2000(3) ALL MR 37
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

F.I. REBELLO, J.

Carona Limited Vs. Sitaram Atmaram Ghag & Ors.

Writ Petition No. 306 of 2000

7th March, 2000

Petitioner Counsel: Mr. C. U. SINGH i/b. Messrs HARIANI & CO.
Respondent Counsel: Mr. C. GONSALVES

(A) Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act (1971), S.28, Sch.IV, Item 9 - Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Act (1985), S.22 - Constitution of India, Art.21 - Complaint under - Against sick company - Complaint for non-payment of wages and terminal dues - Such dues constitute right to life - S.22 A no bar to maintainability of complaint.

Constitution of India, Art.21.

Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Act (1985), S.22 - Applicability. (Para 7)

(B) Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act (1971), S.28, Sch.IV, Item 9 - Complaint under - Maintainability - Complaint for recovery of dues under Voluntary Retirement Scheme - Merely because complaint for recovery of such dues also filed by recognized union - Complaint by individual employee for recovery of his personal dues not barred. (Para 8)

(C) Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act (1971), S.28, Sch.IV, Item 9 - Industrial Disputes Act (1947), S.2(5) - Complaint under - Complaint for non-payment of dues under Voluntary Retirement Scheme - Employer had agreed to revoke resignation on non-payment of dues - Employer's contention that complaint not maintainable as complainant having accepted retirement scheme was not workman u/s.2(s) - Contention unsustainable. (Para 9)

(D) Constitution of India, Art.226 - Extraordinary Jurisdiction - Scope - Employer's petition challenging order of Industrial Court granting dues under Voluntary Retirement Scheme to Employees - Employer had failed to fulfill its promise of payment of such dues - Court not to exercise its discretion u/Art.226 at instance of such Employer. (Para 9)

(E) Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act (1971), S.28, Sch.IV, Item 9 - Negotiable Instruments Act (1881) S.80 - Complaint under - Non-payment of dues - Grant of interest by Court - Validity - Employer issued cheques for discharge of liability - No rate of interest mentioned in cheques - S.80 applicable - Grant of interest @ 12% p.a. by court - Does not suffer from jurisdictional or error apparent on face of record. (Para 11)

(F) Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act (1971), Ss.30, 28, Sch.IV, Item 9 - Payment of Gratuity Act (1972) - Power of Industrial Court - Complaint for unfair practice under Item 9 of Sch.IV - Complaint not a proceeding for execution or recovery - Court's, order for payment of gratuity - Not without jurisdiction - Order upheld.

AIR 1997 SC 1981 - Distinguished. (Para 11)

Cases Cited:
Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd. Vs. M/s. Kirloskar Investments & Finance Ltd. , 1995 (5) SCR 264 [Para 7]
Mardia Copper Products Ltd. Vs. Commissioner of Sales Tax, 1999 ALL MR (Cri) 757 =1999 Vol. 101 (1) B.L.R. 848 [Para 7]
M/s. Kusum Inputs Alloys Ltd. vs. Pannar Peterson Securities Ltd., JT 2000 (2) 390 [Para 7]
Tata Davy Ltd. Vs. State of Orissa, (1970) 6 SCC 669 [Para 7]
State of Punjab Vs. The Labour Court, Jullundur, AIR 1979 SC 1981 [Para 12]


JUDGMENT

JUDGMENT :- The Petitioner Employer has invoked the extra ordinary jurisdiction of this Court to impugn the order dated 9th September, 1999 passed by the Industrial Court in Complaint (ULP) No.377 to 557 of 1998 by individual workman.

2. It is contended on behalf of the petitioners that the said order is liable to be set aside amongst others on the following grounds:-

