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The Management, Southern Textiles Limited, Coimbatore Vs. the United Textiles Labour Association and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.P. No. 4887 of 1978
Judge
Reported in(1983)ILLJ435Mad
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947 - Sections 2, 10, 10(1) and 12(3)
AppellantThe Management, Southern Textiles Limited, Coimbatore
RespondentThe United Textiles Labour Association and ors.
Cases ReferredIn India Bank v. Industrial Tribunal
Excerpt:
labour and industrial - reference - sections 2, 10, 10 (1) and 12 (3) of industrial disputes act, 1947 - petition for quashing order passed by 1st respondent-government referring dispute between management and workmen for adjudication to tribunal - section 10 (1) gives power to government to refer dispute - order of reference not violative of article 14 - government not decided any right of parties - no merits in petition - petition liable to be dismissed. - - even during the currency of the strike the labour officer sent a report of failure of conciliation, subsequently, the petitioner made a representation to the commissioner of labour on 25th july. the other condition to be satisfied is that what is to be referred for adjudication is an industrial dispute. in this case, according.....1. the management of southern textiles ltd., coimbatore has filed this writ petition to quash the order passed by the first respondent, the state, referring a dispute between the management and its workmen for adjudication to the industrial tribunal madras. the dispute is 'whether the demand of the workmen to fix a ratio between heirs of workmen and outsiders in the recruitment for employment in the mill is justified and if so to fix the ratio for the purpose. the facts leading to impugned order of reference may be briefly set out as follows. the management runs a textiles mill at sulur. it employs about 300 permanent workmen. the second respondent is one of the trade unions representing some of the employees of the management. on 4th january, 1978, the second respondent and some other.....
Judgment:

1. The management of Southern Textiles Ltd., Coimbatore has filed this writ petition to quash the order passed by the first respondent, the State, referring a dispute between the management and its workmen for adjudication to the Industrial Tribunal Madras. The dispute is 'whether the demand of the workmen to fix a ratio between heirs of workmen and outsiders in the recruitment for employment in the mill is justified and if so to fix the ratio for the purpose. The facts leading to impugned order of reference may be briefly set out as follows. The management runs a textiles mill at Sulur. It employs about 300 permanent workmen. The second respondent is one of the trade unions representing some of the employees of the management. On 4th January, 1978, the second respondent and some other trade unions sent a communication to the management stating that in the matter of fresh recruitment preference should be given to the heirs of persons in employment of the mills. The communication contained a threat that if the principle was not followed, the workmen would resort to strike. The management sent a reply that the demand of the workmen could not be complied with. Thereafter, the second respondent addressed the Assistant Commissioner of Labour. Due notice was sent by the Assistant Commissioner of Labour to the management. In the meanwhile, the workmen went on strike which lasted for a period of about two months. Ultimately, a settlement under S. 12(3) of the Industrial Disputes Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) was arrived at between the parties on 29th August, 1978. I shall refer to the terms of the settlement later. Even during the currency of the strike the Labour Officer sent a report of failure of conciliation, Subsequently, the petitioner made a representation to the Commissioner of Labour on 25th July. 1978 pointing out the fact that the claim of the union was not justified and that when a similar claim was made by the workmen of another textiles mill in Coimbatore, the first respondent Government declined to refer the question for adjudication. However, the first respondent ignored the representation of the management and referred the dispute for adjudication by the Industrial Tribunal. It is in these circumstances the writ petition has been filed.

2. Mr. Ramasubramanian, the learned counsel for the management raised the following contentions. (1) what is referred to is not an industrial dispute. Consequently, the Government have to jurisdiction to refer the dispute for adjudication by the Industrial Tribunal. (2) There is a valid settlement entered into between the parties on 11th August, 1977. In the circumstances, the second respondent union is precluded from raising the dispute. (3) The order of reference is violative of Art. 14 of the Constitution of India. In a similar situation, in the case of another textile mill the Government declined to refer the matter for adjudication by the Industrial Tribunal. Therefore, the impugned order of reference is discriminatory and has to be struck down. On the other hand Mr. Somayaji, the learned counsel for the second respondent union contended that there is no merit in may of the contentions of the petitioner's counsel. Further, Mr. Somayaji's stand is in any event whether a particular dispute is an industrial dispute or not is a matter that can be and has got to be decided by the Industrial Tribunal. Therefore, at this stage this Court cannot go into the question whether the dispute that has been referred for adjudication by the Government for adjudication by the Industrial Tribunal is a dispute falling within the definition of an industrial dispute under the provisions of the Act.

