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B. Narasimha Pai Vs. Damodar Bhat and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.P. No. 713 of 1967
Judge
Reported in[1971(22)FLR211]; (1971)ILLJ452Kant
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 10(1), 33(2), 33C, 33C(1) and 33C(2)
AppellantB. Narasimha Pai
RespondentDamodar Bhat and anr.
Excerpt:
- section 20 & contempt of courts act (70 of 1971), sections 11 & 12: [s.r. bannurmath & a.n. venugopala gowda, jj] penalty for disobedience - disobedience of order passed by karnataka information commission maintainability of contempt petition - held, section 20 of rti act itself provides for remedy. under section 20 of rti act commission is vested with power to penalize defaulting officer by imposing penalty up to rs. 25,000/- and also recommend for disciplinary action against him. thus commission is empowered to enforce its own order. remedy being available under rti act itself, contempt petition under contempt of courts act, 1971 is not maintainable......being an employee of the first respondent concern, made an application under s. 33c(2) of the industrial disputes act, 1947 praying that the amount due to him may be determined and consequential orders passed. in the annexure attached to his application, he says that he was employed on a monthly salary of rs. 55 and was being paid batta at rs. 2-50 ps. per day. the minimum wages with reference to his employment as a checking inspector was fixed in july 1962 at rs. 83 per month; rs. 48 being basic wages and rs. 35 being the dearness allowance. the petitioner's complaint is that he was not paid the full minimum wages, but was paid less rs. 28 per month. in this regard he claims a sum of rs. 854. subsequent to february, 1965, the first respondent is alleged to have deducted a sum of.....
Judgment:

Gopivallabha Iyengar, J.

1. The petitioner being an employee of the first respondent concern, made an application under S. 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 praying that the amount due to him may be determined and consequential orders passed. In the annexure attached to his application, he says that he was employed on a monthly salary of Rs. 55 and was being paid batta at Rs. 2-50 ps. per day. The minimum wages with reference to his employment as a Checking Inspector was fixed in July 1962 at Rs. 83 per month; Rs. 48 being basic wages and Rs. 35 being the dearness allowance. The petitioner's complaint is that he was not paid the full minimum wages, but was paid less Rs. 28 per month. In this regard he claims a sum of Rs. 854. Subsequent to February, 1965, the first respondent is alleged to have deducted a sum of Rs. 28 per month from his daily batta and therefore he claims the payments of the same, and this amounts to Rs. 853 upto the date of petition. In all, he claims a sum of Rs. 1,207 as due from the first respondent.

2. The first respondent contested the claim of the petitioner an four issues were framed. They are as hereunder :

(1) Whether the application is maintainable in law

(2) Does the applicant prove that he is entitled to be paid wages under the Minimum Wages Act from July, 1962

(3) How much amount the applicant is entitled to receive from the opponent

(4) Does the opponent prove that the applicant agreed at the conciliation proceedings to receive wages under the Minimum Wages Act from 1-1-1965 as stated in para 4 of the counter-statement

The Labour Court at Hubli which is impleaded as second respondent in this writ petition considered the question of maintainability of the petitioner's application. It came to the conclusion that the petitioner's application is not maintainable. In the course of its order, it observes as follows :

'A claim which is made under S. 33C(2) must relate to an existing right referable to an award, settlement, provisions of the Act or subsisting contracts. Besides it should be a claim which should not be dependent upon a determination of another matter, which gives rise to a dispute falling under S. 10(1) or other provisions of the Act. In this view of the matter, this Court cannot take upon itself the task to fix the salary of the applicant according to the Minimum Wages Act and to ask the opponent to pay him the arrears. The applicant should have raised an industrial dispute when the opponent had refused to fix his wages under the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act.'

It appears to us that the Labour Court has proceeded on a misconception that the petitioner's application comes within the purview of S. 33C(1) of the Industrial Disputes Act. The application is one under S. 33C(2) of the Act.

