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P. Nathmal Sanchethi and ors. Vs. Dasarath and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Petn. Nos. 542, 573, 574, 579, 580 to 584, 590 to 594, 596, 600 to 607, 609 and 611 to 6
Judge
Reported inAIR1959Kant96; AIR1959Mys96; (1958)36MysLJ204
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Sections 60 and 60(1); Payment of Wages Act, 1936 - Sections 2; Minimum Wages Act, 1948 - Sections 2; Industrial Disputes Act, 1948 - Sections 2
AppellantP. Nathmal Sanchethi and ors.
RespondentDasarath and ors.
Appellant AdvocateH.S. Rajiengar, ;S.K. Srinivasa Rao, ;D. Rama Rao, ;K.V. Khishnamurthy and ;M. Rathanchand, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateH.M. Munisamigowda, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....good. it may be a mere gift or gratuity as a gesture of good will and not enforceable, or it may be something which an employee is entitled to on the happening of a condition precedent and is enforceable when the condition is fulfilled. ' according to the respondents the word 'bonus' has obtained a secondary meaning in this country as well as in several other countries. it was clearly intended as an addition to the actual wages paid. this is intended to safeguard the interest of the labourer as well as of the society......(kgf) ltd., and their allied establishments, who were on the rolls during the year 1952, shall be paid bonus for that year at the rate of 33 days basic wages. such of the ex orgasm employees who are now working in the champion reef and mysore mines and their allied establishments shall, subject to the conditions laid down by the dikshitulu tribunal, be paid ex gratia payment equivalent to 33 days' basis wages, it being clearly understood that they are not entitled to any bonus for that year as decided by the dave tribunal.'(it is to be noted that only in the case of employees of ex orgasm mines the payment is made ex-gratia. in none of the present cases any of the ex orgasm employees are concerned.)(2) the minimum and the maximum wages of grades of works.(3) the revision of grades of.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. These are connected revision petitions. The decree-holders are the petitioners and the respondents are the judgment-debtors. The judgment-debtors are the workmen in the Gold Mines in the Kolar District. As per the agreement dated 13-9-1955 and filed before the Industrial Appellate Tribunal, the Tribunal awarded certain bonus to the workmen.

The decree-holders in execution of the decrees obtained by them attached the bonus due to the judgment-debtors. The judgment-debtors objected to the same. They contended that bonus is part of ''wages' and the same is protected by Section 60(1)(h) G.P.C. The learned Munsiff, K.G.F. accepted this contention and raised the attachments. The petitioners have come up in revision as against those orders.

2. The only question that has to be considered in these revision petitions is as to whether the bonus granted to the respondents in these petitions can be said to be a part of their wages, and consequently falling within Section 60(1)(h) C.P.C. Neither the word 'wage' nor the word 'bonus' is defined in the Civil Procedure Code.

3. Before I proceed to consider the meaning of these words, it is necessary to state a few more facts. There were disputes between the workers and the management of the Champion Reef Gold Mines of India (K.G.F.) Ltd., the Mysore Gold Mining Co. (KGF) Ltd., the Kolar Gold Fields Electricity Department and the Kolar Mines Power Station (KGF) Ltd. Those disputes were pending before the Labour Appellate Tribunal. Meanwhile the representatives of workmen and the management arrived at a settlement of these disputes in the presence of the Labour Inspector (Central) KGF, on 13-9-1955. They agreed amongst other things:

(1) that 'subject to the usual conditions laid down by the Dikshitulu Tribunal, the workmen of the Champion Reef Gold Mines of India (KGF) Ltd., the Mysore Gold Mining Co. (KGF) Ltd., and their allied establishments, who were on the rolls during the year 1952, shall be paid bonus for that year at the rate of 33 days basic wages. Such of the ex orgasm employees who are now working in the Champion Reef and Mysore Mines and their Allied Establishments shall, subject to the conditions laid down by the Dikshitulu Tribunal, be paid ex gratia payment equivalent to 33 days' basis wages, it being clearly understood that they are not entitled to any bonus for that year as decided by the Dave Tribunal.'

