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Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, Represented by Its Secretary Vs. Tamil Nadu Electricity Board Accounts and Executive Staff Union, by Its General Secretary - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.A. No. 501 of 1980
Judge
Reported in(1980)IILLJ440Mad
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 226 and 309
AppellantTamil Nadu Electricity Board, Represented by Its Secretary
RespondentTamil Nadu Electricity Board Accounts and Executive Staff Union, by Its General Secretary
Cases ReferredM. A. David v. K.S.E. Board
Excerpt:
.....of india - whether appellant board justified in withdrawing recognition granted to respondent union - recognition withdrawn on ground that condition of recognition had been violated - proceeding of board granting recognition does not say anything about coverage in sense of membership and merely refers that union being recognised in respect of ministerial staff only excluding peons, bills collectors and store keepers - respondent union did not claim any right to represent peons, bill collector and store keepers but continued to represent only ministerial staff - no violation of condition of recognition - held, withdrawal of recognition was made on erroneous basis as respondent union notwithstanding enlargement of membership continued to have status and capacity to represent..........the code of discipline in industry does contemplate recognition and that it was only under that code recognition was applied for and granted. it is not disputed that the grant of recognition confer a status on a body like the respondent-union to represent the workers in a particular category, with reference to their service conditions, with the management; in other words, it becomes a bargaining agent on behalf of the group of workers with reference to which it was recognised. withdrawal of that statute or recognition will certainly bring about adverse consequences, on a body like the respondent-union, and with reference to such adverse consequences, even an order of withdrawal like the one made by the appellant if it is illegal or is in violation of principles of natural justice......
Judgment:

M.M. Ismail, C.J.

1. This is an appeal against the order of Mohan, J., dated 11th August, 1980, allowing W.P. No. 5742 of 1979 filed by the respondent herein.

2. The respondent, was accorded recognition by the appellant by its proceedings No. 1238 dated 30th July, 1969, Paragraph 3 of this order states as follows :

'The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board accepts the recommendation of the commissioner of Labour, Madras and hereby accords recognition under the Code of Discipline in Industry to the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board Accounts Subordinates Union, Coimbatore (Reg. No. 2472) in respect of the ministerial staff excluding peons, bill collector and store-keepers.

Subsequently the union, namely, the respondent herein, started enrolling members from peons, bill collectors, and store-keepers also. In view of this the appellant proposed to de-recognise the union as having violated the condition of the recognition. The respondent-union pointed out that, though it had changed its name and changed its coverage in the sense of extension of membership, it had not changed, its representative capacity and as a bargaining agent, was still continuing to represent and bargain only for the Ministerial staff excluding peons, bill collectors and store-keepers. Notwithstanding this explanation of the respondent-union, the appellant, by its proceedings dated 24th November, 1979, de-recognised the union. It was against these proceedings the writ petition in question was filed praying for the issue of a writ of certiorari. The learned Judge having allowed the writ petition, the present writ appeal has been filed by the Board.

3. Two submissions were make by Mr. M. R. Narayanaswami, the learned counsel for the appellant. One was that the Writ Petition itself was not maintainable. Because the recognition was not granted under any statute and, secondly, that the Code of Discipline in Industry referred to in paragraph 3 of the proceedings of the Board, dated 30th July, 1969, were themselves not statutory. In support of these contentions, the learned counsel relied on two decisions. One was of the Calcutta High Court in A. C. Mukherjee and others v. Union of India and others, : (1972)IILLJ297Cal , and the other was of the Kerala High Court in M. A. David v. K.S.E. Board, 1973 II L.L.J.466. In the former decision paragraph 15 of the judgment states :

'The other point raised on behalf of the appellants almost goes by admission. The Code of Discipline is not a statutory rule and violation of the said Code is not within the jurisdiction. It has been conceded by Mr. Dutta appearing for the appellants.'

Thus the point was not decided in the judgment, as the learned judges themselves state that the matter went by admission.

