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M/S Bata India Ltd. & Another v. The Presiding Officer, Labour Court & Another - WRIT - C No. 23634 of 1996 [2007] RD-AH 12912 (26 July 2007)


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Court No.35

Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 23634 of 1996

M/s. Bata India Limited & Anr.


The Presiding Officer, Labour Court, U.P. Agra & Anr.


Hon. Dilip Gupta, J.

This petition has been filed for quashing the order dated 23rd February, 1996 passed by the Labour Court allowing the application filed by respondent no.2 Sri Ramesh Chandra under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as the ''Act').

The application was filed on 11th August, 1988 claiming overtime wages of Rs.15,959/- for the period from 1982 to 1988. The petitioner filed a written statement denying the averments made in the application. It was also specifically stated that the workman had been engaged only when the necessity arose and he was never engaged either as a salesman or a Clerk and that he was never required or allowed to do overtime work from June, 1982 to February, 1988. The workman examined himself before the Labour Court and stated that he had worked overtime during the relevant period but in the cross-examination the workman admitted that no written orders had been passed for doing overtime work and it was only on the basis of oral orders that he worked overtime. He also stated that he had not raised any demand for wages for doing overtime work during his employment and that he had recorded the period he did overtime work in his personal diary but the said diary was not produced by him. The Labour Court, however, placed reliance on the oral statement of workman that he had worked overtime because no oral evidence was produced by the employers in rebuttal. It allowed the application and ordered that the amount of Rs.15,959/- claimed in the application should be paid to the workman.

In order to claim wages for overtime work, it was for the workman to have established his claim before the Labour Court. It had clearly been admitted by the workman that the workman did not have any documentary evidence to show that he had worked overtime during the period and even the diary that he stated was maintained by him in which the relevant entries were made was not produced by him before the Labour Court. The petitioner clearly denied that the respondent-workman had worked overtime. The workman moved the application in the year 1988 after a period of six years. In such circumstances, the Labour Court was not justified in allowing the application merely on the basis of oral statement made by the workman when this fact had been categorically denied by the employers.

Such a claim could not have been allowed when disputed questions of fact were involved. This is what has been observed by the Supreme Court in Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs. Ganesh Razak & Anr. (1995) 1 SCC 235 and in Chief Superintendent, Government Livestock Farm Hissar Vs. Ramesh Kumar (1997) 11 SCC 363.

In Municipal Corporation of Delhi (supra) the Supreme Court observed:-

"The High Court has referred to some of these decisions but missed the true import thereof. The ratio of these decisions clearly indicates that where the very basis of the claim or the entitlement of the workmen to a certain benefit is disputed, there being no earlier adjudication or recognition thereof by the employer, the dispute relating to entitlement is not incidental to the benefit claimed and is, therefore, clearly outside the scope of a proceeding under Section 33-C(2) of the Act. The Labour Court has no jurisdiction to first decide the workmen's entitlement and then proceed to compute the benefit so adjudicated on that basis in exercise of its power under Section 33-C(2) of the Act. It is only when the entitlement has been earlier adjudicated or recognised by the employer and thereafter for the purpose of implementation or enforcement thereof some ambiguity requires interpretation that the interpretation is treated as incidental to the Labour Court's power under Section 33-C(2) like that of the Executing Court's power to interpret the decree for the purpose of its execution."

In Chief Superintendent (supra) the Supreme Court observed:-

" We are unable to appreciate how the application of the respondent could be entertained under Section 33-C(2) of the Act. The remedy of Section 33-C(2) is available only in those cases where there is no dispute about entitlement of the workman. The remedy of Section 33-C(2) cannot be invoked in a case where the entitlement is disputed. In the instant case, the entitlement of the respondent to regular scale was disputed by the appellant and, therefore, it was not a case in which the remedy of Section 33-C(2) could be invoked. The proper course for the respondent was to have his entitlement to regular scale determined by a competent court or tribunal and in the event of non-payment of the amount payable to him as per his entitlement under such determination he could invoke the remedy under Section 33-C(2)."  

The Supreme Court in Union of India & Anr. Vs. Kankuben (Dead) by LRs. & Ors., (2006) 9 SCC 292 also clearly held that an application claiming overtime allowance was not maintainable under Section 33-C(2) of the Act.

The order dated 23rd February, 1996, therefore, cannot be sustained. It is,a accordingly, set aside. The writ petition succeeds and is allowed.  




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