Kochu Thommen, J.
1. The petitioner--Trade Union challenges Ext. P1 award dated 2-12-1975 in I.D. No. 39 of 1973 of the Industrial Tribunal, Alleppey. The award contains an exhaustive survey of the extremely tense situation which prevailed in the company and in which the management was compelled to close down the factory with effect from 1-10-1976. The Tribunal held that the factory was closed down on account of unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the employer and the compensation to be paid to the workmen under Clause (b) of Section 25F of the Industrial Disputes Act., 1947, should not exceed the average pay of each workman for three months. The Tribunal concluded as follows:
24. Thus taking all the facts and circumstances into consideration, it is only just and reasonable on my part, to come to the conclusion, that the management is much sinned against than sinning and that they were forced to close down the factory, for reasons beyond their control, and I do so. Further, on any stretch of imagination I cannot come to the conclusion that there will be industrial peace and amity between the workmen and the management even if the factory is reopened again. Therefore, in the interest of the industry as well as the industrial peace, I declare that the action of the management in keeping the factory closed can only be considered as a closure of the factory on August, 1972 although it was for reasons beyond their control and so the workers are entitled to get relief as per Section 25FFF proviso only. Thus I pass this award declaring that the undertaking is closed down on account of unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the employer and the compensation to be paid to the workmen shall not exceed his or her average pay for three months. The management shall pay this amount to the concerned workers in person after identification, as per the relevant records.
2. The award is challenged on two grounds. It is submitted that the Tribunal did not have sufficient material to warrant the conclusion that the factory was closed down on account of unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the employer. This is a matter on which, as the award reveals, the Tribunal had fully exercised its mind; and on the basis of the relevant evidence on the record--insufficiency of evidence is not a ground for interference in the present proceedings--the Tribunal came to the conclusion that the proviso to Section 25FFF applied, as the management had established that the closure of the factory was for the reason stated in that proviso, viz., unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the employer. In the present proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution I do not see any ground to interfere with the award for that reason.
3. Another reason stated for impugning the award is that the award is not in strict compliance with the provisions of Section 25FFF. I shall quote the relevant portion of that Section:
(1) Where an undertaking is closed down for any reason whatsoever, every workman who has been in continuous service for not less than one year in that undertaking immediately before such closure shall, subject to the provisions of Sub-section (2), be entitled to notice and compensation in accordance with the provisions of Section 25F, as if the workman had been retrenched:
Provided that where the undertaking is closed down on account of unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the employer, the compensation to be paid to the workman under Clause (b) of Section 25F shall not exceed his average pay for three months..
(emphasis is mine)
The main part of the sub-section provides for notice and payment of compensation to the workman in accordance with Section 25F. The proviso, however, says that in a case where the Tribunal has held that the closure is for reasons mentioned in that proviso,--i.e., force majeure--the compensation payable to the workman under Clause (b) of Section 25F shall not exceed his average pay for three months. The proviso does not make any reference to Clause (a) or Clause (c) of Section 25F and accordingly there is no exclusion of the notice required to be given under those clauses. Every workman, therefore, even where an undertaking is closed down on account of unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the employer, is entitled to one month's notice or wages in lieu thereof, as provided in Clause (a) of Section 25F. This the Tribunal has failed to notice. This is a lacuna in the award.
4. The award is impeccable in all other respects. It is accordingly declared. The workmen are entitled to the wages in lieu of notice. Subject to this observation, the original petition is disposed of. No costs.