P. Ramakrishnan, J.
1. Anglo-French Textiles, Ltd., Pondicherry, is the petitioner in both these writ petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution. The array of respondents is the same in both the petitions. The Chief Commissioner of Pondicherry State, the Rodier Mills Labour Union (All India Trade Union Congress) (which was will refer to briefly as union 1), the Rodier Mill National Workers' Union (Indian National Trade Union Congress) (union 2) and Sri K. Ramaswami Gounder, retired industrial tribunal, Madras, are respondents 1 to 4, respectively, in the two petitions. The matters in dispute are also identical, with this difference, that the relief of certiorari is the principal relief sought in the first petition, while in the second petition, the relief of mandamus is the principal relief sought. The subject-matter of the writ petitions has reference to the settlement of a collective dispute, arising within the limits of the State of Pondicherry, and to which the French Labour Code, enacted by a law of French National Assembly in 1952 for application to the overseas territories of France, which formerly included Pondicherry, would apply. It is common ground that, even after Pondicherry became legally a part of the Union of India, and after the jurisdiction of this High Court was extended to the said territory by the Pondicherry (Administration) Act, 1962, the abovesaid Labour Code continues to apply to the said territory. It is also not in dispute that, after the extension of the jurisdiction of this Court by the Pondicherry (Administration) Act, 1962, to the erstwhile Pondicherry territory and after that territory became legally a part of the Indian Union, the writ jurisdiction of this Court also extends to the above territory.
2. On 18 June 1963, the Chief Commissioner of Pondicherry Issued a notification, under Section 211 of the abovesaid Labour Code, appointing respondent 4, Sri K. Ramaswami Gounder, as the expert to settle a collective dispute which had arisen in the meantime between the petitioner-mill and its workers. Prior to that, the dispute was found to be not capable of settlement either by the settlement procedure with the assistance of the Inspector of Labour and Social Legislation (vide Section 209, Part I, of the Labour Code) or the conciliation procedure before the Labour Advisory Board (vide Section 209, Part II, of the Labour Code). Section 210 of the Code provides that, if the conciliation procedure was unsuccessful, the recommendation procedure outlined in Section 211 of the Code should be followed. This involves the appointment of an expert by the chief officer of the territory, if the parties themselves fail to nominate an expert.
3. After getting out the various statutory orders, giving him the necessary powers under the Labour Code of 1952, the notification of the Chief Commissioner reads:
As per the report of the non-conciliation of the Consultative Committee of Labour, dated 13 May 1983, and the note of 30 May 1963, in respect of the dispute between the management of the Anglo-French Textile Mills and the unions of workers of this mill, regarding the fixation of wages and conditions of work for the workers in the spinning section of the Anglo-French Textiles, Ltd.
Considering that the parties have not reached an agreement, for the designation of an expert and consequently there is no need to designate him, decides...:Article L--Sri K. Ramaswami Gounder ... is designated an expert to settle the dispute existing between the management of the Anglo-French Textiles, Ltd., and the syndicate of workers of the mill.
4. The contentions of the petitioner-mills, as set out in the affidavit to the writ petitions, are these. The collective dispute which arose in this case was between the spinners of the petitioner-mill and the management, relating to the wages and work-loads of spinners who are described as two-Bide spinners. A word of explanation might be necessary, at this stage, of the term two-side spinners. It is a matter of common knowledge that, in a textile mill, spindles are arranged on the two sides of a frame, and it is alleged to have been the practice in the case of Rodier Mills, that, in case of threads up to certain counts of texture, one spinner is treated as sufficient for attending to the spindles on the two sides of a frame, Such workers are called two-side spinners. The affidavit goes on to say that it was only regarding this dispute, that the mill-management wrote to the Inspector of Labour and Social Legislation on 9 May 1963, seeking his intervention, under Section 209 of the Code, to bring about a settlement. When it was found that the Inspector could not bring about a Battlement, the next stage of the procedure was the one in Part II of Section 209, which involved the bringing up of the dispute before the Labour Advisory Board, either at the request of one of the parties, or, if no such request was made, on the initiative of the chairman of the said board. The Labour Advisory Board may, If it deems it necessary, delegate this duty to a special conciliation board composed of an equal number of employers' and employees' representatives, and under the chairmanship of the Inspector of Labour and Social Legislation.
