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Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation Vs. Maharashtra Motor Kamgar Federation and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal Nos. 63 and 65 of 1984
Judge
Reported in1986(1)BomCR126; 1985MhLJ802
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 20; Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971 - Sections 28; Constitution of India - Article 227
AppellantMaharashtra State Road Transport Corporation;maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, Through
RespondentMaharashtra Motor Kamgar Federation and anr.;provincial Rashtriya Motor Kamgar Union
Appellant AdvocateS.C. Mehadia, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateA.S. Bobde and ;M.L. Vaidya, Advs. for respondent No. 1 in L.P.A. 63, ;S.D. Thakur, Adv. for respondent Nos. 1 and 2 in L.P.A. 65, ;B.M. Khan, Adv. for respondent No. 4 in L.P.A. 65
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
civil - cause of action - section 20 of code of civil procedure, 1908, sections 19, 20 and 28 of maharashtra recognition of trade unions and prevention of unfair labour practices act, 1971 and article 227 of constitution of india - appeals filed against declaration that appellant indulged in unfair labour practice - appellants not invited representative of complainant union for negotiation - appellants extended special facilities and privileges to intervening unions and denying same to first respondent - occurrence were of continuous nature - activities of corporation was mischief - unrecognised unions have no right to discharge obligations or exercise rights under sections 19 and 20 - held, activity of corporation is unfair labour practice under item 2 (b) of schedule ii. - indian.....h.d. patel, j.1. the two appeals arise out of the common judgment dated 21-2-1984 of the learned single judge in writ petition no. 1955 of 1978 and writ petition no. 2117 of 1978 involving identical issues and hence both the appeals are disposed by this common judgment.2. the appellant in either of the appeals is maharashtra state road transport corporation (hereinafter referred to as 'the corporation), which is constituted under the road transport corporation act, 1960 and is engaged in the business of transporting passengers from one placer to another. its activities are spread throughout the state of maharashtra. the first respondent namely, maharashtra motor kamgar federation in writ petition no. 1955 of 1978 (letters patent appeal no. 63 of 1984) and the first respondent namely,.....
Judgment:

H.D. Patel, J.

1. The two appeals arise out of the common judgment dated 21-2-1984 of the learned Single Judge in Writ Petition No. 1955 of 1978 and Writ Petition No. 2117 of 1978 involving identical issues and hence both the appeals are disposed by this common judgment.

2. The appellant in either of the appeals is Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (hereinafter referred to as 'the Corporation), which is constituted under the Road Transport Corporation Act, 1960 and is engaged in the business of transporting passengers from one placer to another. Its activities are spread throughout the State of Maharashtra. The first respondent namely, Maharashtra Motor Kamgar Federation in Writ Petition No. 1955 of 1978 (Letters Patent Appeal No. 63 of 1984) and the first respondent namely, Provincial Rashtriya Motor Kamgar Union in Writ Petition No. 2117 of 1978 (Letters Patent Appeal No. 65 of 1984) (hereinafter referred to as 'the complainant'), claiming to have sizable membership of the employees working in the Corporation, have filed separate individual complaint stating therein that the appellant corporation have indulged in or are engaging in unfair labour practices enumerated in Item 2(b) of Schedule II and item 5 of Schedule IV of the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act').

3. According to the two complaints filed before the Industrial Court Nagpur, it was alleged therein that there are various unions operating in the field mainly grouped under (1) Maharashtra State Mazdoor Sabha Bombay, (2) Maharashtra S.T. Workers Federation, Dhulia, and the first respondent complainant unions in either of the appeals. It was further alleged that none of these unions is recognised under the Act. Hence all of them enjoyed equal status and were accordingly entitled to equal rights, facilities, and treatment at least till such time one of them is duly recognised in accordance with the provisions of the Act. It was further pointed out that one prior agreement between the management and the union was to end on 31-3-1975. The Appellant Corporation commenced negotiations with the representatives of the Maharashtra State Mazdoor Sabha and the Maharashtra S.T. Workers Federation (hereinafter referred to as 'the intervening unions'). These intervening unions are parties in Writ Petition No. 2117 of 1978. Either of the first respondent is not invited to participate in the negotiations, although repeated requests were made. No reasons are disclosed by the Corporation for excluding the first respondent in both the appeals. According to the complainant-respondents, non-inclusion of their representatives in the negotiations which were then in progress amounts to unfair labour practice on the part of the Corporation. It was also alleged that the management was thus taking a partisan attitude in calling the representatives of the intervening unions for negotiations. According to the complainant respondents, the Corporation was guilty of showing partiality and favouritism to the rival intervening unions attempting to organising their employees, although these unions are not recognised under the Act and are committing unfair labour practice falling within the mischief of Item 2(b) of Schedule II of the Act.

