1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash a settlement dated 2 September 1966 purporting to be under Section 18(3) of The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and to issue a write of mandamus directing responds 1 and 2 to forbear from giving effect to the said settlement.
2. Respondent 1 to this write petition is the Regional Labour Commissioner. Respondent 2 is the Syndicate Bank. Respondent 3 is the Syndicate Bank Employess' Union. Respondent 4 is the All India Bank Emloyess' Association.
3. The Syndicate Bank is a limited Banking company with its registered office at Manipal, south Kanara. It has more than 200 branches and more than 3,000 employess. The employess of the bank would appear to be is two groups, or represented by the Syndicate bank Employess' Union (hereinafter called the union) and the other by the syndicate Bank staff Association, petitioner herein (hereinafter called the association), Respondent 3 union is affiliated to the All India Bank Employess' Association, respondent 4. The petitioner-association is affiliated to the National Organization of Bank workers.
4. The union was recognized by the management as the recognized union on 5 January 1965 as the management and the union, by means of natural settlement dated 14 November 1964, had accepted the code of discipline in industries as stated by Indian Labour Conference held in November 1958 and which came into force with effect from 1 June 1958. The Petitioner-association is stated to be of a recent formation and it has not so far been recognized by the bank.
5. For the years 1956 to 1981, the bank paid an amount of Rs. 8,37,900 as bonus to its employee's. Being dissatisfied with the amount of the bonus respondent 3 union raised a dispute demanding the payment of additional bonus. The demand of respondent 3 union was originally taken up by respondent 4, the All India Bank Employess' Association, before the Chief Labour Commissioner (Ceatyal) at New Delhi, Eventually; the Chief Labour Commissioner (Ceatyal) at New Delhi requested the Regional Labour Commissioner (respondent 1 herein) to initiate consolation proceedings.
6. The petitioner association, in its letter dated 5 May 1965, requested respondent 1 to impaled it in the dispute for the additional bonus, Respondent 1 issued notes to the parties fixing 4 June 1965, for holding the conciliation prsosediags. of the Bank, and the petitioner-association, Respondent 3 union did not attend the proceedings, Beth the union and the associations would appear to have asked for further time and the minutes were drawn up by the Regional Labour Commissioner There were some more meeting of the parties with the Regienal Labour Commissioner. At a meeting hold on 24 August 1965 at Gazette, the representatives of the union as well as the association were present. The representatives of respondent 3 union took objection to the imploding of the petitioner-association was not a party to the bonus dispute of 1962 as the association was then not in existence; and secondly because the union alone was the recognized units. Upon these gerund, the union desired that the asscoiatioa's name should be deleted from the present proceedings. At that meeting, the secretary of the petitioner-association is affiliated, were present, During the disgusting, to affiliated, were present. During the discussions, is was represented that the management and the repetitive of respondent 3 union may have another found of discussions for the settlement of the bonus question from 1958 to 1984 that the a (X) round of discussions might be held in February 1965. The Regional Labour Commissioner observed in his dispute, is having abbatial number of membership behind them and as it is also a recognized union under the code of diesoline, he had no objection in granting time for stealing the outstanding matters alluding bonus from 1956 to 1961 and adjourned the matter for the month. As regards the plea of the association that they should he made parties, the Resiezal Labour Commissioner observed that it was up to the manage amount to accept or mot accept them as parties.
7. Though there was a meeting fixed to the held at Bangalore on 10 January 1966, it would appear to have been admeasured at the request of the parties. There was a meeting on 29 January 1966 at which besides the representatives of the bank, the president of the Bank Employess' Association; the seoretary of the National Organizastion of Bank Workers and Mohamed All; seoretary of the petitioner-isolation, were present. In the minutes of the meaning, It was yeooyded that Sampath (representing respondent 4) hand stated that the management and the representatives of the action had one round of discussion for the settlement of bon us for the years 1956 to 1964, and that as there was likelihood of an amicable settlement of the dispute, the matter may be adjourned; No objection to the proposal was made by any of the others parties imploding the representatives of the petitioner-isolation; on 14 February 1966, respondent 1 retiled to the parties that the conciliation proceedings will be taken up on 23 February 1966. The representative of respondent 4 asked for further time for the bipartite talks. The representative of the petitioner-isolation also asked for time. On 19 February 1966, respondent 1 notified to all the parties that, in view of the fact that the parties were haves mutual negotiations in the matter; the case was aerated as closed and that, in case no settlement was arrived at, the dispute may be foisted afresh before him.