3. I shall first consider the first of the contention urged by the learned counsel for the petitioner S. 10 of the Act reads as follows :

'10(1) where the appropriate Government is of opinion that any industrial dispute exists or is apprehended, it may at any time, by order in writing, -

(a) refer the dispute to a Board for promoting a settlement thereof; or

(b) refer any matter appearing to be connected with or relevant to the dispute to a court for inquiry; or

(c) refer the dispute or any matter appearing to be connected with, or relevant to, the dispute, if it relates to any matter specified in the second schedule, to a Labour Court for adjudication; or

(d) refer the dispute or any matter appearing to be connected with, or relevant to, the dispute, whether it relates to any matter specified in the second schedule or the third schedule, to a Tribunal for adjudication :

Provided that where the dispute relates to any matter specified in the third schedule and is not likely to affect more than one hundred workmen, the appropriate Government may, if it so think fit, make the reference to a Labour Court under clause (c)'.

We are not concerned with the other provisions of S. 10.

4. An industrial dispute is defined in S. 2(k) of the Act as follows :

'Industrial dispute means any dispute or difference between employers and employers or between employers and workmen, or between workmen and workmen, which is connected with employment or non employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour, of any person.'

From the above, it is clear before the dispute can be referred under S. 10(1) of the Act, the Government should form its opinion on the material before it that an industrial dispute exists or is apprehended. The power to refer an industrial dispute can be exercised by the Government if in its opinion an industrial dispute exists or is even apprehended. In other words, if the Government forms an opinion that a dispute is apprehended even then the Government has got the power to order a reference. The other condition to be satisfied is that what is to be referred for adjudication is an industrial dispute. The definition contained in S. 2(k) extracted above shows that a dispute will be an industrial dispute if there is any dispute or difference between employers and employers; between employers and workmen and between workmen and workmen. Further such a dispute or difference must be connected with employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour of any person. The definition of industrial dispute contains the words dispute and difference. Lord Denning, speaking for the Privy Council in Beetham v. Trinidad Cement Ltd. 1960 1 All E.R. 274 observed : 'by definition a trade dispute exists wherever a difference exists and a difference can exist long before the parties become locked in a combat. It is not necessary that they should have come to blows. It is sufficient that they should be sparring for an opening. The dispute or difference however must be something fairly definite and of real substance and not a mere personal quarrel, or a grumbling or an agitation.' It may be mentioned that the definition of a trade dispute under the English trade Disputes Act and the Indian Trade Disputes Act, 1929 is similar to the definition of an industrial dispute under the Industrial Disputes Act.

5. The case Ramasubramanian, the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the question whether a dispute that is referred for adjudication to the Industrial Tribunal or the Labour Court is an industrial dispute within the meaning of the definition in S. 2(k) of the Act is a jurisdictional fact and even though the Industrial Tribunal may have the jurisdiction to decide the question whether a particular dispute is an industrial dispute or not, and it has jurisdiction to proceed with the reference, the Tribunal cannot clutch the jurisdiction by deciding the question erroneously. In this case, according to the learned counsel the dispute as has been formulated by the Government in the schedule annexed to the order of reference clearly shows that it is not an industrial dispute and cannot fall within the definition of an industrial dispute in S. 2(k). No evidence is necessary to prove that the dispute that is referred for adjudication is not an industrial dispute. In the circumstances, it is not necessary for this Court to leave the matter to the Industrial Tribunal to decide whether a dispute is an industrial dispute or not. In other words, the contention of Mr. Ramasubramanaian is since in any even the jurisdictional fact can only be finally determined by this Court and since no evidence is necessary to decide the question, this Court can in these proceedings give a decision whether the dispute that has been referred for adjudication by the Industrial Tribunal is an industrial dispute or not Mr. Ramasubramanian is correct in his submission that if this Court on the materials available is able to find that the dispute that has been referred to adjudication by the Industrial Tribunal is not an industrial dispute within the meaning of the definition of S. 2(k) of the Act, this Court can quash the impugned order provided it is not necessary for arriving at a decision to depend on various facts which can be introduced only by letting in evidence.

