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Managing Director, the Orissa Agro Industries Corporation Ltd. Vs. Presiding Officer, Labour Court and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtOrissa High Court
Decided On
Case NumberOriginal Jurisdiction Case Nos. 189, 190, 191, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202
Judge
Reported in57(1984)CLT129; 1984(I)OLR95
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act - Sections 33C(2)
AppellantManaging Director, the Orissa Agro Industries Corporation Ltd.
RespondentPresiding Officer, Labour Court and anr.
Appellant AdvocateS.C. Roy, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateJagannath Das, Standing Counsel, ;D.P. Sahoo, Adv. and ;B. Mohanty and B.C. Sahu
Cases Referred(Remakrishna Ramnath v. The State of Mabarashtru and Ors.
Excerpt:
.....of an execution -proceeding wherein the labour court calculates the amount of money due to a workman from his employer, or if the workman is entitled to any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of money, the labour court proceeds to compute the benefit in terms of money. therefore, when a claim is made before the labour court under section 33 c(2) that court must clearly understand the limitations under which it is to function. the appellant's construction would necessarily introduce the addition of the words 'admittedly' or 'admitted to the' in that clause, and that clearly is not permissible. the claim under section 33 c(2) clearly postulates that the determination of the question about computing the benefit in terms of money may, in some cases, have to be..........by the government vide finance department notification no. 652/74 dated 2-9-1974. according to the workmen-opposite parties, they are workers in the general engineering and scientific works at berhampur owned by the corporation which is a public sector company. as a matter of practice, in the past the board of directors of the corporation had extended the benefits in respect of dearness allowance and other emoluments at the state government rates to the workmen-opposite parties and the other employees of the corporation. the grievance of the workmen-opposite parties is that the petitioner had without any justification refused to implement the fourth pay committee report in respect of the workmen-opposite parties in spite of the resolution of the board of directors of the corporation......
Judgment:

B.N. Misra, J.

1. These twenty-seven writ petitions were heard analogously and will be governed by this common judgment. In all these, cases, petitioner is the Managing Director, Orissa Agro Industries Corporation Limited, Cuttack. In each of these cases, opposite party No. 2 claiming to be a workman in employment under the Orissa Agro Industries Corportion Limited (hereinafter reffered to as 'the Corporation') had filed a petition under Section 33-CC2) of the Industrial Disputes Act (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') praying for computation of the monetary benifits to which they claimed to be entitled pursuant to the resolution of the Board of Directors of the Corporation accepting the report of the Fourth Pay Committee appointed by the Government of Orissa and directing implementation of the said report as accepted by the Government vide Finance Department Notification No. 652/74 dated 2-9-1974. According to the workmen-opposite parties, they are workers in the General Engineering and Scientific Works at Berhampur owned by the Corporation which is a public sector company. As a matter of practice, in the past the Board of Directors of the Corporation had extended the benefits in respect of dearness allowance and other emoluments at the State Government rates to the workmen-opposite parties and the other employees of the Corporation. The grievance of the workmen-opposite parties is that the petitioner had without any justification refused to implement the Fourth Pay Committee report in respect of the workmen-opposite parties in spite of the resolution of the Board of Directors of the Corporation. Accordingly, the workmen-opposite parties had invoked the jurisdiction of the Labour Court under Section 33-c(2) of the Act to compute the monetary benefits available to them according to the Fourth Pay Committee report; The case of the petitioner is that the workmen-opposite parties are the workmen in the General Engineering and Scientific Works Factory at Berhampur and they are not employees of the Corporation in the same way as the assistants and other employees of the Corporation. It is further stated that the resolution of the Board of Directors of the Corporation regarding the Fourth Pay Committee report was not applicable to the workmen-opposite parties who were workers in the General Engineering and Scientific Works Factory. It is also stated that initially most of the employees of the Corporation were on deputation from the State Government and therefore financial benefits extended by the State Government to its employees had in the past been extended to the employees of the Corporation to remove any disparity in the conditions of service of the deputationist-employees of the Corporation and the State Government employees. It is further pleaded that the General Engineering and Scientific Works is a burden on the Corporation and the latter is not capable of bearing any further financial burden. The ' petitioner has also challenged the jurisdiction of the Labour Court to entrtain the applications of the workmen-opposite parties under Section 33-C(2) of the Act.

