At, In the High Court of Bombay at Nagpur
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE R.K. DESHPANDE
For the Petitioners: C.V. Kale, Advocate. For the Respondent: None.
1. In an appeal preferred under sub-section (7) of Section 7 of the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, the petitioner - appellant had deposited the amount of gratuity determined by the Controlling Authority. However, by impugned order dated 15.01.2009 passed by the Appellate Authority, the petitioner is directed to make the payment of interest also as a condition precedent before proceeding to consider the appeal on its own merits. Hence this writ petition.
2. Section 7 (4) (a), (b) and (c) and sub-section (7) of the Payment of Gratuity Act being relevant are reproduced below:
7. Determination of the amount of Gratuity. :-
(4) (a) If there is any dispute as to the amount of gratuity payable to an employee under this Act or as to the admissibility of any claim of, or in relation to an employee for payment of gratuity or as to the person entitled to receive the gratuity, the employer shall deposit with the controlling authority such amount as he admits to be payable by him as gratuity.
(b) Where there is a dispute with regard to any matter or matters specified in Clause (a), the employer or employee or any other person raising the dispute may make an application to the Controlling Authority for deciding the dispute.
(c) The Controlling Authority shall, after due inquiry and after giving the parties to the dispute a reasonable opportunity of being heard, determine the matter or matters in dispute and, if, as result of such inquiry and amount is found to be payable to the employee, the controlling authority shall direct the employer to pay such amount or, as the case may be, such amount as reduced by the amount already deposited by the employer.
(7) Any person aggrieved by an order under Sub-Section (4), may, within sixty days from the date of the receipt of the order, prefer an appeal to the appropriate Government or such other authority as may be specified by the appropriate Government in this behalf.
Provided that the appropriate Government or the appellate authority, as the case may be, may, if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from preferring the appeal within the said period of sixty days, extend the said period by a further period of sixty days.
[Provided further that no appeal by an employer shall be admitted unless at the time of preferring the appeal, the appellant either produces a certificate of the controlling authority to the effect that the appellant has deposited with him an amount equal to the amount of gratuity required to be deposited under Sub Section (4), or deposits with the appellate authority such amount.]
It is apparent from sub-section (7) of Section 7 that it is only the amount of gratuity, determined under sub-section (4) of Section 7 which is required to be deposited in terms of second proviso below sub-section (7). The provision does not speak about interest. There is no statutory obligation to deposit the amount of interest as a condition for entertaining the appeal filed under sub-section (7) of Section 7 of the said Act. In view of this, the authority below has committed an error of law in holding that such is the statutory requirement and therefore, calling upon the petitioner to make the payment of interest. The order impugned cannot, therefore, be su
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stained. 3. In the result, the writ petition is allowed. The order dated 15.01.2009 passed by the Appellate Authority under the Payment of Gratuity Act, is hereby quashed and set aside. The Appellate Authority is directed to decide the appeal on its own merits in accordance with law if it is not decided earlier. No order as to costs. Petition allowed.