M.S. Menon, C.J.
1. This is a petition by he Kerala State Handloom Weavers' Co-operative Society, Ltd., under Articles. 226 and 227 of the Constitution. Respondent 1 is the State of Kerala; the second, the industrial tribunal, Trivandrum; and the third, the secretary of the Travancore Sreemoolam Handloom Weavers' Central Co-operative Society Staff Association, Trivandrum.
2. By Ex. P. 1 dated 31 August 1960, the Government of Kerala referred the following matters for adjudication to respondent 2 under Section 10(1)(d) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947:
(1) The question of pay-scales and clearness allowance.
(3) Promotion according to seniority.
(4) Abolition of commission system and restoration of dearness allowance Instead.
(5) House-rent allowance.
3. Exhibit P. 2 dated 28 December 1961 is the award of respondent 2. It was published in the Kerala Gazette dated 30 January 1962. The petition challenges the validity of Ex. P. 2 and prays for a writ of certiorari quashing the said award.
4. The Kerala State Hanjioom Weavers' Co-operative Society, Ltd., is an amalgamated society, incorporated in pursuance of the Kerala State Handloom Weavers' Co-operative Solely (Special Provisions) Act, 1960. One of the amalgamating units was the Travancore Sreemoolam Handloom Weavers' Central Co-operative Society, Ltd.
5. The first contention of the petitioner is that there can be no industrial dispute between the Kerala S late Handloom Weavers' Co-operative Society, Ltd., and his workmen as all those workmer are shareholders of the society. The contention ignores the fact that a co-operative society is not a mere aggregate of its mere bers; that It has a legal personality, separate and distinct from that of its shareholders. Section 24 of the Travancore-Cochin Co-operative Societies Act, 1951, specifically provides that the registration of a society under that Act 'shall render it a body corporate by the name under which it is registered with perpetual succession and a common seal, and with power to hold property, to enter into contracts, to institute and defend suits and other legal proceedings and to do all things necessary for the purposes for which it was constituted.'
6. The second contention urged on behalf of the petitioner is that the workmen concerned were the workmen of the Travancore Sreemoolam Handloom Weavers' Central Co-operative Society, Ltd., that the industrial dispute referred for adjudication by the Government by its order dated 31 Augsat 1960, was a dispute between that society and its workmen, and that the industrial tribunal was wrong in passing an award against another society, namely, the Kerala State Handloom Weavers' Co-operative Society, Ltd. This contention ignores the effect of the amalgamation effected in pursuance of the Kerala State Handloom Weavers' Co-operative Society (Special Provisions) Act, 1960, subsequent to the reference for adjudication; and Section 18 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, which provides that the award of a tribunal shall be binding not only on all parties to the Industrial dispute but also on all other parties summoned to appear in the proceedings as parties to the dispute; unless the tribunal records the opinion that they were so summoned without proper cause. It is conceded that the petitions was summoned by the tribunal to appear in the proceedings as a party to the dispute and that the tribunal has not recorded any opinion to the effect that it was summoned without proper cause.
7. The third and the last contention urged on behalf of the petitioner is that Section 60(1) of the Travancore-Cochin Co-operative Societies Act, 1951, precludes a reference to adjudication under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Section 60(1) reads as follows:
If any dispute touching the business of a registered society (other than a dispute regarding disciplinary action taken by the society or its committee against a paid servant of the society) arises--
(a) among members, past members and persons claiming through members, past members and deceased members, or
(b) between a member, past member or person claiming through a member, past member or deceased member and the society, its committee or any officer, agent or servant of the society, or
(c) between the society or its committee and any past committee, any officer, agent or servant, or any past officer, past agent, or past servant or the nominee, heirs or legal representatives of any deceased officer, deceased agent or deceased servant of the society, or
(d) between the society and any other registered society, such dispute, shall be referred to the Registrar for decision,
Explanation.--A claim by a registered society for any debt or demand due to it from a member, past member, or the nominee, heir or legal representative of a deceased member, whether such debt or demand be admitted or not, is a dispute touching the business of the society within the meaning of this sub-section.
