(1) The petitioners (Messrs Grand Jron Works & others) carry on the business of giving on hire Kohlus (sugarcane crushers) and Karahas (boiling pans) at their Head Office in Chawri Bazar, Delhi, having their depots spread out in various villages in the States of Haryana, Pinjab, H, P., Rajasthan, etc. They run an iron casting foundry-cum-machine Shop at the Indastrial Estate, Okhla, New Delhi. The controversy in this writ petition is concerning the liability of the petitioners to pay the employer's contribution under the Employee's State Insurance Act, 1948 in respect of the employees at the Head Office in Chawri Bazar, Delhi, according to the respondents they are so liable by reason at section 2(9) of the said Act, as amended by Act 44 of 1986 The petitioners contention is that since the Office at Chawri Bazar was engaged in the hiring out of the Kohlus and Karahas and the employees working there had absolutely nothing to do with any process or work of or incidental to or preliminary to or connected with the Workshoo at Okhla no employer's contribution is payable by them.
(2) Before discussing the legal position it is necessary to notice that the Office of the Regional Director of Employees 'State Insurance Corporation drew the attention of the petitioner to the Head Office staff not having been covered as per the amended section 2(9) by Act 44 of 1966) which came into effect from and after 28th January 196 8 The Manager of the petitioners wrote that all the employees of the Head Office were covered under the Employee's State Insurance Scheme with effect from 1st August, 1969, together with a list of their godowns. They further wrote, on 24th October 1969, that the staff working in the godowns were not only illiterate but were low paid and that they were employed for a period of 3 to 4 months and that in the circumstance the godown staff may be exempted from the said insums'irance scheme. In these circumstances the respondents contended that the petitioners could not resile from the position taken in the said letter which come- ded their liability to cover the employees of the Head Office. '
(3) A further objection was taken in the return filed is opposition by the respondents that the petitioners were not entitled to invoke the writ jurisdiction of this Court, which contention was further amplified daring the hearing by reference to section 75 of the Employees State Insurance Act 1948 According to the said provision:if any dispute arises as to whether a person is an employee within the meaning of this Act or whether he is liable to pay the employee contribution or whether is any other matter in dispute between a principal employee and the Corporation in respect of any contribution or benefit or other dues payable or recoverable under the said Act the same shall dec ded by the Employees insurance Court A notification by the Chief Comm'ssioner' Secretariat Death dated 24th February 1952 No. F3. (38/52) R&J.; in thefollowing terms was also relied upon to show that there is such an Employees Insurance Court appointed for this purpose and that if the petitioners had any grievance in this matter they tought to invoke the jurisdiction of that Court and cannot file this petition under Article 226 without invoking the jurisdication of that court
'INpursuance of Rule 4 of the Delhi Civil Admimistraton'Emplo vee's Insuraace Courts Rules 1949. the Chief Cmmission of Delhi is pleased to constitute the Presiding Officer of the Court of the Senior Subordinate Judge Delhi to he a Coart for the purpor of the Emol oyee's State Insurance Act 1948 (XXXIV of 1948) in the State of .Delhi and as such the Presiding Officer shall discharge the funetions of the Court in addition to his Own duties with effect from the 24th Pebruary 1952.'
The expression 'employee defined originally by section 2 section (9) of the said Act has been extended -under the amended Act 44 of 1966 to iaclude any person employed for wages on any work connected with the administration of the factory or establishment or any part, department or branch thereof or purchase of raw materials for or the distribution or sale of the products of, the factory or establishment, This extended definition does obviously take in the staff at the Head office of the said factory who are obviously engaged in the matter of hiring out the Kohlus and Karrahs manufactured by the petitioners at Okhla,
(4) Mr. Radhey Lal Aggarwal, learned counsel for the petitioners, only sought to derive support for his case by contending that there had ben no corresponding extension of the definition of the expression 'factory' defined by section 2 (16) of the Act. The said provisi n defines factory as follows:-
'FACtorYmeans any premises including the precincts thereof whereon twenty or more persons are employed or were employed for wages on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on with the aid of power or as ordinarily so carried on but does not include a mere subject to the operation of the Mines Act 1952 or a railway running shed.'
