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Vinod Rao Vs. Presiding Officer 1st Labour Court and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1979)2GLR262
AppellantVinod Rao
RespondentPresiding Officer 1st Labour Court and ors.
Cases ReferredNational Tobacco Co. Employees Union (Regd) Jullundur v. Manahar Singh and Anr.
Excerpt:
- - it raised a dispute under which the employee complained of wrongful dismissal and claimed to be reinstated. ' it is, in our opinion, as good as saying: ' it was contended in that case that an industrial dispute arises only when an employee who is dis-satisfied by an action on the part of the employee approaches the employer in the manner laid down in the proviso to section 42(4) of the bombay industrial relations act and that since the employee had made no approach to the employer at bombay, no industrial dispute had arisen at bombay. therefore, in our opinion, the present dispute can be said to have substantially arisen both at bombay as well as at ahmedabad. therefore, the labour court at bombay as well as the labour court at ahmedabad have jurisdiction to entertain the dispute......act, 1947. it inter alia states as under: 'in relation to any other industrial dispute, the state government.' the question is: which is the state government in the instant case? is it the state government of maharastra or is it the state government of gujarat which is the 'appropriate government'? the act is silent on the tests which can be applied for determining which is the 'appropriate government.'3. there is no doubt about the fact that blitz publications (private) ltd.-employer-is located in the city of bombay outside the state of gujarat. it also cannot be gainsaid that the petitioner was employed by his employer at bombay and that the petitioner's activities were controlled and supervised by his employer from bombay. this is one set of facts. the second set of facts are.....
Judgment:

S.H. Sheth, J.

1. The petitioner is a journalist. He was working at Ahmedabad as a Staff Correspondent of Blitz Publications (Private) Ltd. which is located at Bombay. The petitioner was operating on behalf of his employer throughout the State of Gujarat and more particularly in the City of Ahmedabad. His services were terminated by his employer by order made at Bombay on 10th December 1976. An industrial dispute was therefore raised by the petitioner. It was referred by adjudication under Section 10(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act by the Assistant Commissioner of Labour, Ahmedabad to the Labour Court at Ahmedabad. It was contended on behalf of the employer before the Labour Court that Gujarat Labour Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the reference. The Labour Court upheld the contention raised on behalf of the employer and held that the reference was not legally maintainable because Gujarat Labour Court did not have the jurisdiction to entertain it. According to the Labour Court, the dispute had arisen within the territory of the State of Maharastra. The reference was therefore dismissed.

2. It is that order which is challenged by the petitioner in this petition. The only contention which has been raised is whether Gujarat Labour Court has jurisdiction to entertain the reference. The answer to the question depends upon which is the 'appropriate Government' in the instant case. The expression 'appropriate Government' has been defined by Section 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. It inter alia states as under: 'In relation to any other industrial dispute, the State Government.' The question is: which is the State Government in the instant case? Is it the State Government of Maharastra or is it the State Government of Gujarat which is the 'appropriate Government'? The Act is silent on the tests which can be applied for determining which is the 'appropriate Government.'

3. There is no doubt about the fact that Blitz Publications (Private) Ltd.-employer-is located in the City of Bombay outside the State of Gujarat. It also cannot be gainsaid that the petitioner was employed by his employer at Bombay and that the petitioner's activities were controlled and supervised by his employer from Bombay. This is one set of facts. The second set of facts are as follows: The petitioner had been operating in the State of Gujarat on behalf of his employer. His salary was paid to him by his employer at Ahmedabad. The order terminating his services, though made at Bombay, was served upon him at Ahmedabad and was implemented there. The impugned order of termination of services became fully operative when the petitioner's services came to an end in the State of Gujarat. Upon these facts we have to determine which Court has jurisdiction to entertain the industrial dispute raised by the petitioner: Wether Gujarat Labour Court of Maharastra Labour Court.

