1. The present application is for issue of an ad interim injunction during the pendency of Suit No. 555 of 1985.
2. The plaintiff is an Association of State Road Transport Undertaking. It is registered under the Societies Registration Act. Its registered office is at 811, Ashoka Estate, 24, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi. Shri P. V. Venkatakrishnan, IAS, is the Executive Director of the plaintiff while its President is Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, New Delhi.
3. Defendant 1 is a union of workers of the plaintiff. Plaintiff says that it has not recognised the said defendant as a Union because the same had failed to fulfill the requisite conditions for recognition as representative union. Defendant 2 is another Union of employees. Defendants 3 to 5 are the office bearers of defendant 2. Defendants 6 and 7 were the former employees of the plaintiff and their services were terminated. Defendants 8 to 10 are the employees of the plaintiff and they are members of defendant 1.
4. As already mentioned, defendants 6 and 7 were dismissed from service by the plaintiff. The defendants 1 & 2 Unions, the aforesaid defendants 6 and 7 and other defendants started agitation. It is alleged by the plaintiff that the demonstrations were in violent form, that the managerial staff including the Executive Director were hurled abuses, that on 7th January, 1985, defendants 8 and 9 gave beating to the Senior Administrative Officer of the plaintiff and that on 7th February, 1985 at about 4 p.m. defendant 10 abused Shri Yognidhi, Superintendent of the plaintiff and also threatened him with dire consequences. It is also alleged that vide letter dated 25th January 1985, the Executive Director of the plaintiff was threatened with dire consequences. In the plaint details have been given as to how demonstrations were held in the offices of the plaintiff on January 15, 17 and 18, 1985; February 20, 21 and 22, 1985 and March 15 and 16, 1985.
5. With these allegations the plaintiff instituted a suit for the issue of different perpetual injunctions. Along with the plaint, the present application (I.A. 1871 of 1985) was filed. Vide this application it was prayed that the Court may :
(a) grant an ex parte ad interim injunction restraining the defendants either by themselves or through their agents, associates, members and accomplices from staging dharnas, demonstrations at the registered office of the plaintiff-Association at 6th and 8th floors of 811, Ashoka Estate, 24, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi and its regional or other offices;
(b) grant an ex parte ad interim injunction restraining the defendants either by themselves or through their agents, associates, members and accomplices from staging dharnas and demonstrations at the residences of (1) Shri P. V. Venkatakrishnan, IAS, Executive Director, r/o C-107, defense Colony (2) Shri V. Nagaraja, Director Technical, r/o J-24, South Extension, Part I, New Delhi and (c) Shri I. N. Gupta, Sr. Administrative Officer, r/o 518, Chhota Bazar, Shahdara, Delhi;
(c) grant an ex parte ad-interim injunction restraining the defendants either by themselves or through their agents, associates, members and accomplices from preventing or obstructing the officers of the plaintiff association and/or the visitors from entering and leaving the place of work of the plaintiff;
(d) grant an ex parte ad interim injunction restraining the defendants either by themselves or through their agents, associates, members and accomplices from entering in or near the plaintiff place of work, including the Head Office or any sub-offices;
(e) grant an ex parte ad interim injunction restraining the defendants either by themselves or through agents, associates, members and accomplices from damaging, destroying or causing any loss to the properties of the plaintiff including the buildings;
(f) grant an ex parte ad interim injunction restraining the defendants either by themselves or through their agents, associates, members and accomplices from holding any demonstration or shouting slogans at the 6th and 8th floors of the plaintiff's building at 811, Ashoka Estate, 24, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi and/or using any abusive and filthy languages towards any officers or workers of the plaintiff association.
6. On 29th March, 1985 a temporary injunction, as prayed for, above, was granted till 9th May, 1985 and that injunction is still continuing. The defendants put in appearance through counsel and they contested the application. I have heard the learned counsel for the parties.
7. The first contention of the learned counsel for the defendants is that the Civil Court has no jurisdiction to entertain and decide the present suit because the alleged acts of the defendants amount to 'unfair labour practice' within the meaning of the Industrial Disputes Act and that, thereforee, it is only an Industrial Tribunal or a Labour Court, which is entitled to take cognizance of such a matter. The learned counsel urged that that being so, the plaintiff did not have any prima facie case and that on that ground alone, the injunction already granted should be vacated.
8. Section 9 of the Civil P.C. reads as under :
9. The Courts shall (subject to the provisions herein contained) have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature excepting suits of which their cognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred.'
thereforee, the general rule is that Civil Court has jurisdiction in respect of every matter of Civil Court. There is no doubt that the present suit involves matters of civil nature. There is no provision in the Industrial Disputes Act which expressly or impliedly bars the jurisdiction of the Civil Court in respect of taking cognizance of the matters involved in this suit. The word 'unfair labour practice' is defined in S. 2(ra) of the Industrial Disputes Act. 1947. That says that 'unfair labour practice' means any of the practices specified in the Fifth Schedule. The Fifth Schedule, inter alia, says that staging of demonstrations at the residences of the employers or the managerial staff members or to indulge in acts of force or violence or to hold out threats or intimidation etc. are 'unfair labour practice'. thereforee, the allegations of the plaintiff disclose commission of 'under labour practice' by the defendants. But that does not take away the jurisdiction of the Civil Court. An 'unfair labour practice' is an offence according to S. 25-U of the Industrial Disputes Act. The learned counsel for the defendants relied upon S. 34 of the said Act which says that no Court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under that Act except of complaint made by or under that authority of the appropriate government. The learned counsel contended that that debarred the Civil Court from taking cognizance in respect of any unfair labour practice which is an offence. But that argument has no force because S. 34 is in respect of taking cognizance by Criminal Courts. That does not debar a Civil Court from taking cognizance of a matter of civil nature such as the one in the present case.
