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Sulekha Works Limited Vs. Baren Das - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1983)IILLJ501Cal
AppellantSulekha Works Limited
RespondentBaren Das
Cases ReferredPremier Automobile Limited v. Kamlekar Shantaram Wadke
Excerpt:
- .....deducted wages claimed in the suit is concerned, there is no bar to the maintainability of the suit in civil court in respect of relief of permanent injunction restraining the employer from making future deductions from the wages of the plaintiff.8. but in my view, it is difficult to accept this submission made on behalf of the respondent which does not appear to be well founded. in the present case, the employer has decided to deduct the sum of rs. 16000/- from the wages of the plaintiff employee, month by month, payable to him. so, as soon as deduction is made contrary to the provisions of the payment of wages act relief in respect of such deduction is to be sought for by the employee under section 15 of the said act and the bar of section 22 cl.(d) to the jurisdiction of the civil.....
Judgment:

Amitabha Dutta, J.

1. The appellant's application for taking additional ground is allowed.

2. This is an appeal by the defendant against a decree of affirmance passed by the learned Additional District Judge 8th Court, Alipore in a suit for declaration and injunction and recovery of money illegally and wrongfully deducted from the wages of the plaintiff.

3. The plaintiff has been an employee of the defendant company Sulekha Works Limited and apart from his duty as a driver he was entrusted with the work of purchasing urgently needed materials for the defendant company within a limit of Rs. 500/- under instructions from the purchase department. For such purchases, the plaintiff used to receive moneys, signing vouchers or slips and submit accounts and cash memos etc. to the purchase department. The plaintiffs case is that in the first part of 1969 he came to know from the purchase department that he was being charged for not rendering the daily accounts of purchase properly and that a sum of Rs. 16,000/- remained to be accounted for by him. He was verbally informed that the said amount would be adjusted by deductions from the wages but nothing was intimated to him in this regard in writing. The defendant company started making deductions from the plaintiffs wages from 5th February, 1969 and in spite of repeated representations from the plaintiff, continued to do so. Such deductions being wrongful and illegal, the plaintiff filed the suit for declaration that the deductions are contrary to law and that the company had no right to deduct any amount from the wage of the plaintiff and for permanent injunction restraining the defendant company from making any deduction in future. The plaintiff has also claimed recovery of Rs. 1657.37 from the defendant company on account of deductions illegally made from the wages.

4. The defendant pleaded in the written statement that in 1969 during internal audit it was found that a sum of Rs. 16054.69 p. was due from the plaintiff on account of advances taken for purchases of materials for the company but not accounted for. The plaintiff was asked to explain and refund the excess amount remaining in his hands. The plaintiff thereafter admitted that he had overdrawn a sum of Rs. 16000/- and when he was threatened with disciplinary action and legal steps, he agreed to refund the amount by way of deduction from his monthly salary so that his services under the company might continue.

5. Both the Courts below have found that the defendant company has failed to prove that the amount of Rs. 16000/- is due from the plaintiff by way of excess amount of advance taken by the plaintiff for making the purchases for the company and also that the plaintiff ever agreed to deduction from his monthly wages for recovery of such amount by the defendant company. On such concurrent findings of fact, the decree of affirmance has been passed by the learned Additional District Judge who has further held that the plaintiff is entitled to a declaration that the defendant's decision to deduct from the wages of the plaintiff and the actual deductions made are illegal until the defendant can establish its claim for any amount before a competent Court of Law, if not barred by limitation. So, a decree has been made against the defendant appellant for a sum of Rs. 1657.37 p. as the amount actually deducted from the wages of the plaintiff and the defendant has been restrained by permanent injunction from deducting any amount from the plaintiffs wages in future.

6. It has been submitted by the learned Advocate appearing for the defendant appellant that in view of the nature of the reliefs claimed by the plaintiff in this suit the Civil Court had nojurisdiction to entertain the suit as the Civil Court's jurisdiction is barred by the provisions of Section 15read with Section 22(d) of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936. Section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act provides, inter alia, that where contrary to the provisions of the said Act any deduction has been made from the wages of an employed person he may apply to the statutory authority for a direction under Sub-section (3) which empowers the authority mentioned therein to grant the necessary relief, if any, after hearing the applicant and the employer. Section 22 of the said Act provides inter alia that no court shall entertain any suit for the recovery of wages or of any deduction from the wages in so far as the same so claimed, could have been recovered by an application under Section 15. It is therefore urged on behalf of the appellant that the present suit for recovery of wages alleged to have been illegally deducted or deducted contrary to the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 and also for injunction restraining the employer from continuing such deduction is barred by Section 22 of the said Act.

7. In support of his submission, he has referred to a decision of Madhya Pradesh High Court in the case of Jiwajirao Sugar Company v. J.M. Banerjee reported in 1963-I L.L.J. (H.C.) 611, in which it has been held that even if the employer acquiesced in jurisdiction of the Civil Court such acquiescence will not confer jurisdiction on the Civil Court in view of the wording of Section 22 which creates an absolute bar and jurisdiction cannot be given by consent. Where the Court has no inherent jurisdiction over the subject matter of the dispute the parties cannot by their mutual consent or waiver or acquiescence give jurisdiction to the Court. On the other hand, it has been argued on behalf of the plaintiff respondent that the wording of Section 15 Sub-section (2) of the Payment of Wages Act refers to the deductions which have been already made from the wages of an employed person and in the present case although it can be said that the Civil Court had no jurisdiction to, entertain the suit in so far as the relief for recovery of illegally deducted wages claimed in the suit is concerned, there is no bar to the maintainability of the suit in Civil Court in respect of relief of permanent injunction restraining the employer from making future deductions from the wages of the plaintiff.

8. But in my view, it is difficult to accept this submission made on behalf of the respondent which does not appear to be well founded. In the present case, the employer has decided to deduct the sum of Rs. 16000/- from the wages of the plaintiff employee, month by month, payable to him. So, as soon as deduction is made contrary to the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act relief in respect of such deduction is to be sought for by the employee under Section 15 of the said Act and the bar of Section 22 Cl.(d) to the jurisdiction of the Civil Court comes in. In my view, in such a situation it cannot be said that although the authority under the Payment of Wages Act shall have exclusive jurisdiction in respect of deductions from the wages already made contrary to the said Act, the Civil Court will have jurisdiction to entertain a suit for injunction restraining the deductions to be made by the employer from future wages. In this connection, the learned Advocate for the appellant has referred to the decision in the case of Premier Automobile Limited v. Kamlekar Shantaram Wadke 1975-II L.L.J. 445 where it has been held that it cannot be said that even if a suit could not lie in a Civil Court for enforcement of a right or liability created under the Industrial Disputes Act, still the remedy of injunction by a suit in Civil Court was not lost. His Lordship, Untwalia J. speaking for the Court has observed in paragraph 15 of the Judgment, that it will bear repetition to say that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court in India to grant injunction is limited to cases in which there is a right at law to be pursued in such court. In the present case, when the right of the plaintiff arising out of illegal deduction from the wages by the employer cannot be pursued in Civil Court he cannot maintain a suit in the Civil Court for injunction to prevent the employer from making deductions from his future wage's.

9. In the result, I find that the contentions raised on behalf of the appellant regarding the absence of jurisdiction of the Civil Court to entertain the suit are well founded and should prevail. The appeal, therefore, succeeds. The decree appealed from is set aside and the suit is dismissed as not maintainable in Civil Court for want of jurisdiction. There will be no order for costs throughout.


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