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Gangwani And Co. Versus Saraswati Wd/O Maniram Banewar

2001 (4) TMI 934 - BOMBAY HIGH COURT

L.P.A. Nos. 66/1993, 3/1996 and 11/2000 - Dated:- 12-4-2001 - B Singh, D Sinha And S Gundewar, JJ. JUDGMENT D.D. Sinha, J. 1. The Division Bench of this Court vide order dated September 28, 2000 passed in Letters Patent Appeals Nos. 66/1993, 3/1996 and 11/2000 made a reference to the larger Bench in view of conflicting judgments of the earlier Division Benches of this Court in the case of Smt. Rajiyabi Cosman Sayi and Anr. v. Mackinon Machinazie & Co. Pvt. Ltd., and Dhondubai Murlidhar Reddi .....

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contentions raised by Shri Jaiswal, learned Counsel for the appellant, in nutshell are that an order made by the learned single Judge of this Court in an appeal under Section 30 of the Workmen's Compensation Act is a judgment and the Commissioner exercising power under Section 20 of the Act discharges his duties and functions as a Civil Court is expected to discharge its functions and, therefore, he acts as a Court and not as an Arbitrator, It is further contended that adjudication done by t .....

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the Commissioner and other side has to file written statement. The Commissioner thereafter is required to frame and record issues on which decision of the case depends and has to record documentary and oral evidence, which may be adduced by the parties to the dispute. The Commissioner has to maintain a brief record of the proceedings and is required to pronounce his "judgment" recording findings on each issue and reasons therefor. It is further contended that under Section 23 of the Ac .....

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decision of the High Court. The Commissioner can recover as arrears of land revenue any amount ordered to be paid by him, which demonstrates that judicial pronouncement made by the Commissioner is almost in the form of decree pronounced by a Court of law. It is further contended that Section 19(2) of the Act ousts jurisdiction of the Civil Court to decide any question required to be decided by the Commissioner under the Act. The learned Counsel contended that proceedings before the Commissioner .....

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e referred case of Thakur Jugal Kishore Sinha v. Sitamarhi Central Cooperative Bank Ltd. and Anr., (supra) observed that quasi judicial Tribunal is charged with a duty to decide disputes in a judicial manner and declare the rights of parties in a definitive judgment. It is further submitted that the above referred test, if applied to the functions discharged by the Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation Act, would show that the adjudication done by the Commissioner under Section 19 of .....

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of this Court basically considered the ratio laid down by Apex Court in Brajanandan Sinha v. Jyoti Naraen, , Virindar Kumar Satyawadi v. State of Punjab, and Thakur Jugal Kishore v. Sitamarhi Central Co-operative Bank, (supra) and in the light considered various provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act and Rules framed thereunder. It is submitted that Division Bench after due deliberations in this regard, rightly held in para (12) that Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation A .....

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. In order to substantiate the contentions, reliance is placed on the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Thakur Jugal Kishore v. Sitamarhi Central Co-operative Bank Limited and Ors. (supra). 6. It is submitted by the learned Counsel for the appellant that in the case of Shantidevi and Ors. v. General Manager, Haryana Roadways, , the Full Bench has held that though under the relevant Rules, words "judgment" and "award" have been used separately in Rules 21 and 19 of the .....

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of Mahildevi v. Chandrabhan and Ors., , Full Bench of Delhi High Court has held that unless a statute itself bars a second appeal in the High Court or makes the judgment of a single Judge of High Court final (as in the case of Section 43 of Delhi Rent Control Act), the Letters Patent Appeal shall lie from the judgment of the single Judge of the High Court to Division Bench of the High Court. Section 30 of the Workmen's Compensation Act provides appeal to the High Court from the order of the .....

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rt. Similarly Section 3(5) of the Act also makes it further clear that the Commissioner is not a Civil Court. Section 23 of the Act does not confer on Commissioner all the powers of the Civil Court and confers only those powers, which are specified in the Rules framed under the Act. It is further contended that though there is an appeal to the High Court provided against certain orders of the Commissioner under Section 30 of the Act, that by itself does not take away efficacy of Sections 3(5) an .....