8. In Malabar Co-operative Central Bank, Ltd., Kozhikode v. State of Kerala and Ors. 1964 I L.L.J. 557 (vide ante in this issue) this Court took the view that the arbitration proceedings contemplated by Section 51(1) of the Madras Co-operative Societies Act, 1932, is not concerned with industrial disputes and that notwithstanding the said sub-section, industrial disputes can be referred for adjudication under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The judgment said:
Co-operative societies are creatures of statute, controlled by their constitution, and concerned with their contracts. Industrial disputes stem, not from the subtle refinements of contractual obligations, but from the rougher jurisprudence of social justice and readjustment. The uplands of the industrial tribunals are out of bounds to the Registrar of Co-operative Societies.
9. To the same effect is the Majoor Sahakari Bank, Ltd. v. N.N. Majumdar and Anr. 1955--II L.L.J. 755. In that case Chagla, C.J.--dealing with Section 54 of the Bombay Co-operative Societies Act. 1925--said:
Now Sri Rane has very rightly pointed out that the disputes contemplated by Section 54 are disputes of a civil nature which could have been decided by civil Courts but for the provisions with regard to compulsory arbitration provided in Section 45. Sri Rane has also rightly pointed out that the present dispute between respondent 2 and the petitioners could not have been the subject-matter of a reference to arbitration under Section 54. Respondent 2 is not claiming to assert any civil rights against the petitioners. What he is claiming is certain rights which are now conferred upon workmen and employees as a result of principles of social justice which are now almost universally acknowledged all the world over. There is no right of reinstatement under civil law which can be enforced by an employee against his employer. No contract or personal service can be specifically enforced by a civil Court, nor does a civil Court determine whether the wages paid to an employee are proper wages or not. Civil Courts are bound down by the law of contract and it is under the law of contract that the civil Courts decide disputes between a master and his servant.
10. Emphasis was placed on the words 'touching the business of a registered society' occurring in Section 60 (1) of the Travancore Cochin Co-operative Societies Act, 1951, and various decisions bearing on those words --like M.S. Madhava Rao and Ors. v. D.V. Surya Rao : AIR1954Mad103 --were brought to our notice. It is unnecessary to consider those decisions in this Judgment). The question in cases like this is not whether the dispute referred for adjudication touches the business of a co-operative society; the question really is whether that dispute comes within the category of disputes covered by Section 60(1) of the Travancore-Cochin Co-operative Societies Act, 1951. The purpose of Chap. XIII of the Travancore-Cochin Co-operative Societies Act, 1951--the chapter in which Section 60(1) occurs--is not to resolve ill controversies touching the business of co-operative societies under the provisions of that chapter; but resolve only such controversies as can be resolved In an ordinary-Court of law. In other words, the arbitration provided by Chap. XIII Is an alternative to the normal processes of the ordinary Courts and not to the extraordinary process of adjudication under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, which has been designed to deal with controversies which by their very nature are outside the purview of ordinary litigation.
11. In the Jullundur Transport Co-operative Society, Jullundur v. The Punjab State through the Secretary to Government, Labour Department , the Court said:
The point which arises for consideration in this case is whether an industrial dispute between a co-operative society under the Punjab Co-operative Societies Act of 1954 and its workmen can under the law be referred to an industrial tribunal set up under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The learned Counsel for the petitioner contends that all disputes, except disputes regarding disciplinary action taken by a society touching the constitution or business of the society, are to be determined in accordance with the provisions of Section 50 of the Punjab Co-operative Societies Act, 1954;
and held that though the words 'touching the constitution or business of the society' were unqualified and comprehensive, they did not include industrial disputes for the adjudication of which Parliament had enacted the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
12. In the light of what is stated above the original petition has to be dismissed, and we do so. In the circumstances of the case, however, there will be no order as to costs.