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Delhi Stock Exchange Association Limited Vs. Delhi Stock Exchange Karamchari Union and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial;Constitution
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberI.A. No. 11116/98 & I.A. No. 2964/99 in S. No. 2962/98
Reported in2000(55)DRJ681; [2000(86)FLR705]; (2000)IILLJ436Del
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Order 39, Rules 1 and 2
AppellantDelhi Stock Exchange Association Limited
RespondentDelhi Stock Exchange Karamchari Union and ors.
Appellant Advocate Raj Birbal, Sr. Adv.,; J.R. Midha,; Neeraj Singh and;
Respondent Advocate Sanjay Parikh and ; A. Mishra, Advs.
Cases ReferredWander Ltd. v. Antox India P. Ltd.
civil procedure code, 1908 - order 39 rule 1 & 2--interim injunction--striking workers holding demonstrations, shouting slogans and threatening to damage equipments--demand of workers could not be said to be frivolous--employer not showing reasonable concern for the employees--no affidavit of any independent person tiled to show that defendants resorted to violence or disorderly demonstration--interim injunction confirmed with liberty to workmen to hold meetings, assemblies and demonstrations from reasonable distance from the entrance of premises. - - in the suit, the plaintiff has alleged that the defendants have been illegally and unjustifiably holding demonstrations, shouting slogans, indulging in illegal and unjustified activities of gherao, sabotage, manhandling and causing.....j.b. goel, j.1. by this order, plaintiff's application la. 11116/98 (under order 39 rules 1 & 2 cpc) and defendants, application la. 2964/99 (under order 39 rule 4 cpc) filed in a suit for injunction are being disposed of. 2. plaintiff is a stock exchange duly recognised/licensed under the securities contracts (regulation) act, 1956 having a strength of about 185 employees. defendant no. 1 is a union of its employees, defendants no. 2 and 3 are its president and general secretary while defendants no. 4 to 17 are some of its members. in the suit, the plaintiff has alleged that the defendants have been illegally and unjustifiably holding demonstrations, shouting slogans, indulging in illegal and unjustified activities of gherao, sabotage, manhandling and causing blockage to the ingress and.....

J.B. Goel, J.

1. By this order, plaintiff's application LA. 11116/98 (under Order 39 Rules 1 & 2 CPC) and defendants, application LA. 2964/99 (under Order 39 Rule 4 CPC) filed in a suit for injunction are being disposed of.

2. Plaintiff is a Stock Exchange duly recognised/licensed under the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 having a strength of about 185 employees. Defendant No. 1 is a union of its employees, defendants No. 2 and 3 are its President and General Secretary while defendants No. 4 to 17 are some of its members. In the suit, the plaintiff has alleged that the defendants have been illegally and unjustifiably holding demonstrations, shouting slogans, indulging in illegal and unjustified activities of gherao, sabotage, manhandling and causing blockage to the ingress and egress threatening the managers, brokers, investors, general public and willing employees to press their illegal and unjustified demands during trading hours and have also been threatening to cause damage to the lives of the employees and valuable properties of the plaintiff such as equipments like. V-SAT, telecommunication equipments, etc. affecting adversely smooth functioning of the plaintiff. They have held meetings on 27.11.1998, 28.11.1998, 1.12.1998 and 2.12.1998 at the Exchange premises blocking ingress and egress of those coming to the plaintiff. During meetings/demonstration held on 2.12.1998, they had gheraoed Shri Girish Aggarwal, Deputy General Manager of the plaintiff in his cabin, misbehaved, used provo.calive, abusive and filthy language to him and to others who came to his rescues. On 3.12.1998 also, a gate meeting was held again resorting to unruly behavior and instigating and provocating other employees to join them. Even some outsiders had also been joined in the these meetings thereby causing inconvenience to all concerned.

3. Similar averments have been made in the application of interim injunction. By an ex parte injunction order dated 10.12.1998, the defendants etc. were restrained from holding any demonstration, blockage, dharna, picketing and in any manner causing obstruction in the ingress or egress to and from the premises at offices at Asaf Ali Road and Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi and also from blocking the working of the plaintiff. However, they could carry on demonstration, dharna and picketing in a corner outside the boundary wall away from the premises without using any microphone or loudspeaker in a peaceful manner.

4. The defendants filed written statement and separate application for vacating the interim injunction. They have denied the averments made by the plaintiff. It is denied that hey had resorted to any illegal activities or caused any obstruction or interfered in the working of the plaintiffs or inconvenience to the public. It is alleged that on the facts alleged there is no cause of action and the suit is not maintainable and no ground existed for grant of ex parte injunction and the same has been obtained by misrepresentation and concealment of facts On meri, it is alleged that they had submitted a charter of demands pertaining to their service conditions on 19.2.1996 for improvement of their service conditions and except two interim reliefs of 30% increase in D.A. and Rs. 200/- per month in house rent allowance, the demands remained unresolved in spite of repeated representations made to the management. The plaintiff even did not cooperate in the proceedings taken up by the Asstt. Labour Commissioner. They claim service benefits comparable to those available to Government employees as per 5th Pay Commission or at par with the employees of other slock exchanges at Mumbai and Chennai. They have denied that they had resorted to any illegal demonstration, dharna, gherao, picketing or caused any obstruction. On the other hand, it is alleged that they had held peaceful meetings during part of the lunch hour without causing any inconvenience to any person and in the meantime on 4.12.1998 they had suspended further meetings/demonstrations in the hope that the plaintiff will consider their demands.

