w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n



L. Srinivasan (Since Deceased) by his L.Rs & Others v/s Bharath Gold Mines Limited, Oorgaum Post, K.G.F.

    Writ Appeal Nos. 4593 of 2010 & 4427 to 4444 of 2013 (L-RES)

    Decided On, 13 October 2015

    At, High Court of Karnataka

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE MOHAN M. SHANTANAGOUDAR & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE B. VEERAPPA

    For the Appellants: M. Narayana Bhat for M/s. Subba Rao & Company, Advocates. For the Respondent: T. Rajaram, Advocate.



Judgment Text

1. The above appeals are filed against the order dated 30th September, 2010 passed by the learned Single Judge of this Court in Writ Petition No. 1221 of 2006 in setting aside the order dated 6th April, 2005 made in CGA No. 5 of 1989 on the file of the Central Government Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, Bengaluru and directing the Management to pay the applicants the difference at the rate fixed in 'C' Grade from 1-1-1973 at Rs. 330-10-420-EB-10-470 instead of 240-8-328-EB-9-355 and also to pay the difference in respect of such allowances and other consequential benefits to the applicants till their retirement or death whichever is earlier within a period of 6 months from the date of the order.

2. The factual matrix of the case are:

The present appellants and the other deceased workmen, who are now represented by their legal heirs, were working as workmen in the respondent-Bharath Gold Mines Limited, Oorgaum Post, KGF (hereinafter referred to as ‘BGML’ for short). About 97 workmen filed an application under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘I.D. Act’ for short) before the Central Government Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, Bengaluru. Originally the application was numbered as Application No. 7 of 1976. Subsequently, the matter came to be transferred to the II Additional Labour Court, Bengaluru and renumbered as C.G. A. No. 5 of 1989. In the application, it was stated that the Management of BGML and the workmen of BGML represented by their union entered into agreement regarding wages and other conditions of service. One of the subject-matter that was agreed to between the union and the Management of the respondent was regarding the dispute pertaining to the categorisation of posts of Fitters and Mechanists which was referred to a One Man Committee headed by Sri B.M. Bhatt, Director of Mines Safety, South Zone, Oorgaum and the said One Man Committee submitted his award which was implemented with effect from 1-4-1969. The respondent-Management converted the daily rated employees to monthly rated employees with effect from 1-10-1972 but however, the One Man Committee Award made by Sri Bhatt was not implemented. Therefore, the Union again held discussions with the respondent-Management and two settlements dated 24-10-1970 and 22-11-1972 were arrived at. As per the terms of the settlements, Sri Basu, who had worked as Regional Labour Commissioner (Central) was appointed as the One Man Committee to determine the classification and to suggest corresponding wage scales to the appellants and he made his recommendations which came into force on 1-5-1975.

3. The further case of the applicants/appellants was that while implementing the recommendations made by Sri Basu, the respondent-Management did not properly implement the recommendations and did not give them the corresponding wage scales and connected allowances as well as the difference of wages inclusive of allowances which became payable to them with effect from 1-1-1973. According to the appellants, the pay scale of Rs. 95-5-135 came to be revised to Rs. 330-10-420-EB-10-470. However, the appellants were given lower revised pay scale of Rs. 240-8-328-EB-9-355. The said recommendations were binding because those benefits were given pursuant to the settlement and the recommendations of Sri Basu Committee which were not implemented by the Management. Therefore, the appellants filed an application under the provisions of Section 33-C(2) of the I.D. Act before the Labour Court as referred to above for computation of the benefits for which they became entitled to by holding the difference in pay scales to which they were entitled to a ‘C’ Grade pay scale of Rs. 330-10-420-EB-10-420 with all allowances.

4. The respondent-Management filed objections before the Labour Court. On behalf of the appellants, oral and documentary evidence including 2 news bulletins dated 1-12-1972 - Ex.P.1 and 7-9-1974 - Ex.P.2 which were issued by the respondent-Management pertaining to the merger of pay scales of underground and surface employees were produced.

5. The Labour Court after considering the entire material on record, by an order dated 20th August, 1997 allowed the application filed by the appellants and held that the appellants are entitled to the different in wages at the rate fixed for ‘C’ Grade workmen from 1-1-1973 in the scale of Rs. 330-10-420-EB-10-470 instead of Rs. 240-8-325-EB-7-291. The Labour Court further held that the appellants were entitled to the said benefits till their retirement or till they attained superannuation. The said order passed by the Labour Court was the subject-matter in Writ Petition Nos. 36508 and 37346 to 37442 of 1997 before this Court and the learned Single Judge of this Court after hearing both the parties, has allowed the writ petitions and set aside the order passed by the Labour Court and remitted the matter to it for re-examination of the matter and to pass an order within 6 months.

6. In pursuance of the remand order passed by the learned Single Judge of this Court, the Labour Court by an order dated 7-11-2001 rejected the application filed by the appellants which was challenged in Writ Petition No. 9195 of 2002 and the learned Single Judge of this Court after hearing both the parties, by an order dated 26-9-2002 allowed the writ petition and again the matter was remitted to the Labour Court for reconsideration.

