of Chemical Workers Vs. S.D. Rane & Ors  INSC 303 (22 February 1996)
K.Ramaswamy, K.G.B. Pattanaik (J)
1996 AIR 1559 1996 SCC (3) 504 1996 SCALE (2)800
O R D
appeal by special leave arises from the order of the Division Bench of the
Bombay High Court made on September 7, 1983
in W.P. No.3038 of 1983. The appellant is a rival trade union under M/s.
Chemicals & Fibers of India Ltd. [formerly ICI India Ltd.]. The Industrial Court in the order had pointed out that
the total employees as on June 15, 1981
were 811 and the respondent-union had a strength of 448 as against the
appellant-rival union having strength of 241. Thus it was held to be a
recognized union. The appellant had challenged the procedure adopted by the
investigating officer under Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Union and
Prevention of Unfair Labour Practice Act, 1971 (1 of 1971) (for short,
Vasdev, learned counsel for the appellant, contended that the Investigating
Officer was not justified in law in conducting spot verification and calling
employees either by alternate number and verifying the same and that the
procedure, therefore, was clearly illegal. It is not in dispute that the
investigation requires to be done by the investigating officer in accordance
with the procedure prescribed under the Act. This Court in Automobile Products
of India Employees' Union vs. Association of Engineering
Workers Bombay, [(1990) 2 SCC 444] had held that the scheme relating to the
recognition was to be done in accordance with the Act. Even if the parties
consented to identify the number of employees in the Company by secret ballot,
that method was not warranted by law and consent did not cure the illegality of
substitution of a procedure not prescribed under the Act. The same view was
reiterated by this Court in Association of Engineering Workers vs. Dockyard Labour
Union & Ors., [(1995) Supp. 4 SCC 544]. Consequently, the investigating
office is required to conduct investigation in accordance with the procedure
prescribed under the Act.
this case, the Industrial
Court had directed
the investigating officer by his order dated November 17, 1980 to give opportunity to the parties and then to conduct the
enquiry in terms of its previous order dated October 5, 1979. In furtherance thereof, the investigating officer called
upon the appellant as well as the respondent-Union to submit the list of
members of the respective associations.
initially had verified the lists and thereafter made spot verification that the
basis. He submitted a report stating that "as per the direction given by
the Hon'ble Member, Industrial
undersigned conducted the enquiry on the spot in the presence of the two
representatives of each union and members of the non-application
employees." This report of the total number of respective unions was
accepted by the Industrial
Court and upheld no
doubt not by a very reasoned order, by the summary order. The Division Bench
did not interfere after perusal of records, since no error of law would be
noticed. Hence this appeal.
Section 14 of the Act, the prohibition to make a fresh application was imposed
for a period of two years; further making of an application within one year
from the date of order passed by the Industrial Court was prohibited.
other words, after the expiry of two years, if any rival union seeks any
recognition, the Industrial Court is required to follow the procedure
prescribed under Section 14 of the act and then to take a decision according to
the order was passed by the Industrial Court
in the year 1983 and sufficient time has already elapsed, the embargo under
Section 14 of the Act no longer is available.
if the appellant still seeks any recognition of the appellant-Union in
accordance with the provisions of the Act, it would be open to adopt such
procedure as is available under law.
appeal is accordingly dismissed. No costs.