1. The petitioner herein preferred an application Under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act before the Labour Court, Madurai, claiming notice pay and retrenchment compensation Under Section 25-F of the Act. The first respondent, the proprietor of the business in which the petitioner had been employed, sought permission to engage a counsel to represent him in 'he proceedings. The petitioner objected, as he himself was not represented by the counsel and did not accord his consent to the engagement of counsel by the first respondent employer. The Labour Court, however, made an order to the. effect that the claim Under Section 33-C(2) is totally different from a dispute, that the two meant two different things and that, therefore, the expression 'dispute' which appears in Section 36(3) and (4) of the Act, which relates to representations of parties, does not include a claim. The Labour Court was thus of the view that the prohibition against employment of legal petitioners, or the requirement that such representation should' be with the consent of the other party, did not apply to claims arising Under Section 33(C) of the Act. The objection of the employee was thus overruled. It is to quash' this order of the Labour Court that this petition under Article 226 has been filed, the short contention being that there is an error of law apparent on the face of the record in the view taken, by the Labour Court.
2. No counter-affidavit has been filed by the employer', who, though served, has not chosen to appear.
3. Section 36 of the Act deals with representation of parties. Sub-section (1) enables a workman, who ;is a party to a dispute, to be represented in any proceeding under this Act by an officer of a registered trade union of which he is a member, by an officer of a federation of trade unions to which his trade union is affiliated, or if the worker is not a member of any trade union, by an officer of any trade union connected with the industry in which the worker is employed. Analogous to this enabling provision in favour of the worker is sub-section (2) which permits an employer, who is a party to a dispute, to be represented in any proceeding under this Act by an officer of an association of employers of which lie is a member, or an officer of a federation of associations of employers, to which his association is affiliated, or if the employer is not a marcher of any association of employers, by an officer of any association of employers connected with the industry in which the employer is engaged. Sub-section (3) prohibits representation of a party to a dispute by a legal practitioner in any conciliation proceedings under this Act or in any proceedings before a court.
Section 4 of the Act provides for the appointment of Conciliation officers, and Section 5 to the constitution of a Board of conciliation. The duties of Conciliation officers are set out in Section 12, and 5. 13 outlines the duties of Boards. The ' Conciliation Officer or the Board, as the case may be, attempts at a settlement of the dispute, and in the absence of any settlement resulting there from, makes a report to the appropriate government setting forth the steps taken for ascertaining the facts ant) the circumstances relating to the dispute and for bringing about a settlement thereof, together with a full statement of such facts and circumstances and the reasons why settlement could not be arrived at. In the case of the Board of Conciliation, the Board has further to record the findings as well as its recommendations for .the determination of the dispute.
A 'Court' under the Act is a court of enquiry. It will be seen that Section 36, Sub-section 3, embodies a total prohibition against the representation of a party by a legal practitioner in any conciliation proceedings, or in any proceedings before a court. The prohibition, contemplated applies only to those two proceedings and not to proceedings before Labour courts, Tribunals or National tribunals, which are also bodies created by this Act for the adjudication of industrial disputes. Sub-section (4) deals with the proceedings before these bodies. It is permissive in the sense that a party can employ a legal practitioner to represent him provided that the consent of the other party to the dispute is obtained, as well as the leave of the court, Tribunal or the National Tribunal, as the case may be. Obviously, if the other party does not consent, no legal practitioner can be brought in to represent a party. The question that I have now to consider is whether a proceeding Under Section 33-C is a proceeding within the meaning of Section 36(4).
4. Reading the section as it stands, I see no difficulty. Whatever may be the nature of the claim that may be put forward by a workman under S.. 33(C), it is left to the determination of the Labour Curt, and consequently, even a proceeding Under Section 33(C) must be a proceeding before the Labour Court. It is undoubtedly a proceeding under this Act. It is true that the word 'dispute' has not been independently defined, but only, the expression 'industrial dispute' in Section 2(k) of the Act. 'Industrial dispute' means, according to this definition, any dispute or difference between employers and employers or between employers and workmen, or between workmen and workmen, which is connected with the employment or non-employment, or the terms of employment, or with the conditions of labour, of any person. An industrial dispute, therefore, means a dispute of a particular kind between specified parties. Such disputes cover' a wide area being defined to mean any dispute which is.. connected with the employment or non-employment or terms of employment. Undoubtedly, the expression 'connected with the employment or non-employment' is sufficient to take in a claim to retrenchment compensation for it is a relief arising by reason of the non-employment, of the worker. When, therefore, Section 36 uses the expression 'dispute' instead of industrial dispute, it does not: mean anything different from what is contemplated in the definition sections. proceeding before a Labour court, Tribunal or National Tribunal must necessarily stem from. the provisions of the Act. Sub-section (4) of 8. 36 uses, the expressions 'in any proceeding before a Labour court' .... 'party to a dispute'..... 'may be represented' ...... Giving full effect to the meaning of all these expressions, which require a technical construction in the contest, a proceeding Under Section 33(C)(2) of the Act undoubtedly involves a dispute within the meaning of the Act and sub-section must, therefore, apply.
5. It follows that the Labour court was in error in. holding that a party to such a dispute could engage a legal practitioner without the-consent of the other party. The order is Quashed. There will be no costs.