Dixit, J. -
(1.) THE circumstances in which these two revision petitions arise are that on 20 -7 -1945 the Labour Ministry of Madhya Bharat Government issued a memorandum about the fixation of minimum wages of labourers employed in the Textile Mills of the State and the standard wages -payable to the labourers employed on time -work basis and piece -work basis.
The memorandum inter alia stated that the Textile Mills situated in Gwalior and Ujjain would be fixed by the Labour Commissioner and that the wages so fixed would be operative from 1 -1 -1948 and that the workers should be paid on the basis of the standard wages and that the difference between the wages they were drawing and the standard wages, should be paid to them on or before 15 -9 -1948.
The Government then appointed a Special Committee for the standardization of wages of the textile workers. The Committee recommended that the Head Fancy Jobbers should be paid at the rate of Rs. 125/ - per month, and that the fancy jobbers And as istant fancy jobbers should be paid at the rate of Rs. 75/ - per month and Rs. 60/ - per month respectively.
This recommendation of the Committee was accepted by the Government and thereafter on 1 -9 -1949 the Labour Commissioner addressed a letter No. 3165/XXII/LC to the General Manager J.C. Mills Ltd., drawing his attention to the standard wages fixed for the above class of workers. It appears that subsequently Babu Singh and twenty -three other workers, who were employed by the J.C. Mills Ltd., as head fancy jobbers, applied to the Mills for the payment of wages to them from: 1 -1 -1948 in accordance with the standard wages fixed by the Government.
This claim of the workers was refused by the Mills. Thereupon on 10 -11 -1949 the Payment of Wages Inspector made an application under Section 15, Payment of Wages Act 1936 before the Legal Authority appointed under the Act, praying that the non -applicant Bagrodia who had been nominated by the Mills as the authority responsible for payment of wages under the Act, be directed to Pay to the said workers the difference between the wages that were actually paid to them and the standard wages fixed from 1 -1 -1948 to 30 -9 -1949 and; further praying that they be also paid interest at the rate of 6 per cent. Per annum on that amount as compensation.
The total amount involved in the claim made by the Payment of Wages Inspector was Rs. 39,0538/ -. The non -applicant resisted the claim firstly on the ground that the sums claimed were neither, deductions from the wages nor sums in respect of which there was any delay in payment of the wages; that the workers had been paid wages according to an agreement arrived at between the representative of the employers and the employees and that, therefore, the legal authority had no jurisdiction to entertain the claim; and secondly that as the claim was made more than six months from the date on which the alleged deductions were made, or the date on, which the payment of wages became due, it was barred by time under the first proviso to Section 15(2) of the Act.
The Legal Authority held that the claim of the workers for the payment of wages according to standard rate for a period prior to 10 -5 -1949 i.e., for a period preceding six months before the date of the filing of the application by the Payment of Wages Inspector was barred by time.
It further held that as the standard wages; were fixed only in September 1949, the omission of the J.C. Mills to pay the workers wages before 1 -9 -1949 on the basis of the standard rate could be condoned but that the Mills were under an obligation to pay to the workers wages according to the standard rate after 1 -9 -1949.
Accordingly the Legal Authority made a direction on 30 -9 -1950 for the payment of wages to the aggrieved, workers employed in the J.C. Mills as head fancy jobbers, fancy jobbers and assistant fancy jobbers at the standard rate from 1 -9 -1949 and for the payment before 30 -1 -1951 of the difference between the wages actually paid to them during the period from 1 -9 -1949 to 31 -10 -1950 and the standard wages payable to them for this period.
(2.) THE Payment of Wages Inspector then filed two separate appeals in the Court of District 'Judge, Gwalior against the decision of the Legal Authority. One appeal related to the rejection of the claim of the workers for the payment of wages according to standard rate for the period from 1 -1 -1949 to 9 -5 -1949 and the other appeal concerned with the wages for the period from 10 -5 -1949 to 31 -8 -1049.