4. In the two complaints filed by the complainant respondents in both the appeals they have also given examples of the attitude of the management in showing special favour and partiality to the two intervening unions. It was pointed out that the other two unions are permitted to affix notices on the notice board of the establishment, whereas the complainant unions in either of the appeal is denied such facility to their great disadvantage. Further the intervening unions are permitted by the management to collect union fund including monthly subscription from their members within the premises of the establishment, but such a facility is not extended to either of the complainant unions. It was also submitted that the management has granted representation to the intervening unions on various committees like Labour Welfare Fund to the total exclusion of the complainant unions. By these acts of the management the complainant unions in the two appeals are experiencing great difficulty in carrying out their organisational work on account of partisan attitude adopted by the appellant adopted by the appellant Corporation. A declaration was, therefore, sought by the complainant unions that the activities of the management were nothing short of unfair labour practices and it was also necessary that the Corporation should be directed to withdraw the same by granting equal opportunities to all the trade unions in the field. In particular, a direction was also sought against the Appellant Corporation to invite the representatives of the first respondent in either of the appeals to participate in the negotiations that were at the relevant time in progress.

5. The appellant Corporation resisted the complaints raising several issues and vehemently denying that they have involved themselves in the activities, which can be called unfair labour practices. It was their contention that the issues involved relate to the employees throughout the State of Maharashtra and hence the Industrial Court at Nagpur had no territorial jurisdiction to deal with the complaints as the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court at Nagpur was then restricted only to the eight districts of the Vidarbha Region of the Maharashtra State. The appellant also submitted that the complaint were not maintainable for non-joinder of necessary parties inasmuch as the two intervening unions, which are alleged to have been recognised by the Corporation in the matter of collective bargain were not joined as necessary parties. It was also the defence of the appellant Corporation that the complaints were hopelessly barred by limitation in as much as the complaints were filed much after the prescribed period of 90 days from the date of the alleged occurrence of the unfair labour practices. On merits the appellant Corporation submitted that the Maharashtra State Transport Workers Federation, Dhulia, was recognised by the management since the year 1960, whereas the Maharashtra State Mazdoor Sabha, Bombay, has been recognised since the year 1967. The complainant unions in either of the appeals came into existence much latter and by the reason of their standing they were not recognised for the purpose of collective bargaining. At the relevant time the members of the Maharashtra S.T. Workers Federation, Dhulia and the Maharashtra State Mazdoor Sabha, Bombay, were to the extent of 11, 227 and 11,204, respectively. The members of the first respondent in either of the appeals were extremely meagre. This was ascertained when the verification of members of different unions was carried out. Since the members of the Maharashtra S.T. Workers Federation, Dhulia and Maharashtra State Mazdoor Sabha, Bombay, were more or less equal, either of them was recognised by the appellant Corporation under 'the Code of the Discipline' and their representatives were invited to take part in the negotiations to the exclusion of all other unions including the complainant unions in either of the appeals. Consequently the two unions recognised by the Corporation enjoyed all facilities, rights and privileges since the time the said unions were recognised. In the absence of any legal right the complainant unions in either of the appeals were neither invited for negotiation nor were they extended the facilities, rights and privileges like the recognised unions by the appellant. The facilities, rights and privileges that were enjoyed by the intervening unions have developed into practice, usage and custom since enjoyed for years together. The appellant Corporation, therefore, denied that they have engaged in or were engaging in unfair labour practice, much less the unfair labour practices failing within the mischief of Item 2(b) of Schedule II or Item 5 of Schedule IV of the Act.

