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Municipal Council Vs. Industrial Court - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1966)ILLJ370MP
AppellantMunicipal Council
Respondentindustrial Court
Excerpt:
.....court in nagpur corporation v. the distinction between collateral facts on the existence of which the jurisdiction of a tribunal depends and facts which form a part of the very issue which the tribunal has to decide is well-known. whether the matter of the opponent's termination of service is an industrial dispute are clearly questions whioh the assistant labour commissioner and the industrial court must decide first before proceeding to exercise their power under section 16 of the act. 6. in our judgment, the learned president of the industrial court was clearly in error in refusing to investigate into the jurisdictional facts on the existence of which the jurisdiction of the assistant labour commissioner and of the industrial court to deal with the present matter depended......for the issue of a writ of certiorari for quashing two orders, to wit, one made by the assistant labour commissioner, raipur, on 19 august 1960 directing the reinstatement in service of the opponent govindas, and other of the industrial court upholding in revision the order of the assistant labour commissioner.2. the opponent govindas filed an application under section 16 of the central provinces and berar industrial disputes settlement act, 1947, before the assistant labour commissioner complaining that he was in continuous service of the petitioner-committee from 11 december 1956 to 30 june 1958 on which date his services were illegally terminated. the reply of the municipal committee was that the respondent was first employed temporarily as a chowkidar in the ganj area for a period.....
Judgment:
ORDER

P.V. Dixit, C.J.

1. This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution is for the issue of a writ of certiorari for quashing two orders, to wit, one made by the Assistant Labour Commissioner, Raipur, on 19 August 1960 directing the reinstatement in service of the opponent Govindas, and other of the industrial court upholding in revision the order of the Assistant Labour Commissioner.

2. The opponent Govindas filed an application under Section 16 of the Central Provinces and Berar Industrial Disputes Settlement Act, 1947, before the Assistant Labour Commissioner complaining that he was in continuous service of the petitioner-committee from 11 December 1956 to 30 June 1958 on which date his services were illegally terminated. The reply of the municipal committee was that the respondent was first employed temporarily as a chowkidar in the Ganj area for a period of six months from 10 December 1956 to 12 June 1957; that on 12 June 1957 a notice terminating the respondent's service with effect from 30 June 1957 was served on him; that in the meantime the respondent made a representation and the municipal committee out of sheer compassion appointed him temporarily as octroi peon for a period of one year from 1 July 1957 to 30 June 1958; and that the opponent's services were terminated validly.

3. The Assistant Labour Commissioner held that the opponent's services were continuous and, therefore, he was entitled to notice and compensation under Section 26(1) of the Central Provinces and Berar Municipalities Act, 1922; that the rules framed under the Central Provinces and Berar Municipalities Act governing the relations between a municipal committee and its employees were ' standing orders,'; and that the opponent's services were terminated in contravention of these standing orders. Accordingly, the Assistant Labour Commissioner made an order directing the reinstatement of the opponent and payment of back-wages to him. Thereafter the municipal committee preferred a revision petition in the industrial court which was dismissed. Before the industrial court the municipal committee raised the contention that as at the time of the termination of his services the respondent was serving in octroi department, he could not be regarded as in service in any ' industry ' as defined in the Central Provinces and Berar Industrial Disputes Settlement Act, 1947; and that, therefore, the provisions of the Act of 1947 were not applicable and the Assistant Labour Commissioner had no jurisdiction to set aside the order of the municipal committee terminating the opponent's services. The learned president of the industrial court refused to entertain this objection taking the view that the question whether the octroi department of the municipal committee was an ' industry ' was a question of fact and as it had not been raised before the Assistant Labour Commissioner it could not be considered for the first time in the revision petition.

4. Sri Sen, learned Counsel for the petitioner, contended that the petitioner's objection that the octroi department of the municipal committee was not an 'industry' was one going to the jurisdiction of the Assistant Labour Commissioner and of the industrial court to deal with the matter of the termination of the opponent's services as one falling under the Act and that the industrial court should have investigated into the objection even though the petitioner had not raised it before the Assistant Labour Commissioner. It was said that the octroi department of the municipal committee was clearly not an ' Industry' as explained by the Supreme Court in Nagpur Corporation v. its employees 1960-I L.L.J. 523.