The J.C. Mills Ltd., represented by the non -applicant Bagrodia also filed an appeal against the decision of the Legal Authority directing the payment of standard wages to the workers from 1 -9 -1949. The learned District Judge agreed with the decision of the Legal Authority holding the claim for wages for the period prior to 10 -5 -1949 as barred by time.
As to the payment of wages for the period from 10 -5 -1949 to 31 -8 -1949 he came to the conclusion, on the basis of the decisions in - 'Khema Nand v. East Indian Rly.' : : AIR 1943 All 243(A): '1943 Oudh 283 (sic) and P. Kumar v. Running Shed Foreman, E.I. Rly.', AIR 1946 Oudh 148 (B and C), that under Section 17 of the Act no appeal was competent inasmuch as the Legal Authority had not made any order of the nature contemplated by Section 15(3).
The learned District Judge also observed that even if the decision of the Legal Authority in so far as it rejected the claim for standard wages for the period from 10 -5 -1949 to 31 -8 -1949 was appealable, the claim for standard wages for that period as well us for subsequent period could not be accepted because those wages did not fail within the definition of "wages" given in Section 2(vi) of the Act, and that no application under Section 15 of the Act could lie, except for the payment of the wages as defined In Section 2(vi).
He relied on 'Jogendranath Chatterjee and Sons v. Chandreshwar Singh' : AIR 1951 Cal 29 (D). The learned District Judge, therefore rejected the appeals filed by the Payment of Wages Inspector, and accepting the appeal preferred by the J.C. Mills Ltd., set aside the decision of the Legal) authority for the payment of wages to the workers according to standard rate from 1 -9 -1949. The Payment of Wages Inspector has now preferred these two revision petitions against the decision of the learned District Judge.
In Civil Revision No. 177 of 1952, the question involved is about the rejection of the claim for wages for the period from 1 -1 -1948 to 9 -5 -1949. The other revision petition, namely, civil Revision No. 193 of 1951 is directed against the decision of the District Judge whereby he held that the decision of the Legal Authority rejecting the claim for standard wages for the period from 10 -5 -1949 to 31 -8 -1949 was not appealable and that the standard wages fixed by the Government did not fall within the definition of wages as given in Section 2(vi) of the Act.
The principal question raised by these revision petitions is whether the standard wages fixed by the Government come within the purview of the definition of "wages" contained in Section 2(vi) of the Act. That definition is as follows:
wages" means all remuneration, capable of being expressed in terms of money, which would, if the terms of the contract of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable, whether conditionally upon the regular attendance, good work or conduct or other behaviour of the person employed or otherwise, to a person employed in respect of his employment or of work done in such employment, and includes any bonus or other additional remuneration of the nature aforesaid which would be so payable and any sum payable to such person by reason or the termination of his employment, but does not include.
(a) the value of any house -accommodation, supply of light, water, medical attendance or other amenity, or of any service excluded by general or special order of the State Government;
(b) any contribution paid by the employer to any pension fund or provident fund;
(c) any travelling allowance or the value of any travelling concession;
(d) any sum paid to the person employed to defray special expenses entailed on him by the nature of his employment; or
(e) any gratuity payable on discharge.
(3.) THE use of the words "means", "includes" and "but does not include" in the definition mane it amply clear that the definition is an exhaustive one and no other meaning can be assigned to the term "wages" than is put down in the definition. The first part of the definition relates to substantive remuneration.
The second part includes in the definition of Wages, any bonus or other additional remuneration or any sum payable to an employee by reason of the termination of his employment. The third part excludes from the definition certain matters. We are not concerned with the third part of the definition. Nor are we concerned with the second part of the definition, as the claim of standard wages in the present case is neither a bonus nor an additional remuneration.
The relevant part of the definition .is the first part; and the point is whether "all remuneration, capable of being expressed in terms, of money, Which would, if the terms of the contract of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable, whether conditionally upon the regular attendance, good work or conduct or other behaviour of the person employed or otherwise" to an employee or a worker, connotes amounts fixed by a contract between the employer and the employee or whether it is wide enough to cover an amount fixed by the Government, not under a statutory authority, as payable to the workers or employees.
