1. These two connected civil revisions filed by the Divisional Superintendent, Northern Railway, and others relate to a matter under the Payment of Wages Act. An application by the opposite party had been filed under Section 15 of the Payment oi Wages Act. The authority passed an order directing the other side, the petitioners, to pay wages of the opposite party at the rate of Rs. 92/-per mensem as salary plus Rs. 50/- as dearness allowance from 14th May 1955 to 4th March 1959. The facts of the case briefly stated are :
2. The plaintiff-opposite party was an employee of the Northern Railway and was working as General Assistant (Goods) to the Station Master Bharthana at the time of his suspension. He was suspended from his post on 19th May 1954 and was later of removed from service on 14th May 1935 by an order of the Additional Commercial Superintendent dated 9th of May 1955. The opposite party filed a writ petition in the Punjab High Court and that Court by an order dated 8th October 1958 accepted his petition with costs and set aside the order of dismissal passed against him. Thereafter, by means of a formal order passed by the Divisional Personnel Officer the order of removal of the opposite party was cancelled and he was asked to report at Naini station where he took over charge on 5th March 1959. This order did not say anything about the re-instatement of the opposite party nor anything regarding the pay and the allowances to be paid to him nor how the period shall be treated. Another order was communicated to the opposite party through the Station Master in July 1959 stating that the period from 19th May 1954 to 4th March 1959 has been regularised as leave due and arrangement is being made for payment of his dues. There is again nothing in this order about reinstatement. The opposite party was not paid the salary and allowances totalling about Ms. 8,000/-. Under the Payment of Wages Act, the authority issued the direction stated earlier, Against that order two appeals were filed, one by the Divisional Superintendent and the other by the opposite party. The appeal of the Divisional Superintendent was dismissed while that of the opposite party was allowed. It is against this order that the present two revisions have been filed. It may also be stated that after the orders passed in appeal the railway offered the employee about Rs. 108/- which he accepted under protest.
3. The main contention of Sri D. Sanyal, learned counsel for the present petitioners, is that the case of the opposite party was governed by Para 2044 of the Railway Establishment Code, Vol. II, and such salary and allowances which were considered admissible to the opposite party have already been allowed. Consequently the order, which has been passed by the authority under Para 2044, could not be questioned by means of an application under Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act. His submission is that the jurisdiction of the authority under the Payment of Wages Act is limited by Section 7(2)(h) of the Payment of Wages Act and as this question was beyond the jurisdiction of that authority no direction could be issued by it. For this purpose the learned counsel has relied upon the following authorities: Union of India v. Kundan Lal, (S) AIR 1957 All 363. This very case came up in Special Appeal before a Division Bench of this Court and the decision is reported in Kundan Lal v. Union of India, 1961 All LJ 8 : (AIR 1961 All 567). He has further relied upon the case of General Manager Northern Railway v. Swarup Rai, AIR 1959 Raj 55. For the scope of Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act he has relied upon the authority of Sri Ambika Mills Co. Ltd. v. S. B. Bhatt, AIR 1961 SC 970.
4. The contention of the learned counsel for the other side is that it is a case in which there was no question of reinstatement of the employee because after the order passed by the Punjab High Court holding the dismissal of the employee as wrongful, the consequence was that the order of suspension or dismissal never existed and the employee, that is the opposite party, continued in service without any break. His second submission is that the orders dated 3rd March 1959 and 23rd July 1959 communicated to the opposite party did not speak of any reinstatement nor can they be treated to be orders passed under para 2044 and even if by any stretch of imagination they are treated to be such an order they are not by the authority competent to pass such orders. It is also his contention that at the time the employee was suspended old para 2044 was in operation. It was during the period of his suspension that it was substituted by a new para with a wider scope; primarily the petitioner's case is not covered either by the old para 2044 or the new para, but even if it is taken to be covered by the new para, (which he says does not cover it) the provisions of new para have no application. In support of his argument he has relied upon the authorities of Risal Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1958 Punj 155, Union of India v. Arjun Singh, 1961-2 Lab LJ 454 (Cal), Union of India v. Babu Ram, 1961 All LJ 776 : (AIR 1962 All 52) and State of Bihar v. Abdul Majid, AIR 1954 SC 245.
5. The only point which requires consideration is whether para 2044 of the Indian Railway Establishment Code, Vol. II (whether old or new) is applicable to this case and whether it affords protection or immunity to the railway administration. The material portion of old para 2044 reads as follows :
'When a railway servant who has been dismissed, removed or suspended is reinstated the revising or appellate authority may grant to him for the period of his absence from duty :
(a) If he is honourably acquitted, the full pay to which he would have been entitled if he had not been dismissed, removed or suspended and by an order to be separately recorded, any allowance of which he was in receipt prior to his dismissal, removal or suspension, or
(b) If otherwise, such proportion of such pay and allowances as the revising or appellate authority may prescribe. In a case falling under Clause (a) the period of absence from duty will be treated as a period spent on duty. In a case falling under Clause (b) it will not be treated as a period spent on duty unless the revising or appellate authority so directs.'
