EASTERN COLFIELDS LIMITED Vs. STATE
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
EASTERN COALFIELDS LIMITED
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(1.) Describing themselves as workmen of Selected Fatka Colliery situated within the district of Dhanbad, the opposite party Nos. 2 to 1177 in this Rule filed three application's under S. 33C(2). Industrial Disputes Act. 1947 ('Act' for short) in the 3rd Central Government Labour Court, Dhanbad against Eastern Coalfields Ltd.. the petitioner in this Rule. These three applications were registered as LC Nos. 8 of 1979. 9 of 1979 and 10 of 1979. In LC No. 8 of 1979 they claimed a total sum of Rs. 66,89,645/- as their wages from May 1, 1976 till the date of their joining the said colliery. In LC No. 9 of 1979 they claimed wages and overtime allowance for the month of April 1976 and also claimed train fare, bonus and other allowances for the year 1975-76. LC No. 10 of 1979 was for recovery of sum of Rs. 9,57,125.59 p. which they claimed to have deposited under Compulsory Deposit Scheme during the period the colliery was in the hands of the Receiver.
(2.) In refuting their claims the petitioner first contended that some of the applicants were not workmen under the Act and the applications so far as it related to them were not maintainable. The main contention of the petitioner however was that though owing to a Presidential Ordinance, management of colliery was to be taken over by the Custodian from January 31, 1973, the Custodian could not take possession as the colliery was under a Receiver appointed by the Calcutta High Court from before and it was only on October "14. 1976, that the possession could be taken over, after the Receiver was discharged. The petitioner asserted that it had been making payment to the workmen who had been working in the colliery on and from October 14, 1976 and it had no liability for anything which might be due from the Receiver.
(3.) Relying upon Ss. 2 and 3, Coal Mines (Taking over of Management) Act, 1973, the Labour Court held that on and from the 'appointed day' that is. from January 31,1973 the management of all coal mines, including the mine in question, stood vested in the Central Government and further held that such vesting could not be said to have been kept in abeyance by the order of this High Court appointing the Receiver in view of S. 12 of the said Act. The Labour Court then considered the provisions of Ss. 2 and 3, Coal Mines Nationalisation Act, 1973, and held that on and from May 1, 1973 the right, title and interest of the owner of the mine in question vested absolutely in Central Government free from all encumbrances and by virtue of sub-sec. (1) of S. 14 the applicants became employees of the Central Government on and from the appointed day, that is from 1-5-73 and thereafter of the petitioner, which is a Government Company, entitling them to claim their wages and other emoluments from the Central Government or the Government Company, as the case might be. The Labour Court therefore found the applicants entitled to wages for the month of April 1976 as claimed in LC No. 9 of 1979: and the wages from 1-5-1976 till the date of their joining the colliery as claimed in LC No. 8 of 1979. As regards refund of the deposits under the Compulsory Deposit Scheme the learned Court held that as the Receiver deducted the amounts to be paid by the applicants from their wages, the petitioner was liable to refund the same to the applicants. The claim of the applicants regarding sick leave, overtime wages, train tare and bonus in case No. 9 of 1979 was however rejected. With those findings the Labour Court directed the parties to file their respective statements of dues by a date fixed by it. In the meantime, the petitioner moved this Court and obtained the present Rule and an interim order staying the operation of the impugned order.;
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