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Jaipur Spinning and Weaving Mills, Ltd. Vs. Jaipur Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd., Mazdoor Union and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1959)IILLJ656Raj
AppellantJaipur Spinning and Weaving Mills, Ltd.
RespondentJaipur Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd., Mazdoor Union and anr.
Cases ReferredLtd. v. Bengal Electric Lamp Works
Excerpt:
.....question of the determination of the workload. the position seems to be well settled that by an interim award only such relief can be granted as can be given in a final award. 61, mentioning the wider powers enjoyed by the industrial tribunal in the matter of ignoring contractual rights and liabilities and creating new rights and obligations and pointing out the distinction between industrial arbitration and ordinary commercial arbitration. it was, however, pointed out that the discretion which an industrial tribunal has, must be exercised in accordance with well-recognized principles, and that an industrial tribunal cannot altogether ignore an existing agreement or existing obligations for no rhyme or reason. i fail to understand how these observations help the respondent in the..........as incidental and ancillary to the main relief and observed that the tribunal had jurisdiction to award interim relief and that it was not necessary to specify the relief in . the order of reference. clearly, the question of payment of wages and allowances, etc., from the date of the dismissal to the date of reinstatement having been specifically referred for determination in a final award, the grant of interim pay and allowances was indisputably an incidental matter. in my opinion, none of the authorities support the contention of learned counsel for the respondent.13. in j.k. iron and steel company v. iron and steel mazdoor union 1956-i l.l.j. 227, bose, j., made the following observations regarding the powers of the industrial tribunal (at p. 230):all the same, wide as their powers.....
Judgment:

L.N. Chhangani, J.

1. The petitioner is the Jaipur Spinning and Weaving Mills, Ltd., Jaipur (hereinafter to be referred as 'company'; represented by Sri V.N. Soral, secretary, and the respondents are the Jaipur Spinning and Weaving Mills, Ltd., Mazdoor Union, Jaipur, represented by its President, Sri Ainshilal and the Judge of the Industrial Tribunal, Rajasthan. The petition invokes the jurisdiction of this Court under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India and prays that this Court may be pleased to issue a writ in the nature of certiorari, mandamus or any other appropriate writ, direction or order of injunction against the respondents and quash the interim award of the industrial tribunal dated 23 July 1958 so far as it decided about the question of wages to be paid to the siders working double sides in the ringframe department of the company.

2. The relevant facts of the case are as follows.

That, in the ringframe department of the company before 24 March 1958 only single sides were being worked by the siders, each sider attending to 200 or 220 spindles. It may be mentioned that a sider was entitled to Rs. 32-8-0 for attending 200 spindles and Rs 33-10-0 for 220 spindles plus dearness allowance of Rs. 28 per month as per earlier award published in the State Gazette of 18 April 1957.

3. On 24 March 1958, the management of the company and the union through its president entered into an agreement (marked Ex. A) introducing changes in the working of the department. The relevant portion of the agreement is quoted below in extenso :-

That, it is agreed between the parties that the siders in the ringframe department of the Jaipur Spinning and Weaving Mills, Ltd., Jaipur, will henceforth attend double side, i.e., double the number of spindles as attended by them at present: meaning thereby that those workmen (siders) who are at present attending two hundred spindles will attend 400 spindles and those who are attending 220 (two hundred and twenty) spindles will attend 440 (four hundred and forty) spindles; and in lieu thereof the workmen (siders) in the ringframe department who attend to double side will be paid Rs. 80 (rupees eighty only) per month which shall be inclusive of Rs. 28 (rupees twenty-eight only) as dearness allowance. Siders attending more than 400 (four hundred) spindles shall be paid an extra allowance which shall be computed at the rate of Rs. 1-2-0 (rupees one and annas two only) per 20 spindles over and above this basic figure for 400 (four hundred) spindles.

4. The employees in the ringframe department commenced working under this new agreement with effect from 25 March 1958, but only after a few days, differences arose between the parties and on 4 April 1958 the workmen refused to work under the new system. The management on their part declined to revert to the old practice. Conciliation proceedings were started, but they failed and eventually on 12 April 1958 the Government of Rajasthan made a reference of the dispute to the industrial tribunal. The points of dispute were specified as follows:-

(1) The management of the Jaipur Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd., Jaipur, have introduced the working of double siding in the ringframe department of their mills with the help of single aiders and have provided one reliever on each six siders and want to run this on 10s and 12s counts which they are using for spinning purposes in their mills.

Whether the working of single aiders on double sides of the ringframe in the mills on 10s and 12s counts is justified? If not, what process should be adopted for running the 10s counts ?

(2) Is the giving of one helper (reliever) on each six siders working on the double side of the ringframe justified? If not, how many helpers should be provided on each six siders to run the double sides of the ringframe department?

