H.L. Anand, J.
(1) The only question that this Letters Patent Appeal raises is as to whether areference under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, hereinafter celled 'the Act' to the Labour Court constituted for the Union Territory of Delhi and then 'presided over by Shri Desh Deepak was invalid merely because the appointment of Shri Desh Deepak to the said Labour Court in the absence on leave of Shri R. K. Baweja, who was presiding over it, was eventually struck down by this Court on the ground that there was no 'vacancy' in which Shri Desh Deepak could be appointed.
(2) The facts are not in dispute and may be briefly stated. There are at present and were, during the material period, ' four Labour Courts for the Union Territory of Delhi constituted under Section 7(1) of the Act, one of which was presided over by Shri R. K. Baweja. On the absence of Shri Baweja on leave from November 26, 1968 to January 1, 1969, the Lt. Governor appointed Shri Desh Deepak as the Presiding Officer of the Labour Court constituted for the Union Territory of Delhi 'for the period from 26-11-1969 to 1-1-1969 vice Shri R. K. Baweja who has proceeded on leave'. The appointment of Shri Desh Deepak was made on the assumption that the temporary absence on leave of Shri Baweja constituted a 'vacancy' for the office of the Presiding Officer of that Court within the meaning of Section 8 of the Act. On the. said appointment being challenged by a petition in this Court in this case of Pedders Lloyd Corporation (Pvt.) Ltd. v. Lt Governor, Delhi through Under Secretary (Labour) Delhi and others. : AIR1970Delhi60 , the same was quashed on the ground that by his temporary absence on leave. Shri Baweja had not demited his office and there being, thereforee, no 'vacancy' within the meaning of Section 8 of the Act, the appomtment of Shri Desh Deepak was illegal and that the appropriate authority could, if it wanted, constitute an Additional Labour Court under Section 9 of the Act with Shri Desh Deepak as it's Presiding Officer. It, however, appears that during the period Shri Desh Deepak. purported to act as Presiding Officer of the said Labour Court, some references under section 10(1) of the Act, including the one in the prevent case were made 'to the Labour Court constituted for the Union Territory of Delhi and at present presided over by Shri Desh Deepak'. When Shri Baweja assumed as Presiding Officer of the said Court and purported to proceed with the reference, the jurisdiction of Shri Baweja to deal with the reference was challenged, on the ground that a reference of the matter to the Labour Court 'presided over by Shri Desh Deepak' could not empower the Labour Court presided over by Shri Baweja to take seizen of the matter. The objection prevailed and by an Award of February 26, 1973, the Labour Court held that it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate on the dispute on 'the ground that the reference had been made to a Labour Court presided over by Shri Desh Deepa,k and that such a reference could be heard only by Shri Desh Deepak, and not by any other Presiding Officer of the Labour Court. It was further held that if the appointment of the aforesaid Presiding Officer to the Labour Court had' been held to be invalid, the reference did not survive. The aforesaid Award was challenged by the workman concerned in a petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India and Deshpande J., who heard the matter, quashed the aforesaid Award and held that, having regard to the scheme of the Act, the reference was to a Labour Court and not a Presiding Officer; that the reference was to a Labour Court then presided over by Shri Desh Deepak; that Shri Desh Deepak according to his appointment temporarily presided over the Labour Court during the absence on leave of Shri R. K. Baweja, that the subsequent annulment of the order of appointment of Shri Desh Deepak as the Presiding Officer of the said Labour Court, did not invalidate the reference; that the order of reference read with the notification regarding the appointment of Shri Desh Deepak to the Labour Court left no doubt as to the identity of the Labour Court; and that the Labour Court presided over by Shri R. K. Baweja was, thereforee, competent to deal, with the reference. It is this judgment which is sought to be assailed in the present Letters Patent Appeal.