8. In the meantime, respondent 3 anion raised demands for the payment of additional boats for the year 1962, in terms of what is compendiously know as the Derail Bonus award of July 1962, The bank denied that the employees were entitled to any additional bonus. Effects for conciliation having failed. the matter was referred to the industrial) Hyderabad, Eventually, the tribunal passed as a ward dated 25 May 1965 directing that the workmen were entitled to a bonus of over four and a halfbacks of uses. The bank thereupon filed a writ pestilent (Write Petition No.876 of 1965) in this Court praying for the quashing of the award of industrial tribunal. The Write partition was admitted on 30 June 965 and in Civil Miscellaneous Petition No,5798 of 1965, stay of the enforcement of the award was ordered by this Court.
9. On 23 July 1966, the bank wroth to respondent 1 that, in a joint meetings between the representatives of the Management and the workman held on 11 July 1966, an understanding had been reached on the industrial dispute regarding the bonus for the years 1956 to 1965 including 1962 which is providing before the High Couth of Andhra Paean and that they would approach the Regional Commissioner Shortly for a formal attunement in the pending bonus dispute;
10. An agreement was rushed on 11 July 1966 at Maniple, The terns if the settlement were attacked up the Circular dated 3 August 1966 by the bank. They are as follows:
(1) for the year 1965, as additional payments of bonus was payable.
(2) for the year 1956, it 1964 it was agreed to settle the dispute by payment of additional bonus at the rash of 17 1/2 yeomen of the annual bonus already paid to the employee who worked in our bank in the respective years.
(3) A formal settlement would be sighed before the Regienal Labour Commissioner (Central). Hyderabad.
(4) The ease pending before the High Court of Andhra Pradesh regarding bonus for the year 1962 would be settled by this.
11. The petitloner-assooiatioa states, in its affidavits, that this oriole was displayed on the notices-board at Gandhi agar Branch at Bangalore on 12 August 1966. On 10 August 1966 with reference to the latter of the reglonal Labour Commissioner dated 19 February 1966, the petitioner-associations sated that they had addressed the management about their obligation under the payment of Bonus Act and requested the management to settle the matter amiably and that the bank had replied that the matter was receiving their attention, In that letter, the petitioner-association stated that they were raising a initiate consolidation proceedings.
12. After the terms of the settlement between the bank and respondent 3 union were known by means of the of ruler, the petition association wrote to the Regional Labour Commissioner on 30 August 1916 seating that the settlement renamed between the bank and the union either directly the bank and the union either directly or in dissector through the All India Bank Employess' Association (respondent 4) was not binding upon the petitioner-association. On 27 August 1966, the Bank wrote to respondent 1 to initiate consolation prsosediags on the beaus dispute for the years 1956 to 1965, On 2 Saptembar 1966, the conciliation proceedings were held at Hyderabad and visually, a settlement was signed by the pastries in the presence of respondent 1 and the witnesses.
13. After this settlement was reached, an palliation (Civil Miscellaneous Petition No. 8175 of 1966) was filed in this Court in Writ Petition No. 876 if 1945 for recording the terms of settlement arrived at between the bank and the union in respect of the claim for additional basis for the years 1956 to 1965. by an order dated 6 Sweetener 1966, Thus Court recorded the teems if compromise, one of the oomditiens of which was an appropriate modification of the award passed by the industrial tribunal is Isustrial Dispute No. 39 of 1964 with respect to the bonus for the year 1962 and against which the main write petition was filed.
14. The settlement recorded by respondent 1 is in these terms:
Memorandum of settlement arrived at on 2 September 1966 at Hyderabad during conciliation under Section 18(8) of the Industrial Disputes Act. 1947, between the management of Syndicate Bank, Ltd,, manipal, and the workmen of syndicate Bank, Ltd,, represented by Syndicate Bank Employees' Union, Bombay, affiliated to the All India Bank Employess' Association in the matter of claim for additional bonus for the years 1956 to 1965 (both years incisive).
