S.M.N. Raina, J.
1. This is a reference by the Taxing Officer to the Taxing Judge on a question of court-fees.
2. Originally this petition was filed by the Heavy Electricals Employees' Union through Shri Bhanwarlal Shrivas-tava, President praying that the order dated 22-5-1968 passed by the Labour Court and the order dated 18-7-1972 passed toy the Industrial Court be quashed and the Heavy Electricals Limited, Bhopal be directed to give a pay scale of Rs. 200-300 to 234 Draftsmen concerned in the application with retrospective effect from thedate of their appointment. A court-fee of Rs. 25 was affixed on the petition as originally presented and it was held by the office to be duly stamped.
3. On 21st of March, 1974 an application for amendment of the petition was filed. It was stated in the petition that it was filed by the Union in its representative capacity on behalf of 234 Draftsmen working in the Heavy Electricals. The Union had also represented the aforesaid employees before the Labour Court and Industrial Court. But in the meantime a dispute arose about the representative character of the Union and it is now pending before the Industrial Court. Since as a result of the dispute a doubt had arisen in the minds of the employees concerned about the capacity of the Union to represent their case before this Court, it was considered necessary out of abundant caution to add the employees concerned as petitioners and for this purpose the petition was sought to be amended. The application for amendment was allowed by the order of this Court dated 23-4-1972. On that date Shri R. K. Gupta who appeared for the petitioner submitted that he would pay requisite court-fees in view of addition of a number of petitioners. He was granted time for 2 months for the same. On a subsequent hearing, that is, on 2-8-1974 Shri Gulab Gupta, learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that no additional court-fees was payable in view of the addition of a number of petitioners in this case. As it was a question of court-fees it was directed that the matter shall be first examined in the office. The Taxing Officer after hearing the parties referred the question whether all the petitioners have to pay separate sets of court-fees in such cases, to the Taxing Judge on the ground that it was a matter of public importance. The question is no doubt important but it would have been better if the learned Taxing Officer had expressed his opinion in the matter giving reasons for the same. That would have facilitated the discussion of the question involved. The learned Taxing Officer has, however, referred to two decisions of this Court on this point which I shall presently consider.
4. Under Clause (e) (ii) of Article No. 1 in the Second Schedule to the Court Fees Act a court-fee of Rs. 25 is payable on a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. Section 17 of the Court Fees Act deals with suits in which more reliefs than one are claimed either on the samecause of action or in respect of separate and distinct causes of action. Section 17 reads as follows:
'17. Multifarious suits.-- (1) In any suit in which two or more separate and distinct causes of action are joined and separate and distinct reliefs are sought in respect of each, the plaint shall be chargeable with the aggregate amount of the fees with which the plaints would be chargeable under this Act if separate suits were instituted in respect of each such cause of action:
Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall be deemed to affect any power conferred by or under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (V of 1908) to order separate trials.
(2) Where more reliefs than one based on the same cause of action are sought jointly in any suit, the plaint, shall be chargeable with the aggregate amount of the fees with which the plaints would be chargeable under this Act if separate suits were instituted in respect of each such relief:
Provided that if a relief is sought only as ancillary to the main relief the plaint shall be chargeable only in respect of the main relief.
(3) Where more reliefs than one based on the same cause of action are socght in the alternative in any suit, the plaint shall be chargeable with the largest of the fees with which the plaints would be chargeable under this Act if separate suits were instituted in respect of each such relief.
(4) The provision of this section shall apply mutatis mutandis to appeals and cross-objections.
5. Sub-section (4) of the said section makes the provisions of this section applicable to appeals and cross-objections. There is no reference to the applications or petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution.
6. Rule 1 of Order 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that all persons may be joined in one suit as plaintiffs in whom any right to relief in respect of or arising out of the same act or transaction or series of acts or transactions is alleged to exist, whether jointly or severally, where, if such persons brought separate suits, any common question of law or facts would arise. Rule 2 of Order 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, however, empowers the Court to order separate trial where it appears that the joinder ofplaintiffs may embarrass or delay the trial of the suit. Rule 3 of the said Order lays down who may properly be joined as defendant. Even though the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure are not applicable to the petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution, the principles underlying them are applicable and it is open to the Court to direct separate cases to be registered where a number of persons have been joined as petitioners claiming similar reliefs against a party on the basis of distinct and separate causes of action. In such a case the Court may for the sake of convenience allow the petitioners to prosecute a joint petition subject to the condition that each of them pays a separate court-fees on the principle underlying Section 17 of the Court Fees Act. Separate court-fees can be demanded from each of the petitioners only where it appears to the Court that causes of actions are distinct and separate and each of the petitioners should in fact have filed a separate petition for the relief claimed by him even though it was claimed on similar grounds. It was apparently on this principle that this Court directed each of the petitioners to pay separate court fees independently, in Misc. Petition No, 287 of 1974 (Alphonse, J. Quillon v. Controller of Examinations) toy order dated 5-4-1974 (Madh. Pra.).
7. In the aforesaid case a number of students who wanted to appear at the M. A. Examination had challenged the order of the University rejecting their applications for admission to the said examination and had prayed that they be permitted to appear in the M. A. Previous Examination to be held in 1974. Each of the petitioners in that case was claiming a separate relief in regard to him on the basis of a distinct and separate cause of action which arose on account of rejection of his application for admission. Although the action of the University was challenged on similar grounds; the proper course for each of the petitioners in such a case was to file a separate petition for the relief claimed by him and, therefore, the Court directed each of them to pay a separate court-fee. The position is different where the relief is claimed on the basis of the same cause of action.
8. In K. Bhaskaran v. The General Manager, Bhilai Steel Plant, M. P. No 115 of 1974, D/- 12-2-1974 (Madh. Pra.) the petitioners were the employees of the Bhilai Steel Plant and their grievance arose out of an industrial dispute betweenthem and the management relating to their pay scales. The Labour Court granted relief to the petitioners directing the management to give them the pay scales of the Time-Keeper from the date of their appointment. The Industrial Court set aside the order of the Labour Court and dismissed the petition. Thereupon the petitioners filed a writ petition in this Court for quashing the order of the State Industrial Court and restoring the order of the Labour Court. In this case, the Court by order dated 12-2-74 held that single court-fee of Rs. 25 as paid by the petitioner was proper.
9. In an industrial dispute of a collective nature between the employers and the employees, the employees are usually represented by their Unions before the Labour Court or the Industrial Court. They can also join as petitioners in such a case if they so desire. When they come up before this Court for challenging the order of the Labour Court or the Industrial Court, the relief claimed by them is one and the same and the cause of action is also the same. In such a case, if they join as petitioners either because they are not represented by any Union or for some other reason court-fee of Rs. 25 alone would suffice because each of them is not expected to file a separate petition for an identical relief.
10. In the instant case the petition was originally filed by Heavy Elec-tricals Employees' Union on behalf of 234 Draftsmen working in the Heavy Electri-cals. It is mainly on account of the dispute about the representative character of the Union that all the employees have decided to join as petitioners to avoid any technical flaw in the frame of the petition. Such an action on their part is out of abundant caution. In these circumstances a single set of court-fees would suffice.
11. I, therefore, hold that the court-fee already affixed is proper.