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Mary Chacko Vs. Ouseph and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1961)IILLJ368Ker
AppellantMary Chacko
RespondentOuseph and ors.
Cases ReferredLtd. v. Collector of Pali and Ors.
Excerpt:
- - it is well established that, provided the requisite grounds exist, certiorari will lie although a right of appeal has been conferred by statute (halsbury's laws of england, 3rd edn......case, the respondents before us along with nine others being the petitioners before the payment of wages authority. the petitioner before the aforesaid authority, claiming to be workers in the nidhiri estate belonging to the opposite party, claimed wages and compensation from 12 august 1958 to 13 january 1959. the opposite party contended inter alia that the petition was not maintainable on the ground that the workers were not in service in the estate during the relevant period. her case was that the workers were retrenched from 12 august 1958 in pursuance to a notice of retrenchment, dated 12 july 1958. however, she expressed her willingness before the authority to pay arrears of wages and compensation to applicants 19 to 27. finally the authority, after recording evidence and.....
Judgment:

T.C. Raghavan, J.

1. The petitioner in this writ petition seeks to quash by a writ of certiorari the decision of the Authority appointed under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, for Ernakulam and Trichur Revenue Districts in P.W.C. No. III of 1959. The petitioner was the opposite party in the aforesaid P. W. case, the respondents before us along with nine others being the petitioners before the Payment of Wages Authority. The petitioner before the aforesaid authority, claiming to be workers in the Nidhiri estate belonging to the opposite party, claimed wages and compensation from 12 August 1958 to 13 January 1959. The opposite party contended inter alia that the petition was not maintainable on the ground that the workers were not in service in the estate during the relevant period. Her case was that the workers were retrenched from 12 August 1958 in pursuance to a notice of retrenchment, dated 12 July 1958. However, she expressed her willingness before the authority to pay arrears of wages and compensation to applicants 19 to 27. Finally the authority, after recording evidence and considering such evidence, came to the conclusion that though there was a notice of retrenchment, dated 12 July 1958, a settlement of the dispute between the management and the union of the workers was effected and as a result of of the settlement the eighteen tappers continued to work in the estate. On the basis of this finding the authority directed the opposite party to pay compensation and arrears of wages to the 27 workers at the rate of Rs. 221-15-6 per worker. The opposite party has questioned this order of the Payment of Wages Authority, in this writ petition, regarding petitioners 1 to 18. As regards petitioners 19 to 27 there is no dispute before us.

2. The main point that has been argued before us by the learned advocate of the opposite party, who is the petitioner before us, is that the Payment of Wages Authority has no jurisdiction to decide the question of the subsistence of the relationship of master and servant between the management and the workers if that question has been disputed before it. In other words, the contention is that the authority, being a tribunal of summary jurisdiction, has no power to decide an application before it when the very basis of the relationship of master and servant is disputed. In short, the argument is that the jurisdiction of the authority is limited only to cases of admitted employment or of agreed contracts of employment.

3. The contention, on the other hand, raised by the learned advocate of the workers and the learned Government Pleader is twofold. Firstly, it is argued that this writ petition is incompetent because the petitioner has an equally effective alternative statutory remedy by way of appeal under Section 17 of the Payment of Wages Act and the present writ petition without exhausting that remedy is liable to be dismissed. The second contention of the respondent is that the authority has Jurisdiction to decide all incidental questions necessary for the decision of the main question before it, so that the authority has the jurisdiction to decide whether the relationship of master and servant or employer and employee subsisted during the relevant period, for the purpose of deciding the main question involved in the case.

4. On the first question raised by the learned Counsel of the respondents the position seems to be clear. In the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Mohammad Nooh A.I.R. 1958 S.C. 86 S.R. Das, C.J., in Para. 10 of the Judgment observes:

In the next place it must be borne in mind that there is no rule, with regard to certiorari as there is with mandamus, that it will lie only where there is no other equally effective remedy. It is well established that, provided the requisite grounds exist, certiorari will lie although a right of appeal has been conferred by statute (Halsbury's Laws of England, 3rd Edn., Vol. II, p. 130 and the cases cited there). The fact that the aggrieved party has another and adequate remedy may be taken into consideration by the superior Court in arriving at a conclusion as to whether it should, in exercise of its discertion, issue a writ of certiorari to quash the proceedings and decisions of inferior courts subordinate to it and ordinarily the superior Court will decline to interfere until the aggrieved party has exhausted his other statutory remedies, if any. But this rule requiring the exhaustion of statutory remedies before the writ will be granted is a rule of policy, convenience and discretion rather than a rule of law and instances are numerous where a writ of certiorari has been issued in spite of the fact that the aggrieved party had other adequate legal remedies. In The King v. Postmaster-General Ex parte Carmichael (1928) 1 K. B. 291 a certiorari was issued although the aggrieved party had an alternative remedy by way of appeal. It has been held that the superior Court will readily issue a certiorari in a case where there has been a denial of natural justice before a Court of summary jurisdiction. The case of Rex v. Wandsworth Justices Ex parte Read (1942) 1 K.B. 281 is an authority in point.

The authority of the aforesaid observation of the Supreme Court makes it abundantly clear that this Court may issue a writ of certiorari, provided the requisite grounds exist, in spite of there being a right of appeal conferred on the petitioner by statute. In the present case we do not propose to embark on an enquiry as to whether the requisite grounds exist and whether we should exercise our discretion in view of the statutory appeal; for, in the view we take on the second question a decision on this point becomes unnecessary. Therefore we will proceed on the basis that the existence of a statutory appeal is no bar to the present petition.

