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R. Narayanasami Vs. the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Coimbatore and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. No. 1188 of 1963
Judge
Reported inAIR1968Mad135
ActsIndustrial Disputes Act - Sections 33-C(2)
AppellantR. Narayanasami
RespondentThe Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Coimbatore and anr.
Cases ReferredKairbatta Estate v. Rajamanickam
Excerpt:
.....for shifting the preparatory machines at the coimbatore branch of the mill engaged in making the roving bobbins from coimbatore to palladam, so that the preparation of roving bobbins might thereafter be done at palladam itself, and thereafter the bobbins used on the frames for the weaving work. --lay-off' (with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions) means the failure, refusal or inability of an employer on account of shortage of coal, power or raw materials or the accumulation of stocks or the breakdown of machinery or for any other reason to give employment to a workman whose name is borne on the muster rolls of his industrial establishment and who has not been retrenched: 2(kkk) appear to include reasons like those mentioned above, which led to the suspension of the work..........engaged in weaving staple fibre into textile materials. the practice at that time was to get 'roving bobbins' from coimbatore for use in the weaving frames at palladam. there were about 73 workers engaged in palladam in this weaving unit. the management published a notice on 15-10-1962 in the following terms:'it is hereby announced to workmen employed in staple fibre unit that as the preparatory machines are being dismantled from coimbatore mill for the purpose of being fixed to staple fibre mill the roving bobbins which were hereto coming from coimbatore will not come from today. hence it is hereby notified that from today till the work of fitting the above machines is over there will be no work'.(2) clearly the terms of this notice would mean that a scheme was under way for.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. This writ petition is directed against the order of the Labour Court, Coimbatore in C. P. No. 55 of 1963, a petition by a worker claiming lay-off compensation under Sec. 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. A prayer for wages of Deepavali holidays was also added, but that is not now the subject-matter of the writ petition. The subject-matter of the writ petition is a claim to lay-off compensation under Sec. 2(KKK) of the Act for the period 15-10-1962 to 5-2-1963, and amounts to Rs. 165. The management is the proprietor of the branch of the Lakshmi mills at Palladam. It has also got a mill in Coimbatore. At Palladam, there are two units one a unit spinning cotton and the other a unit where there were about 12 weaving frames at the time of the alleged lay-off engaged in weaving staple fibre into textile materials. The practice at that time was to get 'roving bobbins' from Coimbatore for use in the weaving frames at Palladam. There were about 73 workers engaged in Palladam in this weaving unit. The management published a notice on 15-10-1962 in the following terms:

'It is hereby announced to workmen employed in Staple Fibre Unit that as the preparatory machines are being dismantled from Coimbatore Mill for the purpose of being fixed to staple fibre mill the roving bobbins which were hereto coming from Coimbatore will not come from today. Hence it is hereby notified that from today till the work of fitting the above machines is over there will be no work'.

(2) Clearly the terms of this notice would mean that a scheme was under way for shifting the preparatory machines at the Coimbatore branch of the mill engaged in making the roving bobbins from Coimbatore to Palladam, so that the preparation of roving bobbins might thereafter be done at Palladam itself, and thereafter the bobbins used on the frames for the weaving work. Apparently, the notice conveyed to the workers that some time would be taken for making the necessary shifting of the machinery and therefore work has to be stopped on the Staple Fibre unit. In the course of the evidence, the Manager of the management added another reason in the following way. Lakshmi Mills had been given a licence for extending their splindlage upto 24000 spindles for the Staple fibre unit. It was formerly having 5400 spindles in that unit, and therefore began to erect fairly elaborate machinery for this purpose. This work could not be completed, and the licence which gave them permission to extend upto 24,000 spindles had also expired on 15-10-1962. But this reason was not given in the notice afore-mentioned.

(2A) The Labour Court came to the conclusion that the lay-off in this case did not satisfy the tests prescribed in Sec. 2(KKK) of the Act. The relevant portion of that section is in the following terms:--

' 'lay-off' (with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions) means the failure, refusal or inability of an employer on account of shortage of coal, power or raw materials or the accumulation of stocks or the breakdown of machinery or for any other reason to give employment to a workman whose name is borne on the muster rolls of his industrial establishment and who has not been retrenched:..................'

(3) The Supreme Court in Kairbatta Estate v. Rajamanickam, : (1960)IILLJ275SC has interpreted the definition of the word 'lay-off' in Section 2(KKK) of the Act. It had held that words 'any other reason' occurring in the definition should be a reason which is allied or analogous to the other reasons specified in the definition. In other words, an interpretation ejusdem generis should be given to the words 'any other reason'. The Labour Court thought that in the present case there was a closure of the Staple Fibre Unit and as a consequence it would not come under the definition in Sec. 2(KKK). The learned counsel for the management appearing before me, Sri Narayanaswami, does not support the conclusion of the Lower court, about a closure. Obviously, there was no closure. There was only a postponement of the working in the spinning unit for the reason mentioned in the notice, viz, the time taken for the transfer of the machinery from Coimbatore to Palladam for preparing the roving bobbins at Palladam for preparing the roving bobbins at Palladam for preparing the roving bobbins at Palladam itself instead of at Coimbatore. Even assuming that the expiry of the licence also caused lay-off, it is found from the evidence of the management's witness that the work could be resumed on an oral assurance given by the Textile Officer that licence would be renewed. Therefore, there is no question of any closure of the business. It was only a postponement of the working of the unit on account of some temporary supervening factors, whether it be the necessity for shifting a particular type of machinery from Coimbatore to Palladam, or the expiry of the licence and the time taken either for its renewal or getting an oral permission from the authorities directing the work to be continued pending formal renewal of the licence. The several specific reasons given in Sec. 2(KKK) appear to include reasons like those mentioned above, which led to the suspension of the work in this case. One may also look at the supply of readymade 'roving bobbins' as the material with which work on the spinning frames at Palladam could be carried on. It was the failure of supply of this material comprising of roving bobbins for a short period, that led, according to the notice to the stoppage of the work. If the reason given in the notice can be considered as the sole reason, that would be ejusdem generis with the other specific reasons mentioned in the definition of lay-off in Sec. 2(KKK). Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that there was some time between the expiry of the licence and the obtaining of the oral permission to resume work pending the issue of a formal licence, that would be a period in which the employer was unable to give employment to the employees for a reason, which will also be ejusdem generis with the specific reasons in Section 2(KKK). It is not denied that the workman in this case continued to be shown on the rolls, of the workers in the establishment of the employer in this case.

(4) Learned counsel for the management contended that the finding of the Labour Court was one on the evidence, and that even if it is erroneous, this court cannot interfere in certiorari. But here the finding is not merely erroneous, but it involves a total misconception of the scope of Sec. 2(KKK). There was evidently a confusion in the Labour Court's mind between closure of a business and lay-off. It has applied the tests for a closure to a case where even according to the management no closure existed. While the Labour court has mentioned in more than one place in paragraph 14 of its order that it has not been shown that any of the reasons mentioned in Sec. 2(KKK) existed in this case thereby stressing only the negative aspect of the matter, it has not at negative aspect of the matter, it has not at all adverted to the positive aspect and failed to decide whether the specific reasons given, whether in the notice or in the evidence, fall within the scope of Sec. 2(KKK) of the Act. This is a case where the Labour Court has failed to exercise the jurisdiction which it ought to have properly exercised. I fell therefore justified in interfering with the order.

(5) The writ petition is therefore allowed, and the prayer of the petitioner in the petition will be granted. The petitioner will get his costs of this petition. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.

(6) Petition allowed.


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