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Payment Of Wages Act Is Beneficial Piece Of Legislation, Weaker Section Can't Be Denied Legal Entitlement On Technicalities: Karnataka HC

Mustafa Plumber
19 Jan 2022 1:21 PM GMT
Payment Of Wages Act Is Beneficial Piece Of Legislation, Weaker Section Cant Be Denied Legal Entitlement On Technicalities: Karnataka HC
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The Karnataka High Court recently observed that Payment of Wages Act is a beneficial piece of enactment. The workmen cannot be denied the legal entitlement by applying technicalities while adjudicating the claim application. Justice Jyoti Mulimani thus quashed the order dated January 28, 2015 passed by the Assistant Labour Commissioner rejecting the claim petition filed by...

The Karnataka High Court recently observed that Payment of Wages Act is a beneficial piece of enactment. The workmen cannot be denied the legal entitlement by applying technicalities while adjudicating the claim application.

Justice Jyoti Mulimani thus quashed the order dated January 28, 2015 passed by the Assistant Labour Commissioner rejecting the claim petition filed by one Parvathamma, who worked as a watcher with the Department of Forest and Environment Department, merely because her signature was missing on the claim application.

The court remitted the matter to the Assistant Labour Commissioner and directed him to permit the petitioner to sign the claim application and then adjudicate the dispute in accordance with law within a period of six months.

Case Background:

Petitioner and her husband worked as watchers with the respondents. It was said that the second respondent (Range Forest Officer, Mysuru), did not pay them wages. The petitioner did not get wages from January 21, 2012 onwards, her husband Krishne Gowda was denied wages from April 3, 2012 onwards. It was claimed that the petitioner was due Rs 78,708 and her husband was due a sum of Rs 67,464 towards unpaid wages.

They filed a joint claim application before the Assistant Labour Commissioner in the year 2014. The Labour Commissioner vide order dated January 28, 2015, allowed the claim petition of the husband while rejecting the petitioner's application on the ground that she had not signed the claim application and as such she cannot maintain the application claiming unpaid wages from the second respondent. This order came to be challenged before the high court.

Petitioners Arguments:

Advocate V.S.Naik appearing for the petitioner submitted that the Commissioner ought to have seen that not signing the claim application by the petitioner is a defect which is curable and the Authority under the Act has got powers to permit the claimant to cure the defect and thereafter prosecute the claim application in accordance with law.

It was submitted that the petitioner is an illiterate and belonging to the lowest cadre. In view of the same, the issue of endorsement and non-consideration of petitioner's claim cannot be sustained.

Respondents Opposed the Plea:

Additional Government Advocate Shivananda D.S argued that the petitioner should have been diligent in prosecuting the claim and the Assistant Labour Commissioner is justified in not considering the claim.

Further, he contended that once the order is passed, there is no provision to recall the order and permit the petitioner to agitate the matter in the same Court. Therefore, he submitted that the petitioner has to approach the appropriate forum to challenge the order passed by the Assistant Labour Commissioner.

Court findings:

Firstly the court noted that the claim petition was partly allowed and the claim of the petitioner was not entertained on the ground that she has not signed the claim application. It is also not in dispute that permission was sought to rectify or cure the defect. But the same was not accorded.

Agreeing with the submission of the petitioners counsel that non-signing the application is only a technical mistake and the same is curable, the court said, "The Authority under the Act could have permitted the petitioner to sign the application and thereafter decided the claim."

The court then observed,

"It is needless to say that Payment of Wages is a beneficial piece of enactment. The workmen cannot be denied the legal entitlement by applying technicalities while adjudicating the claim application more so, when the defect is simply curable."

Following which it held, "In the present case, the petitioner has not signed the claim application and the same is curable by permitting her to sign the same. Hence, I have no hesitation in holding that the non-consideration of the claim petition is totally unsustainable. In my considered view, the matter requires a remand."

The court also junked the contention that appeal under Section 17 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 is maintainable and the petitioner should file an appeal. It said, "The appeal under Section 17 will be filed when the claim is adjudicated and the amount is awarded. But in the instant case, no amount is awarded to the petitioner. Hence, the question of filing an appeal does not arise."

Case Title: Parvathamma v. The Principal Chief Conservator Of Forests

Case No: Writ Petition No.8730 of 2016

Date of Order: January 4, 2022.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 17

Appearance: Advocate V.S.Naik for petitioner; Advocate Shivananda D.S for respondents.

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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