4. As far as the second decision is concerned, that was a case of de-recognition make without giving any notice. The contention that was raised there was that there had been a violation of the principles of natural justice, inasmuch as no notice was given before the recognition was withdrawn. In that case the Kerala High Court referred to the judgment of the Calcutta High Court to which we have already drawn attention, and pointed out that the facts in that case were almost similar to those in the case before them. Having said so, the learned Judges proceeded to observe :

'It is not claimed that there is any statutory rule or at least an agreement between the Board and the union that the recognition once granted will not be withdrawn without giving an opportunity to the union to be heard. We hasten to add that, if there is only an agreement, then Art. 226 may not be available, unless, probably, it can be construed that the said agreement is part of the condition of service as contemplated by Art. 309 of the Constitution. In a case like this, where there is no statutory rule or even an agreement, the union cannot insist that it should be heard before the recognition is withdrawn. It must be remembered that what the Board has done in this case was to lay down a policy as to how industrial peace could be achieved, which unions should be considered as representative of particular categories of employees and which unions should be allowed to resort to collective bargaining on behalf of the said workers. It must also be remembered that these arrangements made under Ext. P9 are only for three years. It is quite possible that, after three years, if circumstances change, and the representation of the workers in particular unions also change, the Board might change their decision and recognise some other unions, which are then found to be more representative of the categories of workers, and in that re-arrangement the appellant-union might also be recognised for the particular type of workers it represents :

'In the absence of any statutory rule or at least an agreement, the appellant-union cannot insist that should be heard before the recognition is withdrawn. We, therefore, confirm the decision of the single Judge and dismiss the appeal ... However, we do not pass any order regarding costs.'

5. For more than one reason, we are unable to follow the above judgment. That was also a case of de-recognition of the Kerala State Electricity Board Executive Workers' Union by the Kerala State Electricity Board. With reference to such a union we are unable to see any justification for a reference to Art. 309 of the Constitution of India at all. Secondly, in that case as the judgment itself points out what the Board has decided was to lay down a policy as to how industrial peace could be achieved, which unions should be considered as representative of particular categories of employees and which unions should be allowed to resort to collective bargaining on behalf of the said workers. That is not the position in the present case. Recognition was granted by the appellant to the respondent-union on the latter's application expressly for recognition, and, therefore, the circumstances are not the same. Thirdly, in the case before the Kerala High Court, as the judgment itself points out the arrangement made by the Kerala State Electricity Board under Ext. P9, were only for three years, while no such restriction is present in the case on hand. For all these reasons we are unable to hold that the decision of the Kerala High Court has any application to the present case. On the other hand, if it is to be held, that unless there is a statutory provision dealing with recognition, it is not possible for a person like the respondent to approach the court under Art. 226 of the Constitution, in the event of de-recognition, either on the ground of violation of the principles of natural justice or on the ground of arbitrariness, we respectfully disagree with the view of the Kerala High Court, for the reasons which we shall presently indicate.

6. Admittedly there is no statutory provision in this case dealing with the question of recognition or de-recognition. Equally admittedly the Code of Discipline in industry is conceded by the learned counsel for the appellant that the Code of Discipline in Industry does contemplate recognition and that it was only under that Code recognition was applied for and granted. It is not disputed that the grant of recognition confer a status on a body like the respondent-union to represent the workers in a particular category, with reference to their service conditions, with the management; in other words, it becomes a bargaining agent on behalf of the group of workers with reference to which it was recognised. Withdrawal of that statute or recognition will certainly bring about adverse consequences, on a body like the respondent-union, and with reference to such adverse consequences, even an order of withdrawal like the one made by the appellant if it is illegal or is in violation of principles of natural justice. Certainly a body like the respondent-union can approach this Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, we reject the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant that the writ petition was not maintainable.

7. As for as the second point is concerned, as we already pointed out, recognition was withdrawn only on the ground that the condition of recognition had been violated. We have already extracted paragraph 3 of the proceedings of the Board granting recognition and that does not say anything about coverage in the sense of membership; it merely refers to the union being recognised in respect of the ministerial staff, excluding peons, bill collectors and store-keepers. In this case from the correspondence that passed between the parities it is clear that the respondent-union did not claim any right to represent peons, bill collectors and store-keepers, but continued to represent only the ministerial staff and, though it claimed a might to extend the coverage in the sense of extension of membership, it stood by the earlier order of recognition confining its representative capacity or bargaining power only in respect of the ministerial staff. If so, there is no violation of the conditions of recognition. As a matter or fact, the impugned order of the Board does not even refer to the stand of the respondent-union, that notwithstanding the enlargement of membership, it continued to have the status and capacity to represent only the ministerial staff.

8. Under these circumstance, we are of the opinion that the withdrawal of recognition was made on an erroneous basis that there had been a violation of the conditions of recognition, since the respondent took up the stand that its capacity under the recognition as a body to represent only the ministerial staff remained unchanged. Hence the writ appeal fails and is dismissed.


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