Rajagopala Ayyangar, J.
1. The management of the Gnanambikai Mills, Ltd., Vellakkinar, Coimbatore, are the petitioners and they seek relief under Article 226 of the Constitution for the issue of a writ of certiorari to call for the records of the Central Government Industrial Tribunal, Madras, and to quash an order of this tribunal, dated 20 July 1956, being one passed under Section 22 of the Industrial Disputes (Appellate Tribunal) Act, 1950.
2. A few facts are necessary to be stated to understand the points raised in this petition.
3. The petitioner is a textile mill engaged in spinning cotton and other yarn. It had a number of workmen employed in the roving department as doffers. The events with which the dispute before the tribunal and this petition are concerned happened on 23 May 1953. One Ramachandran who was a doffer came to the mills on the morning of 23 instant and he obtained an endorsement on MB card that he was given no work on that date, the words of the endorsement being 'no work leave.' It has to be mentioned that at this time there was a out in the supply of electric power by the Government with the consequence that the mills were obliged to lay off a number of workmen on particular days and the workmen were thus given ' no work leave ' on days which were fixed in regard to each workman by agreement between the parties. Under this arrangement Ramachandran could be denied work only on 24 May 1953, but as stated before the supervisory staff of the mills endorsed ' no work ' for Ramachandran on 23 May 1953. If this was forced on Ramachandran without his consent, the mills would not have been entitled to do it but on the other hand the case of the mills was that Ramachandran invited the maistry to make this endorsement and that it was therefore not forced on him. I am mentioning these facts even at an earlier stage because the exact truth of this which is of great importance for the decision on that point before the tribunal has not been investigated and no finding recorded on it.
4. It would be apparent from what I have stated just now that the case of Ramachandran was that this ' no work ' endorsement on his card was made without his consent. He took this card with the endorsement ' no work leave ' and showed it to the other employees working in the roving department and told them that this was an unjustified endorsement. These workers who numbered nine came out of their work and waited opposite to the office of the manager of the mills demanding the reason for this endorsement on the attendance card of Ramachandran. The case of the management was that the manager of the mills promised the nine workers that the matter would be enquired into and asked them to go to their department and to attend to their work as usual, Ramachandran alone being asked to stay for the enquiry being held. The case of the workmen, however, was that the manager did not ask them to go and attend to their work taut that he promised to enquire into the matter and that in consequence they continued to squat opposite to the office room of the manager and waited there for the promised enquiry. The result was that these nine workmen did not go back to their work and on account of this the work in the other departments had to be held up. The labour officer was promptly informed by the management of what they termed an improper action on the part of these nine workmen and the same day notices were served on them as to why action should not be taken against them for what was termed ' indulging in an illegal strike.' The explanations of the workmen were received on 25 May 1953. The managing director conducted an enquiry into the matter on 30 May 1953, and as a result reached the conclusion that the workers had been guilty of participating in an illegal strike.
5. There had been an industrial dispute between the workers and the management which was pending before the Labour Appellate Tribunal and in consequence the management were bound to proceed under Section 22 of the Labour Appellate Tribunal Act and seek the permission of that Tribunal before discharging the workmen. They accordingly made an application on 6 July 1953 to the Tribunal under that provision for permission to dismiss from service the workmen including Ramachandran on the ground that they had all participated in an illegal strike. If the act of these workers in failing to do their duty on 23 May 1953 amounted to a strike, that it was the result of a concerted action on the part of the workmen refusing to do their work, there idea be no doubt that the strike would be illegal both on the ground that the cessation of work was during the pendency of a dispute before a tribunal and also because the mills being a public utility concern the workmen could not go on strike and cease to do work without serving on the management notice of their intention to do so. The workmen, however, denied that they struck work and contended that the manager of the mills to whom they had represented their grievances in relation to the endorsement of 'no work' oh Ramachandran's card were asked to wait outside the manager's office room and they merely carried out his direction and were waiting: there for information as regards the circumstances in which the endorsement of ' no work' came to be made. The proceedings before the Labour Appellate Tribunal were transferred to the Central Industrial Tribunal under Section 23A of Act XLVIII of 1950 and it is the order of this Tribunal which is impugned in this writ petition.
6. The first respondent, Tribunal, by its order, dated 20 July 1956, refused permission to dismiss the workman which had been sought by the management in their application under Section 22 of the Act.
7. Learned Counsel for the petitioner urged that the order of the Tribunal was vitiated by error apparent on the record. It is, therefore, necessary to scrutinize somewhat closely the reasoning on which the order of the Tribunal rested. After setting out the contentions of the parties and the case put forward by each, the Tribunal went on to state in Para. 3 of its order:
I will consider the question whether there was a strike as defined in the Industrial Disputes Act and if there was a strike whether it was a justifiable one or not.
8. This paragraph continued after setting out the case of each party in relation to events which happened on the morning of 23 May 1953, with reference to Ramachandran
Whatever that may be as soon as no work' was marked in his card his compeers working in the roving department knew that work was not given to him. The other workers asked the maistry why work was not given to him. The reply of the maistry was stated in Para. 6 of the application by the management that it was his will and pleasure. As soon as the nine workmen heard the reply from the maistry, they went to the manager in a body and asked him why no work was given to Ramachandran. According to the management the manager told the workmen that he would enquire about it and that the workmen should go to the section and continue their work but according to the opponents they could not see the manager and so they waited there till his arrival and represented their grievances.
It will he seen from the passage extracted that the tribunal proceeded on its view that the management had stated in Para. 6 of their application the reply of their maistry to be that the endorsement was made because it was his will and pleasure to do so. The rest of the discussion of this matter in this paragraph proceeded naturally on this basis. If, however, one turns to Para. 6 of the application of the management referred to here, it is found that in this paragraph the management were merely setting out the version of the workers which in a later paragraph they contradicted. This fundamental error therefore vitiates the finding of the Tribunal as regards the things that happened Oh 23 May 1953, and the reasons therefor. I must, therefore, hold that the conclusion arrived at by one Tribunal that there was no strike by workers cannot be upheld. There Is another curious feature about this case which I must mention. The entire case of the workers was as regards the circumstances in which the endorsement of 'no work' was made on Ramachandran's card. It was, therefore, necessary for the Tribunal to have investigated the facts in relation to it and recorded a finding as regards the thing which in its opinion happened. The tribunal took up the question of the charge against Ramachandran in Para. 4 of its order but went on to say that there was no necessity to decide the question whether the ' no work ' endorsement was made on his card with his consent or not. The finding, however, it recorded on this part of the case was expressly in these terms:
Once I find that the so-called offence committed by the nine workers is not an offence it is clear that the instigator or abettor of that offence should not be punished. Hence as far as Ramachandran is concerned, there is neither prima facie nor bona fides.
9. I must express my difficulty in understanding what is meant by the last sentence which I have extracted. On this ground the Tribunal refused to give permission to dismiss the workmen. In my judgment the contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the order of the Tribunal la vitiated by an error apparent is clearly made out. The order of the Tribunal is accordingly quashed and set aside. I understand that there is no industrial tribunal now functioning. What the effect of my order quashing and setting aside the order of the Tribunal, dated 20 July 1956 is, I am not proceeding to canvass.
10. The validity of an order of a Tribunal has been brought up to this Court and as there have been grounds for holding that this challenge is substantiated, I conceive it my duty to set it aside, and there I leave it. I do not propose to consider what real effect it might have on the rights of the parties to these proceedings. There will be no order as to costs.