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Swaraj Motor Works Vs. the Union of India (Uoi) and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1973)ILLJ600AP
AppellantSwaraj Motor Works
RespondentThe Union of India (Uoi) and anr.
Excerpt:
.....has been taken in the act to see that the public as well as representatives of the trades and officers of the government are all associated and sufficient guidelines have been provided for the selection of the trade as well as the ratio to be fixed. article 14, it is now well-established, only forbids class classification but does not forbid reasonable classification for the purpose of legislation......provided for such fixation under the rules after due consultation with the trade experts and central apprenticeship council, that under article 19(6) of the constitution imposing reasonable restrictions on the carrying on of trade or business or making any law relating to the professional or technical qualifications is contemplated and the provisions do not offend article 19(1)(g), that financial assistance has not been given to the petitioner when he is asked to train only one apprentice, i.e. within the ratio fixed, and that this has been done after taking into consideration all the material facts, and only if it exceeds that limit, financial assistance will be given and, therefore, it is not also violative of article 14 of the constitution. as far as provision for appeal is.....
Judgment:

A.D.V. Reddy, J.

1. In this writ petition the constitutional validity of Sections 8(3), 11 and 13 of the Apprentices Act, 1961, and the action taken thereunder are questioned.

2. The petitioner M/s. Swaraj Motor Works have an auto workshop at Guntur attending to car repairs employing 17 workmen. A memo was sent to the petitioner on 25-11-1970 by the 2nd respondent, the Assistant Apprenticeship Advisor, Industrial Training Institute, Vijayawada, purporting to be under the Apprentices Act (52 of 1961) and the rules made thereunder directing them to take one Narasimba Rao as an apprentice for a period of two years on stipendiary basis of Rs. 60/70 per month.

3. According to the petitioner he intimated the 2nd respondent stating his incapacity to entertain an apprentice on payment basis, but the 2nd respondent insisted, by another memo, on his taking an apprentice and directed him to intimate to him the date of the apprentice joining the firm. Hence this petition,

4. It is now contended that the auto workshop is a small one attending to only repairs of jeeps, that it does not call for any increase in the employees, that the financial responsibility is only that of the petitioner himself without any assistance from any other source by way of aid or loan and that the relevant provisions of the Act, viz., Sections 8(3), 11 and 13, offend the constitutional guarantees afforded by Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution as the employer's financial capacity or otherwise to entertain an apprentice is not treated as relevant and a blanket power is conferred on the Apprentice Advisor and it also imposes an unwarranted obligation on the employer and curtails and interferes with his freedom to carry on his business according to his choice. While Section 8(6) of the Act puts an obligation on the employer to take additional apprentices only on the Government making available additional financial assistance, under Section 8(5) of the Act the employer is required to pay the apprentice from his own pocket without any choice if it is within the ratio fixed and this is discriminatory violating the guarantees afforded by Article 14 of the Constitution. It is further contended that no appeal has been provided from under the Act against the orders which he is required to obey. Hence the petition under Article 226 of the Constitution to issue a writ of mandamus declaring the above provisions as illegal and void.

5. In the counter filed by the respondents it is contended that the petitioner's establishment was surveyed in 1969 and then only allotment was made on the basis of the list of workers supplied by him showing four persons * as mechanics working under him out of the 15 employed, that the allotment was also as per the ratio 1: 4 fixed for the designated trade of mechanics as per the rules, that there are sufficient guidelines provided for such fixation under the rules after due consultation with the trade experts and Central Apprenticeship Council, that under Article 19(6) of the Constitution imposing reasonable restrictions on the carrying on of trade or business or making any law relating to the professional or technical qualifications is contemplated and the provisions do not offend Article 19(1)(g), that financial assistance has not been given to the petitioner when he is asked to train only one apprentice, i.e. within the ratio fixed, and that this has been done after taking into consideration all the material facts, and only if it exceeds that limit, financial assistance will be given and, therefore, it is not also violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. As far as provision for appeal is concerned, there is a provision under Section 8(7) of the Act for making a reference to the Central Apprenticeship Council, which will decide through one of the Committees appointed by it any such representation. Hence the entire petition is devoid of merit.

6. The Apprentices Act (52 of 1961) had been passed repealing the prior enactment, Apprentices Act 19 of 1850. It shows that for over a century the Act has been in force. The provisions contained therein are designed to benefit trade by providing trained apprentices in each field and sufficient care has been taken to provide guidelines for the steps taken in the selection and training of the apprentices in the designated trades.

