Decided on February 15,1966

MANAVENDRA (B.K.) Respondents

Cited Judgements :-



Per Tukol, J. - (1.)This is a writ petition by the Mysore Sugar Company, Ltd., under Art. 226 of the Constitution for the issue of a writ of certiorari quashing the orders passed by the labour court, Bangalore, in the petitions filed by the first seven respondents purporting to be under S. 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter called the Act). The petitions filed by the respondents were all heard together and the labour court came to the conclusion that respondents 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 to this petition should be fitted in the supervisory staff A grade entitling them to the pay-scale of Rs. 300 - 600, that respondents 1 and 5, their assistants, should be "treated at par with" them entitling them to draw pay in the scale of Rs. 200 - 400 and directed the present petitioner to pay Rs. 5,520 to each of the first set of respondents and Rs. 3,696 to each of the second set of respondents, namely, 1 and 5.
(2.)The petitioner has impugned the legality and the propriety of this order on various grounds. The first contention urged before us is that the labour court has no jurisdiction to fix the respondents in the higher scale of pay and award them the arrears. The second contention is that in the face of a valid agreement subsisting between the petitioners and the respondents governing their conditions of service and pay as entered into on 10 January, 1963, it was not open to them to approach the labour court for the reliefs claimed. The third contention raised is that the recommendations contained in the report of the Wage Board have no statutory force and that the respondents cannot claim any benefit under it by making applications under S. 33C(2) of the Act. It was also sub-mitted that the respondents should have approached the tripartite machinery contemplated by the Wage Board and not the labour court. Since we are holding on the main issue in favour of the petitioner, it is unnecessary to consider the third contention regarding the necessity to refer to the tripartite machinery as mentioned in the Wage Board report.
(3.)Of these contentions the most important is the one relating to the jurisdiction of the labour court. It was submitted by Sri Satya-narayana for the petitioner that the main relief claimed for the respondents related to their "classification by grade" and that the proper forum for the grant of that relief was the industrial tribunal as contemplated by S. 7A read with Sch. III of the Act. The learned advocates for the respondents submitted that the objection as regards jurisdiction raised by the petitioner before the labour court was not in the present form and that the petitioner should not be permitted to transgress the limits of his pleading. In support of this argument, our attention was drawn to the first paragraph of the objections filed by the petitioner wherein it has been stated that the application was not maintainable under S. 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, as the applicant was not entitled to receive from the respondent-company any benefit which could be computed in terms of money or otherwise. This objection has necessarily to be considered, in the light of the reliefs prayed for by the petitioner. The application filed by respondent 6 (Application No. 39 of 1964) is included in the paper book and it is typical of the other applications. In Para. 4 of the application, he has stated that the initial pay-scale of Rs. 100 -10 - 200 on which he was started, was subsequently revised to Rs. 200 - 15 - 350 - 25 - 400 in the year 1962 while giving retrospective effect from 1 November, 1960 as a result of the implementation of the Central Wage Board report. In Para. 11, it has been stated that while implementing the Wage Board structure in 1962, the applicant ought to have been designated as shift engineer and fixed in the scale of Rs. 300 - 25 - 600. It is further clarified in Para. 13 by stating that the respondent-company had overlooked some material factor by fixing two different grades, viz., one for a diploma-holder in mechanical engineering and another for a diploma-holder in electrical engineering. Paragraph 15 which contains the prayer column expressly mentions that the petitioner should be awarded the grade of Rs. 300 - 25 - 600 since 1 November, 1960 and also the difference in the arrears of pay. Application No. 38 of 1964 filed by respondent 5 is to be found at p. 71 of the paper book. Therein he has stated that the initial pay-scale of Rs. 60 - 160 on which he was started was subsequently revised to Rs. 135 - 305 and that he should be awarded the arrears in the difference of salary by fixing him in the scale of Rs. 200-15-350-25-400. It would be evident from the contents of these two applications that the petitioners wanted themselves to be fixed in the higher grade in which persons holding similar qualifications in the department of mechanical engineering had been fixed and that they should be awarded the higher grade of salary available for the shift engineers. If Para. (1) of the objection already referred to filed by the present petitioner is read in the light of the contentions made in the petitions filed by the respondents, there is hardly any doubt in holding that the abjection as regards the jurisdiction of the labour court was on the ground of its incompetency to consider the question of classification by grade and the award of higher grade of salary. That this was the relief prayed for by the petitioners is fortified by the contents of their representation (Ex. R. 1) made to the general manager on 27 May, 1963. Therein it has been stated thus :
"... Though the rights and duties of the electrical engineers are similar to that of the mechanical shift engineers, yet we have been placed in a lower grade and we are not in a position to say under what circumstances our grade was fixed at a lower level."

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