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The Supreme Court Bench of Justices Abhay Manohar Sapre and R. Subhash Reddy on 14th August remanded a writ petition back to the Allahabad High Court to be decided on merits afresh after clarifying High Court’s error in defining “employee” under the wrong statute.

The Bench in Asst. Provident Fund Commissioner EPFO, Bareilly v M/s U.P. State Warehousing Corp was posed with a short point of law – whether the High Court was justified in allowing the writ petition filed by the Corporation and thereby was also justified in setting aside the orders of the adjudicating authority and the appellate authority.

The High court dealt with the question , “whether the workers (total 159 at the relevant time), who were engaged in the work of loading and unloading in the Godowns, are entitled to claim the benefit of the Act (Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952) and, if so, whether the Corporation is liable to pay the statutory contribution in relation to such workers in accordance with the provisions of the Act so as to entitle the workers to claim the benefits of the Act.”

High Court relied on its decision in the earlier writ proceedings wherein it had held that since there was no relationship of master and servant between the Corporation and the   workers.

Supreme Court held that “the need to remand the case to the High Court has arisen for the reason that the High Court failed to examine the issue keeping in view the definition of “employee” as defined under Section 2(f) of the Act.”

The bench said that the High Court should have seen that the proceedings in question have arisen out of the Act in question and not the Industrial Disputes Act and hence decided the question accordingly. The definition of “employee” is different in the two statutes; even the object of the two legislations are also different. Hence the High Court’s analysis is erroneous and the impugned order is rendered bad in law. The writ petition was hence remanded to High Court for expeditious disposal.

–India Legal Bureau

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