(a) That a complaint had been filed by the recognized Union being Complaint No. 285/98 which has been disposed of by another Member of the Industrial Court by judgment and order dated November 17, 1999. Once the recognized union has filed a complaint another complaint at the instance of individual employees would not be maintainable, more so considering that it was the recognized Union which had first filed a complaint: (b) It is next contended that the Industrial Court acted without jurisdiction in directing the petitioners to pay both VRS compensation as also Wages as set out in the order. Once VRS wages was directed to be paid, it is contended that the question of payment of back wages for any particular period would not arise. In the instant case most of the respondents have by depositing the cheques invoked the VRS scheme and consequently the question of wages for any period would not arise: (c) At any rate it is contended that the Industrial Court could not have directed payment of gratuity. It is contended that gratuity is a payment under the Payment of Gratuity Act. That Act, it is contended, has created the right and provided the remedy for its enforcement. Once it is so on failure to pay gratuity due under the Act it is recovery of gratuity (which) would only be under the Act. In this context the Industrial Court by exercising jurisdiction under the MRTU & PULP Act acted without jurisdiction. It is also pointed out that in another complaint filed by the recognized Union the other Member of the Industrial Court, has correctly not directed payment of gratuity, but has directed the Union therein to move the Authorities for payment under the Payment of Gratuity Act: (d) In so far as interest is concerned, it is contended that the Industrial Court merely proceeded to grant the interest without considering whether interest was due and payable and/or at which rate. In the other case it is contended that interest has been directed to be paid at 12% per annum. Therefore, it is contended that direction for payment of interest would disclose non-application of mind and consequently the order to that extent is liable to be set aside and (e) it is contended that the Industrial Court would have had no jurisdiction to hear and decide the complaint as proceedings under the Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Act, 1985, S.I.C. (S.P.) Act for short, has been filed and the petitioners have already been declared to be a sick Industry by an order dated 18th May, 1998 by B.I.F.R. In these circumstances it is contended that the order of the Industrial Court is without jurisdiction and (f) It is also contended that the respondents being ex-workmen, no complaint is maintainable as the dispute does not pertain to their dismissal, termination or like i.e. the dispute is not an individual dispute.

3. Before I proceed to deal with the contentions and whether the petitioner has made out a prima facie case for admission, let me briefly advert to the facts, which may be relevant for the purpose of considering the issues that arise in the petition. The petitioners by letter dated August 7, 1996 forwarded to the Carona Employees Union a Scheme for Voluntary Retirement along with an Appeal dated 7th August, 1996. The Scheme provided amongst others as under:-

1. "All his/her legal dues such as:

I. Wages for the days worked in the month in which he/she submits his/her application for the SCHEME.

II. Gratuity as per the Gratuity Act, the service period above six months will be treated as one completed year and below six moths will be ignored for the computation of Gratuity.

III. Provident Fund.

IV. Other legal dues such as payment of pre-LTA, encashment of balance Privilege (leave) till the date of service, payment of pro-rated casual leave, wherever applicable, if not already availed.

V. Bonus for the extended Financial year 1994-95 @ 8.33% and advance against Bonus for the pro-rated period 1995-96 @ 8% of salary/wages to be adjusted whenever Bonus is declared for the year, subject to deduction of tax.

2. Voluntary Retirement Scheme Compensation:

Eligible employees whose application has been accepted by the Company will get the following compensation:

I. Three months last drawn salary/wages for each completed year of service.

II. Last drawn salary multiplied by the balance months of service whichever is higher subject to the maximum amount of Rs.1,50,000/- in either case.

For the purpose of calculation of VRS compensation, fraction of years of service or fraction of balance months of service rendered will be ignored.

4. Mode of Payment :

a. Amount of wages for August 1996 and balance months with ex-gratia amount arising out of Settlement dated April 4, 1995 which was in arrears will be paid by cheque on or before September 15, 1996.

b. Dues in respect of Bonus for the years 1994-95 and pro-rated period of 1995-96, Leave encashment, pro-rated Medical and Leave Travel Assistance shall be paid by post dated cheques on or before October 15, 1996.

c. Dues in respect of Gratuity will be paid by post dated cheques by October 31, 1997 on the date when the first installment as per (a) above would be paid.

Retiring employees shall also be assisted to comply with the procedure for obtaining settlement of Provident Fund dues.

4. Acting on the said Scheme the respondents before this Court applied for and were given the benefits of the VRS Scheme. Further as there were some doubts about the scheme the Company issued a clarification dated August 16, 1996. It will be necessary to reproduce the said clarification:-

CLARIFICATION :

"This is to clarify in respect of some doubt raised by some of the workmen regarding VRS amount payable by January 31, 1997, as per the VRS Scheme displayed on the Notice Board. The Management would like to reiterate that in case the VRS amount is not paid by January 31, 1997 the letter of resignation submitted to the company by the workmen under this Scheme shall stand revoked till an understanding is reached between workers and the management in this respect and that the workmen would be entitled for wages/salary for the period September 1996 till the date it is declared that VRS amount cannot be paid to the workmen. Thereafter the workmen would start earning their wages."

