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Free India Industries and anr. Vs. Regional Provident Fund Commissioner and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1962)IILLJ602P& H
AppellantFree India Industries and anr.
RespondentRegional Provident Fund Commissioner and anr.
Cases ReferredNagpur v. Regional Provident Fund Commissioner
Excerpt:
- sections 80 (2) & 89 & punjab motor vehicles rules, 1989, rules 85 & 80: [t.s. thakur, cj, jasbir singh & surya kant, jj] appeal against orders of state or regional transport authority imitation held, a stipulation regarding the period of limitation available for invoking the remedy shall have to be strictly construed. that is because any provision by way of limitation is in the nature of a restraint on the remedy provided under the act. so viewed two inferences are clear viz., (1) sections 80 and 89 of the act read with rule 85 of the rules make it obligatory for the authorities making the order to communicate it to the applicant concerned and (2) the period of limitation for any appeal against the order is reckonable from the date of such communication of the reasons would imply..........it falls under the heading 'any industry engaged in the manufacture of electrical, mechanical or general engineering products.' this clause came up for consideration by a letters patent bench in shibu metal works, jagadhri v. regional provident fund commissioner letters patent, appeal no. 312 of 1959 decided on 10 april 1962. after considering a number of decided cases and taking into consideration the conflicting flews, the bench held as follows:construing the expression 'electrical, mechanical, or general engineering products' in the light of what has just been stated, i am inclined to hold that the legislative emphasis is intended to be more prominent on the words 'engineering products' which represent the core of the entry and the words 'electrical', 'mechanical' and 'general' have.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Harbans Singh, J.

1. The petitioner-firm, Free India Industries, Jullundur City, carries on the business of body building on chassis at Jullunder City. The Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Punjab, made demands from time to time on the petitioner-firm for the payment of the provident fund under the provisions of the Employees' Provident Funds Act, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), and threatened to prosecute them under Section 14 of the Act for non-compliance. The present petition was brought under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India read with Section 561A of the Criminal Procedure Code. Two main points were taken in the petition: first, that Section 5 of the Act is ultra vires of the Constitution inasmuch as the powers of deciding which industry will be governed by the provisions of the Act, is left entirely in the hands of the executive, and, secondly, that the business in which the petitioner-firm Is engaged does not fall within the purview of the Act.

2. In the reply filed by respondent Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Punjab, it was admitted that the petitioner-firm carries on the business of body-building on chassis. It was, however, denied that the process of bodybuilding on chassis merely Involved carpentry work, as was alleged by the petitioner-firm.

3. In a number of oases decided by this Court the provisions of Section 5 of, the Act have been Meld to be intra vires and it is not open to me to go into this question afresh.

4. I The sole point for consideration, therefore, is whether the business of the petitioner-firm falls within the industries covered by the Act. According to Sub-section (3) of Section 1, as it stands modified, the Act applies to every establishment which is a factory engaged in any industry specified in Schedule I and in which (twenty or more persons are employed. 'Industry' means any industry specified in Schedule I and 'factory' is defined as premises in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on whether with the aid of power or without the aid of power. It is not denied that more than twenty persons are being employed by the petitioner firm and that the premises where the work is being carried on does fall within the definition of 'factory.' According to the respondent, this business of body-building on chassis falls Within the industries detailed In the schedule because it falls under the heading 'Any industry engaged in the manufacture of electrical, mechanical or general engineering products.' This clause came up for consideration by a Letters Patent Bench in shibu Metal Works, Jagadhri v. Regional Provident Fund Commissioner Letters Patent, appeal No. 312 of 1959 decided on 10 April 1962. After considering a number of decided cases And taking into consideration the conflicting flews, the Bench held as follows:

Construing the expression 'electrical, mechanical, or general engineering products' in the light of what has just been stated, I am inclined to hold that the legislative emphasis is intended to be more prominent on the words 'engineering products' which represent the core of the entry and the words 'electrical', 'mechanical' and 'general' have to be construed as qualifying the 'engineering products. 'It is true that in the explanation the expression 'electrical, mechanical or general engineering products' appears to have been given a somewhat wider 'connotation by including about 25 items bat looking at these items individually they seem to bring out with some prominence the engineering aspect of the product...the remaining items do seem to illustrate the general legislative intent as to the meaning, scope and effect of the expression 'electrical, mechanical and general engineering products'.

5. As has been stated above, it is not denied that the petitioner-firm is doing the work of body-building on chassis. According to the petitioner, this work is in the nature of carpentry work. The question for consideration is, can this business be categorized as manufacture of an engineering product in the case before the Letters Patent Bench the question was whether manufacture of brass and other metal utensils could be said to be engineering product and it was held that it could not be so held. Emphasis being on the words 'engineering products,' one cannot see how the body-building on chassis can in any way be said to be an engineering product. If body-building could be treated as an engineering product, the manufacture of ordinary household furniture or even doors and windows would be treated as such. Reference was made to the observations of the Bombay High Court in Nagpur Glass Works, Ltd., Nagpur v. Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Bombay 1958 I L.L.J. 281 which have been reproduced in the judgment of the letters patent appeal noted above, where it was stated as follows:

Thus, the expression 'electrical, mechanical or general engineering products' means engineering products relating to or connected with electricity, or engineering products acting or worked or produced by a machine or mechanism, or products produced by a craftsman employing a certain design or invention....

6. It was urged on behalf of the respondent that in building a body on chassis the workers followed a certain design. If this interpretation is to be put, then design has to be followed even In the manufacture of utensils. Viewed as a whole, the observations of the Bombay High Court, as interpreted by the Letters Patent Bench, go to indicate that there must be something more than a manufacturing process. The process mast be such which involves some engineering design or invention. On the facts of the present case it can hardly be Bald that the business of the petitioner-firm is covered by the abovementioned category of industries.

7. The learned Counsel for the State further urged that inasmuch as the question whether the industry in which the petitioner is engaged can be categorized as one producing engineering products, this Court should not give any relief in its writ jurisdiction and that, in any case, admittedly prosecutions have been launched and would it be open to the petitioner-firm to raise this point there. I have not been impressed with this argument. No doubt, if there be available to the petitioner-firm an equally efficacious remedy this Court is slow to interfere in its extraordinary Jurisdiction under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution. The petitioner-firm, however, wants relief from illegal demands that are being made and the only efficacious remedy open to the petitioner-firm is to seek a writ from this Court quashing the orders of respondent on the ground that the industry is not covered by the Act. Such a complicated question is hardly one which can properly be settled by a magistrate on an objection being raised in a prosecution under Section 14 of the Act. In fact, the learned Counsel for the petitioner-firm, finding that a writ can either be a civil writ or a criminal petition under Section 561A of the Criminal Procedure Code, has made a statement at the bar that he does not press his prayer for. quashing of the prosecutions because if be once gets a decision of this Court in his favour that the industry is not covered by the Act, the prosecutions will automatically drop.

8. In view of the above, therefore, I make the rule absolute and quash the orders of the respondent calling upon the petitioner-firm to make contributions under the Act, and hold that the industry in which the petitioner is engaged la not covered by the Act. The matter In controversy being far from clear, there will be no order as to costs.


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