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B.N. Elias and Co. Private Ltd. Vs. the Authority Appointed Under the Payment of Wages Act and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMatter No. 173 of 1959
Judge
Reported inAIR1960Cal603,[1961(3)FLR334],(1961)IILLJ297Cal
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; ;Payment of Wages Act, 1936 - Sections 2, 5 and 15(2); Payment of Wages (Amendment) Act, 1957; ;Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Section 25F
AppellantB.N. Elias and Co. Private Ltd.
RespondentThe Authority Appointed Under the Payment of Wages Act and ors.
Appellant AdvocateP.P. Ginwalla, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateK.C. Mukherji, Adv.
Cases ReferredSitaram Ramcharan v. M. N. Nagrashane.
Excerpt:
- orderd.n. sinha, j. 1. the petitioner in this case is a private limited company incorporated under the indian companies act 1913. one of the businesses of the company is carried on under the same and style of the 'empire bone mills', in the said business, the petitioner crushes raw bones at its bone mills at bansberia in the district of hoghly and sells the various products of such crushig. it is statedthat by reason of the partition of india in 1947, the petitioner lost a large number of principal sources of raw bones situated in pakistan and also had to face competition with other bone mills nearer to the sources of supply. as a result of shortage of raw materials, the petitioner had been compelled to discontinue the working of his mill and to lay off its workmen and finally in january.....
Judgment:
ORDER

D.N. Sinha, J.

1. The petitioner in this case is a Private Limited Company incorporated under the Indian Companies Act 1913. One of the businesses of the Company is carried on under the same and style of the 'Empire Bone Mills', In the said business, the petitioner crushes raw bones at its bone mills at Bansberia in the District of Hoghly and sells the various products of such crushig. It is statedthat by reason of the partition of India in 1947, the petitioner lost a large number of principal sources of raw bones situated in Pakistan and also had to face competition with other bone mills nearer to the sources of supply. As a result of shortage of raw materials, the petitioner had been compelled to discontinue the working of his mill and to lay off its workmen and finally in January 1958 the business was practically closed and the workmen retrenched. On or about 13th January, 1958, 92 of its workmen employed in the said bone milk were retrenched and compensation was paid under Section 25-F of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. On or about 9th of April, 1959 the respondent No. 2, Nirmal Kumar Bhattacharjee claiming to be an official of a registered Trade Union, who had been authorised in writing by sixty-five workers of the petitioner, under Sub-section (2), Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 made an application before the respondent No. 1, the Authority appointed under the said Act for the State of West Bengal, claiming that proper compensation and gratuity, due -. to retrenchment made on 13-3-1958 had not been paid to the said workers aggregating to a sum of Rs. 13,184-54 nP. Such an application was made under Sub-section (2) of Section 15 of the said Act. The relevant provision is as follows:

'Where contrary to the provisions of this Act any deduction has been made from the wages of any employed person or any payment of wages has been delayed, such person himself or any legal practitioner, or any official of a registered Trade Union authorised in writing to act on this behalf, or any Inspector under this Act or any other person acting with the permission of the Authority appointed under Sub-section (1), may apply to such Authority for a direction under Sub-section (3); Provided that every such application shall be presented within six months from the date on which the deduction from the wages was made or from the date on which the payment of the wages was due to be made, as the case may be;

Provided further that any application may be permitted after the said period of six months when the applicant satisfies the Authority that he has sufficient cause for not making the application within the said period.'

2. Prima facie, the application was made out of time. The only excuse given for claiming exemption from the period of limitation was as follows:

'The applicant made protracted negotiations with the opposite party and through the Labour Commissioner for settlement without any effect and ultimately this case is to be filed before this Court. In the circumstances the applicant prays that the delay may kindly be condoned.

(Annexure 'B' and 'C')

(Copies of two letters to the Labour Commissioner are filed herewith. The applicant craves leave of the Court to file the originals and other correspondence at the time of hearing on point of condonation of delay.)'