It seems that thereafter the petitioners realised that they were not in a position to honour the cheques on the due date. As a result thereof a Circular was issued dated July 24, 1997. In this letter reference is made to the earlier letter of the company whereby the respondents were informed that (by) the earlier letter it has been directed to hold on the Cheques for the VRS amount till further clearance by the management. The management inspite of its efforts was unable to arrange funds during the validity period of the cheque. As concern had been expressed by the representatives of the VRS opted employees as also by the Union it had been agreed to revalidate the cheques with the clear undertaking that the cheque would not be deposited without the consent of the management. The cheques thereafter were revalidated. It also appears from the record that before the expiry of the last date of the cheque many deposited the cheques, the cheques were dishonoured and consequent thereto the holders of the cheques have filed complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, which are pending before the Criminal Court. With the above background the contentions as raised on behalf of the petitioners may be dealt with.

5. I first propose to deal and dispose of the contention in so far as stay of proceedings consequent to Company being declared as Sick Company under S.I.C. (S.P.) Act is concerned. The Industrial Court relying on the judgments of this Court has taken the view that in matter of payment of Wages, etc. S.I.C. (S.P.) Act, 1985 would not apply. However, considering the arguments advanced at the bar on behalf of the petitioners and reliance placed on an interim order passed by the Apex Court in a S.L.P. filed from the judgment of the Karnataka High Court in the case of M/s. Indian Plywood Mfg. Co. Ltd. Vs. Commissioner of Labour, Karnataka & Ors., the true scope and effect of an order passed under S.I.C. (S.P.) Act, needs to be examined, I propose to once again consider the said submission, though on an earlier occasion I have had occasion to consider and decide the same in so far as Wages are concerned.

6. The petitioners applied to B.I.F.R., the Board constituted under the S.I.C. (S.P.) Act some time early 1998. The exact date is not available on record. Considering the law as laid down by the Apex Court it can be considered that the provisions of the Act would apply the moment an application is registered before B.I.F.R. Taking that into consideration, will the provisions of Section 22 of S.I.C. (S.P.) Act apply?

Section 22 as it now stands reads as under :-

"22. Suspension of legal proceedings, contracts, etc. (1) Where in respect of an industrial company, an inquiry under Section 16 is pending or any scheme referred to under Section 17 is under preparation or consideration or a sanctioned scheme is under implementation or where an appeal under Section 25 relating to an industrial company is pending, then, notwithstanding anything contained in the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956), or any other law or the memorandum and articles of association of the industrial company or any other instrument having effect under the said Act or other law, no proceedings for the winding up of the industrial company or for execution, distress or the like against any of the properties of the Industrial company or for the appointment of a receiver in respect thereof and no suit for the recovery of money or for the enforcement of any security against the industrial company or of any guarantee in respect of any loans or advance granted to the industrial company shall lie or be proceeded with further, except with the consent of the Board or, as the case may be, the Appellate Authority."

In the instant case we are not concerned with any proceedings under the Companies Act. We are also not concerned with any suit for the recovery of money or of any guarantee in respect of any loans or advances granted to the industrial company. The proceedings was under the M.R.T.U. & P.U.L.P. Act. Can it be said to be a suit or proceedings in execution, distress or the like against any of the properties of the Industrial company and/or for the enforcement of any security against the industrial company. A complaint is not a suit. A suit will contemplate a proceeding in a Civil Court under the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code or other provisions applicable to a suit.

The complaint filed by the respondent is under the provisions of Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions & Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971 (M.R.T.U. & P.U.L.P. Act for short) alleging unfair labour practice under Item 9 of Schedule IV of M.R.T.U. & P.U.L.P. Act. The complaints under the M.R.T.U. & P.U.L.P. Act cannot be the subject matter of a Civil Suit as Section 60 of the M.R.T.U. & P.U.L.P. Act will oust the jurisdiction of the Civil Court.

