H.N. Nagamohan Das, J.
1. In this writ petition the petitioners have prayed for a writ in the nature of certiorari to quash the award dated 17.07.2001 in Ref. No. 70/1991 passed by the Central Government Industrial Tribunal cum Labour Court, Bangalore (for short 'the Tribunal') rejecting the claim of petitioners for reinstatement and regularisation in service.
2. First respondent is a nationalised Bank having its branches all over the Country and abroad. The first respondent Bank has been a pioneer in the field of agriculture finance even prior to nationalisation of Banks. In the year 1964 the first respondent Bank established Agricultural Finance Division for promoting agricultural finance and allied activities. Second respondent is a society registered in the year 1966 under the then Mysore Societies Registration Act, 1960. The primary object of second respondent is to promote technical literacy among the farmers thereby helping the farmers in modernizing the agricultural practice so that village economy improves. In the year 1973 the second respondent launched an important rural development program namely, 'Farm Clinic Project'. Under this project the second respondent established 'Farm Clinics' in different villages. The object of Farm Clinic' was to provide monetary assistance to the poor families in the village. To run this Farm Clinic' the second respondent appointed local voluntary workers as Field Assistants. The appointment of these Field Assistants was purely temporary and the Farm Clinic' will operate in any village for a period of about 3 to 5 years. On 03.04.1986 the first respondent Bank wrote to the second respondent instructing to train the Field Assistants to take up self employment ventures soon after the closure of the Farm Clinics'. Aggrieved by this communication dated 03.04.1986, the petitioner association representing the Field Assistants filed W.P. No. 10541/1986 on the file of this Court and the same came to be allowed vide order dated 01.08.1986 directing the first respondent to absorb the Field Assistants in service and to extend all other monetary benefits. The respondents questioned the order in W.P. No. 10541/1986 in appeal in W.A. Nos. 2412 and 2424/1986. A Division Bench of this Court vide order dated 29.11.1989 set aside the order in W.P. No. 10541/1986 and liberty was reserved to the petitioners to workout their remedy, if any. In the meanwhile the services of Field Assistants came to an end with the closure of farm clinics. Thereafter the petitioners raised a dispute before the Tribunal by way of reference under Section 10(1)(d) of the Industrial Disputes Act (the Act' for short). The schedule of reference is as under:
Whether the Syndicate Bank Staff Union is justified in demanding the reinstatement of 263 Field Assistants (list enclosed) employed by the Syndicate Agricultural and Rural Development Foundation (formerly known as Syndicate Agricultural Foundation) by the Syndicate Bank and thereafter regularisation of services by the Syndicate Bank. If so, what relief the workmen are entitled to?
3. Before the Tribunal the first respondent filed counter statement inter alia contending that there is no relationship of master and servant between the Bank and the Field Assistants. The second respondent in its counter statement contends, that 'Farm Clinics' are established for a temporary period up to 5 years. The appointment of Field Assistants was temporary. On closure of 'Farm Clinics' the services of Field Assistants was also terminated and therefore the question of regularisation will not arise. The first respondent examined one witness as M.W.1, the second respondent examined one witness as M.W.2 and the petitioners examined one witness as W.W.1. Both the parties produced number of documents.
The Tribunal on appreciation of pleadings, oral and documentary evidence on record, passed the impugned award rejecting the claim of petitioner. Hence, this petition.
4. Sri. K. Subba Rao, learned Senior Counsel for petitioners contend, that the Tribunal failed to consider large number of documents produced by the petitioner in support of their contention that they are the employees of the first respondent Bank. He contends, that the second respondent has no independent existence and that the same is sponsored by the first respondent Bank. The second respondent is managed, directed and controlled by the first respondent Bank through its officers. The Field Assistants were appointed only to do the work of first respondent Bank. The termination of Field Assistants was illegal, arbitrary and capricious. Reliance is placed on the following decisions.
1. Hussainbhai v. The Alath Factory Tezhilali Union and Ors. : (1978)IILLJ397SC
2. Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd., and Anr. v. Shramik Sena and Ors. : (1999)IILLJ696SC
3. Management of VISL v. Presiding Officer and Anr. 1995 (I) LLJ 196
4. Gujarat Agricultural University v. Rathod Labhu Bechar and Ors. : (2001)ILLJ710SC
5. Indian Overseas Bank v. IOB Staff Canteen Workers' Union and Anr. AIR 2000 SC 1508
6. Dharangadhara Chemical Works Ltd., v. State of Saurashtra and Ors. : (1957)ILLJ477SC
7. Shivnandan Sharma v. The Punjab National Bank Ltd. : (1955)ILLJ688SC
8. Mangalore Ganesh Beedi Works v. Union of India and Ors. : (1974)ILLJ367SC
9. J.K. Cotton Spinning and Weaving Mills Co. Ltd., v. The Labour Appellate Tribunal and Ors. : 3SCR724
10. Basti Sugar Mills Ltd., v. Ram Ujagar and Ors. : (1963)IILLJ447SC
11. The State of Assam and Ors. v. Kanak Chandra Dutta : (1968)ILLJ288SC
12. Piyare Lal Adishwar Lal v. Commissioner of Income-tax, Delhi : (1966)IILLJ759SC
5. Per contra, Sri. K.R Prabhu learned Counsel for first respondent contends, that there is no relationship of master and servant between Bank and Field Assistants. He contends, that the Agricultural Assistants are different from Field Assistants. Agricultural Assistants are the employees of Bank whereas the Field Assistants are the employees of second respondent. Reliance is placed on the following decisions.