(3) Shri Veda Vyasa learned counsel for the appellant, even while conceding that the appointment of Shri Desh Deepak as a Presiding Officer in the purported vacancy caused by the absence on leave of Shri Baweja, which was eventually struck down by the Division Bench of this Court in the case of Fedders Lloyd Corporation (Pvt.) Ltd. (supra) did not amount to the constitution of a fresh Labour (1) Court for the Union Territory of Delhi, and that when a dispute was referred to a Labour Court undcr Section 10 of the Act the reference was to the Court and not to the Presiding Officer mentioned therein, contended that the reference in the present case having been made 'to the Labour Court constituted for the Union Territory of Delhi and at present presided over by Shri Desh Deepak', it could' be dealt with only by the Labour Court which was presided over by Shri Desh Deepak and since the appointment of Shri Desh Deepak was eventually struck down by this Court, no valid order of reference survived. Learned counsel argued that even though the Court and its Presiding Officer were conceptually distinct under the scheme of Section 7 of the Act, there could be no Labour Court without a Presiding Officer and drew attention to Rule 5 of the Industrial Dispute (Central) Rules Rules, 1957, which provide that 'the appointment of a Board, Court, Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal together with the name's of person constituting' the Board, Court, Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal shall be notified in the official Gazette. Learned counsel further argued that inasmuch as there was no Labour Court in Delhi which could be said to have been presided over by Shri Desh Deepak including the Labour Court on which he purported to preside, the present Labour Court was not competent to deal with the reference.
(4) This contention is which ansustainable, and the Award (if the Labour Court, in our view, was rightly quashed.
(5) Under Section 7 of the Act, the appropriate Government may constrae one or more Labour Courts for the adjudication of industrial disputes consisting of a Presidining Officer to be appointed by the appropriate Government. Under Rule 5 of the aforesaid Rules, the appointment of the Court has to be notiified in the Officiai Gazette 'together with the names of persons constituing' the Court. Once the Labour Court, has been constituted and its appointment has been duly notified Along with the name of the Presiding Officer who was appointed to it, disputes may be referred to the Court under Section 10 of the Act by the. appropriate Government for adjudication and under Section 10(l)(c), which is relevant for our present purpose, such a reference has to be 'to a Labour Court',and not to a Presiding Officer. The order of reference need not, however, set out the name of the Presiding officer because the reference is to the Court and not to the Presiding Officer, the two being admittedly conceptuaily distinct. It, however, appears that a practice had developed in the Union Territory of Delhi, as indeed in some of other States, to mention in the order of reference the name of the Presiding Officer. who for the time being may be presiding over the said Court, because unfortunately, the Labour Courts constituted for the Union Territory of Delhi and certa.in other areas do not bear any distinctive Seriall number or other mark which may distinguish them from each other such as Labour Court I, Ii, etc. or Labour Court. Addi. Labour Court etc. The name of the Presiding Officer is, thereforee, intended to merely identify the Labour Court concerned out of many that arc opcri.iting in a particular region to which the reference is intended, to relate. The reference in the present case was to the, 'Labour Court constitued for the Union Territory of Delhi and at present presided over by Shri Desh Deepak'. It is a common case of the parties that Shri Desh Deepak had been appointed as a Presiding Officer to the Labour Court which was otherwise presided over by Shri R. K. Baweja and even though the appointment of Shri Desh Deepak was invalidated by this Court and Shri Desh Deepak, thereforee, had never been validly appointed to the said Court or can be said in law to have presided over it, the fact remains that the purported appointment of Shri Desh Deepak had relation to the Labour Court which was presided over by Shri Baweja and continued to be so notwithstanding the temporary absence of Shri Baweja and that being so, there is no difficult in the identity of the Court to which the reference was made for it is again a common case of the parties that Shri Desh Deepak was never validly or abertively appointed as Presiding Officer of any other Labour Court in Delhi. The annulment of the appointment of Shri Desh Desh Depak as a Presiing Officer of the said Labour Court in the temporary absence of Shri Baweja could not, thereforee,affect the validity of the order of reference, in that, the reference was made to a Labour Court which is capable of being identified and continue to be duly constituted.
(6) In the result, the appea! fails anij is hereby dismissed with costs.
(7) As the proceedings under the reference have been considerably dealyed on account of the legal controversy with regard to the validity of the order of reference, we consider it appropriate to direct that the Labour Court would dispose of the matter as expeditiously as possible. It is axiomatic that delay defeats justice and it is appropriate and reasonable that any cause that comes before a Court or Tribunal must be heard and decided with maximum expedition. The necessity of early disposal of any reference to industrial adjudication can hardly be over emphasised and any unnecessary delay in it is apt to frustrate labour and lead to industrial disharmony with its obvious adverse impact on production.
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