7.Can it be said to be a proceeding for execution, distress or the like? Item 9 of Schedule IV of M.R.T.U. & P.U.L.P. Act reads as under:-

"9. Failure to implement award, settlement or agreement."

By a catena of judicial decisions Item 9 has been held to include dues under the Act as under an agreement. Under Section 28 any Union or employee is entitled to maintain a complaint. By virtue of Section 21, in so far as the Industrial Disputes Act is concerned, no employee is entitled to file a complaint, where there is a recognized Union, under Items 2 and 6 of Schedule IV of the Act. On a complaint being filed by virtue of Section 30, the Court i.e. the Industrial or Labour Court if it comes to the conclusion that any person named in the complaint is engaged or engaging in any unfair labour practice, it may declare that as an unfair labour practice and direct such person to cease and desist from such unfair labour practice and take such affirmative action which in the opinion of the Court is necessary to effectuate the policy of the Act.

Once an order is passed (under) Section 30, in the event a person against whom the order is issued, fails to comply with the order, proceedings can be initiated under Section 48 of the Act. These proceedings can lead to conviction of the person concerned for a period of 3 months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 500/- or both. Section 50 is the provision whereby any moneys due under an order can be recovered as arrears of land revenue. In the instant case all that has happened is that the Industrial Court has disposed of the complaint in terms of Section 30 of the Act. Once such a complaint is disposed of two things can follow (1) proceedings can be initiated under Section 48 which are in the nature of criminal proceedings. Criminal proceedings are not subject to Section 22. This view has been taken in Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd. & Ors. vs. M/s. Kirloskar Investments and Finance Ltd. & Ors. 1995 (5) SCR 264 and Mardia Copper Products Ltd. & Ors. Vs. Commissioner of Sales Tax, 1999 ALL MR (Cri) 757 : 1999 Vol.101 (1) B.L.R. 848. This view has been upheld by the Apex Court in M/s. Kusum Inputs Alloys Ltd. vs. Pannar Peterson Securities Ltd. & ors., J.T. 2000 (2) 390. The only exception carved out in a case of an offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Insturments Act is, when an order is made under Section 22A of S.I.C. (S.P.) Act it is observed considering the policy of the Act that during the period of the restraint, no complaint can be filed. The other aspect is section 50. When recovery is sought to be made as arrears of land revenue, then possibly it could be argued that they are proceedings in execution or distress. However, the issue does not arise here for determination. Learned Counsel for the respondents has placed before me the proceedings before B.I.F.R. specially the minutes of 16th July, 1999. The minutes in so far as the petitioners' Unit at para.8 read as under:-

"The Bench observed that certain litigations were continuing between the company and the workers regarding payment of the latter's dues. The Bench did not find it appropriate to intervene in the process initiated by the competent Courts. The Bench directed the company not to surrender any more tenancy rights without its consent. Further, the company's application for orders under Section 22(3) of the Act would be considered on receipt of full facts of the matter, as directed elseshere in this order."

The effect of Section 22 is that proceedings contemplated therein, cannot be proceeded with except with the permission of the B.I.F.R. In the instant case assuming for a moment the proceedings fell under section 22, which in my opinion are not, on the facts of the present case as they now stand, B.I.F.R. has not interfered with the proceedings pending before the Competent Court. Therefore, to my mind considering that, even if Section 22 is held to be attracted, on the facts of the present case there is no bar in proceeding with the petitioner in proceeding before the Industrial Court.

We may now deal with the judgment relied upon by the learned Counsel in the case of Tata Davy Ltd. vs. State of Orissa and ors., (1970 6 S.C.C. 669. In that case the arrears of tax were sought to be recovered. It is in that context that the Apex Court held that those would be proceedings in recovery which cannot be proceeded with without first obtaining the consent of the Board. In the instant case there are no proceedings for recovery and apart from that the Board itself was fully aware and has chosen not to stay the proceedings.

