1. This is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
2. The Management of the Railway Employees' Cooperative Credit Society Ltd., Jodhpur Division, Jodhpur (hereinafter referred to as the Society) is a party to an industrial dispute which is pending before the Industrial Tribunal, Rajasthan, in connection with the removal of Shri Kanraj Mehta and withholding grade increments in cases of Achleshwar Sharma, V. D. Sharma and G. S. Saxena. The dispute was referred by the Government of Rajasthan under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act on an application of the Secretary, Northern Railway Mazdoor Union, Jodhpur (hereinafter referred to as the Union).
The petitioner came to this Court by way of a writ petition in the case of Management of the Railway Employees' Co-operative Credit Society Ltd. v. The Industrial Tribunal, Rajasthan, Jaipur, ILR (1962) 12 Raj 458, and challenged the jurisdiction of the Industrial Tribunal to entertain the said reference on the ground that the Union was not competent to take initiative for a reference to the Industrial Tribunal in cases of the Employees' Credit Society, the employees of which were not eligible for the membership of the said Union even though some of them may have become its members contrary to the rules of the Union. The writ petition came up for hearing before a Division Bench of this Court on the 7th of February, 1962, and it was held as follows:
'It may be that the taking up of the cause by themembers of the Union who are employees of the Railwayis not of much assistance to respondents Nos. 2 to 5 inraising their disputes to the level of industrial dispute butso far as respondents Nos. 2 to 5 themselves are concerned, this resolution is prima facie evidence of the factthat each one took up the cause of the other. Accordingto the allegations set forth in the petition, respondentsNos. 2 to 5 were acting in concert from the beginningand it will be too much to say that when they were making the representation through the Divisional Secretary ofthe Union, they were acting individually. We are of theopinion that respondents Nos. 2 to 5 were each espousingthe cause of the other when they made representationMo the Rajasthan Government through the Divisional Secretary of the Union.'
In the view noted above, the writ petition was dismissed on the same day.
Thereafter the petitioner made an application before the Industrial Tribunal on the 11th of May, 1962, with a prayer that the name of the Union be struck off the record. It was contended that under the decision of this Court, the said Union was held not competent to make a reference of the industrial dispute and as such the Union had no right to conduct the proceedings on behalf of the employees of the Society. The learned Tribunal rejected the prayer of the Society saying that the intention of the judgment of this Court did not go to the length of disqualifying the Union from conducting the case on behalf of the employees of the Society. The Tribunal further observed that it had no jurisdiction to strike off the names of the Union as the reference had been made to it by the Government on its representation.
3. The Society has come to this Court in this writ petition on the ground that the view of the Tribunal is erroneous that it had no jurisdiction to strike off the name of the Union, and it is further urged that the Union has no locus standi either to approach the Government tomake a reference or to assist the Tribunal in conduct ofthe proceedings in view of the observations of this Courtin the judgment referred to above.
4. The respondents Nos. 2 to 5 have filed a reply, and their case is that even though the Union was not competent to make a reference on their behalf, it could not on that account be considered disqualified to assist the Tribunal to conduct the proceedings of the dispute on their behalf. It is also pleaded that ail the tour employees of the Society, who are parties to the writ petition, are in fact members of the Union and the legality of their membership need not be gone into by this Court for the sake of deciding the points raised by the petitioner.
5. We have examined the arguments of both the learned counsel. We think, the decision of this Court in ILR (1962) 12 Raj 458, referred to above cannot be made the basis for the request of the Society for striking off the name of the Union. The learned Tribunal is right in observing that this point did not come up for consideration before this Court in that case.
A reference at the instance of the Union may not be competent but that by itself cannot be regarded as sufficient to disqualify it from assisting the Tribunal in the proceedings of the dispute. Section 36 of the Industrial Disputes Act bars the appearance of legal practitioners in conduct of its proceedings before a labour Court and provision has, therefore, been made to safeguard the interests of the parties in cases coming before an Industrial Tribunal by permitting the parties to be represented through unions or authorised agents.
The relevant portions of Section 36 of the Industrial Disputes Act are as follows :
'38. Representation of parties. -- (1) A workman who is a party to a dispute shall be entitled to be represented in any proceeding under this Act by-
(a) an officer of a registered trade union of which he is a member;
(c) where the worker is not a member of any trade Union, by an officer of any trade Union connected with, or by any other workman employed in, the industry in which the worker is employed and authorised in such manner as may be prescribed.'
6.. It has been strenuously canvassed by Mr. Joshi for the petitioner that the four employees of the Society who are parties to the case were net eligible for membership of the Union under its rules, and as such they could not be regarded as its members in the eye of law, and in this view of the matter Section 36(1)(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act cannot come to the air of the Union. He has also tried to distinguish Section 36(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act by saying that the Union and the Society are not connected with each other merely because both of them are functioning under the patronage of the same railway and the connection, if at all, is toe remote to warrant application of Section 36(1)(c) to the case.
7. As a matter of fast, the four employees of the Society are members of the Union even though under the rules their membership may be questionable. Even assuming that under Section 36(1)(a) the Union cannot represent the cases of the employees of the Society, it is difficult to escape the provision of Section 36(1)(e) of the Industrial Disputes Act which clearly applies to this case. The four employees may not even be the members of the Union,still they can be represented by it for the reason that the Society and the Union are both parts of the same industry, namely, transport and both are functioning under the patronage of the same railway. There is thus a clear connection between the Union and the Society and the said connection also relates to the employees of the railway and the employees of the Society. The Union is thus competent to represent the case of the employees of the Society by virtue of Section 36(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act.
8. It may be added that the Tribunal had jurisdiction to determine the question of addition or subtraction of parties to the dispute before it, but the order of the Tribunal rejecting the prayer of the Society appears to be in conformity with the provisions of Section 36 of the Industrial Disputes Act and is therefore, proper.
9. This writ petition fails and is dismissed with oneset of costs to the employees of the Society who havefiled a reply and contested the case.