9. The learned counsel for the defendants also contended that right of forming associations, holding demonstrations etc. are fundamental rights under the Constitution, that they cannot be interfered with by issue of an injunction like the one already issued and that, thereforee, on that ground alone, the injunction already issued be vacated and the application of the plaintiff be dismissed. He relied upon a judgment of the Supreme Court in Kameshwar Prasad v. State of Bihar, 1962 - 1 - LLJ - 294 in which following was held :
'There are forms demonstration which would fall within the freedoms guaranteed by Art 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(b). A violent and disorderly demonstration would not obviously be within Art. 19(1)(a) or (b). But peaceful and orderly demonstration would fall within the freedoms guaranteed under these clauses.'
10. Learned counsel urged that in the present case the defendants wanted to stage only peaceful demonstrations which would be held and no injunction order could be issued against the same. In this respect reliance was also placed on C. Kannan v. Supdt. of Police, Cannanor, 1975 - I - LLJ - 283 Federation of Western India Cine Employees v. Filmalaya Private Ltd., 1881 - 2 - LLJ - 393 and a judgment of Madras High Court in Sri Rama Vilas Service Ltd. v. Simpson and Group Companies Workers' Union, 1979 - 2 - LLJ - 284
11. But in this respect the allegations of the plaintiff are that the demonstrations and actions of the defendants had become violent in as much as the Executive Director, Senior Administrative Officer and Superintendent of the plaintiff had been abused filthily and threatened with dire consequences. It is also alleged that Senior Administrative Officer was beaten. Under these circumstances, in view of the Supreme Court authority, interference by the Court is justified in the present case.
12. In Engineering Project (I) Ltd. v. Engineering Projects (I) Ltd. Employees Union, (reported in 1986 Lab IC 1266 I had the occasion to deal with this matter. My judgment is dated 11th March, 1985. In that case relying upon a Supreme Court judgment I had expressed the view that no doubt according to Art. 19 of the Constitution, every citizen of India has freedom of speech, freedom to assemble peacefully and freedom to form association or unions but that there was a limit to such fundamental rights in as much as there was no right to hold meetings and shout slogans at a premises legally occupied by another. This case related to a multi-storeyed building known as 'Kailash' 26, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi. Under these circumstances, the defendants have no right to hold demonstrations in the premised occupied by the plaintiff as 6th and 8th floors and others in Ashoka Estate, 24, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi. The defendants have also no right to hold demonstrations and shout slogans outside the residences of the Executive Director, Senior Administrative Officer, and Superintendent etc. of the plaintiff.
13. The learned counsel then complained that he injunction already issued was vague in as much as it had only been mentioned that there should not be any demonstration or squatting in or near the plaintiff's place of work, that the word 'in' or 'near' was vague and the area should have been definite. He contended that in fact the defendants should be permitted to hold the demonstrations outside the rooms occupied by the plaintiff. It is clear that no demonstration should be held in the building in which the offices of the plaintiff are located. In any case, it is clarified that the defendants shall not hold demonstrations within a radius of 50 meters from the offices of the plaintiff.
14. The learned counsel also complained that the injunction restrained the defendants even from entering the premises, that some of the defendants were employees of the plaintiff, that they have right to enter for doing their jobs and that, thereforee, such restraint should not be put. There is no prohibition to the employees from entering the premises of the plaintiff for doing their work. The prohibition is only in respect of entering for demonstration and squatting. Hence, there is hardly any cause for complaint.
15. The balance of convenience clearly favor the plaintiff. The plaintiff will not be able to carry on its business whereas it makes no difference to the defendants to hold meeting and shout slogans at a place 50 meters away from the place of business of the plaintiff. Learned counsel for the defendants contended that there would be no use to hold the meetings and shout slogans at a distance of about 50 meters because the meeting would neither be visible nor slogans would be audible to the management of the plaintiff on account of which there could not be any collective bargaining which is the aim of holding such meetings and shouting of slogans. But that arguments obviously has no force. The defendants cannot be allowed to create nuisance for the plaintiff. They can exercise their right only in a legitimate manner. Irreparable injury will obviously be caused to the plaintiff, because its business will suffer, in case the defendants are allowed to hold meetings and shout slogans in the premises of the plaintiff. That will be more so if there is any violence of which the plaintiff complains of.
16. Under these circumstances I make the injunction, already issued, absolute till the decision of the suit with the only clarification that the prohibition contained in the injunction order shall be confined to a radius of 50 meters from the place of business of the plaintiff. It is made clear that whatever has been stated above is only for the purpose of deciding this application and will not have any effect on the respective rights of the parties in the suit.