Decided on September 30,2016



DIPAK MISRA,J. - (1.) A two-Judge Bench while dealing with the interpretation of provisions of Sections 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (for short, "the Act") vis-a-vis a Voluntary Retirement Scheme framed by the State of Andhra Pradesh noticed that the conclusion arrived at by the Division Bench of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in Writ Appeal No. 820 of 2005, whereby it had given the stamp of approval to the judgment and order dated 21 st March, 2005, passed by the learned Single Judge of the said Court in Writ Petition No. 4196 of 2005, holding, inter alia, that once the workmen had availed the Voluntary Retirement Scheme and received the special compensation package, they could not have put forth a claim for lay-off compensation under Section 33C(2) of the Act and in that context perceived a discordant note in National Buildings Construction Corporation v. Pritam Singh Gill and others (1972) 2 SCC 1 and A.K. Bindal and another v. Union of India and others (2003) 5 SCC 163 and thereafter scanning the anatomy of the Act, referred the matter to a larger Bench in A. Satyanarayana Reddy and others v. Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Guntur and others (2008) 5 SCC 280 by stating thus:- "The right of the workman to claim payment of lay off compensation is not denied or disputed. If the said claim has no nexus with the Voluntary Retirement Scheme, in our opinion, in a given case, like the present one, it is possible to hold that a proceeding under Section 33C(2) of the Act would be maintainable. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the question being one of some importance should be considered by the larger Bench as there exists an apparent conflict in the said decisions in National Buildings Construction Corporation (supra) and A.K. Bindal (supra)." Because of the aforesaid order, the matter has been placed before us.
(2.) The exposé of facts are that the appellants were employees of Nagarjuna Cooperative Sugars Limited (for short, "the Company"), a Government of Andhra Pradesh undertaking. It was declared as a "relief undertaking" in terms of the A.P. Relief Undertaking (Special Provisions) Act, 1971 (for brevity, "the 1971 Act"). As is evident, the management of the industrial undertaking declared lay-off wherefor compensation was to be paid. The employees-union of the Company preferred a writ petition in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh assailing the Memorandum No. 25027/SUG/A2/97-3 dated 5 th January, 1998, whereunder the workmen were not granted compensation and, in fact, were deprived of the same. It was urged by the workmen that the lay-off compensation was paid only for the months of June and July, 1995, though they were entitled to get the said compensation for the period 01.08.1995 to 06.09.2002.
(3.) When the matter stood thus, the State of Andhra Pradesh transferred the Company to one S.C.M. Sugars Limited, which absorbed some of the workmen, and out of the said absorbed employees, some of them were paid lay-off compensation and some were not extended the benefit. Be it stated, at one point of time all the employees had expressed their willingness to continue to work under the transferee-management. At a later stage, the Government of Andhra Pradesh allowed the said transferee-Company to shift the factory to the State of Karnataka, as a consequence of which, the workmen lost the opportunity to continue to be employed.;

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