1. This otherwise a simple revision application under S. 44 of the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') raises an interesting and important point for consideration whether 'any union' unconnected with the establishment of a certain industry can file a complaint of unfair labour practice against an employer under the provisions of the Act.
2. The short facts giving rise to this revision application are that one F. Rehman claiming to be the President of All India Labour Union, 45/2nd floor, Air-conditioned Market, Tardeo, Bombay-400 034 (hereinafter referred to as 'the applicant') filed a complaint of unfair labour practice in the Court of the learned Judge presiding over the Ninth Labour Court, Bombay, being complaint (ULP) No. 99 of 1978, against M/s. Babson and Company, having their office at Hirji Govindji Estate, Thackersey Jivraj Road, Sewree, Bombay-400 015 (hereinafter referred to as 'the respondents'). The learned Labour Judge of the Ninth Court by his order dated 23rd April, 1981 granted relief directing the respondents to reinstate four watchmen concerned in the said complaint with consequential directions. Being aggrieved by the said order the respondents went in revision to the Industrial Court, in Revision Application (ULP) No. 26 of 1981 which was heard by my learned brother B. V. Chavan and he came to a conclusion that the learned Judge of the Ninth Labour Court had acted in a highly irregular manner in exercise of his jurisdiction inasmuch as an important point which was made by the respondents before him that the complaint was not maintainable as it was filed by a union unconnected with the establishments of the respondents, was not decided by him. He, therefore, allowed the revision application and set aside the order dated 23-4-1981 passed by the learned Judge of the Ninth Labour Court and remanded the matter back for fresh trial according to law and further directed that the matter shall be heard by any Labour Judge other than the learned Judge of the Ninth Labour Court. That is how the matter was then placed before the learned Judge of the Second Labour Court, Bombay, who heard the parties and came to the conclusion that the complainant had no locus standi to file the complaint and as such the complaint was not maintainable. He, therefore, by his order dated 11-12-1981 dismissed the complaint with no order as to costs.
3. Being aggrieved by the said order the applicant came to this Court in revision.
4. On the submission made before me at the Bar the only point that arises for my consideration is whether the complaint (viz., the applicant here) had a locus standi to file the original complaint and whether the complaint as filed was maintainable.
5. My answer to the above point is in the negative for the following reasons.
6. Mr. Vakil appearing on behalf of the applicant respectfully urged that it was true that the complainant has absolutely no connection with the establishment of the respondents but under S. 28(1) of the Act complaint could be filed by 'any union and, therefore, the complainant had a locus standi to file the concerned complaint. Now, the provisions of S. 28(1) indicate that where any person has engaged in or is engaging in any unfair labour practice, then any union or any employee or any employer or any investigation officer may, within 90 days of the occurrence of such unfair labour practice, file a complaint before the Court competent to deal with such complaint either under Section 5, or as the case may be, under S. 7, of the Act. An analysis of these provisions would show that a complaint of unfair labour practice could be filed by (1) any union, (2) any employee, (3) any employer or (4) any investigating officer. The point before us is whether a union that has absolutely no connection with the establishment of a certain industry can or cannot file a complaint of unfair labour practice taking advantage of the words any union.' Union 'has been defined under S. 3(17) of the Act as a trade union of employees, which is registered under the Trade Unions Act, 1926, Further an 'employee' has been defined under S. 3(5) of the Act as 'employee' in relation to an industry to which the Bombay Act for the time being applies, means an employee as defined in cl. (13) of S. 3 of the Bombay Act; and in any other case, means a workman as defined in cl. (s) of S. 2 of the Central Act. Since we are concerned with an industry governed by the Central Act we will have to refer to the definition of 'workman' means any person (including an apprentice) employed in any industry to do any skilled or unskilled manual, supervisory, technical or clerical work for hire or reward, whether the terms of employment be express or implied ...'. Therefore, we will have to construe the meaning of the words 'any union' appearing in s. 28(1) of the Act in the light of these provisions of law and in my opinion any union will only mean a union of the employees employed in a particular industry and not any union whatsoever under the wide sky. A union should be necessarily a union of the employees employed in a particular industry and that union alone can file a complaint under S. 28(1) of the Act.
7. If the interpretation canvassed by Mr. Vakil is permitted and any union under the sun is allowed to file complaints of unfair labour practice under the Act, chaotic conditions will prevail inasmuch as possibilities cannot be ruled out that some union who have interest adverse to an employee or employees of particular industries will also file complaints of unfair labour practice in labour Courts and Industrial Courts even on false, frivolous and vexatious grounds and the concerned employees will not know what to do in the matter. Again, possibilities cannot be ruled out when in the matter of certain grievance of an employee several union will come forward to file complaints of unfair Labour practice and there would be a sort of tug of war among such unions in the matter of conduct these cases in the Industrial and Labour Courts. Regard being had to the hard facts of life that there is lot of union rivalry everywhere rival complaints of unfair labour practice in case of the same employee/employees on in consistent contentions can also not be ruled out. Thus the interpretation of Mr. Vakil will only encourage lot of unfair labour practice in the labour field instead of preventing unfair labour practices. That would defeat the very purpose of the Act for which it was enacted. Therefore, the terminology 'any union' appearing in S. 28(1) of the Act cannot be given a wide meaning so as to cover any unconnected with the establishment of the industry in which the concerned employee is employed.
8. Mr. Vakil also tried to submit that if there is no union in a particular industry or the union which is there is not prepared to espouse the cause of a particular employee should the cause of justice suffer. The simple answer to the enquiry of Mr. Vakil is that the cause of justice will never suffer because under the very provisions of S. 28(1) of the Act in such a case the employee himself can file a complaint of unfair labour practice. When the employee himself can file a complaint of unfair labour practice, there is no reason for 'any union' not connected with the industry to take up the cause of the employees and invite chaotic conditions in the labour filed.
9. Under such circumstances, I find that the impugned order passed by the learned trial Judge suffers from no infirmity and it can never be termed as perverse. I am, therefore, left with no alternative but to reject this revision application. In the result the revision application is dismissed but with no order as to costs.