6. Mr. Ramasubramanian argued that the dispute that has been referred for adjudication is whether the demand of the workmen to fix a ratio between heirs of workmen and outsiders in the recruitment for employment in the mill is justified and if so to fix the ratio for the purpose. Mr. Ramasubramanian's stand is that S. 2(k) refers to a dispute or difference between employers and workmen, which is connected with the employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour of any person who is at the time of reference employed under an employer. The heirs of an employee cannot be said to be employed under the employer and therefore any dispute or difference connected with the employment of any person who is not employed under the employer cannot fall under the definition of industrial dispute. In this connection, the learned counsel referred to the decision in workers of Sagar Talkies v. Odeon Cinema : (1957)ILLJ639Mad which in turn confirmed the decision in Odeon Cinema and Workers of Sagar Talkies : (1954)IILLJ314Mad . In that case, two brothers were the owners of a film theatre called Sagar Talkies. They were exhibiting pictures in the theatre. Thereafter, they leased the theatre to a Bombay firm and the theater was renamed as Odeon Cinema. The lessees refused to take five members of the old staff into service. At their instance the Government referred the question of their non-employment for adjudication before the Industrial Tribunal Madras. A preliminary objection was taken before the Tribunal by the management of Odeon Cinema on the ground that there was no industrial dispute within the meaning of the term which could be the subject matter of reference. The objection was overruled by the Tribunal and an appeal filed by the management before the Labour Appellate Tribunal of India also failed. Thereupon, the management filed a writ petition which came before Rajagopala Ayyangar J. The learned judge upheld the objection. The workmen took up the matter in appeal which was disposed of by a Bench The learned Chief Justice observed thus :

'Before a dispute can be said to be a dispute between employers and workmen, the relationship of employers and workmen should be established between parties. That this is the correct position appears to have been authoritatively laid down by the Supreme Court of India in a recent appeal C.A. No. 85 of 1956, Dhrangadhra Chemical Works v. State of Saurashtra (1957) 1 MLJ. 1 . It was held that the essential condition for a person being workman within the terms of the definition in the Industrial Disputes Act was that he should be in the employment of his employers and that there should be the relationship between the employer and him as between master and servant. It may be that when such a relationship had existed at one time and there was termination subsequently of that relationship, the person who was once in employment would come within the definition of workman. But when as in this case the persons concerned were never employed by the employer, such persons cannot be deemed to be workmen. At the most, one can spell out a contract to employ the old workers of Sagar Talkies; but a mere contract, by itself, could not bring about the relationship of employer and employee, or employer and workmen.'

In this view, the learned Chief Justice held that there was no industrial dispute within the meaning of the Industrial Disputes Act which could have been validly referred for adjudication by the Tribunal.

7. This decision does not apply to the facts of this case. In that decision, the dispute was raised by the workmen of the Sagar Talkies who had not been taken in by the management of the Odeon Cinema.

8. Mr. Ramasubramanian then referred to the decision in Workmen of Dimakuchi Tea Estate v. Management of Dimakuchi Tea Estate : (1958)ILLJ500SC , wherein the word any person occurring in S. 2(k) of the Act has been interpreted. There, the workmen of Dimakuchi Tea Estate espoused the case of one Dr. K. P. Banerjee Assistant Medical Officer, who has been dismissed unheard with a month's salary in lieu of notice but who had accepted such payment and left the estate. The dispute was referred for adjudication Both the Industrial Tribunal and the Appellate Industrial Tribunal took the view that Dr. Banerjee was not a workman within the meaning of the Act and that the dispute was not an industrial dispute as defined by S. 2(k) of the Act. The workmen took up the matter in appeal. The majority laid down the following two tests to find out whether a dispute is an industrial dispute : (i) The dispute must be a real dispute, capable of being settled by relief given by one pary to the other. (2) The person in respect of whom the dispute is raised must be one in whose employment, non-employment, terms of employment or conditions of labour (as the case may be), the parties to the dispute have a direct or substantial interest and this must depend on the facts and circumstances of each particular case. Applying these tests, the majority held that the dispute in that case was in respect of a person who was not a workman and belonged to a different category altogether could not be said to be a dispute within the meaning of S. 2(k) of the Act. Das C.J. observed as follows :

'A little careful consideration will show however that the expression 'any person' occurring in the third part of the definition clause cannot mean anybody and everybody in this wide world. First of all, the subject matter of dispute must relate to (i) employment or non-employment or (ii) terms of employment or conditions of labour of any person; these necessarily import a limitation in the sense that a person in respect of whom the employer-employee relation never existed or can never possibly exist cannot be the subject matter of a dispute between employers and workmen. Secondly, the definition clause must be read in the context of the subject matter and scheme of the Act and consistently with the objects and other provisions of the Act. .... The Act is primarily meant for regulating the relations of employers and workmen past, present and future. It draws a distinction between workmen as such and the managerial or supervisory staff and confers benefit on the formed only. ... ..... ...... ......

