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Friday, September 23, 2016

“Whether the 35 persons whose names are shown in the Annexure and who were employed by M/s. Triveni Engineering Works, a Contractor at Dugda Coal Washery are to be treated as workmen of M/s BCCL and whether the demand of the Coal Washeries Workers Union that these persons be regularized/absorbed in the services of M/s. BCCL is justified? If so, to what relief are these persons entitled?” = the Division Bench was right in observing that, in the facts of the present case, an order of reinstatement must be eschewed, being inequitable. The workmen, however, must be compensated in lieu of reinstatement. Applying the principle underlying the decisions of this Court in Ruby General Insurance Co. Ltd. vs. P.P. Chopra[1] and the recent case of Delhi International Airport (P) Ltd. vs. Union of India[2], in our considered opinion, interest of justice would be met by enhancing the amount of compensation in lieu of reinstatement/absorption and regularisation quantified at Rs.1,50,000/-(Rupees One Lakh Fifty Thousand) to each workmen. For, the workmen have already received wages from October 2004 to January 2012 in terms of the order under Section 17(B) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 without any work assigned to them. The respondent paid minimum wages to the concerned workmen during the relevant period as the workmen were not able to produce any document in support of their last drawn wages. This lump sum compensation amount of Rs.1,50,000/- to each workmen would be in full and final settlement of all the claims of the concerned workmen and substitute the order passed by the Tribunal to that extent, without any further enquiry as to whether the concerned workmen was gainfully employed during the relevant period or not.The respondent shall deposit the amount payable in terms of this order to the workmen before the Central Government Industrial Tribunal, Dhanbad, within three months from today. Failing which, shall be liable to pay interest thereon at the rate of 10% p.a. from today till the amount is deposited or paid to the concerned workmen, whichever is earlier. The Central Government Industrial Tribunal, Dhanbad, shall cause to disburse the amount to the concerned workmen subject to verification.

                                                        (Non-Reportable)

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL  APPEAL NO. 9278 OF 2014

The General Secretary, Coal Washeries
Workers Union Dhanbad
….Appellant(s)

                             Vs.

Employers in relation to the Management
of  Dugda Washery of M/s BCCL                             …Respondent(s)



                             J U D G M E N T


A. M. KHANWILKAR, J.


      The short question to be considered in this appeal in terms  of  order
dated 27th August 2012 passed by this Court  while  issuing  notice  to  the
respondent-Management is: the quantum of the lump sum amount which needs  to
be paid to the workmen concerned in lieu of reinstatement.

2.    Briefly stated, the appellant raised an industrial dispute  which  was
referred to the Central  Government  Industrial  Tribunal  at  Dhanbad,  for
adjudication, as under:-
      “Whether the 35 persons whose names are shown in the Annexure and  who
were employed by M/s. Triveni Engineering Works, a Contractor at Dugda  Coal
Washery are to be treated as workmen of M/s BCCL and whether the  demand  of
the Coal Washeries Workers Union that these persons be  regularized/absorbed
in the services of M/s. BCCL is justified? If so, to what relief  are  these
persons entitled?”

3.    The Industrial Tribunal vide award dated 17th June 1997, answered  the
reference in  favour  of  the  appellant  and  directed  the  Management  to
reinstate and regularize the concerned 35  workmen  w.e.f.  1st  July  1990,
with payment of 30% full back wages within  two  months  from  the  date  of
publication of the award in the Official Gazette of India.  The  respondent-
Management challenged the said award by way of  Writ  Petition  being  Civil
Writ Jurisdiction Case No.3443/1997(R). The  learned  Single  Judge  of  the
High Court of Jharkhand at Ranchi, vide final judgment dated 6th  May  2003,
dismissed that Writ Petition and affirmed the view taken  by  the  Tribunal.
The respondent carried the matter in appeal by way of Letters Patent  Appeal
No.422/2004 before the Division Bench.  The  Division  Bench  vide  judgment
dated 5th January 2012, did not doubt the correctness  of  the  findings  of
the Industrial Tribunal or the learned Single Judge  on  the  factum  of  35
persons to be treated as workmen of the respondent.  It,  however,  accepted
the plea of the respondent that after a lapse of more  than  20  years  from
stoppage of work of the subject workmen, an order of reinstatement  will  be
inequitable and must be eschewed. The Division  Bench,  therefore,  modified
the award in the following terms:

      “We considered the submission of the learned counsel for  the  parties
and we are of the view that even the Labour  court  was  of  the  view  that
these workmen are not entitled to full back wages in view of the  fact  that
they did not work and the back wages  were  also  awarded  w.e.f.  1st  July
1990.  The  workmen  worked  from  1986-1990  for  which  they   got   their
salary/wages and this fact is not in dispute.  Thereafter  the  workmen  are
getting the benefit of the payment of wages in view of Section 17(b) of  the
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 in view of the award dated 19th July 2007.  In
view of the above fact that these workmen are not working since 1990, we  do
not find it equitable to maintain  the  order  to  reinstate  the  employees
after 20 years. So far as the compensation in lieu of the  reinstatement  is
concerned, we deem it proper to award Rs.50,000/-(fifty  thousand)  to  each
of the workmen in addition  to  whatever  amount  has  been  paid  to  these
workmen under Section 17(b) of the said Act by the appellant.

      With this modification, this LPA is partly allowed to  the  extent  as
indicated above.”

4.    As aforesaid, this Court has entertained the  present  appeal  limited
to the question of quantum of the lump sum amount to be paid to the  workmen
concerned  in  lieu  of  reinstatement.  It  is  not  in  dispute  that  the
Management has paid wages to the workmen in terms of the order passed on  an
application under Section 17(B) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947  during
the pendency of proceedings before the High Court. The question is:  whether
an amount of Rs.50,000/- determined by the Division Bench of the High  Court
to be paid to the workmen in addition to whatever amount has  been  paid  to
them under Section 17(B) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 is adequate.

5.    Considering the arguments of both sides, in our opinion, the  Division
Bench was right in observing that, in the facts  of  the  present  case,  an
order of reinstatement must be eschewed, being  inequitable.   The  workmen,
however,  must  be  compensated  in  lieu  of  reinstatement.  Applying  the
principle underlying the decisions of this Court in Ruby  General  Insurance
Co. Ltd.  vs.  P.P. Chopra[1] and the recent  case  of  Delhi  International
Airport (P)  Ltd.   vs.  Union  of  India[2],  in  our  considered  opinion,
interest of justice would be met by enhancing the  amount   of  compensation
in  lieu  of  reinstatement/absorption  and  regularisation  quantified   at
Rs.1,50,000/-(Rupees One Lakh Fifty Thousand)  to  each  workmen.  For,  the
workmen have already received wages from October 2004  to  January  2012  in
terms of the order under Section 17(B) of the Industrial Disputes Act,  1947
without any work assigned to them.  The respondent  paid  minimum  wages  to
the concerned workmen during the relevant period as  the  workmen  were  not
able to produce any document in support of their last drawn wages.

6.    This lump sum compensation amount of  Rs.1,50,000/-  to  each  workmen
would be in full and final settlement of all the  claims  of  the  concerned
workmen and substitute the order passed by  the  Tribunal  to  that  extent,
without any  further  enquiry  as  to  whether  the  concerned  workmen  was
gainfully employed during the relevant period or not.

7.    The respondent shall deposit the  amount  payable  in  terms  of  this
order to the workmen before  the  Central  Government  Industrial  Tribunal,
Dhanbad, within three months from today. Failing which, shall be  liable  to
pay interest thereon at the rate of 10% p.a. from today till the  amount  is
deposited or paid to the  concerned  workmen,  whichever  is  earlier.   The
Central Government Industrial Tribunal, Dhanbad,  shall  cause  to  disburse
the amount to the concerned workmen subject to verification.

8.    The appeal succeeds in the above terms with no order as to costs.
                                                          …………………………..…..CJI
                                                                (T.S.THAKUR)

                                                              …………………………….J.
                                                            (A.M.KHANWILKAR)

                                                            ………………………………….J.
                                                      (DR. D.Y. CHANDRACHUD)

New Delhi
23rd September, 2016


-----------------------
[1]
      [2] (1969) 3 SCC 653 (3 Judges)
[3]
      [4] (2011) 12 SCC 449


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