6. The two intervening unions which were recognised by the appellant Corporation were admittedly not made parties in the original proceedings. However, in Appeal No. 63 of 1984 both the unions were allowed to intervene since the stage of trial. They have also submitted a common written statement inter alia alleging that the complainant unions have very meagre members in the industry and cannot claim equal status and position. According to them, the complainant unions have no right to claim facilities, rights and privileges enjoyed by them as recognised union. It was also specifically stated that the recognition was granted to the intervening unions under 'the Code of Discipline', since past several years after following the prescribed procedure. Before the intervening unions were recognised by the appellant Corporation necessary verification was done by the authorities of the State Government. The intervening unions were always negotiating the demands and grievances of the workers and appellant Corporation was justified in not inviting the complainant unions since they are neither recognised nor held adequate membership. In these circumstances it cannot be held that the appellant Corporation showed favouritism or partisan attitude towards the intervening union, Item 2(b) of Schedule II or Item 5 of Schedule IV of the Act are not at all attracted. Regarding other facilities, it was submitted that the intervening unions enjoyed the facilities since long time as per the custom, usage and practice because of the recognition under 'The Code of Discipline'. The territorial jurisdiction of the Industrial Court to take cognizance of the complaint was also raised by the intervening unions.

7. From the respective contentions of the parties it is certain that none of the unions operating in the undertaking or industry of the appellant Corporation is recognised under the provisions of Chapter III Act and Rules and Regulations framed thereunder, though the said Act was brought into force from 8th September, 1975.

8. In Appeal No. 63 of 1984 the Industrial Court declared that by not inviting the representatives of the complainant union for negotiation, the appellant Corporation has committed an unfair labour practice and the Appellant Corporation was directed to cease and desist from such unfair labour practices in future. It also declared that the appellant Corporation has committed unfair labour practice by extending special facilities and privileges to the intervening unions and denying the same to the first respondent complainant union in that appeal. The Appellant Corporation was also directed to cease and desist from such unfair labour practices. Being aggrieved by the order passed by the Industrial Court, Nagpur, the appellant Corporation filed Writ Petition No. 1955 of 1978 in this Court.

9. The intervening unions are not made parties in Appeal No. 65 of 1984, but one of them, namely, Maharashtra S.T. Kamgar Sabha participated in the proceedings when the matter was argued for grant of interim relief under section 30(2) of the Act. The Industrial Court on the basis of final declaration that was already granted in the earlier case mentioned above, directed the appellant Corporation that during the pendency of the complaint the appellant Corporation shall extend to the first respondent complainant union, all privileges and facilities that were being extended to the intervening unions. The appellant Corporation challenged this interim order of the Industrial Court in Writ Petition No. 2117 of 1978.

10. Both the writ petitions were heard by the learned Single Judge, who by a common judgement dismissed both the petitions and confirmed the order of the Industrial Court, Nagpur. It is this judgment which is challenged by the appellant Corporation in these two appeals.

11. The first ground of attack was regarding the territorial jurisdiction of the Industrial Court to entertain and decide the complaint. According to the appellant Corporation, the subject matter of the two complaints would directly or indirectly affect all employees of the Corporation throughout the State of Maharashtra and the Industrial Court at Nagpur was not competent to deal with the subject matter since the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court at Nagpur is restricted to the eight districts of the Vidarbha Region and does not extend to whole of the State. In our opinion, it is difficult for us to accept this submission. Except stating that the subject matter of the complaint involved in the two proceedings will affect all the employees in the State, it was not shown how and in what manner the other employees of the Corporation beyond the jurisdiction of the eight districts of the Vidarbha would be affected. What was claimed in the complaints was the right of the trade union registered at Nagpur to all the facilities, rights and privileges, as were being enjoyed by the intervening unions. For the purpose of jurisdiction what is required to be seen is whether the occurrence of the unfair labour practice occurred within the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court at Nagpur. It is apparent from the proceedings that the Headquarter of either of the complainant unions is at Nagpur. The appellant Corporation has not only the Divisional Office at Nagpur, but has recently opened a Regional office as well. It was the complainant unions or their units at Nagpur that made a request to allow their representatives to participate in the negotiation which was then in progress at Bombay. The appellant Corporation had ignored such a request. The complainant unions also claimed other facilities, rights and privileges that were being extended to the intervening unions for being enjoyed within the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court at Nagpur. Apparently the cause of action accrued at Nagpur and the Industrial Court was competent to hear and decide the subject matter of the complaints.

