(Prayer in W.P.No.418 of 2014: Writ petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to issue a writ of certiorarified mandamus calling for the records of the 1st respondent dated 10.02.2010 in I.D.No.113 of 2008, quash the same and direct the 1st respondent to hear the dispute on merits by providing adequate opportunities to the petitioner.
Prayer in W.P.No.419 of 2014: Writ petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to issue a writ of certiorarified mandamus calling for the records of the 1st respondent dated 05.02.2010 in I.A.No.56 of 2012 in I.D.No.113 of 2008, quash its order dated 05.02.2013.)
1. The short facts of the case are as follows:-
The 2nd respondent herein has filed a case in I.D.No.113 of 2008 on the file of Principal Labour Court, Chennai, against the petitioner herein and the 3rd respondent herein. The said case was set exparte, since the respondents called absent. The said order passed on 10.02.2010. Thereafter the petitioner herein has filed a supplement application in I.A.No.56 of 2012 in I.D.No.113 of 2008 to set aside the exparte order passed in I.D.No.113 of 2008 dated 25.02.2010. The said application had been filed along with a delay of 716 days for filing the set aside application. The 2nd respondent herein has filed a counter statement and resisted the condoned delay petition in I.A.No.56 of 2012 dismissed on 05.02.2013 by the Principal Labour Court, Chennai. The aggrieved management has filed the above writ petition and challenged the impugned order.
2. The highly competent counsel Mr.G.Anand Gopalan submits that the petitioner's Company was started in the year 1981 and it was engaged in the manufacture of musical instruments meant for export. The 2nd respondent herein raised a dispute with the Government of Tamil Nadu, which culminated by way of reference dated 15.04.2008 in G.O.Ms.No.134. Subsequently, the issue was referred for adjudication before the Principal Labour Court, Chennai and the case was numbered as I.D.No.113 of 2008. The petitioner had received summons from the Labour Court and engaged the learned counsel, who entered appearance on 23.07.2008. Subsequently, another counsel Mr.Selvaraj has filed a change of vakalath. Thereafter the case was set ex-parte on 25.02.2010. Since, the learned counsel did not appear at the time of argument. The very competent counsel further submits that the learned counsel who appeared before the Trial Court did not disclose the stage of the case then and there and also did not appear before the Trial Court, hence the said case was set ex-parte. In order to execute the exparte award, the 2nd respondent herein has filed claim petition No.946 of 2010. After receipt of the Court notice in the claim petition, the petitioner came to know that the main case was set exparte. Actually, several issues had to be framed in the main case and a comprehensive enquiry is absolutely necessary for deciding the said case on merits. Further the exparte decree can be set aside at any stage. If the exparte decree is set aside and the main case if disposed on merits the respondent union will not be prejudiced, hence, the highly competent counsel entreats the court to allow the above writ petition and give an opportunity to defend the main case to the petitioner.
3. The very competent counsel Mr.P.Solaman, appearing for the 2nd respondent herein submits that there were 23 staff members who were working with the petitioner's Company. The petitioner's Company did not pay the salary, gratuity, bonus etc. Further, the said company had been transferred to the 3rd respondent herein, subsequently, the working staff were terminated from their employ, hence the workers made a representation before the Assistant Commissioner who conducted counselling on various dates and subsequently the matter had not reached a settlement. Therefore, the case had been referred to the Labour Court, wherein the case had been numbered in I.D.No.113 of 2008. The said proceedings had been started in the year of 2006 and disposed on 10.02.2010. From the beginning itself the petitioner and their counsel were well aware that the case had been proceeded before the Labour Court. The petitioner and their counsel wontedly and deliberately did not appear before the Trial Court with malafide intention to create multiple proceedings and caused hardship to the employees who are suffering for about eight years for seeking relief from the petitioner through Court of law. Further, the Labour Court had examined the employees and considered the twenty four marked documents. The main case had been disposed of on 10.02.2010. The said order is fit to be executed and hence the petitioner had levelled a claim petition in C.P.No.946 of 2010. Under the circumstances, the above writ has been filed in order to avoid the execution of the original award passed by the Labour Court. If this Court, is to allow the above writ petition and the suffering employees will be put into hardship and who are suffering for more than eight years.
4. Considering the factual position of the case and arguments advanced by the learned counsel on either side and on perusing the impugned order of the Trial Court, this Court is of the view that the main case has to be disposed of on merits after framing necessary issues and after recording both sides evidences, then both parties will not be prejudiced. But in the instant case, the petitioner has filed a set aside application with a delay of 716 days which amounts to inordinate delay. In the interest of justice to the parties and considering the balance of convenience of the employers, this Court directs the writ petition herein to pay a cost of Rs.2,000/- to each of the workers. The learned counsel for the petitioner today paid the said amo
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unt by way of demand draft, hence the above writ petition is allowed with a direction to the learned Principal Labour Court Judge, to restore the case in I.D.No.113 of 2008, on his file and dispose the said case on merits after affording sufficient opportunities to the parties on merits with top most priority basis approximately within four months. 5. In the result, both the writ petitions are allowed. Consequently, the order passed in I.A.No.56 of 2012, in I.D.No.113 of 2008, on the file of the Principal Labour Court, Chennai, dated 10.02.2010 and 05.02.2013 are set aside. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petition is closed.