PONNAMBALAN Vs. AUTHORITY UNDER MINIMUM WAGES ACT
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
AUTHORITY UNDER MINIMUM WAGES ACT
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(1.)In this Original Petition the petitioner/employee seeks to quash Ext. P6 order passed by the first respondent Authority under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 directing the employer to pay compensation of Rs. 3,235/- in addition to the difference in wages amounting to Rs. 1073/- for the period from 12-9-1988 to 4-12-1988. The facts necessary for the disposal of this Original Petition are as follows:
(2.)The second respondent, hereinafter referred to as the employee was employed by the petitioner, hereinafter referred to as the employer as his salesman in his branch petrol bunk at Kalmandapam, Palghat for the period from 22-6-1976 to 5-12-1988. On 8-3-1989 the employee filed an application under S.20(2) of the Minimum Wages Act, 12948 for issuing a direction to the employer for payment of difference between the wages payable under the Act and the wages actually paid to him for the relevant period. The employee's claim is that he was paid salary at Rs.410/- per month for the above period (see Ext. P1(3)) whereas he is entitled to Rs. 739/- to Rs.776/80 per month as vary from month to month as shown in the schedule attached to his application evidenced by Ext. P1. His total claim inclusive of compensation forRs.500/- is for Rs.4,308/30. Since there was a delay of 7 months and 8 days in preferring Ext. P1 claim petition, the said claim petition was accompanied by Ext. P2 application dated 8-3-1989 to condone the delay. The employer filed Ext. P3 counter statement to Ext. P1 claim petition contending inter alia that there is no legal or factual basis for Ext. P1 claim petition and that a portion of the claim had become barred by limitation. The employer also filed Ext. P4 counter statement to Ext. P2 application for condonation of delay contending that there is no sufficient ground for condonation of delay. The employee filed Ext. P5 rejoinder dated 29-5-1989 reiterating his contentions in Ext. P1. The Authority, by proceedings evidenced by Ext. P6 dated 28-5-1990 disposed of Ext. P1 directing the employer to pay to the employee a compensation of Rs.3,235/- in addition to the difference in wages amounting to Rs. 1073/- for the period from 12-9-1988 to 4-12-1988. As noticed already, the employer challenges the validity of Ext. P6 in the instant Original Petition.
(3.)The thrust of the employer's contention is that in as much as he has expressed his willingness to pay the amount of minimum wages as per Ext. P3 counter statement, the Authority should not have ordered payment of any compensation at all in favour of the employee and even if any compensation is found payable from the employer to the employee, that sum has to be limited to or quantified at Rs.500/- as claimed by the employee in Ext. P1 application itself and at any rate, the Authority acted illegally and without jurisdiction in awarding Rs.3,235/- as compensation which is very much in excess of the sum of Rs.500/- which was claimed by the employee himself. In other words, it was contended that the Authority can award only such amount of compensation as is expressly claimed by the employee in his application and the Authority has no jurisdiction to award any amount in excess of the amount claimed even though S.20(3)(i) of the Act provides for payment of compensation "not exceeding 10 times the amount of such excess". In reply, learned counsel for the employee contended inter alia that Ext. P6 proceedings of the Authority is legal and valid and that part of Ext. P6 directing the employer to pay compensation to the employee is not liable to be interfered with and the Authority is perfectly justified in granting the compensation which is in excess of what has been claimed by the employee as the Authority has jurisdiction in appropriate cases to grant compensation even though the amount claimed by the employee is less than what the employee is entitled under the Act. It was also contended on behalf of the learned counsel that under the Act the Authority has jurisdiction to grant compensation upto 10 times the amount of such excess (Rs. 1073) and what has been awarded is only Rs.3,235/- and that being so, the order cannot be categorised excessive or arbitrary.
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