12. It was next submitted on behalf of the appellant Corporation that both the complaints are hopelessly barred by limitation. Our attention was invited to section 28 of the Act which prescribes the limitation of ninety days, which is to be reckoned from the date of occurrence of the unfair labour practice complained of. It was accordingly submitted that the negotiations between the management and the intervening unions commenced from 8-10-1975 and the complainant unions, which felt aggrieved, should have filed the complaint within ninety days from that date and not having done so, both the complaints should have been dismissed as barred by limitation.

13. In order to ascertain whether the limitation has expired, it is necessary to find out whether the activities complained of as unfair labour practices are of recurring nature, or whether the occurrence of the unfair labour practices were over once it was engaged in and only the affect continues to flow therefrom. Where the occurrence is of recurring nature, the limitation would continue to extend as long as the occurrence continues. In other words, if the acts of partiality and favouritism continue from time to time the occurrence of unfair labour practice would be of a recurring nature, in which case the limitation will not come to an end on expiry of the ninety days from the date when the unfair labour practices were first committed. For this proposition reliance can be placed on the decision of this Court in Regional Manager, M.S.R. T.C. v. Regional Secretary, Maharashtra S.T. Kamgar Sanghtana, 1984 L & IC 1721.

14. It cannot be in dispute that the negotiations between the management and the employees represented by the trade unions continued from time to time and they will continue even in future whenever demands are made. The right to enjoy the facilities, viz, that of affixing of notice on the notice board, collection of union fund from the salary of employees and the right to be on various committees are also of continuous nature. The denial of rights to the complainant unions would give a right to either of them to file a complaint at any time as long as such rights are continued to be enjoyed by the intervening unions and denied to the others. Since the occurrence of unfair labour practice continues till the time the intervening unions continue to enjoy the facilities it is difficult for us to hold that the complaints are barred by time. In this view of the matter, the submission made on behalf of the appellant on the point of limitation has no force and must necessarily fail.

15. On behalf of respondent No. 4 in Letters Patent Appeal No. 65 of 1984, which is one of the intervening union and duly recognised by the Corporation under 'the Code of Discipline', it was submitted that the complaint must be dismissed summarily on the ground of non-joinder of necessary parties. According to them, the complaint clearly makes allegations about the Corporation showing favouritism and partiality to the intervening unions, yet they are not made parties to the proceedings. Though the point was effectively raised before the Industrial Court at Nagpur, no decision on the point was given. However, the learned Single Judge who has decided the writ petition has rejected the submission stating that it is not open for respondent No. 4 or for that matter any other union to canvass this ground since the affected trade unions were allowed to intervene and all of them have effectively participated in the proceedings right from the beginning of proceedings before the Industrial Court. We have no reason to disagree with the conclusion drawn.

16. The complainant union in either of the appeal has sought a declaration that the appellant Corporation is indulging in unfair labour practices falling within the mischief of Item 2(b) of Schedule II and Item 5 of Schedule IV of the Act. The main grievance appears to be is that no representatives of their union are invited for negotiation in the matter of general demands like the representatives of the intervening unions. It is also their grievance that the appellant Corporation has shown partiality or favouritism to the intervening unions by allowing them to exercise the rights specified in section 20 of the Act and other trade unions including the complainant trade unions are totally ignored. Though the appellant Corporation and the intervening unions do not deny the fact of enjoyment of the facilities, rights and privileges, they contend that the enjoyment of such facilities, rights and privileges is extended to them since these intervening unions have been recognised by the management under 'the Code of Discipline'. The status of the intervening unions being higher and better as compared to the complainant unions there cannot be a comparison between the two. It also cannot be said that the attitude of the management was partial or was one of favouritism so as to attract any of the items complained of in the complaint. In any eventuality it is the case of the appellant Corporation that Item 5 of Schedule IV is not at all attracted.

