1. These three petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution have been heard together, as they arise out of a common order of the Presiding Officer Labour Court, Coimbatore, which is constituted as the Appellate Authority under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. The petitioners are three different companies newly started and carrying on business as textile mills. As required by sections (1) of the Act, each of them submitted to the Certifying Officer Draft Standing Orders for adoption in the industrial establishment concerned. After complying with the provisions of Section 5 as to notice to workmen calling for their objections if any, and hearing them, the Certifying Officer certified the Standing Orders with certain alterations and modifications. To the extent to which the petitioners felt aggrieved against the certification, each of the petitioners filed a separate appeal before the prescribed Appellate Authority. That Authority disposed of the appeals together, substantially confirming the orders of the Certifying Officer.
2. In this Court, three grounds have been raised, one peculiar to W.P. No. 795 of 1959 and the rest of them common to all the petitions. The first ground is that upon notice service upon them, the workmen of the Pioneer Textiles, Peelamellu raised no objection before the Certifying Officer to the Standing Orders as submitted by the management of that company, but nevertheless the Certifying Officer assumed jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the fairness and reasonableness or otherwise of some of the provisions of the Standing Orders. This, it is said, the Certifying Officer had no power to do in the absence of objections being raised by the workmen concerned, and thus the Certifying Officer being called upon to adjudicate upon them. The second ground is that while making alterations and modifications in the Standing Orders, the Certifying Officer gave no reasons therefore, and that in such circumstances it is not within the ambit of the Appellate Authority to adjudicate upon the fairness or reasonableness of such modifications or alterations and give reasons therefore. The third ground is that in respect of Clause (o) of paragraph 19 of each of the three Standing Orders, the petitioners were not aggrieved against the-orders of the Certifying Officer and did not file appeals so that it is not open to the-Appellate Authority to enlarge the scope of the appeals and make alterations to that clause on his own view of the fairness or reasonableness or otherwise of that clause.
3. In order to appreciate the said grounds it will be first necessary to briefly notice the relative statutory provisions. The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, was enacted to require employers in industrial establishments formally to define the conditions of employment under them and to make the conditions known to workmen employed by them. 'Standing orders' are defined to mean, rules relating to matters set out in the Schedule to the Act. Sub-section (1) of Section 3 requires that within six months from the date of the Act becoming applicable to an industrial establishment, the employer concerned should submit to the Certifying Officer the Draft Standing Orders proposed by him with certain number of copies for adoption in his industrial establishment. Sub-sections (2) and (3) enjoin that the Standing Orders shall conform to the Schedule appended to the Act and also the Model Standing Orders prescribed by the Rules in the matters of not only topics but also of particulars in respect of each of such topics. Section 4, which is, material in these petitions, reads:
Standing orders shall be certifiable under this Act if-
(a) provision is made therein for every matter set out in the Schedule which is applicable to-the industrial establishment, and
(b) the standing orders are otherwise in conformity with the provisions of this Act; and it shall be the function of the Certifying Officer or Appellate Authority to adjudicate upon the fairness or reasonableness of the provisions of any Standing Orders.
It may be mentioned that by Act XXXVI of 1956 the words 'shall be the function were substituted for the words ' shall not be the function' in that section. Sub-section (1) of Section 5 states that the Certifying Officer shall give due notice of the receipt of the Draft Standing Orders to the Trade Union, if any, of the workmen, or where there is no such Trade Union, to the workmen in such manner as may be prescribed, requiring objections, if any, to the Standing Orders to be submitted within a specified time. Sub-section (2) also requires that the Certifying Officer should give the Union or representatives of the workmen an opportunity of being heard before certifying whether or not any modification of or addition to the Draft submitted by the employer is necessary, to render the Draft Standing Orders certifiable under the Act. After following this procedure, under Sub-section (3) the Certifying Officer has to certify the Draft Standing Orders after making such modifications as he may think, are required. Section 6 provides for an appeal to the Appellate Authority by any person aggrieved by the order of the Certifying Officer and the appeal has to be filed within the prescribed time. Once the Standing Orders are certified under the Act they shall not, except on agreement between the employer and the workmen, be liable, under Section 10(1) of the Act, to modification until the expiry of six months from the date on which the Standing Orders or the last modifications, thereof came into operation.
4. With reference to the above statutory provisions, in support of the first ground, the contention on behalf of the petitioner in W.P. No. 795 of 1959 is that the word. 'adjudicate' in Section 4 coupled with the provision in Section 5 for notice to the workmen and opportunity to them of being heard, unmistakably indicates that it is; only where there is a proposal and opposition or in other words, there is a lis in that sense, that any occasion arises for the Certifying Officer to adjudicate on the rival claims. It is argued on that basis that in this case the workmen of the Pioneer Textiles, Peelamedu, having filed no objections before the Certifying Officer, it was not within the power of the Certifying Officer, nevertheless, to assume that the Standing Orders were not fair or reasonable in any particular matter and proceed upon that view to adjudicate upon these issues. On the other hand, for the workmen it is said that as after the amendment effected by Act XXXVI of 1956, the Certifying Officer is given the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the fairness or reasonableness of the provisions of any Standing Orders, the Certifying Officer could exercise that jurisdiction irrespective of whether the workmen have filed objections or not. It seems to me that the contention on behalf of the workmen overlooks the phraseology used in Section 4 and the effect, in relation to it, of Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 5. ' Adjudicate' in Section 4, to my mind, without doubt, indicates not that the Certifying Officer will of his own accord apply himself and decide as to the fairness or reasonableness of any Standing Orders, but he will do so only when the parties are at issue on the fairness or reasonableness of such provisions. It is true that before the amendment introduced by Act XXXVI of 1956 the Certifying Officer had no jurisdiction to adjudicate on a matter of that sort and he had merely to see whether Clauses (a) and (b) of Section 4 were complied with. If they were complied with, the Certifying Officer had no option but to certify the Standing Orders. But after the amendment the Certifying Officer is empowered to adjudicate upon the fairness or reasonableness of the provisions of the Standing Orders. Even approaching the interpretation of Section 4 from the standpoint of how sections 4 and 5 read before the amendment, I think the effect of a combined reading of sections 4 and 5 is that the Certifying Officer will have jurisdiction to pronounce upon the fairness or reasonableness of any of the provisions of the Standing Orders, only if and when the concerned Union or the workmen raised an objection and thus the parties come into controversy, and not otherwise. It is, however, contended that the Act being mainly intended for the benefit of the workmen, it should be taken, as a result of the amendment introduced by Section 32 of Act XXXVI of 1956, that the Certifying Officer is irrespective of whether the workmen filed objections or not, required to apply his own mind and, with his knowledge of the prevailing conditions of labour in similar concerns decide upon the fairness or reasonableness of the provisions of the Standing Orders. I can see no warrant or justification for introducing into Section 4 any such principle. Sections 5 and 6 clearly contemplate filing of objections, hearing, and decision, and then making it open to the aggrieved party to file an appeal before the prescribed authority. All these point to the nature and scope of the jurisdiction of the Certifying Officer, when he is entrusted with the authority to adjudicate upon the matters mentioned. I hold, therefore, that the Certifying Officer could only have jurisdiction under, Section 4 to adjudicate upon the objections from workmen or the management in relation to the fairness or reasonableness of the provisions of the Standing Orders, and that if there are no objections to the Standing Orders, as submitted by the Management the Certifying Officer has then only to see whether Clauses (a) and (b) of Section 4 have been complied with and if they have been complied with, to certify the Standing Orders. It follows, therefore, that the Standing Orders as filed by the management in W.P. No. 795 of 1959 will have to be certified. The matter will go before the Certifying Officer for fresh consideration of the Standing Orders submitted by the Pioneer Textiles, Peelamedu.
5. On the second ground urged on behalf of the petitioner, I think there is little substance in it. The argument is that since the Certifying Officer failed to give any reasons and, therefore, there is no evidence of adjudication by that Officer, it is not within the province of the Appellate Authority to adjudicate for the first time and give reasons. It cannot, of course, be denied that the Certifying Officer, while making certain modifications or additions to the Draft Standing Orders, has failed to give his reasons there for. But this, in my opinion, does not in itself mean that the Certifying Officer has not made any adjudication. All that can be said is that while adjudicating, the Certifying Officer has not given his reasons, and no more. Had he given reasons, the Appellate Authority would have had their benefit. But their absence did not in any manner make the adjudication by the Certifying Officer any the less as such. But what the Appellate Authority has done is, he himself went into the pros and cons of the reasonableness or fairness or otherwise of the modifications or additions and gave his reasons for upholding the orders of the Certifying Officer. I can see no error in such a procedure. The second ground is rejected.
6. The third ground relates to a trivial matter, but nevertheless, it has been argued before me because it is said, it involves a principle. As I said, this ground relates to Clause (o) of paragraph 19 in the Standing Orders. There were objections raised by the workmen before the Certifying Officer in respect of this clause and they were adjudicated by the Certifying Officer. But the Managements have accepted the adjudication by the Certifying Officer and have confined their appeals to other matters. Nevertheless, the Appellate Authority has chosen to deal with the propriety of this clause and has found that it should be altered. On behalf of the Managements it is contended that in so doing, the Appellate Authority went beyond the scope of the appeals. According to the petitioners, the measure or scope of the appellate jurisdiction is controlled by the ambit of the expression ' aggrieved' in Section 6(1) of the Act. It is only where the appellant felt aggrieved that a right of appeal has been given to him and where the appellant is not aggrieved about the matter adjudicated upon and has filed no appeal, that is not a matter which, can at all be dealt with by the Appellate Authority. I think this contention has force. It may be that until the appeals are disposed of, the Standing Orders do not come into effect or operation as provided by Section 7. But that has no bearing upon the scope of the appeals and the jurisdiction of the Appellate Authority under. Section 6(1). I think the Appellate Authority acted in excess of its powers in dealing with Clause (o) of paragraph 19, which was not the subject-matter in any of the appeals before it and making alterations in respect thereto. While making this clear, I am, however, not disposed to interfere with the order of the Appellate Authority on this question for the reason that it is too trivial a matter.
7. In the result, W.P. No. 795 of 1959 is allowed, and the orders of both the authorities are quashed. The other two writ petitions are dismissed. In the circumstances there will be no order as to costs in any of the writ petitions.