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The Madras High Court has held that technical errors can’t come in way of legislation rendering its purpose to safeguard the workmen.

The single-judge bench of Justice Jyoti Mulimani while dealing with a challange to order denying compensation observed that Payment of Wages Act  is a legislation designed for the benefit of workers and a workmen cannot be denied the legal entitlement by citing technical error while adjudicating the claim application.

Brief Facts of the Case

The petitioners worked as watchers with the respondents. It was alleged that the respondent no. 2 didn’t pay their wages and that it was pending from Jan 21st, 2012 onwards and April 3, 2012 onwards. It was claimed that the petitioners were due ₹78,708 and ₹67,464 towards unpaid wages.

In view of the above, they filed a joint claim application before the Assistant Labour Commissioner in 2014 under the Payment of Wages Act 1936  which was rejected on the ground that she had not signed the claim application and as such she cannot maintain the application claiming unpaid wages. The impugned order has been challenged before the high court.

The petitioners had also filed another application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act to condone the delay in filing the recalling application. The third respondent issued an Endorsement rejecting the claim made by the petitioner vide application dated 28.07.2015 holding that the Authority under the Act is not empowered to recall the order and hence, the petitioner was advised to take up the matter in appeal for redressal of her grievance.

Learned Counsel for petitioner submitted that impugned order is liable to be quashed since the Tribunal has committed errors which are apparent on the face of records.

He further argued that it is only a technical mistake which is curable and the Authority under the Act is empowered to entertain the application after the defect is cured. However, the Tribunal failed to exercise powers vested in it. It is submitted that in any view of the matter the Payment of Wages Act  being a beneficial piece of legislation, the weaker section i.e., the Workmen cannot be denied the legal entitlement by applying technicalities while adjudicating the claim applications.

He also submitted that petitioner is an illiterate and belonging to the lowest cadre and in view of the same, the issue of endorsement and non-consideration of petitioner’s claim cannot be sustained.

High Court Observation

The Court noted at the outset:

“It is needless to say that Payment of Wages is a beneficial piece of enactment. The workmen cannot be denied the legal entitlement by applying technicalities while adjudicating the claim application more so, when the defect is simply curable.”

The petitioner has not signed the claim application and the same is curable by permitting her to sign the same and thus non-consideration of the claim petition is totally unsustainable.

Allowing the appeal, the Court remitted the matter to the third respondent – The Assistant Labour Commissioner and directed it to to permit the petitioner to sign the claim application and adjudicate the dispute in accordance with law within a period of six months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.


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