The Sawatram Ramprasad Mills Co. Ltd.
Vs. Baliram Ukandaji & ANR  INSC 178 (9 September 1965)
09/09/1965 HIDAYATULLAH, M.
GAJENDRAGADKAR, P.B. (CJ) WANCHOO, K.N.
CITATION: 1966 AIR 616 1966 SCR (1) 764
R 1972 SC 451 (22) D 1987 SC1960 (6)
Industrial Disputes Act (14 of 1947), ss. 25
J, 31 and 33CState Act applicable to industry-Application for compensation for
lay off-Jurisdiction to decide.
The respondents, who were the workmen of the
appellant, applied to the Second Labour Court, Bombay, under s. 33C(1) of the Industrial
Disputes Act, 1947, claiming compensation for lay-off during a certain period.
The appellant contended that : (i) the Labour Court had no jurisdiction as the
dispute fell to be tried under the C.P. and Berar Industrial Disputes
(Settlement) Act, 1947; and (ii) the application under s. 33C was incompetent,
because, it was not a claim for money due and calculations had to be made for
ascertaining the money due. The Labour Court, as well as the High Court under
Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution. rejected the contentions.
In -the appeal to this Court.
HELD : (i) The argument that the controversy
was wrongly before Labour Court was entirely erroneous.
Chapter V-A of the Industrial Disputes Act,
which was inserted by s. 3 of the Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Act, 1953, is
the only Chapter in which there is provision regarding lay off or compensation
for lay off. Though the C.P. and Berar Act applies to the textile industry, it
contain* no provision either for recovery of money or for compensation for lay
off and they are not matters over which the C.P. and Berar Act has any
jurisdiction. Therefore, if a workman has a claim for lay off, it can only come
up for decision under the Industrial Disputes Act. Even if ss. 31 and 25J save
the application of the C.P. and Berar Act, they do so, subject to the condition
that the question of lay-off must be decided in accordance with Chapter V-A. Since
s. 33C provides that a dispute for any money due under Chapter V-A has to go
before the appropriate Government or its delegate, and since the delegate is
the Second Labour Court, the respondents were entitled to go before the Labour
Court to realise due from the appellant under Chapter V-A. [769 F] (ii) It is
not essential that the claim which can be brought before the Government or its
delegate under s. 33C(1) most always be for a predetermined sum. [769 G-H] Kays
Construction Co. (P) Ltd. v. State of U-P. & Ors.
 2 S.C.R. 276, followed.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 525 of 1964.
Appeal from the judgment and order dated
August 25, 1962 of the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) at Nagpur in Special
Civil Application No. 360 of 1961.
76 5 A. S. Bobde G. L. Sanghi and Sardar
Bahadur, for the appellant.
Janardan Sharma for respondent No. 1.
H. W. Dhabe and A. G. Ratnaparkhi, for the
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Hidayatullah, J. In this appeal by certificate against the judgment of the
Bombay High Court dated August 25, 1962 the appellant is the Sawatram Ramprasad
Mills Co., Ltd., Akola and the respondents two of the workmen of the Mills. The
respondents are claiming from the Mills compensation for lay off from March 5,
1960 to October 22, 1960. The proceedings were commenced by an application to
the Second Labour Court, Bombay under s. 33C(1) of the Industrial Disputes Act,
1947 (Act XIV of 1947). The Mills objected on various grounds including firstly
that the Second Labour Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case as the
dispute fell to be tried under the C.P. & Berar Industrial Disputes
(Settlement) Act, 1947 and, secondly, that the application under s. 33C, in any
event, was incompetent. The Second Labour Court held against the Mills on both
The Mills applied to the High Court of Bombay
226 and 227 of the Constitution but by the
judgment under appeal their application was dismissed. It may be pointed out
here that there were similar applications for compensation for lay off by the
other workmen of the Mills and on this preliminary point they were all heard
In this Court only these two grounds were
urged. The contention on behalf of the Mills on the first ground was twofold.
The Mills attempted to establish that the dispute could not be tried under the
Central Act but only under the C.P. & Berar Act and further that even if
the Central Act applied the calculation of the amount could not be made under
s. 33C of the Industrial Disputes Act as that required proceedings other than
those contemplated by that section.
