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Kuttappa S. Vs. Dharamchand - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revision Petition No. 1271 of 1963
Judge
Reported in[1967(14)FLR177]; (1967)IILLJ603Kant
ActsPayment of Wages Act, 1961 - Sections 15 and 22
AppellantKuttappa S.
RespondentDharamchand
Excerpt:
.....year if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year magistrate erred in taking cognizance of the offence beyond the period of limitation as prescribed under section 458 cr.p.c., - proceedings were quashed. - 134 from out of his salary and that he had not been paid his salary from april 1, 1961 to may 18, 1961. he alleged that in spite of a registered notice issued to him the respondent had failed to pay him the amount and had thereby compelled him to the necessity of filing the suit. 188] (vide supra). having heard the same i am fully convinced that his contention is well-founded......passed by the munsif, chickmagalur, in original suit no. 283 of 1961 on his file, decreeing the suit filed by the petitioner for the recovery of a sum of rs. 365.75, being the arrears of wages due from the respondent. 2. the petitioner filed the suit for the recovery of a sum of rs. 724.75 from the respondent on the ground that he was entitled to the said sum of money towards his salary as a writer from april 1, 1961 to may 18, 1961. the petitioner alleged in his plaint that he had been employed as a writer by the respondent in guddadamane estate on a monthly salary of rs. 225 on or from december 10, 1960 up to may 18, 1961; that the respondent had deducted a sum of rs. 134 from out of his salary and that he had not been paid his salary from april 1, 1961 to may 18, 1961. he alleged.....
Judgment:

1. This revision petition is directed against the judgment and decree passed by the Civil Judge, Chickmagalur, in R.A. No. 57 of 1962. By the aforesaid judgment the learned civil Judge reversed the judgment and decree passed by the Munsif, Chickmagalur, in Original Suit No. 283 of 1961 on his file, decreeing the suit filed by the petitioner for the recovery of a sum of Rs. 365.75, being the arrears of wages due from the respondent.

2. The petitioner filed the suit for the recovery of a sum of Rs. 724.75 from the respondent on the ground that he was entitled to the said sum of money towards his salary as a writer from April 1, 1961 to May 18, 1961. The petitioner alleged in his plaint that he had been employed as a writer by the respondent in Guddadamane estate on a monthly salary of Rs. 225 on or from December 10, 1960 up to May 18, 1961; that the respondent had deducted a sum of Rs. 134 from out of his salary and that he had not been paid his salary from April 1, 1961 to May 18, 1961. He alleged that in spite of a registered notice issued to him the respondent had failed to pay him the amount and had thereby compelled him to the necessity of filing the suit. He also stated that he was entitled to one month's salary in lieu of notice of termination of service. Then petitioner accordingly claimed a sum of Rs. 724.75 from the respondent. The respondent resisted the claim of the petitioner. He admitted that the petitioner was working under him as a writer on or from December 10, 1960, on a monthly salary of Rs. 225. According to him the petitioner was on probation till the end of March 1961, and his services were terminated by efflux of time. He also stated that services of the petitioner were terminated by the end of March 1961 and therefore, he was not entitled to any salary of the months of April and May 1961. He deposited a sum of Rs. 161 which, according to him was the amount that the petitioner was entitled to claim and get from him towards arrears of his salary. The parties adduced their evidence to establish their respective contentions. The learned Munsif found that the respondent had paid all the arrears until the end of March 1961. He also found that the petitioner had taken an advance of Rs. 60 from the respondent and was liable to account for the same, and after giving deduction to these sums he decreed the suit filed by the petitioner for Rs. 365.75 with proportionate costs. Being dissatisfied with this judgment an decree passed by the Munsif, Chickmagalur, the respondent filed an appeal to the Court of the Civil Judge, Chickmagalur, in R.A. No. 57 of 1962. For the first time, it was alleged in one of the grounds in the memorandum of appeal presented to the Court of the Civil Judge that the suit filed by the petitioner was barred under S. 22(d), of the Payment of Wages Act. The learned Civil Judge who heard the arguments advanced on behalf of the parties held that the conclusion reached by the learned Munsif that the contention of the respondent that the petitioner was a probationer till the end of March 1961, and that, therefore, he was entitled to terminate his services without assigning any reason is untenable. The learned Judge further held that the petitioner continued to work as a writer in the estate of the respondent from April 1, 1961 up to May 8, 1961, and that he was entitled to claim and get his salary for the said period. But the learned Judge was of the opinion that the suit filed by the petitioner for recovery of wages for the period between April 1, 1961 and May 18, 1961, was not maintainable in a civil Court and that S. 22(d) of the Payment of Wages Act was a bar. According to the learned Judge, the only course open to the petitioner was to make an application before the authority prescribed in the Payment of Wages Act for ascertainment and payment of wages for the period between April 1, 1961 and May 18, 1961, and he could not file a suit. When the decision of the Bombay High Court in A. R. Sarin v. B. C. Patil and another [1951 - II L.L.J. 188] was cited in support of the contention of the petitioner that the course open for him in the circumstances, particularly when the respondent stated that he had terminated his services on March 31, 1961, was to file a suit for the recovery of the wages in a civil Court and an application under S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act was not maintainable, the learned Judge, relying upon some observations in the said judgment held that the suit filed by the petitioner was not maintainable. Having come to this conclusion, the learned Judge allowed the appeal filed by the respondent, set aside the judgment and decree passed by the Munsif and dismissed the suit. But he did not allow any cost to the respondent as legal objection was taken up by him only in the appeal for the first time and directed the parties to bear their own costs throughout. It is the legality and correctness of this judgment passed by the learned Civil Judge in the appeal that is challenged in this revision petition.

