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District Labour Federation Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1960)ILLJ44All
AppellantDistrict Labour Federation
RespondentState of Uttar Pradesh and ors.
Excerpt:
- - strong reliance was placed by mr. law indicates clearly that the intention of the legislature was to make it retrospective, courts do not generally view such law as being retrospective. in cases where parties have acquired certain valuable rights under the old law, then courts have always refused to deprive parties of that valuable right by, interpreting a change in the law as being retrospective unless of course the legislature clearly said so. such an officer ib well acquainted with the affairs of the concern......is entitled to represent workmen in a number of pending industrial disputes. the district labour federation, pilibhit, is the petitioner. sri bachan singh who is the vice-president of the district labour federation, pilibhit, has filed an affidavit on behalf of the petitioner.2. according to the affidavit there exists at pilibhit a labour union known as pilibhit mill labour union. it has been registered under the indian trade unions act, 1926. the district labour federation, pilibhit, has also been registered under the indian trade unions act, 1926. there have been a number of industrial disputes between l.h. sugar factories and oil mills (private), ltd., pilibhit, and their workmen. annexures b and c to the affidavit are two lists of such disputes. cases mentioned in annexure b.....
Judgment:

V.G. Oak, J.

1. The principal question raised in this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution is whether a certain labour federation is entitled to represent workmen in a number of pending industrial disputes. The District Labour Federation, Pilibhit, is the petitioner. Sri Bachan Singh who is the Vice-President of the District Labour Federation, Pilibhit, has filed an affidavit on behalf of the petitioner.

2. According to the affidavit there exists at Pilibhit a labour union known as Pilibhit Mill Labour Union. It has been registered under the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926. The District Labour Federation, Pilibhit, has also been registered under the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926. There have been a number of industrial disputes between L.H. Sugar Factories and Oil Mills (Private), Ltd., Pilibhit, and their workmen. Annexures B and C to the affidavit are two lists of such disputes. Cases mentioned in annexure B are pending with Government for orders. Cases mentioned in annexure C are pending before the Regional Conciliation Officer, Bareilly. In all these cases the District Labour Federation, Pilibhit, and the Pilibhit Sugar Mill Labour Union are arrayed as parties. But on 9 April 1958 the Regional Conciliation Officer, Bareilly, refused the right of representation to the petitioner on the ground that, as a result of amendment of a certain rule, the right of representation has been taken away. The petitioner has, therefore, prayed that the opposite parties [the State of Uttar Pradesh, Regional Conciliation Officer, Bareilly, Labour Commissioner, Uttar Pradesh, and L.H. Sugar Factories and Oil Mills (Private), Ltd., Pilibhit be directed not to interfere with the petitioner's right of representation.

3. The petitioner's claim has been opposed by the State of Uttar Pradesh and the mills. Sri B. C. Agarwal, who is manager of the mills, filed a counter-affidavit on behalf of opposite party 4. According to Para. 7 of this counter-affidavit, there is at Pilibhit a labour union of ten years' standing. That union is known as L.H. Sugar Factories Mazdoor Union, Pilibhit. The union has large membership. But recently some persons started a rival body known as Pilibhit Sugarcane Labour Union.

4. Sri Satish Narain Saxena, Regional Conciliation Officer, Allahabad, filed a separate affidavit on behalf of opposite parties 1, 2 and 3. Rejoinder affidavits were filed on behalf of the petitioner.

5. In order to decide whether the petitioner federation is entitled to represent workmen or appear in the pending disputes, it is necessary to examine the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act and rules framed under the Act. The principal Act is Uttar Pradesh Act No. XXVIII of 1947. The Act has been amended from time to time. Section 23 of the Act confers power upon the State Government to make rules. These rules have also been amended from time to time.

6. The principal Act was amended by Uttar Pradesh Act No. I of 1957. This amendment introduced a provision for representation of parties in industrial disputes. This new provision is contained in Section 61 of the Act. Section 61 has been divided into three subsections. Sub-section (1) of Section 61 states:

Subject to the provisions of Sub-sections (2) and (3) the parties to an industrial dispute may be represented before a board, labour court or tribunal in the manner prescribed.

Sub-section (2) lays down that a legal practitioner shall not be allowed to appear before such tribunals except with the consent of the opposite party and leave of the tribunal. Sub-section (3) of Section 61 originally stood thus:

No officer of a union shall be entitled to represent any party unless a period of two years bas elapsed since its registration under the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926 :

Provided that this Sub-section shall not apply to an officer of any federation of unions:And provided further that such a union has been registered for one trade only.