3. The first letter, annexure 'B' is dated 16th January, 1958 and is a copy of a letter supposedto have been sent by Nirmal Kumar Bhattacharji.describing himself as 'Secretary', to the Assistant Labour Commissioner, sending him a list of workers who were retrenched by the Empire Bone Mills, Bansberia, on several dates including 13-3-1958. It is stated therein that the workers were paid 13 days' wages per year of service as compensation, in place of 15 days' wages as per the Industrial Disputes Act, and that the workers were also entitled to get gratuity as per certain awards mentioned therein. The second letter, annexure 'C' is a copy of a letter written by one S. N. Dutta describing himself as ''Joint Secretary', to the Labour Commissioner, dated 31-12-1958. In that letter, it was stated that gratuity and retrenchment compensation had not been paid to the workmen. It was stated that instead of 15 days' wages for every year, only 13 days' wages were paid. I have already stated that the application was made on the 9th April. 1959. On 20-4-1959 the respondent No. 1 directed that a copy of the application was to be sent to the employers asking them to appear and state why the delay in filing the application should not be condoned. There is then the following direction:

'Ask the applicant to appear and show the original letter referred to in the explanation and ad-duce evidence in support of his contention. The order of O. P. showing, retrenchment of the workmen should also be produced. To 19-5-1959.'

4. On the 19th May, 1959 the following entry appears in the order-sheet:

'Both parties present. Heard them. The applicant has shown the original letters. It is seen that the applicant addressed several letters to the O. P. over the matter of retrenchment of the workers concerned and short payment of their dues. The first letter is dated 13-1-1958, the second 4th February 1958, the third dated 30th May 1958, the fourth dated 4th August 1958 and the fifth dated 21st November 1958. It is learnt that no reply was sent to any of these letters. The application in this case was filed on 9-4-59. i.e.. within six months from the date of the last letter which is 21-11-58. So it is seen that the workers tried to get their dues all along since retrenchment. Having failed to elicit a favourable gesture from the O. P. they have filed their claim in this Court. I consider these circumstances to be indicative of sufficient reason for the delay. The delay is condoned and the application is admitted. Issue summons on O. P. to file Written Statement.'

5. Thereafter, the Company filed its written statement and the case came up for hearing on the 4th August, 1959. On that date, the Company took the defence that the Court had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the claim for retrenchment compensation. This initial point of jurisdiction was repelled and the Court held that it had jurisdiction. The Court observed that on behalf of the Company it had been admitted' that there had been retrenchment under Section 25-F. and compensation paid in terms thereof. It remarked that it was not clear as to whether the claim was for unclaimed wages or deducted wages. The applicant was directed tostate the nature of the claim clearly and the matter would have to be heard on evidence on 7-9-59. On the 7th September, 1959, an application was made for amendment of the petition stating that the claim was for deducted wages. Thereafter this application was made to this Court and further proceedings have been stayed. On behalf of the petitioner, Mr. Ginwalla has taken three points: The first point is that the respondent No. 2 had no authority, or at least no authority had been proved, as is required under Sub-section (2) of Section 15. The second point is that compensation payable under Section 25-F of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 does not come within the definition of 'wages' as defined by the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 and as such, the respondent No. 1 had no jurisdiction to entertain this application. The third point is that the application for condonation had been wrongly decided and there was an error on the face of the proceedings, as no sufficient cause was shown for such condonation.

