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Workmen of L.H. Sugar Factories and Oil Mills (Private), Ltd. and ors. Vs. Labour Court and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1966)ILLJ796All
AppellantWorkmen of L.H. Sugar Factories and Oil Mills (Private), Ltd. and ors.
RespondentLabour Court and ors.
Excerpt:
- - 8. annexure k to the petition is the award of the industrial tribunal (ii) dated 10 september 1959. it was held in that award that the repeated attempt which the employers have made to change the conditions of service of the petitioner go to show that they were not well disposed towards him and further that there was no justification in changing the designation of the petitioner from incharge cane office to sugar storekeeper. that would be contrary to the well-established principles that a decision once rendered by a competent authority on a matter in issue between the parties after a full enquiry should not be permitted to be reagitated. now there are good reasons why this principle should be applicable to decisions of industrial tribunal also......by his order dated 6 february 1958, changed the designation of the petitioner 2 from 'incharge, cane office' to 'sugar storekeeper.' petitioner 2 disputed the correctness of the order and submitted his representation and prayed that the order be set aside. the changing of the designation of the petitioner gave rise to an industrial dispute. the dispute could not be amicably settled in conciliation proceedings and consequently the state government referred the following matters of dispute for adjudication to the labour court, bareilly:(1) should the employers be required to restore the designation of bachan singh chauhan, son of sri n.s. chauhan, from sugar storekeeper to cane office incharge? if so, with what details ?(2) should the employer be required to transfer bachan singh.....
Judgment:

D.D. Seth, J.

1. This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution arises out of the following circumstances:

The facts of the case as stated in petition, briefly, are that the manager of L.H. Sugar Factories and Oil Mills (Private), Ltd., opposite party 2 to the petition, by his order dated 6 February 1958, changed the designation of the petitioner 2 from 'incharge, cane office' to 'sugar storekeeper.' Petitioner 2 disputed the correctness of the order and submitted his representation and prayed that the order be set aside. The changing of the designation of the petitioner gave rise to an industrial dispute. The dispute could not be amicably settled in conciliation proceedings and consequently the State Government referred the following matters of dispute for adjudication to the labour court, Bareilly:

(1) Should the employers be required to restore the designation of Bachan Singh Chauhan, son of Sri N.S. Chauhan, from sugar storekeeper to cane office incharge? If so, with what details ?

(2) Should the employer be required to transfer Bachan Singh Chauhan, son of N.S. Chauhan, from sugar godown to cane office If so, with what details ?

2. The labour court registered the case and served notices on the parties who filed their written statements and rejoinder statements. The labour court gave its award on 30 July 1960 and it was published in the Uttar Pradesh Gazette dated 27 August 1960. The labour court, held that the petitioner was permanently working in the sugar godown as a sugar storekeeper and hence his designation of incharge cane office became a misnomer. The labour court therefore answered the matters of dispute in negative. It is stated in Para. (6)(h) of the petition that the issue whether the petitioner 2 is not incharge cane office but sugar storekeeper was also adjudicated by Sri K.N. Singh, presiding officer, industrial tribunal (II), Uttar Pradesh, Allahabad, in Adjudication Case No. 19 of 1959; issue (1) in that adjudication case was framed in the following words:

Is Bachan Singh Chauhan not inchargo, cane office, but sugar storekeeper ?

3. Sri K.N. Singh held that petitioner 2 held the status and rank of incharge cane office and not of the sugar storekeeper. That award was not challenged by the employer in any manner and according to the petitioner became final and binding, The petitioner in Para. 6 (j) of the petition states that the designation of incharge cane office carries with it a higher post and a work of greater responsibility than sugar storekeeper and is below in rank only to that of cane manager and as such petitioner 2 has greater prospects as incharge cane office. The post of sugar storekeeper, head storekeeper, incharge, sugar sale office, sugar, is below the rank of additional head sugar storekeeper, sale incharge and the manager and in that post petitioner 2 held very little prospects of rise in the service. According to the petitioner the change in his designation amounts to demotion.

4. The petitioners, therefore, challenge the award of the labour court, Bareilly, dated 30 July 1960 and pray that the same be quashed. It is also prayed that the labour court, Bareilly, be ordered to hear the matter of dispute afresh and decide the same in accordance with law.

5. I have heard Sri K.P. Agarwal, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, and Sri Shanti Bhushan, the learned Counsel appearing for opposite party 2 and the learned Junior Standing Counsel.

