1. The short question which falls for consideration is whether the provisions of the Employees' Provident Fund and Family Pensions Fund Act, 1952 applies to Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute. Only few facts are required to be stated to appreciate the grievance of the petitioner. The petitioner-institute was founded several years back and from the year 1907 the Institute has prepared a Provident Fund Scheme the benefit of its employee and the contribution made by the employer is 8 1/3 % of the salary of the employees. The said Provident Fund Scheme is also recognised by the Income-tax Commissioner on April 29, 1972, the respondent addressed a letter to the petitioner informing that the Government of India has extended the Provident Fund Act and the Scheme framed thereunder to electrical, mechanical and general engineering products and the petitioner's establishment fulfils the requisite conditions essential for the applicability of the Act. This letter was followed by another letter dated June 15, 1972, whereby the petitioner was called upon to pay contribution both for the employees and employers from November 1, 1952 to March 31, 1972. This letter came as a bolt from the sky and the petitioner informed the respondent about the scheme which they framed in the year 1907 itself and whereunder employees were deriving higher benefits than what was proposed under Provident Fund Act and Scheme. The respondent in answer told the petitioner to apply for an exemption under S. 17 of the said Act on the assumption that the provisions of the Act and Scheme are applicable to the institution. Certain correspondence took place thereafter between the parties and ultimately by notice dated April 9, 1974 the respondent threatened that legal action would be initiated in case the petitioner fails to comply with the requirement of the Act and the Scheme. Thereafter the petitioner has filed the present proceedings under Art. 226 of the Constitution challenging the validity and legality of the notices issued by the respondent.
2. Mr. Talayarkhan, the learned counsel appearing in support of the petition, rightly contended that the entire action of respondent in assuming that the provisions of the Act and Scheme are applicable to the petitioner-institution is unwarranted and the respondent has not even taken a minimum care to issue notice to the petitioner to find out the applicability of the Act to the institution. Mr. Talayarkhan submitted that the provisions of S. (iii)(a) of the Act provides that the provisions of the Act applies to every establishment which is a factory engaged in any industry specified in Schedule-1 and engaged 20 or more persons as employees. Schedule-1 undoubtedly refers to an electrical, mechanical and general engineering production but what is crucial, according to the learned counsel, is that such a factory producing such goods must be engaged in such production. Mr. Talayarkhan rightly contended that the petitioner-institution cannot be described as engaged in production of electrical, mechanical and general engineering goods. The petitioner-institution has several laboratories and workshops attached to various departments for the purpose of training students and to give them practical experience in their field of study. In these laboratories and workshops the students are imparted training on production of electrical and mechanical goods under the guidance of the teaching staff. The products manufactured by the students are not sold nor the institute derive any monetary benefits out of such production. As the sole intention of producing such goods is to impart training to the students of the institution it is impossible to hold that the institution is engaged in the production of such goods. The expression 'engaged' indicates the commercial production or production as a primary concern and by no stretch of imagination an educational institution can be treated as engaged in production of these goods. In my judgment the provisions of the Act and the Scheme framed thereunder is wholly inapplicable to the institution of the petitioner. The notices issued by the respondent and threatened legal action are unwarranted and deserves to be struck down. In the result the petition succeeds and the rule is made absolute, and it is declared that the provisions of the Employees' Provident Fund and Family Pension Fund Act, 1952 is not applicable to the petitioner-institution and the respondent is directed to cancel their letter dated April 29, 1972 and April 9, 1974 issued on the assumption that the provisions of the Act are applicable to the institution. In the circumstances of the case there will be no order as to costs.