2. The petitioner had filed a petition before the Labour Court praying for hearing on the question of jurisdiction of Labour Court under Section 33 C(2) of the Act as a preliminary issued. By order No. 24 dated 19-8-78 the Labour Court rejected the said petition. It is further noted in the said order that both parties had submitted before the court that no oral evidence was necessary and that the cases could be decided on the basis of documents filed by both sides. Accordingly, Exts. 'A' to 'O' were marked on behalf of the petitioner (the Corporation) and Ext. 1 was marked on behalf of the workmen-opposite parties. After hearing both parties the Labour Court by its order dated 1-12-78 allowed the applications filed by the workmen-opposite parties and computed the monetary benefits to which the workmen-opposite parties were entitled and the same has been incorporated in para-8 of the order. This order of the Labour Court is under challenge in these writ applications.

3. Mr. S. C. Roy, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner, has urged that the proceedings under Section 33-C(2) of the Act were not maintainable before the Labour Court as the substantial question of status of the workmen-opposite parties as the employees of the Corporation had been denied by the petitioner and as such the dispute could only be resolved by a regular reference under Section 10 of the Act. In support of this contention, learned counsel relied on AIR 1974 SC. 1604 (Central Inland water Transport Coloration Ltd. v. The Workmen and another) and 43 (1977) CLT 77 (M/s. Shyam Sundar Sahu & Co. v. The Presiding Officer, Labour Court. Orissa and Anr). In the former case, it was held :

'It is now well-settled that a proceeding under Section 33-C(2) is a proceeding, generally, in the nature of an execution -- proceeding wherein the Labour Court calculates the amount of money due to a workman from his employer, or if the workman is entitled to any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of money, the Labour Court proceeds to compute the benefit in terms of money. This calculation or computation follows upon an existing right to the money or benefit, in view of its being previously adjudged, or, otherwise, duly provided for. In Chief Mining Engineer, East India Coal Co. Ltd. v. Rameswar, (1966) 1 SCR 140 (AIR 1968. SC 218) it was reiterated that . proceedings under Section 33-C(2) are analogous to execution proceedings and the Labour Cont called upon to compute in terms of money the benefit claimed by workmen is in such cases in the position of an executing court. It was also reiterated that the right to the benefit which is sought to be computed must be an existing one, that is to say, already adjudicated upon or provided for and must arise in the course of and in relation to the relationship between an industrial workmen and his employer.

In a suit, a claim for relief made by the plaintiff against the defendant involves an investigation directed to the. determination of (i) the plaintiff's right to relief; (ii) the corresponding liability of the defendant, including, whether the defendant is, at all, liable or not; and (iii) the extent of the defendant's liability, if any. The working out of such liability with a view to give relief is generally regarded as the function of an execution proceeding. Determination no. (iii) referred to above, that is to say, the extent of the defendant's liability may sometimes be left over for determination in execution proceedings. But that is not the case with the determinations under heads (i) and (ii). They are normally regarded as the function of a suit and not an execution proceeding. Since a proceeding under Section 33-C(2) is in the nature of an execution proceeding it . should follow that an investigation of the nature of determinations (i) and (ii) above is. normally, outside its scope. It is true that in a proceeding under Section 33-C(2), as in an execution proceeding, it may be necessary to determine the identity of the person by whom or against whom the claim is made if there is a challenge on that score. But that is merely 'incidental'. To call determinations (i) and (ii) 'incidental' to an execution proceeding would be a perversion, because execution proceedings which the extent of liability is worked out are just consequential upon the determinations (i) and (ii) and represent the last stage in a process leading to final relief. Therefore, when a claim is made before the Labour Court under Section 33 C(2) that court must clearly understand the limitations under which it is to function. It cannot arrogate to itself the functions-say of an Industrial Tribunal which alone is entitled to make adjudications in the nature of determinations (i) and (ii) referred to above, or proceed to compute the benefit by dubbing the former as 'incidental' to its main business of computation. In such cases determinations (i) and (ii) are not 'incidental' to the computation. The computation itself is consequential upon and subsidiary to determinations (i) and (ii) as the last stage in the process which commenced with a reference to the Industrial Tribunal. It was, therefore held in State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur v. R.L. Khandelwal, (1958) 2 Lab LJ 589 (SC), that a workman cannot put forward a claim in an application under Section 33 C(2) in respect of a matter which is not based on an existing right and which can be appropriately the subject matter of an Industrial Dispute which requires a reference under Section 10 of the Act.'