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learned Counsel contended that this is a direct judgment on the issue in question wherein the Full Bench has considered the ratio laid down by the Apex Court in Thakur Jugal Kishore Sinha v. Sitamarhi Central Co-operative Bank Ltd. and Anr., (supra) in the light of ratio laid down by the larger Bench of the Apex Court in Associated Cement Companies Ltd. v. P.N. Sharma, and Engineering Mazdoor Sabha and Anr. v. Hind Cycles Ltd., . It is further contended that the Full Bench of Madhya Pradesh High .....

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imarily relied on the ratio laid down by the Apex Court in Thakur Jugal Kishore Sinha v. Sitamarhi Central Co-operative Bank Ltd. and Anr., as well as two of the Apex Court in Brajanandan Sinha v. Jyoti Naraen, (supra) and Virindar Kumar Satyawadi v. State of Punjab, (supra). It is argued that the Full Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court in Yeshwantrao v. Sampat, (supra) considered the ratio laid down by the Apex Court in Thakur Jugal Kishor 's case in the light of decision rendered by the la .....

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Ranger Social Wanike and Ors., 1966 ACJ 115 after considering the ratio laid down in Associated Cement Companies Ltd. v. P.N. Sharma, (supra) and Yeshwantrao v. Sampat, (supra) held that the Commissioner acting under the provisions of Workmen's Compensation Act is not a Court subordinate High Court for the purpose of Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure. 11. Shri Gilda further submitted that in the case of Dhondubai Murlidhar Reddy v. Proprietor Jankidas Khandsari Sugar Factory and Or .....

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Act could not be pursuant to Section 108 of the Act of 1915 as envisaged under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent and further held that the Letters Patent Appeal against such decision would not lie. 12. We have given our anxious thought to the various contentions raised by the respective learned Counsel as well as ratio laid down by the various judicial pronouncements in the judgments cited hereinabove. The following legal position emerges: A judicial decision pre-supposes an: existing dispute betw .....

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tatute for settlement of dispute as per provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act also discharges similar functions. The procedure is also more or less similar except that the procedure of the Court is regularly prescribed and procedure in respect of Tribunal/Authority is prescribed as per provisions of the special legislation/statute and rules framed thereunder. However, the approach adopted by the Tribunal is also same as adopted by the Court. 13. In the backdrop of these circumstances, .....

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for settlement of disputes and ousting the jurisdiction of the Civil Court. In order to get answers to these questions, we need to consider the aims and objects of the special legislation and the purpose required to be achieved by such legislation. 14. The Workmen's Compensation Act (special legislation) was enacted with the object to provide a separate, speedy and cheap forum to the workman or his dependents for claiming compensation and for that purpose, wide powers are given to the Commis .....

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is to compensate actual loss, which the relatives have suffered. In fact, the Act is a piece of social security legislation and if any provision of the Act is capable of two interpretations, it ought to be construed liberally in favour of employee in order to achieve the objective of the Act, for whose benefit, the Legislature in its wisdom has enacted this special legislation. 15. The settlement of disputes before the regular Civil Court is a long drawn process particularly because of hierarchy .....

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t by filing suit, settlement of his claim undoubtedly would take number of years and process is also expensive. The Legislature, therefore, in its wisdom thought it fit to provide a separate, speedy and cheap forum to the workman or his dependents for settlement of compensation and, therefore, created a special legislation, i.e. Workmen's Compensation Act. The intention of the Legislature in providing such alternate forum is undoubtedly with a specific purpose to avoid the lengthy procedure .....

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d to give binding decisions. However, these aspects should not be confused to hold that the Legislature intended to create alternate fora as Courts, which fall within the ambit of normal hierarchy of Courts merely because they are also required to act fairly and judiciously. This, in our opinion, will frustrate the very object of such special statute. Some of the relevant provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act render active assistance to ascertain intention of the Legislation to treat .....

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expressly enumerated in Sub-section (2) of Section 19 of the Act. They are settling, deciding or dealing with any question and enforcing any liability incurred under this Act. The scope and scheme of this provision is not to take away from the Civil Court its jurisdiction to give relief in tort, but to provide alternate optional remedy for certain classes of persons in certain special circumstances and for certain happenings. There are two requirements, which need to be satisfied by the Commiss .....

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cence in the same way that a person submits to the jurisdiction of the Arbitrator. The word "Commissioner" in the English statute is "Arbitrator". In view of the above referred facts and circumstances, it is undoubtedly clear that appointment of the Commissioner under Section 20 of the Act is with a view to provide a separate and distinct forum other than the Civil Court for the purpose enumerated in Section 19 of the Act and at the same time, jurisdiction of the Civil Court .....

