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Wadhu Mal Agnani Vs. Rulia Ram Sharma and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1964CriLJ333
AppellantWadhu Mal Agnani
RespondentRulia Ram Sharma and ors.
Cases ReferredMeerut v. Lakshmi Chand
Excerpt:
.....forth the steps taken by him for ascertaining the facts relating to the dispute as well as the steps taken by him for bringing about the settlement and the reasons on account of which the settlement could not be brought about. the provisions of section 12 of the industrial disputes act clearly go to show that the proceedings before the conciliation officer and those before a labour court or industrial tribunal are distinct proceedings. 6. the revision petition, accordingly, fail and is dismissed......of sub-registrar under the indian registration act. conciliation officers are appointed under the industrial disputes act of 1947 and their duties are mentioned in section 12 of that act as under: 12(1) where any industrial dispute exists or is apprehended, the conciliation officer may or where the dispute relates to a public utility service and a notice under section 22 has been given, shall hold conciliation proceedings in the prescribed manner.2. the conciliation officer shall, for the purpose of bringing about a settlement of the dispute without delay investigate the dispute and all matters affecting the merits and the right settlement thereof and may do all such things as he thinks fit for the purpose of inducing the parties to come to a fair and amicable settlement of the.....
Judgment:

H.R. Khanna, J.

1. This revision petition filed by Wadhu Mal Agnani President of the Tribune Employees Union (Registered) is directed against the order of learned .Sessions Judge, Ambala, whereby he dismissed the revision petition of the petitioner against the order of Additional District Magistrate, Ambala.

2. The brief facts of this case are that Rulia Ram Sharma, General Manager of the Tribune, filed a complaint on behalf of the trustees of that paper against the petitioner and Dharam Vir Malik under Sections 120B, 465, 466 and 471, Indian Penal Code, on the allegations that the petitioner and Dharam Vir Malik had produced a forged document purporting to be an authority, a letter of the workmen before the Conciliation Officer, Chandigarh, in respect of an alleged dispute between the management of that Paper and some of its employees. The Additional District Magistrate, Ambala, in whose Court that complaint was filed summoned Agnani and Malik under Sections 466 and 471 and 120B, Indian Penal Code. On 29-3-1963 the accused made an application for quashing the proceedings against them and for their discharge on the ground that the sanction of the local Government for the prosecution of the accused for the offence under Section 120B, Indian Penal Code had not been obtained under Section 196-A, Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter referred to as the Code). The other objection taken on behalf of the accused was that a complaint by the Conciliation Officer for proceeding against them under Sections 466 and 471. Indian Penal Code, was necessary, as the document in question was stated to have been produced before that officer by the accused.

The learned Additional District Magistrate upheld the first contention and directed that allegations about criminal conspiracy which were subject-matter of the offence under Section 120B, Indian Penal Code, should be ignored and that the complainant be not allowed to lead evidence on that score. He, however, rejected the other contention of the accused about the necessity of a complaint by Conciliation Officer because in his view the Conciliation Officer was not a Court as mentioned in Section 195 (1) (c) of the Code. The petitioner then filed a revision petition against the order of the Additional District Magistrate to the Court of Session, Ambala, and it was contended on behalf of the petitioner that the complaint was not maintainable in view of the provisions of Section 195(1)(c) of the Code, because the Conciliation Officer was a Court and the complaint had not been filed by him. This contention was repelled by the learned Sessions Judge and he, accordingly, dismissed the revision petition of the petitioner.

3. Clause (c) of Section 195 (1) of the Code reads as under:

195 (1) (c):

No Court shall take cognizance of any offence described in Section 463 or punishable under Section 471, Section 475 or Section 476 of the same Code, when such offence is alleged to have been committed by a party to any proceeding in any Court in respect of a document produced or given in evidence in such proceeding, except on the complaint in writing of such Court, or of some other Court to which such Court is subordinate.'

A plain reading of the above clause goes to show that the bar with regard to the taking cognizance of the offences mentioned in the clause would be there when those offences are committed by a party to any proceedings in any Court In respect of a document produced or given in evidence in such proceedings. In the present case the allegation of the complainant is that the document in question was produced before the Conciliation Officer and question in the circumstances arises whether Conciliation Officer can be deemed to be a Court. The word 'Court' has been defined in Sub-Section (2) of Section 195 of the Code as to include a Civil Revenue or Criminal Court, but not a Registrar of Sub-Registrar under the Indian Registration Act. Conciliation Officers are appointed under the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 and their duties are mentioned in Section 12 of that Act as under:

12(1) Where any industrial dispute exists or is apprehended, the conciliation officer may or where the dispute relates to a public utility service and a notice under Section 22 has been given, shall hold conciliation proceedings in the prescribed manner.

2. The conciliation officer shall, for the purpose of bringing about a settlement of the dispute without delay investigate the dispute and all matters affecting the merits and the right settlement thereof and may do all such things as he thinks fit for the purpose of inducing the parties to come to a fair and amicable settlement of the dispute.

