Skip to content


Workmen of Bengal Paper Mills Co. Ltd. Vs. Bengal Paper Mills Co. Ltd. and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1970)IILLJ467Cal
AppellantWorkmen of Bengal Paper Mills Co. Ltd.
RespondentBengal Paper Mills Co. Ltd. and ors.
Cases Referred(Syed Yakoob v. K.S. Radhakrishnan
Excerpt:
- .....difficulty mr. saha then contends that the interpretation put by the learned arbitrator is such an error apparent on the face of the record because, according to him, such interpretation is patently and manifestly erroneous. for this purpose he again relics on certain observations of gajendragadkar, j. in the above decision where at page 973 of the report amongst other things he says:in a sense it would be correct to say that an error of law which can be corrected by a writ of certiorari must be self-evident; that is what is meant by saying it is an error apparent on the face of the record and from that point of view, the test that the error should be self-evident and should not need an elaborate examination of the record may be satisfactory as a working test in a large majority of.....
Judgment:

A.K. Sinha, J.

1. This Rule was issued at the instance of the petitioners for cancellation of an award made by the respondent No. 2 in respect of certain disputes relating to payment of incentive bonus by respondent No. 1.

2.Briefly, the facts set out are as follows:

The petitioners are workmen in the clerical and supervisory staff of M/s. Bengal Paper Mills Co. Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as the Company). They are represented by a registered Trade Union named 'The Bengal Paper Mill Mazdoor Union' as its members. The company which is a highly prosperous concern pays incentive (production) bonus to the workmen upon production of finished paper.

3. Sometime in 1959 a dispute arose between the company and above workmen over the quantum of incentive bonus payable to them. By an agreement made on 24th October, 1959 between the parties a scheme was introduced for a short period up to 31st December. 1962 for payment of such incentive bonus which provided inter alia for such payment at the rate of Rs. 50/- per ton up to 250 tons above 1400 tons of finished paper. It was also agreed that minimum incentive bonus of Rs. 76,741.00 would be paid to 220 such workmen as were in the permanent roll pf the company on 1st September, 1959 for each bonus year and such minimum bonus would be increased proportionately with the increase of number of staff.

4. Upon this agreement a dispute arose. The workmen claimed distribution of the entire amount of pool money so derived only among those 220 workers whereas the company wanted to distribute it among all the staff including recruited workmen in the relevant year. The parties could not come to any amicable settlement. The dispute was eventually referred by an agreement to arbitration of respondent No. 2 under Section 10A of the Industrial Disputes Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act). Both the petitioners and the company filed their written statements and pressed their rival contentions before the arbitrator. On interpretation of the agreement he took the view that the entire money on the maximum tonnage of production for incentive bonus should be distributed to all the workmen of the clerical staff and not merely to the said 220 workmen. He was also of the opinion that the minimum amount under Clause 3(e) was fixed for payment to these workers which was liable to be increased proportionately with the increase of the staff for the relevant years and accordingly, he gave his award. That is how the petitioners felt aggrieved and obtained the present Rule.

5. Several grounds were taken but the main grievance pressed by Mr. Saha for the petitioners was that the interpretation put by the arbitrator upon the agreement was entirely erroneous. According to him on a fair reading of the agreement pool money fixed on the maximum tonnage on the production for payment of incentive bonus could only be distributed for each of the years only to 220 workmen existing on the company's permanent toll on the relevant date and not to any additional workmen who might have been recruited by the company after the date of the agreement.

6. Before I deal with this contention of the petitioners the first question that arises in this case is whether a writ in the nature of certiorari lies merely on the ground of erroneou9 interpretation of a document. Mr. Saha wants me to hold that it dots, Reliance is placed on a decision of the Supreme Court reported in A.I R. (1961) S C. 970 Shri Ambica Mills Co. Ltd. v. S.B Bhatt. I do not think that this decision supports Mr. Sana's contention in the form it is made. In this case it is held relying on a decision of Denning, L.J. in Rex v. Northumberland Compensation Appeal Tribunal, [1952] I K.B. 338, that no writ of certiorari lies to correct error of law. It can only extend to those errors which appear on the face of the record. Being faced with this difficulty Mr. Saha then contends that the interpretation put by the learned arbitrator is such an error apparent on the face of the record because, according to him, such interpretation is patently and manifestly erroneous. For this purpose he again relics on certain observations of Gajendragadkar, J. in the above decision where at page 973 of the report amongst other things he says:

In a sense it would be correct to say that an error of law which can be corrected by a writ of certiorari must be self-evident; that is what is meant by saying it is an error apparent on the face of the record and from that point of view, the test that the error should be self-evident and should not need an elaborate examination of the record may be satisfactory as a working test in a large majority of cases; but, as observed by Venkatarama Ayyar, J., in Hari Vishnu Kamath v. Ahmad Ishaqe. (1955) I S.C.R. 1104 at p. 1123 : [1955]1SCR1104 , 'there must be cases in which even this test might break down because judicial opinions also differ, and an error that may be considered by one judge as self-evident might not be so considered by another'. Judicial experience, however, shows that though it cannot be easy to lay down an unfailing test of general application it is usually not difficult to decide whether the impugned error of law is apparent on the face of the record or not.

7. I fail to see how the above observation would help Mr. Saha to gain his objective. What has been held is that no test of universal application can be laid down to see whether interpretation put on a particular document was vitiated by an error apparent on the face of the record, but at the same time it is not difficult to decide with reference to a particular document in a given case. Necessarily, therefore, each case has to be decided on its own facts.

8. Mr. Mukherjee, the learned Counsel for the respondents, submits that it in not necessary to decide this question. For, he contends that the view by the arbitrator on interpretation of the agreement is another possible view and thus no question of error apparent on the face of the record arises. Therefore, any interference by issuing a writ in the nature of certiorari is uncalled for.

9. Reliance is placed on a decision of the Supreme Court reported in : [1960]1SCR890 (Satyanarayan v. Mollikarjan) where while dealing with the question whether error of judgment of the Bombay Revenue Tribunal was an error apparent on the face of the record, K.C. Das Gupta, J., inter alia, observes (at p. 141, para. 17):

An error which has to be established by a long drawn process of reasoning on points where there may be conceivably two opinions can hardly be said to be an error apparent on the face of the record. As the above discussion of the rival contentions show the alleged error in the present case is far from self-evident and if it can be established it has to be established by lengthy and complicated arguments. We do not think such an error can be cured by a writ of certiorari according to rule governing, the powers of the superior court to issue such a writ. In our opinion the High Court was wrong in thinking that the aliened error in the judgment of the Bombay Revenue Tribunal, viz., that an order for possession should not be made unless a previous notice had been given was an error apparent on the face of the record so as to be capable of being corrected by a writ of certiorari.

10. Mr. Mukherjee refers to another decision of the Supreme Court reported in : [1964]5SCR64 (Syed Yakoob v. K.S. Radhakrishnan) to show that substantially the same view has been adopted with regard to the construction of a statute adopted by the inferior court or the Tribunal. It is contended that on principle there cannot be any difference with regard to the interpretation of documents put by the Tribunal below.

11. The proposition of law thus indicated by the Supreme Court is unopposed. Even assuming that the interpretation put by Mr. Saha might be correct, the question is whether the view taken by the arbitrator could be accepted as another reasonable construction of the impugned agreement. For, it cannot be denied that there might be cases in which the documents because of their ambiguity or want of clear terms and connections or for want of clarity in words or expressions or for absence of necessary particulars and many other similar mutters may admit of more than one interpretation and, in that event, it is not possible always to reject either of then. In such cases, for obvious reasons either of these interpretations put by the inferior court or Tribunal cannot be said to be vitiated by an error apparent on the face of the record.

12. So, bearing in mind the principles laid do

13. Even assuming that the interpretation put by Mr. Saha may seem to be a correct interpretation, then also the construction put by the arbitrator has got to be accepted as another reasonable opinion that could be legitimately formed by him on the impugned agreement. That being so, it must be held that the view taken by the arbitrator cannot be corrected by a writ in the nature of certiorari and the petitioners are not entitled to net any relief in the writ jurisdiction of this Court.

14. The result is, the petition fails. The Rule is discharged but there will be no order as to costs.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //