Skip to content


Chief Mining Engineer East India Coal Co. Ltd. Vs. Rameswar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1968SC218; [1967(15)FLR457]; 1968LabIC197; (1968)ILLJ6SC; [1968]1SCR140
ActsCoal Mines Provident Fund and Bonus Schemes Act, 1948; Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 10(1), 33C, 33C(1) and 33C(2); Industrial Disputes (Appellate Tribunal) Act, 1950 - Sections 20
AppellantChief Mining Engineer East India Coal Co. Ltd.
RespondentRameswar and ors.
Cases ReferredIn Bhowra Colliery v. Its Workmen
Excerpt:
.....or because the benefit was monetary or because it involved any substantial question between the company and the workmen must, in view of the said decisions, fail. the answer to this contention is clearly provided in the case of bombay gas co. 10. in view of the admitted position that the respondents-workmen were employees of the company the burden of proof that they fell within the exception is clearly on the company. but it is clear from the evidence of the two witnesses examined by the company that the company failed to establish either that the respondents were employed as] domestic servants or that they were exclusively engaged on domestic or personal work. according to the company, none of these workmen was in its employment in 1948, that they were appointed at different dates..........act, 46 of 1948 and railway fares and leave wages under the award of the industrial tribunal (colliery disputes) which came into effect as from february 22, 1954. the central government labour court at dhanbad allowed their claim under section 33c(2) of the industrial disputes act, 1947. 2. mr. gokhale for the appellant-company challenged the correctness of the labour court's decision and raised the following contention :- (1) that the labour court had no jurisdiction to try these application under s. 33c(2) : (a) because s. 33c(2) contemplates recovery of money payable under an award, settlement or under the provisions of chapter va of the industrial disputes act only and not under any other statute or scheme formed thereunder; (b) that under s. 33c(2) the benefit capable of being.....
Judgment:

Shelat, J.

1. These appeals by special leave arise out of applications filed by workmen of the appellant-company claiming bonus under the Scheme framed by the Central Government under the Coal Mines Provident Fund and Bonus Schemes Act, 46 of 1948 and railway fares and leave wages under the award of the Industrial Tribunal (Colliery Disputes) which came into effect as from February 22, 1954. The Central Government Labour Court at Dhanbad allowed their claim under section 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

2. Mr. Gokhale for the appellant-company challenged the correctness of the Labour Court's decision and raised the following contention :-

(1) that the Labour Court had no jurisdiction to try these application under s. 33C(2) :

(a) because s. 33C(2) contemplates recovery of money payable under an award, settlement or under the provisions of Chapter VA of the Industrial Disputes Act only and not under any other statute or scheme formed thereunder;

(b) that under s. 33C(2) the benefit capable of being computed in terms of money is a non-monetary benefit and not a claim for money itself; and

(c) that the proceedings under section 33C(2) being in the nature of execution proceedings substantial questions between an employer and his employee cannot be adjudicated by the Labour Court under this section;

(2) that in any case these applications were barred by limitation prescribed by the said bonus Scheme and/or due to laches on the part of the respondents;

(3) that under the said Scheme the respondents are not entitled to bonus as they were employed as domestic servants and were during the relevant period performing domestic and personal work; and

(4) that the direction to pay bonus for the period prior to the dates on which these respondents were employed was invalid.

3. The contention as to jurisdiction of the Labour Court depends on the true construction of s. 33C(2) as it stood in 1962 when these applications were filed and before its amendment by Act 36 of 1964. Section 33C(2) has so far been the subject-matter of decision by this Court in three cases, viz., Punjab National Bank Ltd. v. Kharbanda [1962] S.C.R. 977, Central Bank of India v. Rajagopalan : (1963)IILLJ89SC and Bombay Gas Co. Ltd. v. Gopal Bhiva : (1963)IILLJ608SC .

4. The following propositions on the question as to the scope of 33C(2) are deducible from these three decisions :-

(1) The legislative history indicates that the legislature, after providing broadly for the investigation and settlement of disputes on the basis of collective bargaining, recognised the need of individual workmen of a speedy remedy to enforce their existing individual rights and therefore inserted s. 33A in 1950 and s. 33C in 1956. These two sections illustrate cases in which individual workmen can enforce their rights without having to take recourse to s. 10(1) and without having to depend on their union to espouse their case.

(2) In view of this history two considerations are relevant while constructing the scope of s. 33C. Where industrial disputes arise between workmen acting collectively and their employers such disputes must be adjudicated upon in the manner prescribed by the Act, as for instance under s. 10(1). But having regard to the legislative policy to provide a speedy remedy to individual workmen for enforcing their existing rights, it would not be reasonable to exclude their existing rights sought to be implemented by individual workmen. Therefore though in determining the scope of s. 33C care should be taken not to exclude cases which legitimately fall within its purview, cases which fall, for instance under s. 10(1), cannot be brought under s. 33C;

(3) Section 33C which is in terms similar to those in s. 20 of the Industrial Disputes (Appellate Tribunal) Act, 1950 is a provision in the nature of an executing provision;

(4) Section 33C(1) applies to cases where money is due to a workmen under an award or settlement or under Chapter VA of the Act already calculated and ascertained and therefore there is no dispute about its computation. But sub-section 2 applies both to non-monetary as well as monetary benefits. In the case of monetary benefit it applies where such benefit though due is not calculated and there is a dispute about its calculation;

(5) Section 33C(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 employers. It is open to the Labour Court to interpret the award or settlement on which the workmen's right rests.

(6) The fact that the words of limitation used in s. 20(2) of the Industrial Disputes (Appellate Tribunal) Act, 1950 are omitted in s. 33C(2) shows that the scope of s. 33C(2) is wider than that of s. 33C(1). Therefore whereas sub-section 1 is confined to claims arising under an award or settlement or Chapter VA, claims which can be entertained under sub-section 2 are not so confined to those under an award, settlement or Chapter VA.

(7) Though the court did not indicate which cases other than those under sub-section I would fall under sub-section 2, it pointed out illustrative cases which would not fall under sub-section 2, viz., cases which would appropriately be adjudicated under s. 10(1) or claims which have already been the subject-matter of settlement to which Sections 18In Bhowra Colliery v. Its Workmen [1962] L.L.J. 378 this Court construed this very exception and held that if the concerned workmen were employed and worked as garden mazdoors and malis to look after the gardens attached to the bungalows occupied by the Colliery officers they would not be eligible for the bonus notwithstanding the fact that the bungalows were owned by the Colliery, the workmen were Colliery's employees and worked under the Company's orders and were liable to be transferred from one job to another. Thus the employment of a person as a mali, sweeper or a domestic servant and discharge by him of domestic or personal work as distinguished from non-domestic and non-personal work, i.e. work relating to the colliery, are necessary conditions before the exception can apply.

10. In view of the admitted position that the respondents-workmen were employees of the Company the burden of proof that they fell within the exception is clearly on the Company. In its written statement the Company no doubt averred that these workmen were employed as domestic servants and carried out domestic and personal duties and were therefore not eligible for the bonus. But it is clear from the evidence of the two witnesses examined by the Company that the Company failed to establish either that the respondents were employed as] domestic servants or that they were exclusively engaged on domestic or personal work. On the other hand, from the evidence of Sibu, one of the respondent workmen, it appears that the respondents were employed in the colliery, that they were not assigned the exclusive duty of supplying water at the residence of the junior officers but that they supplied water at certain pit heads. On this evidence the Labour Court has given a finding that they were engaged in supplying water at certain points in the colliery. In these circumstances the Labour Court was justified in coming to the conclusion that the exception did not apply.

11. The last contention which remains to be considered was that the Labour Court was not right in awarding the claim of the workmen in full, both as regards bonus and railway fares and leave wages. According to the Company, none of these workmen was in its employment in 1948, that they were appointed at different dates and that they would at best be entitled to bonus for the period during which they were so employed. This contention has, however, no force in view of the Company not having disputed the quantum of relief claimed by the workmen both as regards bonus as also the railway fares and leave wages.

12. The appeals are dismissed with costs.

13. Appeal dismissed.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //