Messrs. Kamarhatty Co. Ltd. Vs. Shri
Ushnath Pakrashi  INSC 97 (21 May 1959)
SINHA, BHUVNESHWAR P.
CITATION: 1959 AIR 1399 1960 SCR (1) 473
Industrial Dispute-Power of Tribunal-Order of
re- instatement, when can be made-industrial Disputes Act (14 of 1947), ss.
The respondent made an application under s.
33A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, which, inter alia, stated that there
was no reason for retrenchment on account of the closure of a ration shop, and
that at any rate he was longer in service than others who had been retained,
and, therefore, the principle of " last come, first go " had been
violated. The Tribunal dismissed the application whereupon the respondent
appealed to the Appellate Tribunal which allowed the appeal and refused
permission to retrench.
The Appellant Company was granted special
leave to appeal only on the limited question as to whether an order of re-
instatement can be made on an application under s. 33A of the Act.
Held, that the complaint under S. 33A of the Industrial
Disputes Act, 1947, is as good as a reference under s. 10 of the Act and the
Tribunal has all the powers to deal with it as it would have in dealing with a
reference under s. 10 of the Act and it is open to the Tribunal in proper case
to order reinstatement.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 310 of 1954.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated March 22, 1956, of the Labour Appellate Tribunal of India, Calcutta in Appeal No. Cal. 183 of 1955.
N.C. Chatterjee, S. N. Mukherjee and B. N.
Ghosh for the appellant.
Sukumr Ghosh, for the respondent.
1959. May 21. The Judgment of the Court was
delivered by WANCHOO J.-This appeal by special leave against the decision of
the Labour Appellate Tribunal of India is limited to the question whether an
order of reinstatement can be made on an application under s. 33-A of 60 474
the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter called the Act). The brief facts
necessary for the decision of this question are these. The appellant is a Jute
Mill. There was a dispute pending before an Industrial Tribunal between a
number of jute mills in West Bengal and their employees, and the appellant was
a party to that dispute. During the pendency of that dispute, the appellant
laid-off the respondent who was an employee in the ration shop maintained by
the appellant from July 19, 1954, as rationing of food- stuff came to an end
from July 10, 1954. The reason for the lay-off was that the ration shop was
closed following the end of rationing. This resulted in the staff in that shop
becoming surplus. Consequently, nine persons were selected for retrenchment on
the principle of " last come first go", and the respondent was one of
them. The appellant also applied under s. 33 of the Act to the Industrial
Tribunal for permission to retrench the respondent along with others.
Shortly before the application under s. 33,
the respondent had applied under s. 33-A of the Act and. his case was that
there was no reason to make Any retrenchment on account of the closure of the
ration shop and that he was at any rate longer in service than others who had
been retained and therefore the principle of " last come first go "
had not been followed. It was also said that the respondent had been laid-off
as he was an active worker of the union and as such was not in the good books
of the appellant. It was, therefore, prayed that the respondent should be
allowed full wages and amenities since the so-called lay-off, which was nothing
more nor less than retrenchment and that he should be reinstated.
The Industrial Tribunal came to the
conclusion that the lay-off was justified because of the closure of the ration
shop and gave permission to the appellant to retrench the respondent on the
principle of " last come first go ". The respondent appealed to the
Labour Appellate Tribunal. He did not urge there that there was no necessity
for retrenchment at all. What was urged there was that the Industrial Tribunal
was wrong in holding that the principle of " last come first 475 go"
had been followed in this case. The Appellate Tribunal came to the conclusion
that the respondent had been in service much longer than others who had been
retained and therefore the principle of " last come first go " had
been violated. In consequence, the appeal was allowed and the permission to
retrench the respondent was refused. The Appellate Tribunal also ordered that
the respondent, should be reinstated in service without any break in the
continuity of service and the order of the appellant in laying him off and
discharging him in effect from July 19, 1954 was set aside. Thereupon the
appellant came to this Court and was granted special leave on the limited
question set out above.
In our opinion, the answer to the limited question
on which the special leave has been granted can only be one in view of the
language of s. 33-A. That section lays down that " where an employer
contravenes the provision is of s. 33 during the pendency of proceedings before
a tribunal, any employee aggrieved by such contravention, may make a complaint
in writing to the tribunal and on receipt of such complaint the tribunal shall
adjudicate upon the complaint as if it were a dispute referred to or pending
before it, in accordance with the provisions of the Act and shall submit its
award to the appropriate government and the provisions of this Act shall apply
accordingly." It is thus clear that a complaint under s. 33-A of the Act
is as good as a reference under s. 10 of the Act and the tribunal has all the
powers to deal with it as it would have in dealing with a reference under s.
10. It follows, therefore, that the tribunal has the power to make such order
as to relief as may be appropriate in the case and as it can make if a dispute
is referred to it relating -to the dismissal or discharge of a workman. In such
a dispute it is open to the tribunal in proper cases to order reinstatement.
Therefore a complaint under s. 33-A being in the nature of a dispute referred
to a tribunal under s. 10 of the Act, it is certainly within its power to order
reinstatement on such complaint, if the complaint is that the employee has been
dismissed or discharged in breach of s. 33.
476 Learned counsel for the appellant wanted
to argue that this was not a case of discharge or dismissal but of lay-off. We
did not permit him to raise this argument because the special leave was limited
only to the question set out above. The answer to that question has already
been indicated above and on that answer the appeal must fail. We therefore
dismiss the appeal, but in the circumstances we make no order as to costs -of