Section 61 of the Act was amended by Uttar Pradesh Act No. XXIII of 1957. After this amendment, Sub-section (3) of the Section 61 now runs thus:

No officer of a union shall 'be entitled to represent any party unless a period of two years has elapsed since its registration under the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926, and the union has been registered for one trade only:Provided that an officer of a federation of unions may, subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, represent any party.

Rule 40 of the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Rules, 1957, also deals with representation of parties. The rules were amended on 20 May 1957. Immediately after 20 May 1957 Rule 40 ran as follows:

(1) The parties may, in their discretion, be represented before a board, labour court or tribunal-

(i) in the case of a workman, subject to the provisions of Sub-section (3) of Section 61, by

(a) an officer of a union of which he is a member or

(b) an officer of a federation of unions to which the union referred to in Clause (a) above is affiliated, and

(ii) in the case of an employer by

(a) an officer of a union or association of employers of which the employer is a member, or

(b) an officer of a federation of unions or associations referred to in Clause (a) above, is affiliated, or

(c) by an officer of the concern, if so authorized in writing by the employer.

(2) A party appearing through a representative shall be bound by the acts of that representative.

Rule 40 was amended by a Government notification dated 27 March 1958. By this amendment the following proviso was added at the end of Sub-rule (1):

Provided that no officer of a federation of unions shall be entitled to represent the parties unless the federation has been approved by the Labour Commissioner for this purpose.

Sub-rules (3) to (8) were added after Sub-rule (2). The new Sub-rules deal with applications before the Labour Commissioner for approval of a federation of unions.

7. The position that obtains at the moment is this. According to the proviso to Sub-rule (1) of rule 40, no officer of a federation of unions is entitled to represent the parties unless the federation has been approved by the Labour Commissioner. The proviso to Sub-rule (3) lays down that no federation of unions shall be entitled to apply for approval unless the period of two years has elapsed since its formation. Now it is common ground that the petitioner-federation was registered only in the year 1957. Two years have not elapsed since its formation. So the petitioner is not entitled to apply for approval by the Labour Commissioner. In the absence of approval by the Labour Commissioner no officer of the petitioner-federation is entitled to represent the workmen in these industrial disputes. So according to the present rule 40 of Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Rules, 1957, the petitioner is not qualified to represent the workmen in the various industrial disputes.

8. Mr. S. S. Verma, appearing for the petitioner, raised various contentions as regards the validity of Section 61 of the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and Rule 40 of Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Rules, 1957. It was urged that the amendments in Rule 40 introduced on 27 March 1958 are not permitted by Section 61 itself. The proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 61 is in these terms:

Provided that an officer of a federation of unions may, subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, represent any party.

Mr. Verma contended that the expression 'subject to such conditions as may be prescribed' governs the word 'officer' and not 'federation.' I do not agree. The plain meaning of the proviso is that an officer of a federation of unions may represent any party, subject to such restrictions as may be prescribed. So the conditions contemplated by this proviso govern the entire clause 'an officer of a federation of unions may represent any party.' It was, therefore, open to the rule-making authority to lay down which federations ought to be recognized for purposes of Section 61.

9. It was contended, that if the federation is not allowed to represent the workmen, the disputes will be taken out of the category of industrial disputes. Reliance was placed upon Newspapers, Ltd. v. State Industrial Tribunal 1957-II L.L.J. 1 . In that case their lordships discussed at length what an Indus-trial dispute is. On p. 4 it was observed:. the machinery of the Act has been devised with the object of maintaining industrial peace so as to prevent interference with public safety or public order or with the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community or of employment. The Act is based on the necessity of achieving collective amity between labour and capital by means of conciliation, mediation, and adjudication. The object of the Act is the prevention of industrial strife, strikes and lockouts and the promotion of industrial peace and not to take the place of the ordinary tribunals of the land for the enforcements of contracts between an employer and an individual workman. Thus viewed, the provisions of the Act lead to the conclusion that its applicability to an individual dispute as opposed to a dispute involving a group of workmen is excluded unless it acquires the general characteristics of an industrial dispute, viz., the workmen as a body or a considerable section of them make common cause with the individual workman.

Strong reliance was placed by Mr. Verma on the following sentence appearing on p. 5:

This doctrine of representation which enlarges the meaning of 'parties' in the Uttar Pradesh and Central Acts is an essential idea associated with industrial disputes and supports collectiveness as opposed to individualism.

