Bombay HC mistakenly treats operative portion of award passed by Industrial Tribunal as reference — Order set aside for apparent error: SC

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of A.M. Sapre and Indu Malhotra, JJ. allowed a set of appeals filed against the order of the Bombay High Court whereby the writ petitions filed by the appellants was dismissed and the award passed by the Industrial Tribunal (Mumbai) was upheld.

The labour Commissioner made an industrial reference under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 to the Industrial Tribunal at the instance of the worker’s association (respondents). The said reference was decided in favour of the employer (appellant). In the writ filed by the workers, the High Court set aside the said award and remanded the case to the tribunal for fresh adjudication. the tribunal, on subsequent adjudication, decided the matter in favour of the workers. This time, the employer filed a writ petition thereagainst which was dismissed by the High Court. Aggrieved thereby, the instant appeals were filed.

The Supreme Court was of the view that the order impugned was liable to be set aside and the matter remanded back to the High Court. The need to remand, according to the Court, was occasioned by one factual error committed by the High court while dealing with submissions of the appellant. It was noticed that while dealing with submissions of the appellant, the High Court instead of quoting the reference, by mistake, quoted the operative portion of the award passed by the tribunal and treating it as a reference proceeded to examine the submissions and rejecting them. In Court’s opinion this was an error apparent on the face of the record and therefore the order impugned was liable to be set aside. Hence, the appeal was allowed and the matter was remanded back to the High Court for disposal on merits. [Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Co. Ltd. v. Engineering Workers’ Association,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2455, dated 16-11-2018]

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