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Mehar Singh and ors. Vs. Delhi Administration - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revision Appeal No. 296 of 1971
Judge
Reported inILR1973Delhi732
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 2
AppellantMehar Singh and ors.
RespondentDelhi Administration
Advocates: Anand Prakash,; M. Kapoor and; D.C. Mathur, Advs
Cases ReferredIn Punjab National Dank Limited vs. A.N. Sen and
Excerpt:
.....wages and rs.12.50 per month by way of food allowances to workman - management did not comply with interim award - additional session judge affirmed conviction of petitioners under section 29 - revision filed against said order - interim award ultimately substituted by final award which was implemented by management does not in any way affect liability incurred by petitioners under interim award - petitioners failed to comply with interim award - petitioners liable to prosecution and conviction under section 29 - order passed by court below justified - conviction of petitioners does not suffer from any infirmity - petition liable to be dismissed. - - on 24/04/1968, delhi admiaistrationthrough the labour commissioner, filled a complaint under section 29 of the act against the..........on 5/05/1967, shri ved prakashaggarwal, the labour court passed an interim award allowing interimrelief to the workmen. the interim award was that the managementshall pay 50 per cent of the wages, besides rs. 12.50 per month byway of food allowance, to all the workmen from the date of the orderof dismissal till the final decision, of the case or till the closure of theconcern, whichever is earlier. the interim award was published inthe delhi gazette on 6/07/1967, under section 17 of the industrialdisputes act (hereinafter called the 'act'). under section 17a,the award became enforceable on the expiry of 30 days from the dateof its publication under section. 17. under sub-section. (3) of section 18 of the act, the award became binding on the parties with effect from the date it.....
Judgment:

R.N. Aggarwal, J.

(1) This petition for revision, by Mehar Singh,Charan. Dass and Ujaggar Singh has arisen in the following circumstances.The above named three petitioners were partners of Messrs Be-BclgaRestaurant & Standard Burfi. Certain disputes arose between themanagemenl and the workmen and the Delhi Administration, videits Notification dated 14/02/1967 referred the disputes to theLabour Court for adjudication. On 5/05/1967, Shri Ved PrakashAggarwal, the Labour Court passed an interim award allowing interimrelief to the workmen. The interim award was that the managementshall pay 50 per cent of the wages, besides Rs. 12.50 per month byway of food allowance, to all the workmen from the date of the orderof dismissal till the final decision, of the case or till the closure of theconcern, whichever is earlier. The interim award was published inthe Delhi Gazette on 6/07/1967, under section 17 of the IndustrialDisputes Act (hereinafter called the 'Act'). Under section 17A,the award became enforceable on the expiry of 30 days from the dateof its publication under section. 17. Under sub-section. (3) of section 18 of the Act, the award became binding on the parties with effect from the date it became enforceable. The management did not complywith the interim award. On 24/04/1968, Delhi Admiaistrationthrough the Labour Commissioner, filled a complaint under section 29 of the Act against the petitioners for failure to comply with theaward. The workmen made an application under section 33C(l) to the appropriate government for the recovery of the money due from the management. On 1 4/05/1968, the Labour Commissioneracting for the appropriate government, issued certificate for recoveryof Rs. 28,602.31 P as arrears of land revenue from the management.

(2) On 18/05/1968, the petitioners filed a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for quashing the notice of demand for thesum of Rs. 28,602.31 in this Court. Along with the pstition, the petitioners moved an application for stay of the recovery of Rs.28,682.31. The said petition came up for consideration on 20/05/1968 before Hon'ble Chief Justice Mr. Justice I.D. Dua (as his Lordship then was) and Mr. Justice V. S. Deshpande. Their Lordshipspassed the following order on the petition:

'RULE.Notice re: recovery for 27-5-68. Stay till then.'

(3) On 27/05/1968, Dua J. modified the order dated 20/05/1968,and passed an order directing the petitioners to deposit the amountin the Court within two weeks and further directed that the amount benot paid to the workmen without an order of the court. The petitioners in compliance of this order deposited the requisite amount.On 18/02/1971, the writ petition in view of some compromisebetween the parties was dismissed as withdrawn.

(4) The trial Magistrate, vide his order dated 22nd April, 1969, foundndthe petitioners guilty of the offence under section 29 of the Act andsentenced each one of them to simple imprisonment for 15 days anda fine of Rs. 500.00 and in default of payment of fine to undergo S.I.for 15 days. Against their conviction and sentence the petitionerswent in appeal to the Sessions Judge. The appeal was heard by ShriO.N. Vohra, Additional Sessions Judge, on 30/04/1971 and heaffirmed the conviction of the pstitioners but reduced the sentence ofimprisonment to that already undergone and imposed a fine of Rs.750.00, and in defaultthe accused were to undergo the sentence awardedto them by the Magistrate. Against this order the petitioners havecome in revision to this court.

