Section 33(C)(2) ID Act – Labor Court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate entitlement dispute or basis of worker’s claim: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court observed that in an application under Section 33(C)(2) of the Labor Disputes Act, the Labor Court has no jurisdiction and cannot adjudicate a dispute concerning the right or the basis of the workers’ claim. It can only interpret the award or settlement on which the claim is based, observed the bench consisting of Judges MR Shah and BV Nagarathna. In this case…

The Supreme Court observed that in an application under Section 33(C)(2) of the Labor Disputes Act, the Labor Court has no jurisdiction and cannot adjudicate a dispute concerning the right or the basis of the workers’ claim.

It can only interpret the award or settlement on which the claim is based, observed the bench consisting of Judges MR Shah and BV Nagarathna.

In this case, the worker filed an application with the Labor Court under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, demanding a difference in pay between 01.04.2006 and 31.03.2012. This claim was contested by M/s Bombay Chemical Industries denying any employee-employer relationship. The Labor Court granted the said claim and ordered M/s Bombay Chemical Industries to pay the difference in wages between 01.04.2006 and 31.03.2012 as requested in the claim. The writ petition filed against this order made by the Industrial Court was dismissed by the High Court and as a result M/s Bombay Chemical Industries went to the Apex Court;

On appeal, referring to Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs. Ganesh Razak and Anr., (1995) 1 SCC 235, Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs. Ganesh Razak and Anr. (1995) 1 SCC 235, Union of India and another Vs. Kankuben (Death) By Lrs. and Others, (2006) 9 SCC 292, the court noted that it was not open to the Labor Court to hear the issues and adjudicate the employer-employee relationship. The court observed as follows:

“According to the established bill, in a claim under section 33(C)(2) of the Labor Disputes Act, the Labor Court has no jurisdiction and cannot adjudicate a dispute of law or on the basis of the workers’ claim. It may interpret only the award or settlement on which the claim is based. As this Court held in Ganesh Razak and Anr. (supra), the jurisdiction of the Labor Court under section 33(C)(2) of the Labor Disputes Act is In accordance with the constant preposition of the law, without prior judgment or recognition of the contested claim of the workers, the proceedings for the calculation of wage arrears and/or difference in wages claimed by the workers cannot be sustained under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act (see Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs. Ganesh Razak and Anr. (1995) 1 SCC 235).

“In the Kankuben case (supra), it is observed and argued that whenever a worker is entitled to receive from his employer a sum of money or any benefit which can be calculated in terms of money and that he is entitled to receive from his employer and is denied such benefit may appeal to the Labor Court under Section 33C(2) of the Identity Act It is further observed that the benefit which enforcement is sought under section 33C(2) of the Identity Act is necessarily a pre-existing benefit or one that arises from a pre-existing right.The difference between a pre-existing right or benefit, of a one hand, and the right or benefit, which is considered fair and equitable, on the other hand, is essential. The former falls within the jurisdiction of the industrial tribunal exercising powers under section 33C.(2) of the Identity Act when the latter does not do so”

The court noted that, in this case, there was a serious dispute raised that the worker had never been employed as a salesman and the documents on which he relied were seriously disputed. Accordingly, the bench held that the industrial tribunal’s order did not fall within the jurisdiction conferred under section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act.

Case Name: Bombay Chemical Industries v Deputy Commissioner of Labor

Reference: 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 130

Case No| date: AC 813 DE 2022 | February 4, 2022

Coram: Judges MR Shah and BV Nagarathna

Counsel: Adv Vishal Yadav for the appellant, Adv Vinod Kumar Tewari for the respondent

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