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iron Works Vs. Union of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Appeal Nos. 315 of 1971 and 1495 and 1500 of 1973 and Letters Patent Appeal No. 178 of 19
Judge
Reported inILR1975Delhi613
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 2; General Clauses Act, 1897 - Sections 2(60)
Appellantiron Works
RespondentUnion of India and ors.
Advocates: D.R. Gupta,; H.S. Dhir and; B.S. Charya, Advs
Cases ReferredGraves v. New York
Excerpt:
(i) industrial disputes act (1947) - section 2(a)(ii)--term 'state government'--construction of--whether administrator of union territory of delhi is 'state government'--general clauses act, section 2(60) & 3(58)--applicability of.; that the word 'state' as defined in section 3(58) of the general clauses act will not include a union territory for interpreting the constitution, but for the purposes of the interpretation of an act of parliament the union territories have to be treated as included in the word 'state'. industrial disputes act being a central act, the general clauses act applies to it.; thereforee, that for finding out the meaning of the term 'state government'. the court has to look to the general clauses act and not to the constitution.; (reading section 3(60) of the.....avadh behari, j. (1) in our short history of industrial law and relations references made under the provisions of section 10 of the industrial disputes act, 1947 (act 14 of 1947) have time and again been attacked. this is another vigorous attack. this time an imposing argument has been sought to be built on a constitutional edifice. section 2(a) defines the term 'appropriate government and is in these terms:'2.definitions.-in this act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,- (a) 'appropriate government' means- (i)in, relation to any industrial dispute concerning any industry carried on by or under the authority of the central government, or by a railway company or concerning any such controlled industry as may be specified in this behalf by the central government or.....
Judgment:

Avadh Behari, J.

(1) In our short history of industrial law and relations references made under the provisions of Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (Act 14 of 1947) have time and again been attacked. This is another vigorous attack. This time an imposing argument has been sought to be built on a constitutional edifice. Section 2(a) defines the term 'appropriate Government and is in these terms:

'2.Definitions.-In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,- (a) 'appropriate Government' means-

(I)in, relation to any industrial dispute concerning any industry carried on by or under the authority of the central Government, or by a railway company or concerning any such controlled industry as may be specified in this behalf by the Central Government or in relation to an industrial dispute concerning the Employees' State Insurance Corporation established under section 3 of the Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948, or the 'Indian Airlines' and 'Air India' Corporation established under section 3 of the Air Corporation Act, 1953 or the Agricultural Refinance Corporation established under section 3 of the Agricultural Refinance Corporation Act, 1963, or the Deposit Insurance Corporation established under section 3 of the Deposit Insurance Corporation Act, 1961 or the Unit Trust of India established under section 3 of the Unit Trust of India Act, 1963, or a banking or an insurance company, a mine, an oil field, a Cantonment Board, or a major port, the Central Government, and

(ii) in relation to any other industrial dispute, the State Government.'

(2) The central question in these cases which have come to us on reference is; What is the meaning of the term 'State Government' as used in Section 2(a)(ii). In all these cases the Lt. Governor of Delhi A has made reference of the industrial disputes between the management and the workmen to the Labour Court or the Industrial Tribunal. The main argument in all these cases is that the Lt- Governor is not the 'State Government' and, thereforee, not the 'appropriate Government' under Section 2(a)(ii). On this ground it is contended by the management that the reference to the tribunal is incompetent and illegal.

(3) It is not disputed that clause (i) of Section 2(a) does not apply to the petitioners. The only question is whether Section 2(a)(ii) applies in these cases.

(4) The term 'State Government' has nowhere been defined in the Industrial Disputes Act. However, the General Clauses Act, 1897, defines the terms 'Central Government', 'State' and 'State Government'. It is necessary to read these definitions in order to understand the meaning of the term 'State Government' as used in Section 2(a)(ii).

(5) Section 3(8) of the General Clauses Act in so far as it is material defines 'Central Government' as follows:

'3.Definitions.-In this Act, and in all Central Acts and Regulation made after the commencement of this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,-

(8) 'Central Government' shall,-

(B)in relation to anything done or to be done after the commencement of the Constitution, mean the President ; and shall include,

(III)in relation, to the administration of a Union territory, the administrator thereof acting within the scope of the authority given to him under Article 239 of the Constitution:'

(Inserted by the Adaptation of Laws Order, 1956). Section 3(58) defines State as under: '(58) 'State'-

(A)as respects any period before the commencement of the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956, shall mean a Part A State, a Part B State or a Part C State; and

'(B)as respects any period after such commencement, shall mean a 'State' specified in the First Schedule to the Constitution and shall include a Union territory;'

Substituted for the former clause by I A.L.O., 1956). Section 3(60) in so far as it is material defines 'State Government' in these terms: (60) 'State Government',-

(C)as respects anything done or to be done after the commencement of the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956, shall mean, in a State, the Governor, and in a Union teritory, the Central Government;'

(Inserted by I A.L.O., 1956). Rule 2(f) of the Industrial Disputes (Central) Rules 1957 provides:

'2.Interpretation,-In these rules, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context: (f) in relation to an industrial dispute in a Union territory. for which the appropriate Government is the Central Government, reference to the Central Government or the Government of India shall be construed as a reference to the Administrator of the territory,....

(6) All these four definitions make it plain that in relation to the administration of a union territory the administrator is the appropriate Government in relation to industrial disputes.

(7) A union territory is to be administered by the President acting,to such extent as he thinks fit, through an administrator to be appointed by him with such designation as he may specify. This is provided in Article 239 of the Constitution.

(8) The counsel referred us to Article 53 of the Constitution. That article provides or the executive power of the Union and says:

'53.(1) The executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President and shall beexercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with this Constitution. (3) Nothing in this article shall- (a) be deemed to transfer to the President any functions conferred by any existing law on the Government of any State or other authority; or

(B)prevent Parliament from conferring by law functions on authorities other than the President.'

(9) On the basis of these two constitutional provisions Mr. Gupta,counsel for the petitioner in Cw 1495 of 1973 and 1500 of 1973, contended that the Lt. Governor of Delhi is not a State Government because (1) the administrator acts only as an agent of the President; (2) that the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 is an existing law within the meaning of Article 366(10) of the Constitution and has conferred power on the State Government; (3) that by reason of Article 53 powers which are conferred by any existing law on the Government of a State shall not be deemed to have been transferred to the President; (4) since the powers of the Government of a State were not transferred to the President he could not delegate them to the administrator of the Union territory; (5) that the definitions given in Section 3(58)(b) and 3(60)(c) of the General Clauses Act cannot be applied to the Union territory of Delhi so as to make Delhi a State and administrator a State Government; and (6) that the definition in Section 3(60)(c) is inconsistent with Article 367 and 372 of the Constitution of India.

(10) Mr. Malik who appeared for the petitioners in Cw 315 of 1971 supplemented Mr. Gupta's argument and said that definitions as given in the General Clauses Act are inconsistent with the scheme and framework of the Constitution. Under the Constitution, he said, the Union territory is not a State and, thereforee, it is not open to us to call Delhi Administration a State Government' within the meaning of Section 2(a)(ii) of the Industrial Disputes Act.

(11) Mr. Bhandari who appeared for the management in the L.P.A.No. 178 of 1970 put his argument in the simplest way and said 'Do not look at the General Clauses Act for finding out the meaning of the term 'appropriate Government' '.

(12) In our opinion the argument of the learned counsel in all the cases are based upon a fundamental confusion of thought. The Counsel urged that we must turn to the Constitution of India in order to understand the meaning of the term 'State Government'. This, we think, is wholly unnecessary. Section 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act upon two terms, 'Central Government' and the 'State Government'. Both these terms are defined in the General Clauses Act. The meaning of those terms as given there is to be applied to the interpretation of Section 2(a). The General Clauses Act applies to Central Acts and the Industrial Disputes Act is a Central Act.

(13) We were invited to read a number of provisions in the Constitution by the counsel in their attempt to show that the definitions contained in the General Clauses Act are inconsistent with the general framework and scheme of the Constitution. It was said that the 'Central Government', 'States' and 'Un,ion territories' are distinct entities in the scheme of the Constitution and the Constitution does not give power to Parliament to convert one into another or assign the functions of one to another. It was further argued that these entities have been mixed up and disturbed by giving artificial definitions to these terms in the General Clauses Act which go against the grain of the Constitution. This argument, as we have said, is based on a fundamental misconception, The three expressions, undoubtedly, have a distinct meaning in the constitutional set up. It is also true that the Constitution has a framework and a basic structure of its own. It has its own scheme in which the Central Government, the States an,d the Union territories play their assigned roles and operate in their allotted spheres. India is a Union of States. The territory of India comprises (a) the territories of the States, (b) the Union territories (Article 1). Part V of the Constitution deals with the Union. Part Vi deals with the States and Part Vii deals witli the Union territories.

(14) For finding out the meaning of these terms in relation, to the Industrial Disputes Act, we have to look not to the Constitution but to the General Clauses Act. It is true that the 'Central Government', 'State Government and the 'Union territory' are the creation)s of the Constitution. But for the interpretation of Section 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act it is not necessary for us to see what is the scheme of the Constitution and what are the powers of the Central Government and State Government there under. It would be a grievous mistake if we import the conceptual ideas of the three terms as given in the Constitution into the Industrial Disputes Act with an end to use them as aids to interpretation. The Legislature has not wanted us to do this nor is there any warrant in law for adopting this novel course. If we have recourse to the Constitution for finding out the meaning of these three terms we shall be straying into foreign fields and trespassing into an alien territory.

(15) Why should we go to the Constitution to discover the meaning of these three terms as used in the Central Act like the Industrial Disputes Act when the legislature has provided us with a convenient 'legislative dictionary', as the General Clauses Act has been called? It is something more. It is an official authorised law lexicon. Its object is to shorten the language of the statutory enactments and to provide for uniformity of expressions in those cases in which the subject-matter is the same. The General Clauses Act has been enacted so as to avoid superfluity in the language of the statute where it has been possible to do so. Its chief purpose is to place in one single statute different provisions as regards interpretation of words and legal principles which would otherwise have to be specified separately in; many different Acts and Regulations. Whatever the General Clauses Act says whether as regards the meaning of words or as regards legal principles has to be read into other statutes to which it applies. It is enacted in order to shorten the language used in the parliamentary legislation and to avoid repetition of the same words in the course of the same piece of legislation (See: Kutoor Vengayil Rayarappan Nayanar v. Kutoor Vengayil Vallia Madhavi Amma and others, Air 1950 FC 140, Chief Inspector of Mines and another etc. v. Karam Chand Thapar etc., : (1961)IILLJ146SC and N. Subramania Iyer v. Official Receiver, Quilon and another, : [1958]1SCR257. In a word it sets out to achieve economy of thought and economy of words.

(16) The General Clauses Act applies to central acts or regulations.It is in a sense part of every central act or regulation. In fact the enactment of the General Clauses Act by the Legislature in 1897 is a standing denial of the argument raised on behalf of the petitioners that reference to the constitutional provisions is essential for the understanding of the expressions 'Central Government', 'State Government' used in Section 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act.

(17) It is true that the expression 'Union territories' bears a different meaning in the framework and the scheme of the Constitution. Delhi is a 'Union territory' under the Constitution of India. It is so named in the first Schedule. The States are also mentioned in the first Schedule. The Union territory of Delhi is not mentioned in that schedule as a state. (See Articles I and 4). But in the context of the Industrial Disputes Act the Union territory of Delhi is a 'State'. The General Clauses Act clearly says so in Section 3(58). So Delhi is a Union territory under the Constitution but not a 'State'. For the purposes of the Industrial Disputes Act it is to be deemed to be a 'State' by virtue of the specific provision in Section 3(58) of the General Clauses Act though in truth it is a Union territory administered by the President through the Lt. Governor and cannot be equated to a State in the constitutional sense of that term. In a word the Constitution denies statehood to the Union territory of Delhi but the General Clauses Act treats it as a 'State' for the purposes of the Central Acts to which it is applicable. This is the long and short of the whole question raised in learned and lengthy arguments before us.

(18) The question then is whether under the Industrial Disputes Act the Administrator is 'State Government' for the purpose of makinga reference or discharging other functions under the various provisions of that Act (See Section 8, 9, 17A to 39 and 40). Section 3(60) of the General Clauses Act read with Rule 2(f) of the Industrial Disputes Rules answers the question in the affirmative. For the purposes of the Industrial Disputes Act the General Clauses Act says that the term 'State Government' shall mean in relation, to the administration of the Union territory the administrator thereof acting within the scope of the authority given to him under Article 239 of the Constitution.

(19) The expression 'appropriate Government' used in Section, 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act comprehends within its scope the Central Government, the States of the Union and the Union territories. By including the Union territories within, the term 'State' the legislature has achieved what it wanted to do, namely, to solve a problem of administrative mechanics. This shows how the legislature can achieve a desired result. Sometimes it employs fictions. Sometimes it constructs artificial definitions which have little relation to reality.