The Industrial Disputes Act was passed in
1947 and was brought into force on April 1, 1947. It is not disputed that it
applied to the Textile Industry. The C.P. & Berar Industrial Disputes
(Settlement) Act (23 of 1947) came into force on June 2, 1947 but only the
first section was then brought into force. Later, the remaining sections were
brought into force by a notification dated November 20, 1947 in all industries
except the Textile Industry. From March 1, 1951, the Act was also, 76 6 made
applicable to the Textile industry. In 1953 the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
was amended by Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Act, 1953. The changes material
to our purpose were the addition of two definitions and a new chapter in the
Act. Previous to the Act there was an Ordinance which the Act replaced but as
nothing turns upon the existence of the Ordinance we need not refer to it. The
two definitions introduced in s. 2 of the parent Act were :
"(kkk) 'lay-off' (with its grammatical
variations and cognate expressions) means the failure, refusal or inability of
an employer on account of shortage of coal, power or raw materials or the
accumulation of stocks or the break-down of machinery or for any other reason
to give employment to a workman whose name is borne on the muster rolls of his
industrial establishment and who has not been retrenched :
Explanation-Every workman whose name is home
on the muster rolls of the industrial establishment and who presents himself
for work at the establishment at the time appointed for the purpose during
normal working hours on any day and is not given employment by the employer
within two hours of his so presenting himself shall be deemed to have been
laid-off for that day within the meaning of this clause:
Provided, and s. (oo) 'retrenchment'. The
definition of 'retrenchment' need not be quoted here because no question has
been raised about retrenchment in this case. Section 3 of the 1953 Amendment
Act inserted Chapter V-A headed "Lay Off and Retrenchment". Section
25C gave a right to a workman to ask for compensation if laid off, provided he
fulfilled certain conditions. It is not necessary to go into those conditions
here. Section 25J then provided as follows :
"25J. Effect of laws inconsistent with
this Chapter.(1) The provisions of this Chapter shall have effect
notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any law including
standing orders made under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act,
1946 (XX of 1946) :
76 7 Provided that nothing contained in this
Act shall have effect to derogate from any right which a work-man has under any
award for the time being in operation or any contract with the employer.
(2) For the removal of doubts, it is hereby
declared that nothing contained in this Chapter shall be deemed to affect the
provisions of any other law for the time being in force in any State in so far
as that law provides for the settlement of industrial disputes, but the rights
and liabilities of employers and workmen in so far as they relate to lay off
and retrenchment shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of this
Chapter." In 1956 the Industrial Disputes Act was again amended by the
Industrial Disputes (Amendment and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1956. Section
23 of the Amending Act inserted section 33C which reads as follows :
"33-C. Recovery of money due from an
employer.(1) Where any money is due to a workman from an employer under a
settlement of an award or under the provisions of Chapter V-A, the workman may
without prejudice to any other mode of recovery, make an application to the
appropriate Government for the recovery of the money due to him, and if the
appropriate Government is satisfied that any money is so due, it shall issue a
certificate for that amount to the Collector who shall proceed to recover the
same in the same manner as an arrears of land revenue.
(2) Where any workman is entitled to receive
from the employer any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of
money, the amount at which such benefit should be computed may, subject to any
rules that may be made under this Act, be determined by such Labour Court as
may be specified in this behalf by the appropriate Government, and the amount so
determined may be recovered as provided for in sub-section (1).
(3) For the purposes of computing the money
value of a benefit, the Labour Court may, if it so thinks fit, appoint a
commissioner who shall, after taking such evidence as may be necessary, submit
a report to 76 8 the Labour Court and the Labour Court shall determine the
amount after considering the report of the Commissioner and other circumstances
of the case." The -powers of the Government under the above section
admittedly have been delegated to the Second Labour Court Bombay. Section 31 of
this Amending Act provides as follows "31. Act not to override State laws.
(1) If, immediately before the commencement
of this Act, there is in force in any State any Provincial Act or State Act
relating to the settlement or adjudication of disputes, the operation of such
an Act in that State in relation to matters covered by that Act shall not be
affected by the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, as amended by this Act.
