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R. Krishnaswami Reddiar, Chidambara Vilas Motor Service Vs. the Presiding Officer, Labour Court and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1976)2MLJ1
AppellantR. Krishnaswami Reddiar, Chidambara Vilas Motor Service;kadirsa;sri Sakkubai Transports (P.) Ltd. Re
RespondentThe Presiding Officer, Labour Court and anr.;The Management of Mohideen Andavar Motor Service and an
Cases ReferredNatarajan v. Lakshmi Mills Co.
Excerpt:
- k. veeraswami, c.j.1. the scope and effect of section 15 of the payment of wages act, 1936 and of section 33-c(2) of the industrial disputes act, 1947, arises for determination in these cases, except in one, where the point is whether the question of status or classification of an employee will also be within the ambit of section 33-c(2). the respondents, who are all transport workers governed by the provisions cf the motor transport workers act, 1961, applied to the presiding officer, labour court, madurai, under section 33-g(2) of the industrial disputes act for computation in terms of money certain benefits and allowances they claimed to be entitled to under the motor transport workers act. they claimed these allowances and benefits as having been in arrears by the employers over a.....
Judgment:

K. Veeraswami, C.J.

1. The scope and effect of Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 and of Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, arises for determination in these cases, except in one, where the point is whether the question of status or classification of an employee will also be within the ambit of Section 33-C(2). The respondents, who are all transport workers governed by the provisions cf the Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961, applied to the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Madurai, under Section 33-G(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act for computation in terms of money certain benefits and allowances they claimed to be entitled to under the Motor Transport Workers Act. They claimed these allowances and benefits as having been in arrears by the employers over a number of years. A preliminary question was raised before the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, by the employers that he had no jurisdiction under that Section to compute in terms of money the benefits and allowances claimed but that the workers should have invoked Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act and asked for relief as in respect of delayed wages. The Presiding Officer, Labour Court, repelled this contention and sustained his jurisdiction. This was also the case in Writ Appeal No. 290 of 1970. But the appellant there is a workman who is aggrieved by the finding of Ismail, J., that whether he belonged to the category of a clerk or an attender was a question not within the purview of Section 33-G(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. On that view, the learned Judge allowed the petition out of Which this appeal arises and that is how the workman is before us in that appeal.

2. The Payment of Wages Act, 1936, was enacted to regulate the payment of wages to certain classes of persons employed in industry. Wages are defined in that Act to cover all remuneration, whether by way of salary, allowances or otherwise, expressed in terms of money or capable of being so expressed, which would be payable to a person employed in respect of his employment or of work done in such employment. The definition includes many other sources of remuneration, but excludes a certain variety of remuneration as for instance, bonus, the value of any house accommodation, travelling allowance and so on. Section 5 of that Act prescribes the time of payment of wages and the next Section as to how wages should be paid, that is to say, in current coin or currency notes or in both. Section 7 provides how and in what cases deductions from wages are permissible. Section 8 provides for fines. Sections 9 to 13 also deal with deductions from wages. We have then Section 15 which provides for appointment of a Presiding Officer of a Labour Court or an Industrial Tribunal constituted under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, or under any corresponding law, to be the authority to hear and decide for any specified area 'all claims arising out of deductions from the wages, or delay in payment of the wages, of persons employed or paid in that area, including all matters incidental to such claims.' The jurisdiction thus afforded to the officer appointed under this Section will extend to (1) all claims arising out of deductions from the wages and (2) delay in payment of wages. But an application for these two reliefs should be made within the time prescribed by the proviso to Sub-section (2) of Section 15. These two reliefs, in order to ascertain their respective scope will have to be determined in the light of the provisions we have referred to relating to the item for payment of wages and permissible deductions from wages. An appeal against an order dismissing either wholly or in part an application made under Section 15(2) is provided for by Section 17. Section 17(a) provides for enforcement of the order made under Section 15(2). Section 20 makes any contravention of the provisions stated therein an offence punishable with fine. The procedure for trial of such offences has also been laid down by the Act and then there is a bar of a suit in any Court of law for recovery of wages or any deduction from wages in certain circumstances. We may mention that to transport workers, the Payment of Wages Act has been made applicable. Having regard to all these provisions, it seems to us that the scope of Section 15 is very limited and is circumscribed by the various provisions of the Act we have referred to. The scope, as we consider, is confined to only claims arising out of deductions from wages or delay in payment of wages and an application under Section 15(2) has to be made within the time prescribed. In an application under Section 15(2) what the officer concerned would be called upon to determine is whether, in the case of a claim for deduction, such deduction would be permissible under one or the other provisions of the Act and in the case of a claim for delayed wages, he would have to find whether the claimant for wages is entitled to the claim and whether the payment t hereof was delayed in the context of the provision prescribing the time for payment of wages. It is true that wages, as. defined in the Act, include wages expressed in terms of money, or capable of being so expressed. But where wages have not been expressed in terms of money, but are capable of being so expressed as in the case of allowance, it appears to us that no machinery for computing the allowances in terms of money has been specifically provided for. In our opinion, Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act cannot be invoked for the purpose, for, its scope is confined to deductions or delay in payment of wages. Under the guise of delay in payment of wages, it does not appear to us that the officer functioning under Section 15 can be called upon to ascertain the money-value of allowances. That, as we consider, is not incidental to the question of delay in payment of wages.