(5) Dr. Anand Prakash on behalf of the petitioners contended that the order dated 5/05/1967, is not an. award within the meaning ofsection 2(b) of the Act and, thereforee, the conviction of the petitionersunder section 29 is not legal. Section 2(b) of the Act defines 'award'and it reads as:-

'(B)'award' means an interim or a final determination of anyindustrial dispute or of any question relating thereto by anyLabour Court, Industrial Tribunal or National IndustrialTribunal and includes an arbitration award made under section 10A.'

(6) The contention of Dr. Anand Prakash is that by the order dated 5/05/1967, the Labour Court had not finally determined anyindustrial dispute or any question relating thereto referred to the LaboutCourt for adjudication and, thereforee, this order cannot be called anaward within the definition of the word 'award' as given in the Act the counsel in support of his contention placed reliance on TheManagement Hotel Imperial, New Delhi and others, vs. Hotel Worker'sUnion, : (1959)IILLJ544SC . The facts of the cited case werethat certain disputes had arisen between the managements of HotelImperial, New Delhi, Maiden's Hotel, Delhi and Swiss Hotel, Delhi,and their respective workmen. On 12/10/1955, the disputesbetween the management and the workmen were referred to the Industrial Tribunal. The workmen filed applications before the Tribunalfor interim relief. On 5/12/1955, the Tribunal passed an ordergranting interim relief. The management filed appeals against the order granting interim relief to the workmen before the Labour Appellate Tribunal. The appeals were dismissed by the Labour AppellateTribunal on 28/05/1956. Against the order of the Appellate Tribunal, the management went in appeal to the Supreme Court byspecial leave. Applications were moved before the Supreme Courtfor the stay of the order of the Industrial Tribunal granting interimrelief. The Supreme Court stayed the order on certain conditions.One of the questions that arose for determination before the SupremeCourt was whether an Industrial Tribunal was competent to grantinterim relief without making an interim award which should have beenpublished. The learned counsel relied upon the following observationsmade by the Supreme Court:-

'THEnext question is as to how the tribunal should proceed in thematter if it decides to grant interim relief. The definition of The word 'award' shows that it can be either an interim or finaldetermination either of the whole of the dispute referred to thetribunal or of any question relating thereto. Thus it is opento the tribunal to give an award about the entire dispute atthe end of all proceedings. This will be final determinationof the industrial dispute referred to it. It is also open to thetribunal to make an award about some of the matters referredto it whilst some other still remain to be decided. This willbe an interim determination of any question relating thereto.In either case it will have to bs published as required by S. 17 Such awards are. however, not in the nature of interim relieffor they decide the industrial dispute or soms question relatingthereto. Interim relief, onthe other hand, is granted underthe power conferred on the tribunal under S. 10(4) with respect to matters incidental to the points of dispute for adjudication.'

(7) The learned counsel basing himself on the above observations of theSupreme Court contended that the order dated 5/05/1967 grantinginterim relief to the workmen is not an interim or final award. I havecarefully gone through the cited authority and I find that the SupremeCourt did not express any final opinion on this question. The SupremeCourt observed :

'WEdo not think it necsssary to decide for presentpurposes whether an order granting interim relief of this kind is anaward withinthe meaning of section 2(b) and must, thereforee, bepublished under S. 17.'

(8) In the instant case, the dispute referred to the Labour Court waswhether the dismissal ofthe workmen by the Management was illegaland unjustified and what relief they were entitled to. In the reference,on the adjiudication by the Labour Court that the dismissal of the workmen. was not legal, the Labour Court could have allowed back wages tothe workmen. Section 10(4) of the Act provides-

'(4)Where in an order referring an industrial dispute to a LabourCourt, Tribunal or National Tribunal under this section or IN a subsequent order, the appropriate Government has specifiedthe points of dispute for adjudication, the Labour Court orthe Tribunal or the National Tribunal, as the case may be,shall confine its adjudication to those points and matters incidental thereto.'

(9) It is clear frcm a reading of the provisions of section 10(4) that theLabour Court or any other authority named therein has the jurisdiction only to decide the disputes specified in the order of reference andthe points and matters incidental thereto. In the case of Hotel Imperial(supra), it has been held that the interim relief of the kind in questioncan be given by the Tribunal under section 10(4) of the Act. The LabourCourt had on an application by the workmen and on a consideration of the circumstances in which the order of dismissal waspassed allowed interim relief to the workmen. I am of the view thatsuch an order will amount to an interim award within the meaning ofsection 2(b) and would be enforceable and binding on the partieson being published under section 17 of the Act. There appears to beno cogent reason to limit the scope of the term 'award' to only finaldetermination of the disputes or some of the disputes. In The Management of the Bihar State Electricity Board, Patna vs. The Workman of(the Bihar State Electricity Board and others, (1971) 1 Llj 389,(2) a Division Bench of that Court held-

'ACCORDINGto the Oxford Dictionary the word 'interim' hasbeen defined inter aha to say 'a temporary or provisionalarrangement adopted in the meanwhil'e'. I should, thereforeethink that if at the time of the final determination of the industrial dispute the award can provide for payment of wages ora portion thereof and if the Tribunal, on the facts and in thecircumstances of a particular case, thinks it fit and proper togive such an interim relief to the workman concerned, in thatevent under cl. (b) of S. 2 of the Act the order giving interimrelief will be an interim award. . . . .'

