Sharma & Another Vs. M. L. Bhalla & Others  Insc 565 (6 September 2006)
Sinha & Dalveer Bhandari
out of SLP (C) No. 6425 of 2005] Dalveer Bhandari, J.
short controversy involved in this appeal pertains to holding of the next
elections of a Trade Union called the Uttariya Railway Mazdoor Union registered
under the Trade Unions Act, 1926 (hereinafter mentioned as "the Union"). Its members are drawn from the Northern
Railways and it is managed by a Central Executive Committee under a duly
registered Constitution. The General Body is the supreme body of the Union. According to clause 1 of the Constitution Rules and
Byelaws of the Union, 'General Body' consists of office-bearers of the Union
and members of the Central Executive Committee and delegates elected in the
prescribed manner as defined hereinafter. Clause 6 deals with the aims and
objects of the Union. It reads as follows:
Aims and Objects.
The aims and
objects of the Union shall be:-
To establish an
independent and free Union based on the principles of Trade
Unionism which shall be free from the influences of the Government, the
Employer and the Political Parties.
cause, and help to establish leadership of the workers in the management of
their Trade Union.
To make the
Northern Railway Employees conscious of their rights and duties by uniting and
consolidating them under the Union.
To promote and
protect the interests of the Northern Railway employees by legitimate and
To watch, defend
and promote the interests, rights and privileges of the Northern Railway
Employees irrespective of caste, creed, race or section in all matters relating
to their employment.
the activities of different categorical groups of Railway employees for
safeguarding their legitimate interests.
relations and to establish mutual understanding between members and
administration and to settle issues through negotiations, conciliations and/or
prepare and encourage Railway employees to take increasing part in the
management, administration and control of the Railway in the larger interest of
the country and to enthuse National Spirit in them.
Legislative measures for the protection of Labour and to oppose the same when
it is against the interest of Labour.
To press for
reasonable hours of work, proper housing and standard of living.
To provide funds
for the compensation of members for loss arising out of trade disputes.
To organize and
establish separate funds for the benefit of members or their dependents in
cases of sickness, accident or death, non-employment and old-age of such
members and for funeral, legal and purpose, declared lawful under the Act.
co-operative stores in the interest of Railway Employees.
To promote and
safeguard the economic, social and civic interests of Railway employees in
alliance with the rest of the working class organizations in so far as it does
not violate the provisions of Trade Union Act.
federate with or affiliate itself to any Association, Union or Society having kindred aims and objects.
To encourage and
establish Panchayat System in the Railway Colonies for settling mutual
To provide legal
assistance to members by raising special funds in respect of matters arising
out of or incidental of their employment.
To secure and
maintain for the Railway employees:-
Right to Work.
Right to Strike,
representation in the management and in the legislature.
To encourage and
establish Night Schools; Clubs, Reading Rooms for the employees and their
children and to make grant to the take share in the management and control of
any institution having for its objects the education and training of Trade
Unionism. Also publish periodicals and journals.
To raise special
funds if and when necessary for any or all the objects stated above or for any
legitimate objects considered conductive to the growth and expansion of the Union.
grants-in-aid from different sources including Central Board for Workers
Education for educating Workers Education Programme."
26 of the Constitution Rules and Bye-laws of the Union is reproduced as under:
General Body shall consist of:
and members of the Central Council.
elected by the members in each Branch of the Union at a meeting held for the purpose on the basis of one
delegate for every 150 members or major part thereof, shall comprise of:
The General Body
meeting will be held in every three years.
Any other extra
General Body Meeting will be held after three years."
to Clause 28, subject to the control of the General Body, there shall be a
Central Council at the headquarters of the Union
for the general management of the affairs of the Union consisting of the President, and other office-bearers of
the Union. The President and the
office-bearers are elected for a period of three years.
to Clause 34(f), the elected office-bearers will continue functioning till the
new elections are held or for another period of six months whichever is
last election of the General Body had taken place on 4/5.7.2002. The term of the
Office Bearers of the Union came to an end on 4/5.7.2005.
additional period of six months according to Clause 34(f) has also lapsed, but
the scheduled elections have not taken place because of the inter se dispute
and litigation between two groups of the Union.
