P.C. Pandit, J.
1. This is a petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India filed by the workmen of Dadri Roadways (Private), Ltd., and Chinaria Transport Company (Registered), Charkhi Dadri, district Mohlndergarh (hereinafter called Dadri Roadways and Chinaria Transport Company respectively) through Haryana Motor Transport Workers' Union (Registered), Rohtak, for quashing an award dated 15 December 1964, passed by the labour court, Rohtak, and for remitting the reference back to the labour court for re-decision according to law.
2. According to the allegations of the petitioners Dadri Roadways were carrying on the business of running public transport bases at Charkhi Dadri since about ten years and Hans Ra, Ram Kishan, Puran Chand, drivers, Hardev Praahad, Kailash Chander and Ram Chand, conductors, and Ramlal, oilman, were their workers who had baen In their service almost from the very beginning. All these workmen were members of Haryana Transport Workers' Union (Registered), Rohtak (hereinafter referred to as the union). In May 1963. Dadri Roadways purported to transfer by an agreement Its buses along with a right to use route permits relating thereto and the services of the above mentioned seven workmen with continuity of service to Chinaria Transport Company. The Regional Transport Authority has not as yet recognized the above mentioned agreement and the route permits are still in the name of Dadrl Roadways. All business is also being transacted In the nama of Dadri Roadways and the only effect of the agreement of 1933 was that the proprietors of Chinaria Transport Company have become the owners of Dadri Roadways as well and they were managing its affairs. In October 1963, the new management of Dadri Roadways, namely, Chinaria Transport Company, Illegally dismissed the above mentioned seven workmen from service without serving any chargesheet on them or holding any enquiry Into their misconduct. The union of which these seven workmen along with other workmen of Dadri Roadways were members took up the cause of these seven dismissed workmen and raised an industrial dispute concerning their dismissal. On 5 May 1964, by a gazette notification, the Punjab Government referred the following Industrial dispute between the workmen and the management of Dadri Roadways and Chinaria Transport Company to the labour court for adjudication:
Whether the termination of services of Hans Raj, Ram Kishan, Puran Chand, drivers, Hardev Parshad, Kailash Chander, Rup Chand, conductors, and Ramlal, oilman, la Justified and In order and If not, to what relief they are entitled?
The labour court, Rohtak, after getting the statements of the parties framed the following Issues:
(1) Whether respondent 1 (the management of Dadri Roadways) has closed its transport business and transferred the services of the workmen concerned to respondent 2 (management of Chinaria Transport Company) and since when ?
(2) if so, how does It affect the case ?
(3) Whether the present dispute is an industrial dispute vis-a-vis respondent 1 (management of Dadri Roadways) and respondent 2 (management of Chinaria Transport Company) and has It been espoused by a substantial section of their establishments ?
The labour court found that the management of Dadri Roadways bad closed its transport business and transferred the services of the workmen concerned to the management of Chinaria Transport Company with effect from the middle of May 1963. On Issue (2), Its finding was as under:
Issue (2) -It has already been found by me under Issue (1) that when respondent 1, Dadri Roadways, transferred some of Its bases and relevant route permits to Chinaria Transport Company It also transferred the services of all the seven workmen concerned In that company and all the workmen concerned accepted and joined the service of respondent 2 and served under It for several months. I have also held that since middle of May 1963, respondent 1 had closed Its transport business and was no longer carrying on the same. Though the company, namely, Dadri Roadways, still exist s, the Industry has ceased to exist and therefore the question of the reemployment or reinstatement of the workmen concerned in the non-existing industry does not arise. Also because the workmen concerned had by joining service of Chinaria Transport Company agreed to their transfer to the new employer, they had ceased to be in the service of their previous employer, namely, Dadri Roadways, and obviously they cannot now raise a dispute with their ex-employer, nor can any dispute with regard to them be raised by anyone and I decide the issue accordingly.
