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Andhra Handloom Weavers Co-operative Society Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. No. 152 of 1962
Judge
Reported inAIR1964AP363; (1963)IILLJ488AP
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 2, 10(1) and 19
AppellantAndhra Handloom Weavers Co-operative Society
RespondentState of Andhra Pradesh and ors.
Appellant AdvocateK. Srinivasamurthy, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateO. Adinarayana Reddy, Adv. for 3rd Govt. Pleader and ;C. Seetharamiah, Adv. for Venkatarama Sastry, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
labour and industrial - reference - sections 10 (1) (c), 2 (b) and 19 of industrial disputes act, 1947 - industrial dispute referred by government - orders passed by labour court published by government and in operation - whether government has jurisdiction to make fresh order of reference to same labour court - case arising upon reference of industrial dispute dismissed by previous awards due to non appearance of workmen in enquiry - word 'determination' in section 2 (b) to mean adjudication of dispute between parties - putting an end to proceeding in any manner does not amount to valid determination - order passed by labour court not amounting to 'award' under section 2 (b) - held, government not precluded from making fresh order of reference as previous reference did not result in..........of the reference dated 2-12-1961 made by the state government under section 10(1)(c) of the industrial disputes act (hereinafter referred as the act).2. the main ground on which this writ petition is rested is that the government had no jurisdiction to make the impugned order of reference at a time when two valid awards made by the same labour court in i. d. no. 33 of 1960 and i. d. no. 23 of 1961 on previous references by the government under section 10(1)(c) of the act, were in operation. the two prior awards were published by the government in the official gazette on 12-10-1961. under section 19(3) of the act those awards would remain in operation till 11-11-1962. even thereafter they would continue to bind the parties unless and until a period of two months has elapsed from.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Gopalakrishnan Nair, J.

1. The petitioner who is an employer seeks a writ of Prohibition to restrain the Labour Court, Guntur, from taking proceedings in pursuance of the reference dated 2-12-1961 made by the State Government under Section 10(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act (hereinafter referred as the Act).

2. The main ground on which this Writ Petition is rested is that the Government had no jurisdiction to make the impugned order of reference at a time when two valid awards made by the same Labour Court in I. D. No. 33 of 1960 and I. D. No. 23 of 1961 on previous references by the Government under Section 10(1)(c) of the Act, were in operation. The two prior awards were published by the Government in the official gazette on 12-10-1961. Under Section 19(3) of the Act those awards would remain in operation till 11-11-1962. Even thereafter they would continue to bind the parties unless and until a period of two months has elapsed from the date on which notice is given by one of the affected parties intimating his intention to bring them to an end. This is the provision in Section 19(6). In view of these statutory provisions, the petitioner claims that the impugned reference made by the Government on 2-12-1961, i.e., in less than two months from the date of the publication of the previous awards in the official gazette, is without jurisdiction and in excess of the authority of the Government.

3. The respondents resist this petition mainly on the ground that the orders passed by the Labour Court in I. D. No. 33 of 1960 and I. D. No. 23 of 1961, did not constitute awards within the meaning of the Act, and that, therefore, Sections 17 - 19 did not apply to them and consequently there was nothing in the Act to preclude the Government from making the impugned reference under Section 10(1)(c) of the Act.

4. The controversy between the parties thus lies within a somewhat brief compass. If the Labour Court did not made any award in I. D. No. 33 of 1960 and I. O. No. 23 of 1961, it cannot successfully he contended that the present reference by the Government is bad. On the other hand, if the Labour Court had already made awards in I. D. No. 33 of 1960 and 23 of 1961, and they ware published in the Official Gazette on 12-10-1961, as stated by the learned Counsel for the petitioner the impugned reference of the Government dated 2-12-1951 will have to be held invalid. The short question, therefore, is whether the Labour Court can be said to have been made awards in I. D. No. 33 of 1960 and I. D. No. 23 of 1961.

5. It is common ground that the Labour Court, touse its own words, 'dismissed the case for default ofappearance of the workmen at the enquiry'. That wasthe final order passed by the Labour Court in I. D. No-33 of 1960 and I. D. No. 23 of 1961. The order of dismissal for default is claimed to be an 'award' by thelearned counsel for the petitioner, whereas the learnedcounsel for the respondents say, it is not. The expression 'award' is defined in Section 2(b) of the Industrial Disputes Act as follows:--

'award' means an interim or a final determination of any industrial dispute or of any question relating thereto by any Labour Court, Industrial Tribunal or National Industrial Tribunal and includes an arbitration award made under Section 10A'.

Admittedly, the Labour Court did not adjudicate upon the merits of the dispute referred to it. Nor did it solve the dispute. Yet it is claimed on behalf of the petitioner that there was a final determination of an industrial dispute by the Labour Court. I find it extremely difficult to accede to this contention. The 'determination' of any' industrial dispute' within the meaning of Section 2(b) of the Act means an adjudication of the dispute between the parties. The object of the decision called the award is to resolve the differences between the disputants.

But it is urged for the petitioner that the word 'determination' in the definition just means 'putting an end to' the proceedings in the whatever manner it be. As the order of dismissal for default put an end to the proceedings before the Labour Court, there was a 'determination' satisfying the requirements of Section 2(b), runs the argument of the petitioner. In support of this contention strong reliance is placed upon the decision of a single Judge of the Kerala High Court in Krishnakutty Nair v. Industrial Tribunal, Trivandrum 1957-2 Lab LJ 45 : CAIR 1960 Kerala 31). This decision, no doubt, lends assistance to the petitioner. But, with utmost respect. I find myself wholly unable to accept it. The view it propounds seems to me to ill accord with the; words of Section 2(b) as well as the provisions of Section 10(1)(c). It also disregards the scheme and object of the Act.