1. Delhi Development Horticulture Employees' Union v. Delhi Administration, Delhi and Ors. 1992 SCC (L&S;) 805
2. Surendra Kumar Sharma v. Vikas Adhikari and Anr. : (2003)IILLJ1094SC
3. Secretary, State of Karnataka and Ors. v. Umadevi and Ors. : (2006)IILLJ722SC
6. Sri. C.K. Subrahmanya, learned Counsel for second respondent contends, that they appointed the Field Assistants for the project of 'Farm Clinic'. The employees were aware of the fact that they are appointed to work in 'Farm Clinics' and their appointment was purely temporary. The employees were also aware that the 'Farm Clinics' are established only for a period upto 5 years. He contends, that the 'Farm Clinics' are closed way back in the year 1986 and no new 'Farm Clinics' are established. He justifies the impugned award.
7. Heard arguments on both the side and perused the entire writ papers.
8. Lengthy arguments are advanced and number of decisions are cited on the question of master and servant relationship between the first respondent Bank and the Field Assistants. Even if it is held that Field Assistants are the employees of the first respondent - Bank, then the questions remains, whether they are entitled for reinstatement and regularisation of their services. The material on record establishes that the Field Assistants are appointed temporarily to work in the Farm Clinics. These Farm Clinics are established for a period of 3 to 5 years only. Clause 24 of the booklet relating to Farm Clinics reads as under:
The position of Field Assistant is purely temporary. This is because the Farm Clinic itself will operate in any village for a period of about 5 years. The intention of Syndicate Agriculture Foundation is not to provide employment to the Field Assistants but to give them an opportunity to involve in the development work in their own villages, so that they can develop their skills and self confidence. After working for a period of 3-5 years the Field Assistants should be in a position to start their own self employment ventures in their own villages. The knowledge and experience gained by them by working as Field Assistants will stand them in good stead while running their business.
9. In the order of appointments issued to the Field Assistants it is made clear that they are appointed temporarily to work in the Farm Clinics. On expiry of the project, the respondents have closed the Farm Clinics. On closure of the Farm Clinics the services of Field Assistants also came to an end. It is not in dispute that the respondents have not established any new Farm Clinics. Therefore the Field Assistants are not entitled for reinstatement and regularisation.
10. The Supreme Court in the case of Surendra Kumar Sharma v. Vikas Adhikari and Anr. : (2003)IILLJ1094SC held, that the workmen given employment under the scheme got the employment on an ad-hoc basis and from the beginning knew that the employment was temporary in nature and coterminous with the scheme itself and therefore they could not said to have been retrenched within the meaning of Section 2(oo) of the I.D. Act so as to be entitled to the relief of reinstatement if the provisions of Section 25F of the I.D. Act were not complied with.
11. In the instant case, the Field Assistants were aware of the fact that their appointment was temporary and they are appointed to work in the Farm Clinics. The Field Assistants were also aware of the fact that the Farm Clinics are established for a period of 3 to 5 years only and on closure of the Farm Clinics their services will come to an end. Therefore, the termination of Field Assistants is in accordance with the law declared by the Supreme Court. I find no error or illegality in the impugned award.
12. The contention of the learned Senior counsel for petitioners that the duties of Field Assistants and Agricultural Assistants are identical and after the termination of Field Assistant the respondent - Bank is extracting the same work through Agricultural Assistants is unacceptable to me. Firstly the Agricultural Assistants are appointed by the Recruitment Board in the manner specified in the Banking Regulation Act. On the other hand, the Field Assistants are appointed from the villagers where the Farm Clinics are established on temporary basis for a specified project. The service conditions of Field Assistants and the Agricultural Assistants are entirely different. The nature of duties of Field Assistants are confined to a particular village where Farm Clinic was established. On the other hand, the nature of duties of Agricultural Assistants are different. The Field Assistants are not liable for transfer whereas the Agricultural Assistants who are regular employees are liable for transfer from place to place. The fact that some duties are identical alone will not entitle the Field Assistants to seek reinstatement or regularisation.
13. For the reasons stated above, the writ petition is rejected with no order as to costs.