S.B. Wad, J.
(1) This petition is filed by three workmen (Chowkidars) working with the Garrison Engineer (North) M.E.S., Air Force Palam, Delhi Cantt raising an issue of great public importance regarding suspension of industrial adjudication in the Central Government Labour Court for the last nine months. The reason for suspension is that for about a year no Presiding Officer is appointed to the said court by Union of India. Admittedly, there are about 1600 cases pending in the said court. The petitioners filed a petition in the said court for over-time wages on 3-7-1978. The evidence was recorded and the arguments were completed on 28-10-1981 and the orders were reserved by the Presiding Officer but thereafter for want of the Presiding Officer the final order could not be pronounced.
(2) The Labour Court-cum-Tribunal is especially established for giving quick relief to the workers. The Socialist Republic of ours should not allow to create an impression in the working classes that the Directive Principles to protect the workers interest are not seriously acted upon. Pendency of 1600 cases might heighten such an impression. It took more than three years for the recording of the evidence and completion of the arguments in the present case. The additional difficulties created by the absence of a Presiding Officer are neatly stated in the petition in the following words :
'THATthe poor, hopless workmen are suffering, because in the first instance, there is no Presiding Officer to adjudicate upon their disputes and claims, and secondly, they are to go to the Court every now and then to find out whether such an Officer has been appointed (to guard against their case being decided ex-parte). The workmen are thus being forced to incur needless expenditure which is of little or no avail to them.
That with a view to providing relief and redress to the workmen, it is necessary that there claims be adjudicated upon with all convenient dispatch, because justice delayed is justice denied.' Counsel for the respondents stated that the Government was aware of the necessity of early action in the matter. He brought to my notice certain averments in the counter-affidavit. It is stated in the counter-affidavit that the Presiding Officer Mahesh Chandra was appointed on year to year basis and his term was to expire on 29-9-1982. But on 4-1-1982 the High Court recalled his services abruptly. The Central Government was of the opinion that a retired High Court Judge (instead of a District Judge) should be appointed as a Presiding Officer. Thereafter number of retired High Court Judges were contacted. A retired Judge of Patna High Court had agreed to join as a Presiding Officer but in August, 1982 he informed the Central Government of his inability to take up the assignment as the Bihar State Government appointed him on some other assignment. Thereafter another retired Judge was contacted and his reply is still awaited. It was then stated: 'His (Shri Mahesh Chandra) term of deputation was extended by a further period of one year from 30-9-1980 to 29-9-1981 and later from 30-9-1981 to 29-9-1982. He would have thus continued to be Presiding Officer till 29-9-1982 but the Delhi High Court insisted on his immediate release. His services had, thereforee, to be suddenly placed at the disposal of the parent department on the 4th January, 1982 i.e. before the expiry of his normal period ofdeputation. .... . .. ...... .... This situation has arisen out of the fact that the services of Shri Mahesh Chandra were requisitioned by the High Court of Delhi and he had to leave without giving any time for a substitute.' The workmen, would naturally ask as to how High Court could do it. The allegations in the counter-affidavit putting the blame on the High Court are quite serious If not anybody else, the High Court should know the seriousness of virtual closure of the Labour Court/ Tribunal. I, thereforee, summoned the file of the correspondence pertaining to Mr. Mahesh Chandra's deputation from the Registrar of this Court. The correspondence between the High Court, the Delhi Administration and the Central Government shows that the statements in the counter-affidavit regarding the High Court are totally incorrect. It is true that this court decided to get back services of Mr, Mahesh Chandra. The view of the court was that since Mahesh Chandra was to be placed on probation the court should have the benefit of seeing his work as a Judicial Officer of Delhi Judicial Service, on 20th May, 1981. The High Court moved Delhi Administration for the release of Mahesh Chandra. A copy of the letter was sent to the Central Government. The Central Government informed the Delhi Administration with a copy to the High Court that the Officer could not be relieved till 29-9-1981. This is quite understandable because his one year's term was to end by 29-9-1981. The High Court agreed. But on 1/2-12-1981 the Central Government informed that the Officer cannot be relieved. The High Court pursued the matter again. On 26-12-1981 the Central Government informed that the; officer will be relieved on 4-1-1982. In fact he was relieved on that date and rejoined his duties in the parent department. On that very day the High Court suggested that Shri H.C.Mohd. Shamim, another officer of the Judicial Service may be appointed in place of Mahesh Chandra. However, on 6-1-1982 the Central Government informed the High Court that no such action was necessary since it had decided to appoint a retired High Court Judge to preside over the tribunal. The correspondence show that about 6' months prior to the actual release of Mr. Mahesh Chandra the High Court had informed the Central Government. The assertion in the counter-affidavit that the Delhi High Court insisted on his immediate release and that the services of the officer had to be suddenly placed at the disposal of the parent department on 4-1-1982, before the expiry of his normal period of deputation is factually incorrect. The Central Government had enough notice of more than six months to make alternate arrangements. Till 6-1-1982 the High Court was not informed by the Central Government that they were thinking of appointing a retired High Court Judge as a Presiding Officer, on 4-1-1982. The High Court had offered the services of another Judicial Officer. It is not known how the term of Mahesh Chandra, which was to come to an end on 29-9-1981, was extended for another one year in spite of the fact that four months prior to it the High Court had put the Central Government on notice not only that but the High Court had agreed for his continuation up to 29-9-1981. It also appears from the correspondence that for more than six months after the letter of the High Court requesting for the release of the Officer no decision was finalised by the Central Government to appoint a retired High Court Judge as a Presiding Officer.
(3) The effort to appoint a retired High Court Judge is quite laudable as it will provide added prestige to industrial adjudication in Delhi. However it cannot be countenanced that administration of justice in this vital area should come to stand still for about a year. Non-filling of vacancies in courts for a long period is one of the reasons for the mounting arrears in our Principles of the Constitution. The object of this Directive is that nobody should be denied access to courts. Once a Labour Court/Tribunal is established in accordance with the statutory provisions it is the statutory duty of the Government not to keep it without a Presiding Officer. To do so will also mean denial of access to courts. In the circumstances of the present case the petitioners are entitled to the mandamus sought for by thein. The counsel for the respondents stated at the Bar that before the end of the year the Presiding Officer will be appointed.
(4) The respondents are directed to appoint a Presiding Officer to the Central Labour Court-cum-Tribunal positively by 30th December 1982. The petition is allowed with costs. The rule is made absolute. Counsel fees Rs. 500.00 .