1. Do the previsions of section 20 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, regarding settlement of claims provide theexclusive remedy in supersession of that provided by Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, regarding recovery ofmoney due from an employer? This forms the core of the disputes raised in Letters Patent Appeal Nos. 9 and 10 of 1982 as well as Writ Petition No. 2353 of 1981 and this judgment will govern and dispose of these proceedings.
2. In Writ Petition No. 2353 of 1981, 16 applicants, 10 of them clerks and rest peons, had filed an application under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, before the Second Labour Court, Akola, claiming overtime wages for having worked on Sundays and holidays. At the trial before the Second Lab.our Court, Nagpur, the applicants did not lead any oral evidence because it was a common ground that the record relating to the number of rest days which worked out to 450 is with the Municipal Council. As the rates at which the amounts claimed by individual applicants were not known, the Labour Court appointed a Commissioner to work out the details on the basis of the records available with the employer municipality. Against this order, the present writ petition was filed and Padhye J. by his order, dated 9th September 1982 referred the case to a Division Bench in view of conflicting opinions on the subject.
3. Letter Patent Appeals Nos. 9 & 10 of 1982 raised more or less similar points and the decisions of the Labour Courts, Nagpur, were challenged in Writ Petitions Nos. 2067 of 1981 and 2145 of 1980 before Jamdar J. The learned Single Judge held that an application under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, is maintainable even though the same relief can be claimed under Section 20 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Letters Patent Appeals Nos. 9 and 10 of 1982 are directed against this judgment.
4. In a catena of cases, this High Court, in Balaram Abaji Patil and others v. M.C. Ragojiwalla and Anr.; Ambika Tobacco Co., Gondia v. The Labour Court, Nagpur and others; Allahabad Labour Supply Agency, Nagpur v. First Labour Court, Nagpur and others; Barama Tukaram Dende v. Shetkari Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Ltd. and Anr., and L.P.A. No. 49 of 1980, Jaideo Maniram Borkar v. Ramanbhai Patel (Asali Sampal) Namdeo Bidi Geep & Company, Yavatmal and Anr., decided on 31st March 1981, has consistently taken a view that Section 20 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, is not an exclusive remedy open to a workman to prefer a claim; he can likewise prosecute his remedy under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. This view has found favour with other High Courts as well (Indersingh and others v. Labour Court, Jullundur and Anr.; Anand Oil Industries v. Labour Court, Hyderabad and others and Mohd. Ismail v. The Presiding Officer, Central Government Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, Jabalpur and Anr. (FB). As against this overwhelming authority, two learned Single Judges of this High Court have expressed a contrary opinion. We would have refrained from adding another string to the already over weighted bow of authority but for certain observations of the Supreme Court in Labour Court, Jullunder's case to which we would advert shortly.
5. It is trite law that repeal by implication is not favoured by the Courts nor is there any presumption that the legislature would deny to an aggrieved party a remedy made available to him in a statute without expressing its intention to do so. Halsbury's Law of England, Fourth Edition, Volume 44, para 966 succinctly summarises the law thus:
'The rule is, therefore, that one provision repeals another by implication if, but only if, it is so inconsistent with or repugnant to that other that the two are incapable of standing together. If it is reasonably possible so to construe the provisions as to give effect to both, that must be done.......'
Are the provisions of Section 20 of the Minimum Wages Act and Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, so inconsistent with or repugnant to each otherthat the two are incapable of standing together A plain reading of the two statutes shows that the legislative draftsman has not, though he could easily have done so, used any language expressing an intention that the remedy available to the workman is only to be found in one statute and not in the other. Even in the cognate field of administrative laws, various formulae are put in legislations with the intent of precluding judicial intervention. The clauses are variously described as 'finality' clauses or 'Court shall not question' clauses or 'as if enacted' clauses and 'conclusive evidence' clauses. The Courts have given such attempts a short shift holding that they protect decisions made on facts and not on law embellishing the principle that jurisdiction of an adjudicating machinery is not to be lightly taken away. It the jurisdiction of the courts could not be taken away in spite of the insertion of such clauses drafted in so many words in (he statute, it hardly stands to reason that iit the absence of any language to thai effect in either the Minimum Wages Act or the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the implied exclusion of one remedy could even be spelt out.
6. The counsel for the employer has made certain observations in the Slate of Punjab v. The Labour Court, Jullundur and Ors. a peg on which to hang an argument that the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 is a complete Code by itself providing the self-contained mechanics not only of fixing the floor levels but also recovery of wages due to a workman and hence a recourse to any other mechanics provided by any other statute is impliedly barred. The counsel would have us to draw an analogy from the observations in the Labour Court, Jullundur's case which pertain to Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 and hold that the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 is a complete Code in itself barring recourse to other Acts. The Supreme Court after examining the provisions of the Payment of Gratuity Act concluded that it enacts a complete Code containing detailed provisions covering all the essential features of a scheme for the payment of gratuity. That being so-concluded the Court-it must be held that the application filed by the employees under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, did not lie.
7. A close reading of the Labour Court, Jullundur's case shows that it dealt with the subject of gratuity. Gratuity, as the etymology of the word suggest, encompasses a concept of gift. The transition from a concept of gift to that of a right to receive a gift which is apparently a contradiction in terms forms the discrimen of Labour Court, Jullundur's case as is clear from the court's observation at page 1984. 'It (i.e. the Payment of Gratuity Act) creates the right to payment of gratuity'. Not so in the facts of the cases before us. The concept of wages for services rendered is not a concept or a right created for the first time by the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Apart from the feudalistic institution of 'begar' - which has since been abolished - receiving wages for services rendered has been a common law right, either ex-contractu, or on the basis of quantum merit. Thus Labour Court, Jullundur's case is easily distinguishable inasmuch as it dealt with a new concept or new right created for the first time by the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.
8. The proposition that a particular Act provides 'a complete Code' to the exclusion of other statutes is being canvassed in cognate fields as well. So it was done in R.V. Harsham Justices, ex parte Frequharson and Anr. as respects that Criminal Justice Act, 1967. The court repelled the argument by relying on an earlier observation in Blackpool Corporation v. Star Estate Co. Lid. 1922) AC 27 page 34.
'Wherever Parliament in an earlier statute has directed its attention to an individual case and has made provision for it unambiguously there arises a presumption that if in a subsequent statute the legislature laid down a general principle, that general principle is not to be taken as meant to rip up what the legislature had before provided for individually unless an intention to do so isspecifically declared'.
We find that the intention to 'rip up' is nowhere seen in the scheme of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 or the IndustrialDisputes Act, 1947. As a result, Letters Patent Appeal Nos. 9 and 10 of 1982 are dismissed, so also Writ Petition No. 2353 of 1981 with costs.