Sri B. KAHRYSEMA RAO,
Regional Labour Commissioner (Castro),
Shert reoital of the Cases.
The workmen of Syndicate Bank Ltd. represented by Syndicate Bank Employess' Union, All India Bank Employess' Association had made claims for additional bonus for the years 1956 to 1961 and after some discussions, the Regional Labour Commissioner (Central Hyderabad, has by his letter No. B1/1(2)/ (6)/65 dated 19 February 1966 closed the case. The workmen represented by Syndicate Bank Employess' Union have now made claim for additional bests for the years 1956 to 1965 (both years inclusive). The parties felt that the disputes for all the years 1958 to 1965 inclusive of 1962 could be settled amiably and after mutual discussions and as a resole of the offsets of the Regional Labour Commissioner (Central), Hyderabad, at the consolation on 2 September 1966 the matter is settled amicably on the terms indicated hereunder.
Terms of settlement
1. It is agreed by and between the parties that this settlement has been ontered isto without prijudioa to the bank's contentions at law. It is a greed that the emyloyess accept the amouat montioned herunder in fall ande flaal settlement of their claims for additienal bonus for the years 1956 to 1965 (both the years imclusive) and undertake that they will not make any further domsad of raise any dipute in yespect of benus for the said years.
2. The union hereby agress to relinquish its olaims for payment of additional bonus to the employess for the year 1965. The bonus already paid is more than 4 per oent under the Payment of Bonus Aot, 1965:
3. It is agreed that for the years 1956 to 1964 (both years imolusive) and irrespootive of the award of the industrial tribuaal; Hyderabad; for paymest of additional bonus for the year 1962, the bank will pay additienal amouats aqual to 17 1/2 per oent (sevonteen and a half per cost) of the annual bonus paid already every year is full and flnal settlement of all claims for payment of additional bonus for the years 1956 to 1964 (both years inolusiv) provided that in oaze any employee who as on daate of this settlement is no longerin the asrvioe of the bank due to deatb, retirement or otherwise, onitilament for papmont of additional bonus under this settlement is restrioted to suoh emloyee or his/ her legal heir preferrigg a olaim in this bohalf withia a period of one year from the date of this settlement. It is agreed that the bank shall be as liberty to refuse to eatertain any olaims reccived on or afeer 2 September 1967.
4. It is agreed that a oopy of this settlement shall be filed is the Wris Patition No.876 if 1965 pending before the High Count of Aadhra Pyadesh, Hyderabad, and the Bank shall move the High court for orders or direotions so that the impugued a ward dated 25 May 1965 in Iaduatrisl Dispute No.39 or 1964 of the industrial tribunal, Hrderabad, shall stand modifled as per the terms of this settlemost. The uniea agrees to do all the is nsoessary in obtaining ruoh direotioar or crders from the High Court.
5. It is agreed that the ad hoc pay maniuader this settlemest shall nefther be trasted as a preoedoat nor takea as the basis to govaer the prinoiples for the determiastion of boaar in future but neverthless thus settusment shall be flaal and binding on the oarties as regarde the amouat of bonus yayble for the years 1956 to 1965 (both years inolusive).
6. The disburaement of additional bonus payable uader this settlement shall by made on or before 15 October 1966.
7. The amouat agreed to be paid as additiomanl bonus for the years 1956 to 1964 (both inolusive) in pursuanoe of this settlement shall be disbyrssd agaist a reoaipt in the form given bolow therby disohaving the bank from all liability for payment of vibys fir tge teare ub qyestues.
Form of reosipt
Recsived from Syadicate Bank Ltd., a sum of Rs. (rupees) only baing the additioual bonus in terms of settlement dated 2 Septembar 1966 arruved at Hyderadad bfore the Reguiaak Libour and flaal settlement of the olaim for additieaal bonus for the years....
8. The parties shall report implemntation of the settlemeat on or before 31 Octobar 1966 afeer whioh date, if ao raport is reocived, the implementation will be preusued.