6. Sri Agarwal contended that the matter of petitioner 2's designation had already been decided in Adjudication Case No. 19 of 1959 and the findings in that award, not having been challenged by opposite party 2, the labour court, Bareilly, could not set aside these findings by the impugned award. According to the learned Counsel, the labour court, Bareilly, was a tribunal of co-ordinate jurisdiction and could not sit in judgment over the award given by the presiding officer of the industrial tribunal (II), Uttar Pradesh, in Adjudication Case No. 19 of 1959. The learned Counsel urged that the change in the designation of petitioner 2 materially and adversely affected the prospects of his rise in service and amounted to punishment.

7. Sri Shanti Bhushan, on the other hand, contended that the various awards could not have the effect of res judicata as reference to the previous tribunal was of a different nature. According to the learned Counsel there could be no industrial dispute regarding the designation of petitioner 2 as long as his wages were not affected. Sri Shanti Bhushan has stated that no employee has right to dictate that what his designation should be and the matter is purely for the management of a concern. According to Sri Shanti Bhushan the designation of an employee must be according to the duty he is performing and lastly that the findings of labour court, Bareilly, are findings of fact and cannot be disturbed by this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.

8. Annexure K to the petition is the award of the industrial tribunal (II) dated 10 September 1959. It was held in that award that the repeated attempt which the employers have made to change the conditions of service of the petitioner go to show that they were not well disposed towards him and further that there was no justification in changing the designation of the petitioner from incharge cane office to sugar storekeeper.

9. The award dated 12 September 1959 was published in the Uttar Pradesh Gazette dated 31 October 1959 and was to remain in force for one year. There was no evidence before the labour court, Bareilly, to show that there has been a change in the designation of petitioner 2 after 31 October 1960. The learned Counsel for the petitioner is correct in urging that the labour court, Bareilly, could not sit in judgment over the previous award and had no jurisdiction to ignore the findings of the previous tribunal. The previous tribunal had decided that petitioner 2 was incharge cane office and on that finding allowed him an increment of Rs. 10 per month. The labour court, Bareilly, was not the revising or appellate authority which could sit in judgment over the previous tribunal. If there was any illegality in the matter referred to the previous tribunal, then it was open to the employers to challenge the reference before the tribunal or to challenge the previous award. The previous award, therefore, did not lose its force after one year and remained binding.

10. It was held thus in Burn and Co. Ltd. v. their employees 1957-I L.L. J. 226:

No doubt the Industrial Disputes Act does not contain any provisions under which an award could be reopened. But it could not be contended that an award given on a matter in the controversy between the parties after full hearing ceases to have any force if either of them terminates it under Section 19(6) of the Industrial Disputes Act and that the tribunal has no option when the matter is again referred to it for adjudication but to proceed to try it de novo, traverse the entire ground once again and come to fresh decision. That would be contrary to the well-established principles that a decision once rendered by a competent authority on a matter in issue between the parties after a full enquiry should not be permitted to be reagitated. It is on this principle that the rule res judicata enacted in Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code is based. That section is no doubt in terms inapplicable to the decisions of industrial tribunals but the principle underlying it, expressed in the maxim interest rex publicae ut sit finis litium, is founded on sound policy and is of universal application. Now there are good reasons why this principle should be applicable to decisions of Industrial tribunal also.

11. It must, therefore, be held that the labour court, Bareilly, could not ignore the findings given in the previous award and could not come to different conclusions.

12. Whether the change in the designation of petitioner 2 affected his wages and caused him loss has to be seen in the context of the future prospects of petitioner 2. Petitioner 2 carried a certain status as incharge cane office. By changing his designation he is likely to suffer a material loss because then he could be entitled to an increment in his salary of only Rs. 5 and not of Rs. 10 which was awarded to him by the previous award. If the change in the designation of petitioner 2 causes loss to him, he is entitled to get relief from this Court,

13. I do not agree with Sri Shanti Bhushan that the question of designation of an employee is purely for the management to consider. Where the designation attached be any office is directly linked with the conditions of service of an employment pertaining to that office, the designation itself becomes a part and parcel of the terms of employment. It was held in Simbhaoli Industries (Private), Ltd., Meerut v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. 1959-I L.L.J. 227 bhus:

It could not be contended as an absolute proposition that the designation to be given to any particular post is the exclusive privilege of the employer and that no employee could dictate or require the employer to assign any particular designation to his office. Where a particular designation carried with it certain duties and privileges, a dispute regarding the claim by a workman discharging such duties to that designation could be made a subject-matter of reference.

In view of the above I allow this petition with costs and quash the award of the labour court, Bareilly, dated 30 July 1960, and order the State Government not to enforce its order dated 27 August 1960, The case is remanded to the labour court, Bareilly, with the direction that the matter of dispute be reheard and decided in accordance with law.


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