(It is to be noted that only in the case of employees of ex orgasm Mines the payment is made ex-gratia. In none of the present cases any of the ex orgasm employees are concerned.)

(2) The minimum and the maximum wages of grades of works.

(3) The revision of grades of monthly and daily rated employees will be dealt with by one or more committees of representatives of the management and the employees to be constituted by the management before 30-9-1955.

(4) The increased rate of wages shall be payable from 16-9-1954.

(5) To provide a retirement gratuity scheme.

and (6) Workmen whose services were terminated during 1953 and 1954 before 16th September, 1954 shall be paid ex gratia payment equivalent to the amount they receive under Clause (1).

4. The award does not disclose the reason as to why the bonus was paid. But one thing is clear that it is not an ex gratia payment. The compromise very specifically stated that the payment of bonus to ex orgasm employees and certain other ex-employees is made ex-gratia. From this the inference is that the payment made to others is not an ex gratia payment. 1 have no material before me to come to the conclusion that the bonus was given as a share in the profits made by the Mining Companies.

Nowhere the compromise states that it was given as a gift either. But the award discloses that the actual wage given to the workers did not approach anywhere near the living wage. The wage fixed to surface unskilled workers is between Re. 1/- to Rs. 1/4 a day and for underground unskilled workers between Rs. 1/4 to Rs. 1-8 a day. I do not know as to what was the wage paid to the skilled worker. Clause 2(b) of the agreement merely states that the minima and the maxima of all the remaining daily rated employees will be increased by three annas.

5. In the conditions prevailing in this Country it is reasonable to presume that the wage received by any worker in any Industry has not reached the level of the living wage.

6. It is contended for the petitioners that bonus is not a deferred wage and it cannot be a current wage. It is said that it is no wage at all. Reliance is placed on the decision of the Supreme Court in the Muir Mills Co.. Ltd. v. Suti Mills Mazdoor Union, Kanpur case reported in : (1955)ILLJ1SC . I have been taken through the meaning of the words 'wages' and 'bonus' given in the several dictionaries and Law Lexicons. Concise Oxford Dictionarygives the meaning of 'bonus' as 'something to the good, into the bargain; gratuity to workmen beyond their wages.'

Wage is said to be an amount paid periodically for the time during which workman or servant is at employer's disposal. The new English dictionary defines 'bonus' as 'a boon or gift over and above what is nominally due as remuneration to the receiver and which is therefore something wholly to the good. This definition was approved by Sterling J. In Re Eddy stone Marine Insurance Co., (1894) W.N. 30.

The definition given in Corpus Juris Seconding Vol. II is somewhat similar. From these the petitioners urged that bonus is not a remuneration and consequently not a wage, According to them it partakes the nature of a windfall if not a gift or a present. It was also urged that only three Acts define wages i.e. The Industrial Disputes Act, The Payment of Wages Act and the Minimum Wages Act.

The definition of 'wage' given in the Industrial Disputes Act excludes bonus. Whereas the Payment of Wages Act includes bonus and in the definition given in the Minimum Wages Act there is no reference to bonus. Tho petitioners contend that the relevant Act in so far as these cases arc concerned is the Industrial Disputes Act.

7. On the other hand it is contended for the respondents that the definition given in the Industrial Disputes Act is an artificial definition intended for the purpose of that Act and cannot he of any guidance. The respondents urge that as the Court is faced with the question of determining as to what the true meaning of the word 'wage' is reliance ought to be placed on the definition given in the Payment of Wages Act. So, for the meaning of the word 'wage' my attention is invited to the definition given in Halsbury (Hailsham Edition) Vol. XIV at page 650 which is as follows;

'Any money or other thing had or con traded to be paid, delivered or given as a recompense, reward or remuneration for any labour done or to be done, whether within a certain time or to a certain amount' or for a time or an amount uncertain is deemed to be the wages of such labour.'

