When a dispute only concerns the correction of an employee’s date of birth, the Industrial Disputes Act does not preclude civil court jurisdiction: Supreme Court

The Industrial Disputes Act does not precludes civil court jurisdiction in a dispute relating to the correction of an employee’s date of birth.

The Supreme Court has held that the jurisdiction of the civil court in relation to the correction of date of birth of an employee is not ousted by the Industrial Disputes Act 1947. The Court stated that the jurisdiction of the civil court is ousted if it is a matter relating to the enforcement of a right under the Industrial Disputes Act.

The Bench was considering an appeal plea moved by an employee seeking to correction in his date of birth in the records of the company he worked in.The Trial Court had dismissed the suit as not maintainable. The High Court had agreed with the Trial Court’s view saying that the the appellant should have approached the labour court under Section 33-C (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.



CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2022

(@ SLP(C) No. 8443 OF 2018)

TULSHI CHOUDHARY                                      ………APPELLANT




Leave granted.

During the course of hearing, it is accepted that, pursuant to the   communication   dated   07.08.1998   (Exhibit-8),   appellant-Tulshi Choudhary had submitted an application dated 02.09.1998 (Exhibit-9) requesting   for   correction   of   his   date   of   birth   as   03.10.1949.   The appellant   had   enclosed   copy   of   the   matriculation   certificate (Exhibit-1)   and   the   certificate   issued   by   the   Government   of   Bihar to   the   effect   that   the   appellant   had   undergone   training   in   the Industrial   Training   Institute   (Exhibit-2),   wherein   again   his   date of   birth   has   been   mentioned   as   03.10.1949.   The   respondent   M/s. IISCO   Limited,   now   amalgamated   with   the   Steel   Authority   of   India Ltd.   (SAIL),  had   earlier  issued   the  communication   dated  07.08.1998 (Exhibit-8)   pursuant   to   National   Coal   Wage   Agreement   III implementation   instruction   No.76.   The   communication   dated 07.08.1998   had   stated   that   the   date   of   birth   of   the   appellant,   as recorded   in   their   records,   is   14.09.1947   and   in   case   the   date   of birth   as   recorded   with   them   is   wrong,   the   appellant   may   apply   for change within the period stipulated therein.

In   spite   of   the   representation/written   communication   by   the appellant   dated   02.09.1998   enclosing   the   required   documents,   the respondents   did   not   communicate   or   make   any   change.   In   these circumstances, the appellant was compelled to file a civil suit on 06.12.2005,   when   he   was   still   in   service,   the   age   of   retirement being 60 years.

The   trial   court   had   dismissed   the   suit,   but   the   first appellate   court,   on   appreciation   of   the   evidence   on   record,   had decreed   the   suit.   The   High   Court   by   the   impugned   judgment   has dismissed   the   suit   inter   alia   recording   that   the   appellant   should have   approached   the   labour   court   under   Section   33-C   (2)   of   the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

We   are   not   in   agreement   with   this   finding   in   view   of   the decision of this Court in  The Premier Automobiles Ltd.  v.  Kamelekar Shantaram   Wadke   of   Bombay   &   Ors. ,   (1976)   1   SCC   496,   where   the principles   applicable   to   the   jurisdiction   of   the   civil   court   in relation to an industrial dispute were examined to conclude:

(1) If   the   dispute   is   not   an   industrial   dispute,   nor   does it   relate   to   enforcement   of   any   other   right   under   the Act, the remedy lies only in the civil court. 

(2) If the dispute is an industrial dispute arising out of a   right   or   liability   under   the   general   or   common   law and   not   under   the   Industrial   Disputes   Act,   1947,   the jurisdiction of the civil court is alternative, leaving it   to   the   election   of   the   suitor   concerned   to   choose his   remedy   for   the   relief   which   is   competent   to   be granted in a particular remedy.

(3) If the industrial dispute relates to the enforcement of a   right   or   an   obligation   created   under   the   Industrial Disputes   Act,   1947,   then   the   only   remedy   available   to the suitor is to get an adjudication under the Act.

(4) If the right which is sought to be enforced is a right created   under   the   Industrial   Disputes   Act,   1947,   such as   Chapter   VA,   then   the   remedy   for   its   enforcement   is either   Section   33-C   or   the   raising   of   an   industrial dispute, as the case may be.

In our opinion, the present case is not covered by principles (3) and (4) as the issue involved relates only to the correction of the   date   of   birth.   Jurisdiction   of   the   civil   court   is   not   ousted, as   this   is   not   a   case   relating   to   enforcement   of   a   right   or   an obligation   under   the   Industrial   Disputes   Act,   1947.   Equally,   on merits,   we   find   that   the   appellant   is   entitled   to   relief   as claimed. The respondents have not been just and fair.

Accordingly,   we   hold   that   the   suit   filed   by   the   appellant should   be   decreed.   However,   as   the   appellant   had   retired,   we   pass the decree in the following terms:

(i) The   appellant   would   be   entitled   to   back   wages   from 01.10.2007   to   31.10.2009,   that   is,   the   actual   wages payable to the appellant, as if he had worked during this period. The respondents would be entitled to deduct from the   amount,   the   pension   amount,   if   any   paid   by   them,   or paid by the third party in terms of the agreement between the respondents and the third party.

(ii) The appellant would be entitled to interest on the amount payable   in   terms   of   clause   (i)   above   at   the   rate   of   7% per annum from 01.11.2009 till the payment is made.

(iii) The   appellant   would   be   also   entitled   to   cost,   which   are quantified at Rs. 50,000/-.  

The   impugned   judgment   is   set   aside   and   the   appeal   is   allowed in the aforesaid terms.

Pending application(s) stands disposed of.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . J.  (SANJIV KHANNA)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . J.  (BELA M. TRIVEDI)


AUGUST 03, 2022.

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