3. Shri Shivaramaiah, the learned Counsel for the first respondent, supports the second respondent's order on a ground different from that which has been set out in the impugned order. The first respondent's contention is that in view of S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, the authority that can entertain the petitioner application is the authority appointed under that section. He points out that in exercise of powers under the aforesaid section, the State has appointed the District Magistrate, South Kanara District as the authority for South Kanara District. He also points out that the Payment of Wages Act being a special enactment and the jurisdiction having been vested in the District Magistrate, South Kanara, the Labour Court, viz., the second respondent, cannot entertain any petition which comes under the provisions of S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936. It is seen that under S. 22 of the said Act, bar of suits has been provided. Section 22 reads as follows :

'No Court shall entertain any suit for the recovery of wages or of any deduction from wages in so far as the sum so claimed -

(a) forms the subjects of an application under S. 15 which has been presented by the plaintiff and which is pending before the authority appointed under that section or of an appeal under S. 17; or

(b) has formed subject of a direction under S. 15 in favour of the plaintiff; or

(c) has been adjudged in any proceeding under S. 15 not to be owed to the plaintiff; or

(d) could have been recovered by an applicant under S. 15.'

It is significant that the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 while providing for bar of suits, does not provide for bar of proceedings under S. 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Section 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 provides for determination of the benefits in terms of money in very wide terms which is as follows :

'33C(2) - Where any workman is entitled to receive from the employer any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of money, the amount at which such benefit should be computed may, subject to any rules that may be made under this Act, be determined by such Labour Court as may be specified in this behalf by the appropriate Government, and the amount so determined may be recovered as provided for in sub-s. (1).'

Under this provision, the Labour Court is entitled to decide any claim made by the workman to receive from the employer any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of money. It appears to us that S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 does not take away the powers vested in the Labour Court by virtue of S. 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947. It was pointed out that under the payment of Wages Act 1936, a definite period of limitation is prescribed for making claims under it. The period prescribed is 12 months from the date on which the deduction from the wages was made or from the date on which the payment of the wages was due to be made as the case may be. For a claim to be made under the provision of S. 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, no period of limitation is prescribed. Therefore, it is contended that the claim which is time barred under the provisions of S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, should not be entertained by the Labour Court on an application filed under S. 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Two questions arise in this connection. The first question is whether what is claimed by the petitioner comes within the meaning of wages as defined in the Payment of Wages Act, 1936. This question has not been considered by the first respondent. The 2nd question is whether any claim made under S. 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, is barred by limitation. If the claim is barred under S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, an application under that section cannot be entertained, and this does not preclude a claim being made under S. 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, if the claim is made within a reasonable time. The principles that apply for raising an industrial dispute under the Industrial Disputes Act, in so far as the belatedness or otherwise of the claim, would apply to a claim made under S. 33C(2) of that Act. This aspect came up for consideration before the Gujarat High Court in Ambika Mills Ltd. v. Second Labour Court [1967 - II L.L.J. 800 (Guj.)]. One of the contentions raised in that case was that the applications were filed for recovering the wages and the remedy was to proceed under the provision of S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act. The provisions of sub-s. (2) of S. 33C of the Industrial Dispute Act, being of a general nature and the provisions of S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, being in the special Act, it overrides the provisions of sub-s. (2) of S. 33(C) of the Industrial Disputes Act, and, therefore, the only remedy for the aggrieved workman was to make an application under S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act and applications under sub-s. (2) of S. 33C were not maintainable. Dealing with these questions, the Gujarat High Court observes as hereunder :

'The right of the worker to recover the amount due to him can be enforced either by following the remedy under S. 15 of the Payment of Wages Act or under the provisions of S. 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. These remedies are in the alternative and are independent of each other.

It is true that the Payment of Wages Act does provide for a limitation but that period of limitation applies only to the procedure provided by the Payment of Wages Act. The legislature has not provided any limitation for the remedy under S. 33C(2) of the Act. The remedy to recover the amount due under S. 33C is an independent remedy'.

Thus it appears to us that the second respondent has jurisdiction to entertain the petitioner's application and therefore the order rejecting the application is not sustainable in law.

4. The order passed by the second respondent in application (LCH) No. 62 of 1966 on his file, viz., Ex. D., is hereby quashed. The second respondent is hereby directed to dispose of the petitioner's application in accordance with law. The parties are at liberty to raise any further contentions which they propose to do. With these observations, the impugned order is quashed and the writ petition is allowed. In the circumstances, each party will bear his own costs.


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