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East Coast Commercial Company Limited Vs. A. Prakasa Rao and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1977)ILLJ18AP
AppellantEast Coast Commercial Company Limited
RespondentA. Prakasa Rao and ors.
Excerpt:
.....the employers and workmen who are not parties to the arbitration agreement but are concerned in the dispute, shall be given an opportunity of presenting their case before arbitrator or arbitrators. as stated by me already, both the payment of wages act as well as the industrial disputes act. but, the petitioner cannot be permitted to question the validity of that award for more than one good reason......jute mills in the presence of the minister for labour and the minister for industries. the chief minister awarded an interim relief of rs. 25 to the workers in chittlvalasa jute mill, mellimarala jute mills, rs. 20 to the workers in sri bhajranga jute mills, guntur and m/s. sri krishna jute mills, eluru and rs. 15 to the workers of uma and east coast commercial company (the petitioner herein), pending detailed study and final decision over the wage dispute.2. the deputy commissioner of labour was instructed to study the conditions of the jute mills in the state in relation to workers' demand and after a thorough study, he submitted his report. the chief minister, after careful examination of that report and after further discussions with the minister for labour, passed the award.....
Judgment:

Gangadhara Rao, J.

1. In 1972, there was a dispute between the employers and employees of the jute mills in our State. The workers demanded an increase in their wages. Both the employers and employees sought the good offices of the then Chief Minister of the State, to resolve the dispute. They agreed to able by his decision. So, the then Chief Minister held discussions on July 5 and 6, 1972 with the representatives of the workers and the managements of the Jute Mills in the presence of the Minister for Labour and the Minister for Industries. The Chief Minister awarded an interim relief of Rs. 25 to the workers in Chittlvalasa Jute Mill, Mellimarala Jute Mills, Rs. 20 to the workers in Sri Bhajranga Jute Mills, Guntur and M/s. Sri Krishna Jute Mills, Eluru and Rs. 15 to the workers of Uma and East Coast Commercial Company (the petitioner herein), pending detailed study and final decision over the wage dispute.

2. The Deputy Commissioner of Labour was instructed to study the conditions of the jute mills in the State in relation to workers' demand and after a thorough study, he submitted his report. The Chief Minister, after careful examination of that report and after further discussions with the Minister for Labour, passed the award enhancing the wages in the various jute mills In the State. So far as the petitioner-company is concerned, he decided that the total minimum pay of a worker shall be Rs. 180 for mensem (I am told, this company was paying previously Rs. 140 per mensem for each worker). It shall be payable from July 1, 1972 The difference in the wage shall be paid on or before November 1. 1972. We are not concerned with the other conditions of the award for the purpose of these writ petitions. The award shall be In operation till July 1, 1975. It was published in the Andhra Pradesh Gazette In G.O. Ms No. 1437, Home (Labour-I) Department, dated October 6, 1972.

3. The petitioner-company paid the Interim relief of Rs. 15 tolls workers but did not pay the difference of Rs. 40 in the wage from July 1, 1972 to October 31, 1972. So, the workers' union complained to the Regional Assistant Commissioner of Labour, Visakhapatnam. He called for a meeting of the management and the workers on December 7, 1973 to discuss that question; but the management refused to pay the enhanced wage of Rs. 180 to Its workers. Thereafter, the workers filed three petitions viz, P.W. Cases 19, 20 and 21 of 1973 before the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 (hereinafter called the Authority), to direct the management to pay to each worker the difference of Rs. 40 in his wages.

4. The petitioner-company has filed these three writ petitions to prohibit the Authority from hearing and adjudicating the said three petitions.

5. Sri Vedula Jagannadha Rao, the learned Counsel for the petitioner-company, has contended that what was given to the workers under the award of the then Chief Minister of the State was only a potential wage but not an actual wage and so the Authority had no jurisdiction to entertain the three petitions. According to him, under the Payment of Wages Act, the employer has to pay wages if they are payable under an award within the meaning of the Industrial Disputes Act, and since the award given by the then Chief Minister is not such an award, the employer is not liable to pay the wages and consequently, the Authority has ao jurisdiction to entertain the petitions.

6. For proper appreciation of this question. It is necessary to refer to some of the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 and also the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

7. Section 2(vi) of the Payment of Wages Act, defines 'wages' as follows :

Wages means all remuneration (whether by way of salary, allowances or otherwise) expressed in terms of money or capable of being so expressed which would, if the terms of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable to a person employed in respect of his employment or of work done in such employment, and Includes-

(a) any remuneration, payable under any award or settlement between the parties or order of a Court.(We are not concerned with the rest of the section).

Section 3 says that every employer shall be responsible for the payment to persons employed by him of all wages required to be paid under this Act. Section / says that the wages of an employed person shall be paid to him without deductions of any kind except those authorised by or under this Act. Section 15 says that the State Government may, by notification In the Official Gazette, appoint any Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation to be the authority to hear and decide for any specified area all claims arising out of deductions from the wages, or delay in payment of wages of person employed or paid in that area. Including all matters incidental to such claims. Sub-section (2) of that section says that where contrary to the provisions of this Act, any deduction has been made from the wages of any employed person or any payment of wages has been delayed, such person himself, or any official of a registered trade union authorised in writing to act on his behalf, may apply to such authority for a direction under Sub-section (3). Under Sub-section (3) when an application is entertained, the authority shall bear the applicant and the employer responsible for the payment of wages under Section 3. and direct the refund to the employed person, of the amount deducted or the payment of the delayed wages together with the payment of such compensation as the authority may think fit.

