Does the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970 eclipse the Industrial Disputes (Rajasthan Amendment) Act, 1958? SC refuses to decide the issue as the first Court 

Supreme Court: In the case where it was argued before the Court that the Industrial Disputes (Rajasthan Amendment) Act, 1958 which received the President’s assent on August 12, 1958 stands eclipsed after the enactment of the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh, JJ has dismissed the SLP after observing that the issue must first be raised before the Industrial Tribunal or the High Court.

In terms of the amendment made, the definition of Section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 substituted the words “employed in any industry” with the words “by an employer or by a contractor in relation to the execution of his contracts with such employer”. The object behind doing so appeared to be to amend the definition to include even the employees who were employed through contractors under the category of ‘Workman’ within the purview of the ID Act.

It was argued before the Supreme Court that under Article 254(2) of the Constitution of India the Presidential assent has to be with regard to the law ‘already enacted’ by the Parliament or the ‘existing law’. It does not contemplate that if a Presidential assent has been taken, it shall override all other laws which would be enacted in future by the Parliament.

The issue sought to be raised was whether the contract labourers can be directed by the Labour Court to be absorbed/regularized in the main cadre in the absence of sanctioned posts/ in absence of finding of unfair labour practice.

The Court, however, observed that,

“No doubt this is an aspect which deserves to be examined and we are informed that many cases are being dealt with in the absence of this consideration but then it is for the petitioners to raise this issue before the competent forum and then this Court would have the benefit of consideration of the relevant judgment dealing with this aspect. It would not be appropriate to examine this issue as the first Court itself, more so as it deals with the aspect of State enactment and interplay with a central enactment.”

The Court, hence, dismissed the SLP leaving the question of law open.

[State of Rajasthan v. Mahesh, Special Leave to Appeal (C) No.12376/2019, order dated 22.03.2022]


Counsels

For Petitioners: Vidhan Vyas, Adv., Pragati Neekhra, AOR. Manish Singhvi, Sr. Adv., Arpit Parkash, Adv., Milind Kumar, AOR

For Respondent(s): Charu Mathur, AOR

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