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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Two sets of workmen in the same colliery under the same company have received unequal treatment.= the Award of the Industrial Tribunal dated 9 September 1996 directed the management of BCCL to regularise the workmen, but without backwages. The Award was, however, modified by the High Court on 18 May 2004. As a result, the management was only required in case it intended to employ regular workmen, to give preference to the workmen in question by relaxing conditions as to age and eligibility. The order of the High Court was not challenged by the Union representing the workmen. Evidently, no challenge was raised to the modification of the Award by the High Court unlike in the case of Reference 204 of 1994. In that case, the Award of the Industrial Tribunal was modified by a Division Bench of the High Court in a Letters Patent Appeal on 10 March 2003. The judgment of the Division Bench was challenged before this Court by the Union as a result of which, by a final judgment and order dated 18 November 2009, the Award of the Industrial Tribunal was restored and reinstatement was ordered without backwages. In the present case, however, the fact remains that the order of the High Court dated 18 May 2004 was never challenged. The basic grievance of the workmen is that as a result of the position which has ensued, the workmen governed by the present proceedings of whom only 14 are left in the fray, are virtually without any relief or remedy in practical terms. The workmen were engaged between 1987 and 1989. Nearly 27 years have elapsed since then. Many of the 14 workmen would be on the verge of attaining the age of retirement. There is no occasion at present to grant them reinstatement since in any event, such relief has been denied in the judgment of the High Court dated 18 May 2004 which has not been challenged. However, the predicament of the workmen is real. Two sets of workmen in the same colliery under the same company have received unequal treatment. The present group of workmen has faced attrition in numbers and has been left with no practical relief. This situation should be remedied, to the extent that is now permissible in law, having regard to the above background. In order to render full, final and complete justice, we are of the view that an order for the payment of compensation in final settlement of all the claims, dues and outstandings payable to the 14 workmen in question would meet the ends of justice. We accordingly direct that the Respondents shall deposit with the Central Government Tribunal (No.2) at Dhanbad an amount of Rs. Two lakhs each towards compensation payable to each one of the 14 workmen. This amount shall be in full and final satisfaction of all the claims, demands and outstandings. Upon deposit of the amount, the Award of the Industrial Tribunal dated 9 September 1996, as modified by the High Court on 18 May 2004 shall be marked as satisfied. The Respondents shall deposit the amount as directed hereinabove, within a period of two months from today before the Central Government Industrial Tribunal (No.2) Dhanbad in Reference 26 of 1993. The amount shall be disbursed to the workmen concerned subject to due verification of identity by the Industrial Tribunal.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                         CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                              I.A No. 2 OF 2016

                                     IN

                       CIVIL APPEAL No. 13953 OF 2015



WORKMEN RASTRIYA COLLIERY                          .....APPELLANT
MAZDOOR  SANGH



                                   Versus



BHARAT COKING COAL LTD. & ANR.                  .....RESPONDENTS







                               J U D G M E N T



Dr D Y CHANDRACHUD, J

1     The Appellant, which is a registered trade union, espoused  the  cause
of the workmen  engaged  at  Balihari  Colliery  under  Bharat  Coking  Coal
Limited (BCCL).  Of the 20 original workmen, 14 are left in  the  fray.   In
1993, a reference was made  by  the  appropriate  government  under  Section
10(1)(d) of the Industrial Disputes Act,  1947  to  the  Central  Government
Industrial Tribunal at Dhanbad on the  demand  raised  by  the  workmen  for
regularisation.  The reference was as follows:-
“Whether the demand of Rashtriya Colliery Mazdoor Sangh for regularization
of the workmen on the role of Balihari Colliery of M/s BCCL Ltd., and
payments to them of wages as per N.C.W.A. is justified?  If so, to what
relief the workmen are entitled?”



