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L.H. Sugar Factory Vs. Industrial Tribunal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1961)ILLJ676All
AppellantL.H. Sugar Factory
Respondentindustrial Tribunal
Excerpt:
.....that certiorari is issued when an inferior authority has refused to exercise a jurisdiction vested in it by law or has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law or has acted in contravention of the principles of natural justice or has been over-reached by the parties to the case before it by fraud. nor has the industrial tribunal in its earlier award clearly elucidated what it meant by this expression. assuming, however, that the industrial tribunal wrongly assumed that fact, it does not necessarily follow that the tribunal's award is patently bad. it was complained that the industrial tribunal did not take this document into consideration at all......muster roll on 11 may 1958. the employees of the petitioner raised the dispute that since the crushing season of the petitioner ended on 6 may 1958 all those workmen whose names were on the muster roll on 7 may 1958 were entitled to the closure holidays within one week from 6 may 1958. the petitioner's case was that the crushing season ended on 10 may 1958. the difference in the dates of the cessation of crushing season is important in the determination of the number of the workmen entitled to get the closure holidays. the number of workmen on the muster roll on 6 may 1958 appears to be greater than their number on the muster roll on 10 may 1958. the state government referred this dispute to the industrial tribunal, uttar pradesh, allahabad. by its award dated 20 november 1959 the.....
Judgment:

S.N. Dwivedi, J.

1. The petitioner carried on the business of manufacturing and selling sugar. It is alleged that the petitioner started the practice of giving to his permanent workmen two days' holiday after the cessation of crushing season. The holidays were called as closure holidays. Later the petitioner increased the number of holidays to three. Sometime in 1957 there arose a dispute between the petitioner and its workmen in regard to the closure holidays. The State of Uttar Pradesh referred this dispute for adjudication to the industrial tribunal, Uttar Pradesh, Allahabad. The tribunal gave its award on the dispute on 14 April 1958. A copy of that order is annexure a to the affidavit accompanying the writ petition. In the seasonal year 1957-58, the petitioner declared 15, 16 and 17 May 1958 as closure holidays for all workmen who were on the petitioner's muster roll on 11 May 1958. The employees of the petitioner raised the dispute that since the crushing season of the petitioner ended on 6 May 1958 all those workmen whose names were on the muster roll on 7 May 1958 were entitled to the closure holidays within one week from 6 May 1958. The petitioner's case was that the crushing season ended on 10 May 1958. The difference in the dates of the cessation of crushing season is important in the determination of the number of the workmen entitled to get the closure holidays. The number of workmen on the muster roll on 6 May 1958 appears to be greater than their number on the muster roll on 10 May 1958. The State Government referred this dispute to the industrial tribunal, Uttar Pradesh, Allahabad. By its award dated 20 November 1959 the industrial tribunal has held that the crushing ended on 6 May and not on 10 May 1958 and that accordingly those workmen who were on the muster roll on 6 May 1958 were entitled to the closure holidays.

2. Before going further it may be mentioned that it is not disputed by the petitioner that the crushing of sugarcane ceased on 6 May 1958; similarly it is not disputed by the workmen that some ordinary operations were performed after the close of the crushing of sugarcane on 6 May 1958. The only dispute between the parties thus is: what is the meaning of the expression 'at the close of the crushing season' occurring in the previous award. The industrial tribunal upheld the contention of the workmen that this expression signified the stoppage of the crushing of sugarcane and not the close of all manufacturing operations as well as some allied operations. The opinion of the industrial tribunal is essentially founded on its own interpretation of the expression. In support of its interpretation of the expression it has also incidentally taken into consideration two factual circumstances of the case. My reading of the award further is that these additional factual circumstances do not constitute the bedrock of the tribunal's decision.

