The Petitioner, at the stage of conciliation, filed detailed objections. These stated that the respondent was not a workman. Thus, the reference was not maintainable. The Petitioner filed a writ petition against the reference. The Court entertained the writ petition and passed an interim order staying the reference. The Court remitted the matter back to the Deputy Labour Commissioner, Saharanpur.
Arguments of the Petitioner
The Petitioner argued that parties ought to have access to lead evidence. Additionally, the framing of issues should be separate. On 3.4.2019, the respondent applied to decide if the respondent no.3 was a workman or not.
As per Rule 12 of U.P. Industrial Disputes Rules, 1957, the Labour Court or Tribunal, is to fix a date for the first hearing of the dispute. This Court must set the date within six weeks of the reference. The Court will then record reasons in writing and fix a later date for disposal of the dispute. In this suit, after fixing the first date, the Tribunal ought to have culled out the issues which it had to decide.
It was only after that that the Tribunal should pass the award. Before the Tribunal passes the award, the parties ought to have the opportunity to lead evidence on the merits of the case. The Petitioner, thus submitted that the award was giving out the issues for the first time. Thus, the issues were only guidance for the Labour Court to pass the award. It was not an intimation to the parties to lead evidence or to place their arguments.
Arguments of the Respondent
The Respondents argued that at no point of time, the opposing party petitioned for lead evidence. Furthermore, no application existed to prove the charges against the respondent as well.
The Appellate Court had at no point of time forbidden the Tribunal to decide the reference. The Tribunal’s decision on the issue as to whether the respondent was a workman, was not forbidden.
The High Court held that the Labour Court had answered the reference on merits and in the award itself. The proper course for the Labour Court ought to have been that it should have first framed issues. Only after that, should it have directed the parties to make their submissions.
The High Court held that the written statement’s adjudication was unnecessary. Before finding the enquiry erroneous, the Court first has to hear the parties on that issue. If the enquiry’s adjudication seemed defective, the question of leading evidence on the charges would have arisen.
In the present matter, the issue of the respondent being a workman was decided after a full-fledged argument. Thus, the Court set aside the award. The Labour Court was to hear both parties and permit them to lead evidence. After that, the Court was to answer the reference. The High Court gave a two-month timeline for this exercise.
The writ petition was partially allowed.
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