3. It is urged by Sri Puttaswami, the learned counsel for the petitioner, that the learned Civil Judge was entirely wrong in his view that the decision in A. R. Sarin v. B. C. Patil and another [1951 - II L.L.J. 188] (vide supra) supported his conclusion that the only course open to the petitioner was to file an application for ascertainment and payment of wages before the authority prescribed in the Payment of Wages Act under S. 15 of the said Act and that S. 22(d) of the said Act is a bar for a suit in a civil Court. Sri Puttaswami read to me the decision of the Bombay High Court in A. R. Sarin v. B. C. Patil and another [1951 - II L.L.J.188] (vide supra). Having heard the same I am fully convinced that his contention is well-founded. The learned Civil Judge, as rightly contended by Sri Puttaswami, has omitted to quote the passage in which the point at issue in this case was considered. It is not necessary for me to quote the observations of the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court in the same decision, as all the decisions of the Bombay High Court to which the learned Chief Justice has referred and many other decision of the other High Courts have been fully considered by this Court in Codialabail Press v. Monappa (K.) [1963 - I L.L.J. 638]. After reviewing the entire case-law on the point, Somnath Ayyar, J., has held that adjudication on the legality of the retrenchment of an employee or the legality of an order of dismissal is not within the domain of the authority under the Payment of Wages Act, and an adjudication into the competence of the employer to retire his employees is wholly outside the bounds of the jurisdiction created by S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act. His lordship has referred to the several decisions of the Bombay High Court in A. R. Sarin v. B. C. Patil and another [1951 - II L.L.J. 188] (vide supra); Mushran v. Patil : AIR1952Bom235 ; Anthony Sabastin Almeda v. R. M. T. Taylor [1957 - I L.L.J. 452] and Viswanath Tukaram v. General Manager, Central Railway [1957 - II L.L.J. 250] and also the decision in Ambica Mills Company, Ltd. v. N. S. Bhatt [1961 - I L.L.J. 1], and held that the application filed by an ex-employee of a firm for payment of wages contending that the termination of the services amounted to a retrenchment and as such entitled him to claim to be paid retrenchment compensation was not maintainable under S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act and that the only course for the employee was to file a suit in the ordinary civil Court for recovery of wages, if any, due to him. It is not necessary for me to deal with the question elaborately in view of the decision of this Court referred to above.

4. Sri Ullal, the learned counsel for the respondent, strongly relied upon some observations of Chief Justice Chagla in Viswanath Tukaram v. General Manager, Central Railway [1957 - II L.L.J. 250] (vide supra) (Full Bench) and contended that it is only in cases where the legality or validity of the discharge or termination of the services is involved, it would be necessary to infer that the jurisdiction of the civil Court is not taken away. He contended in this case it should be held that the jurisdiction of the prescribed authority to decide the question under S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act is not taken away. In other words it is contended by him that so long as it is admitted that the petitioner was once an employee and it is then contended that there was no relationship of employer and employee at the relevant period for which wages are claimed, it is only the authority prescribed in the Payment of Wages Act that is competent to go into the question and its jurisdiction is not taken away and in fact the jurisdiction of the civil Court is ousted under S. 22 of the said Act. there is a complete answer to this contention in the very decision relied upon by Sri Ullal. The learned Chief Justice, who rendered the judgment of the Full Bench, has observed as follows :

'We agree with the Advocate-General that if the railway authorities' case was that the employees services were terminated or that he was dismissed or discharged, then in view of Sarin decision [1951 - II L.L.J. 188] (vide supra) that was an issue which could not have been tried by the authority under the Payment of Wages Act.'

I am, therefore, of the opinion that the learned Civil Judge was entirely wrong in his view that the jurisdiction of the civil Court to adjudicate the matter had been taken away by S. 22(d) of the Payment of Wages Act. As already stated, the learned Civil Judge has confirmed all the findings of the learned Munsif. It is only on the question of law that was raised for the first time before him that the learned Judge allowed the appeal filed by the respondent and dismissed the suit filed by the petitioner. In the view I have taken, the judgment and decree of the learned Civil Judge cannot at all be supported and they are liable to be set aside and they are hereby set aside.

5. In the result, therefore, for the reasons stated above, this revision petition is allowed and the judgment and decree passed by the Civil Judge, Chickmagalur, in R.A. No. 57 of 1962 are set aside and those of the Munsif, Chickmagalur, in Original Suit No. 283 of 1961. On his file are restored. The petitioner will get his costs from the respondent throughout.


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