The Industrial Tribunal delivered an Award on 9 September 1996 in the  above
mentioned reference, Reference 26 of 1993.  By  its  Award,  the  Industrial
Tribunal allowed the reference in the following terms:-

“The management of BCCL is directed to regularise the concerned  workmen  as
per annexure of the reference as permanent employee as per NCWA  in  Cat.  I
within three months from the date of publication  of  this  Award  with  the
wages and other amenities to which they are entitled to.  But no back  wages
is given nor is it claimed.  No cost  is  awarded  also  to  either  of  the
parties.  Thus the reference is disposed of and this is my Award”.



2     Separately, the appropriate government made another  reference  on  11
August 1994, being Reference 204 of 1994,  under  Section  10(1)(d)  of  the
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 in respect of 76 workmen who had  been  denied
regularisation in Balihari  Colliery.   In  that  reference,  an  Award  was
rendered by the Industrial Tribunal on 14  August  2000  directing  BCCL  to
regularise 73 out of 76 workmen.  The management  challenged  the  Award  in
writ proceedings before the High Court (CWJC 3824 of 2000).  The High  Court
by a judgment dated 26 July 2001 dismissed the writ petition.  In a  Letters
Patent Appeal (LPA 543 of 2001), a Division Bench of the  High  Court  by  a
judgment dated 10 March 2003 modified the Award by  directing  that  as  and
when the management intended to  appoint  regular  workmen,  it  shall  give
preference to the workmen in question, if necessary by  relaxing  conditions
of age and eligibility.  The judgment  of  the  High  Court  was  challenged
before this Court in Civil Appeal No. 3962 of  2006  by  the  Union.   By  a
judgment and order dated 18 November 2009 the Civil Appeal was  allowed  and
the Award of the Industrial  Tribunal  was  restored.   In  consequence  the
workmen were directed to be reinstated though without any backwages.

3      In  the  present  case,  the  Award  of   the   Industrial   Tribunal
          dated 9 September 1996 was modified by a  judgment  dated  18  May
2004 of the High Court in CWJC 1654 of 1997.  The Award was modified in  the
following terms:-

“…the impugned awards are modified to the  extent  that  as  and  when  M/s.
B.C.C.L. intends to employ regular workmen,  it  shall  give  preference  to
these 88 plus 20 persons, if they are otherwise found suitable  by  relaxing
the conditions as to the works age appropriately taking  into  consideration
their age at the time of their initial appointment and also by relaxing  the
condition regarding academic/technical qualification”.



No appeal was filed against the impugned judgment of the  High  Court  dated
18 May 2004 by the Union.  However, on 22 August 2011 a  representation  was
submitted on behalf of the workmen to the management seeking employment  for
those governed by the Award dated 9 September 1996, as modified by the  High
Court on 18 May 2004.  Eventually, a writ  petition  was  filed  before  the
High Court under Article 226 seeking a direction to the employer to  furnish
employment to 20 workmen in terms of the order of the High  Court  dated  18
May 2004.  The writ petition was dismissed by learned  Single  Judge  on  21
March 2012 on the ground that execution  of  the  Award  of  the  Industrial
Tribunal could not be sought by  invoking  the  jurisdiction  under  Article
226.  In a Letters Patent Appeal, the Division Bench by a judgment dated  16
July 2012 affirmed the view  of  the  learned  Single  Judge.   The  present
proceedings have been instituted to challenge the judgment of  the  Division
Bench dated 16 July 2012.

4      During the pendency of  these  proceedings  an  effort  was  made  to
secure an amicable resolution of the dispute, which  was  unsuccessful.   By
an order dated 28 August 2015 the management was directed to dispose of  the
representation submitted on  behalf  of  the  workmen  on  22  August  2011.
Accordingly, a reasoned order  was  issued  on  16  September  2015  by  the
Project Officer.  The order notes that after the  Award  of  the  Industrial
Tribunal was modified by the learned  Single  Judge  on  18  May  2004,  the
workmen initiated a second round of litigation only  in  2011  by  filing  a
representation  on  22  August  2011   and   thereafter   instituting   writ
proceedings.  The order rejecting the representation notes that the  workmen
had worked in 1987-1989 with a dummy contractor  and  nearly  26  years  had
elapsed since then.  BCCL, it has been stated, was  until  recently  a  sick
company under the  BIFR  and  had  not  initiated  any  regular  process  of
recruitment after the order of the learned Single Judge dated 18  May  2004.
However, it has  been  noted  that  the  management  would  make  a  sincere
endeavour  to  grant  preference  to  the  14  workmen  in  case  any  fresh
recruitment is made subject to age and physical requirements being met.