6. With regard to the first point, Mr. Mukherji appearing on behalf of the respondent No. 1 produced the original letter of authority, and it does appear that the persons concerned did give a letter of authority in favour of the respondent No. 2. aS this is a question of fact, I am unable to go into such a matter. I now come to the second point. Admittedly, the compensation paid was under Section 25-F of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The whole question is whether such compensation comes within the definition of 'wages' as defined by the Payment of Wages Act. 1936. The word 'retrenchment' has been defined in Section 2(oo) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and it means the termination by the employer of the services of a workman for any reason whatsoever, other than as punishment inflicted by way of disciplinary action, but does not include voluntary retirement or retirement upon superannuation or termination on the ground of continued ill health. The word 'wages' is also defined in Section 2(rr) of the said Act and means all remuneration capable of being. expressed in terms of money, which would, if the terms of employment, express or implied were fulfilled, be payable to a workman in respect of his employment or of work done in such an employment. I now come to the word 'wages' as defined under the Payment of Wages Act IV of 1936. This definition, as contained in the original Act, has been amended by the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Act 68 of 1957. Both the definitions must be considered. Under the original definition, the word 'wages' means all remuneration, capable of being expressed in terms of money, which would, if the terms of the contract of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable, whether conditionally upon the regular attendance, good work or conduct or other behaviour of the person employed, or otherwise, to a person employed, in respect of his employment or of work done in such employment .... and any sum payable to such a person by reason of the termination of his employment. The relevant part of the amended definition is as follows:

'Wages means all remunerations (whether byway of salary, allowance or otherwise) expressed in terms of money or capable of being so expressed which would, if the terms of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable to a person employed in respect of his employment or of work done in such an employment, and includes: (d) any sum which by reason of the termination of the employment of the person employed is payable under any law, contract or instrument which provides for the payment of such sums, whether with or without deduction, but does not provide for the time within which the payment is to be made.'

7. The first question that arises is as to which of the two definitions is to apply, in the facts and circumstances of the present case. The Old Act of 1936 came into operation on the 28th March, 1937, being the date appointed by the Central Government, in terms of Sub-section (3) of Section 1. The Amendment Act of 1957. received the assent of the President on 28th December, 1957. It was also to come into force on such date as the Central Government may by notification in the Official Gazette appoint. The appointed date was the 1st April, 1958. The retrenchment was made on 13th January, 1958. Mr. Ginwalla argues that it is the new Act which applies, on principles enumerated in Maxwell on 'Interpretation of Statutes' 9th Edn, p. 231, where instances of certain English statutes have been given, where the Act was passed on a certain date but was not to come into operation for sometime. It was held that the intention was to mitigate the hardship which would ensue if the Act came into operation at once. It gave notice to persons sought to be affected, and in the cases of several of these statutes it was held that intermediate transactions were also affected. In my opinion, the guiding factor in such cases is the intention of the Legislature. In each of these cases cited by Maxwell, it was held that the intention was to affect intermediate transactions. In my opinion, there is no indication in the case of the present amendment, to show that it was intended to be retrospective or to affect intermediate transactions. and the old Act being in operation on the date of retrenchment, it appears to me that it is the old Act which would apply. In my opinion however, whether the old Act applies or the amendment applies, there is very little difference. As I have stated, the parties proceeded on the footing that the claim was one for compensation under Section 25-F of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. What is argued is that the word 'wages' is a contractual liability. In other, words, a workman is appointed by the employer and he agrees to pay him a certain remuneration. But compensation is not remuneration. Strictly speaking, it is by way of damages for bringing the contractual relationship to an end. It is argued that it is a contradiction in terms to say that damages for bringing the contract to an end can be considered as payment under the contract. That may be the simplest way of looking at the problem. The question in the present case, however, is not at all simple. The word 'Wages' may be essentially a contractual debt, but as appears from the definition in the Industrial Disputes Act itself, it includes all remunerations capable of beingexpressed in terms of money which would, if the terms of employment, express or implied were fulfilled, be payable to a workman in respect of his employment or of work done. Therefore, the liability is not dependent on merely the expressed terms of the contract, but also upon the implied terms. The compensation payable under Section '25-F of the Industrial Disputes Act, is certainly called 'compensation', but the statute itself makes it clear that if you engage a workman and retrench him, then an amount, which is capable of being expressed in terms of money, will have to be paid. An employer appointing a workman would clearly do so with his eyes open to the fact that whatever be the terms of the contract of employment, this statutory provision must be considered as super-added thereto. In other words, it must be taken as an implied term of the contract, which would bring it within the definition of 'wages', in the Industrial Disputes Act itself. It is from this point of view that it has been held in a case decided by the Punjab' High Court Mehra and Co. v. Khanayia Lal, , that the sum. payable by reason of termination of: employment under Section 25-F of the Industrial Disputes Act, falls within the ambit of the expression 'wages' as defined in Section 2 of the Payment of Wages Act. In that case, the learned Chief Justice was dealing with the definition in the original Payment of Wages Act, 1936. He said as follows:

'Assuming for the sake of argument that the amount payable to an employee under clause 3 mentioned above must be restricted to the amount which has been guaranteed to him under the terms of the contract in terms of the contract express or implied, even then it seems to me that a statutory provision with regard to a sum payable to an employee by the reason of the termination of his employment must be deemed to be an implied term of the contract. The expression 'implied contract' applies not only to contracts which are implied in fact, that is which may be inferred from the conduct or presumed intention of parties, but also to contracts which are implied in law, that is contracts where the liability arises from an implication of law and from facts and circumstances independent of agreement or presumed intention of parties (paragraph 28 of Halsbury's Laws of England 3rd Edn. Vol. 8).

As pointed out by an American Judge, in the case of contracts implied in fact the contract defines the duty, while in the case of contracts implied in law the duty defines the contract --First National Bank v. Matlock, 99 Okla 150. It follows as a consequence that when the Legislature declares that an employer shall make certain payments to an employee whose services are terminated, the law imputes to the employer a promise to fulfil that obligation.'

8. While agreeing with this view, I think that the matter is abundantly clear, so far as the old definition is concerned, from the definition itself, even without going into the question of an implied contract. In defining the word 'wages' it was stated expressly in the old definition that it would include 'any sum payable to such person by reasonof the termination of his employment'. This brings the compensation payable under Section 25-F(b) of the Industrial Disputes Act directly within the definition of 'wages' in the Payment of Wages Act, because it is clearly a sum payable to the workman by reason of the termination of his employment. Mr. Ginwalla argues that the matter is really governed by the definition as amended. He argues that in order to come within the definition of 'wages' under the amendment, it must come within clause (d), and any sum which is payable under any law by reason of the termination of employment would only come within the definition if the time within which it should be paid has not been provided. He points out that the time within which compensation under Section 25-F(b) should be paid has been provided in the section itself, namely, at the time of retrenchment. In my opinion, it is too narrow a construction of the amended definition. Clause (d) in the amended definition of 'wages', is merely illustrative of what constitutes wages and is not exhaustive. The definition starts by saying that 'wages' would mean all remuneration (whether by way of salary, allowance or otherwise) expressed in terms of money or capable of being so expressed, which would, if the terms of employment, expressed or implied, were fulfilled, be payable to a person employed in respect of his employment. As I have held, payment of compensation under Section 25-F(b) must be taken to be an implied term of the contract, and would thus come within the definition of 'wages'. This result cannot be cut down by an illustration which follows, as is contained in clause (d). Upon this point, a decision of the 'Supreme Court must be cited -- Divisional Engineer G. I. P. Rly. v. Mahadeo Raghoo, (S) : (1955)ILLJ359SC . In that case, what arose to be considered was as to whether a house rent allowance, which was payable to an employee of Government, under rules, and under the expressed terms of the contract of employment, should be considered as having been included within the definition of 'wages' as defined in Section 2(vi) of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936. It was held that, shorn of all verbiage, 'wages' as defined in Section 2(vi) is remuneration payable by an employer to his employee for services rendered according to the terms of the contract between them. Where any rules are made touching the subject of any allowance to be paid to his employee by the Government Department concerned, then such rules are to be included in the terms of the contract between the employer and the employee. This decision clearly shows that payments which are to be compulsorily made under any statute or statutory rules, should be considered as payments made under an implied term of the contract of employment. Although it is not necessary to multiply decisions, I might also refer to a Patna case which has been cited before me. Md. Quasum Lari v. Md. Shamshuddin, (S) : AIR1957Pat683 , where it has been held that an employer fixing the remuneration of his employed must know that whatever be the express terms of the contract in regard to remuneration, he is bound also to pay the amount of remuneration mentioned in an award of a Tribunal or fixed as per settlement in a conciliation proceeding, under the Industrial Disputes Act, and these payments may be enforced as 'wages' under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936. Mr. Ginwalla argues that if the compensation payable under Section 25-F(b) of the Industrial Disputes Act be considered as 'wages' as defined in the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 then there will be conflict between it and Section 5 of the Payment of Wages Act. He points out that under the Industrial Disputes Act, the compensation will be payable 'at the time of retrenchment' whereas under Section 5(2) of the Payment of Wages Act, wages, are to be paid before the expiry of the second working day from the day on which his employment is terminated. In my opinion, there is really no conflict. Section 25-F(b) lays down a condition on which a workman can be retrenched. So far as the workman employed in an industry, who has been in continuous service for not less than one year under an employer is concerned, he cannot be retrenched until he has been paid at the time of retrenchment, a certain amount of compensation. That is a condition of retrenchment and might become relevant upon the point as to whether , if the full amount of compensation had not been paid at the time of retrenchment, there would be any valid retrenchment at all. That is a matter beyond the competence of the competent authority under the Payment of Wages Act. The Payment of Wages Act provides for a machinery for the realisation of wages which have not been paid or which have been deducted or withheld. The expiry of the time specified in Section 5 creates a liability under the Payment of of Wages Act which lays down its own condition. I, therefore, see no conflict. The final position is, therefore, as follows: If a workman is retrenched then a certain compensation has to be paid under Section 25-F(b) of the Industrial Disputes Act. This being a compulsory payment under the statute, must be taken to be an implied term of the contract of employment. It will, therefore, come within the definition of 'wages' under the Payment of Wages Act as originally defined, as well as under the amended definition. I am, therefore, of the opinion that the respondent No, 1 had jurisdiction to entertain an application under the Payment of Wages Act 1936.

