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Lawfully Yours: By Retd Justice K Chandru

Your legal questions answered by Justice K Chandru, former Judge of the Madras High Court Do you have a question? Email us at

Lawfully Yours: By Retd Justice K Chandru
Retd Justice K Chandru

Representation in labour disputes restricted under Sec 36 of ID Act

An industrial dispute concerning Dearness Allowance raised by me was referred to by the TN government and the Principal Labour Court allowed me to put forth the cause of co-workers as party-in-person and subsequently ordered the verdict in our favour. The opposite party did not raise any objection to my representing co-workers-cum-claim petitioners. The opponent appealed against the said order which is pending at the Madras High Court now. While the opponent did not raise any objection to my filing counter and written arguments on behalf of co-workers, at the time of oral arguments it raised an objection stating I should get written permission from the co-workers to contest the writ on their behalf. Can an opposite party raise this objection at the High Court level when it had not raised the same at the Labour Court level?

— Madhavan, Madipakkam

The right of representation before a labour court is covered by Section 36 of the Industrial Disputes Act. Even as per that provision, unless you are their union leader, you could not have represented them. If there was no union, the workers could elect a five-member committee to represent them before the forums under the Act. However, in any court, including the high court, only an enrolled advocate can represent parties as per the Advocates Act, 1961. No other person can represent him except himself. The court has powers to allow you to represent provided other workers authorise you. If you cannot afford a lawyer the court on your request appoints an amicus curiae to represent your case. Otherwise, it can ask the Legal Aid services authority to nominate a lawyer to argue on your behalf. Without a licenced lawyer, you cannot become a ‘Nattu Vakil’. The law does not permit the same.

There is no law governing live-in relationships in India

My sister who has been in a live-in relationship with her colleague after convincing her parents and siblings that they have registered their marriage is now shattered. Only after her partner abandoned her and left for abroad did she confess that she was forced to lie about their marriage. Their relationship for the past three years is known to all in our family and friends circle. What can she do now?

-- Kritika, Red Hills

There is no law governing “live-in relationships” in India. When a judge of the Madras High court gave an order holding that even a night’s stint presumes marriage, he drew the attention of the press all over the world. But that is not the law. If it was a case of cheating or inducement, then you can sue your partner and claim damages or file a criminal case. But the way you presented the case, it looks like it was a voluntary live-in. That girl only told her circles it was after a marriage perhaps to claim legitimacy among her circles. For that, there is no remedy in law unless there are any offspring out of that relationship

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