K. Veeraswami, J.
1. The Valayar Plantation or Estate situate on Papanasam Mills seems to have originally belonged to two families, one of them consisting of respondents 1 to 5 and the other respondents 6 to 8 before the Industrial Tribunal. As a result of partition between members of the families the estate was divided by metes and bounds and shares therein after such division were allotted to each of respondents 1 to 4 and 6 to 8. But for purposes of management, it is stated,. they entered into a partnership agreement under which the first respondent who maintained the labour force was to utilise the labour on the shares allotted to each of the respondents. This firm was dissolved with effect from 16th August, 1958. 34 workmen belonging to the labour force and represented by the Tirunelveli District National Plantation Workers' Union having been dismissed from service, it eventually assumed the proportion of an industrial dispute, the subject-matter of Reference for adjudication, by a Government Order dated 17th January, 1961, under Section 10(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act. The Reference covered three issues the last of which this Court is not concerned with. The first of them was ' whether the non-employment of the following 34 workmen consequent on the dissolution of the partnership of the firm is justified If not, to what relief they are entitled ' The second issue related to the computation of the relief if any awarded in terms of money if it could be computed, and this was consequential upon the first issue. The Industrial Tribunal found that the assumption in the Reference that the 34 workmen were not employed consequent on the dissolution of the partnership was not correct. In fact the Tribunal pointed out that such was not even the case of either party. On the other hand the Tribunal stated that the 34 workmen got unemployed in about May, 1960, long after the date of the dissolution of the firm. Nevertheless the Tribunal considered that the workmen were permanent employees attached to the estate and proceeded upon the view that in the absence of any order of discharge or dismissal, they continued to be the woofers of the estate. It therefore posed for itself for its decision the question as to what was the effect of the dissolution of the partnership and the division of the estate on the labour force attached to the estate. The Tribunal was of the opinion that the non-employment of the 34 workmen was not justified and directed their reinstatement. In making that direction the Tribunal stated:
In the absence of any valid arrangement amongst the proprietors themselves as to the employment of these workers, they must all be taken back by the proprietors and given work as a joint responsibility. In other words, for the continued employment of these 34 workers on the estate all the proprietors namely respondents 1 to 4 and 6 to 8 will be jointly responsible, and these workers w ill continue to work on the estate as before.
This petition is to quash the award of the Tribunal.
2. Mr. M.K. Nambiar for the petitioners who were respondents 6 to 8 before the Tribunal, contends that in making such an award the Industrial Tribunal traveled beyond the scope of the Reference for adjudication and thus acted in excess of its jurisdiction. The Reference was on the question whether the non-employment of the 34 workmen consequent on the dissolution of the partnership firm was justified. The Tribunal clearly realised that the non-employment of these workmen was not in consequence of the dissolution and the assumption to the contrary in the Reference was therefore not correct. Learned Counsel, therefore, argues that the foundation of the jurisdiction of the Tribunal being the Reference, its jurisdiction is confined to the precise question referred for adjudication and to the limits of the Reference. That being the case, according to the argument, once the Tribunal found that the Reference proceeded upon a wrong assumption, its plain duty was to make an award to that effect and not assume to itself the jurisdiction to go into a question not referred, namely, that if the non-employment of the workmen was on a subsequent date what was the effect of the dissolution of the partnership and the disruption of the estate on the labour force attached to the estate. Without doubt, there is force in the contention. Working Journalists of 'The Hindu', Madras v. The Management of 'The Hindu', Madras : (1961)ILLJ288Mad pointed out:
In other words, the jurisdiction of a Labour Court to adjudicate upon an Industrial dispute springs from the Refer once made to it and is confined to the industrial dispute as referred to it...;
3. To the same effect was A. Khader Mohideen Brothers v. Its workers : (1960)IILLJ669Mad . The learned Judge there held:
The jurisdiction being by virtue of the statute and limited by the terms of the Reference under the section, it would not be open to the workers and management to confer jurisdiction upon the tribunal on a question not covered by the Reference.
Section 10(4) of the Industrial Disputes Act also makes it clear that where a Reference is made to a Labour Court for adjudication it shall confine its adjudication to the points of dispute referred for adjudication. If the Reference was made on an incorrect assumption, as in this case, it was certainly not open to the Tribunal, while so holding, to enlarge, by its own choice, the scope of the Reference and widen the issues for decision and the field for enquiry including the evidence.
4. The issue that was referred for adjudication, as I read the Reference, does not appear to include the question as to what was the effect of the dissolution of the partnership and the disruption of the estate on the labour force attached to the estate. If the non-employment was not a consequence of the dissolution of the firm but resulted from other facts and circumstances, whether such non-employment would be justified and whether notwithstanding the fact that the estate was divided among the sharers by metes and bounds, the estate for the purpose of labour should be regarded as a unit and relief to the non-employed workmen should be given on that basis, were matters not covered by the Reference. Unfortunately the first respondent is not represented by counsel. But I have given my careful consideration to the award of the Tribunal. It seems tome not possible to uphold it on; Issues 1 and 2, inasmuch as it is based not upon the precise issue referred for adjudication but on, considerations not covered by it.
5. The award of the Tribunal on Issues 1 and 2 is quashed and the petition is allowed. No costs.