5. I have heard learned counsel for the parties. Both the learned counsel have argued at length and have also referred to large number of case law.

6. Learned counsel lor the plaintiff has contended that the defendant as workmen have no right to go on strike or hold demonstrations causing harassment, inconnience, blockage, gherao etc. and also that their demands had been mutually settled and there was no occasion to go on strike and still they held unruly demonstrations and strikes in the premises of the plaintiff obstructing and preventing its smooth and peaceful business activities and also obstructing ingres and egress of the staff, willing workers and the public. He has relied on Association fo State Road Transport Undertaking and ASRT Employees Union : (1987)ILLJ77Del , Engineering Projects v. Engineering Project Employees Union and Ors. 1986 LIC 1266, AEPC v. AEPC Employees Union : (1989)ILLJ117Del , Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. v. Bhartiya Maltanagar Telephone Kuramchari Sangh and Ors., 1991 LLR 792, Indian Hotel Company Ltd. v. Taj Mahal Karamchari Union and Ors., 1992 LLR 561, Ram Singh and Ors. v. Ashok Iron Foundry and Ors., 1993 (1) CLR 362, Ramutrol Ltd. v. All India Engineering and General Mazdoor Union and Ors. 1993 (I) LLJ 408, The East India Hotels Ltd. v. Chartered Bank Employees Union, Delhi Security Printers v. Hindustan Engineering & General Mazdoor Union, 1996 LLR 714, Railway Board New Delhi and Anr. v. Niranjan Singh, : (1969)IILLJ743SC , Kameshwar Prasad and Ors. v. State of Bihar and Anr., : (1962)ILLJ294SC .

7. Whereas learned counsel for the defendants has contended that the Constitution of India by Articles 19(1)(a), (b) and (c) has guaranteed fundamental rights of speech, expression, assembly and to form associations and unions. The object of forming labour unions is to ensure collective bargaining by labour with the employers and it is their legal right to -hold peaceful meetings and demonstrations and even to go on strike and in this case they had been holding peaceful meetings and demonstrations during part of the lunch hour without causing inconvenience. Their demands submitted on 19.2.1996 supplemented later on remain unresolved and unattended in spite of repeated representations, except two interim reliefs, the management did not cooperate and did not appear before the Asstt. Labour Commissioner who had called the parties for possible conciliation. They have acted within their rights. He has relied on Kameshwar Prasad and Ors. v. State of Bihar and Anr., : (1962)ILLJ294SC , B.R. Singh and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors., : (1989)IILLJ591SC , M/s Patel Oil Mills v. Mis Relaxo Rubber & Allied Industries Employees Union and Ors., : (1999)IILLJ894Del , Rama Vilas Service Ltd. &. Anr. v. Simpson & Group Companies Workers Union and Anr. : (1979)IILLJ284Mad , Swadeshi Industries Limited AND Its Workmen : (1960)IILLJ78SC , Rohtas Industries Limited and Anr. v. Rohtas Industries Staff Union and Ors., : (1976)ILLJ274SC , Kannan(C) AND Superintendent of Police, Cannanore : (1975)ILLJ83Ker , Jay Engineering Works Ltd. and Ors. v. State of West Bengal and Ors., : AIR1968Cal407 , Shiv Kumar v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi, : [1993]3SCR522 Morgan Stanley Mutual Fund v. Kartick Das, : (1994)4SCC225 and Kshitish Chandra Purkait v. Santosh Kumar Purkait and Ors., : AIR1997SC2517 .

8. In Kameshwar Prasad & Others v. Stale of Bihar and Anr. (supra), it was held that the right to demonstrate is covered by Sub-clauses (a) and (b) of Clause (1) of Article 19 of the Constitution as demonstrations is a peaceful manifestation of the feelings or sentiments of an individual or group. It is a communication of one's ideas to others to whom it is intended to be conveyed and is a form of speech or of expression. A demonstration might take the form of an assembly and intended to convey to the person or authority to whom the communication is intended the feelings of the group which assembles. A demonstration which is noisy, disorderly and violent is illegal and not permissible in law and is not protected by Articles 19(1)(a) or 19(1)(b) whereas a peaceful and orderly demonstration will fall within the freedoms guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(b). In that case, the constitutional validity of Rule 4A which was introduced into the Bihar Government Servants Conduct Rules. 1956 by a notification of the Governor of Bihar dated August 17, 1956 came for consideration. That Rule 4A provided as under :-

'Rule 4A - Demonstration & Strikes - No Government servant shall participate in any demonstration or resort to any form of strike in connection with any matter pertaining to his conditions of service.'