15. It is the legality of this settlemeat that is impougend in this wrie petieion. Thepetitioner-assooistin has filed a long a ffidavei in support of the wrie petition, Ocuster affidavits were filed by respondent 1. Regioal Labour Commissioner, respondent 2 bank and respondent 3 unios. An additional affuidavit was filed by the petisiener-assoolation to which replies were filed by respondent 2 bank and respondent 8 usion;
16. In the courrs of a full and forolble argument, the learned oounsel for the petitioner-assooiation has raised the followisg broan cotentient:
(1) That the settlement arsoorded by respoadent 1 is not a settlement arrived at in the ocurse of conoliation preoceedisgs withis the meaning of Section 18(8) of the Iadustyial Disyutes Aot and that, if at all, it caa be a settlement within the maning of Section 18(1) of the said Aot:
(2) That respendent 3 usion oannot enter into settlements so as to blad all the workmon:
(3) That the petitiener -assooiation should have been imlaaded as a party to the dispute and that, isasmuoh as is was not givea as opportunity to make its represextatiens regarding the settloment, the prooedure adepted is violative of the prinoiples of satural jastice:
(4) That the settlement is highly dotrimontal to the emplorees iusamuch as, in respeot of a sum of Rs. 28,09,562 42, a sum of Rs. 3,84,423 37, was accopted, a sum whioh is svea less this what was awarded by the industrial tribuaal as bouns for the year 1962 aliobe; and
(5) That, by socuring the reinstatemont of 140 mombore of the unioa; who were dismissed by the bank the union bartered away the olaim to bonus is aq sum of Rs.24,25,139,.05, and that, therefore. it is a collusive and fraudiulent settlement not blading on the ontire body of employees.
17. Bafore considering the oonteations of the learned oounrel for the petitioner, it is necesaary to deal with the prelimiaary point raised by the learned ocunsel for yespondeat 2 bank it is stated that a petition urder Article 226 of the Constitution is not maintaniable in the instant oase, beoause flyat that, on the allegations of the peeision, some disputed facts will have to be gone into and that simpj an erquiry is boeyond the soope of a petition under Article 276 of the Constitutier; and seooadly, that the relief prayed for is deolartory in oharaoter and such a relief oasnot be gramted in the present writ patition.
18. I do not think there is foroe in aither of these contentions. When a ohallenge is made as to the nsture of the settlement is respeot of whetkr or not is was during the couise of the conoiliation prsoediags and also as to the representative oayaity of the uaion, oertaia faots have to be asoartained and such an eaquiry must nacessarlly be germane to the determisation of the ligal contertions and the graat of the reliefs prayed for. There is also no ferce in the sceond coatentiea that the form of the yelief is declayatery in oharaoter which oamnot be granted in a patition under Article 226 of the Coastitution. In Employees in Caliex (India), Ltd. v. Commissioner of Labsur etc. 1959-I L.L J. 520 Balakriahna Ayyar. J. took the view that a wrie of certiorari could be directsd only against judioial or quasijudioial preceedings; that when aoting under Section 12 of the Industrial Disputes Act, the cenoiliatien officer is not performiag judioial or quasi-jadioial fanotions; and that the jurisdiotion of the High court under Art, 226 of the coestitntion conld not be inveked to get a doolayation that the settlemont uader Section 18 was not binding on the petitoner. The isaraed counsal on the petitioner conteaded, and in my oplaion rightly, that in the instant oses it is mont is not valid and that in any case, sinoc a prayer for the issue of a wrie of mandamus was asked, there would be no jurisdiotion under Article 226 of the Constituoftion. He relied upon a deofaion of a Besoh Regional Asristant Commissioner of Labour, Hyderabed, and Ors. 1966-I L.L.J. 310 where is was held that a dsolaration can he issued even in a pstition under Art, 226 of the Coastitation. In holding so; the learaed Jidges relied upon a decision of the Kerela High Court in Themas v. Industrial Tribunal and Ors. 1960-II L.L.J.523 and the deoisiors of the Supreme court in Bidi, Bidi leaves and Tobacco Merchants' Associaiion v. Bombay State 1961 -II L.L.J. 663 and abdul Khader v. State of Kerala : AIR1962SC922 , In Monthluy-rated werhmen of Pairce Leslie & Ce., Ltd. Cachin v. Leslie Commissioner and Ors. 1966-I L.L.J. 503 an objepten that a deolsartion oaazot be given in a petition under Article 226 of the Consmiution was also overruled.