(2) From these sections, which we have
quoted, certain conclusions indisputably arise. The first conclusion is that
compensation for lay off can only be determined under Chapter V-A of the Industrial
Disputes Act. This follows from s. 25J(2) as it is so stated there. The next is
that the workmen are entitled under s. 33C(1) to go before the Second Labour
Court to realise money due from their employers under Chapter V-A. This is
clearly stated in s. 33C. The contention on behalf of the Mills, however, is
that the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 does not apply to the present matter but
the C.P. & Berar Industrial Disputes (Settlement) Act does. This argument
is put in two ways.
By one argument the application of the Industrial
Disputes Act is sought to be evaded and by the second the C.P. & Berar
Industrial Disputes (Settlement) Act is sought to be applied. We shall examine
these two arguments in the same order. The attempt to oust the Central Act is
based upon s.
31 of the 1956 (Amendment) Act and the
opening part of s. 25J. Section 31 can have no application because s. 33C has
been included for the purpose, among others, of enabling the workmen to claim
any money due from their employers under the provisions of Chapter V-A. This is
expressly so stated in that section. Chapter V-A is the only Chapter in which
there is provision regarding lay off or compensation for lay off. The C.P.
& Berar Act contains no provision either for the recovery of money or for
compensation for lay off. It is thus obvious that 76 9 if a workman has a claim
for lay off it can only come up for decision under the Industrial Disputes Act,
1947 and, indeed, s. 25J(2) says so in express terms. The attempt to keep out
the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, particularly Chapter V-A and s.
33C must, therefore, fail.
The next attempt, namely, that the C.P. &
Berar Act applies is also ineffective. It is pointed out that the preamble of
the C.P. & Berar Act shows that it was an Act for the promotion of peaceful
and amicable settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration,
that 'industrial disputes' means any dispute or difference connected with an
industrial matter arising between an employer and an employee or between
employers or employees and that 'industrial matter' means any matter relating
to pay, wages, reward, etc. It is submitted, therefore, that the dispute must
come under the C.P. & Berar Act because of S. 31 of the 1956 (Amendment)
Act and S. 25J of the 1953 (Amendment) Act already quoted. The argument is the
last one in another form. This argument is fallacious at the very start because
lay off and compensation for lay off are to be found only in Chapter V-A of the
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. There is no mention of lay off or compensation
for lay off as one of the matters over which the C.P. & Berar Act has any
jurisdiction. Next, even if ss. 31 and 25J save the application of the C.P.
& Berar Act they do so subject to the condition that question of lay off
must be decided in accordance with Chapter V-A and S. 33C clearly provides that
a dispute for any money due under Chapter V-A has to go before the appropriate
Government or its delegate. Here the delegate is the Second Labour Court,
Bombay. The argument that this controversy is wrongly before the Second Labour
Court, Bombay is, therefore, entirely erroneous and must be rejected.
The next contention is that the claim for lay
off is not a claim for money due because calculations have to be made before
the money due can be found. This argument has been considered on more than one
occasion and it was rejected recently by this Court in Kays Construction Co.
(P) Ltd. v. State of U.P. & Ors(1). It is not essential that the claim which
can be brought before the Government or its delegate under S. 33C(1) must
always be for a predetermined sum. The Government or the Labour Court may
satisfy itself about the exact amount and then take action under that section.
In the present case the dates of lay off are known and each workmen will show
to the Second Labour Court that he is qualified to receive compensation for 1.
 2 S.C.R. 276.
up.C165-6 770 lay off. That will be shown
from the muster roll which the employer is required to maintain and it will
then be a simple arithmetical calculation which, in our judgment, s. 33C
permits to be made. If there is any question whether there was lay off or not
the Labour Court will decide it.
This argument, therefore, has no force.
The result is that the appeal must fail and
is dismissed with costs. The employers have. by prolonging this litigation on a
preliminary point, managed to avoid the trial of the real issue for a number of
years and we hope that the Second Labour Court will now deal with this matter
as expeditiously as possible.