9. This rule was framed under Article 309 of the Constitution of India which governs the conditions of Government servants in public service. In that case, it was held that the Rule which prohibited strikes was valid but in so far as demonstration was concerned, peaceful demonstration could not be banned and so Rule was struck down to that extent.

10. However, the defendants are not public servants within the meaning of Article 309 of the Constitution and their rights and obligations are governed by the Industrial Disputes Act (for short 'the Act'). The Act does not provide for general prohibition against strikes. Under Section 24 of the said Act, a strike will be illegal if it is commenced or declared in contravention of Section 22 or Section 23. Neither Section 22 nor Section 23 is attracted in this ease as the plaintiff is not a public utility service nor it is the case of the plaintiff that any of the conditions of Section 23 exist.

11. The Act provides various modes and machinery to resolve the disputes arising between the employer and its workmen. Section 3 provides for the constitution of a Workers Committee to promote measures for securing and preserving amity and good relations between the employer and workmen. Section 4 provides for appointment of Conciliation Officers charged with the duty of mediation. Section 5 provides for the constitution of Boards of Conciliation. Section 6 provides for Constitution of Courts of Inquiry charged with the duty of mediation in and providing for the settlement of industrial disputes and for enquiring into any matter appearing to be connected with or relevant to an industrial dispute respectively. Sections 12, 13, 14 and 15 provide for the duties of such Conciliation Officers, Boards, Courts/Tribunals. Sections 7, 7-A and /-B provide for constitution of Labour Courts, Industrial Tribunals and National Industrial Tribunals for the adjudication of various types of industrial disputes and Section 10 provides for reference of industrial disputes whether they exist or are apprehended for conciliation, the Labour Court, Industrial Tribunal or National Tribunal for adjudication. Where a dispute has been so referred, the appropriate Government is enabled to prohibit the continuation of any strike or lockout. Section 10A provides for employees and workmen agreeing to refer their disputes to arbitration before a dispute has been referred under Section 10 to a Labour Court etc. Section 18(1) says that settlements arrived at by agreements between the employer and the workmen otherwise than in the course of conciliation proceedings, shall be binding on the parties to the agreement. Section 18(3) says that a settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings shall be binding on the parties to the industrial dispute. Section 22 provides that there shall be no strike or lockout in a public utility service. Section 23 bars a strike or a lockout during pendency of conciliation proceedings before a Board, a Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal and during the pendency of arbitration proceedings before an arbitrator as also during any period in which a settlement or award is in operation. Section 24 provides that a strike or lockout shall be illegal if it is commenced in contravention of order made under Sub-section 3) of Section 10 or Sub-section (4A) of Section 10-A.

12. These provisions bring out the elaborate nature of the proceedings relating toconciliation, arbitration, reconciliation, settlement and enquiry and award. The intention behind all these provisions is to avoid strike and lockouts as far as possible not only by bringing the parties together but also by referring points of disputes between them either voluntarily or otherwise for decision by Labour Courts, Tribunals or National Tribunal. Strikes are not banned even in the case of public utility services. The bar on strikes is subject to certain limitations. The scheme of the Act recognises a strike as a legitimate weapon in the matter of industrial relations. A strike' is a necessary safety valve in industrial relations when properly resorted to. Maintenance of industrial peace though necessary but it cannot be secured by putting a lid on the legitimate grievances of the workers (Chemicals & Fibres of India Ltd. v. D.G. Bhoir and Ors., : (1975)IILLJ168SC ).

13. The Trade Union Act, 1926 provides for registration of a trade union of the workers and the right to form associations or unions is guaranteed by Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India, This right is obviously intended to better the service conditions of the workers through the more persuasive bargaining power on the basis of strength of the trade unions. The importance, necessity and scope of this right has been explained in B.R. Singh and Ors., v. Union of India and Ors. : (1989)IILLJ591SC as under:-

'15....The right to form associations or Unions is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution. Section 8 of the Trade Unions Act provides for registration of a trade union if all the requirements of the said enactment are fulfillled. The right to form associations and unions and provide for their, registration was recognised obviously for conferring certain rights on trade unions. The necessity for forming unions is obviously for voicing the demands and grievances of labour. Trade unionists act as mouthpieces of labour. The strength of a trade union depends on its membership. thereforee, trade unions with sufficient membership strength are able to bargain more effectively with the managements. This bargaining power would be considerably reduced if it is not permitted to demonstrate. Strike in a given situation is only a form of demonstration. There are different modes of demonstrations, e.g., go-slow, sit-in, work-to-rule, absenteeism, etc., and strike is one such mode of demonstration by workers for their rights. The right to demonstrate and, thereforee, the right to strike is an important weapon in the armoury of the workers. This right has been recognised by almost all democratic countries. Though not raised to the high pedestal of a fundamental right, it is recognised as a mode of redress for resolving the grievances of workers. But the right to strike is not absolute under our industrial jurisprudence and restrictions have been placed on it. These are to be found in Sections 10(3), 10-A(4-A), 22 and 23 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 ('ID Act' for short). Section 10(3) empowers the appropriate government to prohibit the continuance of a strike if it is in connection with a dispute referred to one of the for a created under the said statute. Section 10-A(4-A) confers similar powers on the appropriate government where the industrial dispute which is the cause of the strike is referred to arbitration and a notification in that behalf is issued under Section 10-A(3-A). These two provisions have no application to the present case since it is nobody's contention that the Union's demands have been referred to any forum under the statute.'

