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The relationship of employer and workman between the appellant and the respondent – company was brought to end in terms of a voluntary retirement scheme (in short “VRS”) introduced by the management of the company in September, 2011. The appellant, however, alleged that he was made to take voluntary retirement under duress and, in reality, his removal from service was illegal and unjustified. On those allegations he

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 NON-REPORTABLE

 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7389 OF 2011 

 [ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NO.9211 OF 2010]

Man Singh ... Appellant

 Versus

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. & Another ... Respondents

 O R D E R

1. Leave granted.

2. The relationship of employer and workman between the appellant 

and the respondent - company was brought to end in terms of a voluntary 

retirement scheme (in short "VRS") introduced by the management of the 

company in September, 2011. The appellant, however, alleged that he 

was made to take voluntary retirement under duress and, in reality, his 

removal from service was illegal and unjustified. On those allegations he 

 2

raised an industrial dispute. The appropriate Government referred the 

dispute for adjudication before the Labour Court, Gurgaon, vide order 

dated December 4, 2006. The reference is in the following terms:

 "Whether the termination of service of Shri Man Singh 

 on the basis of VRS Scheme by the Management was 

 justified and correct, if not, to what relief is he entitled?"

3. The respondent - company challenged the competence and validity 

of the reference in a Writ Petition (CWP No.3358/2009) before the 

Punjab and Haryana High Court. On behalf of the respondent - company, 

it was contended that having accepted the full monetary benefits under the 

VRS, it was no longer open to the appellant to question or challenge his 

termination of service and, in any case, any adjudication on the dispute 

raised by the appellant should not be allowed to proceed while he retained 

all the monetary benefits collected by him under the scheme. 

4. A learned single Judge of the High Court upheld the respondent's 

contention and while disposing of the Writ Petition by judgment and 

order dated November 23, 2009 made the following directions:-

 "To make the scales even, the Labour Court will undertake 

 the adjudication on the reference, if only the workman 

 deposits the amount which he has received into Court with 

 interest from the date when he has received to the date of 

 deposit calculated at 7.5% per annum. If the deposit is not 

 made within 60 days from the date when reference was issued 

 3

 to him, the reference made by the Government shall stand 

 annulled. 

 The writ petition is disposed of in the above terms."

5. The appellant challenged the order passed by the single Judge in an 

intra-court appeal but a Division Bench of the High Court dismissed his 

appeal [(L.P.A. No.82 of 2010)(O & M)] by a brief order, dated January 

21, 2010. 

6. The appellant has now brought this matter to this Court. On behalf 

of the appellant, it is submitted that the High Court in exercise of its writ 

jurisdiction could not interfere with the reference made by the appropriate 

Government and the direction to deposit in court the amount received by 

him under the VRS along with interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum as 

the condition for the reference to proceed, was quite unreasonable, 

inequitable and illegal. 

7. The submission made on behalf of the appellant is fully answered 

by an earlier decision of this Court in Ramesh Chandra Sankla and others 

versus Vikram Cement and others (2008) 14 SCC 58. In Ramesh 

Chandra Sankla a number of workmen of Vikram Cement Company who 

had ceased to be the employees of Company after accepting full benefits 

under the scheme of voluntary retirement moved the Labour Court under 

 4

section 31 of the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Relations Act, 1960 making 

the same allegations against the Company as the appellant in this case. In 

that case, the Labour Court declined to decide certain issues framed at the 

instance of the management as preliminary issues. The management's 

appeal against the decision of the Labour Court not to decide those issues 

as preliminary issues was rejected by the Industrial Court. The writ 

petition filed by the management was dismissed by a learned single Judge 

on the ground that the orders passed by the Labour Court and affirmed by 

the Industrial Court were interlocutory in nature. The management took 

the matter before the Division Bench which held that the writ petitions 

filed by the Company were under Article 227 of the Constitution and the 

single Judge was exercising supervisory jurisdiction; hence, intra-court 

appeals were not maintainable and the appeals filed by the Company were 

liable to be dismissed on that score alone. Even while holding that the 

management's appeals were liable to be dismissed as not maintainable, 

the Division Bench went on to hold that since the workmen had 

approached the Labour Court after having received the benefits under the 

scheme, it would be equitable to direct the concerned employees to return 

the benefits so received to the employer subject to the undertaking by the 

 5

Company that in the event the Labour Court allowed the claim and 

granted benefits to the workmen, the same would be restored to them by 

the Company with interest at the rate of 6% per annum. 

8. The workmen challenged the order of the Division Bench before 

this Court inter alia on the ground that having held that the management's 

appeals were not maintainable, the Division Bench had no jurisdiction to 

make the impugned direction. This Court repelled the workmen's 

contention and in paragraphs 100 and 101 of the decision held and 

observed as follows:-

 "100. Even otherwise, according to the workmen, they were 

 compelled to accept the amount and they received such 

 amount under coercion and duress. In our considered 

 opinion, they cannot retain the benefit if they want to 

 prosecute claim petitions instituted by them with the Labour 

 Court. Hence, the order passed by the Division Bench of the 

 High Court as to refund of amount cannot be termed unjust, 

 inequitable or improper. Hence, even if it is held that a 

 "technical" contention raised by the workmen has some 

 force, this Court which again exercises discretionary and 

 equitable jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution, 

 will not interfere with a direction which is in consonance with 

 the doctrine of equity. It has been rightly said that a person 

 "who seeks equity must do equity". Here the workmen claim 

 benefits as workmen of the Company, but they do not want to 

 part with the benefit they have received towards retirement 

 and severance of relationship of master and servant. It simply 

 cannot be permitted. In our judgment, therefore, the final 

 direction issued by the Division Bench needs no interference, 

 6

 particularly when the Company has also approached this 

 Court under Article 136 of the Constitution.

 101. For the foregoing reasons, in our opinion, the order 

 passed by the Division Bench of the High Court deserves to 

 be confirmed and is hereby confirmed. The payment which 

 is required to be made as per the said order should be made 

 by the applicants intending to prosecute their claims before 

 the Labour Court, Mandsour. In view of the fact, however, 

 that the said period is by now over, ends of justice would be 

 served if we extend the time so as to enable the applicants to 

 refund the amount. We, therefore, extend the time up to 31-

 12-2008 to make such payment. We may, however, clarify 

 that the claim petitions will not be proceeded with till such 

 payment is made. If the payment is not made within the 

 period stipulated above, the claim petitions of those 

 applicants will automatically stand dismissed. The Labour 

 Court will take up the claim petitions after 31-12-2008."

The present case is squarely covered by the decision of this Court in 

Ramesh Chandra Sankla (supra). We, thus, find no merit in the 

submission made on behalf of the appellant that the High Court had no 

jurisdiction to make a direction for refund of the entire amount received 

by the appellant as a condition precedent for the reference to proceed.

9. We, however, feel that the imposition of interest at the rate of 7.5% 

per annum was a little harsh and unwarranted. Having regard to the fact 

that the appellant is no longer in service, we feel that the ends of justice 

would meet if the direction for refund is confined only to the principal 

amount received by the appellant under VRS. We, accordingly, modify 

 7

the order of the High Court to this limited extent and direct the appellant 

to refund the amount received by him under VRS, without any interest. In 

case the amount, as directed, is deposited by the appellant by November 

30, 2011, the reference shall proceed in accordance with law, otherwise it 

would stand quashed. 

10. The appeal stands disposed of subject to the above observations and 

directions. 

 .................................J.

 (Aftab Alam)

 .................................J.

 (R.M. Lodha)

New Delhi;

August 26, 2011. 

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