Karnataka High Court: No Limitation for Filing Complaint Under Section 33-A of Industrial Disputes Act

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The case was heard by a Single Bench of Justice Shivashankar Amarannavar (Karnataka High Court). The writ petition was filed by the Divisional Controller (South), N.W.K.R.T.C. Belagavi Division, against a workman to quash the award of the Industrial Tribunal.
No Limitation for Filing Complaint Under Section 33-A of Industrial Disputes Act: Karnataka High Court

In a significant ruling, the Karnataka High Court observed that there is no limitation provided for filing a complaint under Section 33-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (ID Act). The observation was made in the case titled “The Divisional Controller (South) N.W.K.R.T.C. v. Vasant B. Jogi”.

 

The case was heard by a Single Bench of Justice Shivashankar Amarannavar. The writ petition was filed by the Divisional Controller (South), N.W.K.R.T.C. Belagavi Division, against a workman to quash the award of the Industrial Tribunal.

 

The respondent workman, who was working as a driver in the petitioner corporation, remained absent for duties without taking prior permission from his superiors or submitting a leave application. On the report of the depot manager, a call notice was issued to the workman, directing him to report for duty. The workman neither replied to the said notice nor reported to duty, and therefore, an article of charge was issued to him along with a statement of imputation.

 

After receipt of the Article of Charges, the workman did not submit his reply, and therefore, the disciplinary authority appointed an enquiry officer for a domestic enquiry of unauthorized absence of the workman and also appointed a presenting officer. The enquiry notice was issued to the workman through paper publication, and the enquiry officer held an enquiry and submitted an enquiry report.

 

A show cause notice was served on the worker, but he did not choose to respond to it, and the disciplinary authority dismissed him from service with the corporation. He filed a complaint under Section 33-A of the ID Act for setting aside the order of dismissal, and the Tribunal allowed the said complaint in part and set aside the dismissal order. It directed the petitioner-Corporation to reinstate the workman in his original post with continuity of service on the ground that approval was required under Section 33(2)(b) of ID Act and the same was not obtained by the Corporation. The said order of the Industrial Tribunal was questioned by the petitioner before the High Court.

 

The crucial question that arose for consideration before the court was whether non-compliance with the provisions of Section 33(2)(b) of the Act, by the petitioner-Corporation before placing the order of dismissal, would render the order of dismissal void and non-est.

 

The High Court noted, “Sub section (3) of Section 2-A of the Act provides a limitation of three years to make an application as referred to in Sub Section (2) from the date of discharge, dismissal, retrenchment, or otherwise termination from service as specified in the Sub section(1). The said limitation of three years is for filing an application under Sub section (2) of Section 2-A. There is no limitation provided for raising the Industrial Dispute under Sub section (1) of Section 2-A. The limitation provided under Sub section (3) is with regard to filing of an application by the workman under Sub section (2) of Section 2-A. What is referred to in Clause (b) of Section 33-A by the term “shall adjudicate upon the complaint as if it were a dispute referred to or pending before it.”

 

The Court said that there is no limitation for referring a dispute, and the term “shall adjudicate upon the complaint as if it were a dispute referred to or pending before it is in accordance with provisions of this Act” only indicates the procedure to be followed by the Tribunal/Labour Court.

 

“Therefore, the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner-corporation that the limitation contained under Sub Section (3) of Section 2-A of the Act is also applicable to the complaints under Section 33-A of the Act, has no merit,”  it concluded.

 

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the writ petition. This ruling has significant implications for industrial disputes and the rights of workers. It underscores the importance of due process and the need for corporations to adhere to the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act. It also highlights the role of the judiciary in upholding the rights of workers and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace. The ruling is a reminder that the law provides avenues for redressal and justice, even in cases where the internal disciplinary mechanisms of corporations fail to deliver justice.

 

The ruling reaffirms the principle that there is no limitation on seeking justice under the law.

As a result, the petition was dismissed. 

Stay tuned, to PropleManager.co.in for further updates on the evolving workplace paradigm.

 

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