There has been considerable litigation both in U.P. and in Delhi between the two groups of the Union. Both groups have levelled serious allegations
against each other. It is not necessary to go into the details of those
allegations and the litigation for deciding this appeal. Therefore, we do not
propose to deal with the litigation between the parties. The parties to this
appeal have prayed that the elections of the Union should be held as early as possible. This is also recorded
in the order of this Court dated 3.7.2006.
office-bearers (appellants herein) were elected on 4/5.7.2002 and are still
continuing though there term came to an end on 4/5.7.2005. There is serious
objection to their further continuation in the office by the respondents. The
respondents have levelled serious allegations of financial irregularities and mis-
management against the appellants, whereas the appellants have given
justification for their continuation in the Office.
appellants have alleged that the respondents are creating hurdles in the smooth
functioning of the Union. According to Clause 26, the
'General Body' consists of the office-bearers and members of the Central
Council and delegates elected by the members of each Branch of the Union at a meeting held for the purpose on the basis of
one delegate for every 150 members or major part thereof. In order to conduct
the elections of the General Body, elections of the Branch Offices also need to
dispute between the parties relates to elections of the office-bearers of the
Central Level of Uttariya Railway Mazdoor Union. We may notice the relevant
provisions of the rules of the old Uttariya Railway Mazdoor Union Constitution
(for short, 'the Rules') a little later, but we may, at the outset, notice that
the tenure of the appellants is indisputably over. It has expired on
4/5.7.2005. The suit was filed before the learned trial court regarding the
validity of the elections. Evidently, the learned trial court has no
jurisdiction to direct continuance of holding of office by the appellants
herein beyond the period of tenure. We may also notice that the High Court
intended to take assistance of the General Manager of the Northern Railway
Administration for holding the elections. He affirmed an affidavit before the
High Court stating that the electoral lists of both factions are unacceptable.
In the aforementioned situation, a retired Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh
High Court was appointed for determining the correctness or otherwise of the list
of 371 candidates. A report was filed by the said learned Judge upon
verification of the names of the members of the general body on 1.12.2005.
six separate lists with his report, the learned Judge has enclosed all the
materials placed before him by the parties. The parties filed objections
thereto. The said writ petition has been dismissed. A writ appeal against the
same is pending. It has also not been disputed before us that interim
applications were filed before the High Court in Letters Patent Appeal Nos.596-
600 of 2006.
parties pray that the elections should be directed to be held as expeditiously
as possible. There are, however, disputes with regard to the correctness of the
electoral roll and the manner in which the elections are to be held.
relevant rules are as under:
"The General Body shall consist
and members of the Central Council.
elected by the members in each Branch of the Union at a meeting held for the
purpose on the basis of one delegate for every 150 members of major part
thereof, shall comprise of :-
The General Body
meeting will be held in every three years.
Any other extra
General Body meeting will be held after three years.
Where it is not practicable to
arrange for a General Meeting to be convened for discussion and disposal of any
definite issue the point may be referred to all the members of the Union for balloting in the manner hereinafter prescribed.
Any question relating to cessation of work should variably be submitted for
Central Council Subject to the
control of the General Body there shall be a Central Council at the
Headquarters of the Union for the General Management of the affairs of the
Union constituted as below :-
selected by each Branch for every 300 members or major part thereof including
Branch Secretary compulsorily.
Note: While the President may be a non- Railwayman,
all other shall be members of Railway Staff including ex-Railwaymen referred to
in Clause 20 Chapter IV of the constitution subject of provision of Section 22
of the Act.
shall be a Working Committee comprising of the Central Office bearers and 170
members selected by Central Council from among the Central Council members.
This number of 140 can be revised by the Central Council from time to time.
Business at the General Body
business to be transacted at the General Body Meeting shall ordinarily be :-
To adopt General
To pass the
Audited Accounts and balance sheet of the Union.