9. The third point that arises is as to whether there is an error in law on the face of the proceedings upon the question as to whether, on the facts of this case, there was 'sufficient cause' for condoning the delay under the second proviso to Sub-section (2) of Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act. 1936. It will be recollected that the time-limit for making an application is six months from the date on which the deduction from the wages was made or from the date on which the payment of the wages was due to be made. The Court below has held that there was sufficient cause for the delay because the appellant had addressed several letters to the O. P., the employer, over the matter of retrenchment of the workers and short payment of their dues, but no reply had been sent to any of these letters. Mr. Mukherji argues that is a question of fact, and. therefore, cannot beagitated in an application under Article 226. He has referred to a recent Supreme Court decision, Sitaram. Ramcharan v. M. N. Nagrashane, : (1960)ILLJ29SC . This was an appeal from a Division Bench judgment of the Bombay High Court, Sitaram Ramcharan v. M. N. Nagrashane. : (1954)IILLJ703Bom . As both these cases have been cited before me I must deal with both of them. I will first deal with the Bombay judgment delivered by Chagla, C. J. The facts were as follows: The two petitions made before the Bombay High Court were on behalf of the employees of the Watch and Ward Department of the two mills in Ahmedabad, made under the Payment of Wages Act, for payment of wages, which according to the workmen, had been delayed. The basis of the claim was that the rights of the applicants were governed by the Factories Act and inasmuch as the workmen had worked more than eight hours a day, they were entitled to overtime dues. Admittedly the claim was made, in respect of most of the wages, beyond six months of the becoming due, and as such was barr-ed under Section 15(2) of the said Act. It was incumbent, therefore, upon the applicants to satisfy the Authority that they had 'sufficient cause' for not making the claim within time. The Authority decided that the petitioners had failed to show sufficient cause, at least with regard to the bulk of the claim. Thereupon, applications were made under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution to the Bombay High Court. The 'sufficient cause' that was sought to be put forward was as follows: An application had been made by the workers of some other mill for wages, on the basis of the Factories Act, and it was in November 1951 that the Authority held that the employees were governed by the Factories Act and this was upheld by a judgment of the Small Causes Court dated 2-5-1952. The workers stated that it was only after this that they became aware of the law governing their rights, and after certain correspondence they filed their claim for delayed wages. Thus, the excuse made for the delay was that the workers were ignorant of the legal provisions which gave them the right to claim the overtime dues. The Authority under the Payment of Wages Act held that ignorance of law did not constitute sufficient cause for the purpose of condonation of the delay in making the applications. Chagla, C. J. agreed with this view and stated as follows:

