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Management of the Lakshmi Mills Co. Ltd. Vs. Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Coimbatore and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit petn. No. 273 of 1960
Judge
Reported inAIR1962Mad335; (1962)ILLJ493Mad
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 29, 33-C(1), 33-C(2) and 36-A; Constitution of India - Article 226; Indian Arbitration Act, 1940; Minimum Wages Act, 1948; Payment of Wages Act, 1936 - Sections 15; Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923
AppellantManagement of the Lakshmi Mills Co. Ltd.
RespondentPresiding Officer, Labour Court, Coimbatore and anr.
Cases Referred(private)Ltd. v. Salivateswaran
Excerpt:
.....terms of money for the purpose of enabling a workman to realise the same by levying execution. v-a but which for the purpose of recovery under the machinery provided by sub-sec (1) require to be first computed in terms of a money or benefit computable in terms of money which falls outside the purview of an award, settlement or the provisions of ch, v-a of the industrial disputes act, there are remedies provided for the workmen under the provisions of the appropriate and related enactment like the payment of wages act, 1936, the workmen's compensation act. nevertheless, i may briefly record my opinion on these points as well......in terms of a money or benefit computable in terms of money which falls outside the purview of an award, settlement or the provisions of ch, v-a of the industrial disputes act, there are remedies provided for the workmen under the provisions of the appropriate and related enactment like the payment of wages act, 1936, the workmen's compensation act. 1923 and the minimum wages act, 1948.so far as the industrial disputes act is concerned the scope of the remedies provided thereunder to the workmen should in my view be read and understood in the context of and as limited by its provisions themselves, and in such a way as not to lead to the overlapping or trenching upon the special jurisdiction under the particular related legislation's. for example a claim, arising out of deduction from.....
Judgment:
ORDER

(1) On the application of the second respondent under s. 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the labour court Coimbatore found that he was a fitter from January 1956, among the staff of the petitioner, and that as such he was entitled to salary on the scales of Rs. 44-11-0--Rs. 64-11-0 and to his first increment on October 1, 1958 and computed his total benefit upto september 30, 1959 at Rs. 316-8-0. This petition by the management under Art. 226 of the Constitution is to quash that order. The main contention of the petitioner which appears to be one of its objections before the labour court but not particularly decided by that court, is that the question whether the second respondent was a fitter, as claimed by him or only a fitter-helper, as claimed by him or only a fitter-helper, as the management would have it was not within the purview of the application under S. 33-C(2) of the Act. Apparently, the labour court proceeded on the view that it had jurisdiction to decide the issue.

(2) The second respondent was entertained by the petitioner which is a textile mill at Coimbatore, as a temporary worker on Januarary 17, 1954 and was made permanent from January, 1, 1956 in the Mechanical shop department. Before that time he was in the lowest category of workers classified as unskilled workers and was drawing a basic wae of Rs. 26 per month.

In about January 1956, he was directed to work in the reeling section where the conversion of hand reels into power reels was going on, was designated as a power reel fitter. After the process of conversion was completed, he was transferred on April 1 1957 back to the mechanical shop department. His basic wage was enhanced to Rs. 32-8-0 with effect from Feburary 1, 1957, and he continued to receive wages on that scale until October 3. 1959, when he made the present claim as a fitter under S. 33-C(2) claiming wages at Rs. 50-11-0 per month on the basis of an award in I. D.No. 65 of 1958.

Prior to that award, some of the textile mills of which the petitioners was one, and their workmen and in relation to certain disputes reached a settlement on September 25 1956, the terms of which appear in the memorandum signed by the parties. Clause 15 of this memorandum stated that the wages and work loads with regards to workers in the Electrical and Mechanical shop departments and automatic loom sections of the relative mills would be discussed between parties and the determination would be added to and from part of the settlement. Failing t reach an agreement this question was referred to for adjudication which ended in the said award published in the Gazette dated February 18 1959.