7. In pursuance of the order passed by this Court, the Labour Court on third occasion after considering the entire material on record by its impugned order dated 6-4-2005 has held that the appellants initially in the year 1958-59 were working on daily wages and were converted into monthly rated workmen in the year 1969 as per the Bhatt award and as per Ex.P.2, the settlement arrived at between the Management and the Union under which several grades viz., E, D, C (EIII, DIII and CIII) were grouped under Group III and all the applicants were in ‘DIII’ Grade with effect from 22-11-1972. The Labour Court further held that Ex. P. 1 is the bulletin where under the applicants were brought under Group III with Grade III with the scale of Rs. 70-220 and it was not disputed that after the applicants were converted into monthly rated wages from daily rated wages in the light of Bhatt award, a bulletin at Ex. P.1, dated 1-12-1972 was issued by the Management in terms of the settlement dated 22-11-1972 arrived at between the Management and the Union representing the workmen. Accordingly directed the Management to pay differences in respect of such allowances and other consequential benefits to the applicants till their retirement or death whichever is earlier.

8. Against the said order passed by the Labour Court, the respondent-Management filed W.P. No. 1221 of 2006. The learned Single Judge of this Court after hearing both the parties by the impugned order dated 30th September, 2010 allowed the writ petition and set aside the order passed by the Labour Court mainly on the ground that the recommendation made by the Basu Committee is pending consideration before the Central Government and in the absence of the same, the said recommendation cannot be implemented by the respondent-Management, against which, the present appeals are preferred.

9. We have heard the learned Counsel for the parties to the lis.

10. Sri M. Narayana Bhat, learned Counsel for M/s. Subba Rao and Company, for the appellants contended that the learned Single Judge of this Court allowed the writ petition mainly on the ground that the respondent-Management had disputed the claim of the appellants and despite the bulletin produced by the appellants, they are not entitled to pay the pay scales recommended therein as the same was under consideration by the Central Government. Ignoring the fact to the history of the case and also having regard to the fact that several parties/applicants are now no more, the learned Single Judge should have considered the entire matter and should have decided the case on merits. He also contended that the proceedings initiated under Section 33-C(2) of the I.D. Act are summary proceedings enabling the workmen to receive the benefits to which they were entitled to from their employer and the learned Single Judge ought not to have interfere with the order passed by the Labour Court. He further contended that in view of Ex. P.1 and Ex. P.2 and evidence of R.W. 1, the reasoning given by the Labour Court clearly establishes that the Labour Court has considered the matter and decided the application as contemplated under the provisions of Section 33-C(2) of the I.D. Act, etc. Therefore, he sought for setting aside the order passed by the learned Single Judge.

11. Per contra, Sri T. Rajaram, learned Counsel for the respondents sought to justify the impugned order passed by the learned Single Judge.

12. We have given our anxious consideration to the arguments advanced by the learned Counsel for the parties to the lis and perused the entire material on record.

13. It is an admitted fact that these appellants, who are employees of the respondent-Management, had worked in various posts and some of them have already retired and some of them are still working and therefore, they had approached the Central Government Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court under Section 33-C(2) of the I.D. Act requesting the Labour Court for grant of benefits on the basis of the recommendation made by Committee and the Tribunal considering the entire material both oral and documentary evidence on record was of the opinion that the appellants are entitled to the pay scales as recommended by the Basu Committee in terms of Exs. P. 1 and P. 2-bulletins. The learned Single while considering the writ petition filed by the respondent-Management against the order passed by the Labour Court, has recorded a finding that the recommendation of Sri Basu - One Man Committee being the subject-matter of consideration by the Central Government, the respondent-Management cannot insist that they have an existing right to the pay scales recommended and therefore, they cannot seek to enforce the said recommendation and also held that the Labour Court was not aware of the limitations in the exercise of jurisdiction under the provisions of Section 33-C(2) of the I.A. Act. Therefore, the learned Single Judge set aside the order passed by the Labour Court.

14. It is not in dispute that the respondent-Management issued two bulletins dated 1-12-1972 - Ex. P. 1 and 7-9-1994 - Ex. P. 2 and admittedly the first bulletin was accepted and implemented in to to all the employees including the appellants and the second bulletin dated 7-9-1974 was implemented granting benefits to the appellants for a period of 2 years and on perusal of the said bulletin would disclose that the applicants/appellants who were placed in D-III Grade having pay scale of Rs. 95-135, their pay scale was revised along with others to Rs. 70-200. The appellants as per the said bulletin were shown in Group III with Grade ‘D III’ as early as in December 1972. It is also not in dispute that the Union and the Management once again referred the matter for categorisation and classification of the employees and revision of their pay scale and the recommendation submitted by the Basu Committee were implemented with effect from 1-1-1973. As per Ex. P. 2, dated 7-9-1974, for the employees working underground and on surface, a bulletin in pursuance of the said Committed was issued and the employees coming under Group III holding the pay scale of Rs. 70-220 were given the pay scale of Rs. 330-470 as recommended by the said Committee and whereas the employees coming under Group IV holding the pay scale of Rs. 90-130 were given the pay scale of Rs. 240-355.