'The sufficient cause which has got to be established under the second proviso to Section 15(2) is not any cause which in the personal opinion of the Authority is sufficient. The sufficient cause contemplated by the proviso is a cause sufficient in law and the sufficiency of the cause is to be decided not by any discretion of the Authority but by proper legal principles. Therefore, if we are of the opinion that the Authority has decided in this case that there was no sufficient cause by reason of well established legal principles, then it would not be correct to say, as has been urged by Mr. Tarkunde, that the Authority has limited his own discretion or put fetters upon his own discretion. Far from doing so, he has done what the law requires him to do, viz., to decide both as a question of law and as a question of fact as to whether a particular.ground put forward by the applicant constituted sufficient cause within the meaning of the second proviso to Section 15(2).'

The learned Chief Justice proceeded to state as follows :

'The words 'sufficient cause' should receive a liberal construction so as to advance substantial justice when no negligence nor inaction nor want of bona fides is imputable to the appellant. Therefore, it is not sufficient that the party should not be guilty of negligence or should not be guilty of bad faith. He should also not be guilty of not taking any action, and when a party does not choose to bestir himself because he is ignorant of his rights, he is clearly in law guilty of inaction.'

10. The petitions were dismissed and there was an appeal to the Supreme Court. Gajendragadkar, J. of the Supreme Court pointed out (ibid) that the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act had decided the application on two grounds. One was that ignorance of law was no excuse and secondly, that no satisfactory explanation had at all been given by the workers as to why, immediately after coming to know of the decision in the case of the Ruby Mills published in the Bombay Labour Gazette dated January 19, 1953 they did not move the Authority. It was stated that there was no affidavit explaining the conduct of the appellants after 2-5-1952 when the Ruby Mills case was decided. The learned Judge proceeds to point out that before the High Court only the first point was agitated and no mention was made of the second point. He said as follows :

'As we have already noticed, the authority has held against the appellants on two grounds, one that ignorance of law cannot be a sufficient cause, and second that, even if it was, in fact the appellants had not explained the delay made by them in making the present applications after they knew of the decision in the case of Ruby Mills (vide Bombay Labour Gazette dated January 1953, vol. 32, No. 5, p. 521) (Supra), on 2-5-1952. This latter conclusion is a finding on a question of fact and its propriety or validity could not have been challenged before the High Court and cannot be questioned before us in the present appeals.'