(20) That the General Clauses Act governs the meaning of the term 'State Governmen,t' as used in Section 2(a)(ii) has been the consistent view of the Courts in this country. In Birla Cotton Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd. v. Additional Industrial Tribunal and others, it was held that in accordance with Sections 3(8) and 3(60) of the General Clauses Act the Chief Commissioner of Delhi State is the Central Government and when he issues the order of reference he is issuing it in that capacity so that it cannot be said that he is not the authority in whose name such an order should be issued or that he is not the authority which is the State Government within the scope of Section 2 of the Industrial Disputes Act. It will be noticed that this case was decided before the seventh amendment of the Constitution. At that time Delhi was a Part C State and its administrator used to be a Chief Commissioner.

(21) Similarly in The Malabati Tea Estate v. Bhakta Munda and others, Air 1959 Tri 8 it was held that in the case of the Union territories (erstwhile part C States) the Chief Commissioner who has been invested with the powers of the State Government for the purposes of this Act by the President of India under Article 239(1) of the Constitution is the appropriate authority in cases falling under sub-clause (ii) of clause (a) of Section 2 of the Industrial Disputes Act.

(22) In Goa Dock Labour Union and another v. Government of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu and others, Air 1969 Goa 16 the same view was taken and it was held that under Section 3(60)(c) of the General Clauses Act State Government as respects anything done or to be done after the commencement of the Constitution shall mean, in a Union territory, the Central Government. On account of the operation of Rule 2(f) of the Industrial Disputes Rules 1957 read with Section 3(8)(b)(iii) and Section, 3(60(c) of the General Clauses Act the administrator is the appropriate Government in relation to industrial disputes.

(23) We have, thereforee, no hesitation in holding that the Lt. Governor or Delhi administrator is a 'State Government' within the meaning of Section 2(a)(ii) of the Industrial Disputes Act read with Section, 3(8)(b)(iii) and Section 3(60)(c) of the General Clauses Act and that the reference by the Lt. Governor of Delhi is valid.

(24) Two subsidiary points were also raised in C. W. 315 of 1971 by Mr. Malik. Firstly he said that two notifications dated December 8, 1967, (Nos. F. 24(ll)/67-Lab. (i) and F.24(11)/67-Lab. (ii) appointing the presiding officer of the Labour Court were issued by the Delhi Administration and not by the Lt, Governor. This is not so. The. notifications were issued by the Lt. Governor and it is so stated in the notifications themselves. Then it was said that the said notifications are not properly authenticated under Article 77 of the Constitution of India. This objection is equally unsubstantial. It is one thing to say that the order was not made by the Lt. Governor and quite another to say that the order though made is not validly authenticated. In fact Article 77(2) provides only for the authentication of orders 'made and executed in the name of the President.'

(25) Here the notifications were made by the Lt. Governor who is duly empowered in this behalf by the President by notification Nos. S.O. 675 and S.O. 2709 dated March 24, 1961 and September 7, 1966, respectively which are, it was not disputed, duly authenticated under Article 77.

(26) Secondly it was submitted that the notifications were not published in the official Gazette as required by Section 7 and 7A of the Industrial Disputes Act. This argument is misconceived. General Clauses Act, Section, 2(39) says:

OFFICIALGazette' or 'Gazette' shall mean the Gazette to India or the Official Gazette of a State.'

THEnotifications were published in the Delhi Gazette and this is what the law requires.

(27) These three writ petitions and the Letters Patent Appeal were initially heard by a Division Bench (S. N. Shankar and H. L. Anand JJ) of this Court. The principal question which was raised before them was with regard to the validity of the reference made by the Lt. Governor under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act and the competence of the administrator to make the reference. Their attention was called to a Division Bench ruling in H. L. Rodhey v. Delhi Adiministration. : AIR1969Delhi246 decided by Hardy and Deshpande Jj where it has been held, though in a different context, that the Union territory of Delhi is not a State. On the basis of that case it was argued before them, as before us, that as far as the Union territory of Delhi is concerned Lt. Governor could not have made the reference since it was not a State. This is how these references have come to us. We must. thereforee, examine the ruling in Rodhey's case and see what it decides.

(28) In Rodhey's case the question was about the rule making power under Article 309 of the Constitution of India. In that connection it was held that the Union territory of Delhi is not a State and the President has power under proviso to Article 309 to make rules for the Central Services in Delhi.