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thin the ambit of "Court" and decision rendered by him cannot be a judgment as envisaged in the Letters Patent. 18. Similarly Sub-section (5) of Section 3 of the Act puts a bar on making two separate claims by the workmen, such as one before the Commissioner under the Act and another in the Civil Court. If a workman institutes a suit for damages in the Civil Court, he will not be entitled to claim compensation under the Act. In the Civil Court, a workman can claim compensation beyond t .....

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and dilatory and once the workman chooses the forum under the Workmen's Compensation Act, the damages are restricted to a specified amount. It is once again quite evident that the intention of the Legislature is to provide alternate forum other than regular Civil Court under the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act for the purpose of giving speedy, effective and cheap remedy for settlement of claim of an employee in respect of compensation and at the same time giving finality to .....

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ns stated hereinabove, it can safely be inferred that the Legislature while enacting the special statute, i.e. Workmen's Compensation Act intended to provide alternate forum for settlement of disputes regarding compensation distinct and separate from the regular Civil Court. 19. Even otherwise, the word "Court" used in Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure has a restrictive meaning and referable only to the Civil Court in the normal hierarchy of the Courts and does not include .....

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e same. The distinguishing feature between Court and Tribunal or special forum is that a Court is constituted by the State as a part of the normal hierarchy of Courts of Civil Judicature maintained by the State under its Constitution exercising judicial powers of the State and perform all the judicial functions of the State except those, which are excluded by law from their jurisdiction, whereas Tribunal is constituted under the special Act to exercise special jurisdiction in order to decide con .....

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an award and that an order passed in appeal under Section 30 of the Act by the single Judge is a judgment within the meaning of Clause 15 of the Letters Patent. The Division Bench of this Court primarily placed reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in Thakur Jugal Kishore Sinha v. Sitamarhi Central Co-operative Bank Ltd. and Anr., (supra) for the purpose of finding out essential test that distinguishes a Court from quasi judicial Tribunal considered the provisions of the Workmen's Comp .....

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ank Ltd. and Anr., , it was held that Assistant Registrar functioning under the Bihar and Orissa Co-operative Societies Act is a Court subordinate to High Court for the purpose of Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952. In that case, the word "Court" was construed in a generic sense having regard to context of that Act. Jugal Kishore's case was decided by a Bench of two Judges. That case cannot be so read as to overrule the distinction between the Court and Tribunal as point .....

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f the Division Bench of this Court in Smt. Rajiyabi Cosman Sayi and Anr. v. Mackinon Machinzie and Co. Pvt. Ltd., (supra) and for the similar reason, differed from the view taken by the Division Bench of this Court in the said case. 22. In Engineering Mazdoor Sabha and Anr. v. Hind Cycles Ltd. (supra) the question which arose for decision of the Apex Court was whether an Arbitrator appointed under Section 10-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 can be said to be a Tribunal under Article 136(1) .....

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whether the said body or authority is clothed with the trappings of the Court. In that connection, it was added that presence of said trappings does not necessarily make the Tribunal a Court. 23. The ratio laid down by the Apex Court in the case of Engineering Mazdoor Sabha's case is considered by the Apex Court in the case of Associated Cement Companies Ltd. v. P.N. Sharma and Anr. (supra) and in para 33, it is observed thus: "......... But as we have already stated, the consideration .....

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tate's inherent power exercised in discharging its judicial functions." 24. In Yeshwantrao v. Sampat, (supra) the Full Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court in view of the ratio laid down by the Apex Court in Engineering Mazdoor Sabha's case, has observed in para 6 thus: "The same distinction was pointed out by the Supreme Court in Engineering Mazdoor Sabha and Anr. v. Hind Cycles Ltd., (supra). In that case, it was laid down that the expression "Court" in the technical .....

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pressed by Their Lordships in case of Sawatram Ramprasad Mills v. Vishnu Pandorang, AIR 1950 Nagpur Hand Full Bench of Allahabad High Court in H.C.D. Mathur v. E.I. Railway, and held that the word "Court" in Section 115 is restricted to Civil Code and does not include Tribunals. In para 9 of its judgment, the Full Bench has further observed that the Commissioner appointed under this Act is a Tribunal and not a Civil Court. 26. We respectfully agree with the view expressed by the Full B .....

