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Judicial Review of Industrial Awards

Meaning and Definition of Award

Sec. 2(b) of the Industrial Dispute Act defines the term as follows award means an interim or final determination of any industrial dispute or of any question relating thereto by any Labour Court, Industrial Tribunal or National Industrial Tribunal and includes an arbitration award made under Sec. 10-A.
Where as in layman’s language an Award is the decision given by the adjudicator of Labour Court, Industrial Tribunal or the National Tribunal and the arbitrator.

(i) Interim or final determination
The expression determination of any dispute means an adjudication of the dispute on merits.
The word interim means when a particular issue is decided out of other issues and report is submitted on that particular issue , it is known as interim determination.

Form of an Award:

Sec.16(2) of the Act simply states that the award of a Labour Court, Tribunal or National, Tribunal shall be in writing and shall be signed by the presiding officer.

Publication of awards:

The adjudicator shall submit the award to the appropriate Government under section 15 of the I.D Act. The appropriate Government shall then within a period of thirty days from the date of its receipt publish the award in such manner as the Government thinks fit. . It is mandatory for the appropriate Government to publish the award, unless it is prevented from doing so by an order of a Court of competent jurisdiction. The appropriate Government is duty bound to publish the award, because unless the award is published it cannot become enforceable under the scheme of the Act. But in public undertaking government can defer with the period of 30 days for this government. has to bring a notification into official gazette before the expiry of the 30thday or before enforceability later after the notification government remains silent , award will automatically become enforceable after the 90thday from the date of ion of the award.

If the Govt. want to temper with the award and presented the copy of award in the front of parliament or state legislature , it will become enforceable after 15days of presenting the copy.

Commencement or Enforceability of an award:

The award which has been published shall become enforceable on the expiry of thirty days from the date of its publication.
Unless the award becomes enforceable, no rights and liabilities can arise under the award. In other words, the obligations imposed by the award on the parties shall come into effect immediately after the expiry of thirty days statutory period from the date of its publication.

Coming into operation of an award:

Sec.l7-A(4) lays down that the award shall come into operation from such date which is specified therein, but where no date is specified, it shall come into operation on the date when the award becomes enforceable. The Act distinguishes between the enforceability and coming into operation of an award. Coming into operation envisages the date from which the benefits provided in the award shall be available to the parties. The adjudicator, according to this Section, has discretion to bring the award into operation from any date that may be specified in the award.

Persons on whom the awards are binding:

According to Sec.l8(3) of the Act, an award of a Labour Court, Tribunal
or National Tribunal, as the case may be, which has become enforceable shall be binding on-
a) all the parties to the industrial dispute;
b) all other parties summoned to appear in the proceeding as parties to the dispute.

Period of operation of awards:

Sec.18(3) lays down that an award shall remain in operation for a period of one year from the date on which the award becomes enforceable under Sec.l7-A. This one year period of operation can be reduced or increased by the government under the provisions of Sec.19 but government can’t exceed this period beyond 3 years.

# Awards which are operative are binding.

# After the expiry of the period of operation, award will be statutorily binding till this award is terminated by giving a notice of 2 months by the party to other party or parties . This notice can be given before the expiry of the operative period or thereafter. Unless the award is terminated it continues to be binding after the expiry of the period.

# Still after the termination award will be bindings upon the parties till it is replaced by a new award. The rationale behind this concept is that courts have observed there is implied consent of both the parties.
Penalty for breach of award:
If any person commits breach of any term of award , he is liable for the punishment. The punishment provided for is imprisonment which may extend upto 6 months or fine or both.

Finality and Judicial Review of awards:

Sec.17(2) of the I.D. Act declares, Subject to the provisions of Section
17-A, the award published under sub-sec(l) shall be final and shall not be called in question by any court in any manner whatsoever. This provision, first, seeks to oust the jurisdiction of the civil courts against the awards of adjudicators under the Act. Secondly, it implies that there is no appeal or revision against the awards.

Special Leave Petition

Under Article 136, the Constitution of India gives power to the Supreme Court to grant special permission or leave to an aggrieved party to appeal against an order passed in any of the lower courts or tribunals in India.

