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Shama Magazine, New Delhi Vs. the State of Delhi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ No. 122-D of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1959P& H499; (1958)IILLJ241P& H
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 10 and 11(3); Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Order 13, Rule 1; Industrial Disputes Rules - Rule 21
AppellantShama Magazine, New Delhi
RespondentThe State of Delhi and ors.
Appellant Advocate N.C. Chatterjee and; H.L. Anand, Advs.
Respondent Advocate Bishamber Dayal, Adv.
DispositionPetition accepted
Cases ReferredDelhi v. Rameshwar Dayal
Excerpt:
.....partner in the firm. i cannot help observing that even after proper reconsideration of points involved much of the material which is now sought by the workmen in this case will probably have to be admitted in some form or other and it may well be that the management in this case may find it more convenient to prepare lists or abstracts even if they cannot be compelled to do so than to produce all the records and registers from which such documents could be prepared......not do i consider that it was in any way illegal for the tribunal to order the production of documents relating to this earlier period so long as these documents could otherwise legally be ordered to be produced, 6. it is, however, contended on behalf of the management that the order for production of the documents is generally illegal as it was based without proper consideration of the relevant provisions of the civil procedure code and in some respects it is otherwise illegal. 7. one instance of illegality in the order which has been pointed out is the order for the production of certain income-tax assessment orders. these documents are privileged under the provisions of the incom-tax act itself, and it has even been a matter of controversy in the courts as to whether even an.....
Judgment:

D. Falshaw, J.

1. By a notification dated the 26th of August, 1955 the Delhi State Government referred an industrial dispute which was stated to exist between the management of Shama Magazine, and their workmen to an Industrial Tribunal under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. In the order of reference several matters were in dispute relating to conditions of service, scales of pay, dearness allowance and bonus for the year 1951-52, 1952-53 and 1953-54.

2. Before the Tribunal the workmen were represented by a registered trade union known as the Commercial Employees Union. The Union filed an application dated the 26th of April, 1956 for the production by the management of a large number of documents the description of which fills two typed foolscap pages. Although this application was opposed on various grounds by the management, Mr. Rameshwar Dayal, the sole member of the Tribunal, passed as order on the 16th of July, 1956 ordering the management to produce practically all the documents required by the Union on behalf of the workmen.

3. This is the order which is challenged in the present petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution on behalf of the management of the Magazine. This petition was apparently filed on the 30th of August, 1956 and on the following day an interim order was obtained from Bishan Narain T. staying the operation of the impugned order pending the hearing of the writ petition by the Motion Bench. For some reason or other the writ petition did not actually come up for admission until the 3rd of December, 1956 when it was admitted and the stay of further proceedings was ordered, but at tie same time a very early hearing was ordered. life unfortunate that in spite of this order a period of nine months has elapsed before the petition could be heard.

4. Actually in the petition more than the mere order for the production of the documents in question has been challenged since the jurisdiction of Mr. Rameshwar Dayal is also challenged on the ground that he was not the Additional District Judge originally named as constituting the Tribunal in the order of reference and also that the reference of dispute relating to the period before the present partnership firm was constituted is illegal. The FIrst of these points has not now been raised but as regards the second it is stated in the petition supported by an affidavit that the present partnership firm which, constitutes the management of the Magazine was constituted on the 1st of August, 1953 and the objection raised is that the question of, bonus, for the years 1951-52 and 1952-53 could not legally be referred to the Tribunal.

5. On this aspect of the case I do not consider that, there, is much substance in the objection of the petitioner, since it is stated without contradiction in the affidavit filed on behalf of the workmen that whereas formerly the Magazine was being run as sole manager and proprietor by Mr. Yunus Dehlvi, the only change which has been made in the constitution of the firm since the 1st of August, 1853 is that Mr. Yunus Delhvi has taken in his three sons as partners and Mr. Yunus Delhvi is stillthe general manager as well as a partner in the firm. In the circumstances I do not consider that there was anything illegal in the reference of disputes relating even to the period before the 1st of August, 1953, between the management of Shama Magazine and their workmen to the Tribunal not do I consider that it was in any way illegal for the Tribunal to order the production of documents relating to this earlier period so long as these documents could otherwise legally be ordered to be produced,

6. It is, however, contended on behalf of the management that the order for production of the documents is generally illegal as it was based without proper consideration of the relevant provisions of the Civil Procedure Code and in some respects it is otherwise illegal.

