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Manomani (S.) Vs. Labour Court and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1969)IILLJ536Ker
AppellantManomani (S.)
RespondentLabour Court and anr.
Cases ReferredLtd. v. Rajagopalan
Excerpt:
- - it is well-settled that a statute which is not declaratory of the pre-existing law nor one dealing purely with matters of procedure will not be so construed as to make it operate retrospectively unless the legislature has explicitly declared its intention that it should so operate, or unless such intention appears by necessary implication from the nature and words of the act so clearly as to leave no room for a reasonable doubt on the subject. 10. the original petition fails, sad is dismissed, but in the circumstances without any order as to costs......section 33c(2) reads thus:(2) where any workman is entitled to receive from the employer any money or any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of money and if any question arises as to the amount of money due or as to the amount at which such benefit should be computed, then the question may, subject to any rules that may be made under this act, be decided by such labour court as may be specified in this behalf by the appropriate government.3. the director of transports, trivandrum, the respondent in the petition before the labour court, raised a preliminary contention that the claim made by the petitioner was not one which could be made the subject-matter of a petition under section 33c(2) and could not, therefore, be validly adjudicated upon by the labour court.....
Judgment:

V. Balakrishna Eradi, J.

1. The petitioner lias brought Ms original petition seeking to quash an order Ex. P. 7 passed by the labour court, Quilon, dismissing a Claim Petition No. 467 of 1966 filed by him under Section 33C(2) of Mia Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, on the ground that the labour court was not competent to adjudicate on the matter under Section 33C(2) of the said Act.

2. A few facts have to be stated for the purpose of appreciating the contentions raised on behalf of the petitioner. The petitioner was employed in the State Transport Department of the Government of Kerala as a watcher. He was dismissed from service by an order dated 14 March 1962 apparently on grounds of misconduct. Subsequently, however, the punishment of dismissal was set aside and the petitioner was reinstated in service by order dated 10 January 1963 imposing on him a much lesser punishment of withholding of his increment for one year. On 13 July 1964, the petitioner filed an application under Section 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act before the labour court, Quilon, claiming that he was entitled by way of 'benefit' legitimately due to him to the arrears of salary and allowances for the period during which he was wrongfully kept out of office by virtue of the order of dismissal wrongfully passed against him and praying that the respondent should be directed to pay such amount to the petitioner by an order passed under Sub-section (4). On the date of presentation of the claim petition, Section 33C(2) was in the following terms:

(2) Where any workman is entitled to receive from the employer any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of money, the amount at which such benefit should be computed may, subject to any rules that may be made under this Act, be determined by such labour court as may be specified in this behalf by the appropriate Government, and the amount so determined may be recovered as provided for in Sub-section (1).

It may be mentioned that during the pendency of the claim petition, by amending Act 36 of 1964 a new section was substituted for the original Section 33C(2) and as amended, Section 33C(2) reads thus:

(2) Where any workman is entitled to receive from the employer any money or any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of money and if any question arises as to the amount of money due or as to the amount at which such benefit should be computed, then the question may, subject to any rules that may be made under this Act, be decided by such labour court as may be specified in this behalf by the appropriate Government.

3. The Director of Transports, Trivandrum, the respondent in the petition before the labour court, raised a preliminary contention that the claim made by the petitioner was not one which could be made the subject-matter of a petition under Section 33C(2) and could not, therefore, be validly adjudicated upon by the labour court under the said section. It was urged that the salary and allowances for the period during which the petitioner had been kept out of service would not fall within the scope of the expression 'benefit' occurring in Section 33C(2) of the Act, and that if the petitioner really had any griavance arising out of the withholding of such amounts, the proper course open to him, if he wanted to take recourse to the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, was only to raise a dispute under Section 10 of the Act, It was also contended en the merits that no amount was actually due to the petitioner since, as an integral part of the very proceedings by which ha was reinstated in service, orders had been issued by the department under rule 56 of the Kerala Service Rules directing the period of his absence from duty to be treated as eligible leave, In consequence whereof all that the petitioner was entitled to receive was the salary due to him in respect of a period of seven days amounting to Rs. 18.20, which sum had been duly tendered to him by the department.

