Somnath Ayyar, J.
1. On 16 November, 1966, the State Government made a reference under S. 10(1)(d) of the Industrial Disputes Act to the industrial tribunal. That reference incorporated thirteen matters on which the tribunal was asked to make its award.
2. After the production of the pleadings, the matter was adjourned from time to time and on one occasion on behalf of the workmen of the sugar factory known as the Pandavapura Sahakara Sakkare Karkhana, an adjournment was asked and that adjournment was granted. But on the next occasion when an adjournment was again sought, it was refused, and the tribunal disposed of the reference observing :
'From the charter of demands it is clear that the first party has to establish their right to those demands. The attitude adopted by the secretary indicates that the first party workmen were not very keen about prosecuting this case. I, therefore, find that the first party has failed to substantiate the reference. For the abovesaid reasons, the reference fails and the same is rejected.'
Very strangely, the order made by the tribunal in this way on 8 August, 1967, was treated by Government as an award, and, it was published in the gazette. On realization of the mistake so committed. Government made another reference with respect to the same industrial dispute on 21 October, 1967, and that reference is now pending before the tribunal.
3. This writ petition is directed against the second reference made by Government, and, the challenge to it rests on the disposal of the first reference which, according to the contention of the management of the sugar factory, precludes the second. We are of the opinion that this objection to the second reference must fail.
4. Section 15 of the Industrial Disputes Act makes it the duty of the tribunal when a reference is made to it under S. 10, to make an award and submit it to the appropriate Government. The word 'award' occurring in that section is defined by S. 2(b) of the Act which reads :
''award' means an interim or a final determination of any industrial dispute or of any question relating thereto by any labour court, industrial or national tribunal and includes an arbitration award made under S. 10A.'
5. When the workmen of the sugar factory were placed ex parte on 8 August, 1967, the tribunal was not absolved of its duty to make its determination on the industrial dispute which it was called upon to decide. It made no such determination. The determination of which S. 2(b) of the Act speaks is not a termination of the proceedings before the tribunal by some method or other. There is a determination within the meaning of that definition only when there is an adjudication on the merits, and there was none in the present case.
6. Rule 10B of the rules made under S. 38 of the Act prescribes the procedure to be adopted by the tribunal when a reference is made to it and the scheme of that rules makes it clear that the tribunal must make a pronouncement on the validity of the claim made by one party and repudiated by the other. Although rule 23 empowers the tribunal and the other authorities enumerated therein to proceed ex parte when one of the parties to the proceedings before it fails to appear, the scheme of the Act and the rules make it obvious even though a party is placed ex parte the tribunal must pronounce on the dispute and record its findings with respect to that matter.
7. But the tribunal made no such pronouncement in the first reference. All that it did was to say that since the workmen had exhibited the utmost indifference to the proceedings although it was their duty to substantiate the claims made by them, there was nothing that could be done by the tribunal in the proceedings before it. We do not accede to the argument made by Sri Tilak Hegde that the tribunal negatived the demands sponsored on behalf of the workmen. It is plain that there was no application of the tribunal's mind to the sustainability of these demands. On the contrary, the tribunal thought that it was not necessary for it to proceed further with the matter and to investigate on the validity of the claims. That is the clear inference to be drawn from the concluding part of the order made by the tribunal which reads :
'I, therefore, find that the first party has failed to substantiate the reference. For the abovesaid reasons the reference fails and the same is rejected.'
8. The tribunal, it is clear, did not have the power to reject the reference. Its observation that the workmen had failed to 'substantiate the reference' does not mean that the workmen had failed to substantiate their demands.
9. When it rejected the reference in contravention of S. 15 of the Act, the workmen or Government, as the case may be, could have sought mandamus directing the tribunal proceed to make an award. But it should not be overlooked that the present proceeding before the tribunal is, in substance, a continuation of the old.
10. In that view of the matter, we think that we should not exercise our jurisdiction in this matter. So we dismiss this writ petition, but we make no direction with regard to costs.