(1.)In this writ preceeding the writ petitioner (hereinafter referred to as the Company) has challenged the Order No. 55 dated 25.3.2003 passed in Case No. VIII-215/99 by the Fourth Industrial Tribunal, West Bengal (hereinafter referred to as the Tribunal), in connection with an application preferred by the respondent No. 2 (hereinafter referred to as the workman) under section 15(2)(b) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as the said Act) as substituted by West Bengal Act 33 of 1986 for section 15 of the Principal Act.
(2.)Said section 15(2)(b) of the said Act reads as follows:
"15(2). Where an industrial dispute has been referred to a labour Court or Tribunal, it shall- a) ................................ b) upon hearing the parties to the dispute determine(sic) within a period of 60 days from the date of reference under sub-section(1) of section 10 or within such period as specified in the order of reference under sub-section(1) of section 10 the quantum of interim relief admissible, if any: Provided that the quantum of interim relief to discharge, dismissal, retrenchment or termination of service or workman shall be equivalent to subsistence allowance as may be admissible under the West Bengal Payment of Subsistence Allowance Act, 1969."
(3.)Said section 15(2)(b) of the said Act was considered by a Full Bench of this Court in (1) B.G. Sampat (Babulal Gobardhandas Sampat) vs. State of West Bengal & Ors., (2) C.E.S.C. Ltd. & Anr. vs. State of West Bengal & Ors. and (3) M/s. Webel Nicco Electronics Ltd. vs. Mrs. Anima Roy & Ors. reported at 2000(1) CLJ 17. The Full Bench held, inter alia, as follows:
"(a) The word 'admissible', inter alia, means in the context of "if it is admissible" and not in the context of section 136 of the Indian Evidence Act. (b) The legislature has purposely used the word 'determined' which means 'authoritatively deciding'. (c) A statutory Tribunal exercising a judicial function, it is needless to say, can authoritatively decide only upon considering all relevant materials brought on records by the parties and upon taking into consideration the fact as to whether such relief is admissible either in law or fact. (d) The words 'if any' are also significant. (e) If a power has been conferred upon a Court or statutory Tribunal, the same may be exercised or may not be exercised. Such exercise of power evidently would depend upon (i) the facts and circumstances of each case and (ii) the nature of dispute referred to the Tribunal for adjudication. There cannot be any doubt whatsoever that while discharging functions under section 15(2)(b) of the said Act, the hands of Industrial Tribunal are not fettered. (f) It has also to be borne in mind that the vary fact that section 15(2)(b) has been added after section 15(1) which, inter alia, provides for passing of an award also goes to show that the relief granted in favour of the workman, if any, although interim in nature, is final and binding on the parties. (g) There cannot be any doubt that once an interim relief is prayed for the Tribunal has to apply its mind as regard existence of a prima facie case. (h) Reference by the appropriate Government itself cannot constitute a prima facie case in favour of the workman. (i) It is obligatory on the part of the Tribunal, prima facie to consider the merit of the cases of the respective parties as also the nature of dispute upon taking into consideration the relevant materials therefor. (j) The question as to whether in a fact situation a workman is entitled to any interim relief or not will also be a relevant consideration. (k) However, section 15(2)(b) speaks of an interim relief. The very fact that the words 'interim relief had been used is a pointer to the fact that the same has not been done in the same terms as that of an 'interlocutory order'. Relief has to be granted by way of interim measure. Such a relief when granted becomes final and, thus, the question of any refund thereof does not arise. (l) The intention of the legislature is clear from the fact that in terms of the proviso appended to section 15(2)(b) of the said Act, interim relief in certain categories of cases would be equivalent to the subsistence allowance as may be admissible under the West Bengal Payment of Subsistence Allowance Act, 1969 (hereinafter referred to us W.B.P.S.A. Act, 1969). The provisions of the W.B.P.S.A. Act, 1969 have been incorporated by reference with regard to the quantum of allowance only but the said provision leads to a conclusion that in a case where an interim relief is granted, no direction can be issued to refund thereof as subsistence allowance can never be directed to be refunded. (m) The provision of the W.B.P.S.A. Act, 1969, inter alia, prohibits such grant of subsistence allowance in the event the workman was gainfully employed. For the purpose of computation of the quantum of interim relief even the said factor will be the relevant. (n) However, there cannot be any doubt that while passing a final award under section 15 of the said Act the Court may direct adjustment as an interim relief is in aid of the final relief which may be granted by the Court. (o) Keeping in view the fact that an order in terms of section 15(2)(b) of the said Act has to be passed within a period of 60 days from the data of reference itself is a pointer to the fact that it is not obligatory on the part of the parties to file written statement but the Court must have before it all the material facts either from the pleadings or from the records. If an employer does not purposely choose to file his pleadings, the workman cannot suffer therefor as the Tribunal is required to pass such an order within 60 days from the date of reference and within such shorter period, if any, mentioned in the reference. (p) An order granting interim relief has to be passed from the date of reference and not prior thereto. (q) The submission to the effect that section 15(2)(b) of the said Act is unconstitutional cannot be accepted."