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Industrial Dispute Act – Since the claim was made after six years of termination, compensation only awarded to the workman = “Whether 18.02.86 termination of labour Shri Mohan Lal S/o Shri Dhanna Lal (Post-Mistri), who has been represented by Regional Secretary, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Kota Cantt., from service by the Employer – Assistant Engineer, Rajasthan State Agriculture Marketing Board, Sub-Division – Kota is legal and justifiable? If not, then applicant – labour is entitled to get what relief and compensation?”= In our opinion, interest of justice will be subserved if in lieu of reinstatement, the compensation of Rs.1,00,000/- (one lac) is paid by the appellant (employer) to the respondent (workman). We order accordingly. Such payment shall be made by the appellant to the respondent within six weeks from today failing which the same will carry interest @ 9% per annum. 23. The appeal is partly allowed to the above extent with no order as to costs.

published in   http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40659         

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6795 OF 2013
(Arising out of SLP(C) No.11305 of 2006)
Assistant Engineer, Rajasthan State
Agriculture Marketing Board, Sub-Division, Kota … Appellant
Versus
Mohan Lal …Respondent

 

 

 
JUDGMENT

 

 
R.M. LODHA, J.

 
Leave granted.
2. The consequent relief to be granted to the workman
whose termination is held to be illegal being in violation of
Section 25-F of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (for short,
“ID Act”) is the sole question for our decision in this appeal.
Were it not for the argument strongly pressed by the learned
counsel for the respondent that the delay in raising industrial
dispute in the absence of any such objection having been raised
by the employer before the Labour Court is no ground to mould
the relief of reinstatement, we would not have gone into the
question which is already answered in a long line of cases of
this Court.
3. Mohan Lal, the workman, was engaged as “Mistri” on
muster roll by the appellant, employer, from 01.11.1984 to
17.02.1986. On 18.02.1986, the services of the workman were
terminated. While doing so, the workman was neither given one
month’s notice nor was he paid one month salary in lieu of that
notice. He was also not paid retrenchment compensation.
4. In 1992, the workman raised industrial dispute which
was referred by the appropriate government to the Labour Court,
Kota (Rajasthan) for adjudication. The dispute referred to the
Labour Court reads as under:
“Whether 18.02.86 termination of labour Shri Mohan
Lal S/o Shri Dhanna Lal (Post-Mistri), who has been
represented by Regional Secretary, Hind Mazdoor
Sabha, Kota Cantt., from service by the Employer –
Assistant Engineer, Rajasthan State Agriculture
Marketing Board, Sub-Division – Kota is legal and
justifiable? If not, then applicant – labour is
entitled to get what relief and compensation?”
5. The Labour Court in its award dated 03.02.1999 held
that the workman had completed more than 240 days in a calendar
year and his services were terminated in violation of Section 25-
F of the ID Act. Having held that, the Labour Court declared
that the workman was entitled to be reinstated with continuity
in service and 30% back wages.
6. The employer was successful in challenging the above
award before the Single Judge of the High Court. The Single
Judge in his judgment dated 23.08.2001 though agreed with the
Labour Court that the employer had terminated workman’s services
in violation of Section 25-F but he was of the view that the
Labour Court was not justified in directing the reinstatement of
the workman because the workman had raised the industrial
dispute after 6 years of his termination. Relying upon the
decision of this Court in Balbir Singh[1], the Single Judge
substituted the order of reinstatement by the compensation which
was quantified at Rs.5,000/-.
7. The workman challenged the order of the learned
Single Judge in an intra-court appeal. The Division Bench of
the High Court allowed the workman’s appeal on 19.11.2005 by
relying upon the decision of this Court in Ajaib Singh[2]. The
Division Bench restored the award passed by the Labour Court.
8. In Nagar Mahapalika[3], it was held by this Court
that non compliance with the provisions of Section 6-N of the
U.P. Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (this provision is broadly
pari materia with Section 25-F), although, leads to the grant of
a relief of reinstatement with full back wages and continuity of
service in favour of the workman, the same would not mean that
such relief is to be granted automatically or as a matter of
course. It was emphasised that the Labour Court must take into
consideration the relevant facts for exercise of its discretion
in granting the relief.
9. The same Bench that decided Nagar Mahapalika3 in
Municipal Council, Sujanpur[4], reiterated the above legal
position. That was a case where the Labour Court had granted
reinstatement in service with full back wages to the workman as
statutory provisions were not followed. The award was not
interfered with by the High Court. However, this Court granted
monetary compensation in lieu of reinstatement.
10. In Mamni[5] following Nagar Mahapalika3, this Court
held that the reinstatement granted to the workman because there
was violation of Section 25-F, was not justified and modified
the order of reinstatement by directing that the workman shall
be compensated by payment of a sum of Rs.25,000/- instead of
the order of the reinstatement.
11. In M.C. Joshi[6], this Court was concerned with the
situation which was very similar to the present case. The
workman in that case was employed as a daily wager by the
Uttaranchal Forest Development Corporation on 01.08.1989. His
services were terminated on 24.11.1991 in contravention of the
provisions of Section 6-N of the U.P. Industrial Disputes Act.
He had completed 240 days of continuous work in a period of
twelve months preceding the order of termination. The workman
approached the Conciliation Officer on or about 02.09.1996,
i.e., after a period of about five years. The Labour Court
granted to the workman, M.C. Joshi, relief of reinstatement with
50% back wages. In the writ petition filed by the Corporation,
the direction of reinstatement was maintained but back wages
were reduced from 50% to 25%. This Court substituted the award
of reinstatement by compensation for a sum of Rs.75,000/-*.
12. In Ashok Kumar[7], this Court was concerned with the
question as to whether the Labour Court was justified in
awarding relief of reinstatement in favour of the workman who
had worked as daily wager for two years. His termination was
held to be violative of U.P. Industrial Disputes Act. This
Court held that the Labour Court should not have directed
reinstatement of the workman in service and substituted the
order of reinstatement by awarding compensation of Rs.50,000/-
**.
13. In Keshab Deb[8], the termination of the workman who
was a daily wager, was held illegal on diverse grounds including
violation of the provisions of Section 25-F. This Court held
that even in a case where order of termination was illegal,
automatic direction for reinstatement with full back wages was
not contemplated. The Court substituted the order of
reinstatement by an award of compensation of Rs.1,50,000/-****.
14. In Jagbir Singh[9], the Court speaking through one
of us (R.M. Lodha,J) in a case where the workman had worked from
01.09.1995 to 18.07.1996 as a daily wager granted compensation
of Rs.50,000/- to the workman in lieu of reinstatement with back
wages*******.
15. It is not necessary to refer to subsequent three
decisions of this Court, namely, Laxmi Kant Gupta[10], Man
Singh[11] and Santosh Kumar Seal[12], where the view has been
taken in line with the cases discussed above. As a matter of
fact in Santosh Kumar Seal12, this Court awarded compensation of
Rs.40,000/- to each of the workmen who were illegally
retrenched as they were engaged as daily wagers about 25 years
back and worked hardly for two or three years. It was held that
the relief of reinstatement cannot be said to be justified and
instead granted monetary compensation.
16. Recently in the case of Gitam Singh[13], this Court
speaking through one of us (R.M. Lodha,J) on consideration of
the most of the cases cited above reiterated the principle
regarding exercise of judicial discretion by the Labour Court in
a matter where the termination of the workman is held to be
illegal being in violation of Section 25-F in these words : “The
Labour Court has to keep in view all relevant factors,
including the mode and manner of appointment, nature of
employment, length of service, the ground on which the
termination has been set aside and the delay in raising the
industrial dispute before grant of relief in an industrial
dispute”.
17. Mr. Badri Prasad Singh, learned counsel for the
workman, however, vehemently contended, which was also the
contention of the workman before the Division Bench, that plea
regarding delay was not raised before the Labour Court and,
therefore, the delay in raising the industrial dispute should
not come in the way of the workman in grant of relief of
reinstatement. He relied upon Ajaib Singh2. In that case, the
services of the workman, Ajaib Singh were terminated on
16.07.1974. Ajaib Singh issued the notice of demand on
18.12.1981. No plea regarding delay was taken by the employer
before the Labour Court. The Labour Court directed the employer
to reinstate Ajaib Singh with full back wages. The award was
challenged before the High Court. The Single Judge held that
