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Dahra Dun Tea Company, Ltd. Vs. Labour Court and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1961)IILLJ184All
AppellantDahra Dun Tea Company, Ltd.
RespondentLabour Court and ors.
Excerpt:
- - he bad himself conducted the domestic enquiry and for that reason he did not then make any statement on oath and was not available for cross-examination by the workmen......enquiry conducted by the management of the petitioner-company was justified or not.secondly, a joint award in two different cases arising out of two references was illegal and beyond the jurisdiction of the labour court and consequently such award is not enforceable and should be quashed.3. an incident of 20 october 1958 had given rise to disputes between the management and the workmen which necessitated reference of the industrial dispute to the labour court, meerut. the management dismissed twelve workmen and suspended another seven for a period of four days. on 8 december 1958 the general secretary of the chai bagh mazdoor union, dehra dun, moved an application alleging that an industrial dispute had arisen between the harbanswala tea estate belonging to the petitioner-company and.....
Judgment:

D.S. Mathur, J.

1. This Is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India by Dehra Dun Tea Company, Ltd., to be referred hereinafter as the petitioner, for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the award dated 1 December 1959 made by the presiding officer of the labour court, Meerut, respondent 1, in adjudication cases Nos. 30 and 113 of 1959 and also for the issue of a writ of mandamus to direct respondent 2, the Government of State of Uttar Pradesh, to withdraw notifications Nos. 207 (LO/XVIII-LA-105 (MR)/1958 dated 16 April 1959 and 608 (LC) XVIII-LA-59 (MRS)/1959 dated 17 August 1959 and also to direct respondent 2 not to enforce the award dated 1 December 1959 in adjudication cases Nos. 30 and 113 of 1959. The two notifications referred to above are the notifications under which the State Government referred the industrial disputes to the labour court. No ground has been made out for quashing these notifications. Consequently, this part of the prayer is redundant and in fact had not been pressed.

2. Though many grounds have been raised in the petition, the award dated 1 December 1959 was challenged before me on two grounds only:

Firstly, it was the duty of the labour court to take into consideration the additional evidence that was before it in recording a finding whether the finding of the domestic enquiry conducted by the management of the petitioner-company was justified or not.

Secondly, a joint award in two different cases arising out of two references was illegal and beyond the jurisdiction of the labour court and consequently such award is not enforceable and should be quashed.

3. An incident of 20 October 1958 had given rise to disputes between the management and the workmen which necessitated reference of the industrial dispute to the labour court, Meerut. The management dismissed twelve workmen and suspended another seven for a period of four days. On 8 December 1958 the general secretary of the Chai Bagh Mazdoor Union, Dehra Dun, moved an application alleging that an industrial dispute had arisen between the Harbanswala Tea Estate belonging to the petitioner-company and its employees. The complaint was with regard to dismissal of twelve workmen, praying that a conciliation board be constituted for settlement of the said dispute. Conciliation proceedings were taken but no settlement was arrived at and subsequently the Governor of Uttar Pradesh referred the dispute to the labour court, Meerut, by notification No. 207 (LC) XVIII-LA-105 (MR)/1958, dated 16 April 1959, for adjudication of the following, matter of dispute:

Whether the employers have wrongfully and/or unjustifiably terminated the services of the workmen, mentioned in the annexure with effect from 21 November 1958? If so, to what relief are they entitled

The said reference was registered as adjudication case No. 30 of 1959. Oral and documentary evidence was led by the parties in this case and by the time the second reference was made the case was ripe for making the award.

4. On 16 May 1959 the general secretary of the Chai Bagh Mazdoor Union, Dehra Dun, made another application to the Additional Regional Conciliation Officer, Saharanpur, with regard to suspension of seven workmen arising out of the same dispute. The Governor of Uttar Pradesh referred this dispute also to the labour court, Meerut. under notification No. 608 (LC) XVIII-LA-59 (MRS)/1959, dated 17 August 1959, for adjudication of the following matter of dispute:

Whether the employers have wrongfully and/or unjustifiably suspended their workmen, mentioned in the annexure with effect from 24 November 1958 to 27 November 1958? If so, to what relief are they entitled

This reference was registered as adjudication case No. 113 of 1959.

5. When adjudication case No. 113 of 1959 was taken up, the parties made a joint statement that the evidence already recorded in case No. 30 of 1959 be read in case No. 113 of 1959. Thereupon the Issues framed in case No. 30 of 1959 were adopted In case No. 113 of 1959 subject to modification of one issue only. Additional documentary evidence produced in case No. 113 of 1959 was placed on the file of case No. 30 of 1959. These documents related to the suspension of the seven workmen. Thereafter on 21 December 1959 respondent 1 made a joint award In the two cases which were published under notification No. 7062 (S.M)/36-A-304 (S.M.)-59 dated 19 January 1960.