It is emphasised that every payment that has to he paid to the worker as recompense is a wage. Reliance was also placed on the decision of O'Conner J. in Great Western Garment Co., Ltd. v. Minister of National Revenue reported in (1947) Ex. C.R-458, wherein 'bomis' is described as follows:

'It may be a mere gift or gratuity as a gesture of good will and not enforceable, or it may be something which an employee is entitled to on the happening of a condition precedent and is enforceable when the condition is fulfilled.'

According to the respondents the word 'Bonus' has obtained a secondary meaning in this country as well as in several other countries.

It is a method of wage payment, conditions pre-requisite being that the industry must have made appreciable profits which leaves a margin after making due provision for dividends, replacements etc. and the actual wages given to the worker is less than the living wage. Once the required conditions are fulfilled 'bonus' becomes a remuneration for the work done by ihe worker. In other words it takes the shape of a wage payment.

A great deal of support was sought by the respondents from the decisions reported in Jivanlal v. Ramtuji Bhaiji : AIR1945Bom119 and Jitendrarai K. Oza v. Saurashtra State AIR 1954 Sau. 90. In the Bombay case Sen, J. held on examining the basis of the scheme for paying bonus in that case thatthe intention was to grant a temporary increase in the wages of tho labour. A similar view was taken in the Saurashtra case. A large number of decisions of Labour Tribunals have been cited before me to show the true character of bonus.

8. Earlier I have set out the facts and circumstances leading to the payment of the bonus in question. They are more or less similar to the facts-of the Bombay and the Saurashtra cases. I repeat, it was not an ex gratia payment. It was clearly intended as an addition to the actual wages paid.

The award in question satisfies all the requirements laid down in the Muir Mills Case : (1955)ILLJ1SC . In that case his Lordship Bhagavati J. had opined that bonus in India can be classified amongst tho methods of wages payment. He has approved the dictum laid down in Attorney-General v. City of Woburn, 317 Mass. 465 to say 'the word bonus is commonly used to denote an increase in salary or wages in contracts of employment.'

9. I do not think that the definition in the Acts cited before me are of any assistance. They are intended for the purposes of the respective Acts. Some of the Dictionaries have only given the primary meanings and have missed its secondary meaning. Bonus is a familiar word in the field of Industrial Law. It means an additional remuneration. It may not be a wage or deferred wage. But it is a method of wage payment. Its payment is conditional but on payment it assumes the character of wages.

10. Tho wages of workers are protected from attachment in order to see that their reasonable requirements of life are not taken away and also to ensure that their efficiency as labourers is not diminished. This is intended to safeguard the interest of the labourer as well as of the society. The bonus is paid to fill up the gap between the actual wage and the living wage. Consequently it will be within the objective of the legislature.

It is reasonable to construe that the legislation intended to protect the means of livelihood of the worker. The means of livelihood 19 an enlarging conception. So is the word 'wage.' There is no justification for interpreting the word 'wage' according to its meaning prevailing at the time Section 60 CPG was enacted. Life is dynamic. So are Our laws. They grow with the nation. The words acquire new meanings with the passage of time. The newly acquired meanings are in consonance with the new ideas.

The march of times is not a matter of indifference to courts. It is neither possible nor wise to create a gulf between society and its laws. Laws are not prison houses nor are the Judges required to go by antiquated meanings of words and ideas corroded by the process of time. Legislative intention is ordinarily measured by the words used in the concerned enactment. I know of no legal principle which requires me to presume that the legislature had no foresight and it could not have foreseen the present meaning of the word 'wage.'

If it becomes necessary to deem it as a legal fiction, I have no hesitation to accept it as such. It is not' my function either to strain the meaning of the word 'wage' or to treat the same as a matter of history. In my judgment that in the instant cases the bonus granted has become a part of the wages of the workers. Hence the same is not attachable.

11. In the result these revision petitions failand are dismissed with costs.

12. Petitions dismissed.


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