In this case, an Award was passed in favour of five retrenched Workmen by the Labour Court, Dwarka was challenged via Writ in Delhi High Court.
M/s Rama Tent House was in the business of providing tents for marriages, family functions, religious ceremonies, and governmental organized functions. Five workers were retrenched from service. One of them was retrenched on 12.3.12 and 4 others on 24.9.12 with their last drawn salary of Rs 5,700. Aggrieved by the retrenchment, representation was made through Labour Union but of no avail. To further pursue their cause, they approached the Labour Court. The Labour Court ruled in their favour and awarded compensation of Rs 3,00,000 to each Workman and imposed a condition that compensation should be dispersed within 30 days by Rama traders and in case of failure, 8 % p.a. interest would ensue. Aggrieved by this order of Labour Court, M/S Rama Tent House approached the High Court via Writ Jurisdiction.
The Appellants contended that the nature of their work was seasonal and there was no Employer-Employee relationship between the Workmen and the Appellants. The Workmen were not employed for 240 days in the previous year as mandated by the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Further, they contended that the Labour Court erroneously shifted the burden of proving that Workmen were not their Employees. In a nutshell, they contended that ex facie, the Awards passed by the Labour Court were unsustainable in law.
The Respondents contended that the Workmen were Employees of the appellants and that the Labour Court was correct in its assessment.
The Court dismissed the writ petition and opined on the present case. The Court negatived the first contention of the Appellant that the Workmen were not the regular Workmen of the Appellants by placing reliance on documentary evidence and on the testimony of one Mr Amaral Singh, who was a driver with the Appellants and shared a room with the Workmen. The testimony proved that the work of the Appellants was not seasonal, the Workmen were employed by the appellants as painters, and salaries were paid in cash but no account was maintained regarding the attendance and the number of hours the Employees worked for the appellants. The Court placed its reliance on documentary evidence to conclude that Workmen were employed for more than 240 days. On the contention of Appellants that the burden of proof shifted, the Court reminded that after the testimony of Mr Amar pal Singh, it was up to them to prove the opposite.
The Court after concluding that there were no qualms regarding the sustainability of the Award passed by the Labour Court reiterated that “the Writ Court does not sit in appeal over the decisions of the Labour Court/Industrial Tribunal. The Writ Court would interfere only if it is a case where there is an error of law apparent on the face of the record or the Labour Court/Industrial Tribunal steps outside its jurisdiction”. This observation was given by the Court by relying on Tulsidas Paul vs. Labour Court AIR 1963 Cal 624, which ruled that It was well established that in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226, the High Court did not sit in appeal over the Orders of Industrial Tribunals. Its jurisdiction was supervisory, and therefore, it interfered if the jurisdiction conferred on such Tribunals was improper, or in non-compliance with well-established principles, exercised or for any such other reason.
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