1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. The respondents 1 to 13 were employees of the petitioner who purported to retrench them on the ground that he had closed the section of the establishment in which they were employed. The respondents then raised a labour dispute about their retrenchment. Their contention was that the whole establishment of the petitioner was one, that it was not a case of closure, that it was also not a case of lawful retrenchment, that the rules relating to retrenchment had not been followed, that the retrenchment was mala fide and that they were entitled to be reinstated. The dispute was referred for adjudication to the labour court. Several issues were raised before the labour court and it gave its award on 17 April 1961. It accepted the contention put forward by the employees and directed their reinstatement. It also directed that arrears of emoluments and other amenities payable to the labourers should be paid to them. The Government enforced the award by publishing it on 27 May 1961. By the present petition the petitioner challenges the validly of the award and wants it to be quashed by a writ of certiorari.
2. The grounds urged in support of the petition are:
(1) That the finding that there was one establishment of the petitioner was wrong. Really there were four establishments for the preparation of oil, dal, rice and flour. Each section was independent. The section in which the respondents were working having been closed, their services had to be terminated. The finding to the contrary is wrong.
(2) That the labour court is also wrong in its view that the principle of first-come-last-go was not followed. It did not consider the question whether the eleven respondents were really senior to any of the workmen in the other sections if all the sections formed a single establishment of the petitioner. The labour court did not go into the questions and record a finding that there were persons junior to the respondents whose services had not been terminated.
(3) That the finding that the rules relating to retrenchment had not been complied with was not correct, and in any case if certain amount payable to the respondents was not paid, that did not affect the validity of their retrenchment. On that basis their reinstatement could not be ordered. At the most the labour court could direct payment of the amounts to them.
3. The question whether all the establishments in which oil, dal, rice and flour were manufactured in the petitioner's factory constituted a single establishment or they were independent sections was essentially a question of fact. On that question after considering the materials produced before it, the labour court has recorded the definite finding that all the four sections were not independent sections but really formed part of a single establishment. In coming to that conclusion the labour court has considered the history of the venture as well as the previous conduct of the parties. It has kept in view the tests laid down by the Supreme Court for deciding the matter in Associated Cement Companies, Ltd. and Anr. v. their workmen 1960-I L.L.J. 1. It cannot in the circumstances be said that the finding is not based on evidence and if the finding is based on evidence, it cannot be questioned in writ proceedings. I am unable to accept the submission of the learned Counsel that on the materials that were before the labour court it could not come to the conclusion at which it has arrived on this point.
4. If the sections in which the respondents were employed were not independent establishments but were different sections in a single establishment, the termination of the respondents' services could not be justified on the basis of the closure of the establishment. The whole establishment was not being closed. The services of the respondents were not being terminated by way of retrenchment because it has been found by the labour court, again as a fact, that there was no justification for retrenchment.
5. But if there was any intention to retrench the respondents, it was necessary to comply with the rules. Provision in the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act relating to retrenchment is Section 6N. The rules relating to retrenchment are Rules 42 and 43. After considering the evidence produced before it the labour court has recorded the definite finding that the retrenchment was not done according to rules and was on that account invalid. Under Section 6N if any labourers were to be retrenched, the requirements of that section had to be followed. If they were not followed, the retrenchment was to be held invalid. In the present case the finding being that the requirements of Section 6N were not followed the retrenchment was bound to be held to be invalid.
6. It is true that the labour court has not discussed in its award and has not referred to any materials to show that there Were employed in the other sections of the establishment persons junior to the respondents who had not been retrenched. The Court has only made a general observation in that respect but this omission appears to be immaterial because if the rules relating to retrenchment were not followed and the retrenchment was not valid the respondents were entitled to be reinstated.
7. If the retrenchment was invalid, the respondents were entitled to be reinstated and were also entitled to be paid arrears of emoluments and amenities to which they were entitled. The contention that if the requirements of Section 6N were not complied with the retrenchment was valid, only the amount payable should have been directed to be paid, does not appear to be correct. Non-compliance with the provisions made the attempted retrenchment invalid. If the retrenchment was invalid, the labourers were entitled to be reinstated.
8. All the three grounds on which the award is sought to be challenged are, therefore, untenable. No case has been made out for quashing it. The petition as a result fails and is dismissed with costs.