17. On behalf of the intervening unions it was submitted that the other union like the complainant unions are not entitled to the facilities enjoyed by them by virtue of their unions being recognised under 'the Code of Discipline'. Such facilities were being enjoyed much before the Act came into force on 8th September, 1975. The complainant unions could have a grievance only if the facilities were extended after the Act has come into force and not otherwise. In any event the negotiations were held in respect of the charter of demands raised by the intervening unions and the other unions had, therefore, no right to intervene in between. The negotiations that were in progress cannot be construed as negotiations taken place under section 20(1)(e) of the Act. The right to discuss flows out of the recognition which the intervening unions have acquired as a result of agreement or understanding arrived at between the unions then existing. It was lastly submitted that the very purpose of collective bargaining would be frustrated if all the unions were to participate in the negotiations, particularly when the number of trade unions are regularly increasing.

18. In order to appreciate the rival contentions of the parties, a brief review of the basic features and relevant provisions of the Act is necessary to be considered. The Act provides for recognition of trade unions for facilitating collective bargaining for certain undertaking; to state their rights and obligations; to confer certain powers on unrecognised unions and amongst other to provide for prevention of certain unfair labour practices, to constitute courts for carrying out the purposes of according recognition to trade unions and for enforcing provisions relating to unfair practices and other connected purposes. To begin with, the Act applies to the industries to which the Bombay Industrial Relations Act for the time being applies and also to industries as defined in Clause (1) of section 2 of the Industrial Disputes Act and the State Government in relation to any industrial dispute concerning such industry is the appropriate Government.

19. Section 3(17) defines 'union' to mean a trade union of employees which is registered under the Trade Unions Act, 1926, Chapter III headed as recognition of unions provided that every undertaking wherein 80 or more employees are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding 12 months will be governed by the provisions therein set out. Section 11 provides for making of an application for recognition of union. The eligibility criterion for obtaining the recognition is that the union applying for the status of a recognised union must have for the whole of the period of six calendar months immediately preceding the calendar month in which it makes the application, a membership of not less than thirty per cent of the total number of employees employed in any undertaking. The application has to be made to the Industrial Court set up under the Bombay Industrial Relations Act. On receipt of the application, the Industrial Court has to cause a notice to be displayed on the notice board of the undertaking, declaring its intention to consider the said application on a date to be specified in the notice and calling upon other union or unions, if any, having membership of employees in that undertaking and the employers and the employees affected by the proposal to show cause why the recognition should not be granted. If after considering all the objections that may have been lodged pursuant to the notice given as herein-before indicated, the Industrial Court comes to the conclusion that the conditions requisite for registration are satisfied and the union complies with the conditions specified in section 19, the Industrial Court shall grant recognition to the applicant union under the Act and issue a certificate in the prescribed form. At any point of time there shall not be more than one recognised union in respect of the same undertaking. Section 13 confers power on the Industrial Court to cancel the recognition if any of the circumstances therein set out is satisfactorily established. Section 14 provides for resolving the dispute inter se between the recognised union and another union seeking recognition.

20. The obligations and rights of the recognised union are set out in sections 19 and 20 of the Act. Amongst other things conferred on the union recognised under the Act includes the right to collect sums from the members of the union on the premises, to affix notice on the notice board, to hold discussion with the management with regard to any industrial dispute and to appoint nominees or representatives on the works Committee. Section 22, provides for rights of unregistered union which allows their representatives to discuss with the management the grievance of any individual member relating to his discharge, removal, retrenchment, termination of service and suspension etc. and to appear in any domestic inquiry.

