1. Home
  2. /
  3. High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad
  4. /
  5. 2008
  6. /
  7. January

Occupier/Director, Hindustan ... vs State Of Uttar Pradesh Through ...

High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad|31 January, 2008


1. Heard Sri Sudhir Chandra, learned Senior Advocate "assisted by Sri Vivek Chaudhary for the petitioner, Sri Shyam Narain and Sri A.P. Srivastava for the contesting respondents and the learned Standing Counsel for the respondent No. 1 and 2. This petition is directed against an order dated 26.7.2005 allowing the application of the respondent workmen under the U.P. Industrial Peace (Timely Payment of wages) Act, 1978 (hereinafter referred to as the Act).
2. The facts in brief are that Brooke Bond Upton India Limited owned a factory at Tundla and after amalgamation with the petitioners it became a Unit of the petitioners company. The petitioners floated a Voluntary Retirement Scheme dated 19th August, 2004 for the employees at its Tundla Unit in pursuance of which all the employees numbering about 255 took the benefit of the Scheme and resigned after entering into a settlement under Section 18(1) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and they were paid all their dues for which they duly executed receipts and the Unit closed down on 31st August, 2004. After about two years, the respondent No. 3 made an application allegedly on behalf of the workmen claiming Rs. 34,99,542/- as the wage bill on account of the alleged outstanding performance bonus, medical leave etc. Upon issuance of show cause the petitioner filed his reply, thereafter it filed a detailed written statement to the allegations. However, by the impugned order the application has been allowed for a sum of Rs. 7,77,642/-.
3. Learned Counsel for the petitioner has firstly urged that its Unit was situate at Tundla within the district of Firozabad and as such in view of the Notifications issued by the State Government under the Act, the power under Section 3 of the Act was conferred only upon the authority situated at Firozabad but the respondent No. 2 without having any territorial jurisdiction and without considering this argument raised on behalf of the petitioners had proceeded and allowed the application and which order is void.
4. In the writ petition and in the written statement specific allegations were made that the respondent No. 3 did not have any jurisdiction and in spite of raising the issue it was not decided. When this petition was entertained a learned Single Judge of this Court after considering the aforesaid argument had invited a counter affidavit from the respondent No. 2 vide its order dated 19.8.2006, which is quoted below:
Argument is that the Deputy Labour Commissioner without deciding objection as was raised on behalf of the petitioners in respect to the jurisdiction to deal with the matter and by recording incorrect finding in respect to finality of the claim of the private respondents in respect of acceptance of the packages which was allowed to them by accepting V.R.S. Scheme, has illegally passed the impugned order by which huge amount has been directed to be paid, which on the facts cannot be said to be justified.
Submission is that the exercise by the D.L.C. can be safely said to be in the teeth of the judgment of the Apex Court given in the case of Modi Industries Ltd. v. State of U.P. and Ors. and at the same time without considering the question of lack of jurisdiction as was placed before the concerned authority, in view of the Notification dated 25.1.1999.
Respondents No. 1 and 2 are represented by the learned Chief Standing Counsel. Respondent No. 3 is represented by Sri A.P. Srivastava, learned Advocate.
All the respondents may file counter affidavit within a period of two weeks. Ten days further time is allowed to the counsel for the petitioner to file rejoinder affidavit.
List this case on 22.9.2006.
In view of the submission as noted above, as an interim measure it is provided that till the next date of listing pursuant to the impugned award dated 26.7.2006 petitioners will not be compelled to pay any further amount.
5. However, no counter affidavit was filed, whereafter the following order was passed on 11.7.2007:
Despite the order of the Court dated 19th August, 2006,respondent No. 2 has not filed any counter affidavit for rebutting the allegation made in the present writ petition to the effect that he had no territorial jurisdiction to entertain the application filed by respondent No. 3. The situation is unsatisfactory.
Let respondent No. 2 remain present before this Court on 31st July, 2007 along with relevant records which could establish that he had jurisdiction Jo entertain the application filed by respondent No. 3 on the date it was presented.
List this matter in the first five cases on 31st July, 2007 or final disposal.
It is understood that the present writ petition itself shall be finally decided on the next date fixed.
Interim order granted earlier by this Court shall continue in operation till the next date fixed.
In pursuance thereof he appeared before the Court on 31.7.2007 and filed his counter affidavit but he could not deny the specific allegations made in paragraphs 16 and 18. For ready reference paragraph 18 of the writ petition is quoted herein below:
18. That the learned Deputy Labour Commissioner has not given any finding on the issue of his lack of jurisdiction raised by the petitioner and without deciding the said issue has illegally issued the recovery certificate.
In reply thereto the respondent No. 2 in his counter affidavit merely stated that the aforesaid contents are matters of record and can be verified from it. The petitioners have brought on record copies of Notifications dated 25th January, 1999 and 11th March, 1999 issued for authorising the Authority to hear matters under the Act along with their rejoinder affidavit. A perusal of the Notification dated 25th January, 1999 shows that the Assistant Labour Commissioner, Firozabad was the designated Authority under the Act and the Notification dated 11th March, 1999 shows Additional or Deputy Labour Commissioner was the Prescribed Authority for the districts of Agra and Mathura only. Learned Counsel for the respondents have sought to rely upon a Notification dated 23.9.1982 to contend that the respondent No. 2 was the Prescribed Authority under the Act to hear matters relating to Firozabad. The aforesaid Notification is of a much prior date than the one brought on record by the petitioners. The fact that the District Firozabad was carved out from the areas of erstwhile Agra district after the aforesaid Notification in 1988 and made a fullfleged district and, therefore, the later Notifications would have overriding effect on the earlier Notification. Thus, on this ground alone the order appears to be void.
6. However, since argument on merit has also been heard, it would be appropriate deal with it. Learned Counsel for the petitioner has gone on to urge that the claim as set up by the respondents was beyond the powers prescribed under the Act and without adjudication upon the effect of the scheme, settlement, receipts etc, the claim cannot be granted and the power under the Act cannot be utilized for adjudication upon highly disputed questions. He has relied upon the ratio of the Apex Court rendered in the case of Modi Industries Ltd. v. State of U.P. and Ors. which was latter followed in Hotel & Restaurant, Karamchari Sangh v. Gulmarg Hotel and Ors. . In the case of Modi Industries Ltd. (supra), the Apex Court after considering the objects and reasons for the enactment of the Act has held that the powers under the Act are not so much "to secure payment of wages to individual workmen but to prevent industrial unrest and disturbance of industial peace on account of the default on the part of the establishment in making payment of wages to their work force as a whole." It went on to hold that the authority under the Act "does not act as an adjudicator if the entitlement of the workmen to the wages is disputed otherwise than on frivolous or prima facie untenable grounds." Applying the ratio to the facts of the present case, it would be evident that the authority under the Act could not adjudicate the issue whether the workmen were entitled to further payment. It has to be kept in mind that the authorities were approached two years after the employees were granted voluntary retirement together with the payment of the dues under the scheme. No doubt, if they are entitled to other amounts, they can approach the appropriate forum because without adjudication on the question whether the settlement entered by the workmen with the management embraced within itself all outstanding dues, but this issue cannot be adjudicated by the authority under the Act. For the reasons above, this petition succeeds and is allowed and the impugned order dated 26.7.2005 is hereby quashed. No order as to costs.
Disclaimer: Above Judgment displayed here are taken straight from the court; Vakilsearch has no ownership interest in, reservation over, or other connection to them.

Occupier/Director, Hindustan ... vs State Of Uttar Pradesh Through ...


High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad

31 January, 2008
  • D Singh