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Union of India (Uoi) Vs. John Samuel Peters - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case Number Spl. Civil Appln. No. 1424 of 1979 (Nagpur Bench)
Judge
Reported in(1983)85BOMLR297
AppellantUnion of India (Uoi)
RespondentJohn Samuel Peters
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....l.j. 556 [nagpur division bench] followed.;in the matter of applicability of principles of res judicata to industrial adjudications, the real character of the dispute and its actual decision on merits will be the decisive test. the deemed provisions about the matter being 'directly and substantially in issue' which are applicable to civil proceedings are essentially technical in character and cannot be extended to proceedings under section 33-c(2) considering the beneficial object with which these provisions are brought on statute book.;workmen v. straw board mfg. co. [1974] a.i.r. s.c. 1132, union of india v. samuel peters [1975] mah. l.j. 390 referred to. - maharashtra village police act (46 of 1967)sections 5, 6 & 15: [swatanter kumar, c.j., a.p. lavande & smt. vasanti a. naik,..........removal from service was wrongful. he also claimed the relief of reinstatement and back wages. the civil suit which was filed on april 9, 1958 was decreed on june 29, 1960, his removal was held to be illegal. it was held that he was deemed to be in service. claim for arrears of wages from august 26, 1953 to april 9, 1958 at rs. 106 per month was computed at rs. 5834 and decree for the said amount was passed. during the pendency of the suit, the order of removal from service was set aside, he was asked to resume duties by order dated may 17, 1958 and a fresh departmental enquiry was again started. the original respondent joined duties on october 27, 1960 and fresh order of removal was passed as a result of second enquiry on february 24, 1962. on july 30, 1962 he filed an application under.....
Judgment:

Mohta, J.

1. Samuel son of Charles Peters the original respondent) was working as a train examiner with the Central Railways. He was charge-sheeted for certain misconducts on October 25, 1952 and pending enquiry was suspended on December 13, 1952. By order dated August 22, 1953 he was removed from service with effect from August 26, 1953, He filed a civil suit for declaration that his removal from service was wrongful. He also claimed the relief of reinstatement and back wages. The civil suit which was filed on April 9, 1958 was decreed on June 29, 1960, His removal was held to be illegal. It was held that he was deemed to be in service. Claim for arrears of wages from August 26, 1953 to April 9, 1958 at Rs. 106 per month was computed at Rs. 5834 and decree for the said amount was passed. During the pendency of the suit, the order of removal from service was set aside, he was asked to resume duties by order dated May 17, 1958 and a fresh departmental enquiry was again started. The original respondent joined duties on October 27, 1960 and fresh order of removal was passed as a result of second enquiry on February 24, 1962. On July 30, 1962 he filed an application under the Payment of Wages Act for getting wages from the date of his suspension till the end of February 1962. The Payment of Wages Authority granted his claim for the months of January and February 1962, rejecting the claim for the earlier period as barred by time.

2. On July 1, 1965 an application under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act was filed for computation of monitory benefits such as difference in salary, dearness allowances etc. for the period December 13, 1952 till end of March 1960, Schedule attached to the application gave the details of his claim after giving credit for the decretal amount. The balance came to Rs. 14,858.58 inclusive of the wages and dearness allowance for January and February 1962 amounting to Rs. 520 which was allowed by the Payment of Wages Authority. The case made out was that he had mistakenly claimed wages at the rate of Rs. 106 only in the suit, though as now discovered he was entitled to more wages as well as dearness allowances. Preliminary objections were raised on behalf of the petitioner before the Labour Court raising contentions that the claims were not cognizable by the Labour Court and that the claim beyond two years was barred by time. The preliminary objections were overruled by the Labour Court. That order was challenged in High Court which was pleased to dismiss the petition [Union of India v. Samuel Peters [19751 Mah. L.J. 390 The Division Bench of this Court held inter alia that decision of the Payment of Wages Authority rejecting the claim as barred by time did not operate as res judicata. The matter thereafter proceeded on merits and vide order dated November 24, 1976 after deducting the claim granted by the Payment of Wages Authority and correcting the arithmatical mistakes, monitory benefit was computed at Rs. 12,909.32. In this petition, the Union of India has challenged the legality of the said order. During the pendency of this petition, the original respondent died and his legal representatives have been brought on record.

3. Shri Ghatpande, the learned Counsel for the Union of India has contended that the claim in respect of period covered in the civil suit is barred by the principles of (i) Order 2 Rule 2, C.P. Code and (ii) Constructive res judicata as embodied in explanation (iv) to Section 11, C.P. Code. Now the question about applicability of principles of Order 2, Rule 2 C.P. Code to such proceedings is no more res Integra. In the case of Chief Officer, Municipal Council, Akola v. Second Labour Court Nagpur [1975] Mah. L.J. 556 Division Bench of this Court observed (at p. 559):

The provisions of Order 2, r, 2, Code of Civil Procedure, arc not applicable to the proceedings instituted under Section 33-C(2) of the Act or to the proceedings instituted under the Minimum Wages Act. It is n technical and artificial rule which should be restricted to the proceedings which are governed by the principals of the Code of Civil Procedure. Though the principle's of res judicate are made applicable to the industrial adjudication in contradiction to civil proceeding extremely technical, considerations, usually invoked in civil proceeding, may not. be allowed to on weigh substantial justice to the parties in an industrial adjudication.

The point about applicability of principles of constructive res judicata was more seriously pressed, It is true that the principles of res judicata have been consistently held applicable, to industrial adjudications, not because Section 11 C.P.C. in terms applies, but because multiplicity of litigation and repeated agitation of the same controversy was not conducive to industrial peace, attainment of which is one of the principal aims behind almost every labour law. Dealing with the question of applicability of principles of res judicata to industrial adjudications the Supreme Court in the case of Workmen of the Straw Board Manufacturing Company Limited v. Straw Board Manufacturing Company Limited : (1974)ILLJ499SC , observed (at p. 1141):

But whether a mutter in dispute in a subsequent ease had earlier been directly and substantially in issue between the same, parties and the Name had been heard and finally decided by the Tribunal will he of pertinent consideration and will have to be determined before holding in a particular case, that I be principals of res judicate are attracted.

Thus, real character of the dispute and its actual decision on merits will be the decisive test in the matter. The deemed provisions about the matter being 'directly and substantially in issue' which are applicable to civil proceedings are essentially technical in nature and cannot be extended to proceedings under Section 33-C(2) considering the beneficial object with which these provisions are brought on statute book. Any contrary view is bound to defeat the object behind these provisions. The considerations behind non-applicability of principles of Order 2 Rule 2, C.P. Code must therefore apply with equal force to the principles of constructive res judicata. The crux of the division bench decision while upholding the decision of the Labour Court on the preliminary points - may be with relation of the Payment of Wages Act - has been that earlier decision has to be on merits to attract the principles of res judicata. This concluded decision between the parties in the earlier stage of this litigation will have binding effect on them and the same point though in different shade cannot be allowed to be raked up again. Thus, I find no merit in either of these points.

4. It is apparent that the claim in the suit was based on wrong notion about fixation of salary at a particular rate. On discovery of mistake the claim at right rate has been made and deduction for the amount actually received is given. Whatever amount was wrongly included has been excluded by the Labour Court. It cannot be disputed that in point of fact what has been granted are the correct legal dues. In this view of the matter also no interference in writ jurisdiction is called for. Thus, the petition is dismissed and the rule is discharged with costs.


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