3. It may be well worth here to recall the principles that regulate the issuance of a writ in the nature of certiorari which the petitioner has asked for in the instant case. It is now well settled that certiorari is issued when an inferior authority has refused to exercise a jurisdiction vested in it by law or has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law or has acted in contravention of the principles of natural justice or has been over-reached by the parties to the case before it by fraud. Now there is no doubt that in the instant case none of these principles apply. We are, accordingly, left with the only other principle for the issuance of a writ in the nature of certiorari which goes by the name of 'error of law apparent on the face of the record.' It is, therefore, necessary for me to determine in this case whether the award of the industrial tribunal is vitiated by an error of law apparent on the face of the record. It cannot be disputed that the error must be an error of law and further that that error of law must be a patent and manifest error. If an involved and elaborate argument is required for exposing the error of law, it cannot be said to be an error of law apparent on the face of the record so that the Court will then have no power to issue a writ in the nature of certiorari.

4. I will now examine the question posed before me in the light of the above formulation. As already stated the industrial tribunal has construed the expression 'at the close of the crushing season. 'Now the expression' at the close of the crushing season' is not a term of article. article Learned Counsel for the petitioner has not referred me to any statutory definition of this expression; nor has the industrial tribunal in its earlier award clearly elucidated what it meant by this expression. In the circumstances, the question as to what is the meaning of the expression, 'at the close of the crushing season' was, in my view, at large before the industrial tribunal in the instant case, Further it was a question of first impression. The industrial tribunal could, therefore, legitimately take the aid of such statutory material as would shed any light on its task of interpreting' the expression. The industrial tribunal has taken into consideration the loose definition of that expression in the standing orders and the previous award on this question. Interpreting the various causes of the standing orders and the previous award the tribunal has come to the conclusion that the expression 'at the close of crushing season' signified the close of the crushing of sugarcane and not the cessation of manufacturing and other allied operations. I am wholly unable to say that the interpretation put by the industrial tribunal on that expression is manifestly erroneous. Learned Counsel for the petitioner has taken more than two hours to satisfy me that there was such a manifest error. The very circumstance that he has taken about two hours to show me that there is a manifest error is suggestive of the fact that the so-called error is not a manifest error at all. As already stated, since an involved and elaborate argument is necessary to expose an error it cannot be said that the error is a patent error.

5. Learned Counsel for the petitioner vehemently pressed upon me that the award of the industrial tribunal is vitiated by error of law apparent on the face of the record because it has proceeded on a wrong assumption that the petitioner had informed the excise inspector that the crushing ended on 6 May 1958. I am not very clear whether the industrial tribunal has wrongly assumed that, fact. Assuming, however, that the industrial tribunal wrongly assumed that fact, it does not necessarily follow that the tribunal's award is patently bad. If the industrial tribunal has founded its interpretation of the expression 'at the close of the crushing season' on this wrong assumption, it may have been a different matter. But I express no concluded opinion on that aspect of the matter. In the present case the interpretation of the expression is however, not founded on this wrong assumption. It cannot accordingly be said that the tribunal's award is vitiated by an error of law apparent on the face of the record.

6. It was next argued that one of the documents filed by the workmen before the industrial tribunal itself showed that the crushing season ended at the close of all operations and not on the mere close of crushing of sugarcane. It was complained that the industrial tribunal did not take this document into consideration at all. There seems to be no reference by the tribunal to this document in its award. But from that omission it cannot be concluded irresistibly that the tribunal did not apply its mind at all to that document. Moreover, the alleged document is not on the record of the writ petition and I cannot, therefore, be sure whether the document has the effect contended for by the learned Counsel.

7. The last argument is that as required by the Official Languages Act, the text of the order of the State Government referring the dispute to the industrial tribunal, should have been in Hindi and not in English as it is. It is said that the order is null and void for this reason. I have already held to the contrary in Harihar Prasad Tripathi v. District Magistrate, Mirsapur 1961 A.L.J. 153. Farther, I think that it is only a formal technicality upon which the petitioner is seeking to rely at last. The Court while exercising writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, can hardly take mere technicalities into consideration. The writ jurisdiction is designed to be exercised for doing justice and removing manifest injustice. The petitioner has apparently suffered no manifest injustice by the circumstance that the State Government's order was in English and not in Hindi as required by the Official Languages Act.

8. No other grounds have been urged before me. In view of the foregoing discussion I find no force in this petition and it is accordingly dismissed with costs which I assess at Rs. 200. Half of the costs will go to respondent 2 and the rest will go to the other respondents.

9. Interim stay order is discharged.


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