It seems fairly obvious to us that if the expression 'any person' is given its ordinary meaning, then the definition clause will be so wide as to become inconsistent not merely with the objects and other provisions of the Act, but also within the other parts of that very clause. Let us see how the definition clause works if the expression 'any person' occurring therein is given its ordinary meaning. The workmen any then raise a dispute about a person with whom they have no possible community of interest; they may raise a dispute about the employment of a person in another industry or a different establishment - a dispute in which their won employer is not in a position to give any relief, in the matter of employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or conditions of labour of such a person.'

The learned Judge quoted with approval the following observations of Chagla, C.J. in Narendra Kumar Sen v. All India Industrial Disputes (Labour Appellate) Tribunal : (1953)IILLJ6Bom :

'If 'any person' were to read as an expression without any limitation and qualification whatsoever, then we must not put even any territorial restriction on that expression. In other words, it would be open to the workmen not only to raise a dispute with regard to the terms of employment of persons employed in the same industry as themselves, not only to raise a dispute with regard to the terms of employment in corresponding or similar industries not only a dispute with regard to the terms of employment of people employed in our country, but the terms of employment of any workman or any labourer anywhere in the world. The proposition has only to be stated in order to made one realise how entirely untenable it is.'

Finally, the learned Judge observed as follows :

'The Act actually gives a restricted meaning to the word 'workman' and almost all the provisions of the Act are intended to confer benefits on that class of persons who generally answers to the description of workmen. The expression 'any person' in the definition clause means, in our opinion, a person in whose employment, or non-employment or terms of employment, or condition 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. Our reason for so holding is not merely that the Act makes a distinction between workmen and non-workmen, but because a dispute to be a real dispute must be one in which the parties to the dispute have a direct or substantial interest.'

9. A similar question arose for consideration before a Bench of this Court in Vijayakumar Mills Ltd. v. Vijayakumar Mills National Workers' Union 1964 II L.L.J. 299 .

Ramachandra Ayyar, C.J. stated the law thus :

'In an industrial dispute between workmen and the employer, there are and can be only who parties, namely, workmen on the one hand, the employer on the other. Such a dispute is a collective dispute. So long as the person in respect of whose employment or non-employment the dispute is raised is a workman; the other workers under the same employer whatever the nature of their work, or the conditions of their service might be, will be substantially interested in that question.'

This case really does not help Mr. Ramasubramaninan.

10. Mr. Ramasubramaninan then referred the decision of the Supreme Court in Employees v. Reserve Bank : (1965)IILLJ175SC . After referring to Dimakuchi Tea Estate case, Hidayatullah, J. (as he then was) observed as follows :

'It may, however, be said that if the dispute is regarding employment, non-employment terms of employment or conditions of labour of non-workmen in which workmen are themselves vitally interested, the workmen may be able to raise an industrial dispute. Workmen can, for examples raise a dispute that a class of employees not within the definition of workmen should be recruited by promotion from workmen. When they do so the workmen raise a dispute about the terms of their own employment though incidentally the terms of employment of those who are not workmen is involved. But workmen cannot take up a dispute in respect of a class of employees who are not workmen and in whose terms of employment those workmen have no direct interest of their own. What direct interest suffices is a question of fact but it must be a real and positive interest and not fanciful or remote.'

This decision for reasons to be stated by me later does not help Mr. Ramasubramaninan.

11. The next case referred to by the learned counsel for the petitioner is The workmen v. Greaves Cotton & Co. Ltd. : (1971)IILLJ479SC . After referring to the decision of the Supreme Court in Workmen of Dimakuchi Tea Estate v. Management of Dimakuchi Tea Estate and certain other case, the Supreme Court has observed as follows :

'It would therefore appear that the consistent view of this court is that non-workmen as well as workmen can raise a dispute in respect of matters affecting their employment, conditions of service etc., where they have a community of interests, provided they are direct and are not remote. As stated in the Reserve Bank of India's case. But workmen cannot take up a dispute in respect of a class of employees who are not workmen and in whose terms of employment, those workmen have no direct interest of their own. At any rate as long as there are persons in the category of workmen in respect of whom a dispute has been referred it cannot be said that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction notwithstanding the fact that some or many of them may become non-workmen during the pendency of the dispute.'

