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Report No. 69

XIV. Industrial Tribunals

6.29. The question of industrial tribunals may be considered in some detail. It has been held by the Calcutta High Court1 that it is a "Court" within the Evidence Act. We may, however, point out with respect that the Industrial Tribunals Act, 1947, contains limited provisions,2 which do not make the tribunal a court. This aspect (the provisions of the Act) was not fully discussed in the Calcutta case. That case relied partly, if not mainly, on the judgment in the Bharat Bank caseb. But it may be pointed out that in the Bharat Bank case itself, Kania C.J. observed that the Industrial Tribunal is not technically a court`, though it has all the essential attributes of a court of justice.

He described the tribunal as "discharging functions very near to those of a court". Moreover, that case was decided with reference to Article 136 of the Constitution, and the judgment emphasised the words-"court or tribunal" and "cause or matter", which occur in that article.

As regards Article 136, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is discretionary. As the Supreme Court pointed out in the case of Dhakeshzvari Cotton Mills v. C.I.T., AIR 1955 SC 65 (69) para. 7,it is not possible to define with any precision the limitations on the exercise of this discretionary jurisdiction.

1 Raghu Singh v. Burrakur Coal Co., AIR 1966 Cal 504 (Bose and B.C. Mitra, JJ.).

2 Particularly, sections 11(5), 15, 17, 38B etc., Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

6.29A. Coroners.-

The question may arise whether the present definition of "court" covers Coroners appointed under the Coroners Act.1 Coroners have powers to administer oath and take "evidence" (section 19, Corners Act). Coroners are "magistrates" for the purposes of section 26, Evidence Act (section 20, Coroners Act).

But they need not be termed as "courts" for the present purpose. They hold merely an "inquest" (section 21, Coroners Act), and draw up an inquisition (sections 23-24, Coroners Act). It should be noted that they do not give any definitive judgment and, in that sense, are not analogous to courts. They may be "courts of investigation", but they do not give final decisions affecting the liability of the citizen. It may be noted that under the Coroners Act, proceedings before Coroners are judicial proceedings only for limited purposes.

1 Coroners Act, 1871 (4 of 1871).

XV. Need for Amendment

6.30. Having regard to the fact that since 1872, so many tribunals have come into existence and many more will come into existence, an attempt to evolve a precise test is preferable to the present position. The discussion above would show-(i) how, in the absence of a very precise test, conflict and uncertainty may arise, and (ii) why the only precise test would be to confine it to civil, criminal or revenue courts, in the absence of statutory provisions.

Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Back

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