1. The petitioner, A.P. Public Health & Medical Employees Union affiliated to Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) is a Union of the employees serving in the Department of Health and Medical Education, Government of Andhra Pradesh registered under the Trade Unions Act, and it is one of the unions existing in the Department of Health and Medical Education. In this Writ Petition, the petitioner-Union has sought for a Writ in the nature of Writ of Mandamus, declaring the action of the respondents 1 and 2 in not allowing the petitioner to negotiate with regard to the conditions of service and other grievances of the members of the petitioner-Union as illegal, arbitrary and contrary to the provisions of the Trade Unions Act, and for a consequential direction to the respondents 1 and 2 to permit the petitioner-Union to participate in the negotiations along with other registered Trade Unions with regard to the conditions of service of the employees working under respondents 1 and 2. The first respondent is the Director of Health, Government of Andhra Pradesh, whereas the second respondent is the Director of Medical Education, Government of Andhra Pradesh. After filing the writ petition, the Director of Family Welfare, the Commissioner of A.P. Vaidya Vidhan Parishad and the Government of Andhra Pradesh represented by Commissioner of Labour -Ex.Officio Secretary, were impleaded as party respondents 5 to 7 respectively.
2. In the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition, it is stated that in the year 1964 under the Code of Discipline, the respondents 3 and 4, namely, A.P. Public Health & Hospitals Employees Union and A.P. Medical Employees Union were recognised as Ihe majority unions for the purpose of collective bargain for the Telangana region and Andhra region respectively, and the term of the recognition came to an end on completion of two years, and thereafterwards no electionverification ballot was held to find out which Union enjoys the support of majority of employees of the Department of Health and Medical Education. The petitioner claiming that as on the date of presentation of the writ petition it enjoyed support of majority of the employees serving in the Department ofHealth and Medical Education has filed this writ petition praying for the reliefs referred to above.
3. In response to the Rule Nisi, respondents 3, 4 and 5 have filed counter-affidavits and others have not filed counter-affidavits.
4. The petitioner-Union on an earlier occasion had filed Writ Petition No. 14827 of 1994 seeking a direction to the Commissioner of Labour, Andhra Pradesh to conduct verification of the membership of the Unions in the Medical and Health Departments to find out the majority Union, and this Court disposed of that Writ Petition by ils order, dated 14-3-1995 directing the Commissioner of Labour to conduct verification of membership of the Unions expeditiously and in any case not later than four months from the date of the order. In obedience to the direction of the Court, the Commissioner of Labour who is the Chief Returning Officer under the Code of the Discipline conducted a meeting of the Director of Medical Education, the Director of Public Health, and the Commissioner, Vaidya Vidhana Parishad on 4-7-1995 and requisitioned the names of the employees/workmen who were on muster rolls as on 1-7-1995 so as to enable him to prepare the draft voters list and accordingly the muster rolls were received in the office of the Commissioner of Labour by 27-7-1996. The Commissioner of Labour addressed a letter to the Government for sanction of Rs. 1,50,000/-towards expenses to be incurred for conducting secret ballot election. The Government informed the Commissioner of Labour vide Memo dated 12-2-1996 that expenditure to be incurred for conducting election had to be borne -by the respective Unions and not by theGovernment. In other-words, the requisition of the Commissioner of Labour was turned down by the Government. When this was, noticed by the Court on earlier occasion, the Court felt that the stand taken by the Government was not in consonance with the well established practice and, therefore, the learned Government Pleader for Labour who represented the 7th respondent-Commissioner of Labour was directed by the Court to contact the Government to know the present stand of the Government relating to reimbursement of the-expenditure to be incurred in conducting secret ballot and report the same to the Court. Thereafterwards, the case underwent several adjournments. Today also when the case was called the learned Government Pleader for Labour was not present in the Court.
5. The stand taken by the Government not to reimburse the expenses to be incurred in conducting secret ballot, in my considered opinion, is totally irrational and not in consonance with the maintenance of healthy industrial relations between the employer and the employees. It is trite to state that the respondents 1 and 2 are the State employers and they are expected to be model employers, and they cannot putforth irrational and unfair pleas before the Court. It is the duty of the respondents 1 and 2 employers to find out the collective bargaining agent who enjoys support of majority of the employees serving in the departments, and without the recognised collective bargaining agent, it is not possible for the respondents 1 and 2 to carry on the administration smoothly and effectively. The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 envisages negotiation, mediation and conciliation. Many grievances of the employees working in the departments headed by the respondents 1 and 2 can be sorted out by resorting the aforementioned modes of dispute-resolution. If that is the object behind the collective bargaining, it is totally irrational for the State Government to contend that expenses to be incurred in conducting secret ballot should be borne by the employees. Although the Court felt accordingly on the last date of hearing, theCourt did not proceed to order, and it thought that the Government itself would realise about its responsibility in maintaining good industrial relations and would come forward to reimburse the expenses to be incurred for conducting secret ballot. The direction issued in W.P. No.14827 of 1994 to the Commissioner of Labour to conduct verification ballot has become final, and the official respondents are obligated to carry out that direction.
6. In the result and for the foregoing reasons, I dispose of the Writ Petition directing the Government of Andhra Pradesh to place the required sum of money for conducting secret ballot at the disposal of the Commissioner of Labour, within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. The Commissioner of Labour is directed to take immediate steps and conduct secret ballot to find out the majority Union. This direction shall be carried out by the Commissioner of Labour within a period of three months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. No costs.