( 343 )
Present: Lascelles C.J.HADDEN v. MALLAPEN.531—P. C. Matale, 1,976.
“ Wages ”—Does the term include head money and pence moneyf—
Quitting service without notice—Reasonable cause.
The term “ wages ” in the Indian Coolies Ordinance, 1909,includes “ head money " and “ pence money-" earned by a kangany.
The non-payment of head money and pence money to a kanganyfor one month after they had become due was held to be' a- reason'-able cause for quitting service.
fJlHE facts are set out in the judgment.
No appearance for the appellant.
EUiott, for complainant, respondent.
June 26, 1914. Lascelles C.J.—
This is an appeal by an estate kangany against a sentenoe of sixweeks’ rigorous imprisonment for the offence of quitting the service'of the respondent on May 5, 1914, without reasonable cause.
The appellant in his petition of appeal sets out several groundsof defence, of which it is necessary to notice one only. It &
( 844 )
contended that the appellant had reasonable cause for leaving theservice of his employer, inasmuch as his wages for the month ofMarch were overdue aufl unpaid at the time when he left the serviceof his employer on May 5. This defence, if established, would 'entitle the appellant to be acquitted under section 7 of OrdinanceNo. 18 of 1889.
The facts as regards the alleged non-payment of the appellant’swages for the month of March are the following. The appellant•on days when he supervised the labour of the men in his gang was.always ** given a name. ” In the month of March the appellant didno work at all of this nature, but he earned in respect of 44 headmoney ” and 44 pence money ” the sum of Bs. 55.30. It appearsthat when the coolies were paid for March the Assistant Superin-tendent proposed to pay the appellant only half this amount, which•he refused to accept, and the matter ended by his not havingreceived any portion of this amount when he left the estate onMay 5.
The case of the respondent is that “ head money ” and " pencemoney ” are not 44 wages ” within the meaning of the LabourOrdinances, and the question which I have now to determine iswhether the term 44 wages ”in the Indian Coolies Ordinance, 1909,includes 44 head money ” and 44 pence money ” earned by a kangany.
There appear to be only two cases in which the point is at alltouched upon. In the Police Court of Kalutara,' 5,128, decidedIn 1888, it was decided, what was afterwards enacted by OrdinanceNo. 13 of 1889, that the term 44 labourer ” includes 44 kangany.”The other authority which incidentally refers to the same point isthe case of Gurusamy Pillay v. Palaniappen.1 But I have not beenable to derive much assistance from this decision.
The case of uH respondent is based on the definition of the term14 wages ” in section 3 of Ordinance No. 13 of 1889; It is as follows:
■*'4 Wages means all sums which may be due to a labourer for andin respect of the work and labour done by him on an estate.” Andin virtue of thi6 definition it is contended that the term 44 wages ”does not include 44 head money ” or 44 pence money.” In myopinion this construction is inconsistent with the general scope andpolicy of the Labour Ordinances. The term 44 labourer ” includesa kangany, and throughout the Ordinances kanganies are placed-on the same footing as coolies as regards the payment of their'earnings.
If it was intended to exclude a principal portion of the earningsof kanganies, it is difficult to believe that this intention would nothave been specifically expressed in the Indian Coolies Ordinance,1909, v which was enacted after an exhaustive inquiry into theremunerations of all descriptions of Indian coolies.
13 A. C. R. 15.
( 846 )
The narrow interpretation of the word 44 wages/' for which the lMtrespondent contends, would introduce much difficulty in the con- r.Atum.T^struotion of the Ordinances; for example, under section 4 (3) of the 0.J,Ordinance of 1909, when the contract of service is determined bynotice on either side, 44 all wages due to the labourer for his period Mallapenof service shall be paid in full to him by the employer on the daywhen such contract is determined as aforesaid/'
Would it be a reasonable construction of this section to hold thatany employer was obliged to pay a kangany only what he hadearned by labour in the field, leaving .him to recover his head moneyand pence money as best he could ? Such a 'construction wouldput the kangany in a worse position than the cooly.
Or could it be said with any show of reason that under section 9of Ordinance No. 13 of 1889 head money and pence money do notconstitute a first charge on the estate; or that the special procedureprovided by that Ordinance for the recovery of” wages ” could notbe made use of for the recovery of head money and pence money ?
It is, I think, essential to a reasonable construction of OrdinanceNo. 13 of 1889 and the Indian Coolies Ordinance, 1909, that theterm " wages ” should be understood to comprehend all the eamings;of coolies and kanganies in the course of their employment on theestate. The definition of the term “ wages ” does not, in myopinion, exclude this construction. The term is defined to mean allsums due to a labourer 44 for or in respect of the work and labourdone by him on an estate/’ It is not only the remuneration of*4 labour,” by which I understand physical labour, that is compre-hended in the term, but also remuneration of ” work.”
The word 44 work ” is very comprehensive; it would include anyactivity or exertion in furtherance of a definite purpose.
The management of a body of labourers so as to induce them toturn out and labour at the proper tinje and place clearly involve#
44 work.” The amount of work involved in the operation may varyaccording to circumstances, but activity and exertion, mental orphysical, can never be wholly absent.
I am therefore of opinion that the term 44 wages ” in OrdinanceNo. 13 of 1889 and in the Indian Coolies Ordinance, 1909, must beunderstood to include the head money and pence money earned bykanganies. This finding disposes of the appeal. But I am boundto notice the fact that Mr. Hadden, the Assistant Superintendentof the estate, admitted that in October, 1913, and in January, 1914,the whole of the wages was 44 put against the advance account/’’*
The omission to pay the labourers their wages for these months isa punishable offence under section 4 (7) of the Indian Coolie#
For the above reasons I set aside the conviction, and dischargeand acquit the accused.
HADDEN v. MALLAPEN