4. Mr. Pandit who appears on behalf of the petitioner has invited our altention to the decision of the High Court of Bombay in Lalbhai Tricumlal Mills Ltd. v. Dhanubhai Motilal Vin : AIR1955Bom463 . In that case, the employer-company had been functioning at Ahmedabad and the concerned employee was working in the employer's branch office at Bombay. The branch office was closed and his services were terminated. It raised a dispute under which the employee complained of wrongful dismissal and claimed to be reinstated. The employee filed an application before the Labour Court at Bombay for reinstatement and compensation. It was in that context that the employer company filed a writ petition in the High Court of Bombay in which the jurisdiction of the Labour Court at Bombay to entertain the application was challenged. It was an application made under the Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1947 and not under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. However, the test to determine jurisdiction evolved and applied in that case can also be applied to the present case which has arisen under the Industrial Disputes Act. The test which the High Court of Bombay applied was as follows: 'Where has the dispute substantially arisen?' It is, in our opinion, as good as saying: 'Where has a material part of the cause of action arisen?' It was contended in that case that an industrial dispute arises only when an employee who is dis-satisfied by an action on the part of the employee approaches the employer in the manner laid down in the proviso to Section 42(4) of the Bombay Industrial Relations Act and that since the employee had made no approach to the employer at Bombay, no industrial dispute had arisen at Bombay. The contention raised on behalf of the employer was turned down by the High Court of Bombay and the test which was applied was: 'Where has the dispute substantially arisen?' While deciding that the dispute had substantially arisen at Bombay, the High Court observed that the fact that the employer had dismissed the employee at Bombay showed that the dispute had substantially arisen at Bombay. Indeed, in that case, the employer had a branch office at Bombay. Mr. N.J. Mehta who appears on behalf of the employer has tried to distinguish this decision on this ground. In our opinion, the test which the High Court of Bombay evolved in that case had nothing to do with the location of the branch office of the employer at Bombay.

5. This decision has been approved by the Supreme Court in Workmen of Shri Ranga Vilas Motors (P) Ltd. v. Shri Ranga Vilas Motors (P) Ltd. and Ors. : (1967)IILLJ12SC . While approving the decision of the High Court of Bombay referred to above, the Supreme Court has observed that there should be some nexus between the dispute and the territory of the State and not necessarily between the territory of the State and the industry concerning which the dispute arises. Ordinarily, if there is a separate establishment of the industry and the workman is working in that establishment, the dispute arises at that place. We are therefore required to find out the nexus between the dispute and the territory of the State. From the facts which we have stated, it is clear that the dispute can be said to have substantially arisen at Bombay where the order terminating the petitioner's services was made and from where his activities were controlled and supervised by his employer. It can also be said that the dispute had substantially arisen at Ahmedabad because the order terminating his services was implemented and enforced there and the petitioner was stopped from working at Ahmedabad and in the State of Gujarat. Therefore, in our opinion, the present dispute can be said to have substantially arisen both at Bombay as well as at Ahmedabad. Therefore, the Labour Court at Bombay as well as the Labour Court at Ahmedabad have jurisdiction to entertain the dispute. In that view of the matter, it is difficult to hold that the Labour Court at Ahmedabad did not have jurisdiction to entertain the reference. The view taken by the learned Judge is therefore erroneous and the order made by him is liable to be quashed. We may note that in J & J Dechane Distributors and State of Kerala and Ors. (1974) 2 LLJ 9, a Division Bench of Kerala High Court has also applied the same test for determining which is the appropriate Government.