Thus, a claim in an application under Section 33-C(2) of the Act must be based on an existing right and determination of the identity of the person by whom or against whom a claim is made, if there is a challenge on that score, can be decided in proceeding under Section 33-C(2) of the Act.

Relying upon the aforesaid decision and other decision of the Supreme Court, this Court held in the latter case.

'.....As Adjudication of the basis and foundation of the claim is the principal function and concern of the Industrial Tribunal, the Labour Court should not trespass upon the powers of the Tribunal and arrogant to itself the jurisdiction of the tribunal to decide such matters. It is of course true that in a proceeding under Section 33-C(2) the mere denial of the right of the workman by the employer would not take away the jurisdiction of the Labour Court. If the denial of the workman's right by his employer appears to the Labour Court to be frivolous and/or incorrect on the face of the records, or assessment of that question does not engage the Court in an elaborate enquiry and can be ascertained essily on a preliminary enquiry, then a -- termination of that question can be done only as incidental to the computation of the benefits. But where the basis and foundation of the claim is seriously contested and determination of that basic factor of the case will involve an elaborate process, such a matter being the principal function and concern of the Industrial Tribunal, the Labour Court cannot proceed to decide that matter by dubbing the same as incidental to the computation of the benefits under Section 33-C(2).'

4. Mr. J. Das, learned counsel appearing for the workmen-opposite parties, has on the other hand contended that mere denial of the employer-employee relationship does not oust the jurisdiction of the Labour Court under Section 33-C(2) of the Act and that in spite of the denial it would be open to that court to consider and decide that question. In support of this contention, reliance is placed on 1963-LLJ 89 (Central Bank of India v. Rajagopalan) wherein it was held.

'In. our opinion, on a fair and reasonable construction of Sub-Section (2) it is clear that if a workman's right to receive the benefit is disputed, that may have to be determined by the labour court. Before proceeding to compute the benefit in terms of money, the labour court inevitably has to deal with the question as to whether the workman has a right to receive that benefit. If the said right is not disputed, nothing more needs to be done and the labour court can proceed to compute the value of the benefit in terms of money, but if the said right is disputed, the labour court must deal with that question and decide whether the workman has the right to receive the benefit as alleged by him and it is only if the labour court answers this point in favour of the workman that the next question of making the necessary computation can arise. It seems to us that the opening clause of Sub-Section (2) does not admit of the construction for which the appellant contends unless we add some words in that clause. The clause where any workman is entitled to receive from the employer any benfit does not mean where such workman is admittedly, or admitted to be entitled to receive such benefit. The appellant's construction would necessarily introduce the addition of the words 'admittedly' or 'admitted to the' in that clause, and that clearly is not permissible. Besides, it seems to us that if the appellant's construction is accepted, it would necessarily mean that it would be at the option of the employer to allow the workman to avail himself of the remedy provided by Sub-Section (2), because he has merely to raise an objection on the ground that the right claimed by the workman is not admitted to oust the jurisdiction of the labour court to entertain the workman's application. The claim under Section 33 C(2) clearly postulates that the determination of the question about computing the benefit in terms of money may, in some cases, have to be proceeded by an enquiry into the existence of that right and such an inquiry must be held to be incidental to the main determination which has been assigned to the labour court by Sub-sec (2) As Maxwell has observed .'

'Where an Act confers a jurisdiction, it impliedly also grants the power of doing all such acts, or employing such means, as are essentially necessary to its execution.' (Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes, P. 350).

'We must accordingly hold that Section 33 C(2) takes within its purview cases of workmen who claim that the benefit to which they are entitled should be computed in terms of money, even though the right to the benefit on which their claim is based is disputed by their employees,'

In 1965 I LLJ, 150 (Imperial Tobacco Company of India Ltd. 'Employees' Union, Ahmedabad v. Labour Court and Anr.) the Gujarat High Court formulated three questions, one of which was whether the gardeners were the employees of the company, and remitted the matter to the Labour Court for disposal on merits of all the questions in a proceeding under Section 33-(2) of the Act.

