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Suti Mills Mazdoor Sabha and ors. Vs. Muir Mills Co. Ltd. and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1962)IILLJ715All
AppellantSuti Mills Mazdoor Sabha and ors.
RespondentMuir Mills Co. Ltd. and ors.
Excerpt:
- - 4. the propriety of dismissal of workmen after permission bad been refused by an authority under the industrial disputes act came up for consideration in lakshmi devi sugar mills, i ltd. a perusal of annexures a and d clearly shows that the workmen did raise before the labour court the contention that the dismissal of the workmen was wrongful and unjustified on the ground that permission to discharge the workmen had been expressly refused by the additional regional concilliation officer, kanpur. this contention is also well founded. i do not propose to decide bow far this contention is well founded......time. the company applied to the regional conciliation officer for permission to discharge certain workmen. permission was refused. in spite of refusal of permission twenty workmen were discharged or dismissed with effect from 15 february 1958. the labour court ought to consider the question whether the conduct of the company involved a breach of section 6e of the act. in that light, the labour court should decide whether the dismissal was illegal and wrongful.10. another contention of mr. k.p. agarwal is that the labour court did not apply its mind to a part of the reference before it. this contention is also well founded. the state government referred two questions to the labour court. question 1 was in these terms:whether the workmen appearing in the annexure were wrongfully and/or.....
Judgment:

V.G. Oak, J.

1. This writ petition is directed against an award of a labour court. Sooti Mills Mazdoor Sabha, Kanpur, is petitioner 1. Muir Mills Company, Ltd., Kanpur (hereinafter referred to as the company), are the principal respondent.

2. In 1957 the company suspended a number of its workmen on certain charges. The company applied to the Regional Conciliation Officer, Kanpur, for permission to dismiss the workmen, as certain oases were pending before him. On 24 January 1958 permission was refused. Nonetheless the company proceeded to pass an order dismissing twenty workmen with effect from 15 February 1958. Petitioner 1 raised the question that dismissal of the twenty workmen was wrongful. The State Government, therefore, referred the question, whether the suspension and dismissal of the workmen were wrongful and unjustified, for decision by the labour court at Meerut. The labour court gave its award on 16 February 1959 holding that the dismissal of the workmen was Justified. The award was published by the State Government on 12 March 1959. This writ petition is directed against the award, dated 16 February 1959.

3. The first contention of Mr. K.P. Agarwal appearing for the petitioners is that dismissal of the workmen involved a breach of Section 6E of the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act 1947 (hereafter referred to as the Act). Section 6E runs thus:

(1) During the pendency of any conciliation proceedings before a conciliation officer or a board or of any proceeding before a labour court or tribunal in respect of an industrial dispute, no employer shall-

(a) in regard to any matter connected with the dispute, alter, to the prejudice of the workmen concerned in such dispute, the conditions of service applicable to them immediately before the commencement of such proceeding, or

(b) for any misconduct connected with the dispute, discharge or punish, whether by dismissal or otherwise, any workmen concerned in such dispute save with the express permission in writing of the authority before which the proceeding is pending.

4. The propriety of dismissal of workmen after permission bad been refused by an authority under the Industrial Disputes Act came up for consideration in Lakshmi Devi Sugar Mills, I Ltd. v. Ram Sarup 1957 I L.L.J. 17. Their lordships of the Supreme Court observed on p. 25 thus:

If, on the other hand, such permission is refused, the parties would be relesrated to the status quo and the employer would not be able to deal out the punishment which he intends to do to the workman.

5. Section 6E of the Act gives a specific direction that no employer shall dismiss a workman during the pendency of a matter before a conciliation officer without express permission from such authority. If permission has been refused, dismissal would obviously involve violation of Section 6E of the Act. Dismissal in such a case would be illegal, and therefore wrongful.

6. Mr. R.S. Pathak appearing for the company contended that this point was not raised by the workmen before the labour court. Annexure D to the affidavit is a copy of the written arguments filed by the work men before the labour court. I find in annexure D a reference to the Supreme Court decision referred to above. It was pointed oat in annexure D that the workmen were dismissed, although permission had been refused by the conciliation officer.

7. Annexure A to the affidavit is a copy of the Government notification dated 12 March 1959 containing the award dated 16 February 1959. In its award the labour court observed thus:

The employers, due to pendency of certain oases before the regional conciliation officer, Kanpur, moved applications seeking ; permission to dismiss the workmen concerned.... These oases were heard and disposed of by Sri J.N. Srivastava, additional regional conciliation officer, Kanpur, who refused permission to dismiss the workmen on the ground that no prima facie case had been made out by the employers...the employers, without any new circumstances, dismissed the workmen...which, as is alleged by the union, is wrongful, unjustified and has been resorted to with ulterior motive.

