Texmaco Ltd. Cement Division Vs. A.S. Narasimham  INSC 390 (7 March 2008)
ALTAMAS KABIR & J.M. PANCHAL O R D E R CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1815 OF 2008 [Arising out of SLP(C)No. 24836 of
2005] Leave granted.
We have heard learned counsel for the parties.
It appears that the respondent herein was appointed to look after sales
promotion work by the appellant herein with effect from 19th May, 1986. His services were thereafter terminated on 21st September, 1993, but on a
representation made by him, he was re-appointed by the appellant and was put on
probation for six months. Thereafter, on 20th October, 1994 his probation was
extended. Subsequently, by letter dated 20th October, 1994, he was informed
that his period of probation would be over on 16th November, 1994, and that
thereafter, he would be relieved from service after working hours on the same
Aggrieved by the said communication, the respondent raised a dispute which
was referred to the Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, Anantpur. The said
reference was ultimately dismissed by the learned tribunal, which permitted the
respondent to file writ petition before the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The High
Court allowed the writ application and set aside the Award passed by the Labour
Court with a direction to the appellant to reinstate the respondent in service
as a permanent employee of the company, with continuity of service, attendance
benefits and full back-wages.
Aggrieved by the said order of the learned Single Judge, the appellant moved
the Division Bench of the High Court, which passed an interim order on 16th
September, 2005 to the following effect:- "Heard both sides. There shall
be interim suspension pending appeal subject to compliance of Section 17-B of
the I.D. Act from the date of the order."
It is the said interim direction of the Division Bench of the High Court
which is the subject matter of the present appeal.
Mrs. Maheshwari, learned counsel appearing for the appellant submitted that
the High Court had erred in directing that the provisions of Section 17-B of
Disputes Act, 1947 be complied with as a condition for grant of stay.
According to her, the Section itself indicates that the benefit of the Section
would be available only against an Award of a Labour Court, Tribunal or
National Tribunal which is stayed by a higher court. Mrs. Maheshwari further
submitted that in addition to the above, the Division Bench of the High Court
had also failed to take into consideration the proviso to Section 17-B which
provides that either the High Court or the Supreme Court in passing an order
under Section 17-B would have to be satisfied that the workmen had not been
gainfully employed elsewhere and had not been receiving adequate remuneration
during the period in question.
Mr. R. Santhan Krishnan, learned counsel appearing for the respondent-
workman submitted that the provisions of Section 17-B had to be considered in
the spirit in which it was enacted and introduced in the Industrial
Disputes Act, namely, to provide a means of subsistence to the workmen
during the period when the Award made in his favour stood suspended by way of
challenge before the higher forum. According to him though the provisions of
Section 17-B may not strictly apply in respect of an order of reinstatement
1999(2)SCC-106, held that the powers of the High Court and the Supreme Court
under Articles 226 and 136 of the Constitution were not in any way restricted
to the provisions of Section 17-B of the Industrial
Disputes Act, but that both the High Court and the Supreme Court could give
directions which were similar to those contained in Section 17-B to provide
interim relief to the workmen during the pendency of a challenge to the Award
made in his (5)SCC 169, where the earlier judgment had been followed.
Having considered the submissions made on behalf of the respective parties,
although, we agree with the submissions made by Mrs. Maheshwari that Section
17-B of the Industrial
Disputes Act would not strictly apply in the fact situation of this case,
we also agree with Mr. Krishnan that this Court under Article 136 of the
Constitution has the power to grant relief similar to that contemplated under
Section 17-B of the Industrial
since the object of Section 17-B, as indicated hereinbefore, is to provide
interim relief to the workman, who has an Award in his favour and which Award
is challenged before the higher forum to prevent its implementation.
We, accordingly, see no reason to interfere with the order passed by the
Division Bench of the High Court under appeal, but we also make it clear that
the spirit of Section 17- B of the Industrial
Disputes Act has to be maintained as a whole and, accordingly, whatever
relief is granted in terms of the directions given by the Division Bench of the
High Court must also take into consideration the proviso to Section 17-B of the
The appeal is accordingly disposed of.
There will be no orders as to costs.
This order will be operative from the date of the order of reinstatement
passed by the learned Single Judge of the High Court.