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J.K. Jute Mills Company Ltd. Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1962)IILLJ580All
AppellantJ.K. Jute Mills Company Ltd.
RespondentState of Uttar Pradesh and ors.
Excerpt:
- - the wage board recommended that certain interim relief should be given to workmen in the jute industry. 9. sri pathak contended that the state government failed to exercise the discretion conferred upon it by section 3 of the act......manufacture of jute goods at kanpur. on 25 august 1960, the government of india set up a central wage board for jute industry. the wage board recommended that certain interim relief should be given to workmen in the jute industry. the interim relief was by way of additional wages for 1960 and 1961. the recommendation of the wage board was accepted by the central government. the state government thereupon proceeded to rot on the recommendation of the wage board. the petitioner was advised to implement the recommendation of the wage board. but the petitioner was not agreeable, it was pointed out to the state government that conditions in uttar pradesh were different from those obtaining in bengal. it was not, therefore, practicable to implement the recommendation of the wage board by the.....
Judgment:

V.G. Oak, J.

1. These are three connected writ petitions directed against the same Government notification issued under Section 3 of the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereafter referred to as the Act). Since the three (petitions raise the same questions of fact land law, it will be convenient to dispose of the three petitions by a common judgment. I shall refer to the facts in one case. J.K. Jute Mills Company, Ltd., Kanpur, are the petitioner in Writ No. 1254 of 1961.

2. According to the affidavit filed on behalf of the petitioner, the petitioner is a public limited company. It carries on business of manufacture of jute goods at Kanpur. On 25 August 1960, the Government of India set up a central wage board for jute industry. The wage board recommended that certain interim relief should be given to workmen in the jute industry. The interim relief was by way of additional wages for 1960 and 1961. The recommendation of the wage board was accepted by the Central Government. The State Government thereupon proceeded to Rot on the recommendation of the wage board. The petitioner was advised to implement the recommendation of the wage board. But the petitioner was not agreeable, it was pointed out to the State Government that conditions in Uttar Pradesh were different from those obtaining in Bengal. It was not, therefore, practicable to implement the recommendation of the wage board by the three petitioners. But the State Government did not accept the protest lodged on behalf of the petitioners. On 25 April 1961, the State Government issued an order under Section 3 of the Act directing the three petitioners to grant interim relief to their workmen with effect from 1 October 1960. These writ petitions are directed against the Government notification, dated 25 April 1961.

3. The president of the J.K. Jute Mill Mazdoor Union, Kanpur, has filed one counter-affidavit on behalf of respondent 2. Sri Har Swarup Sharma, who is Up Sachiv to Uttar Pradesh Government in the Labour Department, has filed another counter-affidavit on behalf of respondent 1.

4. Annexure A to the affidavit is the resolution of Government of India, dated 25 August 1960, constituting a central wage board for Jute industry, Annexure D to the affidavits is the resolution of Government of India, dated 25 January 1961, accepting the recommendation of the central wage board. Annexure H to the affidavit in the notification of Uttar Pradesh Government, dated 25 April 1961, under Section 3 of the Act.

5. Sri R.S. Pathak appearing for the petitioners did not challenge the Government resolution (annexure A) for the constitution of a central wage board. But he criticized the membership of the wage board. Pilkington and Goenka were nominated as members representing employers on the wage board. It is said that those two members do not represent the three petitioners. There are more than one hundred jute mills in India. Selecting representatives of employers was a matter of some difficulty. There is no definite ground taken in the writ petitions that these two members are biased against the three petitioners. We need not, therefore, give further consideration to the constitution of the wage board.

6. Sri Pathak contended that the wage board ignored the basic principles for fixation of wages. It is said that those basic principles for fixing wages are to be found in Express Newspapers (Private), Ltd. v. Union of India 1961-I L.L.J. 339 and in Lipton, Ltd. and another v. their employees 1959-I L.L.J. 431.

7. Neither party has filed a copy of the report of the central wage board recommending the interim relief in dispute. In the absence of that report, it is difficult to say whether the board considered the relevant factors for fixation of wages for workmen in jute industry.

8. It may further be pointed out that the wage board has not been impleaded as respondent in these writ petitions. I am informed that the wage board functions at Calcutta. That may be the reason why the wage board has not been impleaded in these writ petitions. The petitioners must be aware that this Court has no jurisdiction to quash recommendation of a body functioning at Calcutta. Sri Pathak stated that the petitioners' purpose will be served, if the notification issued by Uttar Pradesh Government is quashed by this Court.

9. Sri Pathak contended that the State Government failed to exercise the discretion conferred upon it by Section 3 of the Act. For this contention, Sri Pathak relied upon the following passage in Para. 13 of the counter-affidavit by Sri Sharma:

At the tripartite conference also it was pointed out to the employers' representatives that since the wage board had already considered the points raised on their behalf it was no more possible for the State Government to take any decision In regard to the exemption of the mills in Uttar Pradesh from the applicability of the recommendations made by the wage board.

