Read Judgment: Uttar Pradesh Jal Vidyut nigam Limited & Ors. vs. Balbir Singh

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, September 14, 2021:The Supreme Court has held that after the creation of the State of Uttarakhand, the jurisdiction over judgment and award passed by the Labour Court, Dehradun would vest with the High Court of Uttarakhand and not with the High Court of Allahabad.

A Division Bench of Justice M.R Shah and Justice Aniruddha Bose therefore observed that the writ petition pending before the High Court of Allahabad challenging the judgment and award passed by the Labour Court, Dehradun was as such required to be transferred by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Allahabad to the High Court of Uttarakhand in exercise of power u/s 35 of the Uttar Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2000.

Therefore subsequently when the writ petition came up before the High Court of Allahabad and having realized and observed that the jurisdiction against the judgment and award passed by the Labour Court, Dehradun would vest with the High Court of Uttarakhand, the High Court of Allahabad rightly permitted the appellants to withdraw the said writ petition pending before it with the liberty to the appellants to file fresh writ petition before the appropriate court, added the Bench.

The background of the case was that the respondent had raised an industrial dispute challenging his termination which was referred to the Labour court and an award was passed holding the termination order to be illegal. The Labour Court also directed the reinstatement of the respondent with full back wages.

The matter then reached High Court of Allahabad, which passed a conditional interim order staying the execution of award and on condition to deposit the entire back wages before the Labour Court. The appellant complied with the same.

During the pendency of the petition, the State of Uttarakhand came to be created and the jurisdiction of the Labour Court, Dehradun came within the jurisdiction of the State of Uttarakhand. However, the writ was not transferred by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Allahabad to the High Court of Uttarakhand for whatever reason.

The Allahabad High Court was of the view that since the award has been passed by the Labour Court, Dehradun, it permitted the appellants to withdraw the writ with liberty to file fresh petition before the appropriate court i.e. High Court of Uttarakhand.

The Single Judge of the High Court of Uttarakhand had dismissed the said writ solely on the ground that in view of the provisions contained u/s 35(2) of the Act, 2000, the power to transfer the case would lie with the Chief Justice of the High Courtof Allahabad.

The Top Court noted that in the present case, the appropriate court would be the High Court of Uttarakhand only. Therefore as such no error was committed by the High Court of Allahabad permitting the appellants to withdraw the writ petition pending before it with the liberty to file a fresh writ petition before the court having jurisdiction.

The judicial order passed by the High Court of Allahabad permitting the appellants to withdraw the writ petition pending before the Allahabad High Court with the liberty to file fresh writ petition before the appropriate court cannot be said to be contrary to the provisions contained u/s 35(2) of the 2000 Act as observed by the Single Judge, opined the Top Court.

The Division Bench further elaborated that the order u/s 35(2) of the Act passed by the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court for transfer of pending matters before the Allahabad High Court to the High Court of Uttarakhand is an administrative order.

If that power was not exercised and subsequently it was found that proceedings which were required to be transferred in exercise of power u/s 35(2) of the Act,has not been transferred, it does not preclude the High Court of Allahabad to pass a judicial order and that too permitting the appellants to withdraw the writ petition pending before it and to file it before an appropriate court, added the Bench.

Therefore, the Apex Court concluded that the High Court in such a situation would be absolutely justified in permitting to withdraw the writ petition pending before it with liberty to file it before an appropriate Court having jurisdiction, on the creation of the new State – State of Uttarakhand.

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