(1) This petition arises out of an application made under section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, for computation in terms of money the goods attendance bonus for October 1958, granted to the workers concerned by an award made under the provisions of the Indian Arbitration Act, 1940. Certain demands were made by a section of the workmen of the Buckingham and Carnatic Co., Ltd., on 29th March 1955, on the management and this was followed by a strike notice on 5-10-1955. The workmen concerned actually went into a strike on 24th November, 1955. The same day, the State Government in exercise of their powers under section 10(1)(c) of the Act, referred the disputed to the industrial Tribunal, Madras. But it would appear that an agreement was arrived at between the management and the workmen to have the dispute referred to private arbitration under the provisions of the Indian Arbitration Act. 1940. In view of the agreement, the next day, i. e., 25th November, 1955, the strike was called off. Evidently giving effect to the agreement, the Government directed a reference to private arbitration. The original a reference under section 10(1)(c) stood therefore dismissed by the Industrial Tribunal on 29th February, 1956. The private arbitration ended in an award dated 19-1-1957. On the foot of this award, a decree of court also followed which is dated 12th April, 1957. One of the reliefs awarded under the award, was the good attendance bonus for October, 1958 to the workmen.
(2) Before the Labour Court, on behalf the management of the Buckingham and Carnatic Co. Ltd., the objection was taken that the application was not maintainable under Sec. 33-C(2). Their contention was that what was contemplated by " any benefit" in subs-section (2) of section 33-C should be under a settlement or an award or under the provisions of Chapter V-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and that if any workman outside the provisions of the industrial Disputes Act that could not be the subject-matter of an application under section 33-C(2). This view of the scope of sub-section (2) of section 33-C found favour with the Labour Court with the result that the application for conversion of the benefit into money was dismissed. The aggrieved workman has therefore, come up to this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.
(3) For the petitioner in this court, it has been strenuously contended that sub-section (2) of section 33-C is of a wide scope, uncontrolled by the provisions of subs-section (1) and that any benefit whatever the sources of it may be, provided it related to the terms and conditions of employment of workman which is capable of being computed in terms of money, would fall within the scope of sub-section (2). In support of this contention particular reference is made to the repealed section 20 of the Industrial Disputes (Appellate Tribunal) Act, 1950. Sub-section (1) of this section is in terms identical with those of sub-section (1) of 33-C of the Industrial Disputes Act. Sub-sec. (2) of Sec. 20 of the 1950 Act reads:
"Where any workman is entitled to received from the employer any benefit under an award or decision of any Industrial Tribunal which is capable of being computed in terms of money. The amount at which such benefit should be computed may, subject to the rules made under this Act be determined by that Industrial Tribunal, and the amount so determined may be recovered as provided for in sub-sec (1)."
The point made with reference to this sub-section is that the omission in sub-sect. (2) of S. 33-C of the words "under an award or decision of an Industrial Tribunal" is significant and points to the fact that the legislature intended to make the scope of sub-sec. (2) of Sec. 33-C wider than what it was under sub-sec. (2) of S. 20 of the 1950 Act. The point thus urged is one of some importance and require a careful scrutiny.
(4) The object of Sec. 33-C patently is to provide a cheap and speedy remedy for the workman to have the benefit of a settlement or an award or under the provisions of Chapter V-A realised through the machinery of the Revenue Recovery Act. The benefit may be expressed in terms of money in which case it will directly fall under sub-sec. (1); Where it is not so, the benefit, provided it is capable of being computed in terms of money, and when so computed, the machinery provided for execution under sub-s. (1) will apply. A combined reading of the two sub-sections of S. 33-C prima facie leaves the impression of that " " mentioned in sub-sec. (2) in the context of sub-sec (1) means any benefit due to a workman under a settlement or an award or under the provisions of Chapter V-A of the industrial Disputes Act. The primary object as I said of the entire section being to provided a machinery for speedy execution, there appears to be no special reason why sub-sec. (2) should be read de hors that purpose and as comprehending any benefit whatever awarded outside the provisions of the industrial Disputes Act. Having provided for execution of settlement or an award under which money is due, any benefit computed under sub-sec. (2) in terms of money, is also made realisable through the machinery provided for in sub-sec. (2). It is no doubt true that in the 1950 Act aforesaid the words "under a settlement or an award" occurred in sub-sec. (2) of Sec. 20, and those words have been omitted in sub-sec. (2) of Sec. 33-C. But this omission, in my opinion, is apparently due to the fact that the Legislature wanted to avoid redundancy. I am unable to read into the omission of those words an intention on the part of the legislature to give a wider amplitude to the words "any benefit". If that were the intention, the legislature could have expressed it in more clear terms.