8. The 'award' as contemplated by Section 2(vi) is not defined in the Payment of Wages Act. It Is defined in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Section 2(b) of that Act, defines 'award' as meaning an interim or a final determination of any Industrial dispute or of any question relating thereto by any Labour Court, Industrial Tribunal or National Industrial Tribunal and Including an Arbitration Award made under Section 10A.

9. Section 10A of the Industrial Disputes Act, reads as follows :

Where any industrial dispute exists or apprehended and the employer and the workmen agree to refer the dispute to arbitration, they may, at any time before the dispute has been referred under Section 10 to a Labour Court or Tribunal or National Tribunal, by a written agreement, refer the dispute to arbitration and the reference shall be to such person or persons (including the presiding officer of a Labour Court or Tribunal or National Tribunal) a an arbitrator or arbitrators as may be specified in the arbitration agreement:

(1A) * * * *(2) An arbitration agreement referred to in Sub-section (I) shall be In such form and shall be signed by the parties thereto In such manner as may be prescribed.

(3) A copy of the arbitration agreement shall be forwarded to the appropriate Government and the conciliation officer and the appropriate Government shall, within (one month) from the date of the receipt of such copy, publish the same in the Official Gazette.

(3A) Where an industrial dispute has been referred to arbitration and the appropriate Government Is satisfied that the persons making the reference represent the majority of each party, the appropriate Government may, within the time referred to in Sub-section (3), Issue a notification In such manner as may be prescribed and when any such notification Is issued, the employers and workmen who are not parties to the arbitration agreement but are concerned in the dispute, shall be given an opportunity of presenting their case before arbitrator or arbitrators.

10. It is argued by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the award given by the Chief Minister of the State is not an award within the meaning of Section 10A of the Industrial Disputes Act, for the agreement was not in the prescribed form and it was not published in the Official Gazette. So, it will not be wages, payable under the award within the meaning of Section 2(vi) by the employer and, therefore, the Authority would not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter under Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act.

11. But, there is a fallacy in this reasoning. In the Payment of Wages Act, 'employed person', and 'wages' 'employer', 'factory', 'industrial establishment' are defined but not an 'award'. In the industrial Disputes Act, also 'employer', 'industry', 'wages' and 'workmen' are defined. In addition 'award' also is defined, In the Payment of Wages Act, 'wages' is defined by Section 2(vi) as any remuneration payable under any award or settlement between the parties or order of a Court. It does not say that remuneration should be payable under an award as defined in the Industrial Disputes Act Therefore, It means remuneration payable under any award including one under the Industrial Disputes Act. I do not also see any other reason to interpret the word 'award' in any other manner. As stated by me already, both the Payment of Wages Act as well as the Industrial Disputes Act. have defined many common things. If we have to read the definition of 'award' in the Industrial Disputes Act into the Payment of Wages Act, then the Legislature would have said so, by enacting a provision to that effect in the Payment of Wages Act. Each Act deals with a different situation and it would not be proper to import the definitions of the Industrial Disputes Act into the Payment of Wages Act. I, therefore, do not agree with the learned Counsel for the petitioner that in the instant case, it will not be wages payable by the employer to the employees under the Payment of Wages Act, since the award given by the Chief Minister was not an award within the meaning of Section 10A of the Industrial Disputes Act.

12. Since, the Chief Minister has, under his award stated that the petitioner-company should pay total wages at the rate of Rs. 180 per mensem, they have become payable by the employer within the meaning of the Payment of Wages Act When they say that they are prepared to pay only Rs. 140 per mensem but not Rs. 180 per mensem, It means that it is a case of deduction within the meaning of Section 15(2) of the Act and the Authority has jurisdiction to entertain the petitions and dispose them of under Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act.

13. In this connection, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, referred to A.V. D'Costa v. B.C. Patel : [1955]1SCR1353 . In that case, the Supreme Court held that the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act, has jurisdiction to decide what actually the terms of the contract between the parties were, that Is to say, to determine the actual wages; but the authority has no jurisdiction to determine the question of potential wages. In the view I have taken, on a consideration of the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act, there Is no question of any potential wages In this case. Therefore, that decision has no application.

14. The learned Counsel for the petitioner has also contended that the award given by the Chief Minister is not valid, for the Chief Minister did not hold any enquiry, but it is only on the basis of the report submitted by the Deputy Commissioner of Labour, he had passed the award. But, the petitioner cannot be permitted to question the validity of that award for more than one good reason. These writ petitions are not filed to quash the award. They are filed only to issue a writ of prohibition, prohibiting the Authority and hearing and adjudicating the petitions filed before him by the workers. In the writ petitions only a general and vague ground Is taken that G.O. Ms. No. 1437 Is illegal and liable to be struck down. Neither the Chief Minister who passed the award, nor the Government nor the other parties to the award are made parties to these writ petitions. Further, the award is dated October 6, 1972 and these writ petitions were filed on January 15, 1974. nearly after 13 months. Apart from that, the learned Counsel for the petitioner has admitted that the Interim relief of Rs. 15 was paid to the workers as directed by the then Chief Minister. It means, they agreed to abide by the award and they have also partly Implemented his decision. Therefore the petitioner cannot be permitted to challenge the validity of the award in these writ petitions.

15. In the result, I hold that the Authority has jurisdiction to entertain the petitions and, therefore, I dismiss these three writ petitions with costs only in Writ Petition No. 213 of 1974. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.


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