5. In our opinion, the argument that the Industrial court should have entertained the aforesaid objection of the petitioner and should have adjudicated upon it must be given effect to. It is quite true that under Section 16(3) of the Act, the Labour Commissioner can only find out and decide whether dismissal, discharge, removal or suspension of an employee was in contravention of any provisions of the Act or in contravention of the standing orders made or sanctioned under the Act or was for a fault or misconduct committed by the employee more than six months prior to the date of the dismissal, discharge, removal or suspension. The industrial court's power in revision is also of a limited character. That power can be exercised only on a point of law and not for. disturbing a finding of fact reached by the Labour Commissioner in connexion with the matters he can decide or he has the power to decide under Section 16(3). But these provisions do not in any way affect the power of Labour Commissioner or of the industrial court to decide questions of fact on the existence of which their jurisdiction to deal with an industrial dispute under the Act of 1949 depends. These collateral facts must be decided first by the Labour Commissioner or by the industrial court to enable them to obtain jurisdiction before they proceed to decide the main issue about legality of an order terminating an employee's services or to decide whether they shall or shall not pass an order under Section 16(3) of the Act. The distinction between collateral facts on the existence of which the jurisdiction of a tribunal depends and facts which form a part of the very issue which the tribunal has to decide is well-known. If a certain state of facts to exist before an inferior tribunal has jurisdiction to do things, the tribunal must, to enable itself to obtain jurisdiction, find that these facts exist. It cannot give itself jurisdiction by omitting to decide those facts or by a wrong decision on them. The superior Court can, by means of proceedings for certiorari, enquire into the correctness of the decision. If, on the pther hand, the tribunal is given jurisdiction to determine certain facts, and those facts form a part of the very issue which it has to decide, and the Act constituting the tribunal gives it the power to come to a final decision on that matter, then the decision of the tribunal cannot be treated as one going to its jurisdiction and cannot therefore be any questions in any Court. Now, the questions whether the octroi department of the petitioner municipal committee is an 'industry' and. whether the matter of the opponent's termination of service is an industrial dispute are clearly questions whioh the Assistant Labour Commissioner and the industrial court must decide first before proceeding to exercise their power under Section 16 of the Act. For if the octroi department is not an 'industry' within the meaning of the Act, then the matter of the opponent's termination of service would not be an industrial dispute so as to attract the provisions of the Act or confer jurisdiction on the Assistant Labour Commissioner or the industrial court to examine the legality or correctness of the order of the municipal committee terminating the opponent's services. These are jurisdictional collateral facts on the existence of which the jurisdiction of the Assistant Labour Commissioner and of the industrial court depends. That being so, the industrial court was not right in refusing to examine the petitioner's contention going to the jurisdiction of the Assistant Labour Commissioner, on the ground that it had not been raised before the Assistant Labour Commissioner. Even if the objection had not been raised before the Assistant Labour Commissioner, the industrial court was under a duty to investigate the objection and adjudicate upon it. If the objection had been raised before the Assistant Labour Commissioner, and if he had found that he had jurisdiction to deal with the matter, even then the industrial court would have been required to examine the correctness of those collateral jurisdictional facts on an objection being raised that the decision of the Assistant Labour Commissioner on those facts was erroneous. The powers given to the Assistant Labour Commissioner under Section 16(3) and to the industrial court under Section 16(5) are those which they can exercise while determining the main issue which they have to decide under Section 16(3) and facts which form a part of the very issue they have to decide. Sub-sections (3) and (5) of Section 16 do not in any way touch the power of the Assistant Labour Commissioner and of the industrial court to determine collateral Jurisdictional facts in the first instance before proceeding to decide the main issue.

6. In our judgment, the learned president of the industrial court was clearly in error in refusing to investigate into the jurisdictional facts on the existence of which the jurisdiction of the Assistant Labour Commissioner and of the industrial court to deal with the present matter depended. For these reasons the decision of the industrial court is quashed and the industrial court is directed to dispose of the revision petition preferred by the applicant after first determining the petitioner's objection that the matter of the termination of petitioner's services is not an industrial dispute and the provisions of the Act have no applicability. It is needless to add that if an adjudication on this point involves determination of certain facts, the industrial court must determine those facts also. There will be no order as to costs of this petition. The outstanding amount of security deposit shall be refunded to the petitioner.


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