1. This writ petition is directed against the award of the Industrial Tribunal dated 1-2-1968 passed in M. P. No. 139 of 1967 which was filled under Section 33A of the Industrial Disputes Act.
2. The petitioner was a conductor in the employment of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation at Wanaparty depot in Mahaboobnagar District. On the basis of some charges he was removed from service by the Depot Manager by his order dated 24-6-1967. By that time, there was a dispute pending before the Industrial Tribunal in I. D. No. 11 of 1967 regarding certain claims relating to bonus. The award in that dispute was passed on 17-7-1967 and was published in the Gazette on 10th August, 1967. Since the removal was effected during pendency of the dispute before the Tribunal, the petitioner filed M. P. No. 139 of 1967 before the Tribunal under Section 33A of the Industrial Disputes Act for adjudication of his complaint that he was wrongful removed from service during the pendency of the labour dispute. The Tribunal , by its impugned order, rejected the application holding that there was inordinate delay in filing it.
3. Sri Ramachandra Rao, learned counsel for the petitioner contends that the Tribunal is not justified in holding the view that there was inordinate delay in filing the application. In order to appreciate this contention it is necessary to reiterate the material facts. The order of removal is dated 24-6-1967. The award was passed on 17-7-1967 and was published in the Gazette on 10th August, 1967. In the eye of law its must be deemed that the dispute was pending till the expiry of thirty days from the date of the publication of the award in the gazette. That means the dispute was pending till 10th September, 1967. On 8-9-19678 the petitioner preferred an appeal against the order of removal to the Divisional Controller stationed at Mahabubnagar. The present application was filed on 9-11-1967.
4. Section 33A or any provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act does not prescribe any period of limitation for filing applications under section 33A of the Act. What all is required for filing the application is that the contravention of the provisions of Section 33A of the Act should take place during the pendency of the proceedings before the Tribunal or Labour Court. This requirement is satisfied in this case. The tribunal said that though no period of limitation was prescribed, the application under Section 33A should be filed within reasonable time. That statement, as a principle of law, is unexceptional. In fact, that is what the Labour Appellate Tribunal of India at Bombay held in H. Murlidhar v. General Motors (India)Ltd. 1954-1 Lab LJ 676l (LATI-Bom.).
5. The question then is whether the application is filled within reasonable time and whether the Tribunal is right in holding that there was inordinate delay. I am not prepared to agree with the Tribunal that there was inordinate delay in filing the application. The petitioner preferred an appeal before the Divisional Controller against his removal on 8-9-1967. the officer was stationed at Mahaboobnagar which place was in easy reach from Wanaparty where the petitioner was living. In order to file the application before the Tribunal, the petitioner had to come to Hyderabad. In view of the circumstances that he is a poor conductor, it could be him to raise necessary founds to come to Hyderabad and file the application before the Tribunal. After all he filed the application within two months from the date of preferring the appeal before the Divisional Controller and from the date of the expiry of thirty days time after the publication of the award in the official gazette. It is not the case of the respondent-Corporation that any prejudice was caused by the expiry of two months period, nor could it be suggested that there was any change in the circumstances of employment. It is not alleged that somebody else has been employed in the place of the petitioner. In the circumstances, I do not think that there was any inordinate delay in filing the application. Two months from the date of the expiry of thirty days period from the date of the publication of the award in the official gazette cannot be said to be an unreasonable time for filing an application under Section 33A of the Act in the absence of any prejudice to the respondent.
6. In the circumstances I am Inclined to hold that the petitioner has filed his application under Section 33A of the Act within reasonable time and the Labour Court was wrong in rejecting that application on the ground of delay. The award of the Labour Court is accordingly quashed and set aside and the matter is remitted back to the Tribunal for consideration of the application on its merits.
7. The writ petition is accordingly allowed. But, having regard to the circumstances of the case, I make no order as to costs.
8. Petition allowed.