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A.K. Loganathan Vs. R. Beema Rao - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1980)1MLJ281
AppellantA.K. Loganathan
RespondentR. Beema Rao
Excerpt:
- .....he is a partner in 'reliable transports' which is a firm, acting as managing agents for messrs. safe service limited, a public limited company having its registered office at guagai, salem and operating stage carriage transport service. the defendant, according to the plaintiff, worked as an accountant on a fixed remuneration under m/s. safe service limited for a period of less than six months. while so, he filed an application under section 33(c)(2) of the industrial disputes act against the plaintiff describing him as the managing partner of m/s. safe service limited in c.p. no. 205 of 1967 claiming computation of salary and compensation for delayed payment of salary in a sum of rs. 795. on 22nd may 1967, the labour court coimbatore passed an order ex parte, in favour of the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

V. Ratnam, J.

1. The plaintiff, who had lost in the Courts below, is the appellant in this second appeal, which arises out of a suit instituted by him for a declaration that the common order in C.P. Nos. 393 of 1967, 98 of 1968 and 100 of 1968 on the file of the Labour Court, Coimbatore is a nullity and for a permanent injunction restraining the defendant from executing the same. According to the plaintiff, he is a partner in 'Reliable Transports' which is a firm, acting as managing agents for Messrs. Safe Service Limited, a public limited company having its registered office at Guagai, Salem and operating stage carriage transport service. The defendant, according to the plaintiff, worked as an accountant on a fixed remuneration under M/s. Safe Service Limited for a period of less than six months. While so, he filed an application under Section 33(c)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act against the plaintiff describing him as the managing partner of M/s. Safe Service Limited in C.P. No. 205 of 1967 claiming computation of salary and compensation for delayed payment of salary in a sum of Rs. 795. On 22nd May 1967, the Labour Court Coimbatore passed an order ex parte, in favour of the defendant in a sum of Rs. 410. For the later periods viz., from 1st January, 1965 to 31st July, 1967 at the rate of Rs. 150 per month, from 1st August, 1967 to 31st October, 1967 at the rate of Rs. 100 per month and from 1st November, 1967 to 30th November, 1968 at the rate of Rs. 100 per month, the defendant filed three applications in C.P. Nos. 393 of 1967, 98 of 1968 and 100 of 1968 claiming wages. By its order dated 12th July 1968, the Labour Court, Coimbatore awarded a sum of Rs. 3,750. In C.P. No. 205 of 1967, since the amount remained unpaid, the defendant took steps for recovering the amount and realised the same. Inasmuch as the amounts due under the three applications in C.P. Nos. 393 of 1967, 98 of 1968 and 100 of 1968 had remained unpaid and the Government ordered recovery proceedings to be taken against the plaintiff and the revenue authorities were also taking steps to collect the amount from the plaintiff, the suit was instituted by the plaintiff for the reliefs set out earlier on the ground that the defendant is not entitled to recover the said amount from the plaintiff as he was employed by M/s. Safe Service Limited and as the award passed by the Labour Court is a nullity and unenforceable viz., as against a person who was not an employer of the defendant. The plaintiff claimed that the address given by the defendant in the computation petition was wrong and that the plaintiff was not the managing partner.

2. In his written statement, the defendant contended that he was employed as a clerk by the plaintiff and that he worked only under him for more than a year. Suppression of the order passed by the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation to the effect that the defendant was employed under the plaintiff for more than six months was attributed by the defendant to the plaintiff. According to him, therefore, he was entitled, to recover this amount from the plaintiff and from the assets of M/s. Safe Service Limited and the award passed by the Labour Court is not a nullity. It was also pointed out by the defendant that no plea was raised by the plaintiff before the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation that he is not the managing partner and that such a plea was sought to be raised for the first time with a view to escape his liability. The computation made by the Labour Court, according to the defendant, for the period from 1st January, 1965 to 31st January 1967 etc., was, quite correct. A further plea relating to the jurisdiction of the civil Court to question the correctness of the award by the Labour Court in a suit was also raised.

3. The learned District Munsif, Salem, who tried the suit held that the civil Court has no jurisdiction to try the suit and therefore, dismissed the same. Aggrieved by this, the plaintiff preferred an appeal in A.S. No. 312 of 1975, District Court, Salem and the learned District Judge concurred with the view of the trial Court that the civil Court has no jurisdiction to go into this question. In this view, the appeal was also dismissed.

