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Labour Court Has No Jurisdiction To Adjudicate Workman's Claim U/S 33C(2) ID Act In An Undetermined Claim: Karnataka High Court

Mustafa Plumber
9 May 2022 8:47 AM GMT
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The Karnataka High Court has said that a workman who claims compensation due to injuries suffered during the course of employment, his claims under the Employees Compensation Act 1923, would lie before the Employees Compensation Commissioner and not before the Labour Court.

A single judge bench of Justice K S Mudagal said,

"In view of the specific forum provided under the Act, 1923, the Labour Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the claim petition. Though the Workman suffered a certain disability, the question was, due to such disability, whether there was loss of earnings...The respondent claimed that he was entitled to claim the amount due to the injuries suffered by him during the course of employment. Therefore his claim was under the Act, 1923. In such event the claim lies before the Employee's Compensation Commissioner and not before the Labour Court."

Brief Facts

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) had approached the court challenging an order passed by the Labour Court to pay compensation of Rs.2,97,120 with interest at 6% per annum to one of its employees K.SHIVARAM who had suffered injuries when the bus he was driving met with an accident.

The respondent preferred claim petition before the Labour Court Mangaluru under Section 33C(2) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, claiming compensation of Rs.5,50,000/- along with interest at 18% per annum and Silver Medal Allowance 50% per month from 01.04.2004 onwards along with 18% interest.

The corporation contested the said claim on the ground that since respondent already received compensation under the Motor Vehicle Act, he was not entitled to make a further claim. Since the respondent did not perform the duty of driver, as per the Circular No.722/1997 he was not entitled to a silver medal allowance.

Further, the application is not maintainable without raising any industrial dispute. However, the Labour court vide its order dated 13.04.2016 allowed the claim petition on the ground that the respondent can exercise his option to claim the compensation both under the Motor Vehicle Act and Workmen Compensation Act. The Labour Court awarded the silver medal allowance also with effect from 01.04.2004. The Labour Court did not consider the question of maintainability of the petition under Section 33C(2) of the I.D. Act.

Advocate Shwetha Anand, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that Section 33C (2) of the Act can be invoked only in relation to an award or the settlement contemplated under Section 33C(1) of the I.D. Act.

Advocate V.S.Naik for State said that Section 33C(2) of the I.D. Act is an independent provision and need not be preceded by an award. Irrespective of workmen getting compensation under the Motor Vehicle Act, he is entitled to claim under the Act, 1923.

Court Findings:

The bench first noted "The question of considering whether the workman can claim remedies under the Motor Vehicle Act as well as the Employee's Compensation Act, 1923 arises only if the question of maintainability is held in his favour."

Then referring to Section 33C (1) and (2) of the I.D Act it observed "Section 33C(2) of the I.D. Act refers to any amount due to a workman. Section 33C(1) of the I.D. Act speaks of any amount due to workman under the settlement or award under the provision of Chapter 5-A or 5-B of the I.D. Act."

It added

"The respondent claimed that he was entitled to claim the amount due to the injuries suffered by him during the course of employment. Therefore his claim was under the Act, 1923. In such an event the claim lies before the Employee's Compensation Commissioner and not before the Labour Court...Labour Court had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the claim made by the Workman under Section 33C (2) of the I.D Act in an undetermined claim and until such adjudication is made by the appropriate forum."

Further, the court relied on Supreme Court judgments in the case of State of U.P. and Another Vs Brijpal Singh's , (2005) 8 SCC 58 and Municipal Corporation of Delhi V.s Ganesh Razak and Another (1995) 1 SCC 235 and said "Admittedly after the accident, the respondent received remuneration in the pay scale of drivers. Therefore, whether he was entitled to claim compensation under the head of loss of earning or earning capacity was a matter of adjudication. Similarly, in view of him not performing the work as a driver and assignment of lighter work to him, whether he was entitled to a silver medal allowance was a matter of adjudication."

Following which it held, "Therefore that could have been the subject matter of a dispute under the I.D Act. Without such adjudication, in the light of the judgment of Hon'ble Supreme Court referred to supra, the respondent could not have maintained the petition under Section 33C(2) of the I.D. Act. The Labour Court committed an error in assuming jurisdiction under Section 33C(2) of the ID Act. The award is liable to be set aside."

Case Title: The Management Of Ksrtc And K.Shivaram

Case No: Writ Petition No.17583/2017 (L-KSRTC)

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 153

Date of Order: 4th April 2022

Advocate For Petitioner : SHWETHA ANAND

Advocate For The Respondent : V.S.NAIK

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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