(3) Whether the agreement dated 24 March 1958 between the management and labour representatives of the Jaipur Spinning and Weaving Mills, Ltd., was entered into after taking into consideration the possible factors of providing helpers and running the mill on definite counts.

(5) (sic) Whether the refusal to give work to the workers by the management, from 5 April 1958 onwards, on the apprehension that the siders and tenters will not work the double sides was justified and, if not, are workers entitled to any relief ?

(6) Is the running of one man per two hands in drawing frame department on specified counts, justified If so, what should be the number of helpers thereupon

Here, I may mention that the petitioner has made allegation in the writ petition that subsequent to the reference of the dispute to the industrial tribunal under the advice of the Labour Commissioner, the management gave an option to the workman to revert to the old system, and that the majority of the workmen though initially availed of the option, but yet finally they showed their preference for working under the new system.

5. On 15 May 1958, the president of the union submitted a statement of claim in which he claimed the following reliefs in connexion with the various points of difference:

(1) 'That, for reasons stated among others, the work of double sides in ring-frames on 10s and 12s counts in the mills company is not justified and your honour may be pleased to direct that the working of single sides on these counts as usual be continued.'

(2) That, the working of the double sides in the ringframe department on the present counts in the mills company is not justified and therefore the question of number of helpers thereupon does not arise.

On 16 June 1958, the company submitted a written reply stating its case and opposing the reliefs claimed by the union. On these statements of cases, a number of issues were framed on 22 July 1953. Issues relevant for the purposes of this writ petition are, however, (1), (2) and (3) and they are given below:

(1) 'Whether the raising of the present dispute is barred by virtue of the agreements dated 24 and 27 March 1958.

(2-a) Whether the working of single sider on double sides in the ringframe of the mills on 10s and 12s counts as introduced by the mill under the agreement dated 24 March 1958 is justified If not, what should be the process adopted for working the frame in respect of these counts ?

(2-b) If the answer to (a) be in the affirmative, whether any helpers are required for working the process and if so, to what extent ?

(2-c) If the answer to (a) be in the negative, then what should be process adopted for running these counts.

(3) Whether the agreement dated 24 March 1958 between the management and labour representatives of the Jaipur Spinning and Weaving Mills, Ltd., was entered into after taking into consideration the possible factors of providing helpers and running the mill on definite counts.

On 19 June 1958, the president of the union submitted an application praying for an interim award directing the mills to run single side on 10s and 12s counts in ring-frames. The application for interim award was opposed by the company. On 23 July 1958 the industrial tribunal gave an interim award. Instead of granting relief to the union in the manner claimed by it, the industrial tribunal allowed a provisional increase in the wages of a sider to compensate him for the increased workload. The wages were raised to Rs. 90 per sider of the ringframe department working double sides upto 400 spindles on 10s and 12s counts and further allowed Rs. 1-2-0 for 20 working spindles in addition to 400. The company challenges this interim award.

6. The company's case is that the question for increase in the wages was not at all referred to the tribunal and in view of the limitations on its Jurisdiction placed by Sub-section (4) of Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the tribunal acted without jurisdiction in giving an award modifying the wages of the siders. It was also added that the question of fixation of wages cannot also toe considered as a matter incidental to the points of dispute referred to the tribunal.

7. The petition has been opposed by the opposite party 1. Their reply is that the tribunal had acted within its jurisdiction in giving the award. The question of wages, it was added, is clearly related to the question of the determination of the workload. It was also suggested that no injustice has been done by the interim award to the company, the suggestion being that there will be no substantial additional financial burden.

8. Learned Counsel for the parties did not raise any controversy on facts in this case and confined their arguments only to questions of law. On their arguments, the following questions of law call for determination:-

(1) Whether the interim award is subject to the limitation of Sub-section (4) of Section 10. ?

(2) Whether the question of increase of wages is incidental to the matters in dispute referred to the Industrial tribunal ?

It may be mentioned at this stage that learned Counsel for the respondent did not seriously contest the position taken by the petitioner that the question of increase in wages was not as such referred to the tribunal.

9. Dealing with question (1), I may point out that a mere perusal of the definition of ' award ' in Section 1(6) of the Industrial Disputes Act will at once reveal that the Act makes no distinction between an Interim award and a final award. The word, 'award' has been defined to include both. An Interim award of course contemplates a provisional or temporary arrangement made in cases of urgency to remain in operation till the final award, but nevertheless it is an award. The language of Section 10(4) is quite general and must govern all awards, whether final or Interim. Learned Counsel for the respondent suggested that in the very nature of things different considerations must be applicable to adjudications at the two different stages, viz., interim stage and final stage, and it is quite appropriate that at the interim stage, there should be a little liberal deal to facilitate equitable adjustments at a final stage. I do not feel persuaded to accept this contention. The position seems to be well settled that by an Interim award only such relief can be granted as can be given in a final award. The grant of a relief at an interim stage which cannot appropriately be granted at a final stage may, instead of facilitating adjustment, create inherent difficulties in adjustment in the final award.

