Adjudication

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Introduction

Adjudication

If despite efforts of the conciliation officer , no settlement is arrived at between employer and the workman, The Industrial Dispute a provides for a three tier system of adjudication viz. Labour Courts , Industrial Tribunals and National Tribunals under section, 7 , 7A and under section 7B respectively. Labour Courts have been empowered to decide disputes relating to matters specified in the Second Schedule. These matters are concerned with the rights of workers, such as propriety of legality of an order passed by an employer under the standing orders, application and interpretation of standing orders, discharge or dismissal of workman including reinstatement of grant of relief to workman wrongfully discharged or dismissed, withdrawal of any customary concession or privilege and illegality or otherwise of a strike or lockout.  The industrial tribunal are empowered to adjudicate on matters specified in both the Second and Third schedule i.e. both rights and interest disputes. The jurisdiction of the Industrial Tribunal is wider that the labour courts.

In case of disputes which in the opinion of the Central Govt. involve question of national importance or is of such nature that workers in more than one State are likely to be affected. The Act provides for constitution of National Tribunals. Industrial adjudication has undoubtedly played a conclusive role in the settlement of industrial disputes and in ameliorating the working and living conditions of labour class. In this context the National Commission of Labour observed :  the adjudicating machinery has exercised considerable influence on several aspects of conditions of work and labour management relations. Adjudication has been on of the instruments for the improvement of wages and working conditions and for securing allowances for maintaining real wages, bonus and introducing uniformity in benefits and amenities. It has also helped to avert many work stoppages by providing an acceptable alternative to direct action and to protect and promote the interest of the weaker sections of the working class, who were not well organized or were unable to bargain on an equal footing with the employer.

Under the Act, an award made by the adjudication authority is final as there is no appeal. However actual practice almost every award made against the employer is challenged in the High Court under Article 226 and 227 & in the Supreme Court under Article 136. It takes year before final orders are passed in writ petitions pending before the High Court/Supreme Court.

If the period taken before the adjudicating authority is counted, it does not take less 10 to 20 years before the protracted litigation could be disposed off. It is the weaker sections who are inconvenienced and handicapped the most, by the delay.  It is submitted that the need of the day is to evolve the frame-work in which workers and the management perceive the need to co-operate. Bilateral regulation is the most effective method of evolving norms which enjoy wide acceptance. It will be appreciate to recall the observation made by a jurist on the subject: No doubt, the state intervention in the form of compulsory adjudication has significantly contributed to the settlement of all sorts of industrial disputes between industrial employers and their employees. But its very success is the failure of the collective bargaining process as the normal method of settling industrial disputes. It follows that if collective bargaining has to gain ground, the state intervention through compulsory adjudication must wane to the vanishing point. It has outlive its utility . It is far better to leave the management and Trade unions to settle their differences and disputes among themselves than referring the issue to a third party settlement. Any attempt to solve socio-economic problems arising out of industrial relations within the old framework may have some limited usefulness, but cannot,...
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