contempt = “The object of Section 17-B is to relieve to a certain extent the hardship that is caused to the workman due to delay in the implementation of the award during the pendency of proceedings in which the said award is under challenge before the High Court or the Supreme Court. The payment which is required to be made by the employer to the workman is in the nature of subsistence allowance which would not be refundable or recoverable from the workman even if the award is set aside by the High Court or the Supreme Court, Parliament thought it proper to limit it to the extent of the wages which were drawn by the workman when he was in service and when his services were terminated and therefore used the words “full wages last drawn”. To read these words to mean wages which would have been drawn by the workman if he had continued in service if the order terminating his services had not passed since it has been set aside by the award of the Labour Court or the Industrial Tribunal, would result in so enlarging the benefit as to comprehend the relief that has been granted under the award that is under challenge. Therefore, the words “full wages last drawn” must be given their plain and material meaning and they cannot be given the extended meaning.”

1

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

MISC. APPLICATION No.711 of 2017

IN

CONTEMPT PETITION (C) NO.785/2018

IN

CIVIL APPEAL No.4482 OF 1998

Rajeshwar Mahto ….Appellant(s)

VERSUS

Alok Kumar Gupta, G.M.

M/s Birla Corporation Ltd. …Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T

Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.

1. This contempt petition arises out of the two

orders, one dated 04.05.1999 and final order dated

31.10.2000 passed by this Court (Three Judge

Bench) in Civil Appeal No. 4482 of 1998. This

application is filed by the respondent (employee) of

the said appeal.

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2. To appreciate the grievance of the applicant

herein(employee)- respondent of the aforementioned

appeal, it is necessary to set out the relevant facts

which led to the filing of civil appeal in this Court

which later gave rise to filing of this contempt

petition.

3. The applicant was an employee of one limited

Company called “Birla Corporation Ltd.” (hereinafter

referred to as “the Corporation”), which is controlled

by Birla Group. The respondent herein is the

General Manager of the Corporation. The applicant

was appointed on 04.12.1974. However, the

applicant’s services were terminated by the

Corporation by order dated 01.09.1985. On the date

of termination, the applicant’s last drawn salary was

Rs.1185/-.

4. The applicant felt aggrieved of his termination

and raised an industrial dispute before the

Industrial Tribunal under the Industrial Dispute

3

Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) for

deciding the legality and correctness of his

termination order.

5. By award dated 22.11.1991, the Industrial

Tribunal answered the reference in favour of the

Corporation. It was held that the applicant was not

a workman within the meaning of the expression

“workman” as defined in Section 2 (s) of the Act and,

therefore, the Government Order by which the

reference was made to the Industrial Tribunal is not

maintainable.

6. The applicant felt aggrieved and filed writ

petition before the High Court at Calcutta. The

Single Judge of the High Court, by order 22.03.1996

allowed the writ petition and while setting aside the

award of the Industrial Tribunal held that the

applicant was the workman and, therefore, the

Government was right and had the power to make

an industrial reference to the Industrial Tribunal.

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The Single Judge, therefore, set aside the order of

the Industrial Tribunal.

7. The Corporation felt aggrieved and filed an

intra Court appeal before the Division Bench of the

High Court. By order dated 31.03.1998, the

Division Bench dismissed the appeal and upheld

the order of the Single Judge giving rise to filing of

the appeal before this Court by the Corporation

being S.L.P.(c) No. 8518/1998. This Court granted

leave and accordingly it was registered as Civil

Appeal No. 4482 of 1998.

8. By order dated 31.10.2000, this Court allowed

the Corporation’s appeal and while setting aside the

orders of the Division Bench and Single Bench

dismissed the writ petition filed by the applicant

herein. As a consequence, the award passed by the

Industrial Tribunal holding that the applicant was

not a workman was upheld.

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9. It is pertinent to mention here that during the

pendency of the Corporation’s Civil Appeal in this

Court, the Corporation had prayed for grant of the

stay of the impugned order of the Division Bench.

10. This Court, by interim order dated 04.05.1999,

directed the Corporation to pay to the applicant full

wages last drawn by him on 01.09.1985 inclusive of

maintenance allowance admissible to him under the

Rules on the applicant’s furnishing an affidavit to

the effect that he had not gainfully employed

elsewhere. The Corporation was asked to pay the

aforesaid amount of full wages last drawn with

effect from 01.05.1998 onwards till the final

disposal of the appeal. The Corporation was directed

to pay the arrears within four weeks and future

monthly emoluments by 7th of each succeeding

month.

11. Likewise, while finally allowing the

Corporation’s appeal on 31.10.2000, this Court

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recorded an offer made by the Corporation that

notwithstanding the result of the appeal, the

Corporation is still ready and willing to pay a sum of

Rs.2 lakhs to the applicant towards full and final

settlement to the satisfaction of the applicant’s

claim which they had offered earlier during the

pendency of the appeal (see last Para of final order

dated 31.10.2000).

12. With these background facts, the applicantemployee

has filed the contempt petition alleging

therein that the interim order dated 04.05.1999

passed by this Court during the pendency of Civil

Appeal No. 4482/1998 has not yet been complied

with by the Corporation. It is alleged that

notwithstanding the disposal of the civil appeal in

Corporation’s favour by this Court by order dated

31.10.2000, so far as the interim order dated

04.05.1999 passed under Section 17-B of the Act is

concerned, the same has to be complied with by the

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Corporation by paying to the applicant all monetary

benefits pursuant to such order. It is alleged that

since the Corporation has offered very less sum as

compared to what was actually payable to the

applicant (employee) pursuant to the order dated

04.05.1999, the applicant did not accept the sum

offered to him.

