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Madhya Pradesh, State Road Transport Corporation, Bairagarh Vs. Industrial Court, Madhya Pradesh, Indore and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMisc. Petn. No. 336 of 1968
Judge
Reported inAIR1971MP54; (1971)ILLJ447MP
ActsPayment of Wages Act, 1936 - Sections 2, 6, 20 and 23; Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961
AppellantMadhya Pradesh, State Road Transport Corporation, Bairagarh
Respondentindustrial Court, Madhya Pradesh, Indore and ors.
Appellant AdvocateV.S. Dabir, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateGulab Gupta, Adv. for Respondent No. 3
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredIndian Immigration Trust Board of Natal v. Govindaswamy
Excerpt:
.....and includes any bonus or other additional remuneration of the nature aforesaid which would be so payable and any sum payable to such person by reason of the termination of his employment, but does not include- (a) the value of any house-accommodation, supply of light, water, medical attendance or other amenity, or of any service excluded by general or special order of the provincial government; so, where the defined word means or includes a certain thing, it may well be otherwise if the subject or context in any part of the statute so requires. but whatever those reasons may be, there is no doubt that sections 6, 20 and 23 read together clearly exclude payments in kind from 'wages' which can be paid only in current coin or currency notes after the enforcement of the act. 10. in the..........objects and reasons:'definition of 'wages' as substituted in 1957- the existing definition of the terms 'wages' has given rise to certain practical difficulties particularly in regard to interpretation of certain words used in the definition. in some cases the high courts have ruled that the word 'wages' did not mean 'potential wages' but 'wages earned.' now-a-days the terms of payment under contracts of employment are frequently modified by the awards of tribunals or by the terms of binding settlements. the wages revised statutorily through adjudication, arbitration, conciliation or similar statutory process should also be deemed to be wages for purposes of the act. the definition of 'wages' has accordingly been recast and made comprehensive and clear'. 6. as we have indicated earlier,.....
Judgment:

Pandey, J.

1. This order shall dispose of Miscellaneous Petition No. 346 of 1968 also.

2. The material facts of this case, which are for the most part not in dispute, are these. The petitioner is a corporation established under Section 3 of Road Transport Corporation Act, 1950 and, being a transport undertaking of the State, it carries on the business of providing to the general public motor transport facilities on numerous routes in different parts of the State and also on some inter-State routes. With a view to facilitating its operations, it has established divisions and depots at various places in the State. One of them is at Mandsaur and another at Dhar. In order to provide for the welfare of motor transport workers and to regulate the conditions of their work, the Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961 was placed on the Statute Book. Section 10 of that Act provides:

'10. Uniforms--(1) The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules requiring anemployer of a motor transport undertaking to provide for the drivers, conductors and line checking staff employed in that undertaking such number and type of uniforms, rain-coats or other like amenities for their protection from rain or cold as may be specified in the rules.

(2) There shall be paid to the drivers, conductors and line checking staff by the employer an allowance for washing of uniforms provided under Sub-section (1) at such rates as may be prescribed : Provided that no such allowance shall be payable by an employer who has made at his own cost adequate arrangements for the washing of uniforms.'

The State Government framed the Madhya Pradesh Motor Transport Workers Rules, 1963. Rule 24 of those Rules reads:

'24. Uniforms.--(1) The drivers, conductors and line checking staff employed in an undertaking shall be provided free, by the employer with uniforms and raincoats as specified in Schedule I-

(2) Where washing of uniforms provided under Sub-rule (1) is not arranged by the employer, the staff concerned shall be entitled to a washing allowance at the rate of Rs. 2 per month.' It is not disputed that the employer has not arranged for washing of the uniforms and, therefore, under Sub-rule (2), the concerned staff is entitled to a washing allowance of Rs. 2/- per month. Further, as provided in Schedule I referred to in Sub-rule (1), each member of such staff is entitled, as a part of the uniform, two pairs of Pathani Chappals a year. This petition relates to a claim made by Mandsaur Roadways Karmachari Sangh, a registered union of transport workers of Mandsaur district, on behalf of 117 motor transport workers in the employment of the petitioner, for unpaid washing allowance for a part of the year 1966 and also for the value of 2 pairs of Pathani Chappals not given to them in that year. The other petition relates to a similar claim made by M. P. Motor Karmachari Sangh, Dhar, a registered union of transport workers, on behalf of 110 motor transport workers in the employment of the petitioner.

