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R. Sivagnanam Vs. the Presiding Officer, Labour Court and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1980)1MLJ441
AppellantR. Sivagnanam
RespondentThe Presiding Officer, Labour Court and anr.
Cases ReferredAnand Oil Industries v. Labour Court of Hyderabad
Excerpt:
- .....referred to by the labour court, had not been accepted as laying down the correct law by a full bench decision in anand oil industries v. labour court, hyderabad : air1979ap182 , that as per the said andhra pradesh full bench decision, a dispute as to bonus payable by the management to an individual employee cannot be taken to be an industrial dispute and such a dispute could be agitated by filing an application under section 33(c)(2) and that in view of the said decision, the decision of the labour court in this case has to be set aside with a direction to the labour court to go into the claim of the petitioner on merits.5. on a close perusal of the full bench decision in anand oil industries v. labour court, hyderabad : air1979ap182 , we find that the full bench was of the view that.....
Judgment:
ORDER

G. Ramanujam, J.

1. The petitioner had been employed as a clerk in the second respondent company in their Salem branch office on a salary of Rs. 400 per month. For the year ending 31st December, 1974, the second respondent paid bonus to all the employees, excepting the petitioner. The petitioner claims to have requested the management to pay his bonus amount but his request had been turned down. The petitioner has thereafter filed a petition under Section 33(c)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, claiming a sum of 'Rs. 1,440 as bonus.

2. The said claim was opposed by the second respondent management. The management's contention was that the petitioner was employed as a branch Manager in their Salem branch and as such he was not a workman within the meaning of Section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act. Further it was contended that the Labour Court at Coimbatore had no jurisdiction to entertain the petitioner's claim, as on the date of the filing of the petition the petitioner has been transferred from Salem to Bangalore and therefore it is the Labour Court at Bangalore which can entertain the petitioner's claim. Further it was contended by the management that as the petitioner has been suspended, pending enquiry into certain acts of misconduct, he is not entitled to claim the bonus in view of Section 9 of the Payment of Bonus Act. The management raised a far more formidable objection to the maintainability of the claim of the petitioner stating that the dispute relating to bonus between the petitioner and the management, should be taken to be industrial dispute and that therefore, the matter could not be agitated by an application filed under Section 33(c)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act.

3. The Labour Court, while examining the question of the maintainability of the claim petition filed by the petitioner followed the decision of the Division Bench of this Court in Major D. Aranha v. Universal Radiators, Coimbatore (1975) 1 L.L.J. 254 : (1975) L.I.C. 1180 and dismissed the claim petition as not maintainable. It is as against the dismissal of the claim petition by the Labour Court the petitioner has come up this Court by way of this writ petition.

4. In this writ petition, the learned Counsel for the petitioner contends that the decision of a Division Bench in Major D. Aranha v. Universal Radiators, Coimbatore (1975) 1 L.L.J. 254 : (1975) L.I.C. 1180, referred to by the Labour Court, had not been accepted as laying down the correct law by a Full Bench decision in Anand Oil Industries v. Labour Court, Hyderabad : AIR1979AP182 , that as per the said Andhra Pradesh Full Bench decision, a dispute as to bonus payable by the management to an individual employee cannot be taken to be an industrial dispute and such a dispute could be agitated by filing an application under Section 33(c)(2) and that in view of the said decision, the decision of the Labour Court in this case has to be set aside with a direction to the Labour Court to go into the claim of the petitioner on merits.

5. On a close perusal of the Full Bench decision in Anand Oil Industries v. Labour Court, Hyderabad : AIR1979AP182 , we find that the Full Bench was of the view that the minimum bonus payable under the Payment of Bonus Act is a right vested in an employee under a statute, that such a right to receive the minimum bonus constituted an existing statutory right and that for enforcement of such a right an employee can certainly file an application under Section 33(c)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, and the Labour Court is competent to compute the amount due to the employees in this behalf. It was also of the view that a claim for payment of minimum bonus cannot constitute an industrial dispute within the meaning of Section 22 of the Payment of Bonus Act, that when such a claim is made by an employee, it is not necessary that it should be referred to adjudication by an Industrial Tribunal and that the Labour Court has jurisdiction to entertain the petition under Section 33(c)(2) and to actually determine the amount of bonus due. According to the Full Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, the decision in Anand Oil Industries v. Labour Court, Hyderabad : AIR1979AP182 , holding that any dispute arising between the employer and the employees with respect to the bonus payable under the Act was an industrial dispute within the meaning of the Industrial Disputes Act, in view of Section 22 of the Payment of Bonus Act and that being so, such a dispute will have to be adjudicated in the regular way and not resolved by an application under Section 33(c)(2) was not correct.

