1. This is a special appeal against th judgment of a learned single Judge of this Court arising out of a writ petition in an industrial dispute matter. The appellant is the union of workmen employed by the Punjab Sugar Mills Ltd,, Ghughli, in the district of Gorakhpur. Certain workers which were in the employ of the Mills were dismissed by it whereupon they raised a dispute. There was a settlement according to which the retrenched employees were to be re-employed either by the Mills or by a co-operative society of cane growers called the Cane Development Union.
In spite of this agreement the dispute did not come to an end as about 130 employees still remained unemployed. The President of the appellant Union, therefore, filed an application before the Regional Conciliation Board on 20-4-1953. for settling the industrial dispute about the rein-statement of 130 discharged workers. In thisapplication the request was that the Board mightdecide the question of the reinstatement of those 130 workmen to their old jobs with full wages for the period of their unemployment and due Consideration for other amenities.
The Board was subsequently constituted but as no conciliation could be effected between the parties the Board submitted a report to the Government. The Government thereupon issued the following Notification on 30-7-1953, under the powers conferred upon it by Sections 3, 4 and 8, U. P. Industrial Disputes Act, and in pursuance of the provisions of clause 10 of the G. O. No. 615, dated 15-3-1951:
''Whereas an industrial dispute in respect of the matter hereinafter specified exists between the concern known as M/S The Punjab Sugar Mills Go. Ltd., Ghughli District Gorakhpur and its work-men (C. S. No. 142 of 1953) and whereas in the opinion of the Governor it is necessary so to do for the maintenance of public order and for maintaining employment;
Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Sections 3, 4 and 8 of the U. P. Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (U. P. Act No. 28 of 1947) and in pursuance of the provisions of clause 10of G. O. No. 615 (LL)/XVIII-7(LL)/51 dated 15-3-1951, the Governor is pleased to refer the saiddispute to Sri J. N. Khanna Regional Conciliation Officer, Gorakhpur, who shall adjudicate on the following issue in accordance with the provisionsof the aforesaid G. O. No. 815 (LL)/XVIII-7(LL) 1951, dated 15-3-1951.
Matter of dispute.
Whether the employers should be required to give any retrenchment relief or compensation to the workmen as peri annexure? If so, with what details?'
To this was annexed a list of 130 retrenched workers.
2. Clause 10 of G. O. no. 615 dated 15-3-1951, runs as follows:
'Where the State Government is of opinion that any industrial dispute exists or is apprehended, it may at any time either of its own motion, or after considering the report of the Conciliation Board made under sub-clause (3) of clause 6 or on an application made to it, by order in writing, refer any dispute to the Industrial Tribunal, or if the State Government considering the nature of the dispute or the convenience of the parties so decides, to any other person specified in that behalf for adjudication.'
The complaint of the appellant was that the Government referred merely the dispute about the 'retrenched relief or compensation' and not the dispute about the re-employment of the retrenched workers and payment to them of their salary for the period for which they had remained unemployed. The appellant therefore filed a writ petition in this Court praying that a writ, direction or order in the nature or mandamus be issued to the State Government to refer the alleged actual dispute between the parties, that is, the reinstatement of the workers to the adjudicator.
3. The argument of learned counsel for the appellant was that the word 'may' in clause 10 of the Government Order of March 15, 1951, meant 'shall' and that therefore the Government was bound to refer all the disputes that existed and not one only of such disputes. The learned single Judge rejected the petition on the ground that tinder Clause 10 of the G. O. dated the 15th March, 1951, referred to the above the Government wasnot bound to refer for adjudication every dispute which existed but was entitled to refer only such dispute or disputed as it considered necessary to be referred.
4. In this appeal learned counsel has reiterated before us the grounds taken by him in the petition and has urged that the State Government could not ignore or refuse to refer the dispute which undoubtedly existed as is proved by the petition of the workers before the Regional Conciliation Board. We think that in this appeal it is not necessary to decide the question which was raised by the appellant before the learned single Judge, as the appeal can be disposed of on another point.
5. Under clause 10 of the Government Order of March 15, 1951, the State Government has un-doubtedly been empowered at any time to refer any dispute to the Industrial Tribunal or to any other person either of its own motion, or after considering the report of the Conciliation Board, or. on an application made to it. The condition precedent to this being done, however, is that 'the State Government is of opinion that any industrial dispute exists or is apprehended'. The criterion is not whether a particular industrial dispute in fact exists or is apprehended.
The criterion is whether in the opinion of the State Government such a dispute exists. The formation of an opinion by the Government as to the existence or apprehension of an industrial) dispute is a matter entirely within its discretion and jurisdiction. It is a matter of administrative decision. It is not a judicial or quasi-judicial matter at all. It cannot be said, even if it can be proved by other evidence that a dispute existed, that the State Government was bound to form the opinion that the dispute did in fact exist. As stated by the Supreme Court in -- 'State of Madras v. C. P. Sarathy', AIR 1953 SC 53 (AX in respect of a similar provision under Section 10(1), Industrial Disputes Act (Central Act No. 14 of 1947).
'its factual existence (i. e, of a particular industrial dispute) and the expediency of making a reference in the circumstances of a particular case are matters entirely for the Government to decide upon.'
6. In the present case there is nothing to show that the Government was of opinion that the particular industrial dispute, Which is mentioned by the appellant in his petition, existed. What the State Government stated in its order of reference was that the industrial dispute regarding retrenchment relief and compensation existed. It was silent as to the existence of the dispute delating to the re-employment of the retrenched workers or the payment of salary to them for the period of unemployment.
In these circumstances, the Court is not competent to direct the Government to refer the dispute which the appellant wanted to be referred.In this view of the matter, it is not necessary forus to express any opinion on the further questionwhether, even if the State Government was ofopinion that the dispute which the appellant wantsit to be referred did exist, it was bound to referft. Consequently this appeal fails and is dismissedwith costs. A sum of Rs. 100/- will be taxed asfee for the counsel for the respondent.