Learned Counsel for the parties agreed before me that the wage board to not a statutory body. The State Government was not, therefore, bound to accept the recommendation of the wage board. It is not, therefore, clear why the State Government thought that it had no power to differ from the view taken by the wage board.

* * *

* * *

10. Section 3 of the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, runs thus:

If, in the opinion of the State Government it is necessary or expedient so to do for securing the public safety or convenience or the maintenance of public order or supplies and services essential to the life of the community, or for maintaining employment, it may, by general or special order, make provision-

(a) * * *(b) for requiring employers, workmen or both, to observe for such period, as may be specified in the order, such terms and conditions of employment as may be determined in accordance with the order....

11. The first six paragraphs of annexure H are introductory. Thereafter annexure H runs as follows:

And whereas, in the opinion of the State Government it Is expedient to enforce the state recommendations of the wage board for securing public convenience and maintenance of public order and supplies essential to the life of the community and for maintaing employment:

Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act....

12. Annexure H Indicates that before passing the Impugned order, the State Government did consider the matters which are mentioned in the opening paragraph of Section 3 of the Act. It is not, therefore, correct to say that the State Government passed the order without applying its mind to the problem. It may be that the State Government did not decide for itself whether the recommendation of the wage board was sound on merits pt not. But that omission would not be a serious defect in the order issued by the State Government Under Section 3 of the Act.

13. Sri Pathak contended that Clause (b) of Section 3 of the Act is invalid, because the impugned order purports to have been passed in the subjective discretion of Government. It has been contended that the provision offends against Articles 19(1)(f) and 19(g) of the Constitution. The opening paragraph of Section 3 of the Act shows that order a of this kind are to be passed only if the State Government considers it necessary or expedient to do so for securing public safety or convenience or for maintaining public order or supplies, etc. Considering tike safeguard contained in the opening paragraph of Section 3 of the Act, it must be held that Clause (b) of Section 3 constitutes a reasonable restriction on the right conferred on citizens by Sub-Clauses (f) and (g) of Clause (1) of Article 19 of the Constitution. Clause (b) of Section 3 is valid.

14. Lastly, Sri Pathak contended that an order by the Sate Government under Clause (b) of Section 3 could not be given retrospective effect. He pointed out that although the impugned Order is dated 25 April 1961, It contains a direction to the petitioners to pay extra rages to their workmen with effect from 1 October 1960. It was urged for the respondents that a direction of this kind does not amount to giving retrospective effect to the order issued under Section 3 of the Act.

15. Both the parties relied upon State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. v. Basti Sugar Mills Co. Ltd. and Ors. 1961 I L.L.J. 220. In that case the State Government issued a notification under Section 3(b) of the Act on 5 July 1960 directing Basti Sugar Mills to pay bonus to their workmen for the years 1947-48 and 1948-49. The Government notification was challenged before this Court by filing a writ petition. The writ petition was allowed by a all Bench of this Court. The State Governmtent took up the matter in appeal before the Supreme Court. The appeal was allowed by their lordships.

16. Their lordships observed on pp. 223-224 thus:

We entirely agree with the learned Judges of the Allahabad High Court that Clause (b) of Section 3 cannot be given a retrospective effect. But we are unable to agree with them that the State Government in making a direction to the employers to pay bonus for the years in question purported to give a retrospective operation to it provisions of that clause. The order de by the State Government in regard bonus is to the effect that it shall be for the year 1947-48 to those persons no worked during that year and for the (year 1948-49) to those persons who worked during that year. This payment was directed to be made within six weeks of the making of the order. By giving this direction the State Government did no more than attach a condition to the employment of workmen in the year 1950-51 in sugar factories affected by the order. That is all that it has done.... Since the law enables the State Government to impose a term. It is apparent that the legislature which enacted that law did not import into that word a consensual sense. We cannot, therefore, accept the argument that under Clause (b) it was not open to the State Government to make the payment of bonus to workmen a condition of their employment in future and thus augment their past wages.

17. That decision lays down two points. Firstly, Clause (b) of Section 3 of the Act cannot be given retrospective effect. Secondly, allowing bonus to workmen for work done In previous years does not amount to giving retrospective effect to Clause (b) of Section 3 of the Act.

Sri Pathak pointed out that Basti Sugar Mills case 1981-I L.L.J. 220 (supra) Involved payment of bonus, while the present case involves additional wages for the past. That distinction is no doubt there. But I do not think that that distinction is of any practical importance in applying the principle whether Clause (b) of Section 3 of the Act could be said to have been given retrospective effect merely because past work of a workman is taken into consideration. If bonus for 1947-48 could be considered as a condition of employment for 1950-51, there should be little difficulty in treating extra wages for 1960 as a condition of service for the year 1961. So, although the State Government passed the impugned order in 1961, payment of extra wages for certain months in 1960 could be treated by the State Government as a condition of service of the workmen for the year 1961. On that view, it is not necessary to suppose that the State Government has given retrospective effect to Clause (b) of Section 3 of the Act.

18. Thus all the contentions advanced on behalf of the petitioners fall. Each of the three connected writ petitions is dismissed with costs (one set of coats in favour of respondent 1, and another set of costs in favour of respondent 2).


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