Ajaib Singh was disentitled to relief of reinstatement as he
slept over the matter for 7 years and confronted the management
at a belated stage when it might have been difficult for the
management to prove the guilt of the workman. The judgment of
the Single Judge was upheld by the Division Bench. The judgment
of the Division Bench was challenged by the workman before this
Court. The Court was persuaded by the grievance of the workman
that in the absence of any plea on behalf of the employer and
any evidence regarding delay, the workman could not be deprived
of the benefits under the I.D. Act merely on the technicalities
of law. However, the Court was of the opinion that on account
of th admitted delay, the Labour Court ought to have
appropriately moulded the relief by denying some part of the
back wages.******
18. Ajaib Singh2, in our view, cannot be read as laying down
an absolute proposition of law that where plea of delay is not
raised by the employer, the delay in raising the industrial
dispute by the workman pales into insignificance and the Labour
Court will be unjustified in taking this circumstance into
consideration for moulding the relief. On the contrary, in Ajaib
Singh2, the Court said that on account of admitted delay, the
Labour Court ought to have appropriately moulded the relief
though this Court moulded the relief by denying the workman some
part of the back wages.
19. In a subsequent decision in Balbir Singh1, this
Court observed that Ajaib Singh2 was confined to the facts and
circumstances of that case. It is true that in Balbir Singh1,
the plea of delay was raised before the Industrial Tribunal but
we would emphasize the passage from Balbir Singh1 where it was
said: “Whether relief to the workman should be denied on the
ground of delay or it should be appropriately moulded is at the
discretion of the Tribunal depending on the facts and
circumstances of the case. No doubt the discretion is to be
exercised judicially”.
20. We are clearly of the view that though Limitation
Act, 1963 is not applicable to the reference made under the I.D.
Act but delay in raising industrial dispute is definitely an
important circumstance which the Labour Court must keep in view
at the time of exercise of discretion irrespective of whether or
not such objection has been raised by the other side. The legal
position laid down by this Court in Gitam Singh13 that before
exercising its judicial discretion, the Labour Court has to keep
in view all relevant factors including the mode and manner of
appointment, nature of employment, length of service, the ground
on which termination has been set aside and the delay in raising
industrial dispute before grant of relief in an industrial
dispute, must be invariably followed.
21. Now, if the facts of the present case are seen, the
position that emerges is this: the workman worked as a work-
charged employee for a period from 01.11.1984 to 17.02.1986 (in
all he worked for 286 days during his employment). The services
of the workman were terminated with effect from 18.02.1986. The
workman raised the industrial dispute in 1992, i.e., after 6
years of termination. The Labour Court did not keep in view
admitted delay of 6 years in raising the industrial dispute by
the workman. The judicial discretion exercised by the Labour
Court is, thus, flawed and unsustainable. The Division Bench of
the High Court was clearly in error in restoring the award of
the Labour Court whereby reinstatement was granted to the
workman. Though, the compensation awarded by the Single Judge
was too low and needed to be enhanced by the Division Bench but
surely reinstatement of the workman in the facts and
circumstances is not the appropriate relief.
22. In our opinion, interest of justice will be
subserved if in lieu of reinstatement, the compensation of
Rs.1,00,000/- (one lac) is paid by the appellant (employer) to
the respondent (workman). We order accordingly. Such payment
shall be made by the appellant to the respondent within six
weeks from today failing which the same will carry interest @ 9%
per annum.
23. The appeal is partly allowed to the above extent
with no
order as to costs.
………………………J.
(R.M. Lodha)
………………………J.
(Madan B. Lokur)
NEW DELHI
AUGUST 16, 2013.
———————–
[1] Balbir Singh v. Punjab Roadways; (2001) 1 SCC 133
[2] Ajaib Singh v. Sirhind Cooperative Marketing-cum-
Processing Service Society Limited and
Anr.; (1999) 6 SCC 82
[3] Nagar Mahapalika v. State of U.P. and Ors.; (2006) 5 SCC
127
[4] Municipal Council, Sujanpur v. Surinder Kumar; (2006) 5
SCC 173
[5] Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd. v.
Mamni; (2006) 9 SCC 434
[6] Uttaranchal Forest Development Corporation v. M.C. Joshi;
(2007) 9 SCC 353
* * Pg. 358; (2007) 9 SCC 353
“We are, therefore, of the opinion that keeping in view
the nat?
———————–
12

 

 

 

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