We may now address ourselves to the judgment of the Karnataka High Court as an Appeal by way of S.L.P. is pending before the Apex Court. In the case of Indian Plywood Manufacturing Company Ltd. Vs. The Commissioner of Labour, Karnataka, in Appeal No. 488 of 1997 were proceedings under Section 33-C(1). It was contended before the Karnataka High Court that as the provisions of Section 22 of S.I.C. (S.P.) Act were made applicable the notice and certificate for attachment and sale of the assets should be quashed. The Karnataka High Court rejected the said contention. The Karnataka High court further proceeded to hold that Section 22 of the Act was no bar to initiate proceedings for the amount payable to the workmen. That matter is before the Apex Court. Again it may be seen that these were proceedings in execution, which is covered by Section 22.

What is involved herein are the wages and other legal dues of the workers. To my mind considering the various judgments including that of our High Court referred to by the Industrial Court it is impossible to conceive a situation where Parliament, fully knowing the true import of Article 21 of the Constitution would be deemed and presumed to have taken a view that the Wages and terminal benefits to which the workers are entitled to are not payable until permission is obtained from the Board. Wages and terminal benefits to which the workers are entitled, must constitute and deemed to be part of their right to life. They are the minimum required for their sustenance and of their families. It is impossible in these situation to consider that for the purpose of rehabilitation of an industry workers must be denied their legitimate dues. Even in a case of winding up, Parliament realising the need to protect the workers has made them pari passu charge holders with secured creditors by introducing Section 529-A and amending Sections 529 and 530 of the Companies Act. In these circumstances workers cannot be put in a worse position than that of a company which is being wound up.

For all the aforesaid reasons I am of the considered view that in the instant case, apart from the fact that Section 22 is not attracted, the wages and terminal benefits which the workers are entitled to cannot be placed on the same footing as taxes of the Government or dues of other commercial venture or dues to corporate or like others. Considering the above, the first contention, therefore, must be rejected.

8. That leaves us with the second contention namely whether the complaint at the instance of an individual workman is maintainable. VRS dues are the dues of a worker. Section 28 deals with right to maintain a complaint. The mere fact that a recognized Union has filed a complaint, by itself cannot take away the independent right of the workmen to file a complaint, conferred by Section 28 of the M.R.T.U. & P.U.L.P. Act. In the instant case the recognized Union is no doubt espousing any industrial dispute as understood in industrial law. However, that is not a complaint under Items 2 & 6 of Schedule IV of the Act. A workman merely because a Union has filed a complaint cannot be told that he has no right to maintain a complaint in respect of his individual dispute because a recognized Union in which he may have no faith, has filed a complaint. In matters of individual disputes this right cannot be taken away without the consent of the individual worker. He cannot be told that he has no forum or remedy wherein he can ventilate his grievances personally . Such a reading of Section 28 and more so of Item No.9 of Schedule IV will lead to denial of an individual his right to maintain a complaint in so far as his personal rights are concerned. The right of an individual to maintain a complaint has been upheld by judgments of this Court. That contention must, therefore, be rejected.

9. The third contention is that in order to maintain the complaint the person must be a workman within the meaning of Section 2(s) of the T.D. Act. There should be no severance of relationship of master and servant save and except to the limited extent of "individual disputes". The petitioners had solemnly informed those who had opted for the VRS, by clarification of August 16, 1996 that in the event the VRS amount is not paid by January 31, 1997 the letter of resignation submitted to the company under this Scheme shall stand revoked till an understanding is reached between the workers and the management in this respect. It is too late for the very same petitioner to come before this Court and contend that since the workers had availed of VRS Scheme they are not workmen within the meaning of Section 2(s) of the I.D. Act. This argument at the instance of the petitioners could have been considered if the VRS scheme had been implemented and the workers had been paid their benefits. Even there prima facie it is devoid of merit. Article 226 of the Constitution is not to be exercised like in the case of the present petitioners to perpetuate injustice. Article 226 is a constitutional power, conferred on a constitutional Court to exercise its extra ordinary jurisdiction to set right the violation or deprivation of fundamental rights and/or breach of any other statutory rights. It is not a power to be exercised at the instance of employer who has failed to fulfill the solemn promise that had been given to the workers, to induce them to resign from their jobs. This contention on the part of the petitioners must be rejected.