(5) In Railway Employees' Co-operative Bank Ltd., Madras v. Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Madras , which arose out of an application under S. 33-C(2) for computing in terms of money a benefit due to the applicant under the provisions of the Madras Shops and Establishments Act, Rajagopala Aiyangar J. Had to consider the scope of that sub-section. The learned Judge, mainly basing his reasoning on the omission in sub-sec. (2) of S. 33-C, the words "under an award or a decision of an Industrial Tribunal", was of the opinion that the scope of sub-sec. (2) was wider and that the application, therefore, was maintainable. On appeal from this judgment, a Division Bench of this Court in Railway Employees Co-operative Bank Ltd. V. Labour Court, Madras, 1960-2 Lab LJ 215 to which I was a party, observed,
"There is a considerable force in the contention of Mr. Vasantha Pai for the bank (Appellant) that S. 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act would have no application to the facts of this case and it was not intended to provided for a claim such as we have in this case.......................... We should not however be understood as accepting the view of Rajagopala Aiyangar J. On the point."
Thought the point was not finally decided by us in that case, we prima facie, recognised the force of the argument against the view of Rajagopala Aiyangar J. As to the scope of sub-sec. (2) of S. 33-C. On further examination, I adhere to the view we were inclined to take in that case.
(6) In my opinion, "any benefit" under sub-section (2) means only that which flows from a settlement or an award or under the provisions of Chapter V-A of the Industrial Disputes Act.
(7) There are certain other considerations which seem to lend support to the above view of mine. Sri K. Rajah Aiyar appearing for the management contended that to interpret sub-s. (2) in any other manner may lead to an anomaly. He pointed out, supposing an award was passed under the provisions of the Arbitration Act partly in terms of money and partly in terms of a certain benefit computable in terms of money value, could it be said so far as the money portion of the award was concerned, the remedy was to invoke the provisions of the Revenue Recovery Act and in respect of the rest of the award not in terms of money but convertible into money it could after such conversion be executed through the machinery of sub-sec. (1) of Sec. 33-C. The learned counsel states that such an intention could not be attributed to the Legislature in enacting the first two subs-sections of S. 33-C. The contention is not without force. The point is when a particular remedy is provided by sub-sec. (1) with reference to the money portion of the award, there is no reason, without specific words which compel a different view, to interpret sub-sec. (2) as of a wider scope merely because the words "any benefit" occurring that sub-section. Those words will have to be understood in the light of the object of the whole section and in the context of sub-sec. (2) read along with sub-sec. (1) and not read distinctively. Otherwise, in respect of the same award, as pointed out by Sri K. Rajah Aiyar, it would mean that different remedies through different means are contemplated by the legislature which to my mind, does not appear to be the case. One other consideration, according to Sri K. Rajah Aiyar, is the use of the word "the" in the words "the employer" in the sub-sec. (2) as contrasted with "an employer" in sub-sec. (1) is significant. The suggestion is that sub-sec. (2) is therefore, really related to and goes with or takes colour from sub-sec. (1). But I do not think that the interpretation of the scope of sub-sec. (2) need be rested on this ground.
(8) On behalf of the petitioner Sri Mohan Kumaramangalam invited my attention to the decision in Shree Amarsingji Mills Ltd. V. Nagrashna, (1961) 1 Lab LJ 581. That was a case of lay off compensation and the only question that was decided there was whether the words "any benefit" in sub-sec. (2) would comprehend or include a claim of monetary benefit also. The precise question that falls to be decided in this case was not raised or decided in that case and it, therefore, does not afford any assistance to the petitioner. My attention was also invited to the decision in Madanlal v. State of Bihar, but this too, in my opinion, is not helpful in
deciding the ambit of the words "any benefit" in sub-sec. (2) of Sec. 33-C.
(9) I hold, therefore, agreeing with the labour court, that the good attendance benefit awarded under the provisions of the Arbitration Act, 1940 is not within the scope of sub-sec. (2) of S. 33-C of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The petition is dismissed. The rule nisi is discharged. But in the circumstances there will be no order as to costs.
(10) Petition dismissed.