Dwarka Prasad Gupta, Actg. C.J.
1. In this writ petition, it was contended by the learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner that the learned Judge of the Labour Court, Udaipur committed an error in passing an ex-parte award against the petitioner without supplying a copy of the claim petition to him along with the notice of the date of hearing.
2. The undisputed facts are that the respondent Partap Singh was employed as a tractor driver in the Panchayat Samiti, Shahpwra on daily wages. It is also admitted that the Panchayat Samiti was carrying on agricultural operations in the chunk of land used for the implementation of the 'Grow More Food' Scheme. According to the petitioner, the aforesaid scheme was discontinued and as such the Panchayat Samiti did no longer require the services of Partap Singh and terminated his services with effect from April 1, 1977 by the order of the Vikas Adhikari of the Panchayat Samiti, Shapura dated March 27, 1977. An industrial dispute was raised by the employee, which was referred to the Industrial Tribunal, Jaipur. Subsequently on the establishment of the Labour Court at Udaipur the matter in question was transferred from the Industrial Tribunal, Jaipur to the Labour Court at Udaipur. The Labour Court, Udaipur gave a notice to the petitioner fixing March 7, 1979 as the date of hearing. As a copy of the claim petition had already been supplied to the petitioner when the matter was pending before the Industrial Tribunal at Jaipur, a further copy of the claim petition was not sent along with the notice issued by the Labour Court, Udaipur fixing March 7, 1979 for the hearing of the matter. The Vikas Adhikari wrote a letter to the Judge, Labour Court, Udaipur on January 25, 1979 that a copy of the claim petition may be supplied. But it is not disputed that no one appeared on behalf of the Panchayat Samiti before the Labour Court, Udaipur on March 7, 1979 or at any time earlier thereto in order to obtain a copy of the claim petition. In the absence of any representative of the Panchayat Samiti on March 7, 1979, the Labour Court heard the matter ex-parte and passed an award on March 15, 1979, setting aside the order terminating the service of the petitioner and directing the Panchyat Samiti to reinstate Partap Singh on his post of tractor driver and also to make payment of all back wages. The aforesaid award was published in the Rajastban Gazette on May 18, 1979, but even thereafter Partap Singh was not reinstated on his post. He ultimately submitted an application on July 4, 4, 1979 in the Panchayat Samiti praying that the award passed by the Labour Court, Udaipur may be implemented and he may be taken back in service. As his request was not acceded to, the present writ petition was filed in this Court on August 16, 1980.
3. The Panchayat Samiti while it was engaged in agricultural operations with the use of tractors and had employed Partap Singh as a tractor driver for that purpose, it must be held that the Department of the Panchayat Samiti conducting agricultural operations with the help of tractors was an 'industry', within the meaning of Section 2(j) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act').
4. In Bangalore Water Supply v. A Rajappa : (1978)ILLJ349SC , it has been held by their Lordships of the Supreme Court that even if in the department discharging sovereign functions there are units, which are industries and they are substantially severable. then such units can be considered as industries for the purpose of Section 25F of the Act. The argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the Panchayat Samiti was not an 'industry' and as such the Judge, Labour Court had no jurisdiction in the matter cannot, therefore, be entertained.
5. It may be observed that even if a copy of the claim petition would have been supplied to the petitioner again, for which I do not feel that there was any sufficient justification, as once a copy of the claim petition had already been been furnished to the petitioner when the case was pending before the Industrial Tribunal, Jaipur, the petitioner has no case on merits. According to the admitted facts of the case, the petitioner is alleged to have terminated the service of respondent Partap Singh on account of the fact that his service as a tractor driver was no longer required. Even if it may be considered as a case of closure of an undertaking for any reason whatsoever, Section 25FFF of the Act would be applicable and the employer Partap Singh would be entitled to a notice and compensation in accordance with the provisions of Section 25F, as if the workman had been retrenched. It is also not in dispute that a notice and compensation according to the provisions of Section 25F were not given to Partap Singh before or at the time of termination of his service, although he was in continuous employment of the Panchayat Samiti during a period of more than one year.
6. Learned Counsel for the petitioner argued that the employee had taken proceedings and has received the amount of retrenchment compensation and salary for the notice period subsequent to the termination of his employment and as such he is estopped from claiming that the termination of his service was invalid on account of a breach of the provisions of Section 25FF read with Section 25F of the Act. In Workmen of Subong Tea Estate v. Subong Tea Estate 1964 (1) LLJ 333 their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed thut a technical plea that the concerned workman was estopped from challenging the validity of retrenchment as he had accepted retrenchment compensation should not be entertained, as such technical pleas are not generally entertained in industrial adjudication. Thus, the termination of the service of Partap Singh was contrary to the provisions of Section 25F, which are mandatory is nature and the award, setting aside the order of termination and reinstating the respondent Partap Singh, was perfectly valid and lawful.
7. It was lastly argued by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that as the service of Partap Singh respondent was terminated on the ground that the Panchayat Samiti no longer required the services of a tractor driver and the same had resulted on account of the closure of the 'Grow More Food' Scheme, as such the order for his reinstatement should not have been passed by the Labour Court. The argument of the learned Counsel cannot be accepted because the termination of the employment of Partap Singh respondent, without complying with the provisions of Section 25F Act, was invalid and unless the service of respondent Partap Singh was validly terminated subsequent thereto, the Labour Court was fully justified in passing an order of reinstatement, which would be the natural consequence of setting aside the order of termination of the employment of Partap Singh by the Labour Court.
8. In this view of the matter, the writ petition has no force and is dismissed. The parties are left to bear their own costs.