Dispute Resolution

Conciliation Proceedings under The Industrial Relations Code, 2020

What is a settlement?

Section 2(zi) of the Industrial Relations Code, 2020 defines the term “settlement.” A settlement has the following features:

  • Made in the course of a concilaition proceeding
  • Includes a written agreement between employer and employee or
  • Agreement signed by both parties in a prsecribed manner
  • Copy of the agreement sent to an authorised officer in this regard by the appropriate government and the concilaition officer

Chapter VII of the Act deals with the mechanism for the resolution of industrial disputes. This section focuses on conciliation in industrial relations. Section 43(1) states that the appropriate government, by notification, appoints several such persons deemed fit to mediate and settle the industrial disputes. Section 43(2) deals with the appointment of conciliation officers. They are appointed for a specified area or industry. The appointment of a conciliation officer may be temporary or permanent. Conciliation officers are public servants within the meaning of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Who possesses the power under the Code?

The code focuses on conciliation in industrial relations. The power to make decisions lies with:

  • Arbitrator
  • Conciliation Officer
  • Tribunal
  • National Industrial Tribunal

Most importantly, all the officers are bound to follow the provisions of the code and rules made after that.

Powers of Conciliation Officer

The powers of conciliation officer are as follows:

  1. A conciliation officer may enter the premises to which the dispute relates for inquiry after giving reasonable notice.
  2. The conciliation officer has the same powers as a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, when trying a suit in the following matters:
  • enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath
  • compelling the production of documents and material objects
  • issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses
  • other prescribed matters

Limitation period

The conciliation officer shall not hold any proceedings after two years from the date of the dispute.

Conciliation Procedure

The procedure prescribed under the code is as follows:

  • After the receipt of notice, conciliation officer initiates the proceedings.
  • Secondly, the conciliation officer shall investigate the matter
  • Thirdly, the officer will make sure to reach a fair settlement
  • If the parties have arrived at a settlement, the conciliation officer will sent a report to the appropriate government and a signed memorandum of settlement by the parties
  • However, if the parties do not arrive at a settlement the conciliaiton officer will make a report stating the reasons as to why the parties could not settle. After that, the report will be sent to the appropriate government and both parties.
  • The conciliation officer will send the report to the parties and the appropriate government within 45 days of commencement of proceedings. But, the duration to submit the report can be changed by the govenrment authority.
  • When a conciliation officer receives notice under Section 62 of the code, he shall send report to the parties and appropriate government within 14 days of the commencement of proceedings.
  • To extend the duration of the proceedings, parties need to agree ans submit the duration in writing to the conciliation officer. Also, the approval of conciliation officer is necessary to extend the duration.

How does conciliation proceedings conclude?

Conciliation proceedings can conclude in three ways.

  • The parties arrive at a settlement. A memorandum of settlement is signed between the parties. Settlement arrived at by the parties shall be binding.
  • Parties do not settle. Then, conciliation officer records failure of conciliation.
  • Reference made to the National Industrial Tribunal during pendency concludes the proceedings.

In conclusion, the conciliation officer tries to settle the matter amicably between the parties. The officer focuses on conciliation in industrial relations. But still, it is not always the end.

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