21 November 2022


High Court of Bombay

Sangitabai v. The Commissioner, Aurangabad Municipal Corporation, Aurangabad



Labour and Industrial

Reference made to Labour Court or the Tribunal not to be dismissed in default

Petitioners claims to be Safai Kamgar with Respondent / Corporation. All of them claimed to have worked for about two years prior to their oral termination on dates stated in order of Reference passed by Deputy Commissioner of Labour, by which, Industrial Disputes were referred to Labour Court. Petitioners are aggrieved by impugned orders, by which, all Reference Cases were dismissed for non-prosecution.

Law is well settled that a Reference made to the Labour Court or the Tribunal is not to be dismissed in default. Once a reference has been made by order of competent authority under Section 12(4) read with Section 10(1) and Section 12(5) of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, Labour Court or Tribunal as case may be, is under a legal obligation to decide reference cases. Even if second party workman does not file its statement of claim, Labour Court / Tribunal is expected to deliver it's award on material available and reference could then be answered in negative.

Karnataka High Court in case of T.S. Zingade Vs. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation [ 1979 (38) FLR 202], has held that, term 'Award' used in Section 15 of Act means a decision on merits of question / terms of reference addressed to Court. Once a reference has been made to Tribunal / Court, reference has to be answered. Section 2(b) of Act indicates that, a decision delivered by Court would constitute an Award. There must be a determination on terms of reference and questions addressed / referred to Court. In absence of a statement of claim, Labour Court could very well scan available record and decide reference. In matter of Rajman Shrikrishna Morya vs. Marshal Security Pvt. Ltd. it was concluded that, an order of dismissing a reference in default is not an award and as such, same would be unsustainable, since a reference has to be answered either way, whether litigating sides participate in proceedings or not.

Industrial Disputes Act does not prescribe any limitation for raising an Industrial Dispute, be it under Section 2(k) or Section 2A of Act. After reference cases were dismissed for non-prosecution on 23rd August, 2011 and 4th February, 2013, restoration applications were filed belatedly in 2014. Thereafter, Petitioners were before this Court in 2016. In this backdrop, in view of negligence on part of Petitioners, they need to be deprived of monetary benefits, if, they succeed in their reference cases.


Sections 2A, 2(b), 2(k), 10(1), 12(4) and 12(5) of Industrial Disputes Act,1947, T.S.Zingade Vs. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation [ 1979 (38) FLR 202], Rajman Shrikrishna Morya Vs. Marshal Security Pvt. Ltd.

Tags : Reference Dismissal Non-prosecution

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