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d under Section 20 of the Act discharges powers and functions as Tribunal and is not a Civil Court. As we have already stated hereinabove, provisions of Section 19(2) contemplate that no Civil Court shall have jurisdiction to settle, decide or deal with any question, which by or under the Act is required to be settled, decided or dealt with by the Commissioner or to enforce any liability incurred under this Act. The Commissioner appointed is an Authority, which is separate and distinct from the .....

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oversy in question, the observations of the Apex Court in Harinagar Sugar Mills v. Shyam Sunder, are of great assistance. The Apex Court in para 30 of its judgment has observed thus: "All Tribunals are not Courts, though all Courts are Tribunals. The word "Courts" is used to designate those Tribunals which are set up in an organised State for the administration of justice. By administration of justice is meant the exercise of judicial power of the State to maintain and uphold righ .....

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tions of the State except those that are excluded by law from their Jurisdiction." 28. The above referred observations make it undoubtedly clear that only such forum/Tribunal /Authority can be called as Court, which is a part of the ordinary hierarchy of the Courts of the Civil Judicature and exercise the judicial power of the State as well as perform all the judicial functions of the State. While applying these characteristics in respect of the question in issue, it is difficult to hold th .....

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e cognizance of any other aspect other than those provided under the provisions of the Act and Rules. In the circumstances, therefore, in our opinion, merely because some of the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure are made applicable to the proceedings before the Commissioner, such as summoning of witnesses, compelling the production of documents and for service of their process etc. and Commissioner discharges functions which are similar to those of the Court and also may have some of the .....

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mployee against the employer regarding the compensation. Similarly, it is not conceivable that provision of Section 20 of the Act was enacted even though it was not strictly necessary but for the sake of abundant caution or clarification of the position. In the circumstances of the case, we are of the view that the Commissioner appointed under the Act does not constitute a Court which can be said to be part of the ordinary hierarchy of the Courts Civil Judicature maintained by the State under it .....

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0 Bom. 387 it was held that the Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation Act, is a Court subordinate to the High Court and revision lies to the High Court from his order. The earlier decision proceeded on the basis that since an appeal is provided to the High Court against certain orders of the Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation Act, the orders passed by the Commissioner are subject to appellate jurisdiction of the High Court and the Commissioner is therefore a Court subo .....

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of the Code of Civil Procedure. Though the Commissioner, who is discharging functions under the provisions of the Act, may have trappings of the Civil Court, he is not a Court nor a Civil Court subordinate to the High Court within the meaning of Section 3 of the Civil Procedure Code. 33. Though Section 30 of the Workmen's Compensation Act provides appeal against the order passed by the Commissioner, however, all the orders passed by the Commissioner are not appealable and the jurisdiction of .....

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Procedure since in both these cases, interference by the High Court is possible only if there is a substantial question of law involved and not otherwise. Section 100-A of the Code of Civil Procedure puts an embargo on any further appeal under Letters Patent against an appellate judgment rendered by the single Judge of the High Court. The object is to minimise delay and give finality to the adjudication. Section 100-A is inserted, by the Amending Act of 1976 and after enforcement of Section 100 .....

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e effect as that of the decision rendered by the single Judge in second appeal and in view of Section 100-A of the Code of Civil Procedure, Letters Patent Appeal against such decision of the single Judge will not be maintainable. The view expressed by us is also consistent with the aims and objects of the Workmen's Compensation Act. 34. The decision given by Nagpur High Court in the case of Secretary of State v. Mt. Geeta w/o Imam Musalman and Ors., (supra), is of great assistance. The Divis .....

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of Clause 10 of the Letters Patent from which to appeal. There is only an award made pursuant to the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act. It may be that the result is unfortunate, but that can be set right by legislation. We are not convinced that the result necessarily is unfortunate because in workmen's compensation proceedings, one has, from the very nature of the case, on the one hand, persons unable to sustain (unless supported by a Trade Union) a long continued and expensi .....

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urts can, and frequently do, consider these workmen's compensation awards: the County Court, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords. If we are right, as the law at present stands only two Tribunals can consider these matters in India : (1) the Commissioner, (2) the High Court 35. The above referred observations of Nagpur High Court clearly show that Their Lordships considered the scheme of the Workmen's Compensation Act in the light of legislative intent and have held that there are .....

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