With regard to Issue (3) it found that the present dispute was not an industrial dispute vis-a-vis either the management of Dadri Roadways or the management of Ohinarla Transport Company. On these findings, the labour court declined to proceed with the reference made to it by the Punjab Government. The impugned award was given on 15 December 1964. That led to the filing of the present writ petition on 17 February 1965.
3. The sole question for decision In this case is whether the labour court was right In holding that there was no industrial dispute which could be tried by it,
4. These seven dismissed workmen were originally the employees of the Dadri Roadways. It has been found as a fact by the labour court, after going through the evidence produced by the parties, that the management of Dadri Roadways had closed it a transport business and transferred the services of these workmen to the management of Chinaria Transport Company since May 1963 It has further been found that the concerned workmen bad accepted and joined the service of Chinaria Transport Company and served under it for several months. They had agreed to their transfer to the new employer. In other words, from May 1963, they became the employees of Chinaria Transport Company. Under issue (3), the labour court held that the case of these seven workmen was not sponsored by any member of the establishment of Chinaria Transport Company and that the workmen concerned could not espouse their own cause with the result that there was no Industrial dispute between the workmen and the management of Chinaria Transport Company. In my view this finding is manifestly contrary to law. In the supplementary affidavit dated 27 March 1966, filed in this Court by the Chairman of Chinaria Transport Company, it was stated that the total number of workmen on the rolls of the Chinaria Transport Company on 15 October 1963, was eleven which admittedly included the seven concerned workmen. If out of the total number of workmen of an establishment, a substantial number of dismissed from service, their dismissal itself, without being espoused by any union, would be an industrial dispute. It was so held by the Supreme Court in Workman of Dharampal Premchand V. Dharampal Premchand 1965-I L.L.J. 668. There a firm carrying on business as perfumers and tobacconist dismissed the services of its eighteen employees on the same day. On the date of dismissal, it had in its employ 45 employees. The cause of the dismissed employees was represented by a registered trade union, viz., Mercantile Employees' Association of which they and none others were numbers at the relevant time. The conciliation proceedings failed and reference under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, was made at the instance of the association. While dealing with the question whether the dispute In that case was an Industrial dispute or an Individual one, Gajendragadkar, C.J., who wrote the Judgment, observed thus;.Take, for Instance, the case of an employer who employs twenty work man, and assume that the as workmen have not formed any union. If the employer Illegally dismisses all the workman employed by him, It cannot be suggested that the dispute about the dismissal of these employees would not become an Industrial dispute because there la no union to support them and the dismissed employees themselves cannot convert their Individual dispute into an Industrial dispute. In the present case, out of 46 employees 18 have been dismissed, and there is no evidence to show that these employees have a union of their own. In such a case, It would be difficult to hold that though the number of employees dismissed la eighteen they cannot raise a dispute by themselves In a for mil manner. Considerations watch would be relevant In dealing with a dispute relating to an Individual employee's dismissal, would not be material In dealing with a case where a large number of employees have been dismissed on the same day ...
Besides, there is another way in which this question can be considered. If eighteen workman are dismissed by an order passed on the same day, It would be unreasonable to hold that they themselves do not form a group of workmen which would be Justified In supporting the cause of one another. In dealing with this question we ought not to forget the basic theory on which limitation has been Introduced by this Court on the denotation of tae words 'industrial dispute' as defined by Section 2(k) of the Act. Therefore, we are satisfied that the tribunal was In error In rejecting the reference on the preliminary ground that the dispute referred to It was an Individual dispute and not an lad us trial dispute within the meaning of Section 2(k).
5. Following this decision would hold that In the Instant case when 7 workmen out of total number of 11 had been dismissed from service, their dismissal itself without anything more would be an industrial dispute within the meaning of Section 2(k) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Tae labour court was, therefore, in error In rejecting the reference on the preliminary ground that the dispute referred to it was not an 'Industrial dispute.'
6. The result Is that this writ petition la accepted, the impugned award is quashed and the reference Is remitted to the labour court for proceeding according to law. In the circumstances of the case, however) I would leave the parties to bear their own costs.