10. With that, we come to the next contention as to whether the interest as awarded can be sustained in law. Admittedly, a cheque for the amount due was issued by the petitioners to the respondents. Under Section 80 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, when no rate of interest is specified in the instrument, interest on amount due thereon shall, notwithstanding any agreement relating to interest between any parties to the instrument, be calculated at the rate of eighteen per centum per annum, from the date at which the same ought to have been paid by the party charged, until tender or realisation of the amount due thereon, or until such date after the institution of a suit to recover such amount as the court directs. The amount was paid by cheque. There was no interest stipulated in the instrument and consequently Section 80 of the Negotiable Instruments Act would apply. Once that being the case there is no jurisdictional error committed by the respondent No.1, nor does the order disclose any error of law apparent on the face of the record. That contention, therefore, also must be rejected.

11. With that we may now deal with the contention whether the order of the Court below directing payment of gratuity would amount to an error of jurisdiction and consequently liable to be set aside. It may be pointed out that on behalf of the petitioners their learned Counsel has drawn my attention to the another order which is the subject matter in Writ Petition Lodging No.477 of 2000 wherein the Member of the Industrial Court therein has directed the recognized Union to move the appropriate authority for payment under Payment of Gratuity Act. Apart from that on behalf of the petitioners, learned Counsel contends that recovery of gratuity can only be under the Payment of Gratuity Act. It is contended that gratuity is payable pursuant to a right created under the Act. A remedy has been provided under the Act and consequently no other authority except the authority under the Payment of Gratuity Act would have jurisdiction to recover gratuity payable under Payment of Gratuity Act. In support of the contention learned Counsel has relied on the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of State of Punjab vs. The Labour Court, Jullundur and ors, A.I.R. 1979 S.C. 1981. It will be gainful to reproduce the observations of the Apex Court :-

"Upon all these considerations, the conclusion is inescapable that Parliament intended that proceedings for payment of gratuity due under the Payment of Gratuity Act must be taken under that Act and not under any other. That being so, it must be held that the applications filed by the employee respondents under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act did not lie, and the Labour Court had no jurisdiction to entertain and dispose of them."

From the above observations what is clear is that the subject matter was an application under Section 33-C(2) of the I.D. Act for recovery of the Gratuity. The Apex Court held that Section 33-C(2) would not be attracted considering the scheme of Payment of Gratuity Act. The ratio of that judgment would not apply to the facts of the present case. In the instant case the parties approached the Court on the ground that the petitioners had committed an unfair labour practice under Item 9 of Schedule IV of the M.R.T.U. & P.U.L.P. Act. This is, therefore, not a case of execution and/or recovery. What the Court under the M.R.T.U. & P.U.L.P. Act is deciding is whether there was unfair labour practice committed by the petitioners. Once the Court comes to the conclusion that an unfair labour practice has been committed it is entitled to issue directions under Section 30, to abate the unfair labour practice. These directions for abatement cannot be said to be proceedings for recovery of payment of gratuity dues. Once this distinction is clear, namely that these are not proceedings for execution for recovery of gratuity dues, the ratio of the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of State of Punjab v. Labour Court, Jullundur (supra) would not apply. The ratio of that judgment must be restricted to those cases where parties seek to initiate proceedings for execution for recovery of gratuity dues. That is because the Payment of Gratuity Act itself has provided mechanism for recovery of gratuity. In my opinion, therefore, the order of the Labour Court cannot also be faulted on that count.

12. That leaves us with the last question namely whether the Labour Court could have directed payment of both VRS and wages. On behalf of the respondents it is contended that considering the clarification by the petitioners themselves as reflected in their clarification dated August 16, 1996 the workmen would be entitled for the salary for that period. To my mind that question will require consideration and cannot be rejected at the threshold.

Considering the above, the petition is admitted only on the limited issue, as to whether the workers who had sought to recover VRS dues by filing complaints under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, can claim that they are entitled to be paid wages. Rule.

Pending the hearing and final disposal of the petition, there would be a stay of recovery of wages only from September, 1996 subject to the Petitioners depositing the other dues namely VRS amount, gratuity, and interest thereon within eight weeks from today. If the amount is deposited liberty to the respondents to apply for withdrawal. Respondents waive service.

All parties to act on an ordinary copy of this order duly authenticated by the Associate of this Court.

Certified copy expedited.

Order accordingly.