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Indian Statistical Institute Vs. State of West Bengal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1975)IILLJ283Cal
AppellantIndian Statistical Institute
RespondentState of West Bengal and ors.
Cases ReferredF.I.C. Commerce v. R.K. Mittal
Excerpt:
- .....was barred by the principles of res judicata. it was contended that in the order of the fifth industrial tribunal in a previous reference it has been held that the petitioner was not an industry within the meaning of the industrial disputes act, 1947. apart from the question whether the principles of res judicata are at all applicable in industrial adjudication of this nature, it is apparent the previous reference was in respect of a particular unit and, therefore, the decision of the tribunal in the previous case was in respect of the activities of only one unit of the institute and not the institute as a whole. in the aforesaid view of the matter no question of applicability of the principles of res judicata arise in this case. on this aspect of the matter we are in agreement with.....
Judgment:

Sabyasachi Mukherji, J.

1. There was an order of reference under Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, on 14th of May, 1965, in respect of certain alleged dispute between Indian Statistical Institute and its workmen represented by union of workmen. Before the Tribunal a preliminary point was taken that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction. The preliminary objection was based on two grounds firstly, the Indian Statistical Institute was not an industry and a reference under Section 10 of the Act was not competent and secondly, the dispute in respect of which, a reference had been made was barred by principles of res judicata. By an order, dated the 17th March, 1969, the Tribunal decided this preliminary point and held that the reference was competent and was not barred by the principles of res judicata. Aggrieved by the said order the petitioner moved this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution and obtained a rule nisi. The matter came up for hearing before P.K. Banerjee, J., and by an order passed and judgment delivered on the 13th of December, 1971, the learned Judge has discharged the rule nisi and dismissed the application. The Indian Statistical Institute has preferred this appeal against the aforesaid order of P.K. Banerjee, J., dated the 13th of December, 1971.

2. Two points were taken in the application under Article 226 of the Constitution viz., that the subject-matter of the dispute was barred by the principles of res judicata. It was contended that in the order of the Fifth Industrial Tribunal in a previous reference it has been held that the petitioner was not an industry within the meaning of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Apart from the question whether the principles of res judicata are at all applicable in industrial adjudication of this nature, it is apparent the previous reference was in respect of a particular unit and, therefore, the decision of the Tribunal in the previous case was in respect of the activities of only one unit of the Institute and not the Institute as a whole. In the aforesaid view of the matter no question of applicability of the principles of res judicata arise in this case. On this aspect of the matter we are in agreement with the views expressed by the learned Judge.

3. The second question is whether the Indian Statistical Institute is an industry in respect of which there can be a reference under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The Indian Statistical Institute is a body corporate registered under the Societies Registration Act and is governed by the Indian Statistical Institute Act. In view of the importance of the functions of the Institute large sums of money were received by it from the Government and the Institute was considered to be one of national importance. The institution is empowered to grant degrees and diplomas in Statistics. In the Memorandum of Association of the Institute the objects of the Institute are stated to be as follows:

(i) to promote the study and dissemination of knowledge of the research on statistics and other subjects relating to planning for national development and social welfare;

(ii) to provide for, and undertake, the collection of information, investigations, projects, and operational research for purposes of planning and the improvement of the efficiency of management and production;

(iii) to undertake any other activities which in the opinion of the Council may be usefully carried out by the Institute in furtherance of national development and social welfare.

4. The various activities of the Institute, inter alia, are as follows: (1) National Sample Survey Project, (2) the Statistical Quality Control Work, (3) the Electronic Computer Laboratory, (4) the Development Workshop, (5) Family Planning Unit, (6) Kalyanshri Cottage Industry Unit, (7) Giridih Agriculture Farm, (8) Research and Training School and (9) other minor projects. It appears that the total number of employees are 2351 but the Research and Training School of the Institute employs only 266 workmen. From the history and activities of the Institute as stated in paragraph 3 of the affidavit filed before the Tribunal it appears the Institute was first started in 1931. Evidence was also produced before the Tribunal about the annual reports of the Institute from the years 1961 to 1967. Accounts of the Institute from 1961 to 1068 have been set out at page 75 of the Paper Book and these indicate that the total receipt for the year 1987-68 amounted to Rs. 1,69,07,458.76 P. Out of this total income, income from the projects amounted to Rs. 1,22,20,407.78 P. In a case of this nature where an establishment or institution carries on more than one activity how the question whether the institution or the establishment carries on industry or not within the meaning of the Act has to be determined has been the subject-matter of several decisions of the Supreme Court, viz., State of Bombay v. Hospital Mazdoor Sabha : (1960)ILLJ251SC , Ahmedabad Textile Industry's Research Association v. State of Bombay : (1960)IILLJ720SC , University of Delhi v. Ram Nath : (1963)IILLJ335SC and all these decisions were reviewed by the Supreme Court in the case of F.I.C. Commerce v. R.K. Mittal : (1971)IILLJ630SC . It appears that from these various decisions the following principles emerge (a) in a case like this it is necessary to find out the primary or the principal activity of the institution or establishment, then (b) it is necessary to find that whether the principal or primary activity consists in the production of goods or service to the community and (c) that production or service to the community is done with the help of the employees (d) in an organised and systematic manner and (e) is a result of the co-operation of the employer and employee. Keeping the above principles in mind it appears that in view of the facts, as mentioned before, historically the Institute came into being for a purpose different from imparting education and historically considered the Institute until the year 1949 had predominantly carried on activities of an industrial character. Out of the 9 projects 8 projects were rendering material services and were organised in systematic manners. If one analyses the employment figures, as we have mentioned before, the workmen employed in projects rendering reaterial service are ten times more than those employed in the educational unit. The total earnings: of the major projects are very much larger than its income from non-industrial activity. In the afore-said view of the matter by looking at the facts of the case historically and from the point of view of the organisation and the system of work and from the nature of activities ft appears to us that the main and predominant activity of the Institute as evidenced from the evidence on record was rendering material service to the community and that the service was organised in a systematic manner with the help of the employees. In the aforesaid view of the matter we are of the opinion that the Tribunal was right in coming to the conclusion that the preliminary objection raised by the Institute could not be sustained.

5. In the aforesaid view of the matter the judgment and order of P.K. Banerjee, J., are hereby confirmed. The appeal is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.

6. The tribunal will continue the proceedings but will not make any final order for three weeks.

Sankar Prasad Mitra, C.J.

7. I agree


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