10. Coming to the second question, it becomes necessary to ascertain the correct meaning of the words 'matters incidental thereto' occurring In Section 10(4) of the Industrial Disputes Act. Learned Counsel for the respondent In this connexion contended that a very liberal construction should be placed upon these words. He tried to seek support from the Bharat Bank, Ltd., Delhi v. employees of the Bharat Bank, Ltd. and Anr. 1950 L.L.J. 921, Rohtas Industries, Ltd. v. Brijnandan Pandey and Ors. 1957-II L.L.J. 444 and Punjab National Bank, Ltd. v. A.N. Sen and Ors. 1952-I L.L.J. 37. In the first-mentioned case, he referred to the observations of Mukerjee, J., as he was then, at p. 948 Para. 61, mentioning the wider powers enjoyed by the industrial tribunal in the matter of ignoring contractual rights and liabilities and creating new rights and obligations and pointing out the distinction between Industrial arbitration and ordinary commercial arbitration. I may at once state that the respondent cannot derive any help from them. In the first instance, Mukerjee, J.'s opinion is merely a dissenting opinion. Secondly, his lordship was only emphasizing that the tribunal is not bound by the rigid rules of law and cannot be considered a tribunal whose decision can be appealable under Article 136 of the Constitution. These observations can be of no help in adjudicating upon the competence of the industrial tribunals to go beyond the terms of reference and Its extent and in determining the meaning of the words 'matters incidental thereto.'

11. In the second case also, the observations of their lordships were merely directed to the bringing out of the distinction between industrial arbitration and commercial arbitration, and the absence of limitations on the powers of the industrial tribunal to be bound by the existing contracts or obligations. It was, however, pointed out that the discretion which an Industrial tribunal has, must be exercised in accordance with well-recognized principles, and that an industrial tribunal cannot altogether ignore an existing agreement or existing obligations for no rhyme or reason. Their lordships were discussing the scope of enquiry under Section 22 of the Industrial Disputes (Appellate Tribunal) Act, 1950, and after considering the circumstances of the case, it was held that the Labour Appellate Tribunal has not directed its mind to the real question to be decided on an application under 8. 22 of the Act and has passed an order on the basis of a somewhat Irrelevant finding which has resulted in manifest injustice. I fail to understand how these observations help the respondent in the determination of the question arising in this case.

12. In the Punjab case [Punjab National Bank, Ltd. v. A.N. Sen and Ors. 1952-I L.L.J. 37] supra the matters specified in the reference to the tribunal were :

(1) wrongful dismissal of the workmen mentioned in Sch. 2 of the Ministry of Labour's order dated 2 July 1951, and their reinstatement;

(2) in the event of any order for reinstatement payment of wages and allowances, etc., from the date of dismissal to the date of reinstatement;

and pending the final award, a request was made for an interim award for the grant of interim pay and allowances. The parties joined a definite issue on the point of interim award and the tribunal, after hearing both the parties, gave the interim award in favour of the labour. On an application under Article 226 of the Constitution by the employer challenging the interim award, the Chief Justice declined to interfere on the shore ground that the order of the tribunal was appealable. Harnam Singh, J., however, while referring to the existing alternative remedy by way of appeal, also considered the question of the grant of interim pay and allowances as incidental and ancillary to the main relief and observed that the tribunal had jurisdiction to award interim relief and that it was not necessary to specify the relief in . the order of reference. Clearly, the question of payment of wages and allowances, etc., from the date of the dismissal to the date of reinstatement having been specifically referred for determination in a final award, the grant of interim pay and allowances was indisputably an incidental matter. In my opinion, none of the authorities support the contention of learned Counsel for the respondent.

13. In J.K. Iron and Steel Company v. Iron and Steel Mazdoor Union 1956-I L.L.J. 227, Bose, J., made the following observations regarding the powers of the industrial tribunal (at p. 230):

All the same, wide as their powers are, these tribunals are not absolute and there are limitations to the ambit of their authority . . , Their powers are derived from the statute that creates them and they have to function within the limits imposed there and to act according to its provisions.

A reference was made to the observations of Mahajan, J., that adjudicators and tribunals cannot act as benevolent despots.

14. In view of the above discussion of case-law, the contention of the learned Counsel for an unduly liberal interpretation of the expression ' matters incidental thereto' cannot be accepted.

15. The same conclusion is reached on a consideration of the amendments introduced in Section 10(1)(c) of the Act by the Industrial Disputes Amendment Act, 1952. Section 10(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, before the amendment, stood as follows :-

Refer the dispute to a tribunal for adjudication.

