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Western India Cotton Limited Vs. N. Raghavan and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1977)ILLJ284Ker
AppellantWestern India Cotton Limited
RespondentN. Raghavan and ors.
Cases ReferredBandlu Prasad v. Tirjuji
Excerpt:
- - the payment of bonus act does not purport, like many other acts, to be one consolidating and amending the law regarding bonus. also, as was pointed out by counsel appearing for the respondents the very exclusion of bonus from the definition 'salary or wage' in section 2(21) affords sufficient indication that what was excluded would well fall within the concept of the term denned but for such exclusion......law which means additional remuneration. it may not be a wage or deferred wage, but is a method of wage payment. on payment it assumes character of wages and as such, would fall within the exemption of section 60 of the c.p.c. in ganapnthi pillai v. swarninatha pillai : (1969)iillj159amad , a learned judge of the madras high court followed the above view of hegde, j. and observed that having regard to recent developments in the law relating to labour relationship, bonus would be included in wages. the mysore decision was referred to and followed. a still later decision of the madras high court in krishna rao v. tlnmureliakhun and ors. : air1970mad135 , accepted the same principle.5. the question was exhaustively surveyed and considered by a learned judge of the andhra high court in itta.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Gopalan Nambiyar, J.

1. The revision petitioner, the plaintiff in O.S. No. 75 of 1974, Sub-Court, Tellicherry is the Western India Cottons Limited, Pappinissery, which instituted a suit for recovery of a sum of Rs. 5,661.50 for damages caused to the plaintiff's car by the defendants some of the workmen of the plaintiff-company. Pending suit, an attachment before judgment was prayed for in respect of a sum of Rs. 4,836.08 lying to the credit of the defendants in the company towards bonus payable to them. An interim attachment was ordered. But after the defendants-respondents entered appearance and opposed the application, the same was vacated and the application for attachment before judgment was dismissed on the ground that bonus would be 'wages of labourers' within the meaning of Section 60 Clause (h) of the Civil Procedure Code and, therefore, exempt from attachment The tenability of this ruling has been canvassed in this revision petition which has been referred for decision to a Division Bench.

2. The bonus in question in the instant case is payable under an agreement between the employer and the workmen of the company, arrived at through the conciliation officer under the Industrial Disputes Act. According to Clause (1) of the terms of the settlement, the management agreed to pay 21 1/2% of the total earnings of the workers as bonus for the year 1972-73 on or before 1st July. 1974. It was in respect of the bonus thus payable that the attachment was sought to be levied.

3. On the terms of the agreement which forms the genesis of the payment, it appears to us that what was agreed to be paid as bonus was part of the earnings or the wages of the workmen though paid under the label of bonus. For that reason, it appears to us that the exemption under Section 60 Clause (h) of the C.P.C would be attracted; especially would it be so, as it contains no definition of the term 'wages' and the expression should, therefore, be understood in its ordinary, etymological or popular sense. That apart, the question has been canvassed before us very fully in the light of the provisions of the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965. That Act by Section 2(21) defines salary or wages as follows :

2 (21) salary or wage means all remuneration (other than remuneration in respect of over-time work) capable of being expressed in terms of money, which would, if the terms of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable to an employee in respect of his employment or of work done in such employment and includes dearness allowance (that is to say, all cash payments, by whatever name called, paid to an employee on account of a rise in the cost of living), but does not include :

(i) to (iii) x x x x(iv) any bonus (including incentive, production and attendance bonus). x x x x x.

We may also refer to Section 34. Sub-clause(3) of the Act which reads :

34. (3) Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed to preclude employees employed in any establishment or class of establishments from entering into agreement with their employer for granting them an amount of bonus under a formula which is different from that under this Act :Provided that any such agreement whereby the employees relinquish their right to receive the minimum bonus under Section 10 shall be null and void in so far as it purports to deprive them of such right.

In the light of these provisions, counsel for the petitioner argued that after the enactment of the Payment of Bonus Act, bonus would not be wages and, therefore, the exemption under Section 60, Clause (h) of the C.P.C. cannot operate. This ingenious argument has been met in more ways than one. The Payment of Bonus Act does not purport, like many other Acts, to be one consolidating and amending the law regarding bonus. It is consistent, as counsel for the respondents endeavored to explain, with the position that it was passed with certain professed objects of securing or guaranteeing the payment of minimum bonus and other beneficial objects to workmen. Also, as was pointed out by counsel appearing for the respondents the very exclusion of bonus from the definition 'salary or wage' in Section 2(21) affords sufficient indication that what was excluded would well fall within the concept of the term denned but for such exclusion.

4. The question in regard to the concept of the term 'wages' in relation to bonus has come up for consideration on more than one occasions. In Muniswami v. Viswanatha Nair : AIR1957Mad773 , a learned Judge of the Madras High Court has exhaustively considered the various shades of meaning to be given to the term 'wages', 'bonus', etc. In Nathmal Sanchethi and Ors. v. Dasarath and Ors. : AIR1959Kant96 , Mr. Justice Hegde of the Mysore High Court (as he then was) considered the very question of the attachability of bonus paid to workers having regard to the provisions of Section 60, Clause (h) of the C.P.C. It was observed that in considering whether bonus is wage for the purpose of exemption from attachment under the C.P.C., the definition of the word 'wage' in the Industrial Disputes Act or Payment of Wages Act, or the Minimum Wages Act, is of no assistance; and that the definitions in those Acts are intended for the purposes of the respective Acts only. It was further ruled that bonus is a familiar word in the field of industrial law which means additional remuneration. It may not be a wage or deferred wage, but is a method of wage payment. On payment it assumes character of wages and as such, would fall within the exemption of Section 60 of the C.P.C. In Ganapnthi Pillai v. Swarninatha Pillai : (1969)IILLJ159aMad , a learned Judge of the Madras High Court followed the above view of Hegde, J. and observed that having regard to recent developments in the law relating to labour relationship, bonus would be included in wages. The Mysore decision was referred to and followed. A still later decision of the Madras High Court in Krishna Rao v. Tlnmureliakhun and Ors. : AIR1970Mad135 , accepted the same principle.

5. The question was exhaustively surveyed and considered by a learned Judge of the Andhra High Court in Itta Narasimha Rao v. Akula Mahalakahmayya 1970-1 L.L.J. 697, Venkatcsam J. The learned Judge referred to a Bench decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Bandlu Prasad v. Tirjuji 1965-II L.L.J. 666. That decision ruled that the inclusion or exclusion of such payments as bonus and gratuity in the definition of wages in the different enactments is not quite uniform for the reason that each of those enactments was made with a special purpose of giving the employee certain amount of protection in regard to periodical payments and welfare contributions, and that it was not the aim of anyone of these enactments to guarantee to the employee that bonus will be payable under agreement or statute or regular practice in the business, but only to guarantee certain specific payments mostly of a periodical nature. It was ruled in the said decision that the very exclusion of bonus and gratuity from the term 'wage' itself was an indication that without such exclusion these concepts would be included in wages. The decision further noticed that the Civil Procedure Code speaks of 'wages' of labourers and leaves it to the Courts to understand the concept of that terra in the context of the particular case. It was observed that there was 'wages' in general, or the genus of wages, which included all payments made to an employee arising out of the relationship, and 'wages' in the narrower or special sense which connoted a periodical payment. While different enactments deal with the latter kind of wages, the Civil Procedure Code dealt with wages as genus. We are in respectful agreement with the principle laid down by the Division Bench ruling of the Madhya Pradesh High Court and by the learned Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. We think it unnecessary to multiply citations by referring to the few more authorities to which our attention was drawn by counsel for the respondents. In the light of the principles from these decisions, we are of the opinion that the Court below was right in vacating the interim injunction and in dismissing the application for attachment before judgment.

6. We dismiss this revision petition, but in the circumstances, without costs.


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