3. On that view of the matter, we consider that such a computation is competent only under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. That provision is wide enough to cover that relief and, in our opinion, there is nothing in common between the scope of Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act and that pf Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. Where jurisdiction is concurrent under different provisions in different enactments and the jurisdiction under one of those provisions is general and is of a larger scope, it may be possible to take the view that the general and wider jurisdiction should yield place to the special jurisdiction and that only after exhausting the latter, the general jurisdiction can be resorted. Equally, it may be said that, since the jurisdiction is concurrent, there is no legal bar to the wider jurisdiction being invoked without resorting to the special jurisdiction. But this aspect of the matter does not arise for our consideration in these cases, as we are of opinion that the scope of Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act and that of Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act arc not concurrent, but different the former being confined only to the two limited reliefs, which we have indicated. On that view, it would follow that Ismail, J, came to the correct conclusion.

4. Our attention has, however, been invited to some of the decided cases, which we shall briefly notice. For the appellants, reference has been made to Laxman v. Dayalal Meghji and Co. : (1968)ILLJ139MP , and Lakshmi Mills Go., Ltd. v. Labour Court : (1962)ILLJ493Mad , decided by one of us. The first of them held that the Labour Court had no jurisdiction to entertain an application under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act for recovery of the difference in wages actually paid and the wages payable under the Madhya Pradesh Minimum Wages Fixation Act, 1962. A Division Bench there was of opinion that there was no indication whatever either in Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, or in Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, or in the Supreme Court decision in Central Bank of India v. Rajagopalan : (1963)IILLJ89SC , that the scope of Section 33-C(2) was wide enough to include claims under Sections 2(vi) and 15 of the Payment of Wages Act. But this view of the Madhya Pradesh High Court was based on its construction of Sub-section (1) of Section 33-C of the Industrial Disputes Act and in the light of it, of the scope of Sub-section (2) of that Section. Though Lakshmi Mills Co. Ltd. v. Labour Court : (1962)ILLJ493Mad , took somewhat such view, we do not think that, that view can be sustained in view of the later decisions of the Supreme Court, as for instance in Central Bank of India v. Rajagopalan : (1963)IILLJ89SC . There the Supreme Court specifically held that since Sub-section (2) of Section 33-C has not repeated the words of limitation in Sub-section (1) the scope of Sub-section (2) must be held to be wider than that of Sub-section (1).

5. On the above view of the matter, we are inclined to think that since the jurisdiction under Section 33-C(2)of the Industrial Disputes Act is not concurrent, but they are different in their nature and scope, it was competent for the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, to entertain the applications for computation of the allowances in terms of money and proceed under Sub-section (2) of that Section. Accordingly, Writ Appeals Nos. 249 and 336 of 1970 as well as Writ Appeal No. 95 of 1971 are dismissed, but with no costs. We may record that so far as respondents 1, 4 and 5 in Writ Appeal No. 95 of 1971, are concerned, they do not press their claim.

6. As we mentioned, in Writ Appeal No. 290 of 1970, the question is whether, wide as the scope of Sub-section (2) of Section 33-C may appear to be, it will extend to a determination of the question of categorisation or status of the workman under the pretext of computing in terms of money-allowances claimed by the wrok-men. On that question, Mr. Ramachandran, for the appellant relies on Central Bank of India v. Rajagopalan : (1963)IILLJ89SC . In our opinion that was a case in which the right to allowances was disputed as a defence and the Supreme Court held that it was competent for the Labour Court to decide it as a question incidental to the computation. We do not think that this decision is authority for the proposition that for deciding the question of status or categorisation of employees, the power under Section 33-C(2) can be invoked. Ismail, J., relied on Lakshmi Mills Co. Ltd. v. Labour Gourt : (1962)ILLJ493Mad , which was decided by one of us and which was upheld in appeal in Natarajan v. Lakshmi Mills Co. (1964) II L.L.J. 296. The question of status of an employee was involved in that case and it was held that that was not within the scope of Section 33-C(2). We are of opinion that any incidental question which may be brought within the scope of Section 33-C (2) will have to be inherently related to the problem of computation. But status is not one such question just as a defence of dismissal or retrenchment, which when disputed, could not be decided under Section 33-G(2). They are questions which have to be decided by raising industrial disputes under Section 10(1) of the Industrial Disputes Act. Accordingly we dismiss Writ Appeal No. 290 of 1970. No costs.


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