5     Leave was granted in these proceedings on 27 November 2015.

6     The narration of facts indicates that  the  Award  of  the  Industrial
Tribunal  dated  9  September  1996  directed  the  management  of  BCCL  to
regularise the workmen, but without  backwages.   The  Award  was,  however,
modified by the High Court on 18 May 2004.  As a result, the management  was
only required in case  it  intended  to  employ  regular  workmen,  to  give
preference to the workmen in question by relaxing conditions as to  age  and
eligibility.  The order of the High Court was not challenged  by  the  Union
representing the  workmen.   Evidently,  no  challenge  was  raised  to  the
modification of the Award by the High Court unlike in the case of  Reference
204 of 1994.  In that  case,  the  Award  of  the  Industrial  Tribunal  was
modified by a Division Bench of the High Court in a  Letters  Patent  Appeal
on 10 March 2003.  The judgment of the Division Bench was challenged  before
this Court by the Union as a result of which, by a final judgment and  order
dated 18 November 2009, the Award of the Industrial  Tribunal  was  restored
and reinstatement was ordered  without  backwages.   In  the  present  case,
however, the fact remains that the order of the  High  Court  dated  18  May
2004 was never challenged.





7     The basic grievance of  the  workmen  is  that  as  a  result  of  the
position which has ensued, the workmen governed by the  present  proceedings
of whom only 14 are left in the fray, are virtually without  any  relief  or
remedy in practical terms.  The workmen were engaged between 1987 and  1989.
 Nearly 27 years have elapsed since then.  Many of the 14 workmen  would  be
on the verge of attaining the age of retirement.  There is  no  occasion  at
present to grant them reinstatement since in  any  event,  such  relief  has
been denied in the judgment of the High Court dated 18 May  2004  which  has
not been challenged.   However, the predicament  of  the  workmen  is  real.
Two sets of workmen in  the  same  colliery  under  the  same  company  have
received  unequal  treatment.   The  present  group  of  workmen  has  faced
attrition in numbers and has been  left  with  no  practical  relief.   This
situation should be remedied, to the extent that is now permissible in  law,
having regard to the above background.  In order to render full,  final  and
complete justice, we are of the view  that  an  order  for  the  payment  of
compensation in final settlement of all the claims,  dues  and  outstandings
payable to the 14 workmen in question would meet the ends of justice.

8     We accordingly direct that the  Respondents  shall  deposit  with  the
Central Government Tribunal (No.2) at Dhanbad an amount  of  Rs.  Two  lakhs
each towards compensation payable to each  one  of  the  14  workmen.   This
amount shall be in full and final satisfaction of all  the  claims,  demands
and outstandings.  Upon deposit of the amount, the Award of  the  Industrial
Tribunal dated 9 September 1996, as modified by the High  Court  on  18  May
2004 shall be marked  as  satisfied.   The  Respondents  shall  deposit  the
amount as directed hereinabove, within a period of  two  months  from  today
before  the  Central  Government  Industrial  Tribunal  (No.2)  Dhanbad   in
Reference 26 of  1993.   The  amount  shall  be  disbursed  to  the  workmen
concerned  subject  to  due  verification  of  identity  by  the  Industrial
Tribunal.





 9    The Civil Appeal shall stand allowed in the above terms.  There  shall
be no order as to costs.




.......................................CJI
                                           [T S  THAKUR]



..............................................J
                                           [A M KHANWILKAR]



..............................................J
                                             [Dr D Y  CHANDRACHUD]


New Delhi
October 03, 2016

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