5. The correspondence that passed between the mill-management and the Inspector of Labour clearly shows that the dispute was confined in the initial stage to this narrow ground. The petitioner's grievance is that the dispute, referred by the Chief Commissioner of Pondicherry to the expert for decision, as per the terms of the notification extracted above, is of much wider import; it will seem to comprehend the fixation of wages and conditions of work for all the workers in the spinning section of the Anglo-French Textiles, Ltd. Now, it was pointed out that the spinning section in the petitioner-mill comprises seventeen categories of workers, of whom the spinners are only one category. It was urged that the scope of the dispute had thus become unduly wide, because of the erroneous notification issued by the Chief Commissioner. It was pointed out that, when the matter came up before the expert, a reading of the Government order is alleged to have given him the impression that he would have to go into the wages and workloads of all the workers, in the various categories above mentioned in the spinning department, and that he was not required to confine himself to spinners alone as contended by the petitioner. It was urged by the petitioner that union 2 (respondent 3) raised the point before the expert that the dispute related only to two-side spinners, but the expert stated that he had no other go but to act according to the terms of the notification and enlarge the enquiry accordingly, so as to cover all the workers in the spinning department. It was pointed out in the affidavit of the petitioner that it was never the intention to include the workers like the doffers in the spinning department within the scope of the enquiry. There was also a class of workers in the spinning department, namely, the yarn-conditioning workers, and the disputes between them and the management had been referred to another expert, Sri S. Siva, President, Tribunal Superirur de Appel, Pondicherry, and is awaiting settlement.
6. The petitioner's grievance is that the reference in the notification went far beyond the restricted scope of the enquiry as stated above, and therefore it is necessary to confine the enquiry to its proper limits by an appropriate writ issued by this Court either of certiorari or of mandamus. It was also pointed out by the petitioner in his affidavit that union 2, respondent 3, had admitted before the expert in their memorandum that the dispute was restricted in the manner aforesaid, but when the expert was inclined to hold, according to the terms of the notification, that all the workers in the spinning department fell within the scope of his enquiry, the union had said that they had no objection to that course. Thereafter the petitioner wrote to the Chief Commissioner for amending the reference, but no reply was received from him.
7. So far as union 2 (respondent 3) is concerned, in their counter-affidavit, they stated that they agreed with the petitioner, that the dispute before the expert related only to wages and workloads of the spinners In the spinning department, and that this union was concerned only with the wages and workloads of the spinners in the spinning department who are called upon to do two-side spinning, and that the record of non-conciliation drawn up by the Labour Advisory Board under Section 211 of the Code would govern the matter. They also adopted the view that accordingly proper directions would have to go both to the Government of Pondicherry and the expert to confine the enquiry as stated above.
8. The Chief Commissioner of Pondicherry, respondent in both the petitions, has stated in his counter-affidavit that mention has been made about the records of non-conciliation drawn up and signed by the parties, a copy of which had been forwarded to the expert, and it was, therefore, open to the parties to bring to the notice of the expert the relevant provisions of the Labour Code and it was for the expert to decide the scope of the reference in accordance with law. According to respondent 1, it was purely within the jurisdiction of the expert to decide as to the scope and compares of the dispute and give his opinion and that the administration had done what was ordained under the Code. The counter-affidavit of respondent 1 states further that once the matter is referred to the expert, the question is sub judice and the administration cannot amend, add or subtract, which, if otherwise allowed, would amount to drafting of the record of non-conciliation and reference by the Government which procedure is not admissible under the provisions of the Code.
9. Union 1 in its counter-affidavit adopted the position which it took before the expert; before whom it had made a statement of their claim. It referred to the principles contained in the recommendation of the Wage Board for Cotton Textile Industry and stated that these principles should be adopted for fixation of wages as well as workload. It also urged that the enquiry of the expert should include the workloads and wages of doffer boys in the spinning department because the management had unauthorisedly increased their workload, contrary to the arbitration award, dated 24 November 1955. According to the Coimbatore agreement, which affected other textile mills in the Madras State, the doffer boys in the other textile mills are getting higher wages for leaser workload, when compared with the petitioner-mill. So this union urged that the expert should also go into the question of workload and wages of spinners in the spinning department, and also the doffer boys in the spinning department.
10. The petitioner-mills, in their reply-affidavit, denied this claim that the workload and wages of the doffer boys should be included in the enquiry by the expert. In conclusion, they stated that even if it were to be held that the dispute comprehended the wages and workload of the spinners in the spinning department, besides the dispute about the two-side spinning, It would never include other categories of workers in the spinning department other than spinners.
11. The points for decision in these writ petitions are:
(i) What is the scope of the collective labour dispute which has been referred to the expert, respondent 4, in these petitions, for making his recommendation, after conducting the necessary enquiry under the Act?
(ii) Has the notification, embodying the decision of the Government No. 533-ITLS, dated 18 June 1963, in any way gone beyond the legal limits of the scope of the reference, and if so, in what respects?
(iii) What is the relief, if any, to which the petitioner is entitled?
12. We will briefly touch upon the relevant provisions of the French Labour Code enacted according to the law of 1952, in the matter of settlement of collective disputes. Under Section 209, the parties to a collective dispute are required to notify to the Inspector of Labour and Social Legislation, who, thereupon, can assist the parties in arriving at a settlement. If this procedure Is not successful, the next stage is the conciliation procedure. For this purpose, as envisaged in Section 209, either at the request of one of the parties, or if no such request is made on the initiative of the Chairman of the Labour Advisory Board, the collective labour dispute shall be brought before the board, for the purpose of conciliation. This board can delegate its duty to special conciliation board composed of an equal number of employers' and employees' representatives under the chairmanship of the Inspector of Labour and Social Legislation. The conciliation agreement signed by the parties shall be immediately enforceable. The third stage (Section 210) refers to a situation where the conciliation procedure has been found unsuccessful, and, in such a case, the French Labour Coda visualizes what is described as the recommendation procedure. Section 211 of the Code gives the details of the recommendation procedure to be followed. Where an attempt at conciliation before the special conciliation board is proved un-successful, the labour conciliation board is required, in such a case, to draw up a record of non-conciliation.
13. It is necessary to pause at this stage, for clarifying a French term, proces-verbal which has been translated into English (vide translation of the French Labour Code) by the International Labour Office (Legislative Series, 1922) as--
record of non-conciliation.
The term proces-verbal is a well-known term in French law.
14. Harrap's Shorter French and English Dictionary gives the meaning of the term as:
official report; proceedings minutes of a meeting.
15. As one writer put it tersely, the word--
proces-verbal in French law has nothing verbal about it.
16. On the other hand, it means a written and formal record of a proceeding.
17. The conciliation board is required, therefore, to draw up a formal record of the proceedings before it and this has to be signed by all the parties, and this record should state the subject-matter of the dispute and the points to be submitted to the recommendation procedure. To put it in a different language, proces-verbal in the French Labour Code is in substance a reference agreed to by the contesting parties, to submit their dispute for decision to an expert.
18. The next stage relates to the appointment of the expert, who is to act, upon the submission thus made to the recommendation procedure. Section 211 of the Code gives the liberty to the parties themselves to appoint an expert, if they agree on his choice, but they are given a time-limit of four days. In the event of their inability to do so, the Chief Officer of the territory (the Chief Commissioner in the present case) should appoint an expert within 48 hours. Section 211 proceeds to give thereafter the qualifications of the expert, whose name shall be included in advance every year in a panel.