This case reaffirmed the ratio of the Supreme Court in the Reserve Bank of India's case.

12. In the case reported in Andhra Bank Employees' Association v. Andhra Bank : (1978)IILLJ104AP , the Government of Andhra Pradesh made a reference to the Industrial Tribunal (Central) regarding fitment of clerical employees on promotion to Grade III Officers in the Andhra Bank Ltd. When the matter came before the Tribunal the Management raised a preliminary objection stating that the demand related to fitment of Grade III officers and as these officers were not workmen within the meaning of the Industrial Disputes Act, the reference incompetent. The Tribunal negatived the objection. The management thereupon filed a writ petition which was allowed. The workmen took the matter in appeal before the Bench. The Andhra Pradesh High Court said that the workmen can raise a dispute that a class of employees not within the definition of workmen should be recruited by promotion from workmen, and when they do so, the workmen raise a dispute about the terms of their own employment though incidentally the terms of employment of those who are not workmen is involved.

13. In India Bank v. Industrial Tribunal : (1977)ILLJ343Mad , Koshal, J. followed the decision of the Supreme Court in the Reserve Bank of Inida's case. A reference was made to the Tribunal regarding the denial of additional increments to the staff of the petitioner Bank promoted and posted as officers. The Bank challenged the competence of the reference to the Tribunal. The Tribunal upheld the validity and hence this writ petition. Koshal, J. as he then was had to interpret the words 'any person' occurring in clause (K) of S. 2 of the Industrial Disputes Act. After referring to the decisions of the Supreme Court Koshal, J. observed as follows :

'It is well settled that for an individual to fall within the scope of the expression 'any person', he need not at all be a workman. Further, he must be a person in whose conditions of employment, etc., the workers are directly or substantially interested or with whom they have a community of interest, and whether the person concerned satisfies this test is a question of fact in each case.'

14. From the above decision it is clear that even though the word 'any person' may not apply to any and every body in the wide world, it can take in a person in the employment, or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour of whom the workmen themselves are directly and substantially interested. So far as this case is concerned, it cannot be said that the dispute is not an industrial dispute. In my opinion, this is not a case where the workmen are rising a dispute with regard tot the employment of persons in whose employment they have no substantial interest. The workmen have made a demand that it should be made a condition of the terms of their employment that the heirs or the dependents of existing employees should be given a certain proportion of jobs in the petitioner mills. The demand certainly falls within the definition of S. 2(k). It refers to the terms of employment of the workmen. The workmen have made a demand that a ratio should be fixed between the heirs or defendants of workmen and outsiders in the matter of recruitment for employment in the mill. They have claimed that this should be made a condition of the terms of their employment. Pursuant to the demand there was a strike. There was also conciliation proceedings which ended in a failure report. It was thereupon that the Government passed the impugned order of reference. The question of employment to the heirs or dependents on the basis of the ratio demanded by the present workmen will be incidentally the demand of the workmen. Consequently, we are no in this case concerned with the question whether the heirs or dependents of existing workmen are entitled to claim to be employed in the mills; nor can it be said that the workmen are espousing the cause of persons who are unconnected with the mills and who do not fall within the category of 'any person' falling within the definition of industrial dispute in S. 2(k) of the Act. The right of persons i.e. heirs or dependents, to get employed on the basis of the ratio demanded by the workmen is only incidental to the demand made by the workmen. The demand by the workmen, as I have already stated, is that there should be a condition in the terms of their employment that there should be a ration fixed between the heirs of workmen and outsiders in the matter of recruitment for employment in the mill. In other words, the demand of workmen is that they would work only if the management agrees that their heirs would be given employment in the mills on the basis of a ratio to be fixed between he workmen and outsiders. As rightly pointed out by Mr. Somayaji it cannot be said that there is no dispute at all between the workmen and the management on this score. In fact, the management has admitted that the union raised a demand which was not accepted by the management. Consequently, there was a strike. In the course of the strike, there were also conciliation proceedings which ended in a failure report and which ultimately resulted in the impugned order of reference being passed. At any rate, there is definitely a difference between the workmen and the management whether the management should fix a ratio between the heirs of workmen and outsiders for employment in the mill. Such a dispute or difference definitely falls within the definition of industrial dispute. Even viewed from the point of the heirs or dependents of existing workmen, it cannot be said that the workmen as a class have no substantial or community of interest in seeking that the management makes a definite provision for the employment of their heirs and dependents. It is an interest which is direct and substantial as laid down by the Supreme Court in the Reserve Bank of India's case. I have therefore no hesitation in holding that what has been referred to for adjudication by the Industrial Tribunal is an Industrial dispute falling within the definition of S. 2(k) of the Act.