14. The case of the defendant workmen is that they had submitted their charter of demands in February 1996. Copy of the charter of demands dated February 19, 1996 has been placed on record. Their demands pertain to improvement in service conditions, i.e., constitution of proper service cadres with proper grades, revision of pay scales, dearness allowance, house rent facilities/house rent allowance, etc. These demands have not been resolved and settled so far though about four years are over. The grievance of the defendants is that the management has not been cooperating and has not responded in spite of the repeated representations made to them for an amicable settlement through the medium of conciliation or otherwise. It is their case that in these circumstances to highlight their grievances and to fulfill their demands they had held meetings on some occasions during part of the lunch hours peacefully without causing any hindrance or obstruction in the working of the Exchange and this did not give any cause of action to the plaintiff.

15. Before proceeding on merit, one preliminary objection may be considered. Learned counsel for the defendants has very strongly contended that on the facts stated in the plaint and the application, no cause of action for grant of an injunction, temporary or permanent is made out and the Court was not justified in granting ex parte injunction. For this, he has relied on Shiv Kumar Chadha v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Ors., : [1993]3SCR522 , Morgan Stanley Mutual Fund v. Kartick Das and Dr. Arvind Gupta v. Securities and Exchange Board of India and Ors., : (1994)4SCC225 and Kshitish Chandra Purkait v. Santosh Kumar Purkait and Ors., : AIR1997SC2517 . In these authorities, it has been held that the power to grant injunction is an extraordinary power vested in the Court to be exercised with care and circumspection taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of a particular case. There is no dispute so far as this legal position is concerned. However, whether to grant or not to grant ex parte injunction primarily will depend on the facts of each case. The plaint read as a whole cannot be said to be not disclosing a cause of action. If the facts alleged in the plaint are taken on their face value, it cannot be said that no case for grant of injunction would be maintainable. This contention, in the circumstances, has no force.

16. A copy of the Charter of Demand dated 19.2.1996 and also a supplementary charter which is alleged to have been submitted subsequently after the 5th Pay Commission recommendations were available is placed on the record. By these charters of demands, the union had sought framing of service rules with proper cadre, strength, revision of pay' scales with suitable periodical increments, promotional avenues, dearness allowance, house rent allowance, metropolitan allowance, medical reimbursement schemes, conveyance allowance, leave travel assistance, etc. Receipt of these demands is not disputed by the plaintiff though the plaintiff had not made specific mention to these demands Sand the action taken thereon. As held in Swadeshi Industries Limited AND Its Workmen (II) LLJ 78, collective bargaining for securing improvement in matters like these service conditions is the primary object of a trade union and when demands like these are put forward and thereafter a strike is resorted to in an attempt to induce the management to agree to the demands or at least to open negotiations, the strike must prima facie be considered justified if there is nothing to indicate that these demands were being put up frivolously or for any ulterior purpose.

17. It appears that the disputes were referred to the Labour Commissioner where the matter was taken up by an Asstt. Labour Commissioner (perhaps the Conciliation Officer contemplated under the Act) and in proceedings before him an increase of 30% in dearness allowance and Rs. 200/- per month in house rent allowance has been agreed and given to the workmen which is admitted by the defendants. However, the case of the defendants is that this was by way of interim relief and their demands had to be gone into and considered by the management which have not between considered by the management so far. The plaintiff has not brought anything on the record that these demands had been finally and fully resolved to the satisfaction of the union/workers. On the other hand, defendants have placed on record a letter (Annexure E) sent to the plaintiff wherein they had pointed out that these two increases were as an interim relief on the assurances of the employer that a final decision on all issues will be arrived at expeditiously but in spite of union's efforts, no action had been taken and they had urged that these pending demands be discussed and settled. The plaintiff has not placed on record the response if any sent to the union. The Asstt. Labour Commissioner in his letter dated 23.10.1996 has written to the plaintiff as under:-