6. Mr. Mehta has cited two decisions to show us the contrary proposition. The first decision is in Association of Medical Representatives (M & V) v. Industrial Tribunal, Madhya Pradesh, lndore and Anr. (1966) 1 LLJ. 614. In that case the company had its head office at Bombay and it engaged medical representatives to sell its products in the areas falling within the State of Madhya Pradesh. Their work was controlled and supervised by the head office at Bombay and salaries were paid by the head office. The company did not have any establishment in the State of Madhya Pradesh. The services of one salesman were terminated by an order made by the head office of the company at Bombay. The dispute was referred to Madhya Pradesh Industrial Tribunal. It was inter alia held by the Industrial Tribunal that the Government of Madhya Pradesh was not the competent Government to make the reference because the cause of action had substantially arisen in the State of Maharastra. Therefore, the Industrial Tribunal held that the order of reference was invalid. That order was challenged in the High Court. The High Court upheld the finding that the Government of Madhya Pradesh was not the appropriate Government because an appropriate Government is one within those territory the dispute exists or is apprehended. Secondly, the Madhya Pradesh High Court also expressed the view that the industrial dispute arises where the industry exists. The detailed facts which weighed with the High Court in coming to its conclusion were as follows: The salesman whose services were terminated had undoubtedly been residing in Madhya Pradesh but the reference must be in relation to the place of the existence of the industry, The employer company had not been carrying on business any where in the State of Madhya Pradesh on the date of reference. The dispute whether the company was justified in discharging the concerned salesman arose at Bombay inasmuch as he was employed by the Bombay office of the company and was paid by the office. His work was controlled and supervised by that office. The discharge order was made by the Bombay office. The activity of pushing up the sales of the product of the company in the area of the State of Madhya Pradesh could not mean that the company was running an undertaking in the State of Madhya Pradesh and that every roving salesman of a company would not be an undertaking having attributes of industry within the meaning of Section 2(j) of the Act. This decision helps the contention which Mr. Mehta has raised. We are unable to a tree with the principle laid down in that decision because the principle which the Madhya Pradesh High Court has applied in that case is the principle of nexus between the dispute and the industry concerning which it arises. That principle is, in our opinion, inapplicable in light of the decision of the Supreme Court to which we have referred. The principle which must be applied is one of nexus between the dispute and the territory of the State where it has arisen.

7. The next decision to which Mr. N.J. Mehta has invited our attention is National Tobacco Co. Employees Union (Regd) Jullundur v. Manahar Singh and Anr. 1968 Lab. I.C. 1387. It is a decision rendered by a learned Single Judge of Punjab & Haryana High Court in the matter of jurisdiction in cases of this type and the learned Single Judge has observed that a company can be deemed to carry on business either at a place where it has its sole or principal office or in the State if it can be proved that it has its subordinate office there and the cause of action has also arisen there. It has also been observed that where the employees of a company worked at Jullundar but the final administrative control on them was exercised and appointments and dismissals were made by the head office of the company at Calcutta which also paid their wages, a cause of action for an industrial dispute did not arise at Jullundur and therefore the State of Panjab was not the 'appropriate Government' to make reference under Section 10 of the Act. He has further observed that industrial disputes arise not necessarily at the place where the workmen are residing and working but at the place where their employer is exercising effective control over them. He has also observed that the submission of the charter of demands by the workmen at Jullundur or the holding of the conciliation proceedings at Jullundur cannot invest the Punjab Government with the jurisdiction to refer the disputes to the Punjab Labour Court.

8. The principle which the learned Single Judge has applied is also the principle of nexus between the dispute and the place where the industry is established. That principle has been rejected by the Supreme Court in the decision to which we have referred above. The principle which the Supreme Court has laid down and which we must apply is the principle of nexus between the dispute and the territory where it has arisen. We are therefore unable to apply the principle laid down in the last-mentioned two decisions to the facts of this case.

9. Applying the principle laid down by the Supreme Court in the decision referred to above, we are of the opinion that the Labour Court Ahmedabad, has jurisdiction to entertain the reference. The Labour Court could not have rejected the reference in limine on the ground that the Assistant Commissioner of Labour, Gujarat State, had no jurisdiction to make the reference. In the result, we allow this petition, quash the impugned order made by the Labour Court and remand the case to the Labour Court with a direction that the reference shall be heard and decided by it on merits in accordance with law. The Labour Court shall decide the reference as expeditiously as possible. Rule is made absolute with costs.


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