Bombay Chemical Industries vs Deputy Labour Commissioner

Bombay Chemical Industries vs Deputy Labour Commissioner - Supreme Court Case

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.813 OF 2022
M/s Bombay Chemical Industries       ..Appellant (S)
VERSUS
Deputy Labour Commissioner & Anr.                  ..Respondent (S)
J U D G M E N T 
M. R. Shah, J.
1. Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
judgment and order dated 14.11.2018 passed by the High
Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Writ Petition No.33482
of 2018, by which the High Court has dismissed the said
writ petition preferred by the appellant herein and has
confirmed   the   order   passed   by   the   Presiding   Officer,
Labour Court IV, U.P., Kanpur Nagar, under Section 33(C)
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(2)   of   the   Industrial   Disputes   Act,   the   original   writ
petitioner has preferred the present appeal. 
2. That respondent No.2 herein moved an application before
the Labour Court under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial
Disputes Act in Misc. Case No.26 of 2012 demanding the
difference of wages from 01.04.2006 to 31.03.2012. The
said   application   was   contested by   the   appellant   herein
denying any relationship of employee­employer. It was the
categorical stand of the appellant that respondent No.2
herein was never engaged by it. Before the Labour Court
respondent No.2 herein relied upon the documents exhibit
W­1 to W­6 in support of his case that he had worked in
the   establishment   as   a   salesman.   That   by   order   dated
28.11.2017  the   learned   Presiding  Officer,  Labour   Court
allowed the said application and  directed the  appellant
herein to pay the difference of wages from 01.04.2006 to
31.03.2012 as claimed in the application.
2.1 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned order
passed   by   the   learned   Presiding   Officer,   Labour   Court
under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, the
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appellant herein 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. 
3. Shri Vishal Yadav, learned counsel appearing on behalf of
the appellant has vehemently submitted that in the facts
and circumstances of the case the High Court has erred in
dismissing   the   writ   petition   and   confirming   the   order
passed by the Labour Court under Section 33(C)(2) of the
Industrial Disputes Act.
3.1 It is submitted by Shri Yadav appearing on behalf of the
appellant that the High Court ought to have appreciated
that when there was a serious issue raised with respect to
the employer­employee relationship between the appellant
and respondent No.2 and that it was seriously disputed
that   respondent   No.2   was   at   any   point   of   time   in
employment as a salesman, the Labour Court ought not to
have   entertained/allowed   the   application   under   Section
33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act as the same could
have been decided in the reference under Section 10 of the
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Industrial Disputes Act. It is therefore submitted that the
order passed by the Labour Court is completely without
jurisdiction.  Therefore, the High Court ought to have set
aside the same. Reliance is placed on the decisions of this
Court in the case of Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs.
Ganesh Razak and Anr., (1995) 1 SCC 235 and Union of
India   and   another   Vs.   Kankuben   (Dead)   By   Lrs.   and
Others,  (2006) 9 SCC 292, in support of his submissions
that   in   a   proceeding   under   Section   33(C)(2)   of   the
Industrial   Disputes   Act,   the   Labour   Court   cannot
adjudicate the dispute of entitlement or the basis of the
claim and it can only interpret the award or settlement on
which the claim is based. 
3.2 Making the above submissions and relying on the above
decisions, it is prayed to allow the present appeal.      
    
4. The present appeal is vehemently opposed by Dr. Vinod
Kumar Tewari, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
respondent(s). 
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4.1 It is submitted that in the present case respondent No.2
placed on record voluminous record namely exhibit W­1 to
W­6   to   show   that   respondent   No.2   was   working   as   a
salesman   with   the   appellant.   It   is   submitted   that   the
appellant came out with a false case to get out of the
obligation difference in salary to be paid as claimed in the
application.   It   is   therefore   submitted   that   when   on
appreciation   of   evidence   and   considering   the   material
available on record the Labour Court held that respondent
No.2 was employed as a salesman and thereafter directed
the appellant to pay the difference of wages it cannot be
said that the Labour Court exceeded in its jurisdiction. 
4.2 It   is   submitted   that   when   on   the   face   of   the   record
available   it   was   found   by   the   Labour   Court   that
respondent No.2 was in employment of the appellant as a
salesman, and in the claim before the Labour Court there
was found a difference in the salary/pay for the period
from 01.04.2006 to 31.03.2012, the Labour Court has not
committed any error. The High Court has rightly dismissed
the writ petition.
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5. We have heard the learned counsel appearing on behalf of
the respective parties at length. 
6. At the outset it is required to be noted that respondent
No.2 herein filed an application before the Labour Court
under   Section   33(C)(2)   of   the   Industrial   Disputes   Act,
demanding   difference   of   wages   from   01.04.2006   to
31.03.2012. It was thus the case on behalf of respondent
No.2   that   he   was   working   with   the   appellant   as   a
salesman. However, the appellant had taken a categorical
stand   that   respondent   No.2   was   never   engaged   by   the
appellant.  It   was   specifically   the   case   on   behalf   of   the
appellant that respondent No.2 had never worked in the
establishment   in  the  post   of  salesman.  Therefore,   once
there   was   a   serious   dispute   that   respondent   No.2   had
worked as an employee of the appellant and there was a
very   serious   dispute   raised   by   the   appellant   that
respondent No.2 was not in employment as a salesman as
claimed by respondent No.2, thereafter, it was not open for
the   Labour   Court   to   entertain   disputed   questions   and
adjudicate   upon   the   employer­employee   relationship
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between the appellant and respondent No.2. 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.  (supra), 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. (See
Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs. Ganesh Razak and Anr.
(1995) 1 SCC 235).
In the case of  Kankuben (supra), it is observed and
held that whenever a workman is entitled to receive from
his employer any money or any benefit which is capable of
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being computed in terms of money and which he is entitled
to receive from his employer and is denied of such benefit
can approach Labour Court under Section 33­C (2) of the
ID Act.  It is further observed that the benefit sought to be
enforced under Section 33­C (2) of the ID Act is necessarily
a pre­existing benefit or one flowing from a pre­existing
right.     The   difference between   a   pre­existing   right   or
benefit on one hand and the right or benefit, which is
considered just and fair on the other hand is vital.   The
former falls within jurisdiction of Labour Court exercising
powers under Section 33­C (2) of the ID Act while the latter
does not.
7. Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid
decisions to the facts of the case on hand, when there was
no   prior   adjudication   on   the   issue  whether   respondent
No.2 herein 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
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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.  
8. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above the
present   appeal   succeeds.   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 in Misc. Case No.26 of 2012 are
hereby   quashed   and   set   aside.   Respondent   No.2   is
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relegated to avail any other remedy which may be available
under   the   Industrial   Disputes   Act,   including   that   of
reference to adjudicate his right as an employee of the
appellant   as   claimed   by   him.   As   and   when   such
proceedings   are   initiated  the  same  to   be  considered   in
accordance with law and on its own merits and without in
anyway   being   influenced   by   the   present   order,   as   this
Court has not expressed anything in favour of either of the
parties on the aspect of employer­employee relationship
between the appellant and respondent No.2. The present
appeal is allowed with the above observations and to the
aforesaid extent. No costs.   
…………………………………J.
                  (M. R. SHAH)
…………………………………J.
 (B.V. NAGARATHNA)
New Delhi, 
February, 04 2022.
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