Upon reading the entire judgment, it appears that their lordships were merely discussing the nature of an industrial dispute. The question of representation before a tribunal did not come up for discussion in that case.

10. In the present case there is no difference between the parties as regards the nature of these disputes. Ths disputes are being disposed of by the authorities concerned on the footing that they are industrial disputes. Neither party has challenged this position. The question whether the District Labour Federation, Pilibhit, is entitled to represent workmen before certain tribunals is another matter. Mere refusal to permit the petitioner to represent the workmen before these tribunals will not take out these disputes from the category of industrial disputes.

11. It was urged for the petitioner that in the initial stage of these cases the petitioner was permitted to represent the workmen, and now the petitioner is not being allowed to represent them. It was urged that this course was not open to the opposite parties.

12. In State v. Pyarey Mohan : AIR1953All694 ] it was held that the normal rule of interpretation is that unless the amending: law indicates clearly that the intention of the legislature was to make it retrospective, Courts do not generally view such law as being retrospective. In cases where parties have acquired certain valuable rights under the old law, then Courts have always refused to deprive parties of that valuable right by, Interpreting a change in the law as being retrospective unless of course the legislature clearly said so.

13. In Garikapati v. Subbiah Choudhry : [1957]1SCR488 their lordships of the Supreme ' Court laid down the following principles:

(i) The legal pursuit of a remedy, suit, appeal and second appeal are really but steps in a series of proceedings all connected by an intrinsic unity and are to be regarded as one legal proceeding.

(ii) The right of appeal is not a mere matter of procedure but is a substantive right.

(iii) The Institution of a suit carries with it the implication that all rights of appeal then in force are preserved to the parties thereto till the rest of the career of the suit.

(iv) The right of appeal is a vested right, and such a right to enter the superior Court accrues to the litigant and exists as on and from the date the lis commences.

14. Whether the amendments made in the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act and Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Rules will affect pending cases will depend upon the nature of the right affected by these amendments. Section 61 of the Act and Rule 40 deal with the question of representation of parties. Now, the right to initiate an industrial dispute is a substantive right. But the question of representation does not relate to any such substantive rights. The question whether a party should appear before a tribunal personally or should be represented by an agent is merely a matter of procedure. No party can claim a vested right in such procedural matters. So the amendments made in the Act and the rules will govern pending cases also. The present right of the workmen to be represented in the pending cases will be governed by 8. 61 of the Act and Rule 40 as they stand today.

15. It will be noticed that under the proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 61, the State Government has been empowered to proscribe conditions. Mr. S.S. Verma contended that is this unauthorized delegation of power. He urged that the legislature did not give any guidance to the rule-making authority about the lines on which conditions can be prescribed. Now, the subject dealt with in Section 61 is representation of parties before industrial tribunals. It appears that the legislature was anxious to make adequate arrangements for representation of parties in industrial disputes. Representation of a party before a tribunal should be by a competent person or authority. The State Government could impose suitable conditions in view of the object of Section 61. It was not necessary to lay down further instructions for the guidance of the rule-making authority. The delegation made by the legislature by the proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 61 is not unconstitutional.

16. Mr. S.S. Verma further contended that Section 61 of the Act and Rule 40 violate Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. Article 14 of the Constitution lays down the principle of equality before law. The true implication of Article 14 was explained by their lordships of the Supreme Court in Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Justice Tendolkar A.I.B. 1958 B.C. 536 . It was observed that, while Article 14 forbids class legislation, it does not forbid reasonable classification for the purposes of legislation. In order to pass the test, of permissible classification two conditions must be fulfilled, namely,

(1) that the classification' must be founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group, and

(ii) that that differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the statute in question.

17. Rule 40 of Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Rules provides for representation of parties. Sub-rule (1) of Rule 40 makes different arrangements for representation of workmen and the employer. Workmen may be represented by an officer of a union or by an officer of a federation of unions. An employer may be represented by an officer of a union or association of employers of which the employer is a member or by an officer of federation of unions or by an officer of the concern. It will be noticed that the plan for representation is different in the case of the two parties. The question arises whether such difference is permissible under Article 14 of the Constitution.

18. Rule 40 permits an officer of the employer to represent the employer before a tribunal. Most employers have got permanent officers In their staff. Such an officer IB well acquainted with the affairs of the concern. So it was considered proper to permit such an officer to represent the employer before the tribunal. It is not practicable for & workman to have an officer of his own. There was, therefore, no use providing that an officer of a workman may represent the workman before an industrial tribunal. Since the conditions of workmen necessarily differ trom the conditions of employers, there was justification for making different arrangements for representation of the two parties before such tribunals.