19. In excersosing its pewers under Article 226 of the Constiutes; the High coure has a wide disoretion in the matter of famiag the writs or ordere to suit the emigemioises of a partioular oase as held by the supreme court in charanjit Lal Chewdhury v. Uaion of India 1951 S.C.J. 29 I do not thiak, therefere; there is any substases in the grelimiaary objotier reised by the leared counsel for the respendents.
20. The first queetion that falls to be determined is whother the impugaed settlement is in the oeurse of cenoiliation preoeediaga withis the meaning of Section 18(3) of the Industrial Disputes Aot. Sectien 18 is in these trems;
18. (1) A settlement arrived at by agreemont between the ompleyer and workman otherwise this is the course of conoiliation preceeding shall be bindina on the parties to the areemeat.
(2) An arbitration award which has bsoome enforocable shall be binding on the parties to the agreement who referred the dispute to arbitration.
(3) A settlement arrivecd at in the course of conoiliation proceediasn under this Art or an arbiryation award in a oase where a notifloation has been issued under Sub-section (3A) of Section 10A or anaward of a labour court, tribaual or natioal tribusal which has become enferecable shall be binding or-
(a) all sarties to the industrial disputel;
(b) all other parties summoned to appear in the prcoeedings as parties to the dispute; ualess the berd arbitrator, labour court, tribuaal, as the case may be, recrds the epision that they were so summoned without proper cause;
(c) Wherea oarty referred to in or. (a) or (b) is an employer, his heiss, sucoessors, assigns, in yespeot of the esiablishment to whoch the dispute relates;
(d) Where a party referred to in Clause (a) or (b) is compased of werkmon; all persons who were ompleyed in the estblishment or -rat of the establishmet, as the oase may be, to which the dipute relates on the date of the dispute and all persons who subsequently beoome immployed in that establishmont or prat.
21. The question is whother the seitlement falls within the soope of Section 18(1) or 18(3). The supreme Court has oonsidered the relevant seopa of the two provisions in Ramnogar Cone and Sugtar Co. Ltd. v. Jatin Chakravorty 1961-I L.L.J.224 as follows:
Section 18(1) prevides that a settlement arrived at be agreemant botween the omployer and the werkmon othyerwise than in the ceurse of oemeiliation procesdiangs shall be biading on the parties to the agreement; whereas Section 18(3) provides of comoiliatien rooeedings which has bacome enferceable shall be binding on all the parties speoifled in Clause (a), (b). (c) and (d) of Sub-section (3). Section 18(3) makes it cleare that. where a party referred to in Clause (a) or (b) is compesed or workmon; all persone who were smployed in the establishment or part of the astablishment, as the case may be, to which the dispute pelates on the date of the dispute and all pessons who subsequently bsoome empleyed in that establiahmaet or part, would be bouad by the settlement. In order to bind the werkmen it is not necessary to show that the said werkmen beleng to the union the comoiliator, The whole policy of S18 appaars to be to give as extended operation to the seitiement arrived at in the course of comoiliation prcoesdinga aand that is the objeot, With which the four oatagories of persoas bound by suoh settlement are specified in Section 18, Sub-section (3).
22. The expression 'settlement' is defined in Section 2(p) as follows:
Settlement' Messa settlement arrived at in the oculse of conoiliation prcoeeding and includes a written agreement between the employer and workman arrived at otherwise that in the course of conciliation proceeding where such agreement has been signed by the parties thirsts in such meaner as may be prescribed and a copy thereof the been sent to the appropriate Government and the conciliation officer.
23. It is clear from the facts of this case that a dispute regarding the additional bonus due to the employees was raised by the union before the conciliation officer and there were several meetings in relation thereto part of this judgment. But what is strenuously pressed upon me by the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that, in his proceedings dated 19 February 1966 respondent 1 had closed the dispute and as such the settlement recorded on 2 September 1966 cannot be said to be a settlement in the course of conciliation proceedings. The memorandum of respondent 1 dated 19 February 1966 is in these terms:
In this connexion I have to inform you that the case has been pending for a pretty long time and several adjournments were given previously at the request of the parties. Daring the last conciliation proceedings held by me on 29 January 1966 at Bangalore, the parties informed me that the issue is under mutual negotiation and that there is likelihood of arriving at an amicable settlement of the dispute. As such, the parties requested for one mere adjournment as a special case and it was granted. The conciliation have now been fixed by me on 23 February 1966-vide this office letter of even number dated 14 February 1966. But now Sri Sampath of All India Bank Employees' Association, New Delhi, has telegraphically (telegram received today) requested for farther adjournment in view of the bipartite talks on the issue. Likewise the Syndicate Bank Staff Association, Bangalore, has also telegraphically requested for adjournment. As already stated above, since the issue is pending for quit a long time no further adjournment can be granted in the matter. In view of the fact that the parties are having mutual negotiations in the matter, the case is treated as closed in this office. In case no settlement is arrived at you may, if you so desire, raise the dispute afresh before this office.
