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Jurisdiction of civil court in labor matters    when not barred .

Jurisdiction of a civil court in an industrial dispute is not barred in case the dispute relates to violation of fundamental rights of a workman or the violation of general law of contract is involved. Jurisdiction of civil court is rule, exclusion is exception. This verdict has been given by the Indian Apex Court in  Civil Appeal No. 328 0f 2005 Rajsthan SRTC v. Bal Mukund Bairwa, decided on 12/02/09.

The Supreme Court held that even in a case where jurisdiction of a civil court is sought to be barred under a statute, the civil court can exercise its jurisdiction in respect of some matters particularly when the statutory authority or Tribunal acts without jurisdiction.

The question as to whether in a case where violation is alleged as regards compliance of principles of natural justice either on common law principles or in terms of the statutory Regulations framed by the

Corporation, which is a fundamental right in terms of Article

14 of the Constitution of India, a civil suit will be maintainable or not, had not been taken into consideration in any of the decisions of Supreme court.

A dispute arising in between an employer and employee may or may not be an industrial dispute. The dispute may be in relation to or arising out of a fundamental right of the employee, or his right under a Parliamentary Act and the Regulations framed thereunder, and/or a right

arising under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act or the sister laws and may relate to same or similar rights or different rights, or even may be based on common law right or contractual right. The question in regard to the jurisdiction of the civil court must, therefore, be addressed having regard to the fact as to which rights or obligations are sought to be

enforced for the purpose of invoking or excluding the jurisdiction of a civil court.

If an employee intends to enforce his constitutional rights or a right
under a statutory Regulation, the civil court will have the necessary jurisdiction to try a suit.      If, however, he claims his right and corresponding obligations only in terms of the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act or the sister laws so called, the civil court will have none.

The Supreme Court held that  “it would not be

correct to contend that only because the employee concerned is also a workman within the meaning of the provisions of the 1947 Act or the conditions of his service are otherwise governed by the Standing Order certified under the 1946 Act ipso facto the Civil Court will have no jurisdiction. This aspect of the matter has recently been considered by this Court in Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation & ors. vs. Mohar Singh [(2008) 5 SCC 542]. The question as to whether the civil court's jurisdiction is barred or not must be determined having regard to

the fact of each case.”


If the infringement of Standing Order or other provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act are alleged, the civil court's jurisdiction may be held to be barred but if the suit is based on the violation of principles of common law or constitutional provisions or on other grounds, the civil court's jurisdiction may not be held to be barred. If no right is claimed

under a special statute in terms whereof the jurisdiction of the civil court

is barred, the civil court will have jurisdiction.

Thus in the court’s view, "In the event it is found that the action on the part of State is violative of the constitutional

provisions or the mandatory requirements of a statute or statutory rules,

the civil court would have the jurisdiction to direct reinstatement with full

back wages."

In a case where no enquiry has been conducted, there would be

violation of the statutory Regulation as also the right of equality as

contained in Article 14 of the Constitution of India. In such situation, a

civil suit will be maintainable for the purpose of declaration that the

termination of service and the consequences flowing

there from was illegal .

Thus this verdict of the Supreme Court of India removes all doubts regarding jurisdiction of

Civil court with regard to disputes relating to employment and it has far reaching  effect as principles laid down in this decision

will not be limited to labor Laws only, but will be applicable to all branches of employment Laws. Now Lawyers and litigants should not hesitate in filing a civil suit where the grievances are covered by the above judgement.


- Dr. V.N. Tripathi, Advocate,

Chamber No. 34-A Allahabad High Court

Mob. : 983952342Phone0532-2545245

Email : dr.vntripathi@yahoo.com




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