15. On perusal of the bulletin statements/annexures would clearly show that the old grade of Fitters and Mechanists along with others was shown as E, D, E (E III, D III and C III) and they were brought under Group III with new scale of pay of Rs. 70-220 and the said annexures/statement showing the above said position of the appellants is not to be reflected in the bulletin at Ex.P.2 referred to above. Admittedly the said bulletin was issued by the respondent-Management in pursuance of the recommendation made by One Man Committee headed by Basu and the said bulletin clearly depicts that one cannot brush aside the case of the appellants that they being already in Group III with pay scale of Rs. 70-220, they must have been fixed in the pay scale of Rs. 330-470. When the appellants are already having the pay scale of Rs. 95-135, and their pay was revised to Rs. 70-220 as early as in December 1972 as already stated above, under Ex. P. 2, they were placed in Group III, then it is not understandable how they can be fixed in the pay scale of Rs. 230-235 corresponding to pay scale of Rs. 90-130 meant for employees falling under Group IV as shown in the bulletin-Ex. P. 1 issued based on the Basu Committee. The fact that the appellants/applicants were coming under Group III with ‘D-IIP Grade has been admitted by the respondent-Management by cross-examining WW6 (workmen witness) which reads as under:

"We all are fitters and mechanists. I am only fitter. According to Basu Commission our grade was ‘D’ in the scale of 240-8-328-9-355. It is not correct to say that according to Basu Commission our Grade was D and scale was 240 per month. It is not correct to say that we were given scale and grade as per Basu Commission recommendation. It is not correct to say that the management agreed to pay scale of 330 with an increment of Rs. 10/- and also to given C Grade and I am giving false evidence."

A plain reading of the said cross-examination makes it clear that a suggestion was made to the said witness on behalf of the respondent-Management to say that the respondent-Management agreed to pay the scale of Rs. 330-470 with an increment of Rs. 10/- and also to give ‘C’ Grade and that he was giving false evidence otherwise. The said suggestion on behalf of the respondent-Management was denied by the witness. The said suggestion made on behalf of the respondent-Management clearly implies an admission on its part to the claim made by the appellants/applicants that they are entitled to the pay scale of Rs. 330-470 and admittedly the said scale was given to the appellants/applicants initially for a period of 7 years and later it was denied reducing their increment of Rs. 10/- to 8/- in the pay scale of Rs. 240-355. Therefore, the finding recorded by the learned Single Judge that the recommendation made by Basu Committee is still pending consideration before the Central Government, cannot be accepted. As already stated, the respondent-Management admitted the issuance of bulletin under Exs. P. 1 and P. 2 and implementation of Ex. P.1 in toand Ex. P.2 was implemented for a period of 2 years for the appellants and the fact that the very pay scale of Rs. 330-470 was in vogue for a period of 7 years and the Management had admitted the said recommendation by One Man Committee and was implemented after reaching a Tripartite agreement. It is also not the case of the respondent-Management that the appellants/applicants were not holding the pay scale of Rs. 70-220 as depicted in the bulletin-Ex. P. 2 which was issued by the very respondent-Management as long back as in the year 1972 and the respondent-Management is yet to explain as to why the appellants/applicants were denied the pay scale of L 330-470 as per the recommendations of the Basu Committee when they were already ha

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ving the pay scale of Rs. 70-220 corresponding to pay scale of Rs. 330-470 as per the bulletin-Ex. P. 1 issued on the basis of the recommendations of Basu Committee. It is also not in dispute that the respondent-Management has not withdrawn the bulletins-Exs. P.1 and P.2 till date. Admittedly the appellants approached the Labour Court only under the provisions of Section 33-C(2) of the I.D. Act claiming benefit arising out of the recommendations of Basu Committee, which recommendations have been accepted by the respondent-Management as well as the union represented by the applicants and therefore, there is no need to raise a regular dispute under the provisions of Section 10 of the I.D. Act as observed by the learned Single Judge and almost all the original appellants have died and the legal representatives are on record for the benefit of the pay scale on the recommendation made by the Basu Committee which was admitted by the respondent-Management. Therefore, the impugned order passed by the learned Single Judge is liable to be set aside. 16. In view of the aforesaid reasons, the impugned order passed by the learned Single Judge dated 30th September, 2010 made in W.P. No. 1221 of 2006 is set aside by restoring the order dated 6th April, 2005 made in CGA No. 5 of 1989 by the Central Government Industrial Tribunal/Labour Court holding that the appellants/applicants are entitled to difference of pay scale fixed in ‘C’ Grade from 1-1-1973 at Rs. 330-10-420-EB-10-470 and the respondent-Management is directed to pay the difference of pay scale with all allowances and other consequential benefits within a period of 4 months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. Accordingly, the writ appeals are allowed.
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