A.P. Srivastava, J.
1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
2. Seven prayers have been made in it but the petition is pressed only with respect to the last-mentioned prayer. It is, therefore, not necessary to state the facts in detail so far as they relate to the other prayers. The last prayer for which the petition is pressed is that an order, direction or writ be issued requiring the opposite party 1 to decide issues 2 and 3 as preliminary issues.
3. In order to appreciate the facts leading up to the abovementioned prayer it would be sufficient if it is mentioned that the petitioner is a limited company which employs a large number of persons. In respect of the bonus payable to its employees for the calendar year 1959 an agreement was arrived at between the company and the workers and was implemented by the Government. Then a dispute was raised about the bonus payable to the workers for the financial year 1959-60 and that dispute had been referred by the Government under notification No. 378(LC)/-XVIII-LA-75(MRS)/-1960 dated 12 May 1961, to the industrial tribunal (III), Allahabad, which has been impleaded in the petition as respondent 1. The matter in dispute referred to is:
Should the employers be required to pay bonus to their workmen for the year 1959-60? If so, at what rate and with what other details?
After the dispute was taken up by the respondent 1 written statements were filed by the petitioner as well as the workmen. One of the points raised by the petitioner was that so far as the year 1959 was concerned the bonus had already been paid in accordance with a compromise which had been implemented by the Government and there was, therefore, no dispute left which could be referred to the tribunal. It was also contended that on that account the tribunal had no jurisdiction to go into that aspect of the matter. The workmen on the other hand contended that the compromise on the basis of which bonus had been paid for the calendar year 1959 related only to the customary bonus and did not relate to the profit bonus. They said that the question of profit bonus had never been decided earlier by compromise and there was a dispute about it which had been rightly referred to the Industrial tribunal. Among the other issues framed by the tribunal there was one as to whether the dispute pending before the tribunal was an Industrial dispute or not. At the instance of the petitioner two additional issues were framed which read:
2. Whether there is no dispute, much less an industrial dispute, regarding bonus for the year 1959, on account of the memorandum of settlement dated 10 March 1959, enforced by the Uttar Pradesh Government through notification No. 2300 (ST)/XXXVIA 718 (ST)/59, dated 28 March 1959?
3. Whether there is likewise no dispute in relation to three months (January to March) of 1930 in view of bonus having already been paid and accepted by the workmen under notice No. 11 dated 12 January 1961?
4. It will be noticed that the point of Jurisdiction was not specifically made a subject-matter of any of the three issues quoted above though probably it was intended to be covered by the first and the second issues.
5. A request was made by the petitioner to the industrial tribunal to take up the first issue before taking up the others but as the tribunal thought that a mixed question of law and fact was raised under that issue it did not agree to that request.
6. The tribunal has directed the petitioner to furnish information relating to various matters which are mentioned in Para. 17 of the petition which reads like this:
17. That during the course of the proceedings before the tribunal, it became increasingly apparent that the petitioning company would have to face extremely onerous and harassing burdens. In fact as soon as issues were struck, the petitioning company was directed to furnish the purchase prices of the secondhand machinery as also the following information in respect of each item of plant and machinery buildings, etc., on the next date (i.e., 23 August 1961):
(1) Age of machinery including year of make, purchase and installation as also the year of construction of each building.
(2) Coat of replacement.
(3) Period daring which it would require replacement.
(4) The price of the machine to be brought for replacement.
(5) The amount standing in the depreciation and reserve funds.
(6) To what extent funds at the disposal of the industry would meet the coat of replacement.
(7) Income tax assessment order for the disputed year.
7. The petitioner feels that it will be faced with a number of difficulties if it has to furnish the information which the tribunal has directed it to furnish. Some of the difficulties have been mentioned in Para. 18 of the petition which is as follows:
18. That the petitioning company has, apart from its head office, twelve sales branches, five cigarette factories, and two 5 printing factories distributed all over India. The Information desired by the tribunal required the collection of the enormous data relating back: to a period of about forty years ago when some of the machines were installed and buildings constructed. The gigantic task involved can be judged from the fact that the net value of the plant, machinery, buildings, etc, as on 31 March 1960, after allowing for depreciation amounts to over Rs. 3.5 crores. Inasmuch as many of the heavy machines were extremely old, it would be necessary in order to afford definite information to the tribunal to mates enquiries from the original manufacturers in the Unioad Kingdom, Germany and other countries who supplied the said machinery as early as thirty to forty years ago. This was particularly necessary as the workmen were challenging the figures of original costs of the fixed assets as shown in the balance sheet.
8. It is urged on behalf of the petitioner that in view of the difficulties mentioned in para. 18 it will be very hard on the petitioner if it is required to furnish all the information at great expense, inconvenience and hardship and all the inconvenience and hardship can finally be obviated if the tribunal considers the three issues already mentioned before proceeding with the rest of the matters referred to it. It is in these circumstances that the petitioner has pressed before mo that last prayer in the petition that an order, direction or writ be issued to the tribunal directing it to decide the issues 2 and 3 as preliminary issues.
9. I am not very certain whether a direction of the kind mentioned in the last prayer can be claimed under Article 226 of the Constitution or whether it should be claimed under Article 227. That, however, is a matter of form.
10. The tribunal is now seized of the dispute that has been referred to it and has to consider the various issues that it has framed in connexion with the dispute. The tribunal has itself to decide the order in which the various questions it has to decide have to be taken up. In doing so, however, it is expected to see that as little inconvenience and difficulty is caused to the parties as is possible. Prom the copy of the order of the tribunal which has been annexed to the petition as annexure V it does not appear that the petitioner has made any representation to the tribunal about the difficulties and inconveniences it will have to suffer if it has to supply the information which it has been directed to supply at this stage of the case. The question that these difficulties will have to be faced by the petitioner has thus neither been raised before the tribunal nor has it been considered by it. There appears to be no reason to suppose that if these difficulties are pointed out to the tribunal it will not give a reasonable consideration to them and will not pass the necessary orders in respect of them. The petitioner has really rushed to this Court without first approaching the tribunal to do what it expects this Court to direct the tribunal to do. In that sense the petition can be said to be premature.
11. No case has, therefore, at least at the present stage, been made out for issuing any direction of the nature mentioned in the last prayer of the petition which is the only prayer pressed before me. The petition cannot, therefore, succeed. It is rejected.