1. This is a reference forwarded to this Court by the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Jullundur, formulating the following questions:--
(1) Whether the instant reference, which was registered at No.4 of 1964 by the Labour Court, Rohtak and at No.145 of 1966 by the Labour Court, Jullundur is a 'proceeding' within the meaning of Section 93 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966?
(2) Whether Labour Court, Jullundur, or Industrial Tribunal, Punjab, Chandigarh, is 'corresponding Court, Tribunal, Authority or Officer' within the meaning of section 93 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966?
(3) Whether the reference 'stands transferred' to the Labour Court, Jullundur or Industrial tribunal, Punjab, Chandigarh, under Section 93 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, with effect from 1st November, 1966, when that Act came into force?
2. The facts of this case are that the Governor of Punjab in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (c) of subsection (1) of Section 10 read with proviso to that sub-section of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, referred t the Labour Court, Rohtak, constituted under Section 7 of the said Act, the matter specified below:
'Whether the workers should be granted Dearness Allowance and whether it should be linked with the cost of living index? If so, what details and from what date'.
3. The industrial dispute was between the workmen and the management of Messrs. Bali Singh Bhagwan Singh of Amritsar vide No. 6-SF-III-Lab-1-64/728, dated the 10th January, 1964, published in the Punjab Government Gazette Extraordinary on the same date. It is not necessary to go into the merits of the respective contentions of the parties which are given in detail in the order of reference. Before any order could be made by the Labour Court, Rohtak, the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, came into force on 1st November, 1966 and the Labour Court sent the record of the reference of the disputes to Labour Court, Jullundur, under Section 93 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966. The Presiding Officer of Labour Court, Jullundur, issued notice to the parties and on 6th of December, 1966, the management made an application stating that the Labour Court, Jullundur, was not properly and legally seised of the reference in question and, therefore, could not adjudicate upon it. The following preliminary issue was framed:-
'Whether this Court is not properly and legally seised of this case, and , therefore, cannot adjudicate upon it?'
The contention of the management before the Labour Court and before me has been that Section 93 is not applicable and the reference was not a 'Proceeding' and the Labour Court, Jullundur, could not be said to be 'corresponding court or tribunal'.
4. ON behalf of the management, Shri H.R. Sodhi, has taken me through some relevant sections of the Industrial Disputes Act with a view to show that the provisions of Section 93 of the Pun jab Reorganisation Act, 1966, are not attracted. Under Section 2(a)(ii) of the industrial Disputes Act, the appropriate Government means the State Government and in this context prior to the reorganisation would mean the State of Punjab.
5. Section 7 empowers the appropriate Government to constitute one or more Labour Courts for the adjudication of industrial disputes relating to any matter specified in the second schedule. Before the bifurcation of the State, there was a Labour Court at Jullundur and another Labour Court at Rohtak. This dispute was referred to the Labour Court at Rohtak. Section 7A provides for the constitution of the appropriate Government, by notification for the adjudication of industrial disputes relating to any matter whether specified in the second schedule or the third schedule. So far as the matter whether specified in the second schedule are concerned, the jurisdication of the Industrial tribunals and of the Labour Courts is concurrent. Under Section 10(1), the appropriate Government has the power to refer an industrial dispute to a Labour Court or to a Tribunal for adjudication. According to the proviso to Section 10(1)(d) where the dispute relates to any mater specified in the third schedule and is not likely to affect more than 100 workmen, the appropriate Government may make a reference to a Labour Court under clause (c). Thus, ordinarily disputes over any matter specified in the third schedule are referable to an Industrial tribunal but where the workmen affected are not likely to be more than 100, the reference may be made to a Labour Court. This was done in this case.
6. The power to transfer certain proceedings was exercisable by the appropriate Government under section 33B of the Act. The appropriate Government could, therefore, withdraw any proceeding pending before a Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal and transfer the same to another Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal, as the case may be. Section 33B(1) runs as under:-
'The appropriate Government may by order in writing and for reasons to be stated therein, withdraw any proceeding Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal and transfer the same to another Labour Court, tribunal r National tribunal, as the case may be, for the disposal of the proceeding and the Labour Court, tribunal or National Tribunal to which the proceeding is so transferred may, subject to special directions in the order of transfer, proceed either de novo or from the stage at which it was so transferred:
Provided that where a proceeding under Section 33 or Section 33A is pending before a Tribunal or National Tribunal, the proceeding may also be transferred to a Labour Court.'
7. Section 93 which deals with the transfer of pending proceeding under the Punjab reorganisation Act, 1966, is reproduced below:-
'93. Transfer of pending proceedings. (1) Every proceeding pending immediately before the appointed day before a Court (Other than a High Court), Tribunal, authority or officer in any area which on that day falls within a State or Union Territory shall, if it is a proceeding relating exclusively to the territories which s from that day are the territories of another State or Union Territory, stand transferred to the corresponding Court, Tribunal, Authority or Officer in that other State or Union Territory, as the case may be.
(2) If any question arises as to whether any proceeding should stand transferred under sub-section 91), it shall be referred to the high Court having jurisdiction in respect of the area in which the Court, tribunal, Authority or Officer before which or whom such proceeding is pending on the appointed day, is functioning, and the decision of that High Court shall be final.
(3) In this section:-
(a) 'Proceeding' includes any suit, case or appeal; and
(b) 'Corresponding Court, tribunal, Authority or Officer' in a State or a Union territory means-
(i) The Court, tribunal, Authority or Officer in that State or Union Territory in which or before whom, the proceeding would have lain if it had been instituted after the appointed day; or
(ii) In case of doubt, such Court, Tribunal, Authority or Officer in that State or Union Territory, as may be determined after the appointed day by the Government of the State or the Central Government, as the case may be, or before the appointed day by the Government of the existing state of Punjab, to be the corresponding Court, Tribunal, Authority or Officer.'