19. It will thus be seen that the power of the Chief Officer of the territory will be confined only to appoint the expert, for the settlement of the dispute, which has been referred by the conciliation board, for settlement by recommendation procedure. He himself cannot formulate the dispute. Under Section 212, the expert is required to give his opinion on all the matters set out in the record of non-consolidation (proces-verbal), and on all matters which have any bearing on the dispute. Section 213 gives the power to the expert for the purpose of obtaining information and making his enquiry. He should observe the professional secrecy, and the parties are called upon to submit a memorandum and any other observations which they deem necessary. Section 214 of the Code requires the expert to make the report with the reasons, and this report shall conclude with a proposed settlement of the points at issue, taking the form of a recommendation. It is the last-mentioned provision that has perhaps led to the description of the stage as the recommendation procedure. Under Section 215, at the end of the time-limit prescribed from the date of communication of the report to the parties, the recommendations shall become enforceable. There is also a provision for appeal to the Central Arbitration Court and for stay. Section 216 of the Code restrict the scope of the appeal to the allegations that the recommendations are ultra vires or contrary to law.
20. It would appear from the foregoing that, in the matter of defining the scope of the dispute before the expert, the material document is the proces-verbal or the record of non-conciliation drawn up by the special conciliation board. The function of the Chief Commissioner is only to appoint the export, when the parties have failed to agree about him. But on what the expert is required to give his opinion, is confined to the matters set out in the proces-verbal, or the record of non-conciliation and also on such other incidental matters which might have a bearing on the dispute. Article 212 of the French Code reads:
L' expert devra se pronouncer sur tous les objects determines par le proces-verbal de non-conciliation et sur tous autres qui pourraient etre en relation avec le different en course.
Note the use of the words: 'objects determines par le proces-verbal de non-conciliation.
Actually, the French verb determiner has the meaning:
to fix, settle.
In other words, it has the same meaning as the English word ' to determine.' The English translation supplied to us by translating the words determiner, as set out, uses a weaker expression. The Labour Code, in the original French language, brings out, with far more force and precision, the exclusive power of the conciliation board to define the area of the dispute, by using the word determiner.
21. No doubt, as contended by the petitioner in the initial stages, when the president of the union 2 wrote to the Inspector of Labour asking him to make a reference to the Labour Advisory Board, the dispute was described as due to the imposition of a workload of one man for two sides on 12 counts thread (vide letter, dated 9 May 1963, of the president of union 2 to the Inspector of Labour). Thereupon, on 10 May 1963, the Inspector wrote to the management of the mills to offer their remark. The reply of the mill management on 10 May 1963 to the Inspector of Labour refers to the subject of two-side spinning, and the mill manager stated that he had no objection to that subject being placed before the Consultative Commission. Thereafter, on 13 May 1963, the Consultative Commission of Labour, presided over by the Inspector of Labour and Social Legislation, the representatives of the mill and the workers, as contemplated in the Code, entered on their duties to effect a con-ciliation of the dispute. We have been shown no authority to hold that the dispute, fop the purpose of this case, should be confined solely to the dispute that was under delouse said, when the matter came up before the Inspector of Labour under Section 209 of the French Labour Code. The proces-verbal drawn up at the end of the discussion, which took place on 13 May 1963, gives the scope of the dispute, as it emerged finally at the time of the conciliation proceedings. This proces-verbal has got to be carefully studied, for answering the points raised for decision in this case. Sri Balakrishnan, representative of union 2 (I.N.T.U.C), made a statement, which has been summarized at the beginning in the proces-verbal. The gist of it is this:
According to the provisions of the arbitration award of 24 November 1955 (Chakravarthi award), if new machines have to be introduced (in the spinning department--because at the outset the dispute has arisen in the spinning department), the parties should previously have arrived at an arrangement on the conditions of work and wages of the workers on these machines. The Rodier Mill has introduced new machines in the spinning department and also new conditions of work an new wage-rates without fixing them earlier...
For spinning counts from 8 to 40s each worker has to attend to 400 spindles. (The word ' worker at this stage has a reference only to spinners, because it is not alleged that doffer boys are allowed to work on 400 spindles.)
