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Gangadharan Vaidyan (V.) (Proprietor, Swatantra Pharmacy) Vs. Regional Provident Fund Commissioner - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1966)IILLJ216Ker
AppellantGangadharan Vaidyan (V.) (Proprietor, Swatantra Pharmacy)
RespondentRegional Provident Fund Commissioner
Cases ReferredNageswara Rao v. State of Madras
Excerpt:
- .....the ayurvedic medicines manufactured at the chalakudi office. it is further contended that ayurvedic preparations are neither 'medical' nor 'pharmaceutical' preparations so as to fall within the relevant entry in sch. i noticed above. the coverage notice, ex. p. 1, informed the petitioner that the swatantra pharmacy with all its branches came under the purview of the employees' provident funds act, 1952, engaged in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals (ayurvedic medicines), and called upon the petitioner to comply with the provisions of the act and the scheme thereunder. the petitioner replied by a communication (copy filed as ex. p. 2) denying the claim of the establishment falling within sch. i of the act, and pointing out that twenty or' more persona had not been employed in.....
Judgment:

V.P. Gopalan Nambiyar, J.

1. The petitioner is an ayurvedic physician and the proprietor of the Swatantra Pharmacy, Chalakudi. He seeks to quash the coverage notice, Ex. P. 1, dated 9 December 1964, and the letters, Ex. P. 3, dated 18 January 1965, and Ex. P. 5, dated 20 February 1965, Issued by the respondent, the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Trivandrum, and further seek to restrain the respondent from enforcing the Employees' Provident Funds Act and Scheme against the petitioner.

2. Section 1(3) of the Employees' Provident Funds Act, 1952, applies the Act to every establishment which is a factory engaged in any industry specified In Such. I and in which twenty or more persons are employed. Section 2A of the Act which was inserted by the amending Act 46 of 1960 with effect from 31 December 1960 reads as follows:

2A. For the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that where an establishment consists of different departments or has branches, whether situate in the same place or In different places, all such departments or branches shall be treated as parts of the same establishment.

The term ' factory' is defined in Section 2(g) of the Act as follows:

'factory' means any premises, including the precincts thereof, in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on or is ordinarily so carried on, whether with the aid of power or without the aid of power.

Schedule I of the Act was added to by a notification, dated 3 September 1956, by Virtue of the powers under Section 4 of the Act, One of the items so added to the schedule by the said notification, reads ;

1. Heavy and fine chemicals including

* * *(iv) Medical and pharmaceutical preparations.

3. It is admitted that the petitioners pharmacy has branches in several places and that the total number of workmen employed in all the branches together would exceed twenty ; and that the number of workmen in the head office at Chalakudi alone is seven. But the petitioner claims that manufacturing process is carried on only at the head office in Chalakudi and that the other branches are merely engaged in dispensing the ayurvedic medicines manufactured at the Chalakudi office. It is further contended that ayurvedic preparations are neither 'medical' nor 'pharmaceutical' preparations so as to fall within the relevant entry in Sch. I noticed above. The coverage notice, Ex. P. 1, informed the petitioner that the Swatantra Pharmacy with all its branches came under the purview of the Employees' Provident Funds Act, 1952, engaged In the manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals (ayurvedic medicines), and called upon the petitioner to comply with the provisions of the Act and the scheme thereunder. The petitioner replied by a communication (copy filed as Ex. P. 2) denying the claim of the establishment falling within Sch. I of the Act, and pointing out that twenty or' more persona had not been employed in the establishment. His claim was repudiated by the respondent by a communication filed as Ex. P. 3. The petitioner made a further detailed representation, a copy of which has been filed as Ex. P. 4. The contentions put forward by him were not accepted, and by a communication, Ex. P. 5, dated 20 February 1965, the petitioner was requested to comply with the requirements of the Act and legal proceedings were threatened on default.

4. The first contention of the petitioner that manufacturing process Is carried on only in the head office at Chalakudi and that the other branches merely dispense the medicines made at Chalakudi, seems to me to be unacceptable. By Section 2A it is declared that where an establishment has branches, such branohes are to be treated as parts of the same establishment. ' Factory ' Is denned to mean any premises in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on. Reading the provisions together, it seems to me that the petitioner's head office together with all its branches would constitute an establishment which is a factory and that a manufacturing process is carried on in a part of the said factory. It thus seems to fall squarely within Section 1, Sub-section (3), of the Act.

5. The next argument of the petitioner's counsel was that in the part where a manufacturing process is carried on, only seven workmen were employed. In view of Section 2A of the Act, what has to be reckoned is the totality of workmen employed in all the branches and not the number of workmen in that branch or department located where the manufacturing process is carried on. So understood, the petitioner's establishment does employ more than twenty workmen. This indeed, as already noticed, was not disputed.

6. The question most prominently pressed was whether the petitioner's establishment can be said to be engaged in any industry specified in Sch. I. The petitioner's argument was that manufacture of ayurvedic preparations would not fall within the entry in the schedule, ' heavy and fine chemicals,' nor even within the inclusive part of it,' medical and pharmaceutical preparations.' The Government Pleader appearing for the respondent contended that ayurvedic preparations would fall within the term ' medical and pharmaceutical preparations.' It is unnecessary to delineate the scope and amplitude of the expression ' heavy and fine chemicals.' These expressions have been used in an inclusive sense so as to comprehend ' medical and pharmaceutical preparations.' ' Pharmaceuticals ' as defined in Chambers' Twentieth Century Dictionary means ' pertaining to the knowledge or art of preparing medicines.' In Concise Oxford Dictionary the expression 'Pharmaceuticals' is denned as: ' of or engaged in, pharmacy; of the use or sale of medicinal drugs.' The same idea is brought out by the other dictionaries to which my attention was drawn, and to which I think it unnecessary to refer. It is difficult for me to hold that ' medical and pharmaceutical preparations ' will not include ayurvedic medicines which constitute an important branch of medicinal preparations in this country. The Government Pleader referred to the wide definition of 'medicinal preparations' under the Medicinal and Toilet Preparations Act, 1955. Quite apart from the statutory definition afforded by the Medicinal and Toilet Preparations Act, 1955, I am of the view that in the popular sense, 'msdical and pharmaceutical preparations', would take in ayurvedic medicines also. See the discussion in Adhyaksha Mathur Babu's Saktl Oushadhalaya, Dacca (Private), Ltd., and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors. : [1963]3SCR957 ; see also the decision in Nageswara Rao v. State of Madras : AIR1954Mad643 from which it is seen that ayurvedlo preparations were treated as articles required for 'medicinal purpose,' and therefore to be covered by a licence under Section 18 of the Madras Prohibition Act. Being so, the coverage notice issued to the petitioner and evidenced by Ex. P. 1 and subsequent communications are valid and proper.

7. The original petition fails and is dismissed ; I make no order as to costs.


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