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The Anna Art Press (P) Limited Vs. State of West Bengal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1977)ILLJ411Cal
AppellantThe Anna Art Press (P) Limited
RespondentState of West Bengal and ors.
Cases Referred & Steel Co. v. Third Industrial Tribunal
Excerpt:
- .....the 13th may, 1968 several letters were written to the petitioner-company protesting against the notice of retrenchment. when the general meeting of the workers of the petitioner company was held on the 12th may, 1968, it was decided that the workers, would request the management to withdraw the said retrench order. it is alleged that on the 17th may, 1968 two tactics, namely 'go slow' and sit down strike' were adopted by the workers besides threats and intimidation. by a letter dated 'he 13th may, 1968 the workers of the petitioner-company objected to such retrenchment notice. on the 17th may, 1968, the secretary of the union wrote a letter to the labour commissioner regarding this retrenchment and asked him to intervene in the matter. in 1 be mean time, on the 25ih may, 1968. a no.....
Judgment:

Bimal Chandra Basak, J.

1. The petitioner is a private Limited Company and carries on business or printing at its Press situated at 26-B, Dr Suresh Sarkar Road, Calcutta. The said business was alleged to have been closed down. It Is alleged (hat the petitioner-company at all material times employed about 87 workmen in the said printing business. It is alleged that besides office and supervisory stuff the petitioner-company bad about 70 workmen In the printing pres. There were some difficulties which the petitioner was temporary facing regarding the printing business and because of lack of printing orders the business of the petitioner-company was not running properly and that there was considerable fall in the printing orders. It appears that on the 8th May, 1968 the petitioner issued a notice stating that the Management had been noticing that for tome lime past the workers were deliberately adopting tactice whereby usual normal day-to-day production was being regularly disrupted. They stated that unless the workmen stopped those tactics the Management would be compelled to lake necessary steps against that Thereafter it appears that the petitioner issued a notice dated the 11th May. 1968. The petitioner decided to retrench some of the employees whj were, according to the petitioner, surplus to their requirement. The reason which was put toward was that due to considerable fall of printing works in the press the Management will not be in a position to five full-time Work to all the employees. It appears that on the 11th May, 1968, a notice was given by 51 workers of the petitioner company in respect of the notice of the petitioner dated the 8th May, 1968. The facts alleged in the said notice dated 8th May, 1968 was denied and disputed and it was alleged that the said notice was motivated. The company was called upon to withdraw the said notice. On the 13th May, 1968 several letters were written to the petitioner-company protesting against the notice of retrenchment. When the general meeting of the workers of the petitioner company was held on the 12th May, 1968, it was decided that the workers, would request the Management to withdraw the said retrench order. It is alleged that on the 17th May, 1968 two tactics, namely 'go slow' and sit down strike' were adopted by the workers besides threats and intimidation. By a letter dated 'he 13th May, 1968 the workers of the petitioner-company objected to such retrenchment notice. On the 17th May, 1968, the secretary of the union wrote a letter to the Labour Commissioner regarding this retrenchment and asked him to intervene in the matter. In 1 be mean time, on the 25ih May, 1968. a no ice of closure was issued by the petitioner-company stating that the Management had been finding it extremely difficult to run the Press signora the last few months with intentional low production by workmen with their gloom policy and for various actions. Various other allegations were made. It was stated that the Management found itself unable to run the Press any more and that it bad decided to case down the printing press which was the only alternative left. Accordingly by the said notice the Management purported to close down the Pres with effect from the 25th May, 1968. a novice the 27th May. 1968 the union wrote a letter to the Labour Officer of the Government of West Bengal protesting against the said closure and asking him to intervene in the matter It was stead that this was not a proper closure but a lock-out. On the 3uth May, 1968 the onion wrote a letter to the petitioner-company with reference to the notice of closure. It was stated that the allegations of go slow tactics and sit do strike on the part of the workers were a news to them. It was categorically denied by them that the go flow tactic' and sit down strike were adopted by the workers at any point of time as alleged or at all. On 7th June, 1968 the secretary of the union in a letter to Mr. Hazra, Labour Officer stated that the Management failed to appear in the conciliation meeting called by him. By a letter dated the 24th June, 1968 the petitioner-company made representations to the Labour Officer, West Bengal, as to the disputes raised before him regarding the retrenchment and closure and stated that they are justified in their action regarding the retrenchment of the workmen, and the closure. It appears that they bad also made this point on the 27th June, 1908 before the Labour Officer in the presence of the workmen and the Conciliation Officer. Meanwhile, another letter was written through the union to the Labour Officer in respect of ibis alleged lock-out stating that there was no valid reason for closing. On the 3rd July 1968 the union made further representation to the Directors of the petitioner-company and they made demand for opening of the Press with immediate effect with full strength of the workers and for taking back all retrenched workmen. On the 5th July, 1968 another letter was issued by the petitioner compaty to the Labour Officer in connection with the conciliation proceedings held regarding the retrenchment of the workmen and closure and justified the action regarding the lame.