This award fixed the scale of pay for a fitter at Rs. 44-11-0 with effect from october 1, 1957. There is no dispute that if the second respondent were a fitter, e would be entitled to wages at that rate. But according to the management the second respondent was never a fitter but only a fitter helper, even during the time of the conversion of the hand reels into the power reels and notwithstanding his designation as a power reel fitter, the nature of work he did, continued to be the same and his designation was altered into a fitter helper even from April 1 1957. The management further stated that the mere fact that the second respondent was called a power reel fitter during the short period between January 1, 1956 and April 1, 1957 did not in itself entitled him to claim to the scale of salary he was entitled to draw, should be determined not merely with reference to the designation but to the nature of the work he did. It was in such circumstances, the petitioner questioned the jurisdiction of the labour court respondent was a fitter or a fitter helper.

(3) The petitioner contends that what was decided by the Industrial tribunal in I. D. No. 65 of 1958 was the fixation of the scale of wages for a fitter and not whether the second respondent belonged to that category or not. That question according to the petitioners, not being covered by the award, the second respondent could have it independently raised as an industrial dispute and decided and could not apply S. 33-C(2) as if he was a fitter which was disputed.There is no controversy that the award never went into the question and decided whether the second respondent was a fitter. But what is urged on behalf of the second respondent is that whenever he is entitled to a benefit under the terms and the conditions of his employment, he could invoke S. 33-C(2) to have that benefit computed in terms of money value and that in any case, the scale of wages applicable to a fitter having been fixed or not is incidental to his claim to the benefit of that scale.

(4) In W. P. No. 195 of 1960, I considered the scope of S. 33-C(2) and held :

'In my opinion 'any benefit' under sub-sec. (2) means only that which follows from the settlement or an award under the provisions of Chapter V-A of the Industrial Disputes Act.'

That, of course was a case where, in an application under that section, the labour court was called upon to compute the benefit namely the good attendance bonus embodied in an award, made not under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act but the Indian Arbitration Act, 1940, and the labour court dismissed the application as not maintainable on the view which I have upheld. The principle of this decision namely, that a benefit not comprehended by or included in any settlement or award under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, or not with in the purview of the provisions of Ch. V-A of the same Act, does not fall within the ambit of sub-sec (2) of S 33-C is equally applicable to the instant case. In support of this view of the sub-sec, the learned Advocate General who, in the course of the hearing of the petition intervened to assists the court submits I think very rightly that having regard to the scheme of the Industrial Disputes Act sub-sec (2) cannot be read as of a wider scope than that of sub-sec (1) of S. 33-C.

The purpose of the section which in 1956 replaced S. 20 of the Industrial Disputes (Appellate Tribunal) Act, 1950 is to provide for a speedy, effective and inexpensive remedy for a workman to recover in a summary proceedings from his employer any money which by an adjudication under an award or an agreement under a settlement or by virtue of the provisions of Ch. V-A, he is entitled to. But if what he is entitled to is not expressed in terms of money, as for instanceDepavali bonus or good attendance bonus, sick leave allowances and the like it becomes necessary to have the benefit translated into terms of money for the purpose of enabling a workman to realise the same by levying execution. It is to give effect to this purpose that sub-sec (2) has been enacted. While sub-sec. (1) comprehends and includes a present claim for money embodied in an award or settlement of an order under Ch. V-A which is readily executable, sub-sec. (2) contemplates cases of claims which are embodied in an award or a settlement or becomes due under Chap. V-A but which for the purpose of recovery under the machinery provided by sub-sec (1) require to be first computed in terms of a money or benefit computable in terms of money which falls outside the purview of an award, settlement or the provisions of Ch, V-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, there are remedies provided for the workmen under the provisions of the appropriate and related enactment like the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Workmen's Compensation Act. 1923 and the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.

