You are on page 1of 9


Judicial Review of Awards under Articles

136 of the Constitution

By Pallavi Satarkar
Judicial Review Of Awards Under Articles 136 Of The Constitution

“Award” is a technical term, generally used to denote the decision of an
arbitrator, adopted by the industrial disputes act to apply to the determination
of Industrial Disputes by the adjudicators under the Act. Like the determination
of a civil court, known as ‘decree, the determination by the adjudicator under
the Act is known as Award.1

Section 2 (b) of the Industrial Disputes Act defines the term “award” means an
interim or final determination of any industrial dispute or of any question
relating thereto by any labour court, Industrial Tribunal or National Industrial
Tribunal and includes an arbitration award made under section 10-A. 2

Section 10A in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947

10A. Voluntary reference of disputes to arbitration.-
(1) Where any industrial dispute exists or is apprehended and the employer
and the workmen agree to refer the dispute to arbitration, they may, at any
time before the dispute has been referred under section 10 to a Labour Court
or Tribunal or National Tribunal, by a written agreement, refer the dispute to
arbitration and the reference shall be to such person or persons (including the
presiding officer of a Labour Court or Tribunal or National Tribunal) as an
arbitrator or arbitrators as may be specified in the arbitration agreement.
(1A) Where an arbitration agreement provides for a reference of the dispute to
an even number of arbitrators, the agreement shall provide for the
appointment of another person as umpire who shall enter upon

2. Industrial dispute bare act
the reference, if the arbitrators are equally divided in their opinion, and the
award of the umpire shall prevail and shall be deemed to be the arbitration
award for the purposes of this Act. (2) An arbitration agreement referred to in
sub- section (1) shall be in such form and shall be signed by the parties thereto
in such manner as may be prescribed.
(3) A copy of the arbitration agreement shall be forwarded to the appropriate
Government and the conciliation officer and the appropriate Government
shall, within 1 one month] from the date of the receipt of such copy, publish
the same in the Official Gazette.
(3A) Where an industrial dispute has been referred to arbitration and the
appropriate Government is satisfied that the persons making the reference
represent the majority of each party, the appropriate Government may, within
the time referred to in sub- section (3) issue a notification in such manner as
may be prescribed; and when any such notification is issued, the employers
and workmen who are not parties to the arbitration agreement but are
concerned in the dispute, shall be given an opportunity of presenting their case
before the arbitrator or arbitrators.
(4) The arbitrator or arbitrators shall investigate the dispute and submit to the
appropriate Government the arbitration award signed by the arbitrator or all
the arbitrators, as the case may be.
(4A) Where an industrial dispute has been referred to arbitration and a
notification has been issued under sub- section (3A), the appropriate
Government may, by order, prohibit the continuance of any strike or lock- out
in connection with such dispute which may be in existence on the date of the
(5) Nothing in the Arbitration Act, 1940 (10 of 1940 ), shall apply to arbitrations
under this section.

Section 16 (2) of the industrial dispute act, states that “the award of a labour
court, tribunal or national tribunal shall be in writing and shall be signed by the
presiding officer.

Interim award

'Award' is defined as an interim or final determination, not only of an industrial

dispute, but also of any question relating thereto. It is thus clear that in regard
to even a single question, both an interim and a final determination are
contemplated. Thus, it is open to the tribunal to give an award about the entire
dispute at the end' of all proceedings. It is also open to the Industrial Tribunal,
to make an award about some of the matters referred to it whilst some others
still remain to be decided. However, such awards are not in the nature of
interim relief, for, they decide the industrial dispute or some question relating
thereto. Interim relief, on the other hand, is granted under the power
conferred on the tribunal with respect to matters incidental to the points of
dispute for adjudication.
Usually, an award contains two parts, namely, recitals and the operative part.
Generally the award contains recitals giving particulars about the dispute.
The operative part of the award is the actual decision of the adjudicator upon
the matters in dispute under reference. It is the essential part of the award.
The award must be certain and consistent in all its parts. The award must cover
all the points referred to it for adjudication.3
Compromise or consent award:4
Compromise or consent award means an award made by an adjudicator
embodying the compromise arrived at between the parties during the
pendency of adjudication proceedings. It has been the policy of the judiciary
that if the parties arrived at a settlement of the dispute amicably, even after
the same has been referred for adjudication, the settlement should be
preferred, provided that the settlement is considered to be fair and just. In
such a case if the parties approach the adjudicator to pass an award in terms of
the settlement, the adjudicator shall normally adopt the settlement and pass a
compromise award. But before accepting the compromise settlement as an
award, it is essential that the tribunal must bring its judicial mind to bear upon
it and make a determination that the compromise is just, fair and equitable
under the circumstances.