8. I may now turn to the arguments advanced by the learned Counsel on matters which have been referred to this Court by the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Julllundur. It was urged on behalf of the Management that the power to refer an industrial dispute vests exclusively in the appropriate Government. In this case, the Government of Punjab before the bifurcation of the State had made a reference and that Government alone could withdraw the same under Section 33B and transfer the case to another Labour Court. After 1st of November, 1966, there have come into existence two Governments for the new States of Punjab and Haryana. The matter under reference is deemed to have lapsed. Neither the former reference can be given effect to nor withdrawn. It was urged that in view of this difficulty, the President of India in the exercise of powers conferred under Section 33B of the Industrial Disputes Act had withdrawn cases from the Labour Court, Rohtak on account of reorganisation of the State of Punjab and had referred them to the Labour Court, Jullundur, vide notification No. 685_SF-3-Lab-I-66, dated the 28th October, 1966.
There was another notification No. 685-SF-Lab-I-66 dated the 28th October, 1966, by which the President of India was pleased to withdraw cases from the Labour Court Jullundur and refer the same to the Labour Court, Rohtak. Both these notifications are published in Punjab Government Gazette Extraordinary D/- 31-10-1966. In these respective notifications, the cases which have been transferred from one Labour Court to another are specified but the instant case has been omitted. It has been argued with reference to these two notifications that the only way of transferring the cases was in the manner done by the president of India and since the instant case does not figure among those cases, it cannot now be transferred by the successor Governments nor can it be deemed to be transferred automatically. On the basis of this reasoning, it is contended that the reference made by the former Punjab Government on 10th January, 1964, has lapsed.
It was also urged that the provisions of Section 93 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act are not attracted and are not applicable to industrial disputes which are in a class by themselves. It is urged that an industrial dispute is not a 'proceeding' within Section 93, sub-section 93) as it cannot be deemed to be 'a suit, case or appeal'. Section 93 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act when contrasted with S. 33B of the Industrial Disputes Act, is a special provision. The Industrial Disputes Act, was enacted when the eventuality of the type resulting from bifurcation of a State into two or more States or territories was not contemplated. The Industrial Disputes Act was not intended to provide for such extraordinary exigencies. Hence, a special provision was necessary in the Punjab Reorganisation Act to provide for a contingency arising out of reorganisation of a State. It is for this reason that in Section 93, sub-section (3), proceeding has been given a comprehensive and inclusive definition so as to include 'any suit, case or appeal'.
In this sense, a case is to be given a wide meaning of a circumstance, situation or happening which is the subject mater of an investigation or enquiry calling for a decision. References of industrial disputes to the Labour Court or to the Industrial tribunal are in that sense to be deemed 'cases'. The use of the word 'case' is generic and not narrow or Specialised. Section 93 was intended to cover such exigencies. The words relating to proceeding pending before 'a Court (other than a High Court), Tribunal, Authority or Officer' also indicate that proceedings in the nature of cases may be pending not only before Courts and tribunals but also before authorities or officers considering and investigating them. It would not have been easy or convenient to pass specific orders in each matter and, therefore, it was necessary to enact Section 93 so that pending matters might stand automatically transferred to the concerned State or Territory without the necessity of passing separate orders.
Even if inclusive definition was not given of the word 'proceeding' in Section 93, in its general acceptation also, it is a term of wide amplitude; and means a prescribed course of action for enforcing or protecting a legal right and further embracing the requisite steps to be taken whether procedural or substantive. Proceeding also means forms in which relief is sought before Court of Law or before other bodies or authorities determining rights and liabilities and in which actions are brought an defended and the manner of conducting them and the mode of deciding them. All those happenings or events before a Labour Court or Industrial tribunal or any other authority on who jurisdictiion is conferred by law to dispose of contentious matters are understood by the term 'proceeding'. Section 93 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act which contemplates automatic transfers applies to proceedings which were pending before the Labour Courts or Industrial Tribunals.
9. Another point which was urged was that the Labour Court at Jullundur could not be deemed a 'corresponding Court, tribunal. Authority or Officer' to the Labour Court at Rohtak in so fare as the jurisdiction relating to matters specified in Second Schedule of the Industrial Disputes Act was concurrent. I do not find any merit in this argument as Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act relating to reference of disputes to Courts. Board or Tribunals, has force, being a Central Act extending to Punjab. Haryana and other States in India. The Labour Court in Jullundur is a corresponding Labour Court in Rohtak.
10. The instant reference, which awas registered at No. 4 of 1964 by the Labour Court, Rohtak, and at No.145 of 1966 by the Labor Court, Jullundur, is a 'proceeding' within the meaning of Section 93 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.
(2) The Labor Court, Jullundur, or Industrial Tribunal. Punjab, Chandigarh is 'corresponding Court, tribunal, Authority or Officer' within the meaning of Section 93 of the punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.
(3) The reference stands transferred to the Labour Court, Jullundur, by virtue of Section 93 of the punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, with effect from 1st November, 1966, when that Act came into force.
11. In my view, therefore, the industrial dispute is to be deemed as validly referred under Section 93 of the punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, to the Labour Court, Jullundur, which has jurisdictiion to proceed with the case.
12. The reference is answered accordingly.
13. Answer accordingly.