19. As a result of the amendment to rules made on 27 March 1958, a federation of unions cannot function in the matter of representation unless the federation has been approved by the Labour Commissioner. It was suggested that this restriction on the powers of federations of unions is unreasonable. As already explained, the legislature was anxious that parties should be properly represented before industrial tribunals. It was, therefore, considered proper that a federation should have some standing before it could be permitted to represent a party before a tribunal. With the same end in view, it has now been laid down that the federation should receive approval of the Labour Commissioner. Sub-rule (8) of Rule 40 provides for an appeal to the State Government by a party aggrieved by an order of the Labour Commissioner under Sub-rule (4) or Sub-rule (7). In view of this provision for an appeal to the State Government, it will be difficult for the Labour Commissioner to act arbitrariy. So the new provisions contained in Rule 40 appear to be reasonable. The classification of the parties as workmen and employers was reasonable. The classification satisfies the two tests laid down in Ram Krishna Dalmia case A.I.R. 1958 S.C. 536 . The classification does not contravene Article 14 of the Constitution.

20. Mr. S.S. Verma urged that there is also violation of Sub-clause (a) and (c) of Clause (1) of Article 19 of the Constitution. Sub-clause (a) recognizes freedom of speech and expression. There is nothing in the Act or the rules which interferes with the freedom of speech and expression. The right of representation has nothing to do with the freedom of speech and expression. It is always open to a party to put forward its case before an industrial tribunal. There is no question of violation of Sub-clause (a), Clause (a), of Article 19.

21. Sub-clause (c) of Article 19(1) deals with the right to form associations or unions. There is nothing in Section 61 of the Act or in Rule 40 to interfere with the right of workmen to form associations or unions. Workmen are free to form trade unions. The petitioner has been registered under the Trade Unions Act. All that Section 61 and Rule 40 have done is to restrict the right of unions and federations to represent parties before industrial tribunals. Such restriction of rights of unions or federations does not amount to violation of the right of workmen to form associations or unions. There is no infringement of Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution.

22. Lastly, Mr. S.S. Verma urged that apart from the petitioner's right to represent the workmen, the petitioner is entitled to appear in these industrial disputes in its own right. It was urged that the petitioner itself is a party to these industrial disputes. In support of this contention, reliance was placed upon certain admissions contained in Sri Saxena's counter-affidavit. In Sub-para, (i) of Para. 4 of the counter-affidavit by Sri Saxena it was conceded that the District Labour Federation was a party in six of these cases. Sri Saxena added in Sub-para, (iv) of Para 4 of the counter-affidavit that the federation was nominally arrayed as party in the six cases referred to above.

23. Mr. Shanti Bhushan appearing for opposite party 4 suggested that the federation was impleaded as a party in the light of Rule 18 of Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Rules. Rule 18 deals with the description of parties in certain cases. Rule 18 runs thus:

Where in any proceedings before a board, labour court or tribunal or an arbitrator, there are numerous persons arrayed on any side, such persona shall be described as follows:

(i) all such persons as are members of any union or association shall be described by the name of such union or association ; and

(ii) all such persons as are not members of any union or association shall be described in such manner as the board, labour court, tribunal, or arbitrator, as the case may be, may determine.

24. An industrial dispute has been denned in Clause (1) of Section 2 of Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act:

'Industrial dispute' means any dispute or difference between employers and employers or between employers and workmen or between workmen and workmen, which is connected with the employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour of any person.

It will be noticed that the parties to an industrial dispute according to the definition are employers and workmen. The definition of industrial dispute makes no reference to a union or federation of unions.

25. Rule 5 of Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Rules makes provision for a settlement of industrial disputes. The settlement has to be signed by an employer and the workman or their representatives. Thus, according to the scheme of the Act and the rules, the parties to an industrial dispute are the employer and workmen. A union or a federation of unions may come into the picture only as a representative of either party. A union or federation of unions cannot be treated as a party to the dispute in its own right. The petitioner, therefore, cannot claim a hearing before the industrial tribunals on the footing that the federation itself is a party to these disputes.

26. Thus, we find that, as the law stands to-day, the petitioner is not entitled to appear before the industrial tribunals either in its own right or in its representative capacity. The petition is dismissed with costs. There will be two sets of costs-one in favour of opposite party 1 and Anr. in favour of opposite party 4. The stay order dated 14 April 1958 is vacated.


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