2. Under these circumstances, an order of reference was made by the Government of West Bengal on the 31st July. 1908 in exercise of the powers conferred on it by Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 whereby the disputes and differences between the petitioner and the workers were referred to the Eighth Industrial Tribunal for adjudication. The issues referred to therein are as follows:

1. Whether the retrenchment of Sarvasree (a) Golam Rasul. (b) SK. Alauddin, (c) Sk. Raja Babu, (d) Mir Doujat Ali (c) Golem Akbar, (f) Md. Ajmal, (g) Md Wall (b) Sanabat Ali. (i) Md. Ekbal. (j) Belayat Hossain, (k) Chunilal Bose is justified ?

2. Whether the closure of the Factory with effect from 25-5-68 is real and band fide? Whether the closure is due to reasons beyond the control of the Management and in the circumstances justified? What relief, if any are the workmen entitled ?

3. In their written statement before the Tribunal the company raised a preliminary objection. This matter was heard by the Industrial Tribunal. It was contended on behalf of the petitioner relying on the decision in the case of Sindhu He-settlement Corporation Ltd. v. Industrial Tribunal reported in A.I.R. 1965 S.C. 529, that so far as the Issue No. 2 is concerned as no prior dispute was raised before the company directly before the order of reference, there was no industrial dispute and accordingly this order of reference must be held to be bad. The Tribunal considered this objection of the petitioner and after hearing the petitioner, the Tribunal rejected the contention of the petitioner by the impugned award dated the 13th July, 1974. Being aggrieved by the said decision of the Industrial Tribunal, the petitioner has challenged the said award in this application.

4. In support of the Rule similar submissions were made before me. It was submitted that so far as Issue No. 2 is concerned, that it, the issue regarding closure, no dispute was raised with the company before the reference was made and accordingly, there cannot be any industrial dispute which could be referred for adjudication In this context reference was made to the decision is the case of Sindhu Re-settlement Corporation (supra). Mr. Ghosh, learned advocate appearing on behalf of the respondent, disputed the correctness of the contention of the petitioner and submitted that such a dispute was in fact raised before the company. In this context he referred to the relevant correspondence.

5. The law on this aspect is now well, settled Before a dispute can become an industrial dispute which can be referred for adjudication, the dispute must be taken up with the company, More reference of the matter to the Conciliation Officer would not by sufficient to enable the Government to make an order of reference in connection With the same. This aspect of the matter was also considered by me in detail in the case of Hindustan Steel Limited v. State of Went Bengal in Civil Rule No. 3938 (W) of 1976 wherein I delivered my judgment on 29th January, 975 and also in the case of Workmen of National iron & Steel Co. v. Third Industrial Tribunal in Civil Rule No. 1873(W) of 1972, wherein I delivered my judgment on 21st July. 1975. Accordingly I need not discuss the same in detail.

6. In this particular case it is clear that apart from specifically raising the demand regarding retrenchment of some employees, the question of the closure of the Press was also raised with the company. Further, it is 10 be pointed out that not only that this matter was raised by the workmen with the petitioner-company directly but that in conciliation proceeding held in this connection the petitioners participated and therein also the petitioner-company rejected this demand of the petitioner. In the decisions referred to above I have considered this aspect of the matter and in this context I have referred also to a judgment of Rajas-than High Court wherein it was held that if the workmen raise this demand in conciliation proceedings and if the same is rejected by the company therein, that would be sufficient for the purpose of referring such industrial dispute apart from the question of making such demand directly to the company. In its letter dated 24th June, 1968, the petitioner company has not only specifically referred the question of retrenchment but also the question of closure of the Press by the petitioner-corn, panty. It also appears from this that during the conciliation proceedings held on the 17th June, 1908 the stand taken by the company was to justify theist action not merely in connection with retrenchment but also regarding the closure. From the letter dated 3rd July, 1968 which is addressed 10 the Directors of the petitioner-company it is clear that this matter was specifically raised by the workmen with the petitioner company, By the said letter after setting out their case that such a retrenchment was illegal and that the closure was unjustified and that it was really a lockout. The workers had specifically asked for opening of the Pretty. That is a demand in respect of alleged closure of the Press. It is an admitted petition that this demand has not been acceded to by the petitioner-company. Further, from the letter dated 5th July, 1968, it is also clear that in the joint conference for conciliation held, the petitioner bad refused to accede to the request and or demand of the workmen and that they have reiterated their position and justified their action 18 not merely retrenching these persons but closing down the press itself.

7. From the aforesaid it in clear that this demand was specifically taken, up by the workmen with the petitioner-company but the same was not acceeded to. In the conciliation proceedings also such a demand was made on behalf of the workmen which was rejected by the company concerned in my opinion, this is sufficient to show that a demand was raised prior to the order of reference and that the order of reference was a perfectly validly one. The test laid down in Sindhu Resettlement Corporation case is fully satisfied in the present case.

8. For the aforesaid reasons I reject the contentions of Mr. Datta. Accordingly I dismiss this application and' discharge the Rule. Interim orders, if any, are vacated. There will be no order as to costs.


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