13. The Corporation has filed its reply on affidavit.

They have raised certain technical pleas but, in fact,

have admitted that so far they have not paid any

amount to the applicant in compliance of the order

dated 04.05.1999. It is stated by the Corporation

that they offered the sum to the applicant but he

declined to accept the same stating that what was

offered to him was less as compared to his actual

entitlement.

14. With the aforementioned background facts, the

question arises as to whether the applicant

(employee) is entitled to claim any monetary benefits

8

pursuant to the order dated 04.05.1999 and, if so,

how much?

15. Since the applicant herein was appearing

in-person, we requested Mr. B. Bhattacharya,

learned senior counsel, who was present in Court,

to appear on behalf of the applicant and render

assistance. On our request, Mr. Bhattacharya

appeared and rendered his valuable assistance. We

record our appreciation for him. Mr. Rakesh Sinha,

learned counsel appeared for the respondent.

16. Having heard learned counsel for the parties

and on perusal of the record of the case, we dispose

of this contempt petition with the following

directions:

17. The Object and the Scope of Section 17-B of

the Act was examined by this Court in Dena Bank

vs. Kiritikumar T. Patel, (1999) 2 SCC 106. This

Court in Paras 7 and 21 held as under:

“The object of Section 17-B is to relieve

to a certain extent the hardship that is

9

caused to the workman due to delay in the

implementation of the award during the

pendency of proceedings in which the said

award is under challenge before the High

Court or the Supreme Court. The payment

which is required to be made by the employer

to the workman is in the nature of

subsistence allowance which would not be

refundable or recoverable from the workman

even if the award is set aside by the High

Court or the Supreme Court, Parliament

thought it proper to limit it to the extent of

the wages which were drawn by the workman

when he was in service and when his services

were terminated and therefore used the

words “full wages last drawn”. To read these

words to mean wages which would have been

drawn by the workman if he had continued in

service if the order terminating his services

had not passed since it has been set aside by

the award of the Labour Court or the

Industrial Tribunal, would result in so

enlarging the benefit as to comprehend the

relief that has been granted under the award

that is under challenge. Therefore, the words

“full wages last drawn” must be given their

plain and material meaning and they cannot

be given the extended meaning.”

18. The aforementioned principle of law was

approved by this Court (Three Judge Bench) in

Dena Bank vs. Ghanshyam, (2001) 5 SCC 169 (see

Paras 9 and 10).

19. In the light of the aforementioned principle of

law laid down by this Court, one cannot now

10

dispute the legal proposition emerging therefrom

that notwithstanding allowing of the appeal filed by

the Corporation by this Court by order dated

31.10.2000, so far as order dated 04.05.1999

passed in the aforesaid appeal is concerned, it

remains legal and valid and being independent in

nature, the same has to be given effect to in favour

of the applicant (employee), if not found complied

with by the employer (Corporation).

20. In other words, even if the employer eventually

succeeds in its appeal against his employee, in

which such order was passed during the pendency

of employer’s appeal, the employer continues to

remain under legal obligation to comply with such

order passed by the Court under Section 17-B of the

Act in favour of the employee. To put it in short, an

order passed under Section 17-B of Act does not

merge with the final order passed in the appeal and

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being an independent order, it remains alive for

enforcement.

21. As mentioned above, it is not disputed that the

Corporation has not yet complied with the order

dated 04.05.1999 much less in letter and spirit.

22. We have examined the matter keeping in view

the nature of controversy, long pendency of the

case, nature of interim order passed by this Court,

offer made by the Corporation for settlement and

the sum payable to the applicant under various

heads etc.

23. We have also worked out the amount payable

to the applicant pursuant to the order dated

04.05.1999 under different Heads, such as monthly

salary, its arrears, leave encashment, gratuity,

bonus, interest, if held payable, on the entire sum

at a reasonable rate from 04.05.1999.

24. Having examined the matter and taking into

consideration the aforementioned several relevant

12

factors, we are of the considered view that the

applicant is held entitled to claim from the

Corporation a total sum of Rs.7,50,000/- (Seven

Lakhs Fifty thousand) towards all his claims arising

out of his employment dispute with the Corporation

in full and final settlement pursuant to the order

dated 04.05.1999.

25. In other words, the Corporation will pay a sum

of Rs.7,50,000/- (Seven Lakhs fifty Thousand) to

the applicant (employee) towards the applicant’s all

monetary claims in relation to his employment

dispute with the Corporation in full and final

settlement.

26. It is stated at the bar that the applicant is in

occupation of the Corporation quarter, which had

been allotted to him by virtue of his employment. If

that be so, the applicant will vacate the quarter

within three months from the date of this order as

an outer limit.

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27. On applicant’s vacating the quarter within the

time fixed by this Court, the Corporation will

accordingly pay to the applicant Rs.7,50,000/- by

demand draft within one week from the date of

vacating the quarter.

28. With these directions, the contempt petition

stands disposed of. Rule Nisi, if issued, stands

discharged against the alleged contemnor.

……………………………………..J.

[R. K. AGRAWAL]

……………………………………….J.

[ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]

New Delhi;

February 23, 2018