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India Coffee House Vs. their Workmen (Class Iv Servants) - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberRef. (I.T.) No. 187 of 1955
Judge
Reported in(1956)IILLJ211Bom
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 2, 10 and 10(1); Coffee Act, 1942
AppellantIndia Coffee House
Respondenttheir Workmen (Class Iv Servants)
Excerpt:
- .....'whereas it is expedient to provide for the development under the control of the union, of the coffee industry' the coffee act is enacted. section 2 of this act provides as follows :- 'it is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that the union should take under its control the coffee industry.' it is, therefore, clear that the coffee industry is controlled by the central government. the various provisions of the act show that the control of the central government is strict and absolute. for example, s. 4(2b) provides that 'any officer of the central government when deputed by that government in this behalf shall have the right to attend meetings of the board and take part in the proceedings thereof but shall not be entitled to vote.' section 42(1) provides that.....
Judgment:
Acts/Rules/Orders:

Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 2, 10 and 10(1); Coffee Act, 1942

AWARD

1. This is a reference by the Government of Bombay, under Clause (c) of Sub-section (1) of S. 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, for adjudication of the industrial dispute between India Coffee Houses at Lamington and Mahatma Gandhi Roads, Bombay, and the workmen (class IV servants) employed under them, over the demands mentioned in the schedule to the order of reference; vide Development Department Order, No. AJI, 1455, dated 28 December, 1955. The demands of the workmen are as follows :-

Schedule. Demand 1 - Pay scales :- Rs. A. Head coffee maker ... 45 - 5 - 90 Head assistant coffee maker ... 40 - 4 - 80 Coffee maker ... 35 - 3 - 65 B. Head pantryman ... 45 - 5 - 90 Assistant head pantryman ... 40 - 4 - 80 Pantryman ... 35 - 3 - 65 C. Head bearer ... 45 - 5 - 90 Head assistant bearer ... 40 - 4 - 80 Bearer ... 35 - 3 - 65 D. Head cleaner ... 40 - 3 - 65 Assistant head cleaner ... 35 - 3 - 65 Cleaner ... 30 - 2 - 50 E. Head darwan ... 40 - 5 - 90 Assistant head darwan ... 35 - 3 - 65 Darwan ... 30 - 2 - 50 F. Sweeper ... 30 - 3 - 60 (1) The above pay scales should come into operation with retrospective effect from 1 December 1953.

(2) Point-to-point adjustment of old scales of pay in the new case should be made after consultation with the union.

(3) No workman should be adversely affected as a result of introduction of new scales of pay.

Demand 2 - Gratuity. - Scheme of gratuity should be brought into operation with immediate effect on the following basis :-

Gratuity at the rate of one month's wages for each year of service should be paid to the workers on voluntary retirement, retrenchment, death, disability, discharge or dismissal. For the purpose of gratuity last wage drawn by him should be taken as the basis.

Demand 3 - Bonus. - Bonus equivalent to three months' salary and allowance should be declared and paid to all the workmen for the year 1952.

Demand 4 - Free medical facilities. - All the workmen and their families shall be supplied free medical facilities.

Demand 5 - Confirmation. - All those person who are termed M.U.T. should be confirmed on completion of three months' service. On confirmation they shall be entitled to increased pay-scales, convention and concession, provident fund and all other privileges as that are available to the employees of the Coffee Board.

2. After the service of the usual notices the statement of claim was submitted by the president of the Indian Coffee Board Labour Union on 1 February, 1956. The written statement was filed by the secretary on behalf of the Coffee Board on 27 February 1956.

3. At the date of hearing Sri V. K. Punwani, the learned advocate for the Coffee Board, filed an application contending that the order of reference made by the Government of Bombay in this matter is illegal and in excess of its jurisdiction inasmuch as the Government of Bombay is not the 'appropriate Government' within the meaning of that term as defined in S. 2(a)(i) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and hence the reference is void and this tribunal has no jurisdiction on to deal with it. It also contented in this application that the Coffee Board which runs the coffee houses in Bombay and elsewhere in India is a statutory body and functions under the authority and control of the Central Government. The learned advocate for the Coffee Board therefore prays that this question regarding jurisdiction and competency of the State Government to refer this dispute to this tribunal may be tried as a preliminary issue. Therefore, the question whether the State Government was or was not competent to make the present reference was heard as a preliminary issue.

4. It was contended by the learned advocate for the Coffee Board that so far as the present dispute is concerned the 'appropriate Government' which was competent to make the reference is the Central Government and not the State Government and hence the present reference by the State Government is illegal. In support of this contention he relies on certain provisions of the Coffee Act, 1942, and the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Now, this is a reference by the Government of the State of Bombay under S. 10(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act. Such a reference can be made only by the 'appropriate Government,' an expression which is defined in S. 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act, as follows :-

'(a) 'appropriate Government' means -

(i) in relation to any industrial dispute concerning any industry carried on by or under the authority of the Central Government, or by a railway company or concerning any such controlled industry as may be specified in this behalf by the Central Government or in relation to an industrial dispute concerning a banking or an insurance company, a mine, an oilfield or a major port, the Central Government; and

(ii) in relation to any other industrial dispute, the State Government;'

It was argued by Sri Punwani that the industry concerning which the present dispute has been raised is an industry carried on under the authority of the Central Government and hence the Central Government alone was the appropriate Government to make the reference. In the alternative it was contended by him that the industry in question is a controlled industry within the meaning of S. 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act and hence also the Central Government was the appropriate Government to make the reference. It was his first contention which was particularly pressed by Sri Punwani. The preamble to the Coffee Act says that 'whereas it is expedient to provide for the development under the control of the union, of the coffee industry' the Coffee Act is enacted. Section 2 of this Act provides as follows :-

'It is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that the union should take under its control the coffee industry.'