(29) In that case it was argued that the Union territory of Delhi was a State in view of the definition of State in Section 3(58)(b) of the General Clauses Act and, thereforee, rules for the Services of the Union, territory could not be made by the President under the proviso to Article 309. The Division Bench held that Delhi is not a 'State' and the President can make rules for the central services of Delhi under the proviso to Article 309. It was further held that the President can authorise the administrator under that proviso to make such rules and the administrator can also make such rules. V. S. Deshpande J. who spoke for the Court said:

'ARTICLE 367(1) provides that the General Clauses Act would apply to the interpretation, of the Constitution subject only to the adaptation and modification that may be made in the General Clauses Act under Art. 372 of the Constitution within three years of the commencement of the Constitution, these adaptations in the General Clauses Act were made by the Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950. The definition of 'State' in the General Clauses Act adapted under Article 372 of the Constitution and thereforee applicable to the interpretation of the Constitution was as follows: 'State' shall mean a Part A State, a Part B State, or a Part C State.

IT would be seen, thereforee, that the General Clauses Act can be used to interpret the word 'State' used in the Constitution, only when the State meant Part A, Part B, or Part C. The reason, is obvious. In 1950, when the Adaptation of Laws Order 1950, was made, there were three types of States comprised in the Constitution. The Union Territories did not then figure in the Constitution.

THEConstitution 7th Amendment Act, 1956, however, swept off the Part B and Part C States and divided the Territories of India only into two classes, i.e. (a) Territories of the States and (b) the Union Territories. Consequently, the Adaptation of Laws Order, 1956 had to be issued under Article 372-A of the Constitution. It is to be noted, however, that the adaptations made in the General Clauses Act under Art. 372-A were not to apply to the interpretation of the Constitution, inasmuch as Article 367(1) of the Constitution permits the use of the General Clauses Act as adapted under Article 372 only for such purposes. It follows, thereforee, that the definition of 'State' as introduced in the General Clauses Act for the first time by the Adaptation of Laws Order 1956, is not to be used to interpret the word 'State' as used in the Constitution. The existing definition of 'State' in Section 3(58)(b) of the General Clauses Act is not, thereforee, to be applied to the interpretation of the Constitution at all for the purposes of the cases before us.'

THISview was reiterated by the same Division Bench in another case Advance Ins. Co. v. Gurudasmal, : AIR1969Delhi330. There V. S. Deshpandey J. said :

INour recent judgment in C.W. No. 543 of 1968- : AIR1969Delhi246 H. L. Rodhey etc. v. Delhi Administration etc. delivered on the 14th August 1968, we had occasion to point out that the General Clauses Act as adapted under Article 372 of the Constitution only applied to the interpretation of the Constitution. The changes introduced in the said Act by the subsequent adaptation made under Article 372-A consequent on the Constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956, were not applicable to the interpretation of the Constitution. Consequently the definition of a 'State' in Section 3(58)(b) of the General Clauses Act whereby a Union Territory is included in the definition of 'State' after the commencement of the Constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956, is not applicable to the interpretation of the Constitution.

(30) Against the decision in the case of Advance Insurance Co. an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court (See The Management of Advance Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Shri Gurudasmal and others, : [1970]3SCR881 ). Their Lordships held that the definition of the word 'State' in Section 3(58) after its adaptation by the Order of 1956 applies to the definition of 'State' in Entry 80 of the Union, List with the result that the definition includes Union territories also. Consequently, members of the Police force belonging to the Union territory like Delhi State Police Establishment can have powers and jurisdiction, extended to another Stale provided the Government of that State consents.

(31) In that case on a complaint by the Income-tax Officer, Bombay of the commission of offences under Sections 409, 477A and 120B read with Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code a case was registered by the Superintendent of Police. Special Police Establishment, New Delhi. Investigation was entrusted to an Inspector of the Establishment. It was to be made in the Maharashtra State. Advance Insurance Co. filed a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the right of the Special Police Establishment to investigate the case. The High Court dismissed the petition. On appeal the Supreme Court held that the definition of term 'State' in Section 3(58) of the General Clauses Act as adapted by the Adaption Order 'furnishes a complete answer'.

(32) Entry 80 of the Constitution speaks of a 'Police force belonging to any State' and not of a Police force belonging to the Union territory.It was argued that the Union territory is not a State. Repelling this argument Hidayatullah CJ. who spoke for the Court said at page 1132:

THEREFORE,the definition of 'State' in Section 3(58) in the General Clauses Act after the adaptation in 1956 applies and includes Union Territories in Entry 80 of the Union List.

(33) Now the question is : Does the definition of the term 'State' as given in Section 3(58) of the General Clauses Act apply to the Constitution? If it does the Union territory of Delhi is a State as held by the Supreme Court. If it does not, Delhi is not a 'State' as was held by the Division Bench of this Court in Rodhey's case.

INorder to appreciate this constitutional question let us look at some of the relevant provisions of the Constitution.