6. The finding of the labour court that the domestic enquiry made by Sri G.R. Mehra, manager of Harbanswala tea estate, was not fair and impartial and was vitiated on the ground that he was himself Interested in the dispute, was not challenged before me. Even if it was so challenged, this Court would have recorded a finding against the petitioner for the simple reason that the labour court has given cogent reasons for recording such a finding. However, relying upon certain observations made in Phulbari Tea Company v. its workmen 1959--II L.L.J. 663 it was urged that the labour court should have taken into consideration the additional evidence adduced before it before recording the finding that the workmen had been wrongly dismissed or suspended from service and the finding recorded in the domestic enquiry was not justified. It will be wrong to say that the labour court did not take this additional evidence into consideration. The presiding officer did refer to the evidence adduced before him wherever he found It necessary. No question was raised before him in the form in which it has been raised before me, and consequently no issue was framed on the above point, nor was a finding recorded in a manner, which would have been necessary had such an issue been framed. when the petitioner did not raise the above question before the labour court, he cannot be allowed to argue that the award should be set aside simply because no finding was recorded on that question. We shall have to consider the award as a whole in relying down (sic) whether on the above technical objection the award can be set aside by this Court.

7. Two allegations were made by the workmen, viz., that the manager, Sri Mebra, had abused the women workmen and that he directed his servants to push out the women workmen out of his bungalow. The case of the workmen on the point is that the servants of Sri Mehra pushed the workmen in such a manner that an old lady fell in the nala and was injured. It is said that she had become unconscious. This latter allegation does not appear to be correct. One witness of the management did admit that he had heard that a woman had fallen in the nala. There were thus three complaints of the workmen on which Sri Mebra could have made a statement. Firstly, on the alleged misbehaviour on his part by abusing the women workers, secondly, his directions to his servants to push the workmen out of the bungalow and thirdly, the alleged inhuman conduct of the servants of Sri Mehra In carrying out the orders. Sri Mehra could have made a statement on all these points. In any case, he could bring circumstances on the record from which it could be Inferred that Sri Mehra had not given any such direction and that he had throughout shown a sympathetic attitude towards the women workmen. When an employee of Sri Mehra could hear shouts of one of the old woman workers who had fallen in the nala, the chances are that Sri Mehra would also have heard shouts and could see what the matter was. If his servants had acted contrary to his directions, he could have reprimanded them (servants) and pacified the workers. In other words, the evidence of Sri Mehra was material on all the points. He bad himself conducted the domestic enquiry and for that reason he did not then make any statement on oath and was not available for cross-examination by the workmen. He did give evidence before the labour court but at that stage he simply denied the alleged misbehaviour and did not make any statement on the other two points. In these circumstances, the labour court could presume that the servants of Sri Mehra had maltreated the workmen under his orders.

8. When the servants of Sri Mehra had misbehaved towards women workers, the latter could be justified in approaching the management to have their grievance redressed, The workmen could not be justified in taking the law in their hands by assaulting the manager or by doing any other improper act. How the workmen had misbehaved could be in the knowledge of the manager, Sri Mehra, and he could make a statement on this point also. It is of significance that except for a vague denial of misbehaviour towards the women employees he made no statement on any other point. He did not also say how the workmen as a whole had formed an assembly and mobbed his house. In these circumstances, the labour court could easily accept the version of the workmen.

9. To sum up, the additional evidence adduced before the labour court was not helpful to the employers and could not show that the finding of the management that the workmen were guilty of misconduct was justified. In fact, presumptions to be drawn 'from the conduct of Sri Mehra and the omissions in his deposition will suggest to the contrary, viz, that the finding recorded by the management was unjustified and improper. The award of the labour court cannot, therefore, be questioned on this ground.

10. The making of a joint award In two adjudication cases cannot be said to be illegal in the sense that joint award must be quashed by this Court. The jurisdiction of the labor court depended upon the reference made to It under Section 4K of the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and not the procedure adopted during the enquiry or the manner In which the award was made. The making of the award is not the basis of the jurisdiction of the labour court and consequently it is fallacious to say that jurisdiction was created in the labour court by a joint statement made by the parties that the evidence already recorded In case No. 30 of 1959 be read in case No. 113 of 1959 also.

11. It was, however, contended on behalf of the petitioner that there was no provision in the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act raider which the labour court could make a joint award in two different references and as the jurisdiction of the labour court was restricted and could be exercised only within the four corners of the enactment under which it was constituted it could not exercise the inherent powers as civil courts could under Section 151, Civil Procedure Code. It is thus suggested that the civil courts could, in exercise of their inherent jurisdiction, pass a combined judgment In more than one suit, but the labour court must make one award in each reference. Even if the law is so construed, there can be no objection to the labour court adopting reasoning In an earlier award in making an award In the other case. In other words, the labour court could make a detailed award in one case and pass a brief order by way of award in another case. If this viewpoint Is extended, i.e., the labour court makes a joint award to be applicable to both the cases, there can In substance be no illegality. At the most it would be an irregularity which would not vitiate the proceedings. This Court could interfere with the award of the labour court only if it has committed some material Illegality In the exercise of jurisdiction. Making of a joint award is not a material illegality, nor can it be said to 'affect the jurisdiction of the labour court.

12. In the end It may be mentioned that when the labour court made a joint award on the basis of the statement of the parties, it will not be open for any of the parties to it to challenge the award on the ground that a joint award should not have been made and the labour court should have held an independent enquiry in the other reference; the losing party cannot be allowed to blow hot and cold at the same time.

13. To sum up, the joint award of the labour court, respondent 1, is not one (?) which can be quashed by this Court in exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 216 of the Constitution of India..

14. The petition Is hereby dismissed with costs. One set of costs shall be payable to the standing counsel representing respondents 1 and 2 and another set of costs to the workmen respondent 3.

15. The stay order shall stand vacated.


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