6. The language of the above para is apparently restricted. This para intends to be applicable to the cases where the employee who has been dismissed, removed or suspended is reinstated by an order of the Railway authority acting as a revising or appellate authority. It does not seem to have any application where a railway employee has been removed from service by the order of a railway officer and then his dismissal has been held to be illegal and he has been ordered to be restored to service by an order of the civil court of by an order passed by the High Court in its writ jurisdiction. A Division Bench of the Punjab High Court in the case of Risal Singh, AIR 1958 Punj 155 (supra) relying upon the Supreme Court case of State of Bihar. AIR 1954 SC 245 (supra) has held that para 2044 has no application to a case where the dismissal of a railway employee has been held to be illegal and his reinstatement has been ordered through a decree of the civil court.
7. In the Calcutta case of Union of India, 1961-2 Lab LJ 454 (Cal) (supra) a similar view was taken and it was held that :
'Under the declaration granted by the civil court, the service of the concerned employee must be held continuing without break from the date of his retrenchment.'
and the case is not a case of reinstatement governed by Para 2044 of the Railway Establishment Code. The views propounded in the above two case a are fully applicable to the present case. If there has been a wrong dismissal of an employee of the railway and that order of dismissal has been set aside through a writ petition, as in the present case, the consequence is that the order of dismissal is wiped bat as if it never existed. If there was no dismissal the service of the employee must be deemed to' have continued and the question of reinstatement would not arise.
8. The learned counsel for the petitioner relied upon the case of General Manager, Northern Railway, AIR 1959 Raj 55 (supra), but that is a case where the railway employee was suspended on charges of corruption and was later on prosecuted and was then acquitted by a Special Judge. That was a case in which reinstatement became necessary because of the acquittal. It was for that reason that the case was held to be governed by Para 2044. The Division Bench observed that a mere acquittal in such cases would not entitle a railway servant to full salary and allowances for the suspension period and with all due respect I entirely agree with this view. In cases, however, where there has been a wrongful dismissal and the order of dismissal has been cancelled by means of a decree of the civil court or through a writ petition the question of reinstatement does net at all arise because the employee shall be deemed to have continued in service without any break. This authority, therefore, has no application to the facts of the present case.
9. The learned counsel very much relied upon the wider scope of the present Para 2044 which was substituted in place of the old para referred to earlier during the period of suspension of the opposite party. The present rule lays down :
'(i) When a railway servant who has been dismissed, removed or suspended is reinstated the authority competent to order the reinstatement shall consider and make a specific order
(a) Regarding the pay and allowances to be paid to the Railway servant for the period of his absence from duty and
(b) Whether or not the said period shall be treated as a period spent on duty.'
10. There are four other Clauses in this rule, but the material portion is only Clause (i). This rule will again have an application when an occasion for reinstatement arises. In a case of the present type, where the dismissal has been held to be wrongful, the question of reinstatement does net at all arise, because the employee shall be deemed to have never been dismissed and shall further be deemed to have continued in service. The railway cannot claim advantage of this rule because they themselves failed to pass orders as required by this rule. In none of the two communications an order of reinstatement was passed. Moreover, the order which was communicated was passed by the Divisional Personnel Officer who is said to be not the authority competent to order the reinstatement. Apparently there was no compliance with the present substituted Para 2044 and so no protection of that para can be claimed. It may also be stated that the counsel for the opposite side further questioned the applicability of the present rule, but that point need not be discussed in view of the observations made above and also the fact that the two orders communicated to the opposite party were not orders of reinstatement as contemplated by Para 2044. The argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner cannot, therefore, be accepted that the present case was governed by Para 2044 and that the order passed by the railway authority is final and could not be questioned under Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act.
11. A further question was raised about the jurisdiction of the authority under the Payment of Wages Act, but the case of Shri Ambika Mills Co., Ltd., AIR 1961 SC 970 (supra) which deals with the scope of Section 15 lays down :
'The authority under Section 15 has jurisdiction to determine what the terms of the contract between the parties are, and if the terms of the contract are admitted and the only dispute is whether or not a particular employee falls within one category or another, that would be incidental to the decision of the main question as to what the terms of the contract are.'
12. The authority was further held to have jurisdiction to decide incidental questions though the jurisdiction in that behalf has only a limited jurisdiction. In the present case the dispute relates to the wages for the period during which the employee remained suspended or dismissed. Such a question relates to the question of wages as denned in Section 2(vi) of the Payment of Wages Act. As observed by the Calcutta High Court in the case of Arjun Singh, 1961-2 Lab LJ 454 (Cal), (supra)
'it would, indeed, be strange if the employer, merely by breaking or refusing to respect the contract between him and his employee could deprive the latter of his rights and remedies under the special statute'.
It was further observed that if the wages of such an employee are not deemed to be covered by the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act 'it would create a palpably unjust and impossible situation.' In the present case the dispute merely remains for payment of wages for the period during which the opposite party was kept out of employment. Such a question was within the jurisdiction of the authority constituted under the Payment of Wages Act. I do not agree with the learned counsel for the petitioner that the authority had no jurisdiction to decide this matter. The court below rightly overruled the contention. Both the revisions have thus no force and must fail.
13. Both the revisions are, therefore, dismissed with costs. The stay order, if any, is discharged.
14. Let the record of the case be sent back to the court below as early as possible.