ASSAM STATE ELECTRICITY BOARD Vs. PRESIDING OFFICER, LABOUR COURT AND ORS.
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
ASSAM STATE ELECTRICITY BOARD
Presiding Officer, Labour Court And Ors.
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K. Lahiri, A.C.J. -
(1.)THIS application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is directed against an order of the Presiding. Officer, Labour Court, Gauhati, passed on 14.12.84 in Reference Case No. 24 of 1981, whereby the Labour Court has deferred decision of the preliminary issue to be beard along with the main issues involved in the Industrial dispute. We may make it clear that it is not a case in which the Labour Court has refused to determine a preliminary issue, but it is a case in which the court has deferred hearing of the issue to a future date.
(2.)THE Government of Assam referred the industrial dispute to the Labour Court at Gauhati and the dispute was set out in the Schedule to the Reference as under:
1) Whether the management of A.S.E.B., Assam, Gauhati is justified in (sic) Smt. Anurudha Kar from services ?
2) If not, is she entitled to reinstatement or any other relief in lieu thereof?
The Reference was made in May, 1981. The Reference was registered as Reference Case No. 24 of 1981 in the Labour Court, Gauhati. Ultimately, on 24.12.84, the matter came up for hearing. At the hearing, an application was filed on behalf of the Management stating that a preliminary point was required to be determined before determination of the main issues. The preliminary issue, tit framed by the management, was to the effect that the State Govt. had no jurisdiction to refer the dispute to the Labour Court at the concerned workman was at all relevant time an employee of Meghalaya State Electricity Board. The Labour Court held that the dispute was referred in 1981 and pended before it for so many years, At no point of time earlier the management considered that it should be determined first before going into the merits of the case. Accordingly, the Labour Court held that the Preliminary issue should be decided along with the main issues raised in the Industrial dispute. The workman was present with witness and accordingly, the Labour Court awarded cost of Rs. 200/ - against the Management, which was not ready on 14.12.84, fixing 11.1.85 for bearing of all the issues.
(3.)DELAY in adjudication of a labour dispute may lead to misery and jeopardise industrial peace. The Tribunals including Labour Court entrusted with the task of adjudicating labour disputes should decide all the issues in disputes at the same time without trying some of them as preliminary issues. Nor should High Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, stop proceedings before a Tribunal so that a preliminary issue may be decided by them. This is the law laid down by the Supreme Court in D.P. Maheswari v. Delhi Administration,, 1983 Lab. IC 1629 :, AIR 1984 SC 153. Their Lordships, inter alia, held that neither the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution nor the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 136 should be allowed to be exploited by those who can well -afford to wait to the detriment of those who can ill -afford to wait by dragging the latter from Court to for adjudication of peripheral issues, avoiding decision on issues more vital to them. Their Lordships have further observed that the provisions of Articles 226 and 136 of the Constitution are not meant to be used to break the resistance of workmen in this fashion.
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