7. Designated trade has been defined under Section 2(E) as the trade which the Central Government after consultation with the Central Apprenticeship Council, may, by notification in the official Gazette, specify as a designated trade for the purposes of this Act. In the notification issued under the item 'Transport Equipment' repairing and servicing of motor vehicles had been included. Therefore, the petitioner's is a designated trade.

8. The liability cast on the petitioner is determined on an all India basis. The Central Apprenticeship Council made up of some members appointed by the State and Central Governments and also representatives of employers in establishments in the public and private sectors and also persons having special knowledge and experience of matters relating to industry and labour is the authority authorised to fix the ratio and as stated in the counter, which is not denied, the ratio for the industry to which category the petitioner belongs is I : 4. Admittedly, the petitioner has four mechanics besides 11 other employees and the ratio fixed for him is only one apprentice as he has four mechanics and it is this apprentice that he has been asked to train as per the provisions of Section 8(3). There does not appear to be any unreasonableness or arbitrariness in the direction given to him by the 2nd respondent. The entire Act, as already stated, is designated to advance industrial progress by providing properly trained apprentices. It is in the interests of the general public that the declaration of a particular trade has been made as a designated trade and in fixing the ratio sufficient care has been taken in the Act to see that the public as well as representatives of the trades and officers of the Government are all associated and sufficient guidelines have been provided for the selection of the trade as well as the ratio to be fixed. Section 11 makes it obligatory on the employer to provide training for the apprentice and Section 13 provides for the remuneration. The relationship between the employer and the apprentice is provided for by Section 12 under a contract of apprenticeship. As pointed in Bijay Cotton Mills Ltd. v. State of Ajmer 1955- : (1955)ILLJ129SC , though the restrictions may to some extent interfere with the freedom of trade or business guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, they are reasonable as they are in the interests of trade and business and as such the interests of the general public are protected by the terms of Clause (6) of Article 19.

9. The contention that in complete disregard of his own financial capacity to entertain and train an apprentice, an apprentice has been thrust on him and this is arbitrary and is also without force. What the petitioner is required to pay the apprentice is only Rs. 60/70 per month and as stated already under Section 12 of the Act a contractual relationship between the two is contemplated and the petitioner will have the benefit, of the work done by the apprentice who, in this case, appears to be qualified person. Moreover, as pointed out in Bijay Cotton Mills Ltd. v. Slate of Ajmer (supra), the fact that an individual employer finds it difficult to employ additional labour as an apprentice cannot be a reason for striking down the law as unreasonable.

10. The contention that the provisions of Section 8(5) and 8(6) with regard to financial assistance arc discriminatory and as such offend Article 14 of the Constitution is also without force. Article 14, it is now well-established, only forbids class classification but does not forbid reasonable classification for the purpose of legislation. The classification, however, must be based on intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group and the differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by a statute in question, In the present case, in the interests of the general trade and business apprentices are sought to be trained by a particular trade and the ratio is fixed under the provisions of Section 8(1) by the Government after consulting the Central Apprenticeship Council which consists of members appointed by the State and Central Governments, representatives of employers and members having special knowledge in matters relating to industry and labour. Under Section 8(5) the apprentices sent within the ratio are to be paid by the employer himself, taking into consideration the number of apprentices sent to him depending on the number of employees that he has already employed. In this case admittedly the petitioner has 17 employees under him out of whom, even according to his own statement, four are mechanics. As the ratio has been fixed as 1.4 only one mechanic has been allotted to him for being trained. This has been done taking into consideration the financial capacity to entertain that apprentice from whom be also extracts some services. Under Section 8(6) if an additional burden is sought to be placed on him by allotting more apprentices than is provided for under the ratio fixed additional financial assistance by the Government is contemplated. This is reasonable as he is saddled with additional liability obviously beyond his means and the liabilities are to be borne by Government. This is an intelligible differentia based on the object sought to be achieved by the statute in question. Therefore, it cannot be said to offend Article 14 of the Constitution.

11. As far as the question of appeal is concerned, the moment the petitioner received the order to entertain an apprentice, he was at liberty under Section 8(7) to make a reference to the Central Apprenticeship Council setting out his grievance and a Committee appointed by the said Council would have gone into the question. There is, therefore, no force in the contention that the petitioner has no remedy at all except to obey the orders of the 2nd respondent. For the above reasons, we find no merits in the contentions raised on behalf of the petitioner.

12. The writ petition is, therefore, dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.


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