(34) Article 366 of the Constitution gives us a number of definitions of the terms used in the Constitution. Article 366(30) defines 'Union territory' as:

'UNIONterritory' means any Union territory specified in the First Schedule and includes any other territory comprised within the territory of India but not specified in that Schedule.

(35) Then there are three important provisions of the Constitution on which the controversy turns. These are Articles 367, 372 and 372-A. Under Article 367:

UNLESSthe context otherwise requires the General Clauses Act 1897 shall, subject to any adaptations and modifications that may be made therein under Article 372, apply for the interpretation of this Constitution, as it applies for the interpretation of an Act of the legislature of the dominion of India.

(36) Now it will be noticed that by clause (2) of Article 372 the President was authorised to adapt existing laws up to January 25, 1953. Article 372A was inserted by the Constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956. It again revived for certain purposes the power of adaptation of laws of the President which as conferred by Article 372 had expired by January 25, 1953. This Article conferred a similar power to adapt laws to be exercised between November 1, 1956 to November 1, 1957 for the particular purpose of bringing the provisions of any existing law in accord with the changes made in the Constitution by the Constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956, that is, for making the changes consequential upon reorganization of the States.

(37) Now we turn to Article 367 for a moment. That Article, as we have seen, says that the General Clauses Act, subject to any adaptations and modifications that may be made therein under Article 372, shall apply for the interpretation of the Constitution. As Article 372-A is not mentioned in Article 367 adaptations and modifications made under Article 372-A in the General Clauses Act cannot be applied for the interpretation of the Constitution. This is the outstanding difference between Article 372 and 372A and this difference has sometimes been ignored. The critical words in Article 367, we emphasise, are: 'adaptations and modifications that may be made therein, under Article 372'.

(38) This major difference between Article 372 and 372A was noticed by the Division Bench of this Court and on this basis it was held that Delhi was not a State. The definition of State in the General Clauses Act adapted under Article 372 of the Constitution and, thereforee, applicable to the interpretation of the Constitution was as follows :- 'State shall mean a Part A State, a Part B State or a Part C State.'

IN1950 when the Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950 was made there were three types of States. Part A, Part B and Part C. The Union territories did not then figure in the Constitution. It, thereforee, follows that the definition of 'State' as introduced in the General Clauses Act for the first time by the Adapdon of Laws Order. 1956 is not to be used to interpret the words 'State' as used in the Constitution, Section 3(58) of the General Clauses Act was adapted by the Adaption Order No. (1) of 1956 to read :-

State'-(b) As respects any period after such commencement shall mean a State specified in the first Schedule to the Constitution and shall include a Union, territory.' In a word the definition prior to the Adaptation of Laws Order, 1956 would apply for the interpretation of the Constitution and not the definition as adapted in 1956. This is the main point of distinction.

(39) The Supreme Court in S. K. Singh v. V. V. Giri, : [1971]2SCR197 has taken the same view as was taken by the Division Bench of this Court. There Bhargava J. said:

ARTICLE 54, no doubt, lays down that all elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States are to be included in the electoral college: but the word 'States' used in this Article cannot include Union territories. It is true that, under Article 367, the General Clauses Act applies for interpretation, of the Constitution as it applies for the interpretation of an Act of the Legislature of the Dominion of India: but that Act has been applied as it stood on 26th January, 1950, when the Constitution came into force, subject only to any adaptations and modifications that may .be made therein, under Article 372. The General Clauses Act, as it was in 1950 and as adapted or modified under Article 372 did not define 'State' so as to include a Union Territory. The Constitution was amended by the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956, which introduced Article 372-A in the Constitution, permitting adaptations and modifications of all laws which may be necessary or expedient for the purpose of bringing the provisions of the law into accord with the Constitution as amended by the Seventh Amendment Act, 1956. It was in exercise of this power un,der Article 372-A that Section 3(58) of the General Clauses Act was amended, so that, thereafter, 'States' as defined included Union Territories also. The new definition of 'State' in Section 3(58) of the General Clauses Act as a result of modifications and adaptations under Article 372-A would, no doubt, apply to the interpretation of all laws of Parliament. but it cannot apply to the interpretation of the Constitution, because- Article 367 was not amended and it was not laid down that the General Clauses Act, as adapted or modified under any Article other than Article 372, will also 'apply to the interpretation of the Constitution. Since, until its amendment in 1956, Section 3(58) of the General Clauses Act did not define 'State' as including Union Territories for purposes of interpretation of Article 54. the Union Territories cannot be treated as included in the word 'State'.

