MANOMANI S Vs. LABOUR COURT
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
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(1.) The petitioner has brought this O.P. seeking to quash an order Ext. P-7 passed by the Labour Court, Quilon, dismissing a claim petition No. 467/66 filed by him under S.33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 on the ground that the Labour Court was not competent to adjudicate on the matter under S.33C(2) of the said Act.
(2.) A few facts have to be stated for the purpose of appreciating the contentions raised on behalf of the petitioner. The petitioner was employed in the State Transport Department of the Government of Kerala as a watcher. He was dismissed from service by an order dated 14-3-1962 apparently on grounds of misconduct. Subsequently, however, the punishment of dismissal was set aside and the petitioner was reinstated in service by order dated 10-1-1963 imposing on him a much lesser punishment of withholding of his increment for one year. On 13-7-1964, the petitioner filed an application under S.33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act before the Labour Court, Quilon, claiming that he was entitled by way of "benefit" legitimately due to him to the arrears of salary and allowances for the period during which he was wrongfully kept out of office by virtue of the order of dismissal wrongfully passed against him and praying that the respondent should be directed to pay such amount to the petitioner by an order passed under sub-s.(4). On the date of presentation of the claim petition, S.33C(2) was in the following terms:
"(2) Where any workman is entitled to receive from the employer any benefit which is being computed in terms of money, the amount at which such benefit should be computed may, subject to any rules that may be made under this Act, be determined by such Labour Court as may be specified in this behalf by the appropriate Government, and the amount so determined may be recovered as provided for in sub-s.(1)."
It may be mentioned that during the pendency of the claim petition, by Amending Act 36 of 1964 a new section was substituted for the original S.33C(2) and as amended S.33C(2) read thus:
"(2) Where any workman is entitled to receive from the employer any money or any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of money and if any question arises as to the amount of money due or as to the amount at which such benefit should be computed, then the question may, subject to any rules that may be made under this Act, be decided by such labour Court as may be specified in this behalf by the appropriate Government".
(3.) The Director of Transport, Trivandrum, the respondent in the petition before the Labour Court, raised a preliminary contention that the claim made by the petitioner was not one which could be made the subject matter of a petition under S.33C(2) and could not, therefore, be validly adjudicated upon by the Labour Court under the said section. It was urged that the salary and allowances for the period during which the petitioner had been kept out of service would not fall within the scope of the expression "benefit" occurring in S.33C(2) of the Act, and that if the petitioner really had any grievance arising out of the withholding of such amounts, the proper course open to him, if he wanted to take recourse to the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, was only to raise a dispute under S.10 of the Act. It was also contended on the merits that no amount was actually due to the petitioner since, as an integral part of the very proceedings by which he was reinstated in service, orders had been issued by the department under R.56 of the Kerala Service Rules directing the period of his absence from duty to be treated as eligible leave, in consequence whereof all that the petitioner was entitled to receive was the salary due to him in respect of a period of seven days amounting to Rs. 18.20, which sum had been duly tendered to him by the department.;
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