4. In this second appeal, the only contention that has been raised by the learned Counsel for the appellant is that the Labour Court has not acted in conformity with the fundamental principles of judicial procedure and therefore, its order is a nullity and should be set aside by the civil Court. He would further elaborate it by stating that it was the duty of the Labour Court to ascertain whether a particular person who was impleaded as a party to proceedings before it was properly described or not. Therefore, he contends that the defendant, who was an employee of M/s. Safe Service Limited, could not enforce an award passed against the plaintiff shown as the managing partner of M/s. Safe Service Limited. Per contra, the learned Counsel for the defendant respondent contends that there is no error whatever of judicial procedure, but that the claim proceedings which arose before the Labour Court were only to give effect to the order of the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation hold in that the order terminating the services of the defendant was not correct. He relies on the description given therein as 'A.K. Loganathan, Managing Partner, Safe Service Limited, Salem-8' and contends that it is the very same person who was a party to the proceedings before the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation that was sought to be proceeded in the further proceedings for giving effect to that order by resorting to Section 33(c)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. A further submission was also made by the learned Counsel for the respondent that in the process of considering an application under Section 33(c)(2), it is open to the employer to contend that he was not the employer. Indeed, he would point out that in the instant case such plea was raised, but in spite of that the plaintiff was made liable and if at all the plaintiff was aggrieved by any such order, he should have taken appropriate steps to get rid of that adjudication and not resort to a suit before a civil Court. A further point has also been raised by the learned Counsel for the defendant/respondent that the Labour Court is really in the nature of an executing Court and all questions including whether the order sought to be enforced is a nullity can be decided by that Court and that not having done so and allowed the Labour Court to implement the order of the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, it is not open to the plaintiff to contend that he can challenge the correctness thereof in a suit. Normally, under Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code, the Court shall have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature, excepting these suits whose cognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred. Under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, every award of a Labour Court shall be published within a period of 30 days from the date of its receipt by the appropriate Government in such manner as the appropriate Government thinks fit. However, under Section 17(2), the award so published shall be final and shall not be called in question by any Court in any manner whatsoever. It is in the background of the above specific prohibition with reference to the jurisdiction of the civil Court to go into such matters, the contention of the learned Counsel for the appellant has to be examined. There is, in my view, a total bar imposed by Section 17(2) with reference to the maintainability of suits questioning the validity or the binding nature of adjudications made under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act. The question is whether an exception can be made in favour of the plaintiff on the ground that he was not the employer of the defendant and therefore, the proceedings are all invalid and not binding. Exhibit A-1 is the copy of the letter addressed to the plaintiff describing him as the managing partner of Safe Service Limited and a copy of this letter has also been sent to the defendant. No objection appears to have been taken by the plaintiff for the description given to him in Exhibit A-1. Exhibit A-2 is the letter sent by the Tahsildar, Salem to Safe Service Limited, Salem-8 acknowledging the receipt of Rs. 385 due to the defendant. From Exhibit A.4 which is a copy of the petition filed by the defendant under Section 33(c)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, it is evident that the defendant was attempting to implement the order passed by the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Coimbatore under Section 41 of the Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishments Act and no more. In Exhibit A-3, the plaintiff is described as Managing Director of M/s. Safe Service Private Limited. Exhibit A-5 is a similar application filed by the defendant for relief under Section 33(c)(2) and in that, the plaintiff is described as Managing Partner M/s. Safe Service Private Limited, Exhibits A-4, A-6 and A-7 are the copies of the counter filed by the plaintiff in those proceedings. An objection is raked therein in paragraph 2 of the counter that the description of the respondent therein (the plaintiff herein) as Managing Partner is not correct. Exhibit A-8 is the copy of the order dated 22nd May, 1967 in Computation Petition No. 205 of 1967 on the file of the Labour Court, Coimbatore. In Exhibit A-8, the plaintiff has been described as the Managing Director of M/s. Safe Service Limited, but that relates to C.P. No. 205 of 1967 and it does not form the subject-matter of the suit. It has already been referred to that in the counters filed by the plaintiff in C.P. Nos. 393 of 1967, 98 of 1968 and 100 of 1968, an objection was raised that the plaintiff is not properly described, but in spite of it, an adjudication was made that he would be liable. It is important to notice in this connection that the plaintiff has not come forward with any specific objection that he is not the managing partner of Safe Service Limited. Nor has it been stated by him that he is a partner in a firm viz., Reliable Transports, who are the Managing Agents of Safe Service Limited. It is therefore obvious that after accepting the position that he did represent the employer of the defendant, the plaintiff is now attempting to turn round and put forth a contention that the defendant is not entitled to the reliefs prayed for in the course of the computation petitions referred to. The awards having been passed by the Labour Court, despite an objection taken by the plaintiff that his description is not accurate, it was open to the plaintiff to have corrected it by other appropriate proceedings and he cannot resort to the civil Court by instituting a suit and requesting the Court to go into the question of the validity of the award of the Labour Court, especially in the teeth of the prohibition contained under Section 17(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. It is not the case of the plaintiff that the award had not been published in the manner contemplated under Section 17(1). It is therefore evident that the plaintiff cannot get over the bar under Section 17(2) by stating that there has been a failure on the part of the Labour Court in not having acted in conformity with the fundamental principles of judicial procedure. This is not one of those cases where there is an inherent want of jurisdiction in the Labour Court to proceed with the adjudication of the claim made by the defendant. But the question of want of jurisdiction by the Labour Court on the ground that the plaintiff was not the employer of the defendant was a matter which could have been decided by the Labour Court itself and it is open certainly to the Labour Court to decide that question either correctly or wrongly. If there was an erroneous adjudication on that aspect, that should have been corrected by the plaintiff in other proceedings. In this view, I am satisfied that there is absolutely no question of any omission on the part of the Labour Court to have acted in conformity with the fundamental principles of judicial procedure. Therefore, it must be held that it is not open to the plaintiff to question the correctness of the order of the Labour Court by instituting a suit. The suit was, therefore, rightly dismissed as not maintainable and the confirmation thereof by the lower appellate Court is also perfectly in order. Consequently, the second appeal also fails and is dismissed. There will, however, be no order as to costs. I must place on record the valuable assistance rendered by Thiru R. Ganesan, who acted as amicus curiae for the respondent in this second appeal.


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