21. Section 26 defines 'unfair labour practices' to mean any of the practices listed in Schedules II, III and IV. The most vital provision in the Act is contained in section 27 which prohibits the employer, union or employee from engaging in any unfair labour practice. Section 30 provides for powers of the Industrial Court and Labour Court to give declaration and other consequential reliefs including the one relating to cancellation of recognition of a trade union.

22. Long time need was ultimately fulfilled by the enforcement of the Act to permit the workmen to be represented by recognised trade unions in dispute affecting all the employees engaged in an undertaking or industry. Recognised union is given the status of sole bargaining for its employees to the exclusion of all other unrecognised trade unions. The Act further confers rights and obligations on the union recognised under the Act. In these circumstances, the unrecognised union or unions have no right to discharge the obligations or exercise the rights under the Act conferred by sections 19 and 20 of the Act.

23. Undoubtedly the unions operating in the appellant Corporation can mainly be grouped under (1) Maharashtra State Mazdoor Sabha, Bombay (2) Maharashtra S.T. Workers Federation, Dhulia and the complainant respondent in the two appeals. These federations or unions mainly and substantially represent the workers all over the State. Admittedly none of the federations or unions is recognised so far under sub-section (3) of section 12 of the Act. It is no doubt true that the Maharashtra State Mazdoor Sabha, Bombay and the Maharashtra S.T. Workers Federation, Dhulia were granted recognition at the State level under 'the Code of Discipline' and by reason of such recognition in the past for the purpose of collective bargaining the Corporation used to call and invite the representatives of these two unions. No fault can be attributed to the appellant Corporation for calling such representatives only, but with the enforcement of the Act from 8-9-1975 the position has obviously changed. After coming into force of the Act all the unions/federations have been brought to an equal position and status irrespective of the quantitative strength of membership and enjoyment of equal treatment from the management so long as one of them is not recognised under the Act. Even the intervening unions which enjoyed the preferential treatment in the past are brought on par with all other unions operating in the field since the time the Act has come into force. Their status under the Act is no better than the one of unrecognised union. Impliedly 'The Code of Discipline' has lost its value wherever the Act is brought into force.

24. The Act has specified various types of unfair labour practice, which could be indulged in by an employer, either in Schedule II or in Schedule IV of the Act. Item 2(b) of Schedule II reads as under :

. To dominate, interfere with, or contribute, support---financial or otherwise to any union, that is to say---

a) .....................

b) an employer showing partiality or granting favour to one of several unions attempting to organise his employees or to its members, where such a union is not a recognised union.'

(Underlining is ours).

e prohibition to indulge in the aforesaid unfair labour practice is apparent from section 27 of the Act. Item 2(b) envisages that the employer shall not dominate, interfere with, or contribute, support to any union by show of partiality or favouritism attempting to organise its membership where such as union is not a recognised union. The emphasis is on the words 'where such a union is not a recognised union'. It clearly suggests that unless the union is recognised under the Act, the employer is strictly prohibited from interfering with or supporting to any of the unions either by show of partiality or favouritism, the whole idea being that the employer should treat all unions equally with the view that unions in the field can organise themselves, and one who satisfied the conditions for being recognised under the Act could move in that direction. Showing of partiality or favouritism at such a juncture would be disadvantageous to other unions also functioning in the undertaking or industry. With this end in view provision has been made to avoid unhealthy competition among the unions, when they are still at organisational stage.

Section 20 confers rights on the union which is recognised under the Act. Since none of the unions involved in the proceedings is recognised as such, the rights conferred by that section cannot be enjoyed by any of the unions. The status enjoyed by the intervening unions prior to coming into force of the Act comes to an end. The continuance of enjoyment by the intervening unions of the obligations and rights specified for the recognised union after coming into force of the Act is nothing short of interference or support given by the employer Corporation and smacks of partiality and favouritism to those unions in comparison to other unions in the field. The denial of such right to other unions has adverse effect on their credibility, prestige and reputation. The morale of the members also stand adversely affected. The grievance made out by the complainant unions has considerable force and must be accepted. In our opinion, the activities of the Corporation clearly fall within the mischief of Item 2(b) of Schedule II of the Act.