Meaning of Special Leave Petition

Special leave petition (SLP) means that an individual takes special permission to be heard in appeal against any high court/tribunal verdict. Thus it is not an appeal but a petition filed for an appeal. So after an SLP is filed, the Supreme Court may hear the matter and if it deems fit, it may grant the ‘leave’ and convert that petition into an ‘appeal’. SLP shall then become an Appeal and the Court will hear the matter and pass a judgment.

SLP Can Be Presented Under Following Circumstance

·It can be filed against any judgment or decree or order of any high court /tribunal in the territory of India, or
·It can be filed in case a high court refuses to grant the certificate of fitness for appeal to Supreme Court of India.

Who Can File SLP

Any aggrieved party can file an SLP against the judgment or order of refusal of grant of certificate.

Grounds of SLP:

# When there is miscarriage of justice
# When there is flagrant violation of law
# When there is violation of principle of natural justice.

Scenario Under Labour Law:

If the industrial award is not satisfactory , award of any tribunal or court can be challenged when there is miscarriage of justice , flagrant violation of law , or violation of principle of natural justice.

JUSTICE KRISHNAN has asserted that the jurisdiction of Supreme Court regarding SLP is limitless . This power of Supreme Court is residuary and it is known as the extra ordinary power of the Supreme Court. Supreme Court of other countries doesn’t have such power except the Supreme Court of India i.e. power to challenged the decision of any court be it a tribunal or a court.

Under Article 136 a party can appeal only when the decision is given by a court or by a tribunal. If the decision given by a body is not a court or a tribunal, party can’t appeal under article 136.

So now the question arises whether the definition of industrial tribunal and court comes under the definition of court and tribunal of article 136.

Leading case law:

Cooper v/s Wilson
In this case certain guidelines were issued regarding bodies who perform judicial function:
# presentation of case before the court
# it involves ascertainment of facts
# if case involves legal question , let there be legal argument.
# there should be a decision of the case.

In order to determine the meaning of court and tribunal we have to see HALSBURY LAW OF ENGLAND ,according to this:
# court is a body created by the state i.e. king or sovereign.
# the body created by state must enjoy entire judicial power of the state
# body must decide the dispute in a judicial manner i.e. procudre which is laid down in Cooper vs Wilson must be followed.

In order to determine the meaning of tribunal and tribunal we have to see HALSBURY LAW OF ENGLAND, according to this:
# tribunal is a body created by the state i.e. king or sovereign.
# the tribunal created by state doesn’t enjoy entire judicial power of the state, they have got trapping of the courts i.e. limited power
# body must decide the dispute in a judicial manner i.e. procudre which is laid down in Cooper vs Wilson must be followed.
Ultimately, labour courts and tribunal are tribunal within the meaning of article 136 i.e. they have got limited judicial power within the meanng of article 136.

Leading case laws:
State of Bihar Vs D.N Ganguly
It was held that once an industrial dispute is reffered for adjudication, a notification seeking to cancel a reference already made was invalid.

Sirsilk Vs Govt Of Andhra Pradesh
# There was an industrial dispute between the employers and the employees.
# Dispute was referred by the govt. for adjudication under section 10 (1)
# This matter was decided in a labour court and as per section 15 adjudicator is bound to present an award as expedious as possible.
# Parties reached to a private settlement but award was yet not published
# Parties made an request to the govt. not to go ahead with the publication of the award.
# ISSUE: whether the govt. can withhold the publication of award?
# It was held that the govt. has no power to withhold the award, they have to publish the award nut due to some extraordinary situations such as in this case govt. was allowed not to publish the award.

Amalgated Coffee Estate Ltd V. Their Workmen
# In this case award was published by the govt.
# The parties appealed to S.C under Article 136 of the constitution requesting that they had already arrived at the settlement.
# The Supreme Court held that the ultimate motive is settlement and it should be from free mind and it should not be a pressure on the parties to the dispute
# The award was harsh and the settlement was in the favour of the parties.
# Hence in this case the settlement will prevail over the award .

On the face of it Industrial Awards can’t be challenged but if the parties on whom award is binding are not satisfied they can challenge it under article 136 . The only remedy available to these un satisfied being is constitutional remedy. In my opinion there should be some sort of remedy available to these persons under the I.D. Act itself. Since large no. of cases are still pending in S.C , There should be a separate appellate authority which could deal with industrial and labour dispute.

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