In 1975 Lab. I. C. 1561 (Remakrishna Ramnath v. The State of Mabarashtru and Ors.), it was held.

'Where an employee makes an application on the ground that he is entitled to any money, or that he wants any benefit to be computed in terms of money, if the Labour Court on the ground that the person who invokes the jurisdiction of the Labour Court is not entitled to make the application because he is not a workman as defined in the Act, the question whether the applicant was a workman as defined in the Act or not must fall for decision before the Labour Court at the threshold of the proceedings. An application under Section 33-C(2) of the Act can be made only by a workman and he has to prove that he is entitled to receive from the employer any money or that he is entitled to the benefit which is claimed by him and is capable of being computed by the employer that the person who want to invoke the jurisdiction of the Labour Court is not a 'workman', as defined in the Act, then the existence of the basic jurisdictional fact necessary for the exercise of jurisdiction by the Labour Court of limited jurisdiction bestowed upon it by the statute, must first satisfy itself that the facts which give jurisdiction to it to proceed further into the inquiry either to the existence of the right or to the entitlement of the person who wants that right to be executed exist... . . . . . .'

Thus, it is now settled law that mere denial of the right of an employee does not oust the jurisdiction of the Labour Court which is entitled to make an enquiry into the right which is claimed by the employee. In our view, this proposition of law must also hold good in a case where the status of an employee is denied by the employer; mere denial of the status by the employer on the ground that the applicant is not its employee wilt not divest the Labour Court of its jurisdiction to decide the question in a proceeding under Section 33-C(2) of the Act.

5. We would next refer to the pleading of the parties on the issue of the status of the workmen-opposite parties. In their statements of claim, the workmen-opposite parties have stated that they are employed in the General Engineering and Scientific Factory situated at Berhampur owned by the Corporation which is a public sector company and that the yare the employees of the Corporation. In its objection, the petitioner has stated in para-9 that the workmen-opposite parties are not to be treatedas employees of either the Corporation or the Government, but in para-3it has been stated that the workmen-opposite parties are workmen in the factory styled as 'General Engineering and Scientific Works' situated at Berhampur and that they are not employees of the Corporation in the same way as the assistants and other employees of the Corporation are. In other words, according to the petitioner, the workmen-opposite partiesare employees of the Corporation though not in the same way as the assistants and other employees of the Corporation. As already noted, the petitioner and the workmen-opposite parties had stated before the labour court that no oral evidence was necessary in the cases which could be decided upon the documents filed by both parties and accordingly no oral evidence was adduced or recorded. In view of the statements contained in the pleadings of the parties and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the Labour Court correctly came to the conclusion that the workmen-opposite parties were the employees of the Corporation.

6. Admittedly, as per Ext. N, the Board of Directors of the Corporation at its meeting held on 1-11-74 adopted the following resolution.

'After careful consideration the Board of Directors accepted the report of the Fourth Pay Committe appointed by Government of Orissa and desired that the recommendations of the Fourth Pay Committee which have been accepted by Government vide Finance Department Notification No. 652/74 dated 2-9-74 may be implemented.'

Pursuant to the aforesaid resolution of the Board, the Corporation fixed the revised scales of pay of its Class III and Class IV employees according to the Fourth Pay Committee report as accepted by Government under Finance Department Notification No. 652/74 dated 2-9-74 vide Office Order No. 5470 dated 28-1-75, Annexure-A/2, Since the workmen-opposite parties are the employees of the Corporation, they are entitled to the benfits of the revised scales of pay as per Ext. N read with Annexure-A/2. The claims made by the workmen-opposite parties in their applications before the Labour Court represent the difference between their existing scales of pay and revised scales of pay. These claims had been considered by the Labour Court and accepted and we see no reason to interfere.

7. Accordingly, we uphold the decision of the Labour Court and dismiss these writ applications. In the circumstances of these cases, there will be no order as to costs.

J.K. Mohanty, J.

8. I agree.


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