It is, therefore, clear that the coffee industry is controlled by the Central Government. The various provisions of the Act show that the control of the Central Government is strict and absolute. For example, S. 4(2B) provides that

'any officer of the Central Government when deputed by that Government in this behalf shall have the right to attend meetings of the board and take part in the proceedings thereof but shall not be entitled to vote.'

Section 42(1) provides that

'all acts of the Board shall be subject to the control of the Central Government which may cancel, suspend or modify as it thinks fit any action taken by the board.'

Rule 29(1) of the Coffee Rules, 1955, provides that

'the Central Government may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, review any decision of the board or its committees and pass such order in the matter as it thinks fit.'

But all these provisions merely show that the coffee industry is controlled by the Central Government. There is nothing in the Act to show that this industry is carried on under the authority of the Central Government.

5. In Carlsbad M. W. Mfg. Co. v. P. K. Sarkar , it is observed by their lordships as follows :-

'An industry carried on by or under the authority of Government is a Government industry which as I have said may be carried on directly by Government or by somebody or person nominated by Government for that purpose .... It seems to me that the words 'under the authority' mean much the same as 'on behalf of'.'

Now, it cannot be said that the coffee industry is carried on by the Central Government or on its behalf. We have seen that this industry is controlled by the Central Government. Now, the very concept of the control of the industry by the Government implies its normal functioning by another body. If the industry was carried on by or on behalf of the Government, in effect it would amount to its being carried on by the Government itself. If the industry is carried on by the Government itself, there can be on question of Government controlling it. Further, if this industry is really carried on by the Government or on its behalf, the workmen concerned in the present dispute would be really Central Government servants which is, of course, nobody's case. It is, therefore clear that the present industry is carried on by the Coffee Board functioning under the control of the Central Government and not by or on behalf of the Central Government. The contention, therefore, that the State Government is not the 'appropriate Government' on the ground that the industry is carried on under the authority of the Central Government has no force.

6. Equally untenable is the contention that the State Government is not the 'appropriate Government' because the coffee industry is a controlled industry within the meaning of S. 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act. As I have already said, it is clear from the provisions of the Coffee Act and the Coffee Rules that this industry is a controlled industry within the meaning of S. 2(ee) of the Industrial Disputes Act. Section 2(ee) defines 'controlled industry' as meaning 'any industry the control of which by the Union has been declared by any Central Act to be expedient in the public interest.' Section 2 of the Coffee Act shows that the coffee industry falls within the definition of 'controlled industry' under S. 2(ee). But merely by reason thereof the jurisdiction of the State Government to make the reference is not ousted. Under S. 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act, the Central Government would be the appropriate Government in relation to any industrial dispute concerning 'any such controlled industry as may be specified in this behalf by the Central Government.' The words 'as may be specified in this behalf' are important. These words show that disputes relating to all controlled industries are not put beyond the competence of the State Government so far as references thereof to industrial tribunals are concerned. It is only disputes concerning any controlled industry as may be specified in this behalf which are exclusively within the purview of the Central Government for the purposes of reference to industrial tribunals. This question was dealt with by the learned industrial tribunal, Sri S. H. Naik in reference (I.T.) No. 37 of 1952 - [Bharat Barrel and Drum ., Bombay v. its workmen - Bombay Government Gazette, Part I-L, dated 7 April, 1955, p. 993 at 995] I quote the relevant passage from this award :

'While amending the definition of appropriate Government given in S. 2(a)(i) of the Industrial Disputes Act, S. 32 of the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951, inserted the words 'or concerning any such controlled industry as may be specified in this behalf by the Central Government' after the words 'by a railway company.' This amendment makes it clear that the appropriate Government is not the Central Government for each and every controlled industry. It is only those controlled industries as are specified by the Central Government for the purposes of S. 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act that the appropriate Government means the Central Government.'

Vide also the full bench decision of the industrial court in V. V. Joshi, Labour Officer, Bombay v. Rashtriya Mill Mazdoor Sangh, Bombay, and others 1954 I.C.R. 354. There is no evidence to show that the coffee industry is a controlled industry specified by the Central Government for the purposes of S. 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act. There is, therefore, no substance in the contentions raised by the learned advocate for the Coffee Board. I hold that the State Government was competent to make the present reference, it being the 'appropriate Government' as defined in the Industrial Disputes Act. This tribunal has, therefore, jurisdiction to hear the present reference. This reference should now be fixed for hearing on merits.


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