3. The two unions made separate applications under Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 to the Authority appointed under the Act for dealing with claims relating to wages unauthorisedly deducted or delayed by the employer. The petitioner resisted the applications inter alia on the ground that the claims, so far as they related to Pathani Chap-pals, were not wages within the meaning of the Act. In this case, the Payment of Wages Authority did not accept that contention and allowed the claim in regard to the Pathani Chappals. In the other case, that authority took a contrary view. There were two separate appeals filed before the Industrial Court, one by the petitioner and the other by the M. P. Motor Karmachari Sangh, Dhar. The appeal Court upheld the claim relating to the value of Pathani Chappals as falling within the definition of wages. In regard to the further objection about misjoinder of claims of several employees having different wage periods, the appeal Judge remanded the cases for deciding the question after affording to the parties am opportunity to adduce evidence.

4. Although the question relating to misjoinder of claims was again raised in the two petitions, it was not pressed before us. The only ground argued was that the view taken by the appeal Court in regard to the claims relating to value of the Pathani Chappals was manifestly erroneous in law.

5. As defined in Section 2(vi) of the Act,

'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;

(b) any remuneration to which the person employed is entitled in, respect of over-time work or holidays or any leave period;

(c) any additional remuneration payable under the terms of employment (whether called a bonus or by any other name):

(d) any sum which by reason of the termination of employment of the person employed is payable under any law, contract or instrument which provides for the payment of such sum, whether with or without deductions, but does not provide for the time within which the payment is to be made;

(e) any sum to which the person employed is entitled under any scheme framed under any law for the time being in force; but does not include-

(1) any bonus (whether under a scheme of profit sharing or otherwise) which does not form part of the remuneration payable under the terms of employment or which is not payable under any award or settlement between the parties or order of a Court;

(2) the value of any house-accommodation, or of supply of light, water, medical attendance or other amenity or of any service excluded from the computation of wages by general or special order of the State Government;

(3) any contribution paid by the employer to any pension or provident fund, and the interest which may have accrued thereon;

(4) any travelling allowance or the value of any travelling concession;

(5) any sum paid to the employed person to defray special expenses entailed on him by the nature of his employment; or

(6) any gratuity payable on the termination of employment in cases other than those specified in Sub-clause (d).'

Before this was amended by Act LXVIII of 1957, it read as follows:

'2 (vi) wages means all remuneration, capable of being expressed in terms of money, which would, if the terms of the contract of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled be payable, whether conditionally upon the regular attendance, good work or conduct or other behaviour of the person employed, or otherwise, to a person employed in respect of his employment or of work done in such employment, and includes any bonus or other additional remuneration of the nature aforesaid which would be so payable and any sum payable to such person by reason of the termination of his employment, but does not include-

(a) the value of any house-accommodation, supply of light, water, medical attendance or other amenity, or of any service excluded by general or special order of the Provincial Government;

(b) any contribution paid by the employer to any pension fund or provident fund;

(c) any travelling allowance or the value of any travelling concession:

(d) any sum paid to the person employed to defray special expenses entailed on him by the nature of his employment; or

(e) any gratuity payable on discharge'.

In Divisional Engineer, G. I. P. Railway v. Mahadeo Raghoo, AIR 1955 SC 295, it was held that house rent allowance would, without more, fall within this narrower definition. Their Lordships observed:

'The answer to the question whetherhouse rent allowance is 'wages' may beIn the affirmative if the rules framed bythe department relating to the grant ofhouse rent allowance make it compulsoryfor the employer to grant house rentallowance without anything more: inother words, if the house rent allowancehad been granted without any conditionsor with conditions, if any, which wereunenforceable in law......'

(Para 7)

The amended definition is, if anything, wider in its sweep and was so intended,as would appear from the statement of objects and reasons:

'Definition of 'wages' as substituted in 1957-

The existing definition of the terms 'wages' has given rise to certain practical difficulties particularly in regard to interpretation of certain words used in the definition. In some cases the High Courts have ruled that the word 'wages' did not mean 'potential wages' but 'wages earned.' Now-a-days the terms of payment under contracts of employment are frequently modified by the awards of tribunals or by the terms of binding settlements. The wages revised statutorily through adjudication, arbitration, conciliation or similar statutory process should also be deemed to be wages for purposes of the Act. The definition of 'wages' has accordingly been recast and made comprehensive and clear'.

6. As we have indicated earlier, the main argument in support of these petitions is that 'wages' as defined in Section 2(vi) of the Act, do not include the value of anything agreed to be given in kind. For this view, much reliance is placed upon General Manager, Northern Railway v. Sajjan Raj, AIR 1957 Raj 78. With all the respect, we are unable to share the opinion of the learned Judges.