11. From this it is argued that the question as to whether there is sufficient cause or not for condoning the delay under Section 15(2) of the Payment of Wages Act is a question of fact and cannot be agitated in an application under Article 226. In my opinion, this is an incorrect reading of the decision, As Chagla C. J. pointed out (ibid) the question is a mixed one of fact and law. Whether there was a sufficient cause or not is certainly dependent on fact, but once the facts have been related, the question as to whether they constitute 'sufficient' cause' within the second proviso to Sub-section (2) of Section 15 must be a question of law. The Supreme Court decision merely pointed out that the workers had put forward no explanation at all for delay after the Ruby Mills case was decided and this was certainly a question of fact. Whether any explanation was put forward or not must necessarily be a question of fact. It is only when explanations have been putforward that the question of law arises as to whether on those facts a 'sufficient cause' has arisen within the meaning of the statute. As Chagla, C. J. has pointed out (ibid) the question of 'sufficient cause' does not depend on the discretion of the authority, but must constitute a 'sufficient cause' in the light of principles laid down by the Courts, that is to say, upon proper legal principles. The learned Chief Justice also pointed out that not only negligence, but inaction should also be taken into account and that an explanation should be given for the whole period of delay. It is a well established principle that to constitute 'sufficient cause' there must be an explanation for every moment of the delay and not merely a part thereof. This has been affirmed in the Supreme Court decision cited above, where it has been held that the second proviso to Section 15(2) of the Payment of Wages Act is in substance similar to the provisions in Section 5 of the Limitation Act. It cannot be disputed that in dealing with the question of condoning delay under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, the party has to satisfy the Court that he has sufficient cause for not preferring an appeal or making an application within the prescribed time, and this has always been understood to mean that the explanation has to cover every moment of the delay. The contention that if sufficient cause has been shown in not making the application within the period of six months prescribed by Section 15(2), then the application can be made any time thereafter, has been held to be incorrect. These being the principles to be applied, the question is whether, the finding of the Court below contains any error of law on the face of the record. I have stated above that in the application made for condonation, two letters were relied upon dated 16-1-58 and 31-12-58. It was stated in the petition that originals of other correspondence relevant on the point would be filed at the time of hearing. The applicant was directed by the Court below to produce such originals. In its judgment dated 19-5-.1959 the Court below has recorded that the applicant had shown original letters dated 13-1-58, 4-2-58, 30-5-58, 4-8-58 and 21-11-58. These are stated to be letters addressed by the 'applicant' to the O. P. meaning thereby the Company. None of these letters produced were original letters and could not be, because originals could only be in the possession of the company. I have looked into the record and I find that all of them are copies. With regard to three of them, certificates of posting were produced and with regard to one, a slip of paper containing certain initials was produced. Nobody came to prove any of the letters or the receipt, although the company denied having received any of the letters. This was the only material before the Court below. It held that inasmuch as there was this correspondence, and no reply was sent to any of these letters, and because the case was filed within six months from the date of the last letter, there was sufficient cause. In my opinion, the Court below wholly misunderstood the purport and meaning of the provisos in Sub-section (2) of Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act. These provisos lay down that every application for payment of the wages, wrongfully deducted or delayed,should be presented within six months from the date on which the deduction from the Wages was made Or from the date on which the payment of the wages was due to be made, as the case may be. I do not see how the Court below was justified in computing the period of six months, from what it calls, the 'last letter'. Retrenchment was effected on or about 13-1-1958 and the wrongful deduction, if it has taken place, has to be calculated from that day, and the six months' period would expire on or about 13-6-1958. Even assuming that the Court below was justified in holding that because of the correspondence the period should be extended upto 21-11-1958, there was no explanation whatsoever before it for the period between 21-11-1958 and 9-4-1959 when the application was filed. The law is that every single moment of delay must be explained and inaction is as much fatal as mere negligence. The Court below erroneously thought that the six months' period should be calculated from the last day of the correspondence, if there is any correspondence. This is an error on the face of the record. It is obvious, therefore, that its decision upon this point is vitiated by several errors. First of all it has not appreciated the legal principles to be applied in determining what constitutes 'sufficient cause' within the second proviso to Sub-section (2) of Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act. Secondly, the Court below was confused on the question as to whether the letters produced before it were originals or copies, and it accepted as evidence these copies without anyone proving the same or their contents or their receipt by the company, in accordance with law.

12. For these reasons, the decision of the Court below dated 19-5-1959 cannot be upheld and must be quashed by a writ in the nature of certiorari. Before proceeding further, the Court below must deal with the application for condonation in accordance with law. This Rule is, therefore, made absolute in part and as stated above, the order dated 19-5-1959 is quashed. The rest of the Rule is discharged. Interim orders, if any, including the order as to deposit of a sum of money are vacated. There will be no order as to costs.


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