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Bombay Chemical Industries vs. Deputy Labour Commissioner - (Supreme Court) (04 Feb 2022)

Without prior adjudication of workmen’s disputed claim, proceedings for computation of difference of wages not maintainable under Section 33(C)(2) of ID Act

MANU/SC/0150/2022

Service

In present matter, the Respondent No.2 moved an application before the Labour Court under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 demanding the difference of wages from 1st April, 2006 to 31st March, 2012. The said application was contested by the Appellant denying any relationship of employee-¬employer. Before the Labour Court, Respondent No.2 relied upon the documents in support of his case that he had worked in the establishment as a salesman. By order, the learned Presiding Officer, Labour Court allowed the said application and directed the Appellant to pay the difference of wages as claimed in the application.

The Appellant preferred a writ petition before the High Court. By the impugned judgment and order the High Court has dismissed the said writ petition which has given rise to the present appeal.

As per the settled proposition of law, in an application under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, the Labour Court has no jurisdiction and cannot adjudicate dispute of entitlement or the basis of the claim of workmen. It can only interpret the award or settlement on which the claim is based. As held by this Court in the case of Ganesh Razak and Anr., the labour court’s jurisdiction under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act is like that of an executing court. As per the settled preposition of law, without prior adjudication or recognition of the disputed claim of the workmen, proceedings for computation of the arrears of wages and/or difference of wages claimed by the workmen shall not be maintainable under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act.

When there was no prior adjudication on the issue whether Respondent No.2 was in employment as a salesman as claimed by Respondent No.2 herein and there was a serious dispute raised that Respondent No.2 was never in employment as a salesman and the documents relied upon by Respondent No.2 were seriously disputed by the Appellant and it was the case on behalf of the appellant that those documents are forged and/or false, thereafter the Labour Court ought not to have proceeded further with the application under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act.

The Labour Court ought to have relegated Respondent No.2 to initiate appropriate proceedings by way of reference and get his right crystalized and/or adjudicate upon. Therefore, the order passed by the Labour Court was beyond the jurisdiction conferred under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. The High Court has not appreciated the aforesaid facts and has confirmed the same without adverting to the scope and ambit of the jurisdiction of the Labour Court under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. The impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court as well as that of the order passed by the Labour Court under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act are quashed. Appeal allowed.

Tags : WAGES   ADJUDICATION   JURISDICTION  

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