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Yovan Vs. Management of India Cements Ltd. [1993] INSC 447 (15 October 1993)

MOHAN, S. (J) MOHAN, S. (J) VENKATACHALLIAH, M.N.(CJ) CITATION: 1994 AIR 558 1994 SCC (1) 572 JT 1993 (6) 273 1993 SCALE (4)244

ACT:

HEADNOTE:

The Judgment of the Court was delivered by MOHAN, J.- Leave granted. Delay condoned.

2.The appellant is a union of workmen employed in the establishments of Respondent 1 at Sankamagar in the State of Tamil Nadu. Respondent I is a company with major financial inputs by various financial institutions in the country.

Respondents 3 to 14 are contractors who were employed by Respondent I to do various jobs. At the relevant time these respondents employed 300 and odd workers. The services of these workers were terminated. They claimed to have worked continuously for a period of over 10 years. Inasmuch as they were neither paid the same wages nor were they allowed the same working conditions allowed by the principal employer, +From the Judgment and Order dated August 28, 1991 of the Principal Labour Court, Madurai in I.A. No. 189 of 1991 in I.D. No. 56 of 1987 573 namely, Respondent I to its own workmen. The appellant union raised demands to make contract labour permanent as mandated by law by removing the intermediary contractors.

The demands were not complied with. Therefore, a dispute was raised. Conciliation proceedings took place on various dates. Ultimately on September 22, 1986 a failure report by Joint Commissioner of Labour, Madras, was submitted. On consideration of the report and the other relevant facts a notification was issued by the Government of Tamil Nadu on September 23, 1987 under Section 10(1)(c) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') that the dispute between the union and the management of India Cements contractors relating to non-employment of 300 workers be referred for adjudication to the Labour Court, Madurai. Pending adjudication of main dispute, the management (Respondent 1) preferred an interlocutory application for determination as a preliminary issue that the reference by the State of Tamil Nadu is bad since the appropriate authority in relation to the cement industry is the Central Government. The Principal Labour Court, Madurai, allowed the application by the impugned order dated August 28, 1991 and terminated the proceedings. It is under these circumstances the special leave petition came to be filed after a delay of 223 days. Notices were issued on September 25, 1992 both on the SLP as well as on the application for condonation of delay.

3.The argument on behalf of the appellant is that the finding of the Labour Court that it is a controlled industry by the Central Government is incorrect. Equally, the finding that in view of the application of the Government of India dated April 15, 1988 that cement industry is a controlled industry under the Act and, therefore, the reference by Central Government is bad and cannot be supported. The question of delegation of powers to the State Government does not arise. The powers exercised by the Central Government under the Act are equally exercisable by the State Government. Therefore, the impugned order is to be set aside.

4.The stand of the appellant-union is opposed by the management. The Union of India supports the appellant and filed a counter in which it is clearly averred that under notification dated December 8, 1977 issued under Section 39 of the Act, the powers exercisable by the Government of India in relation to cement industry shall also be exercised by State Governments, except in the cases of mines and quarries forming part of cement industry where the Central Government alone has jurisdiction. Thus, both the Central Government and the State Governments have concurrent jurisdiction under the Act in relation to cement industry.

5.In view of the above, the only short question which arises for our determination is as to which is the appropriate Government to make a reference in this case.

6.We need not dwell at length in view of the notification dated December 8, 1977 of the Union of India and the stand taken in the counteraffidavit, the relevant portion of which is extracted below:

574 "The Government of India had issued Notification No. SO 757(E) dated November 8, 1977 wherein it is stated that under Section 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Central Government has specified (for the purpose of the said sub-clause) the controlled industry engaged in the manufacture and production of cement, which has been declared controlled industry under Section 2 of the Industrial (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951. By virtue of the aforesaid notification the Central Government becomes 'appropriate Government' under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, in respect of cement industry. A true copy of the aforesaid notification dated November 8, 1977 is annexed herewith as Annexure R-I.

Subsequently, another notification was published in the Gazette of India Extraordinary dated December 8, 1977 wherein the Government of India exercised its power under Section 39 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and it was notified that the powers exercisable by Government of India under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, in relation to cement industry shall also be exercisable by the State Governments, except in the case of mines and quarries forming part of the cement industry where the Central Government alone has jurisdiction. Thus both the Central Government and State Governments have concurrent jurisdiction in relation to cement industry under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, except in the case of mines and quarries forming part of the cement industry. A true copy of said notification dated December 8, 1977 is annexed to this affidavit as Annexure R-II.

In the present special leave petition pertaining to regularisation of certain workmen working in the cement factory, engaged in the processes connected with transfer of cement, the Central Government as well as the State Governments are the appropriate Governments under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 in view of the issuance of notifications dated December 8, 1977 under Section 39 of the Industrial Disputes Act mentioned above." 7. The notification dated December 8, 1977 reads as under:

"S.O. 826(E) In exercise of the powers, conferred by Section 39 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (14 of 1947), the Central Government hereby directs that all the powers exercisable by it under that Act and the rules made thereunder shall, in relation to the Cement Industry be exercised also by all the State Governments, subject to the condition that the Central Government shall continue to exercise all the powers under the said Act and Rules made thereunder- (i)relating to mines and quarries even where such mines and quarries form part of the Cement Industry; and (ii)relating to the dispute between the employers who are members of the Cement Manufacturers Association, Express Building, Churchgate, Bombay and their workmen represented by Indian National Cement and Allied Workers' Federation, Mazdoor 575 Karyalaya, Congress House, Bombay, which has been referred for arbitration in pursuance of Section 10-A of the said Act, read with Notification No. S.O. 757(E) dated November 8, 1977 [No. S. 11025/9/77/DI(A)], in terms of the arbitration agreement published by the notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Labour Order No. L.29013/2/77-D.O.III(B), dated November 28, 1977.

No. S. 11025/9/77/DI(A) D. Bandyopadhyay, Jt. Secy. (True copy/attested) sd/ Regional Labour Commissioner (Central) Madras."

8. Therefore, it is clear that both the Central and the State Governments are appropriate Governments under the Act.

That being so, the notification issued by the Government of Tamil Nadu dated January 23, 1987 is a valid notification.

The stand taken by the respondent-management,+ is not tenable. Accordingly the impugned order of the Labour Court is hereby set aside. The civil appeal will stand allowed.

The Labour Court is directed to proceed with the reference in accordance with law most expeditiously. There shall be no order as to costs.

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