7. One instance of illegality in the order which has been pointed out is the order for the production of certain income-tax assessment orders. These documents are privileged under the provisions of the Incom-tax Act itself, and it has even been a matter of controversy in the Courts as to whether even an assessee himself could waive his privilege and produce records of proceedings before the In-come-tax authorities in other proceedings if he thought it advantageous to do so and although the correct view on this matter appears to be that the privilege attached to proceedings before the Income-tax authorities is intended primarily for the protection of assessees, and that assessees are in certain circumstances entitled to waive this privilege there can be no doubt of the flagrant illegality of the order of the Tribunal calling on the management in this case to produce income-tax assessment returns at the instance of the workmen.

8. The combined effect of Section 11(3) of the Industrial Disputes Act and Rule 21 of the Rules framed under the Act is that the Tribunal's powers in relation to directing the production of documents by parties are strictly governed by the relevant provisions of the Civil Procedure Code under which inter alia a party can only be ordered to produce documents which are in its possession or in its power, which evidently refers to existing documents which though not actually in the immediate possession of the party are readily available to it.

It is, therelore, at once obvious that such parts of the demands of workmen in this case as involve the preparation of lists or abstracts of various kinds from existing records were improper demands and that those parts of the order of the Tribunal which directed the management to prepare and furnish such lists or abstracts were illegal.

9. Orders of Tribunals relating to production of documents by management have come before the Courts in previous cases. In a writ petition relating to a dispute between Mettur Chemical and Industrial Corporation, Ltd. and their workers Sri Rajagopalan J. in Ins judgment which is printed at 1955-1 Lab LJ 27 has held that the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code relating to the production at documents must be strictly complied with by a Tribunal.

In Civil Writ No. 71-D of 1955, Punjab National Bank Ltd. v. Ram Kanwar, Khosla J. by his order dated the 4th of January, 1957 held that proceedings before Industrial Tribunal should be conducted as far as possible in the same way as a judicial proceeding and the workmen cannot try to fill in gaps in their own case by compelling the employer to make a research into certain matters, prepare statements and produce them along with confidential information of the employer's business dealings and that an order of an Industrial Tribunal directing the employer to produce the proceedings of its Board of Directors or directing the employer to prepare evidence for the benefit of the workmen, or relating to information which is available in the office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, would be in excess of its powers under Section 11(3) of the Industrial Disputes Act.

10. More recently Bishan Narain J. in Shamhu Nath v. Addl. Industrial Tribunal, Delhi, Civil Writ 378 of 1956 decided on the 11th February, 1957 and I myself in Palace Cinema, Delhi v. Rameshwar Dayal, Civil Writ 133-D of 1956 decided on the 6th of August, 1957 have also held that the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code must be strictly complied with before production of documents can be ordered.

11. It seems to me that the order in this case must be set aside since some parts of it are evidently illegal and the whole matter requires reconsideration in the light of the above observations. At the same time. I cannot help observing that even after proper reconsideration of points involved much of the material which is now sought by the workmen in this case will probably have to be admitted in some form or other and it may well be that the management in this case may find it more convenient to prepare lists or abstracts even if they cannot be compelled to do so than to produce all the records and registers from which such documents could be prepared. The only material ordered by the Tribunal to be produced which I definitely rule out is the income-tax assessment returns. One point which was raised on behalf of the management was that the dispute was only between the management of Shama Magazine and its workers and Therefore the Tribunal could not legally, as it has done, order the production of the Articles of Association of the Company Shama (Overseas) Private Ltd, with a hint that later the accounts of this Company might also have to be gone into.

It is, however, stated in the affidavit filed on behalf of the workmen that the same workmen do the work for this Company in India, and it seems to me that if Shama (Overseas) Private Limited has no separate staff of its own and it uses the ordinary staff of Shama Magazine for its work at Delhi, some aspects of the working of this Company may require consideration in connection with the present dispute, and I am certainly not prepared at this stage to order the total exclusion of matters relating to this Company in the present enquiry.

12. The result is that I accept the writ petition and set aside the order of the Tribunal datedthe 16th of July, 1956, but at the same time leavemost of the matters involved to be reconsideredand decided in accordance with the strict provisions of the Civil Procedure Code. The partieswill bear their own costs.


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