So far as the Industrial Disputes Act is concerned the scope of the remedies provided thereunder to the workmen should in my view be read and understood in the context of and as limited by its provisions themselves, and in such a way as not to lead to the overlapping or trenching upon the special jurisdiction under the particular related legislation's. For example a claim, arising out of deduction from wages or dealy in payment of wages, which is not the subject matter of a settlement or an award under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act. will not fall within the purview of section 33-C(2) of that Act but within section 15 of the Payment of wages Act, 1936 and such a claim will have to be considered by the authority specially constituted thereof. What is therefore, enforceable under section 33C, be it under sub-sec (1) or sub-sec (2) is what is covered by a settlement or award or a claim under Chapter V-A of the Industrial Disputes Act. While this is one mode of enforcement, section 36-A empowers the Government to interpret an award or a settlement for the purpose of removing any difficulty or doubt therein, and section 29 provides for another mode of enforcement by prescribing a penalty for breach of a settlement or an award. The word 'benefit' in sub-sec (2) of section 33-C, therefore, is of no wider amplitude than a benefit which is due under a settlement or an award or under Chapter V-A of the Industrial Disputes Act.

(5) As to the next contention that the question whether the second respondent was a fitter or a fitter helper is incidental to his claim in his application under section 33-C(2) and the Labour Court was, therefore, competent to decide the question, the fallacy underlying, it is the assumption that the question is ancillary or incidental to anything embodied in the award. It may be conceded or award or under the provisions of Chapter V-A any matter incidental or ancillary to its computation in terms of money may be enquired into as within the competence of the labour court. But in this case through the award fixed the scale of pay applicable to a fitter, it stated nothing on the question whether the second respondent was a fitter or a fitter helper. That question was never raised as a dispute and did not form part of the award. That is the only question which has to be determined before the second respondent can claim wages applicable as an incidental or ancillary question.

In Sri Ambica Mills Co. v. S. B. Bhatt, : (1961)ILLJ1SC which arose out of an application under section 15 of the Payment of wages Act, 1936, the problem was of a quite different nature. There, the nature of the work done by the claimant workman not being in dispute, the only question was whether, on a proper interpretation of the relevant clauses in an agreement, and an earlier award he was entitled to the scale of wages applicable to certain category of employees within the purview to one of the particular work done by the claimant was held to be incidental to be incidental to the claim of delayed wages under section 15 of the Payment of wages Act. The question in this case is different, namely, what was the work done by the second respondent during the relevant period so as to entitle him to be called as a fitter? Apart from that, the decision of the supreme court proceeded in relation to the particular definition of 'wages' in the payment of Wages Act the object and scheme of is provisions, especially section 15.

Kasturi and sons (private)Ltd. v. Salivateswaran, : (1958)ILLJ527SC , arose under the Working Journalists (conditions of service and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1955. It was held in that case that section 17 of that Act was confined to an investigation of the narrow point as to what amount was actually due to paid to an employee under a decree or awards of other valid order obtained by him after establishing his claim in that behalf, and that an enquiry into disputed liability under the claim was not in its purview. Through there is a reference in this decision to section 33-C(1) and (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act it was only in the context of elucidating the scope of section 17 of the Working Journalists (conditions of service and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1955. I can find nothing in this case in support of the second respondent's case that he was entitled to have the question whether he was a fitter or a fitter helper adjudication under section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. I hold that the application in the instant case under Sec. 33-C(2) of that Act was not maintainable and the order of the labour court under that section is without jurisdiction. It is therefore hereby quashed.

(6) Two further points on behalf of the petitioners were urged which in the view I have expressed above it will be unnecessary to decide. Nevertheless, I may briefly record my opinion on these points as well. The first of them is that in view of clause 15 in the Memorandum of settlements, dated September 25, 1956, the second respondent's remedy was as provided by clause 20 therein, to ask for arbitration. But it is obvious that as no settlement in regard to the scale of wages for workers in Electrical and mechanical shop departments and automatic loom sections of the mills neither of the two clauses will have application. The other point urged for the petitioners is that there was no evidence before the labour court to justify its finding that the second respondent was a fitter from January 1, 1956. Assuming that it is within the purview of certiorari to impugn a finding of fact on the ground of there being no evidence as such to support it, it cannot be said in this case that the labour court entirely acted without material. The sufficiency of the material this Court will not assess in a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.

(7) The petition is allowed and the rule nisi is made absolute. There will however, be no order as to costs.

(8) Petition allowed.


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