Mill Owners' Association of Ahmedabad in favour of each employee of the Textile Mills at Ahmedabad. Wages is thus defined in Halsbury, Vol. 14, at page 050, paragraph 1227:
Any money or other thing had or contracted to be paid, delivered, or given as a recompense, reward, or remuneration for any labour done or to be done, whether within a certain time or to a certain amount, or for a time or an amount uncertain, is deemed to be the wages of such labour.
This is a very wide definition, and it seems to me that there is no difficulty in holding that wages, as so defined, would include the kind of bonus agreed to be paid by the Mill Owners' Association of Ahmedabad, whether it is viewed as a recompense or remuneration for the labour done or as a reward therefor. The fact that the bonus is given or distributed once a year would not seem to make any difference. A more restricted meaning is given in Wharton's Law Lexicon where wages is defined as a compensation agreed upon by a master to a servant, or any other person hired to do work or business for him. As I have already pointed out, the bonus in this case agreed to be paid by the Mill Owners' Association, though there was no contract with the individual labourers, must be regarded as based on a contract in favour of each labourer and as binding on the said association.
4. In Skailes v. Blue Anchor Line, Limited (1911) 1 K.R. 360 the question that arose for consideration was whether the word 'remuneration' occurring in Section 13, Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906, which excepts from the definition of 'workman' any person employed otherwise than by way of manual labour whose remuneration exceeds 250 a year, was synonymous with 'earnings' as used in the Act. There a claim for compensation was made by the widow of the purser of a ship which had been lost with all hands it having been customary for the purser to receive at the end of each voyage, when everything was reported to be satisfactory, a bonus as well as a profit on the whisky sold on board the ship. It was held that both the bonus and the profit ought to be taken into account in estimating the purser's remuneration. This is not exactly the question I am called upon to decide in this application. But in that case it was urged that the bonus was only a conditional payment and that a sum which might or might not become payable ought not to be considered in ascertaining the payment of remuneration, and this contention was overruled. Similarly, in the scheme for the payment of bonus certain conditions regarding the amount payable being dependent on the number of days for which the labourer worked should not, in my opinion, make any difference in the principle involved.
5. In Sutton v. Attorney-General (1923) 39 T.L.R. 294the question that arose for their Lordships' consideration was whether the appellant, who was a post office telegraphist in the service of the Post Master General, having enlisted as an office telegraphist in the Royal Engineers on the terms of being allowed 'full civil pay in addition to military pay,' was entitled to receive the amount of certain war bonuses which were afterwards granted in accordance with the awards of the Conciliation and Arbitration Board for Government Employees to Post Office servants who continued to be employed as such. The Court of appeal, by a majority, had given a decision against the appellant. It was held that he was entitled to receive the war bonuses, which means that the said bonuses were held to be part of the 'full civil pay.' Earl of Birkenhead observed (p. 297);
The term 'bonus' may, of course, be properly used to describe payments made of grace and not as of right. But nevertheless it may also include, as here, payments made because legally due, but which the parties contemplated will not continue indefinitely.
It seems to me that the same principle applies to the circumstances of the present case, in view of the agreement between the Mill Owners' Association and the Textile Labour Association of Ahmedabad. In my opinion, therefore, the lower Court was right in regarding the bonus as an additional reward or remuneration due to the employees in view of the exceptional circumstances existing, and, therefore, as partaking of the character of wages. The agreement, Ex. 23, makes it clear that the payment of bonus is made 'in view of the exceptional circumstances existing in the year, and the dependence of the amount of bonus payable on the kind of work on which the employee is employed and on the number of days for which he has worked shows the close connection between the work actually done and the bonus that is to be received by each employee. It cannot, therefore, be said in this case that the bonus was decided to be paid merely as a matter of grace or that the object of such payment was merely to induce or ensure better or more efficient work. Clause 5 of the agreement distinctly states that employees 'employed in the member mills whether at present in employment or not' shall be entitled to the bonus, subject to the fulfilment of the conditions and provisions enumerated therein. The bonus, therefore, is clearly to be paid in respect of past work done. I have, therefore, no doubt that such bonus is included in the expression 'wages' within the 'meaning of Section GO, Civil P.C. The decision of the lower Court was, therefore, right and the rule will accordingly be discharged with costs.