(40) thereforee, on, this view of the Supreme Court the word 'State' as defined in Section 3(58) of the General Clauses Act will not include a Union territory for interpreting the Constitution but for the purposes of the interpretation of an Act of Parliament the Union territories have to be treated as included in the word 'State'.

(41) We have been called upon to interpret the word 'State Government' in an Act of the Parliament and not in the Constitution. The counsel before us have argued that the interpretation of the term 'State Government' as used in Section 2(a)(ii) of the Industrial Disputes Act necessarily involves an interpretation of the Constitution as this term is quite well known and familiar to the Constitution. It was said that we must confine our attention to the definition of the term 'State Government' in Section 3(58) of the General Clauses Act as it stood before the amendment of 1956. The 'States' then meant Part A, Part B or Part C States. It was argued that Delhi being not a State the Lt. Governor had no power to make the reference. In the same vein it was contended that we cannot look at the definition of that term as amended in 1956 for Article 367 has commanded us to look at the General Clauses Act adapted and modified up to January 25, 1953, and not beyond that.

(42) In our view this is a specious argument which cannot prevail. In interpreting the term 'State Government' as used in Section 2(a)(ii) of the Industrial, disputes Act we are not engaged in the task of interpreting the Constitution. We are merely interpreting an Act of the Parliament. But then it was said that the interpretation of Section 2(a)(ii) indirectly involves the interpretation of the Constitution. This in our view is not so. We are not interpreting any provision of the Constitution as we have said.

(43) The counsel pointed out that in a loose sense the term, 'interpretation' and 'construction' arc used as identical referring to 'the process by which the courts seek to ascertain the meaning of the legislature through the medium of the authoritative forms in which it is expressed' (Salmond's Jurisprudence 12th Edition page 132). Some constitutional writers, however, draw a distinction between the two. Thus, Cooley says:

INTERPRETATIONdiffers from construction in, that the former is the art of finding out the true sense of any form of words that is, the sense in which their authors used to convey. Construction on the other hand is the drawing of conclusions respecting subjects that lie beyond the direct expression of the text; conclusions which are in the spirit, though not within the letter of the Jaw.

(Cooley on Constitution Limitations, Volume 1, page 97.)

(44) But as Crawford observes the distinction between the two processes is often vague and, so far as the Courts are concerned, apparently has little or no importance.

'GENERALLYthe whole matter has been largely relegated to the realm of academic discussion, since for most practical purposes it is sufficient to designate the whole process of ascertaining the legislative intent as either interpretation or construction. This appears to be the customary judicial practice.' (Statutory Construction, page 240.)

(45) Understood in this sense it is clear that we are not called upon to interpret the Constitution and ascertain the intent of the founding fathers- We are simply engaged m the mundane task of interpreting the term 'State Government' as used in Section 2(a)(ii) of the Industrial Disputes Act. This can be done by having recourse to the definitions given in the General Clauses Act. Nothing more is required. We need not go to the Constitution. We have at hand ready-made definition of 'State Government' in the General Clauses Act for our use in the interpretation of Section 2(a)(ii) of the Industrial Disputes Act. All that we have to do is to give a lexical meaning to the term 'State Government' used in Section 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes

(46) Happily the legislature has made our task simple enough. We have Just to apply the definition propounded by the General Clauses Act to Section 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act. If that is done we get the answer to the question posed to us : Which is the 'State Government' in the Union territory of Delhi? We have not to wrestle with an abstruse or intricate subject of constitutional law. Nor we are required to unravel the meaning of constitutional terms and phrases.

(47) In truth there is no such problem of constitutional interpretation to be solved by us in this case as when a Court is called upon to interpret a term of words which is highly ambiguous-so ambiguous that the minds of the Judges who have to consider the case fluctuate again and again during the course of the argument. The basic cause of the problem of statutory interpretation is:

'NOTHINGelse than the difficulty of communication-the difficulty of finding unequivocal language by which to convey the intentions of Parliament. Throughout the civilised world the power of expression still lags behind the power of thought. Even the most accomplished draftsman-and today we have small cause to complain of the quality of our parliamentary draftsmen-cannot always find words in which to convey precisely what he has in mind, particularly when dealing with some abstruse or intricate subject.' [Lord MaeDermott (1964) JR103.

(48) The counsel invited our attention to the difference of view in the two Supreme Court decisions. The view of Hidayatullah Cj that the word 'State' used in Entry 80 of the Union List applied to the Union territories also was well expressed when he said:

THIS(Article 372A) was a fresh power equal and analogous to Article 372. thereforee when the President adopted the General Clauses Act by giving a new definition of 'State' the new definition appropriate to the purposes applied to the interpretation of the Constitution.