24. This was communicated amongst others to the petitioner-association.
25. After the receipt of this memorandum, the bank and the union would appear to have been continuing their negotiations and eventually the bank intimated in its letter dated 23 July 1966 that an agreement had been reached with respect to the bonus dispute for the years 1956 to 1965 including 1962 and that they would approach respondent 1 shortly for a formal settlement in the pending bonus dispute.
26. It is contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the parties having already reached a settlement there was nothing for the conciliation officer to do and that the proceeding of respondent 1 dated 2 September 1966 were, therefore; illusory and deceptive.
27. The respondent's counsel have contended that the mere fact that parties had arrived at a settlement will not moan that conciliation proceedings are at an end. Reliance was placed on a decision of the Bomber High Court in Poona Mazdoer Sabha v. G.K. Dhutia 1957 -II L.L.J. 435 where chagla, Chief Justice; held that had arrived at a private settlement does not mean that the industrial dispute has ceased to exist se as to take away the initiate the conciliation proceedings. It is argued that the decision of the Bembay High court was rendered before the present amended definition of 'settlement' and that it was also not approved of in some decisions. It is unnecessary to go into this question I have to decide is whether the main question I have to decide is whether the present settlement was reached in the conciliation proceedings which, of course, will depend upon the evidence and circumstances of the case.
28. On 27 August 1966, the bank requested respondent 1 to initiate conciliation proceedings, in the above matter at an early date and resolve the dispute that was pending for a long time. Respondent 1 directed that, since the management had then requested to initiate conciliation proceedings and is the light of the misutes of the discussion of the parties dated 11 July 1966, as industrial dispute may be registered and a suitable date after 12 September 1966 fixed. In the counter-affidavit, respondent 1 states:
On 2 September 1966 conciliation was held and after protracted discussions during which this respondent's suggestions on a few points were accepted, a settlement was brought about. The letter referred to by the association was received on 3 September 1966 after the settlement had been signed on 2 September 1966.
29. No valid reason has been urged as to why I should not accept the statement of respondent 1. In these circumstances. I am of opinion that the settlement recorded by respondent 1 was during the course of conciliation proceedings.
30. It must also be remembered that the dispute raised was with respect to the additional bonus for the years 1956 to 1961. by the letter dated 10 August 1966, that petitioner-association wrote to respondent 1 that they were seeking to raise a fresh dispute and the he may initiate conciliation proceedings. The said dispute can obviously be with respect to the additional bonus for the years 1956 to 1961. Further, it is obvious form the dates that this letter was written long after respondent 1 had, in his memorandum dated 19 February 1966, closed the proceedings then pending. Respondent 2 Bank wrote to respondent 1 on 23 July 1966 that the bonus issue was discussed at the union and that an understanding has been reached for the payment of additional bonus for the years 1956 to 1966 including the question of bonus for the year 1962, this fact has relevance on the question whether or not a fresh dispute was raised before the conciliation officer before he recorded the settlement on 2 September 1966.
31. It is contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the letter dated 27 August 1966 of respondent 2 to respondent 1 to initiated the conciliation proceedings was after the communication of the petitioner-association dated 10 August 1966 and that so called conciliation proceedings were initiated as if to make out that there was a fresh dispute which needed settlement by conciliation. I do not see any force in the contention.