It is not necessary for us to deal with Item 5 of Schedule IV in view of our above finding that the activity of the employer is an unfair labour practice under Item 2(b) of Schedule II of the Act. However, since the parties have addressed us on the point, we have no hesitation to deal with this aspect of the case as well. Item 5 of Schedule IV of the Act reads as under :

To show favouritism or partiality to one set of workers, regardless of merits'.

through the words are similar as contained in Item 2(b) of Schedule II, the difference lies in the show of partiality or favouritism to a particular set or group of workers and not the unions. This is again qualified by the words 'regardless of merits'. In our opinion this item is not at all attracted.

An anxiety was shown on behalf of the employer as also the intervening unions that there will be mashroom growth of unions and if representation is required to be given to all of them on the negotiating table, it would frustrate the very purpose of collective bargaining resulting in chaos in the undertaking or industry. No doubt the fears expressed are genuine, but the solution lies in getting the union with largest membership recognised under the Act. Sufficient time has elapsed after the Act has come into force, and if steps are not taken in that direction, the inevitable result is bound to follow. We are informed that the proceedings for recognition are already initiated in Bombay and are pending investigation. The parties must accelerate the process so as to avoid future inconvenience that may eventually arise. The Supreme Court has accepted the principle of sole bargaining agent, namely, the recognised union in the case of Balmer Lawrie Workers Union and another v. Balmer Lawrie & Company Ltd. and others, 1985 Labour and Industrial Cases 242.

The intervening unions have come forward with a plea that they have been recognised as bargaining agents under an understanding, which could be construed as an agreement, between the parties and breach of which is enforceable under Item 9 of Schedule IV of the Act. According to them, all the unions agreed for a scrutiny of relative strength of members through the Government agency on the understanding that the union with majority strength would alone represent the workers in the negotiation. As stated above, we have already observed that 'the Code of Discipline' has lost its value or gone into oblivion after coming into force of the Act. Hence even assuming that there exists an agreement the same cannot be enforced after the Act has come into force. In any eventuality what the complainant unions demand is the equal rights, facilities and privileges as enjoyed by the intervening unions. Calling the complainant unions also on the negotiating table cannot affect the so-called agreement and there is no reason to infer that the rights of the intervening unions are in any way prejudiced.

On behalf of the complainant union in Appeal No. 63 of 1984 an objection was raised to the maintainability of the appeal on the ground that the learned Single Judge passed the order in exercise of the supervisory jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution, and for that purpose reliance was also placed on the decision of Full Bench of this Court in State of Maharashtra v. Kusum wd/o Charudutta and others, 1981 Maharashtra Law Journal 93. In fact it is not necessary for us to go into the question in detail since we are dismissing the appeal even on merits. However, as this point was argued at length, we are constrained to hold that the Letters Patent Appeal filed by the appellant Corporation was competent and maintainable.

In order to decide this question, it will be helpful to refer to the original petition. In fact the petition was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution even without invoking the aid of Article 227. The relief claimed was for quashing and setting aside the judgment and order of the Industrial Court, Nagpur, (the second respondent in that petition) by issuance of a writ of certiorari or a writ in the nature of certiorari or any other writ, order or direction under Article 226 of the Constitution. This clearly show that the relief claimed could only be granted under Article 226 of the Constitution. The appellant Corporation, which was aggrieved by the order of the Industrial Court, was seeking the relief against the infringement of civil rights against the authority purporting to act in exercise of the powers conferred by the Act. We are well supported by the observations appearing in the decision cited above and relief claimed upon by the complainant union. We accordingly hold that the Letters Patent Appeal does lie against the impugned judgment in view of the facts involved in the case.

In the result, both the Letters Patent Appeals fail and are hereby dismissed. Even though Writ Petition No. 2117 of 1978 was filed against the interim order of the Industrial Court from which Letters Patent Appeal No. 65 of 1984 arises, we do not see any reason to send the case back for final decision. In the circumstances of the case we make no order as to costs.


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