7. In the Rajasthan case, the learned Judges were of the opinion that the definition of wages in Section 2(vi) of the Act was sufficiently wide in amplitude to cover wages in kind but they took a different view because of the provisions of Sections 6, 20(2) and 23 of the Act, which provide:

'6. Wages to be paid in current coins or currency notes.-

All wages shall be paid in current coins or currency notes or in both.

20 (2). Whoever contravenes the provisions of Section 4, Section 6 or Section 25 shall be punishable with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees.

23. Contracting out.-

Any contract or agreement, whether made before or after the commencement of this Act, whereby an employed person relinquishes any right conferred by this Act shall be null and void in so far as it purports to deprive him of such right.' They observed:

'Thus Sections 6, 20 and 23 read together make it quite clear that after the enforcement of the Payment of Wages Act an employer to whom this Act is applicable is bound to pay to his employees all wages in current coin or currency notes or in both and he cannot circumvent this provision of law even by saying that the employee had made with him an agreement to the contrary because Section 23 makes it further clear that such a contract or agreement would be null andvoid in so far as it purports to deprive him of such right.

Thus an employee cannot be deprived of his right to receive his wages in cash even if he has agreed to relinquish that right. Moreover, the Act does not stop here, but under Section 20 referred above, it provides penalty for breach of the provisions of certain sections of the Act and Section 6 is also one of them. If an employer makes a breach of the provision of Section 6, there is no escape for him from the punishment provided in Sub-section (2) of Section 20.

So when the Act requires that all wages must be paid in cash, when an agreement or contract to the contrary has been made null and void and when the breach of this provision has been strictly forbidden and made a penal offence, then the conclusion is irresistible that if anything is paid in kind, it would be a mere amenity or concession and not 'wages' within the meaning of the Act.'

8. It is an established principle of Construction that statutory interpretation clauses or definition should be read sub-feet to qualifications therein expressed. This is so even where the definition is exhaustive. So, where the defined word means or includes a certain thing, it may well be otherwise if the subject or context in any part of the statute so requires. Therefore, normally definitions are enacted subject to qualification such as 'unless there is anything in the subject or context.' But it is quite unusual to say that a statutory definition does not mean or include what it plainly means or includes, particularly when its application to the various provisions of the Act does not present much difficulty. So, in Indian Immigration Trust Board of Natal v. Govindaswamy, AIR 1920 PC 114, the Judicial Committee observed:

'It is a novel and, to their Lordships, unheard of idea that an interpretation clause, which might easily have been so expressed as to cover certain sections and not to cover others, should be, when expressed in general terms, divided up by a sort of theory of applicando singula singulis, so as not to apply to sections whose context suggests no difficulty in its application.' (page 116) This criticism applies with even greater force to a contention that a statutory definition contained in an Act is too wide to apply to another part of that Act.

9. In the Rajasthan case, their Lordships observed:

'It may be conceded that if Sections 6, 20 and 23 were not there in the Act and if we were left alone with the definition of 'wages' as given above, then there could be room for argument that payments in kind were covered by the definition. It appears that the definition of wages was left wide by the framers of the Act to cover that remuneration whichwas paid in kind by the employers to the employees before the enforcement of the Act, so that it may be possible to convert the same into cash and include it in wages after the enforcement of the Act.

This may be one of the reasons for this seeming contradiction between Section 2(vi) and Section 6 of the Act. There may be other reasons also in the mind of the framers of the Act; but whatever those reasons may be, there is no doubt that Sections 6, 20 and 23 read together clearly exclude payments in kind from 'wages' which can be paid only in current coin or currency notes after the enforcement of the Act.'

If, as stated by their Lordships, Section 6 of the Act envisages that payment in kind, according to earlier practice or agreement made before the Act, could be converted into cash according to its value before payment, we do not see why that could not be done in regard a subsequent agreement between an employer and his employees. In other words, if that course is adopted, there would be no contravention of Section 6 of the Act and Section 23 would not apply unless the contract or agreement expressly forbids such conversion into cash. In our opinion, anything agreed to be paid in kind in the circumstances contemplated by the definition of 'wages' is covered by the expression 'capable of being so expressed', that is to say, capable of being expressed in terms of money but, as required by Section 6 of the Act, it has to be converted into money according to its value and then paid in coins or currency notes. Therefore on this point the conclusion of the Industrial Court is right.

10. In the view we have taken, these petitions fail and are dismissed. In each of these cases, the petitioner shall bear its own costs and pay out of the security amount those incurred by the respondent 3. The remaining amount of security shall be refunded. Hearing fee in each case Rs. 100/-.


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