Kindly peruse the proceedings dated 27.9.1996 which took place in this office. In those proceedings representative from your side Shri Sandeep Aggarwal, D.G.M. was present, who had informed that what was mentioned by the Union in its letter dated 26.9.96 concerning the increase of 30% in D.A. in the salary and concerning the increase of Rs. 200/- in House Rent Allowance was done by way of interim relief, has not been denied. He was directed that he should file a detail comment/note concerning the general claims made by the workmen in this office. But on 16.10.96 the representative, who appeared on your behalf, did not file any reply in this regard. xxxxx'

18. and called upon the management to appear before him on 8.11.1996 with their documents/comments etc. Response, if any, of the plaintiff to this also is not brought on record. Apparently the plaintiff had not participated in the conciliation proceedings and obviously the dispute has not been settled so far after a period of 4 years. The union pursued the matter with the plaintiff as appears from their letters dated 30.3.1998, 6.6.1998, 7.8.1998, 14.9.1998, 5.11.1998, 20.11.1998 and 28.11.1998 (collectively Annexure F) sent to the plaintiff where it was also pointed out that the Central Government had already accepted the recommendations of the 5th Pay Commissioner

19. and their charter of demands had also to be considered and settled but apparently having no response, in their letter dated 4.12.1998, the Union had informed the SHO of the police station concerned that they were going on protest due to their pending demands by way of wearing black bands during office hours and would hold gate meetings during lunch break in a peaceful and democratic manner. As already noticed, the workmen are entitled to demonstration and protests by holding peaceful meetings. The grievance of the plaintiff is that meetings were held by the workers inter alias on 27.11.1998, 28.11.1998, 1.12.1998, 2.12.11998 and 3.12.1998 outside the premises of the plaintiff with red Hags and blocked the ingress and egress of the employees, staff and visitors, shouted abusive and provocative slogans against the management interrupting the business, extended threats to interfere with and to disconnect the communication system like V-SAT, dish antenna etc. It is also alleged that the workers even surrounded Shri Girish Aggarwal, Deputy General Manager of the plaintiff in his cabin, misbehaved with him using provocative, abusive and filthy language. The defendants had denied these allegations but they have admitted that they had been holding peaceful meetings during part of the lunch break. The incident about Shri Girish Aggarwal lias been denied. There is no mention of the alleged incident with Shri Girish Aggarwal in the application for interim injunction. No affidavit of Shri Girish Aggarwal has also been filed in support of it. As such, no notice can be taken of it. Except one affidavit of Shri Rajesh Kumar, Company Secretary, no affidavit of any independent person or from the public who may have visited the premises has been filed in support of their case if the meetings were disorderly and violent.

20. The legal position about the right of the workmen to hold meetings, demonstrations and strike has been considered in a number of judicial pronouncements, Section 18 of the Trade Union Act, 1926 reads as under:-

'Immunity from civil suit in certain cases

(1) No suit or other legal proceedings shall be maintainable in any civil Court against any registered Trade Union or any office-bearer or member thereof in respect of any act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute to which a member of the trade union is a party on the ground only that such induces some other person to break a contract of employment, or that it !s in interference with the trade, business or employment of some other person or with the right of some other person to dispose of his capital or of his labour as he wills.

(2) A registered trade union shall not be liable in any suit or other legal proceedings in any Civil Court in respect of any tortious act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute by an agent of the trade union if it is proved that such person acted without the knowledge of, or contrary to express instructions given by the executive of the trade union.''

21. In Jay Engineering Works v. Staff, : AIR1968Cal407 , Sinha , C.J. has summarised the legal position as under:-

'The net result of the decision set out above is that Ss. 17 and 18 of the Indian Trade Unions Act grant certain exemption to members of a trade union, but there is no exemption against either an agreement to commit an offence or intimidation, molestation or violence, where they amount to an offence. Members of a trade union may resort to a peaceful strike, that is to say, cessation of work with the common object of enforcing their claims. Such strikes must be peaceful and not violent and there is no exemption where an offence is committed. thereforee, a concerted movement by workmen by gathering together either outside the industrial establishment, or inside, within the working hours is permissible when it is peaceful and does not violate the provisions of law. But when such a gathering is unlawful or commits an offence then the exemption is lost. Thus, where it resorts to unlawful confinement of persons, criminal trespass or where it becomes violent and indulges in criminal force or criminal assault or mischief to person or property or molestation or intimidation, the exemption can no longer be claimed.

22. In Rohtas Industries v. Its Union, : (1976)ILLJ274SC , it was held that if due to strike or cessation of work by the workmen any loss is caused to the 'company/employer, the latter cannot claim any compensation for loss of business caused merely because of such strike. Krishna Iyer, J. who delivered the judgment observed as under :-

'The inevitable by-product of combination for cessation of work may be loss to the management but the obvious intendment of such a collective bargaining strategy is to force the employer to accept the demand of the workers for betterment of their lot or redressal of injustice, not to inflict damage on be boss. In short, it is far too recondite for an employer to urge that a strike, albeit, illegal, was motivated by destruction of the industry. A scorched earth policy may, in critical times of a war, be reluctantly adopted by a people, but such an imputed motive is largely imaginary in strike situations. However, we are clear in our minds that if some individuals destroy the plant or damage the machinery wilfully to cause loss to the employer, such individuals will be liable for the injury so caused. Sabotage is no weapon in workers' legal armoury.