32. It is also contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the settlement as defined in Section 2(p) of the Act must be read with the definition of an industrial dispute in Section 2(k) and that, when the conciliation officer had closed the conciliation proceedings. There can be no subsisting dispute. On the facts of this care; as stated already, the original dispute related to the additional bonus for the years 1956 to 1966, but the settlement recorded and recorded by respondent was with respect to the additional bonus for the years 1956 to 1965 including the bonus for the year 1962. the contention of the learned Counsel that there was no fresh dispute as to the addiliosel bonus and that, therefore, the conciliation officer could not act under Section 12 of the Act has no force.
33. It is then contended that the conciliation officer. Whose duty it is to bring the management and workers together with a view to enter into discursions on the questions in dispute and to assist them in settlement, had merely recorded the settlement already reached and that, therefore, his report is not in terms of S12 (4) of the Act. From the affidavit filed by respondent 1, it is clear to me that there were negotiations and that, at his instance, certain points were accepted by the parties.
34. Another contention raised by the learned Counsel was that, before the settlement, no notice was given to the petitioner-association even though the petitioner-association was attending several of the meetings. The absence of such notice is alleged to constitute a violation of the principles of natural justice.
35. It may be recalled that, in the conciliation proceedings on 29 January 1966, the representative of respondent 4, All India Bank Employees' Association, stated that the management and the representatives of respondent 3 union one round of discussions for the settlement of bonus issue for the years 1956 to 1964 and that the next round of discussions would be held by the and of February 1966 and that, as there was likelihood of an amioable settlement of the dispute the Regioaal Labout Commissioner may adjoarn the prooeedings. The Ssoratray of The National Organization of Bank Werkers with Which the petitioner-assccistion was affilliated was petitoner-assooistion was affillated was present. Hestated that he had nothing to say in the matter. Mehsmmed Ali, the seoretary of the petieioner-association; was also present at that mooting. He does not appear to have intervened in the discassiens. In the oiroumer-assooiation had me motioe of the uagotiatiog going on between the bank and the union.
36. Reliance was plaoed jon a decision of the Kerala High court in Monthly-rated workmen of Pierca Leaiie & Co. Ltd. Cechin v. Labour Commissienter and Ors. 1966-I L.L.J. 503 (vide supra) for the position that the settlemont reached without the conourrence of all the disputaats is not valid. The priaolple of that deoisien must be limited to the facts of that oase. Farther, in this oase, the petitioners-association was seeking in vain to get itself impleade in the dispute and though on some coeasions in the meetings it was present; it cannot be said that it was doing so in its right as a reorganized association. On the foots of this oases, I do not seeking the coarsens of the petitioner-association,
37. It now remains to consider whether the settlement arrived at is binding on all the employees of the bank under Section 18(3) of the Article This question will depend upon whether or not the union was the proper body to negotiate in the course of collective bargaining with the management. Respondent 3 union was functioning for a long time and was afflicted so the all India Bank Employees Association (respondent 4). It has claimed and it is not disputed that is has a large majority of the workers on 5 January 1966 as the union and the bank had accepted to abide by the code of disotpline in industry as laid down by the Indian Labors conference. On the other hand, the petitioner-association, though a registered trade union; would appear to have come into existence in October 1964. The partialness of its membership have not been disclosed in the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition and the allegation of the respondents that its strength is very meager has not been seriously challenged. Respondent 2 Bank had not reorganized it as a anion. On the contrary, even though the petitioner-association had applied for recognition, the bank has conceded the claim. In these circumstances, it seems to me that it is only with the union that the management could negotiate for. In this conation, the observations of the learned Chief Justice. of Madras in workers of Buckingham and Carnatic Co. v. Labour Commissioner and Ors. 1964-I L.L.J. 253 vide supra) may be usefully extracted at pp. 261-262:
But the question in the present case is not whether the employees' union is competent to raise an industrial dispute, but whether a conciliation settlement with a union (which had as equal right to raise a dispute) that has been recognized by the management will bind all the workers....Again so far as the management is concerned, one can sake it that it has been an obligation only to bargain collectively with its employees. That would imply that is should reckon normally with one spokesman on their behalf who could represent the entire body of workers. It was this principle which was accepted at the tripartite conclusions which entitled a union which has a majority of its workers on its rolls to recognition by the management in the matter of negotiations.