To elect the
office bearers of the General Council.
To appoint an
Auditor in accordance with the Act or any regulation made thereunder and to fix
To transact such
other business as may be laid before it by the Subject Committee.
office bearers will continue functioning till new elections are held or for
another period of six months which ever is earlier.
Keeping in view the nature of the order passed by the High Court and
furthermore, in view of the fact that some questions are pending before the
Delhi High Court, we are not inclined to pronounce on the issue as regards the
interpretation of the said Rules, one way or the other at this stage. Such a
question, in our opinion, should be determined by the appropriate forum at an
however, the elections should be held under the supervision of a neutral
person. The High Court, as noticed hereinbefore, intended to appoint a retired
Chief Justice for resolution of the dispute as regards the voters' list and
holding of elections under his supervision. It did not fructify. Revision of
the electoral roll is one of the main tasks before an election can be held.
in view the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case, we are of the
opinion that the Registrar of Trade Union, being a statutory authority, should
be appointed for the aforementioned purpose. He, in our opinion, should also be
appointed as an administrator and take over the management of the Union till holding of elections are complete. We do so
with much reluctance. But, the reason therefor is that the appellants should
not be allowed to continue to function in the manner as they are doing, i.e.,
despite expiry of the tenure and under the interim order passed by the learned
trial court. It is difficult to understand as to why the preparation of
electoral roll could not be finalised. If the office-bearers are interested in
carrying out their trade union activities although, they are entitled to
contest the elections but should have at least agreed to finalisation of
Electoral College. The appellants having been elected for a definite term, it
was their solemn duty to see that elections are held before their tenure comes
to an end. We are not unmindful of the fact that the expiry of tenure by itself
may not lead to the conclusion that continuation of the office-bearers in the
office per se would be illegal. In the instant case, the appellants are
continuing in office because of the interim order passed by a court of law,
which is per se unsustainable.
pass this order in order to do complete justice to the parties. It is
unfortunate that elections have to be held under the supervision of an officer
appointed by the court, but then there does not appear to be any other way out.
Although, technically the Registrar of Trade Union cannot be said to be an
authority to supervise holding of the elections under the provisions of the
Trade Unions Act, but, while directing the said authority the officers who may
be designated by him to supervise the holding of elections, we draw sustenance
from the decision of this Court in North Eastern Railway Employees Union &
Others v. IIIrd Additional District Judge, Farukhabad & Others reported in
AIR 1988 SC 2117.
for the reasons stated hereinbefore, are of the opinion that the management of
the Trade Union should also be taken over by the said authority. The said
Registrar may carry out the said function himself or he may appoint an officer
or officers not exceeding three in number for the said purpose. We further
direct that the accounts of the Trade Union be audited by a Chartered
Accountant of repute. The appellants are directed to handover all documents
including the books of accounts to the Registrar, Trade Union forthwith.
will be open to the Administrator to initiate such action(s), as may be found
necessary, in the event of any irregularity or illegality of the appellants
comes to his notice. The Administrator or his nominee shall function in terms
of this order. In case of any necessity, however, it would be open to approach
the High Court for requisite directions.
informed that elections of 20 branches have already been completed and
elections of 35 branches are in the pipeline. The elections of those branches,
which have not yet been completed, should also be completed immediately. Any
dispute or difference in regard to the list of voters would also be determined
by the Registrar of Trade Union.
not oblivious of the fact that the main purpose of the Trade Union is to have
negotiations with the Railway Administration as regards the demands of the
employees. We hope and trust that the interests of the workmen would not suffer
because of this order. We would request the competent authorities of the
Northern Railway Administration not to, unless exigency of the situation
arises, take any decision in this behalf. In case of any exigency of the
situation, however, undoubtedly the elected members and/or those elected
members of the branches or otherwise authorized to negotiate with the Railway
Administration, shall take part therein.
appeal is disposed of with the aforementioned directions and observations.
There shall be no order as to costs.