It is not open for Labour Court to entertain disputed questions, adjudicate upon employer-­employee relationship, rules SC

It is not open for Labour Court to entertain disputed questions, adjudicate upon employer-­employee relationship, rules SC

The Supreme Court ruled that it is not open for Labour Court to entertain disputed questions and adjudicate upon employer-­employee relationship.

Background 

Respondents moved an application before the Labour Court under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act demanding the difference of wages. The said application was contested by the appellant denying any relationship of employee­ employer. It was the categorical stand of the appellant that respondent was never engaged by it. Before the Labour Court respondent relied upon the documents exhibit W­1 to W­6 in support of his case that he had worked in the   establishment as a salesman. That by order of the Presiding Officer, Labour Court allowed the said application and directed the appellant to pay the difference of wages as claimed in the application. 

Arguments

Advocate Vishal Yadav, appearing on behalf of the appellant, contended that the High Court ought to have appreciated that when there was a serious issue raised with respect to the employer employee relationship between the appellant and respondent and that it was seriously disputed that respondent was at any point of time in employment as a salesman, the Labour Court ought not to have entertained/allowed the application under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act as the same could have been decided in the reference under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act.

Advocate Vinod Kumar Tewari, appearing for the respondent, contended that in the present case respondent placed on record voluminous record namely exhibit W­1 to W­6   to   show   that   respondent was working as a salesman with the appellant. 

Decision 

The division bench of Justice M. R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna stated that when there was no prior adjudication on the issue whether respondent was in employment as a salesman as claimed by the respondent and there was a serious dispute raised that respondent was never in employment as a salesman and the documents relied upon by respondent were seriously disputed by the appellant and it was the case on behalf of the appellant that those documents are forged and/or false, thereafter the Labour Court ought not to have proceeded further with the application under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. 

The court set aside and quashed the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court as well as that of the order passed by the Labour Court under Section 33(C)(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act.   

Case title: M/s Bombay Chemical Industries v/s Deputy Labour Commissioner & Anr.

Case title: CIVIL APPEAL NO.813 OF 2022

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