38. In the instant case, I have no manner of doubt that the union represents a large majority of employees of the bank. It has been the recognized union presumably because it satisfied the requirements for such recognition in accordance with the principles laid down in the code of discipline. There is no force in the contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the code of discipline has no statutory force or legal sanction behind it. The code of discipline contains the conclusions of the tripartite meeting of the main elements interested in the industrial peace. The terms of that code are not lightly to be set asides, In these circumstancer, it is abundantly clear to me that the only competent and representative organization to negotiate with the management in the matter of settlement of the dispute is respondent 3 union. It is that union that has come to a settlement with the management. I, therefore, held that the settlement arrived at between the management and respondent 3 union during the course of the conciliation proceedings on 2 September 1966 would be binding not only on the members of the said union, but on all the employees of the bank in terms of Section 18(3).
39. It has been contended that the settlement is not bone fide in the sense that it was the result of a bargain between the management and the union in respect of the reinstatement of 140 workers belonging to the union. The suggestion is that, by securing the reinstatement of its members, the union has bartered away the legitimate rights of the employees in the order of over 24 lakes of rupees. This allegation has specifically raised in the additional counter-affidavit filed on 16 October 1957. This allegation has been denied both by the bank and the union. It is stated by the bank that the reinstatement of the employees had no connexion whatsoever with the settlement. The reinstatement was subsequent to the settlement. In the additional counter-affidavit filed by the union, it is stated that there was no connexion between that reinstatement and the settlement of the bonus issue, It is further alleged that the question of the dismissed employees was taken up separately. I am not persuaded that the union had bartered away the large claims for additional for additional bonus as consideration for reinstatement of some of its members.
40. It is contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that, in accordance with the Desai a ward of July 1962 the bonus amount should be determined with reference to the available surpluses and when so computed, a sum of Rs.14,44,900 would be due for the years 1956 to 1961 after giving credit to Rs.8,37,900 already paid. Similarly for the years 1963 and 1964, after deducting the bonus of Rs.10,33,800 already paid, a sum of Rs.6,81,400 is stated to be due. Similar figures were given for the year 1963. in the context of these large amounts due, the settlement at the rate of 17 1/2 per cent of bonus already paid amounting to a meager sum of Rs.3,84,423,37 is alleged to be deleterious to the interests of the employees. The management door not admit the correctness of these figures, and the fact that the recognized union of the employees had accepted to receive an additional bonus on principles agreed to in the settlement shows that the majority of the workers were of opinion that suck large amounts were not due or available.
41. The learned Counsel for the petitioner has contended that, in respect of the year 1962 alone, the industrial tribunal has awarded a sum of Rs.4,57,726,82 as additional bonus. The decision of the tribunal was challenged by the bank in Writ Petition No. 876 of 1965 on the file of this Court pleading inter alia that the award was inconsistent with the previsions of the payment of Bonus Ordinance 3 of 1965. after the settlement was reached on 2 September 1966, the parties applied for recording the terms of the settlement in the writ petition and it was so ordered by this Court. In the events that have happened, I see no justification for holding that the award of the industrial tribunal would serve as a basis for assessing the possible amounts that would be due to the employees as additional bonus.
42. In the additional counter-affidavit filed by respondent 3, it has been stated that there were bonus disputes in all the banks all over the country in the basking industry for the years 1956 to1961 and onwards; that all such disputes were settled through negotiations between the respective banks and affiliates of respondent 4, All India Bank employees' Association; that all the disputes had been amicably settled by consent; and that the settlement now impugned was, by no means an isolated instances from which any adverse inference could be drawn. This aspect of the question may not have a direct impact as to whether or not the impugned settlement is valid; but it is certainly worthy of consideration.
43. So for as the bonus due for the year 1966 is concerned, the bank and the union would appear to have arrived at a settlement on 9 July 1967. That question door not fall directly to be gone into this case.
44. In the view I have taken that the settlement reached on 2 September 1966 was firstly during the course of the conciliation proceedings; secondly that it was a bona fide settlement, and thirdly that is was negotiated between the bank and the recognized union; I hold that the settlement is binding on all the employees under Section 18(3) of the Industrial Disputes Act.
45. In the light of the above conclusions, I do not think it necessary to refer to some other contentions raised by the learned Counsel for the petitioner and of respondents.
46. The writ petition, therefore, fails and is dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs.100.