At, Before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE S.M. SUBRAMANIAM
For the Petitioner: V.O.S. Kalaiselvam, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1, M. Ramesh, Government Advocate, R2, S. Bharathy Kannan, Advocate.
(Prayer: Writ Petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, to issue a Writ of Certiorari against the order of the 1st respondent dated 05.05.2021 received on 22.07.2021 in the nature of writ calling for the records on the file of the respondents and quash the same. )
1. The writ petitions are filed challenging the order passed by the Deputy Commissioner of Labour/Controlling authority under the Payment of Gratuity Act.
2. The writ petitioner is the management Sri Nachammai Cotton Mills Limited.
3. The learned counsel for the petitioner strenuously contended that the demand of the workmen were completely settled pursuant to the award passed by the labour Court in I.D.No.44/2011 etc.
4. The learned counsel for the management made a submission that based on the issues raised between the parties before the labour Court, the management had deposited the compensation amount as well as the gratuity amount before the labour Court and the said amount in entirety had been withdrawn by the workmen concerned along with interest. Thus, the management is not liable to pay any sum to the workmen in respect of their services rendered with the writ petitioner management.
5. While so, the respondents workmen filed a petition under the Payment of Gratuity Act, before the controlling authority on the ground that the management has settled the compensation amount and not paid the gratuity amount. The said amount of compensation is paid in lieu of reinstatement of the workmen. The labour Court award has been interpreted by the workmen by stating that the said amount is paid by way of compensation in lieu of the reinstatement of the workmen and therefore, they are entitled for gratuity under the provisions of the Payment of Gratuity Act. Along with the said petition, a condone delay petition was also filed to condone the delay in filing the petition under the Payment of Gratuity Act. The condone delay petition was taken up for hearing and the controlling authority condoned the delay and the main petitions were numbered and are in the process of enquiry before the controlling authority/Deputy Commissioner of Labour.
6. Meanwhile, the writ petitioner management filed two sets of Interlocutory Applications before the controlling authority and one set of Interlocutory Application are filed to dismiss the condone delay petition filed by the workmen to condone the delay in filing the petition claiming gratuity amount. As far as the said Interlocutory Applications are concerned, the controlling authority has already condoned the delay and the main petitions are numbered and in the process of enquiry and therefore, those filed by the petitioners became irrelevant and no further adjudication needs to be taken.
7. Another set of Interlocutory applications are filed by the writ petitioner management with a prayer to dismiss the gratuity petitions filed by the workmen. As far as the said petitions are concerned, the controlling authority in the impugned order made a categorical finding that none of the parties have filed any document to establish regarding the nature of award passed and the clear finding of the controlling authority in the impugned order reveals that both the writ petitioner management and the workmen has not established their claim by marking the relevant documents. The controlling authority further made a finding that all such issues are to be decided only after following the original award passed by the labour Court and other consequential proceedings and in the absence of those documents, the controlling authority may not be in a position to form an opinion and take a decision on the gratuity petition.
8. The learned counsel for the respondent workmen made a submission that Form 'L' has already been submitted under Rule 8(1) under the Payment of Gratuity Rules, which was already submitted before the management on 24.01.2019. Therefore, appropriate form under the provisions of the rule has already been placed before the management. All these aspects are to be adjudicated. Even the controlling authority in the impugned order has categorically stated that only after verification of all these original documents including the labour Court award and subsequent proceedings, an opinion can be formed for the purpose of deciding the appropriate petitions filed by the workmen on the ground that the management failed to pay the gratuity amount and paid the compensation in lieu of the reinstatement of the workmen.
9. The writ petitioner is of an opinion that no due is to be paid to the workmen and as per the award, the entire compensation as well as the gratuity amount has been deposited, which was withdrawn. This being the facts and circumstances, the order passed in Interlocutory applications are insufficient to form an opinion by the High Court in writ proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, more so, the controlling authority has made a categorical finding that the parties have not produced the relevant documents for the purpose of adjudication and form an opinion. It is only in the Interlocutory application filed by the management, the delay was already condoned and the main petition is in the process of enquiry and the parties are also participated in the adjudication.
10. This being the factum, the writ petitioner management as well as the respondent workmen are at liberty to furnish all the relevant documents enabling the controlling authority to adjudicate the issues on merits and in accordance with law. The writ petitioner management is also at liberty to raise all the grounds raised in these petitions before the controlling authority along with the supportive documents and all other relevant materials. The controlling authority/first respondent is directed to adjudicate the issues on merits and in accordance with law and by affording an opportunity to all the parties and decide the same as expeditiously as possible. As far as the impugned order is concerned, one set of Interlocutory applications filed to dismiss the condone delay petition filed by the workmen became infructuous and the other set of Interlocutory application, the writ petitioner management has not filed all the relevant documents. Though the learned counsel for the petitioner made a submission that the documents are filed now, this Court has to consider that the main gratuity petition has already been numbered and is in the process of enquiry and therefore, the writ petition
Please Login To View The Full Judgment!
er management would not be prejudiced even if they participate in the process of enquiry by furnishing all the relevant documents for completing the adjudication. Under these circumstances, keeping these writ petitions pending would cause prejudice to the parties and therefore, the respective parties are at liberty to file their respective documents and contest their cases before the controlling authority in the manner known to law. 11. In view of the above, this Court do not find any infirmity in respect of the orders passed by the controlling authority in P.G.I.A.No.335/2019, dated 05.05.2021 and accordingly, these writ petitions stand dismissed. No costs. Consequently connected Miscellaneous Petitions are closed.