Dhagamwar Narsingh Vs. S. S. Grewal
 INSC 297 (9 October 1961)
GUPTA, K.C. DAS
CITATION: 1962 AIR 422 1962 SCR Supl. (1) 32
Mine-Appeal-Chief Labour Officer of Company
Termination of service by company-Appeal to Chief Inspector of Mines, if
maintainab1e-Chief Labour Officer, if Welfare Officer Mines Rules, 1955, rr. 72,
73 and 74.
The appellant was appointed as the Chief
Labour officer by the Company in 1947. In December; 1955, the company
terminated his services The appellant, claiming to be a Welfare officer,
preferred an appeal to the Chief Inspector of Mines under r. 74(2) of the Mines
^ Held, that the appellant was not a Welfare
officer and as such could not prefer an appeal under r. 74 (2). The Welfare
officer mentioned in r. 74 (2) is the same officer as is mentioned in r. 72 (1)
which rule contemplates a Welfare officer appointed in respect of one mine. But
the appellant was an officer of several mines of the Company and not of one of
such mines only.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 548 of 1958.
Appeal by Special Leave from the judgment and
order dated March 27, 1957, of the Patna High Court in Misc. Judicial Case No.
315 of 1956.
B. Sen, P. W. Sahasrabudhe and A. C. Ratnaparkhi.
for the Appellant K. L. Hathi and R. H. Dhebar, for Respondent No. 1.
N. C. Chatterjee and S. N. Mukerji, for
Respondent No. 2.
1961. October 9. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by SARKAR, J.-on September 25, 1947, the appellant was appointed
by respondent No. 2, the Tata Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. (hereafter called the
Company) as the Chief Labour officer of its collieries of which it appears to
have a few, and he worked 33 under the Company till the latter terminated his
services by a notice dated December 5,1955. On such discharge, the appellant ,
claiming to be a Welfare Officer of a mine within r.74(2) of the Mines Rules
1955, which rule we shall later ser out, filed an appeal before respondent
No.1, the Chief Inspector of Mines in India, under that rule questioning the
validity of his discharged by the Company. The Chief Inspector held that the
appellant was not a Welfare Officer within that rule and refused to entertain
The appellant then moved the High Court at
Patna under Art. 226 of the Constitution for an appropriate writ directing the
chief inspector to decide the appeal. The High Court dismissed the appellant's
petition agreeing substantially with the view taken by the Chief Inspector. The
appellant has now appealed to this Court against the judgment of the High
The Mines Rules; 1955 were framed under the Mines
Act 1952, and came into force on July 2, 1956. We are principally concerned
with the proviso for. 74(2) but this has to be read with r.72. The relevant
portions of these rules are set out below.
Rule 72. (1) In every mine wherein 500 or
more persons are ordinarily employed there shall be appointed at least one
Welfare Officer:- Provided that if the number of persons ordinarily employed
exceeds 2000, there shall be appointed additional Welfare Officer on a scale of
one for every 2000 persons or fraction thereof- (2) No person shall as a Welfare
Officer of a mine unless he possesses- (Here certain qualifications are
specified) Provided that in case of a person already in service as a Welfare
Officer in a mine the 34 above qualifications may, with the approval of the
Chief Inspector be relaxed.
(4) A written notice of ever y such
appointment..... and of the date thereof shall be sent by the owner, agent or
manager t o the Chief Inspector within 7 days from the date of such
Rule 73. Duties of Welfare officers:
(Here certain duties are prescribed) Rule 74.
(2) The condition of service of a Welfare
Officer shall be the same as of other members of the staff of corresponding
status in the mine;
Provided that in the case of discharge or
dismissal, the Welfare Officer, shall have a right of appeal to the Chief
Inspector whose decision thereon shall be final and binding upon the owner, agent
or manager of the mine as the case may be.
The Chief Inspector mentioned in these Rules
is the Chief Inspector of Mines in India.
If the appellant was not a Welfare officer
within the proviso to r. 74(2) as the company contends, then, of course, no appeal
by him lay under it. He would then clearly not be entitled to the writ he
asked. The question therefore is whether the appellant was a Welfare Officer
within the rule and is really one of construction of it.
We desire now to point out certain facts as
to which there is no controversy. First, both the Act and the Rules came into
force long after the appellant had been appointed by the Company.
Secondly no relaxation of qualifications had
been sought from or granted by the Chief Inspector with respect to 35 The
appellant under the proviso to sub-r. (2) of r. 72 after the Rules came in to
force. Thirdly, no notice as contemplated in r. 72(4) had been given concerning
the appellant. It appears that the Chief Inspector found that the appellant
"was performing duties akin to those of Welfare officers contemplated by
rule 73 and he was qualified to work as a Welfare officer." We propose to
deal with this appeal on the basis of these findings.
Dealing with the contention noticed by the
Chief Inspector and the High Court that a Welfare Officer under r. 74(2) is one
who is appointed after the Rules came into force, Mr. Sen for the appellant
said that a person like the appellant who had the requisite qualifications and
was discharging the duties prescribed for a Welfare officer from before the
Rules came into force, would be a Welfare officer within them. He pointed out
that the proviso to sub-r. (2) of r. 72 clearly contemplated the continuance of
the service of such a person as a Welfare officer with relaxation where such
was necessary and was granted. He also said that sub-r. (4) of r. 72 was
inapplicable to Such a person because he had been appointed long ago and
because the proviso to r.
72(2) indicated that its application was not
intended. We do not think it necessary to pronounce on this question in the
present case. In our view, the appeal must fail even if Mr. Sen's contention is
right and that for another reason .
We observe that the Rules do not define the
term "Welfare officer". But we think it is beyond doubt-and indeed
the contrary has not been contended that the Welfare officer mentioned in the
proviso to r. 74(2) is the same officer as is mentioned in sub-r (1) of r. 72.
Now it is, in our view, perfectly plain that the Welfare officer contemplated by
r. 72(1) is such an officer of one mine. The rule says that there shall be at
least one Welfare officer for every mine employing between 500 and 2000 persons
and this makes any other view impossible 36 As we understood Mr. Sen, he also
accepted that the Welfare officer contemplated is one appointed in respect of
one mine. Now, the appellant was on his own case, the Welfare Officer of
several mines of the Company and not of one of such mines only.
Therefore, we think that he was not a Welfare
officer within r. 72(1) and hence not within the proviso to r. 74(2).
But Mr. Sen contends that the appellant might
be considered as having been severally and independently appointed the Welfare
officer of each of the Company's several collieries in his charge. We think
that would be an impossible view to take. One appointment cannot be treated as
several appointments and it is not in dispute that the appellant had only one
appointment for all the Company's collieries.
We think that this appeal fails and we
dismiss it with costs.