The complaint of Sri Balakrishnan proceeded to allege that these workers (meaning spinners) were asked to attend to other work also. According to the arbitration award of 24 November 1955, the conditions of work for the workers in the new machines should be fixed at 150 spindles for count up to 10s, and by ascending grades up to 400 spindles for counts up to 30s. These would have reference again only to spinners, when we take into account the number of spindles mentioned. Sri Balakrishnan concluded his statement by saying that the spinners should not be compelled to attend to other jobs and the wages should be fixed with retrospective effect. There can be no doubt that this part of the statement of the I.N.T.U.O. mentioned In the proces-verbal, refers only to the conditions of work of spinners in the spinning department and their workload and wages. The proces-verbal then proceeds to mention the contentions of Sri K.S. Ramani, who appeared for the management. He referred to the conditions of the work of spinners as set out in the Chakravarthi award and their basic wages. He denied that the management has introduced new machines and added that certain improvements were carried out to the existing machines, which are called high draft frames. In such frames, the worker, which would mean only the spinner, has to look after two sides. This arrangement has been in force for over five years; and a worker (which could in the context, refer only to the spinner), attending to two sides received a wage of Rs. 40, whereas the wage in the arbitration award was only Rs. 32.50. The management, thereafter, defended their action in fixing the wage and workload for the spinners in the spinning department. To this contention, Sri Balakrishnan of the I.N.T.U.C. gave a reply. Sri Ramani, en behalf of the management, made a further statement, which has been summarize in the proces-verbal. These two statements have reference to wages and workloads of only spinners in the spinning department. There is no reference at all to other types of workers falling within any of the other seventeen categories in the spinning department, and which include doffer boys. At this stage, according to the proces-verbal, the parties made a request for some time to discuss the matter between themselves, to arrive at an amicable settlement, and in case of failure, they would notify the Consultative Commission of Labour.
22. The above gives the gist of the proceedings of 13 May 1963, as found in the proces-verbal, and it would show that the dispute was restricted only to spinners in the spinning: department, and not to any other employees:
23. The proces-verbal then adds a note, dated 30 May 1963, which is also signed by the parties before it. The gist of the note may now be set out:
During the meeting of the Consultative Commission of Labour held on 13 May 1963, at the office and presided over by the Inspector of Labour and Social Legislation for conciliating the management and the Rodier Mill National Workers' Union, affiliated to the I.N.T.U.C. in the matter of the fixation of conditions of work and wages in the spinning department of the Anglo-French Textile Mills, the parties have requested for time to discuss the question directly between themselves to explore the possibilities of a settlement. They have now both notified the result of their discussion to the Commission.
By letter, dated 15 May 1963, the management and Rodier Mill National Workers' Union have notified the Commission that it has not been possible to arrive at a settlement and pray that as a consequence a record of non-conciliation may be drawn up for submission of the matter to the expert.
The Syndicate des ouvriers de Vusine Rodier, Modeliarpeth, by their letter, dated 14 May 1963, has also addressed the Consultative Commission on the same matter. They have been invited on 15 May 1963 to join the discussion being held on this matter between the management and the Rodier Mill National Workers' Union. By their letter, dated 29 May 1963, the Syndicate des outriders de Vusine Rodier have notified that it has not been possible to arrive at a settlement with the management and requested that this matter may be submitted to the Expert.
As no settlement between themselves was possible for the parties, further conciliation will be of no use. Besides, the members of the Consultative Commission of Labour are requested to give their consent for submitting the matter to the Expert.
It is pertinent to observe that the order of the Chief Commissioner appointing the Expert has described the nature of the dispute as fixation of wages and conditions of work for the workers in the spinning section (italicized portion ours). It is the use of this general term of workers in the spinning section, without defining the category or categories in the spinning section involved that has led to the dispute in this case. But, as mentioned already, to understand the scope of the dispute referred to the expert for settlement, one has to read the proces-verbal as a whole, and not confine oneself to what has been mentioned in the note extracted.
24. Here again, to be certain that there has been no mistake in the translation from the French to English, we had a look at the original note of the proces-verbal in French, and we find that there is no reference to the word workers in the spinning department. The language used is:. au sujet de la fixation des conditions du travail et des salaires dans le department de filage de Lusine Anglo-French Textile.
When translated, It means:
In the matter of fixation of conditions of work and wage in the spinning department of the Anglo-French Textile Mills....
Note that there is no reference to workers in the department, but mentions only in the department.