6. The definition in Section 2(b) plainly requires an industrial dispute or any question relating thereto be determined by a Labour Court. The terms of Section 10(1)(c) speak of the dispute being referred to the Labour Court for adjudication. Therefore, on a reference under Section 10(1)(c), the Labour Court is to adjudicate on the dispute, and not just close or end the proceedings before it by any method which does not involve adjudication or resolution of the dispute referred to it If it were otherwise, the very object of reference to it would be frustrated, it is possible, as has happened in the cases under discussion, to put an end to the proceedings before the Labour Court without going into the dispute between the parties. But such a termination is not an adjudication of the dispute and is not, therefore, an award. Such termination keeps the dispute outstanding as ever before; the dispute continues and is in no way resolved. A technical termination of the proceedings by an order of 'dismissal for default' does not, therefore, serve the purpose of the referance or the object of the Act. I suppose this is why the Act does not make any provisions for dismissal for default. Indeed, a dismissal for default as under Order 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure seems to be inappropriate and alien to proceedings under the Act. It cannot be gainsaid that the Act is conceived to establish industrial peace and harmony between the employers and the employees. This object would not be achieved or advanced by a mere technical termination of the proceedings before Industrial Tribunals and labour Courts. On the contrary such a mechanical and technical order of termination of proceedings might further embitter the relations between management and labour and create a more difficult situation for both. The Legislature could not have contemplated an order with such potentiality for evil to be an award within the intendment of the Act. The provisions of the Act cannot be interpreted in such a manner as to bring about a result so plainly contrary to the object of the legislation. An interpretation likely to advance the remedy and suppress the mischief has to be adopted. Otherwise, the intention of the Legisla-ture will be defeated. Thus, from the point of view of the provision of the Act, the purpose of the Legislation and the true rule of construction to be applied, the view taken by the learned single Judge in 1957-2 Lab LJ 45 : (AIR 1960 Kerala 31), appears to be difficult of acceptance.

7. The learned counsel for the petitioner has invited my attention to a decision of the Supreme Court in British India Corporation Ltd., industrial Tribunal, Punjab, (S) : AIR1957SC354 , and also to the decisions of the Punjab High Court in British India Corporation Ltd. v. Industrial Tribunal, Punjab, 13 FJR 352 (Punj) and Punjab Distilling Industries Ltd. v. Industrial Tribunal, Punjab, 14 FIR 128 (Punj). These decisions, no doubt, indicate that when an award has been made by a Labour Court, it is not open to the Government to make another reference in respect of the same dispute to the Labour Court, except in conformity with the provisions of Section 19 of the Act. But the important fact to remember is that these decisions deal with the case of a previous award on the same dispute.

The decision of the Supreme Court in Burn and Co. v. Their Employees, (S) : (1957)ILLJ226SC also does not assist the petitioner. It held that when a valid awardhad already been made, another reference regarding the same dispute could not be made, even after the expiry of the period prescribed by Section 19(6) of the Act, unless there was a change in the circumstances which necessitated a fresh reference. This decision also proceeds on the footing of the existence of a previous award. In the instant case, there does not appear to have been an award at all as defined in Section 2(b) of the Act. None of these decisions can, therefore, be of help to the petitioner.

8. The learned counsel for the respondents have relied upon the decision of a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court in Maharana Mills Kamdar Union v. N.L. Vyas, Industrial Tribunal, Rajkot, AIR 1960 Bom 29. There, Chainani C. J. speaking for the Division Bench observed :

'Where a Tribunal allows a matter to be withdrawn in order that it may be referred to a private arbitrator for adjudication, there remains no dispute, before it, anwhich it can adjudicate. There is also no determination of the dispute itself the dispute continues, but instead of being decided by the Industrial Tribunal, it is to be decided by private arbitration. There is, therefore, no determination of the dispute in such cases, much less is it a determination by an Industrial Tribunal. Even thoughtherefore, the orders made by the Tribunal are described as awards and are published as such in the official Gazette, they are not awards within the meaning of the Act. The position might be different, if the dispute has been settled on merits by private agreements and the Tribunal has been asked to make awards in terms of the agreements.'

These observations, although made in the context of a different set of facts, point to a principle which is relevant to the present cases. The mere publication of an order of the Labour Court as an award, or even the assigning of the label of award by the Labour Court itself, will not make the order an award, if it is not really an award as defined in the Act. I find it difficult to regard an order of Labour Court which does not involve any adjudication whatsoever of the dispute referred toit and which in no manner sets at rest the differencesbetween the opposing parties, as an 'award' within the contemplation of the Act. A mere dismissal for default is surely not an adjudication, and does not result in any determination of an industrial dispute, and is, therefore, not an award. The decision of the Bombay High Court cited above seems to be in support of this view. The Bombay High Court has dissented from the opinion expressed in 1957 Lab LJ 45 : (AIR 1950 Kerala 31).

9. As the Labour Court did not make any award on the previous reference made to it by the Government, the impugned reference has to be upheld as competent. The Government had no alternative but to make a fresh reference of the dispute, since the previous reference did not really result in an award. That is precisely what the Government have done in the present case. I am not able to see any good ground for striking down the order of reference dated 2-12-1961. This petition fails and is accordingly dismissed with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 100/-.

10. At this stage the learned counsel for the petitioner wants it to be expressly stated that this writpetition has failed only on the ground that the orders ofthe Labour Court in I. D. No. 33 of 1960 and I. D.No. 23 of 1961 did not amount to an award within themeaning of the Act. The other grounds he has takenhave not been, and should not be taken to have beendecided by this Court.


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