If I understood him right, the learned Advocate -General was at first inclined to suggest that the words "if the terms of the contract of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled" had not the effect of limiting the definition of wages, to contractual amounts; and that the said words were only intended to connote fulfilment of the terms of employment under which the wages would be payable.
But later on after citing the cases of 'Divisional ELK tneen G.I.P. Rly. v. Mahadeo Raghoo' (S) : AIR 1955 SC 295 (E); 'A.V.D. Costa Divisional Engineer, G.I.P. Rly. v. B.C. Patel' (S): : AIR 1955 SC 412 (P), the learned Advocate -General did not press the argument.
To me it appears that the plain meaning of the expression "remuneration which would, if the terms of the contract of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable" in Section 2(vi) means no more than the remuneration payable under a contract between the employer and the, employees. The matter does not seem to me to 4 admit of any controversy now after the decisions of the Supreme Court in (S) : AIR 1955 SC 295 (E) and in (S) : AIR 1955 SC 412 (F).
In the former case the question was whether a gangman in the employment of Central Railway was entitled to get a house rent allowance under a scheme introduced by the Railway Board Sunder the Ministry of Railways of the Government of India with effect from 1 -11 -1947.
The gangman was not entitled to any house rent when his employment under the railway administration began in April, 1945. The railway authorities refused to pay the gangman the allowance on the ground that under the scheme the allowance was not admissible to those to whom accommodation had been offered by the Government and who had refused it and that the gangman had refused to occupy the quarters offered by the Government.
The gangman then put up a claim for the payment of allowance before the competent authority under the Payment of Wages Act. The question then arose whether the house rent allowance claimed by the gangman fell within the definition of wages contained in Section 2(vi) of the Act. The Supreme Court after referring to this section observed.
Shorn of all verbiage, 'wages' are remuneration payable by an employer to his employee for services rendered according to the terms of the contract between them. The question then arises what are the terms of the contract between the parties.
The Supreme Court further observed that the rule made by the Government in regard to house rent allowance would be included in the terms of contract between the employer and the employee and that "the house rent allowance is admissible only so long as an employee is stationed at one of the specified places and has not been offered Government quarters. The rules distinctly provide that allowance will not be admissible to those who occupy Government quarters and to those to whom such quarters, have been offered but who have refused to take advantage of1 the offer. Once an employee of the description given above has been offered suitable house accommodation and he has) refused it he ceases to be entitled to the house rent allowance and that allowance thus ceases to be "wages" within the meaning of the definition in the Act, because it is no more payable under the terms of the contract".
The above observations of the Supreme Court leave no doubt that under the material portion of the definition of wages in Section 2(vi) of the Act, wages mean only the remuneration fixed by a contract between the employer and the employee. The other additional remuneration included in the definition of wages also refers to contractual additional remuneration.
This is clear from the fact that the other additional remuneration spoken of in the definition is "of the nature aforesaid which would be so payable" that is to say, which is capable of being expressed in terms of money and which would, if the terms of the contract of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable.
In (S) : AIR 1955 SC 412 (F), also wages under the Act were taken to be those fixed by' a contract between the parties. If then wages as defined in Section 2(vi) of the Act mean contractual1 remuneration, the question arises whether in the instant case the standard wages, which were admittedly not fixed by the Government under any statutory authority, were accepted by the J.C. Mills Ltd.; whether the acceptance had the effect of making those wages, a part of the terms of the contract between the employer and the employee or whether after accepting the standard wages, the Mills by their own act and with the agreement of the employees, included the standard wages in the terms of the contract between them.
These questions have not been investigated and determined by the learned District Judge or by the Legal Authority and unless this is done, it' is not possible to say whether the standard wages claimed by certain employees of J.C. Mills do or do not fall within the definition of wages in Section 2(vi) of the Act.
These questions must be determined and the case must be remitted to the Legal Authority to give a fresh opportunity to the parties to adduce relevant evidence to show whether the standard wages fixed by the Government did or did not become a part of the contract between the Mills, and its employees.;