V. Ramaswami, J.
1. The plaintiff is the appellant. He filed a suit for declaration that the award dated 31st May, 1962 made by the Labour Court, Madurai in I.D. No. 42 of 1961 was null and void. He contended that the dispute that was decided under that award was an individual dispute and not an industrial dispute and that therefore the Labour Court had no jurisdiction. He also contended that the award was also liable to be set aside on the ground that certain principles of natural justice had been violated. The Labour Court had found as a fact that plaintiff resorted to unfair libour practice and victimised the defendants and that, therefore, the Labour Court had directed reinstatement of the defendants in service. The plaintiff preferred a writ petition in the High Court canvassing the validity of the award more of less on the same grounds on which this suit has been filed, but ultimately he did not succeed. The defendants contended that the dispute in question was an industrial dispute and not an individual dispute and the Labour Court has jurisdiction to decide the dispute. They also contended the award was not vitiated by any violation of the principles of natural justice. They further contended that the suit was not maintainable under Section 17(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act and the orders in W.P. No. 901 of 1962.
2. The Courts below have held that the suit was barred under Section 17(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. They also held that in any case the dispute in this case was not an individual dispute but an industrial dispute and there was no violation of any of the principles of natural justice. In that view, the suit was dismissed. The only point for consideration is whether the suit was not maintainable for the relief asked for.
3. Section 17(2) provides that, subject to the provisions of Section 17-A (which is not applicable here), the award published under Sub-section (1) shall be final and shall not be called in question in any Court in any manner, whatsoever.
4. The learned Counsel for the appellant relied on the decision in Alam Singh v. Modi Sugar Mills (1965) II L.L.J. 593, wherein it was held that when the dispute was not an industrial dispute but was only an individual dispute, the order of reference and the resulting award are null and void and without jurisdiction and, therefore the Civil Court would have jurisdiction to entertain such a suit and that the finality attached to the award under Section 17(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act would not apply to such a case. This decision proceeded on a concession that the dispute was an individual dispute and not an industrial dispute. In the present case, the defendants denied the contention that the dispute was an individual dispute and contended that it was an industrial dispute. It is seen from the evidence that the plaintiff did not raise any objection before the Labour Court that it had no jurisdiction on the ground that it was an individual dispute. In W. P. No. 901 of 1962 this Court refused to permit the plaintiff to raise the contention that it was an individual dispute 'and not an industrial dispute. It is now well settled that the Labour Court had jurisdiction to decide whether the dispute referred to it was an industrial dispute or an industrial dispute. The plaintiff, not having raised the question before the Labour Court, was not entitled to raise the same in the suit. The Suit was, therefore, clearly barred under Section 17(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. Further, in W.P. No. 901 of 1962, an industrial contention was raised and this Court repelled that contention and dismissed the writ petition. In my opinion, that order in W. P. No. 901 of 1962 will clearly operate as res judicata and on that ground also it was not open to the plaintiff to challenge the award in the suit. The second appeal, therefore, fails and is dismissed with costs. No leave.