B.N. Banerjee, J.
1. The petitioner-firm, Bengal Box Manufacturing Company, moved this Court with the grievance that an award of an industrial tribunal was made against the firm without service of notice on the firm and obtained this rule.
2. It appears that the petitioner-firm has its principal place of business at No. 6, Rajkumar Chatterjee Road, in the town of Calcutta. This is evident from the certificate of registration of the petitioner-firm, issued by the Registrar of Firms, West Bengal. It is also admitted that the petitioner-firm has its factory at No. 4, Rajkumar Chatterjee Road, which is altogether a different premises. Respondents 5, 6, 7 and 8 were at one time employees under the petitioner-firm. They raised a dispute on the ground of alleged unlawful termination of their services. That dispute was taken up by respondent 9, the Press Employees' Association, and was converted into an industrial dispute. The State Government appears to have referred that dispute to the second industrial tribunal for adjudication.
3. The petitioner-firm alleges that neither at the stage of conciliation undertaken by a labour officer nor at any time after the matter was referred to an industrial tribunal for adjudication was there any service of notice on the petitioner-firm at its principal place of business. It appears that these were attempts of service of notice on the petitioner-firm at No. 4, Rajkumar Chatterjee Road, Calcutta, but such attempts failed either because the addressee could not be traced or because the notice came back with the endorsement 'refused.' Ordinarily I would have taken the endorsement 'refused' as evidence of good service on the petitioner-firm, but for the fact that the principal place of business of the petitioner-firm was not at No. 4, Rajkumar Chatterjee Road, but at No. 5, Rajkumar Chatterjee Road.
4. Mr. Masud, learned advocate for the State Government, strongly argued that an office of the petitioner-firm was situated at No. 4, Rajkumar Chatterjee Road, Calcutta. Letters used to be sent to the petitioner-firm also at. No. 4, Rajkumar Chatterjee Road, and there was no reason why the notices went to the petitioner-firm at No. 4, Rajkumar Chatterjee Road, should not be taken to have been correctly addressed. The only laouna in this argument is that No. 4, Rajkumar Chatterjee Road, is not the principal place of business of the petitioner-firm and I am not prepared, in the circumstances of the case, to accept notices sent to the petitioner-firm, not at its principal place of business but elsewhere, as notices properly addressed.
5. Apart from this, it appears that the industrial tribunal did not proceed properly in making an ex parte award against the petitioner-firm in the circumstances hereinafter referred to.
6. On 2 November 1961, the industrial tribunal passed the following order:
Union absent today and takes no steps. Fix 13 November 1961 for hearing. Meanwhile inform the company that in view of its refusal of the notice dated 23 August 1961 the case will proceed ex parte against it under Rule 21 of the West Bengal Industrial Disputes Rules of 1958, unless it appears and contests the case.
7. On 13 November 1981, however, the tribunal passed the following order:
None appears for the company in spite of a special notice issued under express delivery. The union also absent today. As such the case could not be taken up for ex parte hearing.
Reflx 25 November 1961 for ex parte hearing. Ask the union to appear on that date.
8. Rule 21 of the West Bengal Industrial Disputes Rules, 1958, no doubt provides that if without sufficient cause being shown, any party to a proceeding before a tribunal falls to attend or to be represented, the tribunal may proceed as if such party had duly attended or had been represented. The tribunal was under the impression that notice had been refused by the petitioner-firm. On such impression, the order made by the tribunal on 2 November 1961 was an unexceptionable order. But the order passed on 13 November 1961, is an order which violated the provisions of Rule 22 of the West Bengal Industrial Disputes Rules, 1958. The said rule is set out below:
If without sufficient cause being shown both the parties fall to appear before a board, court, labour court, tribunal, or arbitrator, the board, court, labour court, tribunal or arbitrator may submit a suitable report to the State Government and the labour court, tribunal or an arbitrator may submit an award to the State Government on the footing that the industrial dispute under reference is no longer in existence.
9. On 13 November 1931, neither party appeared before the tribunal. Therefore, it was open to the tribunal to exercise its discretion under Rule 22. The tribunal, however, did not do that but refixed another date for ex parte hearing, with notice to the trade union only. In that it was wrong. If the tribunal was going to refix another date for hearing, it should have given notice both to the petitioner-firm and to the trade union and should not have gone on with the case with notice to the trade union only.
10. For the reasons aforesaid, I feel that the petitioner-firm has the justifiable grievance that it had not been given proper opportunity of representing its case before the industrial tribunal. I therefore quash the award of the industrial tribunal and remand the case back to the tribunal, to be heard after fresh service of notice to the petitioner-firm at its principal place of business at No. 5, Rajkumar Chatterjee Road, Calcutta. The State Government is directed to take all further steps, if any, at all necessary, in order to enable the tribunal to rehear the reference according to law.
11. The rules is made absolute.
12. Let a writ of certiorari and a writ of mandamus as here in before indicated issue.
13. There will be no order as to costs.