4. The labour court; upheld both the contentions raised by the management and consequently held that the claim preferred by the petitioner could not be sustained under Section 33C(2) of the Act.

5. In the light of the decision in Central Bank of India, Ltd. v. Rajagopalan (P.S.) and Ors. 1963-11 L.L.J. 89, defining the scope of the unamended Section 33C(2) and pointing out the types of cases which will not fall within the ambit of that section--specific mention being made of cases of dismissal and demotion and claim for back wages based on the allegation that such dismissal or demotion is illegal--counsel for the petitioner did not seriously contend before me that under the section as it stood prior to Its amendment, the claim for arrears of salary relating to the period when the petitioner was kept out of employment could be maintained.

6. Counsel for the petitioner, however, contended that the petitioner is entitled to call In aid the provisions of Section 33C(2) as amended by Act 36 of 1964. It was urged that the amendment having come into force during the pendency of the proceeding before the labour court, the Act as amended was applicable to the said proceedings. On an examination of the provisions of Act 36 of 1964 one does not find anything indicative of a legislative intention to give retrospective operation to the amended provisions. Although Act 36 of 1964 received the assent of the President on 9 December 1964, it was brought into force only with effect from 19 December 1964 pursuant to the provisions contained in Section 33C(2)) empowering the Central Government to appoint the date of commencement by notification in the official gazette. It is well-settled that a statute which is not declaratory of the pre-existing law nor one dealing purely with matters of procedure will not be so construed as to make it operate retrospectively unless the legislature has explicitly declared Its intention that it should so operate, or unless such intention appears by necessary Implication from the nature and words of the Act so clearly as to leave no room for a reasonable doubt on the subject.

7. Notwithstanding the strenuous efforts made by counsel for the petitioner, I am not persuaded to hold that the amendment introduced by Act 36 of 1964 in Section 33C(2) by adding the words 'any money' can be regarded as relating only to a matter of procedure. Nor can it be said to be declaratory in character. It confers a substantive right on the workman in addition to what previously exiated. Whereas, prior to the amendment an application under Section 33C(2) could be made only in respect of 'any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of money,' the amended provision entitles a workman to make such application to the labour court in respect of his claim to receive from the employer 'any money' on whatever account. The question is whether such a provision brought in by way of amendment to a statute during the pendency of proceedings before a labour court will govern the rights of parties in the pending proceedings, The law on the point has been succinctly stated in Halsbury's Laws of England, 3rd Edn., Vol. XXXVI, at p. 423, in the following words:

The general rule is that all statutes, other than those which are merely declaratory, or which relate only to matters of procedure or of evidence, are prima facie prospective; and retrospective effect is not to be given to them unless, by express words or necessary implication, it appears that this was the intention of the legislature....

It is also in reliance on the foregoing presumption that the Courts have frequently held pending proceedings to the unaffected by changes in the law so far as they relate to the determination of substantive right. In the absence of a clear indication of a contrary intention In an amending enactment, the substantive rights of the parties to an action fall to be determined by the law as it existed when the action was commenced; and this is so whether the law is changed before the hearing of the case at first Instance or whilst an appeal is pending.

8. Applying the above principles to the present case, I have no hesitation to hold that the labour court was right la deciding the case on the basis of the provisions of Section 33C(2) as they stood on the date when the proceedings ware initiated and in holding that the claim put forward before It by the petitioner did not fall within the ambit of the said section inasmuch as it could not be regarded as a claim for 'any benefit' within the meaning of that expression as used in the section. The dismissal of the claim petition can be sustained on this ground itself.

9. In the light of my above conclusion, It becomes unnecessary for to consider the correctness of the finding of the labour court that even on the merits the petitioner's claim was not sustainable.

10. The original petition fails, sad is dismissed, but in the circumstances without any order as to costs.


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