Ex-parte award
The Tribunal proceeds ex-parte, in case any one party fails to attend, it makes
an ex-parte award after applying its mind fully to the material placed before it
by the party appearing such ex-parte decision is an award within the meaning
of section 2 (b), requiring publication under section 17 of the Act.
Publication of awards:
The adjudicator shall submit the award to the appropriate government. The
appropriate government shall then “within a period of thirty days from the
date of its receipt” publish the award in such manner as the government thinks
fit. It is mandatory for the appropriate Government to publish the award,
unless it is prevented from doing so by an order of a court of competent
Persons on whom the awards are binding:
According to section 18 (3) of the Act, “an award of a Labour Court, Tribunal or
National Tribunal, as the case may be, which has become enforceable shall be
binding on-
a) All the parties to the industrial dispute;
b) All other parties, summoned to appear in the proceeding as parties to
the dispute.
c) Where the party referred to in clause (a) or clause is an employer, his
heirs, successors or assigns in respect of the establishment to which the
dispute relates.
d) Where the party referred to in clause (a) or clause (b) is composed of
workmen, all persons employed in the establishment or part of the
establishment, as the may be, to which the dispute relates on the date
of the dispute and all persons who subsequently become employed in
that establishment or part.”

Finality of awards 5
Section 17 (2) of the Industrial Dispute Act declares, “subject to the
provisions of section 17-A, the award published under sub-section (1)
shall be final and shall not be called in question by any court in any
manner whatsoever.

An Award Is Binding upon Successors and Assignees

After raising the disputes and on failure to resolve the same through
conciliation, if the appropriate government is approached it may make
reference of the disputes to the appropriate forum under section 10 of
the Act. The forum to which the dispute might have been referred is
required to conduct the proceedings before it and pass award as
provided under section 17 of the Act. Once it is published it becomes

5. Industrial dispute bare act

final subject to the provisions of section 17A of the Act, and it cannot be called
in question in any court in any manner whatsoever. Unless by declaration
made under section 17A of the Act the appropriate government states
otherwise it becomes enforceable on the expiry of the period of 30 days from
the date of publication of the award. Such award is binding on all the parties to
the industrial dispute. It may be binding, to all other parties who might have
been summoned to appear in the proceedings as party to the dispute. It may
be binding the successor of employer and the employee who might have been
employed subsequent to the date of reference. Thus it is evident from the
scheme of the Industrial Disputes Act that the award is binding, not only on the
parties to the award or all the parties summoned to appear in the proceedings
as party to the dispute but also on the successors or assignees in respect of the
establishment to which the dispute relates.
Constitutional Remedies
The orders and awards of the adjudicators, whose functions are of quasi-
judicial nature, are reviewable in writ jurisdiction under Art. 32 by the Supreme
Court and under Art. 226 of the Constitution by the High Courts. While the writ
jurisdiction of Supreme Court Under Art. 32 can be invoked only for the
enforcement of fundamental rights, the writ jurisdiction of High Courts under
Art. 226 can be involved not only for the enforcement of fundamental rights
but also “for any other purpose”.
Bharat Bank Ltd v. Employees of Bharat Bank Ltd6
The decision of the Supreme Court in this case was that the order and awards
of industrial adjudicators are subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court
directly under the Special Leave Appellate Jurisdiction under Art. 136 of the
In this case the Supreme Court held that the ad judicatory authorities under
the Act would fall within the meaning of the term “tribunal” in Art. 136 of the
Constitution, as these authorities have “all the trappings of a court” and
“perform functions which cannot but be regard as judicial.

6. (1950) L.L.J. 921 (S.C.).

When a writ petition is filed in a High Court under Art. 226, a single judge or a
larger Bench may hear it. If a single judge decides the petition, a writ appeal
will lie to a division Bench. Against the order of the larger Bench or a division
Bench, an appeal by certificate will lie to the Supreme Court under Art. 132, if
it involves substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the
Constitution, or under Art. 133, as such proceedings are considered as “civil
proceedings”. If the High Court refuses certificate for appeal under Arts. 132,
the aggrieved party may move the Supreme Court under Art. 136, for special
leave to appeal against the decision of the High Court. When the appeal is
against the orders of a High Court in a writ petition, the jurisdiction of the
Supreme Court will be the same as that of the High Court in dealing with the
writ petition. Therefore, it is advantageous for the aggrieved party to move the
Supreme Court directly against the award under Art. 136; but the petitioner
runs the risk that the Supreme Court may not grant leave, as the remedy under
Art. 136 are purely discretionary.

The ever increasing pendency of litigation in courts and tribunals across the
country has been a matter of concern in the last few decades. Because of the
increasing population and also a simultaneous increase in the awareness
among citizens regarding legal rights, the pendency in the courts has been
increasing. It is natural that pendency of cases in the courts, tribunals as well
as High Courts would result in the increasing pendency of cases in the Supreme
Court. In such circumstances, it is being suggested that special leave petitions
under article 136 should be restricted by proper guidelines. There is also a view
that the Supreme Court under article 136 should only concentrate on matters
of constitutional importance.
Statutes constituting tribunals are helpless to limit the special leave appeal
jurisdiction. Devices such as providing that orders passed under it are final are
not helpful in this respect. It would abrogate a constitutional mandate3 .The
exercise of the power of the Supreme Court is not circumscribed by any
limitation as to who may invoke it. Where a judgment of acquittal by the High
Court has led to serious miscarriage of justice, the Court cannot refrain from
doing its duty and abstain from interfering on the ground that a private party
and not the state has invoked the Courts jurisdiction4 .
The tendency of the Court to interfere with the orders of tribunals without
adherence to basic norms affects the smooth functioning of administrative

1. Labour and industrial laws by S.N.Misra
2. Industrial dispute bare act