I am afraid this argument completely over-looks the opening words of the definition of employee in section 2 sob-section (9) which refers to all person as employees if they are employed for wages in connection with the work of a foctory or establishment to which this Act applied the said amending Act 44 of 1966 extending the definition of expression 'employee to take in persons employed on any work connected with the administration of the factory or establishment or any department or branch thereof. There was clearly no further need to make any fresh amendment of the expression factory in section 2 sib-section (12).
(5) The writ petition itself does not expressly refer to the contention which was finally urged at the hearing before me; all that was stated in paragraph 4 of the petition was that those in the Head Office were only engaged inhiring oat of Kohius and Karahas and hence had nothing to do with any process or work connected with or incidental to that done in the Okhla workshop.
(6) It was nowhere stated in the petition that the staff at the Head Office at Chawri Bazar, Delhi had nothing to do with the distribution of the good manufactured Okhla.
(7) The allegations in the petition, directed towards establishing that the Head Office staff had nothing to do with the procoss of mamfacture, are hardly relevant in the light of the amended provision, namely, section 2 sub-section (9), The only relevant contention (vide ground No. 1, in the petition is based on the view that the employees' State Insurance Act does not cover or extend to any establishment which is not a factory since no notification covering establishments other than factories had been made. But, as already notic4ed, there is Bo need for any such separate notification covering establishments other than factories when the scope of the expression employee had been extended by amending Act 44 of 1968 to take in any employee connected with the distribution, etc of the goods manufactured in such factory.
(8) Mr. Radhey Lal Aggarwal, cited a decision of the Division Bench of the Punjab High Court in Metro Motors (P.) Ltd. v. Regional Provident Fund Commissioner Punjab where it was held, construing the relevant provisions of the Employee's Provident Fund Act (1952), that a shop situate about half a mile from the factory where motors were sold could not be held to form the same premises as the factory itself. But this decision is clearly of no assistance to the petitioners because that does not relate to the definition of the expression employe' such as we have in the amending Act 44 of 1966.
(9) Nor would the other decisions, under the employees 'State Insurance Act, prior to the amendment of 1966 be of any assistance to the petitioners. In this view there is no need to discuss at any length the decision of the Madras High Court in Employees' State Insurance Corporation v. Ganpathi Pillar That was a case where the expreission 'Employee' under section 2(9) of the Act, as amended, or considered. The distinction between the definition of the empression 'worker' in the Factories Act and Employee in the Employees' State Insurance Act was noticed. In the absence of the words introduced by the amending Act 44 of 1966. It was observed that only persons who were in some manner or another connection with the work of manufacturing process could be 'employees' within the meaning of the definition The previous decision of the same High Court in Employees State insurance Corporation v. S. M. Sriramulu Naidu was explained as relating to a case of Employers though it contained some general observations concerning the object of the Employees' State Insurance Act as being more or comprehensive and its scope undoubtedly wider. The decision in East Asiatice Co. (India) Pvt. Ltd. v. Regional Director. Employees' State Insurance Corporation was also a case which dealt with the question whether a tennery was a factory within the meaning of section 2(12) of the Act and does not bear, in any manner, on the present question. The goods in question which are being dealt with by way of hirng out to various parties, at the Head Office being admittedly those which emenate from the factory at Okhl and it being not disputed that the workshop at Okhla is a factory within the meaning of section 2(12) of the Act, the extended definition of 'employee' under the amending Act 44 of 1966 clearly app- lied to the present case. The action of the respoodents calling upon the petitioners to cover the staff if the Head Offcice at Chawn Bazar Delhi is in no way illegal and is not onto question. It also follows from the above that any distrute concerning the levey or demand in respect of the employee's constribrution under the Act, which re legally valid is one that can he agitated in terms of of section 75 of the Act only before the Employees' Insurance Court which it is not disput , been constituted for the area of Delhi as seem from the notification extracted above.
(10) The petition which is detaind of merits is accordingly dismissed with costs. Coumse;'s fee Rs. 200.00.