Workman Stayed/Worked At Ghaziabad Throughout Employment, Only Ghaziabad Court Would Have Jurisdiction To Try Case – SC
A two-judge Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna has held that the workman was employed as a driver at Ghaziabad office, his services were retrenched at Ghaziabad, all throughout during the employment, the workman stayed and worked at Ghaziabad hence, only the Ghaziabad Court would have the jurisdiction to try the case.
The Court also held, "Merely because the workman after termination/retrenchment shifted to Delhi and sent a demand notice from Delhi and the Head Office of the Management was at Delhi, it cannot be said that a part cause of action has arisen at Delhi."
Senior Advocate Ms V. Mohana appeared for the Appellant before the Supreme Court.
An appeal was preferred by the workman before the Apex Court assailing the judgment of the Delhi High Court which had held that the Delhi Labour Court would have no jurisdiction to try the case and the Labour Court at Ghaziabad would have the jurisdiction to try the case.
In this case, the workman who was working as a driver at Ghaziabad and his services were terminated at the same place. Thereafter, he sent a demand notice challenging his termination to the head office in Delhi. He also made a claim before the Conciliation Officer in Delhi.
The Management – Respondent raised the objection to the maintainability of proceedings before the Labour Court, Delhi. It further raised a preliminary objection that the Labour Court, Delhi had no territorial jurisdiction since the workman was appointed at Ghaziabad.
While it was the case on behalf of the Respondent that as the demand notice was served at the head office at Delhi, it could be said that the dispute has arisen giving rise to the substantial cause of action at Delhi. Hence, the Labour Court at Delhi shall have the jurisdiction to try the complaint.
The Labour Court, Delhi held in favour of the management and observed that it had no territorial jurisdiction to decide the case. The Labour Court held that merely because the Corporate Office of the management was in Delhi the same will not vest the Labour Court, Delhi with territorial jurisdiction. It also held that the cause of action arose at Ghaziabad and it alone had the jurisdiction to try the case.
Both the Single Judge and Division Bench of the High Court dismissed the appeal preferred by the workman.
The issue which was dealt with by the Court was –
Whether, the Labour Court, Delhi would have territorial jurisdiction to decide the case or the Labour Court, Ghaziabad would have territorial jurisdiction to decide the case.
The Apex Court noted that merely because the workman after termination/retrenchment shifted to Delhi and sent a demand notice from Delhi and the Head Office of the Management was in Delhi, it cannot be said that a part cause of action has arisen at Delhi.
Further, the Bench held –
"Considering the facts that the workman was employed at Ghaziabad; was working at Ghaziabad and his services were terminated at Ghaziabad, the facts being undisputed, only the Ghaziabad Court would have territorial jurisdiction to decide the case."
"When the issue touches the question of territorial jurisdiction, as far as possible the same shall have to be decided first as preliminary issue. Therefore, in the present case, the Labour Court did not commit any error in deciding the issue with respect to the territorial jurisdiction as a preliminary issue in the first instance," the Bench opined.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.