A perusal of annexures A and D clearly shows that the workmen did raise before the labour court the contention that the dismissal of the workmen was wrongful and unjustified on the ground that permission to discharge the workmen had been expressly refused by the additional regional concilliation officer, Kanpur.

8. The labour court, after giving an outline of the pleadings of the parties, proceeded to consider the conduct of the workmen involved in the dispute. After considering the facts of the case, the labour court concluded that the workmen were guilty of misconduct. Their dismissal was, therefore, upheld by the labour court. The labour court did not decide the question whether the dismissal was wrongful and unjustified on the ground that permission had been refused by the additional regional conciliation officer. It may be that, on merits, the dismissal was justified. The Question, however, remained whether the dismissal was illegal on the ground that it involved a breach of Section 6E of the Act.

9. Since I am remanding the case for rehearing, I need not record a definite finding that the dismissal of the workmen was wrongful and unjustified. I shall merely Indicate the proper approach in this case. It is common ground that certain matters were pending before the regional conciliation officer at the material time. The company applied to the regional conciliation officer for permission to discharge certain workmen. Permission was refused. In spite of refusal of permission twenty workmen were discharged or dismissed with effect from 15 February 1958. The labour court ought to consider the question whether the conduct of the company involved a breach of Section 6E of the Act. In that light, the labour court should decide whether the dismissal was illegal and wrongful.

10. Another contention of Mr. K.P. Agarwal is that the labour court did not apply its mind to a part of the reference before it. This contention is also well founded. The State Government referred two questions to the labour court. Question 1 was in these terms:

Whether the workmen appearing in the annexure were wrongfully and/or unjustifiably suspended and subsequently removed from employment on the dates detailed against their names? If so, to what relief are they entitled?

11. As discussed above, the labour court discussed the question of the conduct of the workmen. The labour court concluded that the workmen were guilty of misconduct. The labour court, therefore, decided that the dismissal of the workmen was Just and proper. The action of the company was upheld. The finding by the labour court was confined to the dismissal of the workmen. The labour court did not separately discuss the question of suspension of the workmen. Mr. K.P. Agarwal contended that, even if the dismissal was justified, the workmen were entitled to wages for the period of suspension. I do not propose to decide bow far this contention is well founded. It was for the labour court to decide whether the suspension as such was wrongful or unjustified, and whether the workmen were entitled to any wages for the period, of suspension. If the permission was accorded, the workman would not be paid during the period of suspension, but if the permission was refused, he would have to be paid for the whole period of suspension. As regards suspension, the labour court has to decide two points. Firstly, whether the suspension was wrongful or unjustified. Secondly, whether the workmen are entitled to get wages for the period of suspension. These matters were not considered by the labour court at all.

12. The award is defective in two ways. Firstly the labour court did not discuss the effect of Section 6E of the Act. Secondly, the labour court did not deal with that part of the reference, which dealt with the question of suspension of the workmen. For these reasons, the labour court should be required to re-hear the reference in the light of this judgment.

13. The question now arises whether the award should be quashed as regards all the twenty Workmen, or only as regards, the ten workmen who are before me. In this connexion, may be pointed out that initially Sooti Mills Mazdoor Sabha was the sole petitioner before me. At that stage Mr. R.S. Pathak contended that Sooti Mills Mazdoor Sabha was not entitled to file the writ petition on behalf of the workmen. I referred that question to a Division Bench. The petitioner applied for amendment of the writ petition, while that question was pending before the Division Bench. The Bench allowed amendment of the writ petition. By that amendment, Ahmed All Khan and ten others have been joined in the writ petition as petitioners 2 to 11. After the amendment, the learned Counsel for the parties agreed before the Bench that the question referred to the Bench by me became unnecessary and need not be answered. Thereupon the Bench returned the papers to me without answering the question referred to it by me. I take it that the petitioner more or less conceded that petitioner 1 was not competent to file the writ petition on behalf of the workmen. Obviously, petitioners 2 to 11 are not competent to represent those workmen, who have not joined in the writ petition. So the award may be quashed only as regards the ten workmen, who have joined in the writ petition. The award may stand as regards these workmen, who have not joined in the writ petition. Since the petition partly succeeds and partly fails, parties may be directed to bear their cost.

14. The award of the labour court, Meerut, dated 16 February 1059, and the Government notification dated 12 March 1959, are quashed as regards petitioners 2 to 11. The labour court, Meerut, is directed to re-hear the reference as regards petitioners 2 to 11 in accordance with law as indicated in this judgment. Parties shall bear their own cost.


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