23. Following these two cases, the Madras High Court in Sri Rama Vilas Service Ltd. and Anr. v. Simpson & Group Companies Workers' Union and Anr. : (1979)IILLJ284Mad has held that it is not within the purview of the Court to prevent or interfere with the legitimate rights of the labour to pursue their agitation by means of a strike, so long as it does not indulge in acts unlawful and tortious and defendants/workers were restrained from preventing the officers and managerial staff of the plaintiffs or any member of the public entering or leaving the premises of the plaintiff and from holding out threats or intimidation or indulging in gherao on wrongful confinement of the officers and managerial staff of the plaintiffs and other members of the public.

24. The Kerala High Court in Kannan (C) AND Superintendent of Police, Cannanore : (1975)ILLJ83Ker regarding the scope of the power of the Court to interfere in such matters, has also held as under:-

'It is impossible to conceive of any demonstration or strike which is not in tended to bring pressure upon the management to concede to the workmen's demands. But it is not the role of this Court to interfere with the right of the workmen to carry on their agitation, so long as it is peaceful, so long as it does not turn violent. If, as complained of by the petitioner here, workmen are asked to be 200 yards away from the factory premises any satyagraha would have no meaning. A lawful demonstration or satyagraha would lose all significance if the workmen are asked to choose a place far away from the business premises for their operation. The management can of course claim that the ingress and egress to their business premises should be protected from obstruction and if there is imminent danger or peril to life or property police should afford that much protection as is necessary to avert such harm.'

25. This Court in Patel Oil Mills v. Relaxo Rubber & Allied Industries Employees Union and Ors., : (1999)IILLJ894Del has also considered the scope of the power of the Court and the rights of both the employers and the workmen in this respect and it has been observed as under:-

'Demonstrations, gheraos and such other activities are the means and tools through which the workers and the workmen ventilate their grievances against the management. Such activities are recognised as legal trade union activities which is considered to be a peaceful mechanism to display group feelings towards a cause and for redressal of the grievances. Such legitimate trade union activities when and if carried in a peaceful and legal manner are not to be shut out as in that event the same might cause permanent damage to the cause of industrial peace. Such trade union activities are also recognized by the laws of the country. At the same time, it cannot be lost sight of the fact that no one could be allowed to exercise his right so as to cause harm and prejudice the exercise of right of another. No one could be allowed to physically interfere with the trade and business of the plaintiff. thereforee, in such matters, a balancing scale has to be applied so that the important freedom enjoyed by the trade union activists is restricted only to the extent needed to preserve the proper and efficient functioning of the business of the plaintiff. The equation must be properly balanced so that the rights of the defendants to enjoy their freedom and to exercise their legal rights is not rendered ineffective and illusory and at the same time the business of the plaintiff does not suffer.

.....It is true that when demonstration, gherao and other such activities are carried out, the same may result in some sort of interference with trade and business of the plaintiff. But, that is an unavoidable consequence of such a trade union activity. But at the same time no one could be allowed to take law into their own hands and, thereforee, the defendants also cannot be allowed to physically interfere with the trade and business of the plaintiff.

26. In Railway Board, New Delhi and Anr. v. Niranjan Singh, : (1969)IILLJ743SC , the General Manager, Northern Railway had issued a circular to all the. heads of the departments prohibiting the employees from organising or attending any meeting inside the railway premises or at places of work, violation of which would amount to misconduct, rendering the employee concerned to severe disciplinary action. One Niranjan Singh who was holding permanent post in the Northern Railway and was a trade-unionist worket was chargsheeted inter alias for organising and holding meetings within the Railway premises in breach of the aforesaid circular. He was dismissed from service. The question before the Supreme Court was whether such a direction is vocative of Article 19(1). The Supreme Court in para 13 held as under :-

'ft is true that the freedoms guaranteed under our Constitution are very valuable freedoms and this Court would resist abridging the ambit of those freedoms except to the extent permitted by the Constitution. The fact that the citizens of this country have freedom of speech, freedom to assembly peaceable and freedom to form associations or unions docs not mean that they can exercise those freedoms in whatever place they please. The exercise of those freedoms will come to an end as soon as the right of some one else to hold his property intervenes. Such a limitation is inherent in the exercise of those rights. The validity of that limitation is not to be judged by the tests prescribed by Sub-Articles (2) and (3) of Article 19. In other words, the contents of the freedoms guaranteed under Clauses (a), (b) and (c), the only freedoms with which we are concerned in this appeal, do not include the right to exercise them in the properties belonging to others.'

27. In Engineering Projects (P) Ltd. v. Engineering Projects (P) Ltd. Employees Union and Ors. 1986 LIC 1266, the right of the workmen to hold demonstrations, give speeches and shout slogans without interfering in the working of the plaintiff-employer has been upheld. However, relying on Niranjan Singh, it was held that the right to hold demonstration could not be exercised on the premises belonging to or occupied by another. Tn this case, injunction was granted from holding such demonstrations within 50 metres of the premises, following this judgment, in Association of State Road Transport Undertaking AND ASRT Employees Union : (1987)ILLJ77Del also, it was held that in view of Article 19, every citizen has freedom of speech, freedom to assemble peacefully and freedom to form unions or associations but there is a limit to such fundamental right inasmuch as there is no right to hold meetings and shout slogans at the premises occupied by others. It was held that the defendants could not be allowed to create nuisance for the plaintiff and they could exercise their right only in a legitimate manner. Again in AEPC v. AEPC Employees Union : (1989)ILLJ117Del , relying on Engineering Projects's case it was held as under:-

'16. This authority, thus, gives a decision in respect of places where the aforesaid fundamental rights of an employee cannot be exercised and it lays down that the fundamental right cannot be exercised on the premises belonging to or occupied by another. This principle of law is in no way whittled led down by the Supreme Court in Kameshwar Prasad v. State of Bihar : (1962)ILLJ294SC , wherein it was held that the Government servants could resort to any form of strike in connection with any matter pertaining to their conditions of service. This authority related to the existence of the right of the employee to any form of strike but did not relate to the place where, that right cam be exercised.'

28. It was held thai the assembly and demonstrations by the defendants at the gate meetings could not be allowed and such assembly was allowed to be hold beyond 50 metres.

29. In Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. v. Bhartiya Mahanagar Telephone Karamchari Sangh and Ors., 1991 LLR 792, following Niranjan Singh and Association of State Road Transport Undertakings' case, same principles have been reiterated in para 12 and if was held that defendants have no right So hold demonstration in office premises of the plaintiff. En this case also, the defendants were restrained from holding demonstration within a radius of 50 metres from the gate of the premises of the plaintiff.

30. In The East India Hotels Ltd. v. Oberoi Intercontinental Hotel Employees Union Ors., 1994 LLR 929, it has been observed as under:-

'The law recongises the existence of Trade Unions as well as scope and ambit of legitimate activities. thereforee, depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case such as conduct or an act will also he projected by Section 18 of the Trade Unions Act. However, for seeking this protective umbrella, the inducement and interference must be by lawful means. It should not be accompanied by illegal means such as violence.'

31. In Standard Ckanered Bank v. Charkered Bank Employees Union, 1996(6I) 799 also, it was held as under:-

''10. Apart from this, even assuming that they are entitled to go on strike they cannot exercise the said right so as to cause nuisance to the employer their right to go on strike is not unlimited. As the Indian citizens when they want to exercise their fundamental right to form a union and to have demonstrations for the redressal of their grievances, they have get to remember that they have also got a reciprocal duty so as not to cause nuisance or mental or physical danger to their employers and others.

32. In Indian Hotel Company Ltd. v. Taj Mahal Karamchari Union and Ors., 1992 LLR 561, it was observed as under-

The unions have a right to demonstrate their point of view and propagate and discuss their problems but that has to be within the framework of law and should not lead to violence and misreprcsentation(?) of law and order in the society.'

33. The law is thus clear that law has conferred and recognised as a legitimate right of the workmen to hold meeting, demonstration, assembly and even to go on strike as a means or weapon by way of collective bargaining in connection with the improvement of service conditions and other service related demands but peacefully and without any nuisance or inconvenience or obstruction to the management and others. When meetings, assemblies, demonstrations are held, speeches and slogans are shouted. This is intended to be addressed or to be heard, by the management. If the workers and their union are not allowed to hold such meeting in the very vicinity of their place of work, the purpose of such meetings/protcsts/demonstrations would be a futile exercise as the speeches and slogans will not surely reach the management. This restriction on their right should not be unreasonable so as to render this right ineffective. They would not be debarred from holding meeting within a reasonable distance from the place of work or seat of management.

34. In the case of Gujarat Bottling Co. Ltd. and Ors. v. Coca Cola Company and Ors., : AIR1995SC2372 regarding the power of the Court to grant interim injunction, it has been reiterated as under:-

'46. The grant of an interlocutory injunction during the pendency of legal proceedings is a matter requiring the exercise of discretion of the Court. While exercising the discretion the Court applies the following tests - (i) whether the plaintiff has a prima facie case; (ii) whether the balance of convenience is in favor of the plaintiff; and (iii) whether the plaintiff would suffer an irreparable injury if his prayer for interlocutory injunction is disallowed. The decision whether or not to grant an interlocutory injunction has to be taken at a time when the existence of the legal right assailed by the plaintiff and its alleged violation are both contested and uncertain and remain uncertain till they are established at the trial on evidence. Relief by way of interlocutory injunction is granted to mitigate the risk of injustice to the plaintiff during the period before that uncertainty could be resolved. The object of the interlocutory injunction is to protect the plaintiff against injury by violation of his right for which he could not be adequately compensated in damages recoverable in the action if the uncertainty were resolved in his favor at the trial. The need for such protection has, however, to be weighed against the corresponding need to the defendant to be protected against injury resulting from his having been prevented from exercising his own legal rights for which he could not be adequately compensated. The Court must weigh one need against another and determine where the balance of convenience lies. (See: Wander Ltd. v. Antox India P. Ltd. . In order to protect the defendant while granting an interlocutory injunction in his favor the Court can require the plaintiff to furnish an undertaking so that the defendant can be adequately compensated if the uncertainty were resolved in his favor at the trial.'

35. It has further been held as under:-

'50.....Under Order 39 of the Code of Civil Procedure, jurisdiction of the Court to interfere with an order of interlocutory or temporary injunction is purely equitable and, thereforee, the Court, on being approached, will, apart from other considerations, also look to the conduct of the party invoking the jurisdiction of the Court, and may refuse to interfere unless his conduct was free from blame. Since the relief is wholly equitable in nature, the party invoking the jurisdiction of the Court has to show 'that he himself was not at fault and that he himself was not responsible for bringing about the state of things complained of and that he was not unfair or inequitable in his dealings with the party against whom he was seeking relief. His co'nduct should be fair and honest. These considerations will arise not only in respect of the person who seeks an order of injunction under Order 39 Rule 1 or Rule 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure but also in respect of the party approaching the Court for vacating the ad interim or temporary injunction order already granted in the pending suit or proceedings.'

36. Thus, the conduct of the parties is a relevant consideration for granting or refusing injunction.

37. The demands of the defendants prima facie cannot be said to be frivolous or for ulterior purpose. These are intended for improvement of the service conditions of the employees which every person would be entitled to aspire, raise and pursue. After charter of demands was made on 19.2.1996, report of the 5th Pay Commission was also received. Central Government employees have got increase in basic salaries more than three times and even thereafter there has been increase in dearness allowance from time to time. There has also been substantial increase in the salaries of other public sector employees. The plaintiff is a public body. It was not fair and proper on the part of the plaintiff to have avoided to get the matter resolved through conciliation or otherwise. The matter was taken up before the Conciliation Officer. The material on record shows that the plaintiff had not cooperated there. The matter was taken up by the Conciliation Officer but according to the defendants only interim relief was granted and demands remained to be settled finally. The plaintiff should have shown reasonable concern for its employees and should not have slept over and dragged the matter unresolved for 4 years. Not only this, the plaintiff had taken the plea in the plaint that Shri Girish Aggarwal, Deputy General Manager was gheraoed and humiliated. Affidavit of Shri Girish Aggarwal has not been filed. This ground has also not been taken in the application for interim relief. This casts doubt on the bona fides of the plaintiff. No affidavit of any independent person to support the case of the plaintiff that the defendants had resorted to any violent and disorderly demonstration or other illegal or undesirable acts has been filed. Normally, in the circumstances, plaintiff will not be entitled to injunction. However, injunction is both remedial and preventive in nature. Disputes between the parties about the service matters and service conditions are outstanding. These need amicable solution either by conciliation or arbitration or through Courts/Tribunal constituted under the Act. Till these are resolved, disputes between the parties will continue to persist. That will not be in the interest of both the parties. It is necessary to restore normalcy and amity between the parties. Till this is done, there will remain every likelihood that the union and its employees may resort to undesirable activity. It is expedient and in the interest of justice that the disputes should be resolved without any further delay. Matter brooks no delay.

38. The interim order dated 10.12.1998 is confirmed till the decision of the suit but the meetings, assemblies or demonstrations could be held at a reasonable distance from the entrance of the premises of the plaintiff so as not to cause any obstruction, hindrance in the ingress and egress of the plaintiff, its officers, employees or the public who may visit there, or nuisance to the public who may happen to be there. This injunction is further subject to the condition that the plaintiff shall cooperate and join in any lawful proceedings for settlement of the dispute by way of conciliation, mediation, arbitration or through Court as provided under the Act.

39. Parties are also directed to appear before the Conciliation Officer, Delhi Administration and join in the proceedings for conciliation if the same are still pending there. In case such proceedings are not pending, the defendants will be at liberty to approach the Conciliation Officer afresh and the plaintiff shall join the same. It is hoped that the Conciliation Officer concerned will take up the matter at the earliest and make every endeavor to dispose of the same as far as possible within a period of two months from the first date of hearing before him. In case, settlement is not arrived at between the parties through conciliation, he will take appropriate steps as provided under the Act expeditiously.

40. To expedite the matter and to avoid any further delay, parties are directed to appear before the Conciliation Officer on 15th May, 2000 at 11.30 A.M. The parties may furnish such statement of facts or additional facts as they may desire to submit on that day.

41. Both these applications are disposed of accordingly.

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