3. If a settlement of the dispute or of any of the matters in dispute is arrived at in the course of the conciliation proceedings the conciliation officer shall send a report thereof to the appropriate Government together with a memorandum of the settlement signed by the parties to the dispute.

4. If no such settlement is arrived at the conciliation officer shall as soon as practicable after the close of the investigation, send to the appropriate Government a full report Setting forth the steps taken by him for ascertaining the facts and circumstances relating to the dispute and for bringing about a settlement thereof, together with a full statement of such facts and circumstances, and the reasons on account of which, in his opinion, a settlement could not be arrived at.

5. If on a consideration of the report referred to in Sub-Section (4), the appropriate Government is satisfied that there is a case for reference to a Board, Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal, it may make such reference. Where the appropriate Government does not make such a reference it shall record and communicate to the parties concerned its reasons therefore.

6. A report under this Section shall be submitted within fourteen days of the commencement of the conciliation proceedings or within such shorter period as may be fixed by the appropriate Government :

Provided that the time for submission of the report may be extended by such period as may be agreed upon in writing by all the parties to the dispute.

It would appear from the above that the essential function of Conciliation Officer is to bring about a settlement of the dispute between the parties and to take steps for that purpose. If the Conciliation Officer succeeds in bringing about a settlement about the dispute, he is to send a report about that the Government together with a memorandum of the settlement signed by the parties to the dispute. If no such settlement is arrived at the Conciliation Officer is to send report to the appropriate Government setting forth the steps taken by him for ascertaining the facts relating to the dispute as well as the steps taken by him for bringing about the settlement and the reasons on account of which the settlement could not be brought about. It is then for the appropriate Government to decide whether it is a fit case for referring the matter to the Board, Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal. According to Rule 11 of the Industrial Disputes (Punjab) Rules I958 the Conciliation Officer may hold a meeting of the representatives of both the parties jointly or of each party separately. It is further provided in Rule 12 that the Conciliation Officer should conduct the proceedings in such manner as he deems fit. It would thus follow from the above that a Conciliation Officer is to evolve his own procedure and has not to decide the matter or give an award affecting the rights of the parties before him or to adjudicate upon the industrial dispute. In the circumstances, the Conciliation Officer cannot be deemed to be a Court. While dealing with the power of a Conciliation Officer, it was observed by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Jaswant Sugar Mills Ltd., Meerut v. Lakshmi Chand reported in : (1963)ILLJ524SC , as under:

A conciliation officer functioning under Clause 29 is not an industrial tribunal constituted under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, his authority being derived from the appointment made by the State of Uttar Pradesh under the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Nor is any provision made in the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, or orders made thereunder for an appeal to any similar authority against the direction made by the conciliation officer in exercise of the power conferred under Clause 29. An appeal lies under Section 4 of. Act 48 of 1950, against the direction of a conciliation officer only if he is a Court or authority. The legislature has used in Clause (iii) the expression 'any Court, board or other authority', the context indicates that the word 'other authority' must be read judgment with Court or board. The right to appeal conferred by Section 4 is only against awards or decisions, and a conciliation office makes no award, nor even a decision. His function is not to deliver a definitive judgment affecting the rights of the party before him. He is not invested with power to adjudicate industrial disputes. It is true that he is constituted under a statute which relates to adjudication of industrial disputes, but his functions are purely incidental to industrial adjudication. His power is not of the same character as that of an industrial Court 01 board or tribunal.

Although the above observations were made in the context of the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act, they are equally applicable in the present case.

4. In view of the above pronouncement if their Lordships of the Supreme Court, Mr. Anand Sarup, learned Counsel for the petitioner, has frank1y conceded at the hearing of the petition that a Conciliation Officer is not a Court and as such it was not essential for him to file a complaint. He however, urges that even though the authority letter was filed before the . Conciliation Officer it should be taken or have been filed before the Labour Court or Industrial Tribunal to whom the matter might be ultimately referred. In my opinion, this contention is wholly devoid of force. The provisions of Section 12 of the Industrial Disputes Act clearly go to show that the proceedings before the Conciliation Officer and those before a Labour Court or Industrial Tribunal are distinct proceedings. The function of Conciliation Officer is merely to make efforts to bring about a settlement and to report the result of his efforts to the Government. In case he succeeds in bringing about a settlement, that is the end of the matter. In case the Conciliation Officer fails to bring about a settlement he is to report the matter to the Government and it is for the Government to decide whether the matter should thereafter be referred to a Board, Court or Tribunal. In the circumstances it is not possible to equate the filing of a document, before a Conciliation Officer to the filing of a document before a Labour Court or Industrial Tribunal.

5. Lastly, it is argued by Mr. Anand Sarup that the facts alleged against the petitioner do not constitute an offence. In my opinion this question is wholly outside the scope of the present revision petition and as such need not be gone into.

6. The revision petition, accordingly, fail and is dismissed.


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