1. The Petitioner-Management has challenged the validity of the conciliation proceedings initiated by the 1st respondent on a dispute raised by respondents 2 to 4 touching the notices of retrenchment served upon them.
2. Admittedly, respondents 2 to 4 (hereinafter referred to as the workmen) were working as sales representatives of the petitioner in Madras at the relevant time. Under Annexure 'E' produced in the writ petition, the petitioner terminated the services of the workmen, as their services in its view, became surplus to the requirements of its business. These notices were served on them in Madras. On receipt of the said notices, they raised a dispute on 11-6-79 before respondent No. 1 Conciliation Officer.
3. The grievance of the petitioner is that the 1st respondent had no jurisdiction to initiate conciliation proceedings since the petitioner's establishment is situated at Bangalore and the workmen were only looking after the work of the petitioner as sales representatives in Madras. The petitioner has no establishment in Madras and, therefore, only the conciliation officer in Bangalore and not the 1st respondent had jurisdiction over the petitioner under S. 12 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (in short the Act). In support of this contention, the learned counsel for the petitioner relied upon a decision of Madhya Pradesh High Court in Association of Medical Representatives v. Industrial Tribunal, [1966-I L.L.J. 614] A Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, following the decisions of the Supreme Court in Lipton Ltd. v. Their Employees, [1959-I L.L.J. 431] and Indian Cable Company Ltd., Calcutta v. Their Workmen, [1962-I L.L.J. 409] has taken the view that supports the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner. This decision of the Madhya Pradesh is no longer good law in view of the subsequent decision of the subsequent decision of the Supreme Court in Workmen v. Rangavilas Motors (P) Ltd [1967-I L.L.J. 12]. It should be noted that after S. 2(A) of the Act was incorporated in it in the year 1965, espousal of the case of these workmen by their union or by a substantial numbers of fellow workmen is not relevant for purpose of considering whether an industrial dispute exists or is apprehended between the petitioner and the workmen. Hence, the only point for consideration is whether a dispute existed or was apprehended between the petitioner and the workmen in Madras. Admittedly, these workmen were employed in Madras and they were looking after the petitioner's business there. Their service were terminated in Madras. The fact that the petitioner has no establishment or branch office in Madras does not alter the fact that the termination of the workmen's services is connected with their employment in Madras. Section 2(k) of the Act which defines what an industrial dispute is not controlled by the location of the petitioner's establishment in Bangalore or the absence of such establishment in Madras.
4. The Supreme Court in Shri Ranga Vilas Motor's case to which I have adverted above rejected a similar contention of the petitioner in that case and held that;
'Ordinarily, if there is a separate establishment and the workman is working in that establishment, the dispute would arise at that place. As the High Court observed, there should clearly be some nexus between the dispute and the territory of the State and not necessarily between the territory the State and of the industry concerning which the dispute arose. This Court in Indian Cable Co. Ltd. v. Its Workman, [1962-I L.L.J. 409], held as follows :
The Act contained no provisions bearing on this question, which must, consequently be decided on the principles governing the jurisdiction of courts to enter ain actions or proceedings Dealing with a similar question under the provisions of the Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946, Chagla, C.J. observed in Lalbhai Tricumlal Mills Ltd. v. Vin. [1956-I L.L.J. 557].
'But what we are concerned with to decide is : where did the dispute substantially arise Now, the Act does not deal with the causes of action, nor does it indicate what factors will confer jurisdiction upon the Labour Court. But applying the well-known tests of jurisdiction, a Court or Tribunal would have jurisdiction if the parties reside within jurisdiction or if the subject-matter of the dispute substantially arises within jurisdiction.'
In our opinion, those principles are applicable for deciding which of the States has jurisdiction to make a reference under S. 10 of the Act. 'Applying the above principle to the facts of this case, it is quite clear that the subject-matter of the dispute in this case substantial arose within the jurisdiction of the Mysore Government.'
The question in that case related to the validity of the reference made by the appropriate Government, i.e., Government of Karnataka. The above observations will equally apply for deciding the validity of the conciliation proceedings under S. 12 of the Act. If a cause of action could arise where the contract was concluded, a dispute could arise where the contract of employment was terminated. Therefore, it was open to respondent No. 1 to initiate conciliation proceedings under S. 12(1) of the Act. Hence, I find no good ground to interfere with the impugned notices.
5. Accordingly this petition is dismissed.
6. Parties to bear their own costs.