Decided on February 02,1968

Management Of Socklatinga Tea Estate Appellant
N.J. Korean And Anr. Respondents


C. Sanjeeva Row Nayudu, J. - (1.)THIS petition comes be fore us on an order of reference made by a Division Bench of this Court which is extracted below.
27 -11 -1967, In this case the interpretation of Section 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act arises for consideration. The contention of Mr. Bhattacharjee is that unless the Labour Court is specified by the State Government under this Sub -section, the Labour Court in question would not get jurisdiction to decide the matter whereas. Mr. Choudhuri contended that as there is only one Labour Court in the whole State there is no need to specify the particular Court and that the Labour Court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter. In support of this argument he places reliance on a Division Bench decision of this Court in the case of Sudhindra Kumar Deb v. State of Assam : AIR 1959 Gau 1. It is contended by Mr. Bhattacharjee that the observations made in that case are more or less obiter and need not be considered for the decision of this case. However, the pronouncement is fairly specific and clear in that decision. We would therefore like the whole matter to be settled once for all by referring the matter to a Full Bench. The matter will be heard by the C.J., Justice Sen and Justice Pathak on 1st February, 1968.

(Sd.) C. Sanjeeva Row Nayudu, Chief Justice. (Sd.) M.C. Pathak, Judge.

(2.)TWO points arise for consideration in his reference (l) Whether an application for computation of a workman's entitlement under Section 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereafter called 'the Act') could be made to Labour Court without the same having been specified by the State Government in regard to the dispute that is to be referred to under Section 33C(2) and (2) whether the workman could refer the dispute under Section 33C(2) directly to the Labour Court and not by an application to the State Government. Before we consider these points, it would be useful to extract the relevant provisions of the Act. The relevant provisions of Section 7 of the Act, which deals with Labour Courts, is as follows:
7. (1). The appropriate Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, constitute one or more Labour Courts for adjudication of industrial disputes relating to any matters specified in the Second Schedule and for performing such there functions as may be assigned to them under this Act.

The Second Schedule to the Act contains the list of matters, which fall within the jurisdiction of the Labour Courts. Section 33C runs as follows:

33C. Recovery of money due from an employer. (1) Where any money is due to a workman from an employer under a settlement or an award or under the provisions of Chap v. A, the workman may, without prejudice to any other mode of recovery, make an application to the appropriate Government for the recovery of the money due to him, and if the appropriate Government is satisfied that any money is so due, it shall issue a certificate for that amount to the Collector who shall proceed to recover the same in the same manner as an arrear of land revenue.

(2) Where any workman is entitled to receive from the employer any benefit which is capable of 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 -section (1).

(3) For the purposes of computing the money value of a benefit, the Labour Court may, it it so thinks fit, appoint a Commissioner who shall, after taking such evidence as may be necessary, submit a report to the Labour Court and the Labour Court shall determine the amount after considering the report of the Commissioner and other circumstances of the case.

(3.)IT may be seen from the language of Section 33C(2) that the amount which the workman is entitled to receive is to be determined by the Labour Court, which is specified by the State Government in this behalf. In other words, the Labour Court has got to be specifically mentioned and it should also be mentioned by that a State Government that a particular matter which is referred to under Section 33C(2) is to be determined by the Labour Court Mr. Bhattacharjee, the learned Counsel for the Petitioner the Management of Socklatinga Tea Estate contends that the particular Labour Court, was not specified, nor was the matter in regard to the dispute in this case mentioned by the Government in a reference to the Labour Court under Sub -section (2) of Section 33C. To this Mr. Choudhuri, the learned Counsel for the workman Respondent No. 1 Shri N.J. Korean, stated that as there has been only one Labor Court for the whole State of Assam no particular specification is necessary and that all duties that could be performed by the Labour Court under the Act could be performed by that Labour Court, as that is the only Labour Court for the State. It may be that there has been only one Labour Court for the whole State. But that Labour Court, according to the Sub -section has got to be specified for performing this particular duty and no material has been placed before us to show that any such specific earmarking of this duty has been made by the Government in regard to the one Labour Court, which was functioning in the State. In view of the fact that the Sub -section uses the word specified and also the words in this behalf, there can be no doubt that the insistence is on the specification as well as with reference to the particular subject -matter of dispute. In the inslant case as it is not specified by the State Government in a reference that the Labour Court, which is the only Labour Court in the State of Assam, is entrusted with the duty of determining the amount payable to the workman Respondent No. 1, we feel that the Labour Court had acquired no jurisdiction to dispose of the matter under Sub -section (2) of Section 33C, simply on an application filed before it by the Respondent No. 1. It is possible that there may be only one Labour Court and yet the the State Government may not entrust certain matters to that, Labour Court The whole object of the Sub -section is to reserve the right to the State Government to specify the duty in the particular circumstances of the case, so that these conditions must be complied with before jurisdiction of the Labour Court under Section 33C could be invoked.

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