6. As far as the claim for minimum bonus is concerned, it is possible to say that it could be agitated in an application under Section 33(c)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act as it is a statutory right and there is no necessity to have it either established or declared by raising an industrial dispute or otherwise. It is true the decision in Major D. Aranha v. Universal Radiators, Coimbatore (1975) 1 L.L.J. 254 : (1975) L.I.C. 1180, proceeded on the basis that even an individual dispute relating to bonus between an employer and an individual workman will become an industrial dispute under Section 22 of the Payment of Bonus Act, while a Full Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court took the view that it is only the collective dispute with respect to bonus that will become an industrial dispute under Section 22 of the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and not an individual dispute between an employer and an employee with respect to the bonus payable to that particular employee. However, we feel it unnecessary to go into this controversy and to resolve one way or the other the said question as to whether Section 22 of the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 will take in an industrial dispute with respect to bonus, as we are of the view that this case can be disposed of without reference to that question. The case before the Division Bench in Major D. Aranha v. Universal Radiators, Coimbatore (1975) 1 L.L.J. 254 : (1975) L.I.C. 1180 related to a claim for bonus payable to the employees for the year 1965-66. The management contended that no bonus has been declared so far for that year, and therefore, the workman cannot claim bonus and that in the event the employee having received a consolidated sum of Rs. 3,000 towards all the benefits due to him inclusive of bonus for the year 1965-66, he cannot claim any further amount as bonus. It is in the light of these pleadings, the Court held that the claim cannot be agitated under the provisions contained under Section 33(c)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. We are of the view that the actual decision rendered by the Division Bench of this Court in Major D. Aranha v. Universal Radiators, Coimbatore (1975) 1 L.L.J. 254 : (1975) Lab. I.C. 1180, cannot be taken exception to. The Full Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Anand Oil Industries v. Labour Court, Hyderabad : AIR1979AP182 , has not laid down that any claim for bonus by individual workman against the management can be agitated under Section 33(2)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act, but it has restricted the employee's right to proceed under this section only to claims for minimum bonus treating that claim as a claim to enforce a statutory right. Even taking the decision of the said Full Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court as laying down the correct law, the petitioner herein cannot maintain the claim which he has made in his application under Section 33(c)(2) before the Labour Court in his case. The petitioner has not restricted his claim to minimum bonus and the claim petition makes no reference to the minimum bonus payable to him, even as an alternative claim. The petitioner has claimed in his claim petition a bonus of 30% and the management has disputed the said claim on various grounds. Therefore, the claim as put forward by the petitioner before the Labour Court cannot be sustained even on the basis of the Full Bench judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The claim of 30% made by the petitioner does not spring from any settlement or award nor does it spring from the statute. Therefore, the petitioner cannot straightway proceed under Section 33(c)(2) to claim the 30% bonus.

7. In our view, the claim made by the petitioner has rightly been rejected by the Labour Court. The learned Counsel for the petitioner submits that it is always open to the petitioner to make a restricted claim for minimum bonus payable to him under Section 10 of the Payment of Bonus Act, and to enforce the same by filing an application under Section 33(c)(2) on the basis of the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Anand Oil Industries v. Labour Court of Hyderabad : AIR1979AP182 . It is always open to the petitioner to restrict his claim for minimum statutory bonus payable to him by the management, under Section 10 of the Payment of Bonus Act and file an application under Section 33(c)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, and as and when such an application is filed, the Labour Court will have to entertain that claim and dispose of the same on merits after considering the management's contention that the petitioner is not a workman as defined under Section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act and that even otherwise, the petitioner has disqualified himself from getting the bonus under Section 9.

8. Therefore, subject to the above observations the writ petition is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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