25. We have stated the result of our scrutiny of the proces-verbal in the foregoing paragraphs, and our scrutiny leaves no room for doubt that what was deliberated upon at the meeting on 13 May 1963 related only to spinners in the spinning department, and not to other workers in that department.
26. The subsequent paragraphs of this note refer to a letter addressed to the Consultative Commission by union 1 on 14 May 1963, on the same matter which, in the context, must refer only to the matter referred to earlier and which, as discussed above, must be confined to the spinners in the spinning department. Sri Mohan Kumaramangalam, appearing for union 1, produced before us a copy of this letter, dated 14 May 1963, and invited our attention to the general terms in which it has referred to the dispute. This letter refers to the workload in the spinning department of Rodier Mills being contrary to the award, dated 24 November 1955, and suggested that the workload and wages should be fixed in accordance with the settlement reached before the Labour Minister, Sri Bakthavatsalam. The letter mentioned that the Consultative Commission discussed this matter only with the I.N.T.U.C. on 13 May 1963, for coming to a settlement, but no representation has been given to union and any Battlement to which I.N.T.U.C. alone was a party would not solve the problem, as that union was a minority union. Union 1 (respondent 2) requested the Labour Advisory Board to invite them also for a discussion on the workload and wages in the spinning department. Sri Mohan Kumaramangalam, however, frankly conceded before us that this communication would not in terms imply that union 1 had called upon the Labour Commission to settle also the workload and wages for other workers in the spinning department besides the spinners. This would show that union 1 had serious objection to the settlement between the management and the I.N.T.U.C. (union 2) without making union 1 a party to it, as union 1 had a majority of workers affiliated to it. Note that at this stage no objection was raised, as regards the subject-matter of the dispute, but only as regards the representative character of the I.N.T.U.C. union. But the conciliation board was not prepared to invite union 1 to appear before it, but directed union 1 to join the discussions being held at that time between the management of the mill and union 2 so that they could take part in a settlement if one is arrived at, The note proceeds to say that union 1 by its letter, dated 29 May 1963, had notified that they could not arrive at a settlement with the management. They were content to leave the matter to the expert. Thereafter the conciliation board drew up its record of non-conciliation. This report was signed by the parties, as required under the Code. This record of proceedings would show that, even after union 1 sought to join the discussion before the conciliation board, they were not allowed to join, but were directed to take part in the discussions between the mill and union 2; and when union 1 reported subsequently that they could not settle the matter, the Consultative Commission concluded its deliberations and drew up its report. While doing so, It did not extend the scope of the dispute to anything more than what had been the subject-matter of the record of the proceedings that took place at the earlier meeting on 13 May 1963, between the representative of the mills, and these of union 2, which have been extracted above. For the aforesaid reasons, we are of the opinion that the material record in this case, on the basis of which the scope of the dispute bad to be determined, namely, the proces-verbal, shows beyond any possibility of doubt, that the collective dispute referred to the expert for his recommendation, was with regard to the conditions of work and wages of the spinners in the Binning department, and not of other workers in that department.
27. Sri Mohan Kumaramangalam, at the con-clusion of the arguments, was fair enough to concede that, on a proper interpretation of the document and the record in this case, the above is the only possible conclusion to be formed. As regards the union 2 (respondent 3), they had in their counter-affidavit conceded the scope of the dispute as set out by the management in their petitions, but at the time of the arguments, their learned Counsel preferred to adopt the contentions of union 1, presumably, as a matter of tactics. But they must be necessarily confined to the terms of their counter-affidavit in the writ petitions.
28. For the aforesaid reason, we are of the opinion that the scope of the collective dispute referred to the expert is restricted to spinners in the spinning department, and cannot be extended to other workers in that department. As regards the relief to be granted in these petitions, we are of the opinion that no specific order quashing the notification of the Chief Commissioner of Pondicherry by way of certiorari, is called for, in view of our clarification above of the reference. Nor is it necessary, as a consequence, to give any direction by way of mandamus, because of the way in which we have clarified the terms of the reference in this judgment, for guidance, in the further disposal of the matter. We dismiss the two writ petitions, with the above observations. In the circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to costs.