Their Lordships further held-

'ONthe basis of the decision of the Supreme Court in the case ofHotel Imperial : (1959)IILLJ544SC , I have tohold that the Tribunal has the power to grant such an interimrelief under S. 10(4) of the Act. But it follows that whethersuch a relief is granted at the time of final adjudication asthe final award or is granted by way of a temporary or provisional arrangement during pendency of the reference case, the order has got to take the form and effect of an interim awardunder cl. (b) of S. 2 of the Act. There is no provision in theAct empowering the Tribunal to make an order granting reliefto a discharged workman except by way of making an interim award which can be made according to the decision of theSupreme Court under S. 10(4) of the Act, or, I should think,even apart from that, by the force of the definition of the term'award'. . . . .'

(10) In Punjab National Dank Limited vs. A.N. Sen and others, , a similar point came up for determination. Their Lordships Weston, C.J. and Harnam Singh, J. held that

'THEexpression 'interim award' does not necessarily mean determination of some items out of the items that the Tribunal is called upon to determineand that, thereforee, the Tribunal had jurisdiction to pass the 'interim'order which came within S. 2(b).'

(11) The rule laid down in the cases of Punjab National Bank Ltd. andthe Bihar State Electricity Board (supra) is directly in point and I amof the view that the order dated 5/05/1967, would be an awardwithin the definition of the word 'award' as given in section 2(b) of theAct.

(12) Dr. Anand Prakash next contended that the operation of theaward dated 5/05/1967, was stayed by the High Court on 20/05/1968, and the petitioners had paid the amount in terms of the orderof the High Court dated 27/05/1968, and the petitioners had notcommitted any breach of the order dated 5/05/1967, and thereforeethe conviction of the petitioners under section 29 is not legal. I havegiven my careful thought to this argument of the learned counsel butI regret I am unable to accept it. The dispute was referred to theLabour Court under section 10 of the Act. The Labour Court madethe interim award on 5/05/1967. Section 17 of the Act providesfor publication of reports and awards. Section 17A provides that anaward shall become enforceable on the expiry of thirty days from thedate of its publication under section 17. Section 18(3) provides that anaward made by a Labour Court which has become enforceable shall bebinding on all parties to the industrial dispute.

(13) From a reading of the provisions mentioned above, it would beclear that the award dated 5/05/1967, had become enforceable andbinding on all parties to the dispute from 6/08/1967. the petitioners admittedly had not made the payments under the interimaward up to the institution of the complaint. The workmen moved theappropriate Government under section 33-C(1) of the Act for therecovery of the money due to them. On this application the LabourCommissioner; acting for appropriate government, issued a certificateto the Collector for the recovery of the amount of Rs. 28,602.31 P.The petitioner filed a Writ Petition in the High Court against thedemand of the sum of Rs. 28,602.31 P. The High Court granted an interim stay order for the recovery of the said amount on 20/05/1968and on 27/05/1968, Dua J. passed an order directing the petitioners to deposit the amount within two weeks and further made a direction that the workmen will not take the money without the order of theCourt. I have perused the writ petition that was filed by the petitioners in the High Court and I find that no relief was claimed by the petitioners against the award dated the 5/05/1967. The petitionershad challenged the validity of the demand order on the ground that theprovisions of section 33-C(1) of the Industrial Disputes Act had notbeen complied with. The validity of the interim award was not inquestion in the writ proceedings. The interim award had becomebinding on the petitioners on 6/08/1967, and they did not comply with this award uptill the institution of the complaint under section 29. The petitioner had clearly committed a breach of the award.In my view the stay order granted in the petition under Article 226 filedby the petitioners against the certificate of recovery ofRs.28,602.31P.did not in any way affect the merits the prosecution and the convictionof the petitioners under section 29 of the Act.

(14) Dr. Anand Prakash next contended that the interim determinationdated 5/05/1967, was ultimately substituted by the final awarddated 18/02/1971 which was implemented by the management and, thereforee, on the date of the decision by the Sessions Judgethere was no dispute left and the offence is at best a technical offence.This argument is, in my view, without substance. The fact that theinterim award was ultimately substituted by the final award which wasimplemented by the management does not in any way affect the liability that was incurred by the petitioners under the interim award. the petitioners having failed to comply with the interim award, theyhad rendered themselves liable to prosecution and conviction under section 29 of the Act.

(15) For the foregoing reasons, I find that the conviction of the petitioners is legal and does not suffer from any infirmity. I maintain theconviction and the sentence and the petition is rejected.


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