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Paravur Coir Vyvasaya Sangham and ors. Vs. State of Travancore-cochIn (by Its Chief Secretary) - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1957)ILLJ288Ker
AppellantParavur Coir Vyvasaya Sangham and ors.
RespondentState of Travancore-cochIn (by Its Chief Secretary)
Excerpt:
.....like notification, add to either part of the schedule any employment in respect of which it is of opinion that minimum rates of wages should be fixed under this act, and thereupon the schedule shall, in its application to the state, be deemed to be amended accordingly. 3. even if it is assumed that section 3(1)(a)(iii) read with section 27 empowered the state to prescribe a time-limit for the issue of a notification like ex. in such a situation the provisions regulating the manner in which as also the time within which such notifications have to be published by the authorities empowered to do so, are viewed as only directory in their nature so that the beneficial object of the statute may not be defeated and serious inconvenience and great injustice may not be caused to those on whom..........judge who heard the opposite party was that the notification ex. b having been issued beyond the time-limit fixed in the earlier notification ex. a dated 26 september 1951 published in the government gazette dated 2 october 1951, is illegal and ultra vires the powers of government and that the same, may, therefore, be quashed. this contention was repelled by the learned judge who held that the provision regarding the time-limit prescribed in the notification ex. a was not mandatory, but was only directory in its nature, and that the validity of the notification ex. b is not affected by the mere fact that it was published after the expiry of the time-limit fixed in the notification ex. a. consistent with such a conclusion reached by the learned judge, he declined to interfere with the.....
Judgment:

K. Sankaran, J.

1. The petitioners in O.P. No. 192 of 1954 on the file of this Court are the appellants. They are persons engaged in coir industry. Their complaint is against the notification Ex. B dated 19 November 1054 published toy Government in exercise of the power conferred by Sub-section (1)(a) of Section 3 of the Minimum Wages Act (Act XI of 1948) fixing the minimum wages payable to the workmen employed in the coir industry. The validity of this notification was impugned on several grounds and the petitioners prayed that the records may be called up and the notification quashed by the issue of a writ of certiorari. Of the several grounds raised in the petition, the only ground pressed at the time of the hearing of the petition, before the learned Judge who heard the opposite party was that the notification Ex. B having been issued beyond the time-limit fixed in the earlier notification Ex. A dated 26 September 1951 published in the Government Gazette dated 2 October 1951, is illegal and ultra vires the powers of Government and that the same, may, therefore, be quashed. This contention was repelled by the learned Judge who held that the provision regarding the time-limit prescribed in the notification Ex. A was not mandatory, but was only directory in its nature, and that the validity of the notification Ex. B is not affected by the mere fact that it was published after the expiry of the time-limit fixed in the notification Ex. A. Consistent with such a conclusion reached by the learned Judge, he declined to interfere with the impugned notification. The result was that the opposite party was dismissed. The petitioners have come up in appeal challenging' the correctness of the view taken by the learned Judge in dismissing the opposite party.

2. In examining the appellants objection to the validity of the notification Ex. B, the statutory provisions that come up for consideration are those contained in Sections 3 and 27 of the Minimum Wages Act (Act XI of 1948) which was brought into force in this State with effect from 1 April 1951. It is Section 3 of the Act that empowers the Government to fix minimum rates of wages payable to employees engaged in the industries specified in parts I and II of the schedule appended to the Act. Coir industry did not find a place in part I or part II of that schedule. Section 27 of the Act empowers the appropriate Government to add new industries to the schedule and thus to amend the schedule by publishing a notification to that effect as provided for in Section 27. It was in exercise of the powers conferred by this section that the notification Ex. A was published by Government on 26 September 1951, adding coir industry as item 13 in part I of the schedule to the Act. Section 27 runs as follows:

The appropriate Government, after giving, by notification in the official gazette, not less than three months' notice of its intention so to do, may, by like notification, add to either part of the schedule any employment in respect of which it is of opinion that minimum rates of wages should be fixed under this Act, and thereupon the schedule shall, in its application to the State, be deemed to be amended accordingly.

