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A.K. Ahmed and Co., Represented by Its Partner S.A.M. Janaludeen Vs. Regional Labour Commissioner (Central) and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1981)1MLJ495
AppellantA.K. Ahmed and Co., Represented by Its Partner S.A.M. Janaludeen
RespondentRegional Labour Commissioner (Central) and anr.
Cases Referred and Khadi Gramodyog Sangh Muzaffarpur v. State of Bihar
Excerpt:
- .....(hereinafter referred to as the act), the appropriate government is the central government or the state government of tamil nadu.2. the petitioner is a partnership firm and undertakes construction of buildings. the petitioner entered into a contract with the central warehousing corporation, for the construction of a godown in the premises of the golden studio in kodambakam, madras. it is not disputed that the petitioner employs nearly 100 workers for the said construction. while so, the labour enforcement officer (central) madras-6 inspected the premises on 20th april, 1978. as a result of the inspection the petitioner was informed by a communication, dated 20th april, 1978 that the petitioner had not complied with the provisions of the act in the matter of payment of wages and overtime.....
Judgment:
ORDER

S. Padmanabhan, J.

1. The short question that arises for consideration in this writ petition is whether for the initiation of proceedings against the petitioner under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, (hereinafter referred to as the Act), the appropriate Government is the Central Government or the State Government of Tamil Nadu.

2. The petitioner is a partnership firm and undertakes construction of buildings. The petitioner entered into a contract with the Central Warehousing Corporation, for the construction of a godown in the premises of the Golden Studio in Kodambakam, Madras. It is not disputed that the petitioner employs nearly 100 workers for the said construction. While so, the Labour Enforcement Officer (Central) Madras-6 inspected the premises on 20th April, 1978. As a result of the inspection the petitioner was informed by a communication, dated 20th April, 1978 that the petitioner had not complied with the provisions of the Act in the matter of payment of wages and overtime wages for the period 18th March, 1978 to 15th April, 1978. The petitioner then questioned the jurisdiction of the second respondent to take action in the matter. This was followed by a show cause notice issued by the second respondent on 10th May, 1978 to the petitioner under Section 20 of the Minimum Wages Act. In these circumstances, the petitioner has filed this writ petition for the issue of a writ of certiorarifled mandamus to quash the notice issued by the respondent to the petitioner on 20th April, 1978 and 10th May, 1978 and to restrain from instituting any further action pursuant to the said orders.

3. Mr. Marthandam, learned counsel for the petitioner states that the appropriate Government which is competent to take action against the petitioner for violation, if any, of the provisions of the Act is the State Government and not the Central Government. According to Mr. Marthandam, the petitioner is a partnership concern carrying on business in the construction of buildings and the petitioner is not carrying on business under the authority of the Central Government.

4. On the other hand, Mr. Swamidurai, learned counsel for the respondents submits that inasmuch as the petitioner has entered into a contract with the Central Warehousing Corporation, which is established by the Central Government under the Statute, it is only the Central Government which will be the appropriate Government competent to initiate action in the matter.

5. In view of the short compass in which the dispute has narrowed down, it is unnecessary to deal with other points arising for decision in this writ petition. The only question for consideration is whether the Central Government is the appropriate Government within the meaning of Section 2(b) of the Act which is competent to initiate action against the petitioner in the instant case, Section 2(b) of the Act reads as follows:

'Appropriate Government' means:

(i) in relation to any scheduled employment carried on by or under the authority of the (Central Government or a railway administration) or in relation to a mine, oil field or major port, or any corporation established by a Central Act, the Central Government, and

(ii) in relation to any other scheduled employment, the State Government.

Item (7) of the Schedule in Part I runs 'Employment on the construction or maintenance of roads or in building operations.' In order to confer jurisdiction on the Government under Section 2(b) the following conditions must be satisfied:

The schedule employment must be carried on by or under the authority of the Central Government or a railway administration. The appropriate Government in relation to a mine, oil field or major port or any corporation established by a Central Act will be the Central Government. In relation to any other scheduled employment, the appropriate Government shall be the State Government.

6. It is not disputed that the petitioner is a partnership firm carrying on business in the construction of buildings. Admittedly, the petitioner does not carry on business by or under the authority of the Central Government. It is also not disputed that the petitioner is carrying on business for its own benefit. Inasmuch as the respondents have not taken the ground that the petitioner is carrying on business by or under the authority of the Central Government, it is unnecessary to go into the question as to what exactly is meant 'by the words' 'by or under the authority of the Central Government'. I am therefore, not going in detail into the following decisions which have been cited before me; C.M.W.M Co. Ltd. v. P.K. Sarkar and Ors. (1952) 1 LLJ 488. Bharat Glass Works v. State of West Bengal : AIR1957Cal347 . Rowel Singh v. Gail : (1959)IILLJ69MP . Heavy Engineering v. State of Bihar : (1969)IILLJ549SC . In re Polisetty Lakshmayya (1959) L.L. J. 556. and Khadi Gramodyog Sangh Muzaffarpur v. State of Bihar (1977) LabIC 466. It may be mentioned that some of the cases refer to the interpretation of the words 'by or under the authority of the Central Government' as used in the Industrial Disputes Act.

7. Admittedly, the contract entered into by the petitioner is with the Central Warehousing Corporation. It is the liability of the petitioner to comply with the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act, that we are concerned with. We are concerned here with the failure of the Central Warehousing Corporation to comply with the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act. If action were to be taken under the provisions of the Act by the respondents against the mine, oil field, or major port or any corporation established by the Central Government which would be the appropriate Government within the meaning of Section 2(b) merely because in this particular case the petitioner has entered into a contract with the Central Warehousing Corporation, which is a Corporation established by the Central Act, it cannot be said that for the violation of the provisions of the Act committed by the petitioner, it is the Central Government that will be the appropriate Government.

8. An argument was attempted on behalf of the respondents that the words 'by or under the authority' appearing in Section 2(b) of the Act will also apply to mine, oil field, major port or any Corporation established by the Central Act. On a reading of the section, I have no hesitation to come to the conclusion that those words have been used in that section only in relation to the Central Government or railway administration and are not made applicable to a mine, oil field or major port or any Corporation established, by the Central Government. I therefore, hold that the appropriate Government within the meaning of Section 2-A of the Act so far as this case is concerned, competent to take action against the petitioner for any violation of the Act is only the State Government and not the Central Government.

9. In the circumstances, the rule nisi is made absolute and the writ petition is allowed, but in the circumstances without costs.


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