1. This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution is directed against the order of the State Industrial Court, Nagpur, which upheld the order of the Assistant Labour Commissioner, Madhya Pradesh, directing reinstatement of the respondent No. 1 and payment of Rs. 1000/- as compensation to him for failure to reinstate.
2. The only point which we need consider in this case is whether the Assistant Labour Commissioner had jurisdiction to make the aforesaid order. It may be mentioned that when that order came to be passed Section 16 of the C.P. and Berar Industrial Disputes Settlement Act, prior to its amendment by Act XXI of 1955, was in force. Under the old provision the Labour Commissioner had jurisdiction to act under Section 16 only with respect to an industrial dispute which arose in a factory and not merely in an industry. That being the position, what has to be considered here is whether the activity carried on by the petitioner can be regarded as a factory. The activity of the petitioner consists of exhibiting cinema films. It is difficult to see how this activity can be regarded as a factory. Shri Paranjpe, who appears for the respondent No. 1, refers to a decision of a single Judge of the Madras High Court reported in In re, A.M. Chinniah, : (1957)ILLJ280Mad to the effect that landuary business comes within the definition of 'factory' in Section 2(m) of the Factories Act, 1948.
3. In the first place, we cannot read the definition of factory contained in the Factories Act for the purpose of ascertaining what that expression as used in Section 16 and other provisions of the Industrial Disputes Settlement Act, 1947, means. Jn Wharton's Law Lexicon the word factory has been defined thus:
'Factory, a place where a number of traders reside in a foreign country for the convenience of trade: also a building in which goods are manufactured.'
Shri Mujumdar, Chairman of the State Industrial Court, has apparently relied upon the first part of this definition and come to the conclusion that a place where any sort of trade is carried on is a factory. In doing so, what he has apparently omitted to notice is the significance of the words 'in a foreign country'. Those words are of paramount importance and therefore where it cannot be shown that the traders are carrying on an activity in a foreign country, the place where they carry on such activity cannot be regarded as a factory. What he ought to have borne in mind was the second part of the definition which is 'a building in which goods are manufactured.' Indeed, the word factory, unless specially defined by statue, is always used in connection with the place where some kind of manufacturing process is carried on. In 55 Corpus Juris Secundum at p. 676 it is stated -
'Manufactory and factory are different forms of the same word, and primarily mean a physical plant or a place or building, where manufacturing is carried on.'
That is the general meaning of the word factory and therefore where statute does not give any definition of the word factory is this general meaning which must be regarded.
4. Apart from that, we are clear that the activity of exhibiting films does not fall within the definition of factory contained in the Factories Act. A factory is defined thus in Section 2(m) of the Act:
'factory means any premises including the precincts thereof-
(i) where ten or more workers are working, or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on with the aid of power, or is ordinarily so carried on, or
(ii) whereon twenty or more workers are working, or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on without the aid of power, or is ordinarily so carried on, but does not include a mine subject to the operation of the Indian Mines Act, 1923 (IV of 1923) or a railway running shed.'
Now, 'manufacturing process' has been defined thus in Section 2(k) of the Act:
'manufacturing process means any process for
(i) making, altering, repairing, ornamenting, finishing, packing, oiling, washing, cleaning, breaking up, demolishing, or otherwise treating or adapting any article or substance with a view to its use, sale, transport, deliverly or disposal; or
(ii) pumping oil, water or sewage; or
(iii) generating, transforming or transmitting power, or
(iv) printing by letterpress, lithography, photogravure or other similar work or bookbinding, which is carried on by way of trade or for purposes of gain, or incidentally to another business so carried on; or
(v) constructing, reconstructing, reconstructing, repairing, refitting, finishing or breaking up ships or vessels.'
It is difficult to see how exhibiting films can, by any stretch of imagination or by stretch of language, be included in any of the various activities classified under the expression 'manufacturing process.' No doubt, the definition in the Factories Act would include a laundry business inasmuch as the process of washing or cleaning is also regarded as a manufacturing process. Therefore while we have no doubt as to the correctness of the decision of the Madras case, we do not understand how it can help the respondent No. 1 in this case.
5. If Shri Mujumdar had paid sufficient regard to the meaning of the word factory as given in the Wharton's Law Lexicon, instead of referring only to a portion of what is stated therein, and if he had not ignored the crucial words occurring in that portion then there would have perhaps been no occasion for this Court to be moved and its time taken up in dealing with a case which appears to us to be a simple one.
6. Accordingly, we allow the petition and set aside the impugned orders of the State Industrial Court and of that Assistant Labour Commissioner.
7. Costs of this petition will be borne by the respondent No. 1.
8. The outstanding amount of security deposited by the petitioner shall be refunded to him.
9. Petition allowed.