(49) Bhargava J's view that the definition, prior to the amendment of 1956 would only apply and the word 'State' does not include Union territories is best expressed in his own words:

THEnew definition of 'State' in Section 3(58) of the General Clauses Act as a result of modifications and adaptations under Article 372-A would no doubt apply to all laws of Parliament but it cannot apply to the interpretation of the Constitution.

(50) The question which at once arises is: which of the two views of the Supreme Court is to be preferred? How then do we stand on the law? On that answer will depend the correctness of the decision of this Court in Rod key's case.

INMattulal v. Radhey Lal : [1975]1SCR127 we have been told by the Supreme Court that in a situation like this where a decision of that Court is 'plainly in contradiction' of what was said by that Court earlier in another case and where 'it is not possible to reconcile the observations in the two decisions' we must follow the decision of the larger bench and also see whether that view 'on principle' commends itself and is the right view to take.

(51) Unfortunately this advice does not come handy to us in this difference of opinion with which we are faced. The Management of Advance Insurance Co. Ltd. (supra) is a decision of five judges. It was decided on March 4, 1970. Hidayatullah Cj spoke for the Court. One view was taken in that case. S. K. Sing's case (supra) is again a decision of five judges pronounced on September 14, 1970. In that case Sikri J., Bhargava J., and Mitter J. gave their separate opinions. No other judge adverted to this aspect of the matter except Bhargava J. He took a different view.

(52) We arc certainly bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court as Article 141 of the Constitution of India says:

'THElaw declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all Courts within the territory of India.'

THEquestion is: What is the law declared by the Supreme Court? Is it the opinion of Hidayatullah Cj or is it the opinion of Bhargava J? Both these decisions, it appears to us, take opposing and contradictory views and it is not possible to reconcile the observations in these two decisions. In these circumstances we think we are at liberty to consider which of the two views is supported by the provisions of the Constitution.

(53) We have already held that the Administrator is a 'State Government' within the meaning of Section 2(a)(ii) of the Industrial Disputes Act. The counsel say's that this holding is contrary to the view of the Division Bench in Rodhey's case where it has been ruled that Delhi is not a State. The referring Bench has referred this question to us.

(54) The counsel cited before us the relevant decisions of the Supreme Court on this point, viz., Reference by the President of India under Article 143(1) of the constitution of India on the implementation of the Indo-Pakistan Agreement relating to Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclave's, : [1960]3SCR250 Ram Kishore Sen and others v. Union of India and others, : [1966]1SCR430 and T. M. Kanniyan and others v. Income-tax Officer, Pondicherry and another, : [1968]68ITR244(SC) in addition to the two decisions already noticed.

(55) In deference to the arguments of the counsel and the referring order of the Division Bench we have thought it fit to notice this conflict of opinion.

ITappears to us that the view of Bhargava J. in S. K. Singh (supra) is supported by the plain provisions of Article 367 of the Constitution of India.

INthe Bengal Immunity Company Limited v. The State of Bihar and others, : [1955]2SCR603 , Das Cj cited the following passage from Frankfurter J:.the ultimate touchstone of constitutionality is the Constitution itself and not what we have said about if.

[Graves v. New York (1938) 306 U.S. 466. As in the United States so in India the touchstone of constitutionality is the Constitution.

(56) The decision of this Court in Rodhey's case that Delhi is not a 'State' appears to be in accordance with the reasoning of Bhargava J. in the case of S. K. Singh (supra). Since on the view we have taken in this case, namely, that the provisions of the Constitution do not call for our interpretation we think that it is unnecessary to say anything further on this constitutional controversy. C.W. 315 of 1971

(57) In this civil writ petition the main point was about the competence of the Lt. Governor to make the reference. No other point was urged. Since we have held that Lt. Governor is the 'appropriate Government' we dismiss the writ petition but in the circumstances without costs.

(58) C. W. 1495 of 1973, C. W. 1500 of 1973 and L.P.A. 178 of 1970 arc remitted to the Division Bench for decision on the remaining points. In the aforesaid L.P.A. we agree with the decision of Rangarajan J. on point No. 2 where the contention of validity of the reference has been dealt with. Though the counsel before the learned single judge did not pursue the point after his attention was drawn to the notification of 1966 we, however, permitted the counsel to argue his case fully before us as other counsel in the connected cases had raised the same contention. As the L.P.A. is old, the office will list all the three cases at an early date.


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