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Pettai Co-operative Milk Supply Ltd., Represented by Its President, R. Balakrishnan Vs. the Presiding Officer, Labour Court and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1975)2MLJ488
AppellantPettai Co-operative Milk Supply Ltd., Represented by Its President, R. Balakrishnan
RespondentThe Presiding Officer, Labour Court and anr.
Excerpt:
- .....on the ground that the question as to whether the labour court had no jurisdiction to direct payment of gratuity to the second respondent after the enactment of the payment of gratuity act, i972, was not raised before the labour court.2. the second respondent was an employee of the appellant. he resigned with effect from 26th december, 1972. he claimed gratuity at a particular rate and asked the presiding officer, labour court, madurai, to compute it in terms of money under section 33-c (2) of the industrial disputes act, 1947. a cryptic counter-statement was filed by the appellant. all that was stated there was this:this respondent submits that this court has no jurisdiction to entertain this petition. the petitioner ought to have filed this petition before the proper court. on.....
Judgment:

K. Veeraswami, C.J.

1. This appeal is from an order of Ismail, J. The learned Judge dismissed the appellant's petition on the ground that the question as to whether the Labour Court had no jurisdiction to direct payment of gratuity to the second respondent after the enactment of the Payment of Gratuity Act, I972, was not raised before the Labour Court.

2. The second respondent was an employee of the appellant. He resigned with effect from 26th December, 1972. He claimed gratuity at a particular rate and asked the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Madurai, to compute it in terms of money under Section 33-C (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. A cryptic counter-statement was filed by the appellant. All that was stated there was this:

This respondent submits that this Court has no jurisdiction to entertain this petition. The petitioner ought to have filed this petition before the proper Court. On this ground alone, this petition should be dismissed.

It may be noted that in the counter statement there was no denial of the entitlement of the employee to gratuity. That being the case, there being no dispute as to entitlement raised before the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, he has jurisdiction to compute in terms of money the gratuity which the second respondent claimed. Apart from the fact that the question raised before Ismail, J., was somewhat different and we agree with the learned Judge on his conclusion, it is contended before us that the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, contains provisions which, establish that the Act is a comprehensive one, that it deals with a right not existing in common law and that when it created a right, made provisions for its recognition, provided machinery for determination of gratuity, a procedure therefor and also to decide disputes where a claim to gratuity was denied, the general jurisdiction under Section 33-G (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act should necessarily to be taken to be excluded. We are afraid that the proposition so put is too broad. We are here concerned with a case where, before the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, a claim for computation in terms of money in respect of gratuity, entitlement to which there was no dispute, Was made ; whether in such a case the jurisdiction under Section 33-G (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act is excluded is the question here.

3. The Payment of Gratuity Act was enacted to provide for a scheme for the payment of gratuity to employees engaged in certain industries, shops and establishments and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto Section 4 directs that gratuity shall be payable to an employee on the termination of his employment after he has rendered continuous service for not less than five years, and in certain other contingencies. How the gratuity should be computed is also provided by the section. We find further provisions in this section as to when gratuity can be denied. Section 7 relates to determination of the amount of gratuity. It says that a person eligible for payment of gratuity under the Act shall apply to the employer within the prescribed time for payment of gratuity and that the employer, whether such an application has been made or not shall determine the amount of gratuity and notify the employee as well as the Controller specifying the amount determined and payable as gratuity. Thereafter, the employer shall arrange to pay the amount of gratuity within the prescribed time to the employee or the person entitled thereto in his stead. We have then Sub-section (4) (a) of Section 7, which is material, and it reads:

If there is any dispute as to the amount of gratuity payable to an employee under this Act or as to the admissibility of a claim of, or in relation to an employee for payment of gratuity, or as to the person, entitled to receive the gratuity the employer shall deposit with the controlling authority such amount as he admits to be payable by him as gratuity.

Under Clause (b) the controlling authority is vested with jurisdiction to decide the dispute in the manner laid down. Recovery of gratuity is provided by Section 8 by the process of issuing a certificate for the amount due as gratuity to the Collector, who shall recover the amount and interest, as if they were arrears of land revenue and pay the realisation to the person entitled. We have then the penalty section, cognisance of offences and related provisions. Section 14 gives the Act an overriding effect. It states that the provisions of the Act or any Rule made thereunder shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any enactment other than this Act or in any instrument or contract having effect by virtue of any enactment other than this Act. We may observe that the overriding effect comes into play when any provision in the Payment of Gratuity Act is inconsistent with any provision in any other Act. In exercise of the rule-making power under Section 15, rules have been made, which generally deal with the procedure in dealing with applications for gratuity. There is nothing in these rules which bears on the question of jurisdiction of the Controller and the Presiding Officer under the Gratuity Act, as We may call it, and under Section 33-C (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act.

4. In dealing with this matter, we should first observe that though the Presiding Officer's jurisdiction was denied, no dispute was at all raised in the counter statement before the Presiding Officer as to the entitlement of the employee to gratuity. Section 33-C (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act provides for a general jurisdiction for computation in terms of money any benefit which the workman can be entitled to. It is not denied that gratuity can well be the subject-mater of an industrial dispute in which case, Section 33-C (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act would be applicable. It has been held by this Court and the Supreme Court in decided cases that Sub-section (2) of Section 33-C of the Industrial Disputes Act is of a different nature and wider scope than Sub-section (1) of that section so that, application of Section 33-C (2) is not confined to cases of award or settlement. In fact, the Industrial Disputes Act in a sense is a parent statute and several legislations in respect of items of remuneration by way of bonus, gratuity are all related to industrial and labour welfare. But it seems to us that it is not intended that, by these, special legislations, the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, unless they are inconsistent, are to be excluded from application where they may be applicable.

5. In that background, we have to see whether there is anything in the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, which excludes the jurisdiction of the Presiding Officer under Section 33-C (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act in a matter as in this case. It is important to remember, as already pointed out, that there was no denial by the employer before him of the entitlement of the employee to gratuity. Although the Gratuity Act provides for a procedure, as we have already noticed, for applying to the employer for gratuity and then the latter being called upon to determine the amount, and in a case of dispute as to the entitlement, the Controller being vested with the jurisdiction to decide it, and where there is no dispute as to the entitlement it is merely a matter of computation of the benefit by way of gratuity, we fail, to see how the jurisdiction under Section 33-C (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act is in conflict with any of the provisions of the Gratuity Act or particularly the sphere of enquiry of the employer or the Controller under the provisions of the Act. In our opinion, Section 33-C (2) is of a general character and wider application and is not excluded by Section 14 of the Gratuity Act, so far as this case is concerned.

6. On that view, the appeal is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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