15. Mr. Ramasubramanian, the learned counsel stated that if the Industrial Tribunal were to accede to the demand of the workmen that ratio should be fixed between the heirs or dependents of workmen and outsiders, it would offend Arts. 14, 15, 16 and 39 of the Constitution of India. The learned counsel further argued that by making an order of reference the Government cannot compel the Industrial Tribunal to consider a dispute which will on the face of it violate the provisions of the Constitution of India. As rightly pointed out by Mr. Somayaji apart from the question whether Art. 16 of the Constitution will be attracted to a case of employment under the management, the question as to the manner in which the dispute that has been referred for adjudication has to be resolved will depend upon the facts and circumstances of the case as may be placed before the Tribunal by either parties. If the management is able to convince the Tribunal that the workmen are not entitled to have the dispute answered in their favour, then certainly it will be open to the Tribunal to act accordingly, or if the Tribunal feels that on the materials placed before it and on the basis of the legal contentions that may be advanced before it by either parties, the reference has to be answered in a particular manner it will certainly be open to the Tribunal to do so. Whether the workmen will ar all be entitled to have a ratio fixed in the matter of recruitment in the mills between the heirs of workmen and outsiders, if such a ratio can be fixed what shall be the ratio and whether the fixation of such a ratio will violate any law are all matters which the Tribunal has to decide on the merits of the case. Mr. Ramasubramanian further contended that under the Employment Exchanges Compulsory Notification of Vacancies Act even private managements are obliged to notify the vacancies to thee employment exchanges and recruit persons only from out of the list sent to them by the employment exchanges. The learned counsel also referred to certain practical difficulties which may arise if the demand of the workmen are acceded to. For example, the learned counsel referred to the instances of cases where both the husband and wife are employed in the mills. If that be so, both the husband and wife will be equally entitled to have their heirs recruited to the mills on the basis of the ratio. I am therefore clearly of the opinion that these matters can be gone into only by the Industrial Tribunal during the adjudication proceedings. They cannot be decided in proceedings under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India.

16. The next contention of Mr. Ramasusbramanian is that the reference is barred by virtue of the settlement dated 11th August, 1977. When once I come to the conclusion that what has been referred for adjudication by the Industrial Tribunal is an industrial dispute the further question whether the workmen are entitled to any relief or they are debarred from getting any relief by virtue of the settlement deed dated 11th August, 1977 is a matter which has to be decided only by the Industrial Tribunal. It will certainly be open to the petitioner to raise the contention before the Industrial Tribunal that by virtue of the settlement dated 11th August, 1977 the workmen will not be entitled to have any ratio fixed between the heirs of workmen and outsiders in the matter of recruitment to the mills. Though Mr. Somayaji met the contention of Mr. Ramasubramanian and stated that the said settlement is not a bar, in the view that I take it is for the Industrial Tribunal to consider this question, I do not wish to express any opinion in this matter.

17. The last contention of Mr. Ramasubramaninan is that the order of reference is violative of Art. 14 of the Constitution of India and is discriminatory. I do not find any substance in this contention at all. The fact that the Government did not refer a dispute which arose in another textile mill in Coimbatore, does not mean that the Government cannot refer a dispute in the case of the petitioner management. As already stated, S. 10(1) gives the power to the Government to refer a dispute for adjudication when it is of opinion that an industrial dispute exists or is apprehended. The question whether there is an industrial dispute or one is apprehended between an employer and its workmen will depend upon the facts and circumstances of the case. On the facts of this case, the Government formed an opinion that an industrial dispute existed between the management and its workmen and have accordingly referred the matter for adjudication by the Industrial Tribunal. I am unable to see how any discrimination can creep into this act of the Government. Be it noted, that the Government have not decided any rights or parties. It is admitted in this case that there was a strike pursuant to the demand raised by the workmen that a ratio should be fixed between the heirs of workmen and outsiders in the matter of recruitment to the mills. The facts which led to the order of reference being passed have not been disputed. I am therefore satisfied that the argument based on discrimination has no substance.

18. The result is the writ petition fails and is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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