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Labour Court Amenable To High Court's Supervisory Jurisdiction Under Article 227, Not Writ Jurisdiction Under Article 226: Andhra Pradesh High Court

Jagriti Sanghi
28 March 2022 4:48 AM GMT
Labour Court Amenable To High Courts Supervisory Jurisdiction Under Article 227, Not Writ Jurisdiction Under Article 226: Andhra Pradesh High Court
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The Andhra Pradesh High Court recently observed that High Court cannot issue writs under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the orders of the Labour Court as it is a Civil Court and only supervisory jurisdiction under Article 227 can be exercised. "While challenging an award under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Labour Court exercises powers and jurisdiction of a Civil...

The Andhra Pradesh High Court recently observed that High Court cannot issue writs under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the orders of the Labour Court as it is a Civil Court and only supervisory jurisdiction under Article 227 can be exercised.

"While challenging an award under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Labour Court exercises powers and jurisdiction of a Civil Court and that orders passed by a Civil Court can only be challenged before the High Court by way of a Writ Petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India," it held.

Brief facts of the case

The workman preferred an application under Section 2A(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1847 (ID Act) before the Labour Court, Vishakapatnam for reinstatement with back wages, continuity of service and attendant benefits. The Labour Court held that the petitioner has been doing manual work of tracking samples, texting, weighment, accounting of articles and boxing the material and noting the size of the material, therefore, he was a workman under Section 2(s) of the ID Act. It was also held by the Labour Court that dismissal of a workman for disobedience of a transfer order on health grounds was shockingly disproportionate, therefore dismissal of workman was set aside.

The workman joined duty but he was not allowed to join by the management. The management challenged the order of reinstatement in a Writ Petition which was dismissed. On the other hand, the workman aggrieved by the dismissal of petition for recovery of wages before Labour Court preferred a Writ Petition which was allowed.

Subsequently, the management filed Writ appeals against the two writ petitions and the issue for consideration was about maintainability of writ appeals.

Contention of both sides

The counsel for the workman argued that the award passed by the Labour Court being essentially an adjudication of a civil dispute by a judicial forum, the High Court can exercise power only under Article 227 of the Constitution and writ appeals would not be maintainable against an order passed in exercise of powers under Article 227 of the Constitution.

The counsel for the management argued that the appellant having prayed for issuance of Writ of Certiorari, the writ petition was under Article 226 and not under Article 227 of the Constitution and therefore the writ appeals would be maintainable.

Issues raised

Whether a Labour Court was only a Court subordinate to the High Court or it is treated as a Civil Court, was germane issue to be dealt with. Additionally, whether Writ Petition under Article 226 (original jurisdiction by the High Court) or Article 227 (supervisory jurisdiction) is maintainable against an order of Labour Court.

Ruling of the court

The court relied on State of Maharashtra v. Labour Law Practitioners' Assn., (1998) in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Labour Court performs judicial function and is a court and decides disputes that are civil in nature.

Reliance was also placed on Ram Kishan Fauji v. State of Haryana, (2017) in which the Supreme Court held that a writ petition which assails the order of a civil court in the High Court has to be understood, in all circumstances, to be a challenge under Article 227 of the Constitution and determination by the High Court under the said article and, hence, no intra-court appeal is entertainable.

On the aforementioned rulings, the court observed that while challenging an award under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Labour Court exercises powers and jurisdictions of a Civil Court and that orders passed by a Civil Court can only be challenged before the High Court by way of a Writ Petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.

Even though the prayer was made for a Writ of Certiorari in the writ petition, both the writ petitions were preferred under Article 227 of the Constitution and not Article 226. The nature of power available to be invoked before the High Court would determine the jurisdiction exercised by the High Court and not the nomenclature/relief sought in the petition. The Labour Court, Visakhapatnam passed an award in favour of the workman, which may only be assailed before the High Court invoking jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. The application filed by the workman seeking execution of award could also be challenged under Article 227 of the Constitution.

The Bench comprising of Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice M. Satyanarayana Murthy dismissed the writ appeals as intra court appeal under Article 227 of the Constitution was not maintainable.

Case Title : M/s. Mitra S.P. (P) Ltd. Versus Dhiren Kumar

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AP) 38

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