It is clear from this section that the notification to be i3sued under the section has nothing to do with the question of fixing the minimum rates of wages payable in respect of the new industry added to the schedule or with the date from which such rates have to be brought into force. The notification Ex. A which was issued under Section 27 need not therefore have prescribed any time-limit for the introduction of the minimum rates of wages payable in respect of the coir industry, However, such a time-limit is seen to have boon prescribed at the closing portion of that notification and this was purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3. The notification Ex. A winds up in the following terms:

and in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the said Act, fix 31 December 1953 as the date before which the minimum rates of wages have to be fixed in respect of items 13 and 14 of part I of the schedule to the said Act,.

Here, again, it has to be pointed out that the relevant provision of Section 3 did not make it obligatory to prescribe such a time-limit for fixing the minimum rates of wages in respect of new items of industries added to the schedule. Section 3, Clause (1)(a)(iii), contains the provisions applicable to such industries and that provision is as follows:

the appropriate Government shall, in the manner hereinafter provided, fix the minimum rates of wages payable to employees employed in an employment included in part I or part II of the schedule by notification under Section 27, from such date as may be specified in this behalf in the notification.

It is obvious that the notification contemplated is only the notification fixing the minimum rates of wages and also the date from which such rates have to come into force. Neither of these particulars finds a place in the closing portion of the notification Ex. A, even though that portion purports to be a notification under Section 3. On the other hand, that portion merely fixes a time-limit for fixing the minimum rates of wages. The relevant portion of Section 3 quoted above does not contemplate the fixing of such a time-limit. Hence of it cannot be said that the fixation of such a time-limit in Ex. A was done under a statutory requirement or under any delegated power derived from the statute. The fixation of the time-limit by the State in the notification Ex. A was a self-imposed restriction on the exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3(1)(a)(iii), and it can only reflect the State's desire or hope to publish the notification as required by the section within the period contemplated. But the self-imposed time-limit cannot be raised to the level of discharging a statutory duty or of the exercise of a power derived from the statute. In this view of the matter, it is clear that the non-compliance with the self-imposed limitation as to the period within which the notification fixing the rates of minimum wages had to be published, cannot affect the validity of such a notification published after the expiry of the said period, so long as that notification is in accordance with the statutory requirements. As already pointed out, the coir industry was added as a new item to part I schedule of the Minimum Wages Act, only by the issue of the notification Ex. A, dated 26 September 1951, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 27 of the Act. Thereafter another notification had to be published as required by Section 3(1)(a)(iii) fixing the minimum rates of wages payable to employees under this industry and also specifying the date from which the rates of wages have to come into force. Since these particulars are not contained in Ex. A, it cannot be deemed to be a notification as required by Section 3(1)(a)(iii). The subsequent notification Ex. B dated 19 November 1954 contains these particulars and it purports to be the notification issued under Section 3(1)(a)(iii). The mere fact that this notification was issued only after the expiry of the time specified in the notification Ex. A, cannot render it illegal or ultra vires, because the fixation of time in Ex. A had no statutory backing.

3. Even if it is assumed that Section 3(1)(a)(iii) read with Section 27 empowered the State to prescribe a time-limit for the issue of a notification like Ex. B, such a provision relating to the period of time can only be deemed to be directory and not mandatory. Under the statute, a public duty is cast upon the State to fix the rates of minimum wages payable to the employees engaged in the coir industry. The object of enactment is to confer a benefit on these employees. They have no control over those entrusted with the duty of fixing the minimum wages by publishing the necessary notifications. In such a situation the provisions regulating the manner in which as also the time within which such notifications have to be published by the authorities empowered to do so, are viewed as only directory in their nature so that the beneficial object of the statute may not be defeated and serious inconvenience and great injustice may not be caused to those on whom the statute intends to confer a benefit. The provision contained in Section 3(1)(b) also indicates that the statute does not attach great importance to the period within which the notification fixing the rates of minimum wages is published. Sub-clause (b) states that the appropriate Government shall 'review at such intervals as it thinks fit, such intervals not to exceed five years, the minimum rates of wages so fixed and revise the minimum rates, if necessary.' If the rates once fixed can be revised and altered at any time within a period of five years, the fixation of the rates themselves within a much shorter period of time beyond the date originally contemplated cannot be said to be illegal or ultra vires. Thus in any view of the matter the objections to the validity of the notification Ex. B have to be repelled as untenable. It follows therefore that the order dismissing O.P. No. 192 of 1954, does not call for any interference.

4. In the Result this appeal fails and it is dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.


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