1. After hearing learned Counsel for the respondents in W.P. No. 19 of 1959, who are the appellants here, and the learned Counsel for the petitioner (the management of Sri Krishna Talkies) who is the respondent here, we consider that, in the Interests of justice and in order to enable us to effectively adjudicate upon the subject-matter of the appeal, a finding should now be called for from the labour court upon two Issues of fact:
(1) whether, on the date on which the resolutions were passed by an appreciablesection of the workers of the respondent establishment, these workers were members of the South Indian Cinema Employees' Association, which actually purported to raise the industrial dispute on their behalf and to represent them in the labour court, and
(2) whether, alternatively and if the first contingency is to be ruled out, the South Indian Cinema Employees' Association was authorized by this appreciable section of the workers, whether orally or in writing, to represent them in the dispute, and to conduct the dispute on their behalf.
2. At this stage of the matter, it is perhaps neither expedient nor desirable that we should make any observations upon the merits. But we shall confine ourselves to a few remarks, which appear to be called for, and in order to elucidate the procedure that we have adopted in calling for the finding as adumbrated above. The argument before us is that the learned Judge who disposed of the writ application (Balakriahna Ayyar, J.) has found, as a question of fact, that there was no material before him to justify any inference that the workers constituting this appreciable section of the establishment were members of the South Indian Cinema Employees' Association, on the date on which the resolulutlons were passed. It is further argued by learned Counsel for the respondent, upon the strength of certain observations in Kochunni v. State of Madras : AIR1959SC725 , that, as far as writ proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution are concerned, it is not very clear whether the High Court dealing with the writ application, or a Bench hearing the Letters Patent Appeal therefrom, would be in order in taking additional evidence. We note, in any event, that the matter has not been gone into in the decision cited, nor has any view been expressed. Apart from this, even if there be a formal or technical objection upon this score, the course that we are now adopting would obviate it, the calling for a finding from the labour court, whether the question of fact is supported by any record or evidence which the parties could have adduced, or are now able to adduce. We must here emphasize that the labour court did find, as a question of fact, that the workers we are now concerned with were members of the union upon the date of the resolutions. If they were so members, the competency of the union to represent them in the dispute would be beyond doubt, The learned Judge (Balakrishna Ayyar, J.) felt that there was no material before him which would support the finding of the labour court. But we note that such material is claimed to be in existence, namely, the register of the membership of the union, and that a seal to be found on this document at least gives some strength to a possible interpretation that the record was actually produced, though not formally exhibited.
3. It is for this reason that, in the interests of justice, we are calling for this finding. We desire to emphasize that upon the facts of the present matter, the existence of the industrial dispute itself is not in doubt, for the simple reason that the learned Judge (Balakrishna Ayyar, J.) has himself found that an appreciable section of the workers did assemble at the premises of the union, and did pass certain resolutions embodying certain points of difference between them and the management. We must thus concede that the existence of the dispute is undeniable, and, in this sense and to this extent, the instant case may not be upon all fours with the facts dealt with in Kandan Textiles, Ltd. v. Industrial Tribunal, Madras 1949 L.L.J. 875 , cited by the learned Judge in his order.
4. Even if the workers became members of the union upon a date subsequent to the passing of the resolutions, we would direct the labour court to give a finding in this respect, and to submit it, so that we may deal with the legal implications thereof.
5. Alternatively, if these workers authorized the union to represent them, whether orally or in writing, the labour court should now submit a finding specially upon this point. Both parties are at liberty to adduce oral and documentary evidence upon the matter, to enable the labour court to arrive at a proper and full conclusion upon the merits. We consider that the finding should be expeditiously submitted within two weeks, and that there should be no further delay.
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6. After the return of the finding the Court delivered the following order.
7. In pursuance Of Our order dated 23 September calling for the findings of the labour court in accordance with our directions, the labour court has now submitted its findings in the following form:
(1) Oat of the 25 workers who signed the resolution Ex. W. 1 on 11 October 1957, at the meeting, 13 were members even previviously and 2 became members on that day and thus 15 were members of the union on that day, and 5 became members subsequently on the date of demand, 21 October 1957, and 5 others became members still later, that is, one on 4 November 1957, one on 18 November 1957, one on 10 March 1958 and two on 25 September 1958.
(2) The workers of Krishna Talkies who were present at the meeting on 11 October 1957 authorized orally the South Indian Cinema Employees' Association to make the demads on their behalf, and to take further steps in the matter by way of direct negotiation or taking steps through Court, and thus gave authorization to the said association to conduct the dispute on their behalf.
8. learned Counsel counsel for the employer does not advance any arguments before us challenging the propriety of these findings, either upon the facts, or upon the principles of law applicable to the case. We accept the findings, in the absence of any grounds assailing them in any manner.
9. The consequence of this is that it would now appear that, as a question of fact, a substantial majority of the persons who raised the industrial dispute, were members of the relevant association upon the date. As we have observed earlier in our order,
If they were BO members, the competency of the union to represent them in the dispute would be beyond doubt.
What is now urged before us Is not upon this aspect, but that, in actuality, most of the employees of this organization are at present not behind the Industrial dispute, and that they are not prepared to support the alleged grievances which have led to the formation of this dispute. This is a matter that the labour court should take cognizance of, and we are stating the principle which should apply to such a situation, a little later.
10. As regards the fact that the authorization is oral, the learned Judge, Balakrishna Ayyar, J., extracted Section 36(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act In his judgment, and observed that, though at the relevant time no rules had been framed specifying the manner in which authorization referred to in Section 36(1)(c) had to be made, he thought that oral authority would be insufficient. The learned Judge observed that the statute did not say 'authorized orally or in writing,' which would have been the simplest way of indicating that an oral authority conferred, would be valid. We are of the view that, since the section stood alone on that date without the framing of any relevant rule thereunder specifying an authorization in writing, a clearly proved oral authority would certainly be valid In law. Since the present finding is to the effect that such oral authorization did exist, the authority would hold good, upon the law as it stood on that date.
11. Our attention has been drawn to the fact that, subsequently, the Government have promulgated form J under Rule 46(1) of the rules under the Act, purporting to be a form of authorization under Section 36(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act. This form is printed, and it clearly contemplates an authorization In writing by affixing the signatures of the employees concerned. We hence direct that, in the present case, the labour court should obtain the signatures of the employees concerned, before it proceeds to further adjudication in this dispute.
12. Consequently, we allow the appeal, and quash the order of the learned Judge (Balakrishna Ayyar, J.) making the rule nisi absolute. Further proceedings will be taken by the labour court in pursuance of this order.
13. We have already referred to the fact that learned Counsel for the employer claims that a substantial majority of the workmen at present are not behind the dispute, and are not prepared to support the grievances which have led to the formation of the dispute. The labour court will take due cognizance of this plea in its further proceedings, and will deal with the matter, according to law, if it finds that a substantial majority of the workmen as at present are not now prepared to put forward an industrial dispute. In the circumstances there will be no costs.