Libertatem Magazine

Himachal Pradesh HC Dismisses Writ Petition Filed by Workmen Against Low Pay-Scale

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On 14th December 2020, a Division Bench consisting of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sureshwar Thakur and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia heard the case of Union of India & others v. Sanjay Kumar & Others via video conferencing.

The writ petitions were directed against the verdicts made by the Central Administrative Tribunal, where both the petitions had the same subject matter and common question of fact and law and were susceptible for a common verdict to be made thereupon.

Facts of the case

The Applicants rendered duties under the Respondents, purportedly against seasonal work, or on a casual basis. Since the Applicants’ nature of work was intermittent and when they became not engaged in works of a regular nature:

  1. Their services were susceptible for being retrenched
  2. Not entitled to higher wages at the rate of 1/30th of the minimum wage rate.

Aggrieved by the pay-scale, the Applicants instituted Original Applications before the Central Administrative Tribunal, which granted reliefs to workmen/applicants concerned. 

The Union of India, being aggrieved by the verdict passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, instituted the writ petitions. 

Submissions of the Petitioner

The learned Assistant Solicitor General of India made preliminary objections pertaining to the lack of jurisdiction of the Central Administrative Tribunal as:

  1. There was a sharp dispute of question of facts pertaining to the competing contentions
  2. The employer contended that the Applicants were employed against seasonal works, whereas the workmen contended that they rendered duties against the apposite works assigned to them, on a daily basis.
  3. Industrial disputes arose inter se the employer and the workmen, where the reference was made to the Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court concerned.
  4. There is neither documentary evidence to show the acceptance of workmen being engaged against works, nor are there pieces of evidence displayed with respect to the daily wages received from the employer.
  5. It becomes imperative for the Central Administrative Tribunal to relegate the workmen/applicants to settle the aforesaid dispute.

Court’s Analysis

The Court, in order to relegate the workmen to the alternative remedies of their approaching the Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court concerned:

  1. Rather when there was an existence of credible evidence in support of the workmen, the negating thereto espousal of the employer.
  2. Until the aforesaid credible evidence is made available, the Court would not proceed to accept the contention raised before the Court by the ASGI.

The Court further analysed the annexures in the Original Application which made patent displays, supportive of the workmen’s embracement, and in the negation of the stand projected before the Court by the learned Assistant Solicitor General of India:

  1. The depictions clearly suggested the workmen being engaged on a daily basis.
  2. Wages were paid on a daily basis

Court’s Decision

The Court held that it was not necessary for the Central Administrative Tribunal to rest the validity of the preliminary objections pertaining to the maintainability of the Original Application before it nor was it wise for the Central Administrative Tribunal, to pronounce, the validity of the preliminary objections raised by the Assistant Solicitor General of India, as it does not hold the jurisdiction to make a verdict upon the Original Application. The Court thus dismissed the writ petitions on the grounds of absence of merits. 

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