The Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently observed that an order passed by Industrial Disputes Tribunal/ Labour Court on disputed questions of fact cannot be challenged by way of a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.
A bench comprising Justice Wasim Sadiq Nargal was hearing a plea filed by a firm under Article 226 of the Constitution of India challenging an award passed by the Industrial Tribunal/Labour Court, Jammu under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, awarding ₹1 lakh to a workman, the respondent in the case.
Perusal of the record revealed that the workman-respondent had been engaged as Foreman In-charge of repair and maintenance work at the petitioner's unit and that his services were terminated as he had failed to perform his duties. Aggrieved of his termination the workman raised a demand notice before the Labour-cum-Conciliation Officer, Jammu in terms of Section 10 of the Industrial Dispute Act and the matter was referred for adjudication to the Industrial Tribunal/Labour Court, Jammu.
Record further revealed that the Tribunal, after completion of the pleadings and appreciating the evidence as well as the material place on record, passed a detailed award directing the petitioner to pay compensation of ₹1 lakh to the workman which in turn had prompted the firm to approach the High Court, invoking the writ jurisdiction of the Court under Article 226 to challenge the award passed by the tribunal.
Adjudicating upon the matter the bench observed that an Industrial Tribunal/ Labour Court exercises powers similar to the jurisdiction of a civil court and that the orders passed by a civil court can only be challenged before the High Court by way of a petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.
"If the challenge is limited only to the correctness or otherwise of the award, then it has to be considered that the power under Article 227 of Constitution has been invoked because the cause has not been initiated for the first time before the High Court," the Court said.
While deliberating on the matter the bench found it worthwhile to record the observations of supreme court in Ram Krishan Fauji v. State of Haryana reported in 2017 (5) SCC 533, where it was observed.
"We have referred to these decisions only to highlight that it is beyond any shadow of doubt that the order of civil court can only be challenged under Article 227 of the Constitution and from such challenge, no intra-court appeal would lie and in other cases, it will depend upon the other factors as have been enumerated therein"
Explaining the law further on the subject the bench further observed that only if in addition to the correctness of the award if the petitioner seeks to challenge the vires of any other provision of Industrial Disputes Act or of any other provision or the very jurisdiction of the labour court to pass the award or on the ground that same suffered from error or law apparent on the face of record, does it need to be considered that powers under Article 226 has been invoked, the Court underscored.
Justice Nargal further recorded that the petitioner raised disputed question of fact with regard to the salary component and the eligibility of the petitioner as Workman in terms of Section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act and therefore the Court is not inclined to exercise the writ jurisdiction as it cannot go into the disputed question of fact as all the question of facts have been gone in detail by the Tribunal by adducing the evidence by passing a reasoned order
Dismissing the petition the bench concluded that the challenge thrown by the petitioner to the award passed by Tribunal by invoking the provisions under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is held to be not maintainable.
Case Title : M/s Manu Mohit Industries Vs State of J&k & Ors.
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (JKL) 89