D.D. Seth, J.
1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.
2. The facts of the case, in brief, are that the petitioner is the Western Uttar Pradesh Electric Power and Supply Company, Ltd., Etawah, with its head office at Delhi and it supplies electric power to a number of towns including Etawah. The company engaged Nauratan, opposite party 4, as a line cooly on 1 May 1940. He was subsequently promoted to the post of motor-driver of the car of the resident engineer of the company. The opposite party 4 worked in that capacity till 31 July 1951 when his services were dispensed with, with effect from 1 August 1951 after the petitioner-company had allowed him a month's pay in lieu of notice, on account of alleged incompetency and inefficiency. Opposite party 4 was also paid all the amounts to his credit in his provident fund including the company's contribution and interest thereon. These amounts were accepted by opposite party 4 without any protest. Thereafter the opposite party 4 applied to regional conciliation officer, Agra, complaining about the termination of his services. Notices were issued by the conciliation officer to the petitioner-company and to the opposite party 4 and a conciliation board was formed. The conciliation proceedings failed and the conciliation board submitted its report to the Government. The Government then referred the following matter of dispute to the regional conciliation officer, Agra, for adjudication:
Whether the service of Nauratan (motor-driver) has been wrongfully terminated? If so, to what relief he is entitled?
3. The adjudicator after hearing the parties gave his award on 31 April 1952 and directed the reinstatement of opposite party 4 to his post or, in the alternative, payment by way of compensation of a sum of Rs. 4,000 by the company and full wages together with dear-food allowances from the date of discharge to the date of the receipt of the award. Aggrieved by the award the petitioner-company filed a writ petition, No. 223 of 1952, in this Court praying for the quashing of the award dated 21 April 1952. That writ petition was contested by the opposite party Thia Court, after hearing both the parties, quashed the award dated 21 April 1952, by its order dated 25 January 1955. This Court held, inter alia, that the adjudicator failed to take into consideration some material facts, one of them being the acceptance by Nauratan of the salary for August 1951 although he was not entitled to it and in this connexion it was observed that the order of the adjudicator as it stood could not be sustained and had to be quashed leaving it open to the adjudicator to decide the question again after giving due consideration to all the points for and against the petitioner. After the decision by this Court of Writ Petition No. 223 of 1952 the State Government referred the following dispute to the regional conciliation officer for adjudication:
Whether the employers have wrongfully and/or unjustifiably terminated the service of Nauratan, motor-driver If so, to what relief is he entitled ?
4. The petitioner again filed a writ petition in this Court (Writ Petition No. 997 of 1955). The second writ petition was, however, dismissed by this Court on 16 July 1956 on the ground that there was no cause for the petitioner to apply for the writ because the observations made by this Court in the previous writ petition would receive due consideration of the regional conciliation officer. The adjudicator thereupon again started proceedings of the case and when the case was ripe for hearing the State Government, by its order dated 16 February 1957, withdrew the case from the adjudicator and referred it to another regional conciliation officer. The petitioner-company raised certain preliminary points regarding the hearing of the case before the subsequent adjudicator. It was pleaded by the company that the dispute was not an industrial dispute. The adjudicator refused to give a finding on the preliminary points. The petitioner thereupon filed a third Writ Petition No. 1679 of 1957 in this Court and prayed for the quashing of the order of reference and for a writ of prohibition restraining the adjudicator from proceeding with the case. This writ petition was admitted by this Court. After the admission of the writ petition the State Government again withdrew the case and subsequently re-referred the following dispute to the labour court at Gorakhpur:
Whether the employers have wrongfully and/or unjustifiably terminated the services of Nauratan, motor-driver, with effect from 1 August 1951 If so, to what relief he is entitled ?
The labour court issued notices to the parties and the petitioner-company filed its written statement and raised certain preliminary points. The petitioner filed a separate application that the preliminary points be decided first. The labour oourt, however, observed that the preliminary points will be decided along with the points raised on the merits of the case at the next hearing of the labour oourt. Aggrieved by the order passed by the labour court, Gorakhpur, the petitioner came to this Court and prayed that a writ of prohibition be issued restraining the labour court, Gorakhpur, from proceeding with the Reference No. 24 of 1958. It was also prayed that in the alternative a writ of mandamus may be issued commanding the labour court, Gorakhpur, to proceed with the case (No. 24 of 1958) in accordance with law.
5. Counter-affidavits have been filed on behalf of the State and the workman concerned.
6. I have heard Sri K.C. Saxena, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, the learned Junior Standing Counsel on behalf of the State, and Sri J.N. Tewari holding the brief for S.S. Tewari, learned Counsel for the workman. Sri K.C. Saxena urged only one point, namely, that in view of the decision of this Court in Writ Petition No. 223 of 1952 this Court should decide that no industrial dispute existed and, therefore, the reference made by the State Government to the labour court, Gorakhpur, was improper. I see no force in this submission.
7. The various orders passed by this Court in the various writ petitions preferred by the petitioner-company are all on record. I have no doubt in my mind that the labour court, Gorakhpur, will go through those orders and will decide the matter referred to it in accordance with law. The labour court only observed that it will decide the preliminary points raised by the petitioner-company at its next hearing, It, therefore, seems to me that this petition was premature.
8. The dispute between the petitioner-company and opposite party 4 has been existing for a long time and it is in the interest of justice that the matter should be decided forthwith by the labour court. I, therefore, direct the labour court to decide the matter in accordance with law at an early date.
9. It is not possible for this Court to decide whether the dispute between the petitioner-company and opposite party 4 is or is not an industrial dispute even though it has been admitted by opposite party 4 that he had accepted the salary in lieu of notice and had also accepted provident fund, etc., from the petitioner-company. The matter will still require leading of evidence and since it is a question of fact this Court will not decide the matter under its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution.
10. I, therefore, dismiss this petition and direct the labour court, Gorakhpur, to decide the dispute referred to it by the State Government as soon as possible and in accordance with law after giving full opportunity to the parties to produce their evidence. I have no doubt in my mind that the labour court will decide the preliminary points raised by the petitioner at its next hearing. Under the circumstances of the present case, I make no order as to costs.