16. The amendment Act inserted the words, 'or any matter appearing to be connected with or relevant to, the dispute' after the word 'dispute.' It further introduced Sub-section (4) directing that where the appropriate Government has specified the points of dispute for adjudication, the tribunal shall confine its adjudication to those points and matters incidental thereto.

17. On the language of the old law, it was held in some oases that it was not necessary that the dispute should be specified in the order of reference. On a consideration of the amendment in the light of the observations referred to above, the legal position, to my mind, appears to be as follows:-

(1) The Government may make a reference of the dispute without specifying any matter. In such a case, the tribunal has jurisdiction to ascertain the points of dispute from the pleadings of the parties or otherwise and may adjudicate upon them all.

(2) If the Government, instead of referring the dispute generally, specify the matters, the industrial tribunal has to confine its adjudication to those points only. Insertion of this provision of reference of specific matters in the Act, considered with the further fact that it is open to the Government to amend the reference or to make an additional reference, leads me to infer that the words 'matters Incidental thereto' should not be interpreted so as to give vague and indeterminate jurisdiction to the tribunals especially over independent matters. After all, an industrial tribunal has no inherent absolute jurisdiction and it derives its jurisdiction only from the order of reference of the Government and, therefore should not be permitted to ignore the intention of the Government as expressed by the plain language of the order of reference.

18. Yet on another mode of approach, I may state that the word 'incidental' according to its dictionary meaning and the ordinary accepted popular sense implies a subordinate and subsidiary thing related to some other main or principal thing requiring casual attention while considering the main thing. Obviously, matters which require independent consideration or treatment and have their own importance, cannot be considered 'incidental.' These words came up for interpretation in two recent Calcutta cases Hukumchand Jute Mills, Ltd. v. Labour Appellate Tribunal A.I.R. 1958 Cal. 63 and Workmen of Bengal Electric Lamp Works, Ltd. v. Bengal Electric Lamp Works, Ltd. 1958-I L.L.J. 571.

19. In the first case A.I.R. 1958 Cal. 68 the dispute referred to the tribunal was, 'Is Balaram Singh entitled to reinstatement?' The tribunal found that the action taken by the management in dismissing Balaram Singh was not fully justified. However, instead of ordering reinstatement, the tribunal awarded compensation for loss of employment. Sinha, J., set aside the award on the ground that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the question of payment of compensation. He observed that compensation for wrongful dismissal or loss of service is a completely different thing.

20. In Workmen of Bengal Electric Lamp Works, Ltd. v. Bengal Electric Lamp Works, Ltd. 1958- I L.L.J. 571 the point referred to the tribunal was, what should be the service condition The union claimed wages retrospectively. The claim for wages with retrospective effect was refused by the tribunal on the ground that the claim was not covered by the issue as referred to the tribunal. On an application under Article 226 of the Constitution, P.B. Mukharjee, J., dismissed the writ application observing that retrospective matters are not ' incidental' matters.

21. These authorities clearly indicate the restricted sense in which the words 'incidental matters ' should be interpreted.

22. Let us now examine the present case in the light of the principles discussed above. The points that were referred to the tribunal were very specific in this case. One point was whether the working of single sider on double sides in the ringframe department of the mills on 10s and 12s counts is justified? If not, what process should be adopted for running the 10s counts The second question related to the number of helpers that should be provided on each six siders when operating double sides. No question of increase in wages even as an alternative measure was contemplated and referred to the tribunal. It may be pointed out that the question of wages under the old conditions had already been the subject-matter of an award. There was a definite agreement about the scale of wages under the new arrangement. No dispute about the amount of wages was debated at any stage. It is impossible to accept that the question of increase in wages should be considered as 'incidental' to the questions referred to the tribunal. In fact, the question of wages is wholly independent and foreign to the question referred to the tribunal. I have no hesitation in holding that the tribunal acted without jurisdiction in giving its award on the question of increase of wages. The tribunal also did not record any opinion that this matter was an incidental one. There is yet one more ground which vitiates the award of the tribunal. The reference, the statement of cases, the issues framed and the relief claimed in an application for Interim award, all indicate a controversy over the question of the siders working one side or double sides and over the number of helpers to be provided. No controversy regarding the increase of wages was indicated at any stage. The petitioner-company could not, therefore, have any opportunity of raising and substantiating its contention against the grant of provisional increase in wages, The company has been certainly taken by surprise and the tribunal certainly contravened the principles of natural justice in fixing increased wages even provisionally.

23. In the circumstances, the interim award of the industrial tribunal, Rajasthan, cannot be sustained and must be quashed. I will, therefore, allow the writ application and quash the interim award of the industrial tribunal. It will be, however, open to the industrial tribunal to give any fresh award in accordance with law.

24. As these proceedings have arisen only on account of an error committed by the tribunal itself in ignoring the definite cases of the parties, I will leave the parties to bear their own costs.

I.N. Modi, J.

25. I agree.


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