1. The petitioner, who was employed by the first respondent as a time-keeper, was dismissed from service on 29th March, 1958, on a finding that a certain charge framed against him was proved. His cause was taken up by the other workmen of the first respondent which eventually became the subject-matter of reference for adjudication, the issue referred to being whether the termination of the services of the petitioner was justified and to what relief he was entitled. The Labour Court, besides that issue, raised an additional issue as to whether there was not an industrial dispute. On that additional issue as well as on the question whether the Vijayakumar Mills National Workers' Union was entitled to represent the dismissed workmen, the Labour Court found in favour of the management. This was on the view that the dismissed workman being a time-keeper and a member of the staff, there was no community of interest between him and the other non-staff workmen of the concern and that there was therefore, no industrial dispute which could properly form the subject of a reference under Section 10(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act. This petition is to quash the award of the Labour Court, dismissing the reference.
2. The Vijayakumar Mills National Workers' Union was an existing union of the concern in which most of its workmen were members including the dismissed workman. According to the averments on behalf of the dismissed workmen, he was responsible to bring into existence another union known as the staff workers union for the concern and this was the reason for the management to victimise him. Whether this was so or not does not arise for consideration in this petition. The Labour Court considered that because the dismissed workman was a member of the staff and the members of the Vijayakumar Mills National Workers Union were other workmen but not members of the staff, there could not be community of interest between the two kinds of employees and that, therefore, the Vijayakumar Mills National Workers Union was not entitled to espouse the cause of the dismissed workman and raise the industrial dispute within the statutory definition. It is the propriety of this view that is challenged on behalf of the petitioner. In support the Labour Court relied on Workmen of Dimakuchi Tea Estate v. Management of Dimakuchi Tea Estate, : (1958)ILLJ500SC . That was a case in which the workmen of a particular union took up the cause of one K. P. Banerjee who was admittedly not a workman within the meaning of the Act. In such circumstances, the Supreme Court held that, there was no community of interest between the doctor and the members of the union so that the latter could not espouse the cause of the doctor and raise an industrial dispute. The crucial test for determining whether no industrial dispute existed was suggested by Chagla, C. J.. in these terms which the Supreme Court approved :
'Therefore, when Section 2(k) speaks of the employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or the conditions of labour of any person, it can only mean the employment or non-employment of the terms of employment or the conditions of labour of only those persons in the employment or the terms of employment or the employment or with the conditions of labour of whom the workmen themselves are directly and substantially interested. If the workmen have no direct or substantial interest in the employment or non-employment of a person or in his terms of employment or his conditions of labour, then an Industrial dispute cannot arise with regard to such person.'
With reference to the expression 'any person' inSection 2(k) the Supreme Court said that itmeans
'a person in whose employment or non-employment or terms of employment or conditions of labour the workmen as a class have a direct or substantial interest with whom they have, under the scheme of the Act, a community of interest,'
The question is whether there, was such a community of interest between the dismissed workman in this case and the other members of the Vijayakumar Mills National Workers Union.
3. Community of interest in this context does not, in my opinion, mean that the status and conditions of a workman whose cause is espoused by other workmen must be similar to those of the latter. There is no justification to interpret the expression 'any person' in Section 2(k) so as to limit it to workmen of the same class. The requisite to satisfy is that it is not any person in the world that is contemplated by the statutory definition but he must be a person who is in the employment and is a worker, as defined by the Act, in the same concern. Supposing one among the class of the employees is dismissed and his cause is espoused by his fellow workmen of the same class. Can it be said that there is no community of interest in such a case? I think not. It would seem, therefore, that there is no less community of interest between the workmen and the dismissed workman. The dismissed workman as well as the other workmen who espoused his cause are employed in the same concern. The dispute related to the non-employment o the dismissed workmen. In such circumstances I think that the dispute in this case was clearly an industrial dispute as defined by Section 2(k) and the Union of which the dismissed workman was a member was certainly entitled to represent him. 4. On that view, it follows that the Labour Court took a wrong view on the second and additional issues framed by it. The award on those issues is quashed. The petition is allowed. The Labour Court will dispose of the reference on other issues. No costs.