5. Now we would come to the second and the main question, namely, whether the Payment of Wages Authority has jurisdiction to decide the existence or otherwise of the relationship of employer and employee during the relevant period as a preliminary or incidental question necessary for a decision of the main question before it. Several decisions have been cited before us by the learned advocate of the petitioner, mainly of the Bombay High Court, in support of his contention. To mention a few: A.R. Sarin v. B.C. Patil 1951-II L.L.J. 188, K.P. Mushram v. B.C. Patil 1951--II L.L.J. 584, C.S. Lal v. Shaik Badshah 1956--II L.L.J, 45,7 and Viswanath Tukaram v. General Manager Central Railway 1957-II L.L.J. 250. The learned Counsel of the respondents invite our attention to a few decisions taking a contrary view. They are: Valajibhai Avcharbhai v. Chimmanial Hemraj Joshi 1957-II L.L.J. 186 (Bom.) S.B. Bhatt v. District Judge, Ahmedabad 1958--II L.L.J. 300 (Bom) and Jerry Sabastian Pareira v. Badshah (A.A.) and Ors. 1960-II L.L.J. 99 (Bom). In view of the recent pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Ambica Mills Co., Ltd. v. S.B. Bhatt and Anr. 1961--I L.L.J. 1 we do not think it is necessary to discuss the aforesaid decisions in any detail. Gajendragadkar, J., at p. 7 of the judgment observes:

The scheme of the Act is clear The Act was intended to regulate the payment of wages to certain classes of persons employed in industry, and its object is to provide for a speedy and effective remedy to the employees in respect of their claims arising out of illegal deductions or unjustified delay made in paying wages to them. With that object, in Section 2(vi) of the Act was defined wages. Section 4 fixes the wage period. Section 5 prescribes the time of payment of wages and Section 7 allows certain specified deductions to be made. Section 15 confers jurisdiction on the authority appointed under the said section to hear and decide for any specified area claims arising out of deductions from wages or delay made in payment of wages or persons employed or paid in that area. It is thus clear that the only claims which can be entertained by the authority are claims arising out of deductions or delay made in payment of wages. The jurisdiction thus conferred on the authority to deal with these two categories of claims is exclusive; for Section 22 of the Act provides that matters which lie within the jurisdiction of the authority are excluded from the jurisdiction of Courts, thus the jurisdiction conferred on the authority is limited by Section 15, and in another sense it is exclusive as prescribed by Section 22.

In dealing with claims arising out of deductions or delay made in payment of wages the authority inevitably would have to consider the questions incidental to the said matters. In determining the scope of these Incidental questions care must be taken to see that under the guise of decidincidental matters the limited jurisdiction is not unreasonably or unduly extended. Care must, also be taken to see that the scope of these incidental questions is not unduly limited so as to affect or impair the considering of questions as to what could be reasonably regarded as incidental questions.

* * *Now, if a claim is made by an employee on the ground of alleged illegal deduction or alleged delay in payment of wages, several relevant facts would fall to be considered: Is the applicant an employee of the opponent? And that, refers to the subsistence of the relation between the employer and the employee. If the said fact is admitted, then the next question would be: What are the terms of employment? Is there any contract of employment in writing or is the contract oral? If that is not a point of dispute between the parties, then it would be necessary to enquire what are the terms of the admitted contract. In some cases a question may arise whether the contract which was subsisting at one time had ceased to subsist and the relationship of employer and employee had come to an end at the period. In regard to an illegal deduction a question may arise whether the lockout declared by the employar is legal or illegal. In regard to contracts of service some-times parties may be at variance and may set up rival contracts, and in such a case it may be necessary to enquire which contract was in existence at the relevant time. Some of these questions have in fact been the subject-matter of judicial decisions--vide A.R. Sarin v. B.C. Patil 1951-II L.L.J. 188, Viswanathan Tukaram v. General Manager, V.T., Bombay 1957-II L.L.J. 250 and Maharaja Sri Umaid Mills, Ltd. v. Collector of Pali and Ors. 1960--II L.L.J. 364-but we do not propose to consider these possible questions in the present appeal, because, in our opinion, it would be inexpedient to lay down any hard and fast or general rule which would afford a determining test to demarcate the field of incidental facts which can be legitimately considered by the authority and those which cannot be so considered.

6. The aforesaid decision of the Supreme Court leaves no room for doubt regarding the jurisdiction of the Payment of Wages Authority. The said authority has naturally to decide all incidental questions necessary for a decision of the main question to be decided by it. It must be remembered that the authority is a tribunal of limited jurisdiction and in the guise of deciding incidental questions the limited jurisdiction of the authority should not be unreasonably or unduly extended. At the same time the jurisdiction should not be unduly restricted so as to impair the jurisdiction Indubitably vested in it by the statute. That means that all incidental questions and matters, which are necessary for a proper decision of the main question that unquestionably falls for decision within the jurisdiction of the authority under Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, have necessarily to come indicidentally within the scope of its jurisdiction. Otherwise even the limited jurisdiction of the authority will become ineffective and illusory. In the present case the question whether during the relevant period the relationship of employer and employee subsisted is quite properly incidental to a decision of the question whether the employer delayed the payment of wages to the employee. In that view the decision of the authority on that question is within its competence and therefore the order is not liable to be sec aside. In the result the writ petition is dismissed with costs of respondents 1 to 18. We fix the advocate's fee at Rs. 150.


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