Retrenched Employee Received Benefits Totalling 8 Lakhs Under S.33c of ID Act After 18 Year Dispute: Calcutta High Court

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Introduction

On or about May 21, 1996, the applicant applied Section 33C (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as the ID Act), numbered Case No. COMP.39/96, which was decided by the West Bengal First Labour Court on May 19, 2014. The first labour court took 18 years to reject the petition.

Facts

In 1960, The petitioner joined the service of a company. On 23.11.1970 the petitioner was retrenched from service with other employees. A dispute was raised under the ID Act and heard by the 8th Industrial tribunal. The award was passed by the Industrial Tribunal in favour of the employees. The award was challenged by filing a writ application. The Single Bench of this court upheld the award. The company appealed and The Division Bench of this Court dismissed the appeal by the company. The company’s Special Leave Petition was rejected by the Supreme Court. Petitioner wrote to the company for his back wages and allowing him to join according to the reinstatement order. Which was not reinstated by the company. Then on 18.04.1991, the company went into liquidation. The petitioner filed his claim under ID Act in 1996. Petitioner’s claim for quantification was dismissed by the first labour court after 18 years. The present petition is filed challenging the order of the first labour court

Petitioner’s Arguments

The petitioner was scheduled to retire on 31.12.1990, so the Supreme Court’s observation does not affect him. As a result, the petitioner’s 25 per cent back wages up to the date of the award (the award claimed “back wages from the date of their retrenchment until now”), as well as his right to be reinstated, were upheld by the Supreme Court. The learned Counsel representing petitioner concluded that therefore, following the award, the company is likely to do the following:

  1. Reimburse 25% of back wages from the date of retrenchment to the date of the award.
  2. The petitioner’s reinstatement.
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The Learned Counsel highlighted the fact that the company refused to let him enter, even though the petitioner wanted to join his service, according to the writ application. The respondents did not file an affidavit in opposition. The learned counsel argued that the company has disobeyed the order of the supreme court which is wholly illegal. The company went into liquidation after 7 years from the date of order of the supreme court. 

Court’s Order

The petitioner made no mistake in applying Section 33C (2) of the ID Act 1947 before the Labour Court because the judgement referred to by respondent No. 2 is not valid in the facts and circumstances of the case, and because the petitioner’s right, as mentioned above, was crystallised and verified before the company went into liquidation and the applicant has also been covered by an order of this Court dated September 17, 2009, granting permission to proceed before the Labour Court under Section 33C(2). This writ application is granted for the reasons specified. The First Labour Court’s final order, dated 19.05.2014, is overturned. Respondent No. 2 is required to deposit Rs. 7 lakhs with the Registrar General of this court, who will place the funds in a short-term interest-bearing fixed deposit with any nationalised bank. After 7 days the amount will be reimbursed to the petitioner. Respondent No. 2 is liable to pay Rupees one Lakh to the petitioner within 14 days.

Click here to read Balaram Banerjee v. M/s. Gladestone Lyall and Co. Ltd. & Ors.


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