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Elecon Engineering Company Limited v/s Regional Provident Fund Commissioner

    R/S.C. Appl. No. 6061 of 2020
    Decided On, 24 November 2021
    At, High Court of Gujarat At Ahmedabad
    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE A.S. SUPEHIA
    For the Petitioner: I.G. Joshi, Advocate. For the Respondent: A.V. Nair, Advocate.


Judgment Text
Draft amendment is allowed in terms of draft. The same shall be carried out forthwith.

1.Rule learned Advocate Mr. A.V. Nair waives service of notice of rule for the Respondent No.1.

2.In the present Writ Petition the Petitioner has challenged the Orders dated 8.4.2019, 23.8.2019 and 24.10.2019. It is the case of the Petitioner that the Petitioner, though had filed a Review application against the Order dated 8.4.2019 passed by the Regional Commissioner while exercising powers conferred under Section 14-B of the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (for short “the Act”), the review filed under Section 7-B of the Act was not entertained and further when he filed an Appeal before the Tribunal challenging both the orders, the same is not registered by the Registrar, Central Government Industrial TribunalcumLabour Court, Ahmedabad (CGIT).

3.Learned Advocate Mr. Ishan Joshi has submitted that in fact the Registrar, CGIT cannot refuse for registration of the Appeal as not maintainable since it is the function of the Tribunal while considering the Appeal filed by the Appellant against the Order passed under Section 14-B of the Act. Thus, he has submitted that the impugned Orders may be set aside.

4.Per contra, learned Advocate Mr. A.V. Nair has submitted that filing of the review application against the Order dated 8.4.2019 by the Petitioner was ill-conceived and the same was not maintainable in view of the provisions of Section 17-B of the Act and the only option left for the Petitioner was to challenge the Order dated 8.4.2019 by filing an Appeal before the Tribunal. It is submitted that since the remedy is already available to the Petitioner, the present Writ Petition may not be entertained.

5.I have heard the learned Advocates appearing for the respective parties.

6.It is not in dispute that the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner has passed the Order dated 8.4.2019, while exercising the powers under Section 14-B of the Act. The Petitioner, thereafter, filed an application for review against the said order and by the Order dated 23.8.2019, the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Ahmedabad has rejected the Review application, as such remedy is not available under the provisions of Section 7-B of the Act. Thereafter, the Petitioner filed an Appeal before the Tribunal challenging both the orders. The Order dated 8.4.2019 passed in the proceedings under Section 14-B and Section 7-B of the Act as well as the Order dated 23.8.2019 passed in Review Petition.

7.The Petitioner filed a review application under Section 7-B of the Act. A bare perusal of Section 7-B reveals that the Review Orders, which are passed under Section 14-B of the Act cannot be reviewed under Section 7-B of the Act. Unquestionably, in the present case, the Initial Order dated 8.4.2019 was passed while exercising powers under Section 14-B of the Act. The only remedy available against the Order passed under Section 14-B of the Act is of filing an Appeal before the Tribunal under the provisions of Section 7-I, which reads as under:

7-I. Appeals to Tribunal.- (1)Any person aggrieved by a Notification issued by the Central Government, or an Order passed by the Central Government or any authority, under the Proviso to sub-section (3), or sub-section (4), of Section 1, or Section 3, or sub-section (1) of Section 7-A, or Section 7-B [except an Order rejecting an application for review referred to in sub-section (5) thereof], or Section 7-C, or Section 14-B, may prefer an Appeal to a Tribunal against such Notification or Order.

8.Thus, the Petitioner was required to challenge the Order, dated 8.4.2019 by filing an Appeal before the Tribunal.

9.Learned Advocate Mr. Nair, at this stage, has submitted that the Petitioner is also required to file an application for condonation of delay when the Appeal is preferred by the Petitioner, however, no such application is filed.

10.It is not in dispute that the Petitioner filed an Appeal challenging both the orders. May be the Order dated 23.8.2019 passed in Review application cannot be challenged for want of jurisdiction as the same was not maintainable, however, the Petitioner has undoubtedly prayed for quashing and setting aside the original Order dated 8.4.2019 passed under Section 14-B of the Act in his Appeal. When the present Petitioner preferred an Appeal before the CGIT and the Registrar, CGIT has refused to register the Appeal. The Rojkam produced by the Petitioner dated 24.10.2019 reads as under:

“An Appeal has been received from M/s. Elecon Engineering Co. Ltd. against rejection letter dated 23.8.19 regarding application under Section 7-B of the Act over Orders passed under Section 14-B & 7-Q. The present Appeal is not admitted as the same is not maintainable under Section 7-B(5) of the Act'52”

The Registrar of the CGITcumLabour Court, Ahmedabad has refused to register the Appeal by observing that the same is preferred against the Letter dated 23.8.2019 preferred under Section 7-B of the Act over the Order passed under Section 14-B of the Act. The Registrar has also observed that the Appeal is not admitted as the same is not maintainable under Section 7-B of the Act.

11.In the considered opinion of this Court, the Registrar has Acceded his duties and function. The Registrar CGIT by making such observation in the Rojkam has also fallen in error since the same is an incorrect observation as the prayer clause of the Appeal filed by the Petitioner also reveals that the Petitioner has challenged the original Order dated 8.4.2019 passed under Section 14-B of the Act.

12.At this stage, it would be appropriate to incorporate the Rule 5 of the Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1997 (for short “the Rules”). The same reads as under:

“5. Presentation and scrutiny of Appeals.-(1)The Registrar or the officer authorised by him under Rule 4, shall endorse on every Appeal the date on which it is presented or deemed to have been presented under that rule and shall sign the endorsement.

(2)If, on scrutiny, the Appeal is found to be in order it shall be duly registered and given a serial number.

(3)If the Appeal, on scrutiny, is found to be defective and the defect noticed is formal in nature, the Registrar may allow the party to rectify the same in his presence and if the said defect is not formal in nature, the Registrar may allow the Appellant such time to rectify the defect as he may deem fit.

(4)If the Appellant fails to rectify the defect within the time allowed under sub-rule (3), the Registrar may by order and for reasons to be recorded in writing, decline to register the Appeal and inform the Appellant accordingly.”

As directed in Rule 5, more particularly sub-rule (3), it is the duty of the Registrar to allow the party to rectify any defect, if such defect is not formal in nature. The Rules nowhere stipulate of non-registration of the Appeal by passing the orders as passed in the case of the Petitioner by observing that the same is not maintainable. It is the duty of the Registrar to notify such defect to the concerned Appellant and time is required to be granted to the Appellant to remove such defect and in the present case, as noticed hereinabove, the Registrar has acceded his duties by observing that the Appeal is not maintainable. Thus, the Registrar has acted or placed himself at par with the Tribunal by making such observations with regard to non maintainability of the Appeal, as it i

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s neither his function nor his duty to make such observation. The Registrar has in fact hijacked the powers of the Tribunal by observing with regard to non maintainability of the Appeal. 13.Thus, the Registrar, of CGITcumLabour Court, Ahmedabad is hereby directed to register the Appeal of the Petitioner. The same shall be registered and placed before the Tribunal for its adjudication. With regard to delay aspect, it will be open for the Petitioner to file an application seeking condonation of delay. If such application is filed, the same shall also be registered and placed along with Appeal. The Tribunal is directed to pass appropriate orders on the application filed for condonation of delay, after hearing the concerned parties. 14.The present application is partly allowed. Rule is made absolute to the aforesaid extent.
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