1. The suit out of which this revision petition arises was instituted by the respondent for the recovery of Rs. 725 due on a promissory not proved to have been executed by the defendant who was a painting worker in K.G.F. The trial Court decreed the suit which was confirmed by the learned Civil Judge in his judgment dated 11th September 1967 in R.A. No. 23 of 1967. This revision petition is directed against that judgment.
2. During the trial, an application under Or. 38, R. 5, C.P.C. was filed seeking an attachment before judgment of the service and termination gratuity and voluntary retirement compensation payable to the defendant by his employer. The trial Court passed the order attaching the said amounts. But before the order was served, the service and termination gratuity were already paid and the attachment order continued only to the extent of the amount payable under the voluntary retirement scheme. The defendant filed an application for raising the attachment on the ground that he was a labourer working in the K.G.F. Mines and the amount that is attached is payable under the Voluntary Retirement Scheme, which represents his earned wages, exempted from attachment under S. 60(1)(h), C.P.C.
3. The facts proved in the case are these : The defendant was a worker in the Nandidurga Mines at K.G.F. He was retired on 16-2-1955 under a scheme called the 'Voluntary Retirement Scheme'. On such retirement, the defendant is entitled to special compensation calculated at fifteen days wages for every year of his service which comes to about Rs. 810 including the special compensation D.A. calculated at the rate of Rs. 2.50 for like period.
The sole point for consideration is whether this special compensation amount represents the 'wages' of the defendant which is protected from attachment within the meaning of S. 60(1)(h), C.P.C.
4. Both the Courts below have held that the said amount does not represent the wages, which is held to be a concessional payment given under the contract for the voluntary retirement. The appellate Court has further held that the lump sum given to the defendant on his retirement has no relation to his daily wages nor does it partake of the nature of daily wages. It is, therefore, held to be a special compensation though calculated at fifteen days' wages for every year of past service.
5. It must be remembered that the compensation amount payable under the voluntary retirement scheme does not depend upon the bounty of the employer. It is under an approved scheme between the management and the workmen and the established practice is that the employer pays compensation in accordance with the fixed formula, that is, fifteen days' wages for every year of service. It is not as if the employer can tell one worker that he would give so much, and another, he will not give anything. As observed in Badlu Prasad v. Tirjuli Sitaram, : (1965)IILLJ666MP , it may partake of the nature of retrenchment compensation in the event of a forced discharge or it may also be in the nature of a pension except that instead of being periodical, it turns out to be a consolidated amount. The question is why that amount cannot be included within the meaning of the expression 'wages of labourers.'
6. The word 'wages' is left undefined in the Civil Procedure Code. We have to understand the word in the context of the particular case. The Civil Procedure Code is of the year 1908 when the English Common Law regarded the 'wages bargain' as a contract between an individual employer and an individual workman. This word 'wages' in the context appears to have been used in the general sense which must include all payments made to a worker by his employer. With the emergence of the concept of a welfare State, collective bargaining between trade unions and capital has come into its own and has received statutory recognition. The old principle of the absolute freedom of contract and the doctrine of laissez faire have yielded place to new principles of social welfare and common good. Labor naturally looks upon the constitution of wage structures as affording.
'a bulwark against the dangers of a depression, safeguard against unfair methods of compensation between employers and guarantee of wages necessary for the minimum requirements of employees'.
(See 'Labor Law and Labor Relations', 1968, Edn., p. 346, publication by the Indian Law Institute).
7. Reference may be made to S. 60(1)(g) C.P.C. which exempts from attachment among other things, gratuities allowed to pensioners of the Government service and political pensioners. The next clause exempts the wages of labourers and domestic servants. The word 'wages' in the context must include, in my opinion, all payments in the nature of wages payable by the employer including the retrenchment compensation benefit which is really in the nature of a pension.
8. In this view of the matter, the attachment made by the Court below must be raised.
9. The revision petition is therefore allowed with costs, setting aside that part of the order dated 11th September, 1967 made in R.A. No. 23 of 1967 on the file of the learned Civil Judge, at Kolar and also the order dated 30th October, 1965, made on I.A. No. 111 in O.S. No. 68 of 1965 by the learned Munsiff at K.G.F. which relates to the attachment of the voluntary retirement compensation.