U.P.C.U.E.F. Ltd. Vs. Cane Commissioner & R.C.C.S. & Ors  INSC 629 (10
TARUN CHATTERJEE & HARJIT SINGH BEDI REPORTABLE CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2727 OF 2008 ( Arising out of SLP(C) No.16536 of
2005 ) TARUN CHATTERJEE, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. This is an appeal by special leave against the judgment and order dated
26th of April, 2005 of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in CMWP No.
33014 of 1993 dismissing the writ petition of the appellant filed against the
orders dated 17th of May, 1993 and 14th of July, 1993 passed by the Cane
Commissioner and Registrar Cooperative Cane Societies U.P., Lucknow (respondent
No. 1) and the Special Secretary, Sahkari Ganna Vikas Samiti (respondent No.3)
3. The relevant facts leading to the filing of this appeal are as under.
The appellant is a registered Trade Union of the workmen employed by Sahkari
Ganna Vikas Samiti Ltd, Shamli, respondent no.
4 herein. Before the High Court, one Late Shri. Niranjan Singh was the writ
petitioner No. 2 along with the appellant and was a permanent seasonal clerk of
the respondent No. 4 but he expired during the pendency of the writ petition.
U.P. Cane Cooperative Service Regulations, 1975 (in short "the Service
Regulations, 1975") were framed under section 122 of the U.P. Cooperative
Societies Act, 1965 which superseded the Cane Cooperative Service Rules, 1963.
These regulations provide for the recruitment, emoluments, terms and conditions
of service etc. of the employees, permanent as well as seasonal, of the Cooperative
Cane Development Union or Ganna Sahkari Vikas Samitis established in the State
of UP for purchase of sugar from its sugar growing members for supply to
various sugar factories. Under the Service Regulations, 1975, "Crushing
Season" was defined in Regulation 2(n) as follows:
"Crushing season means, the period as defined in U.P.
Sugarcane (Regulation of Supplies and Purchase) Act, 1953, U.P. Act No. XXIV
Section 2(i) of the U.P. Sugarcane (Regulation of Supplies and Purchase)
Act, 1953 in turn defines 'Crushing Season' as follows:
"Crushing Season means the period beginning on the 1st October in any
year and ending on 15th July next following."
The Cane Commissioner of Cooperative Cane Societies, Uttar Pradesh by an
order dated 17th of May, 1993 replaced the definition of "Crushing
Season" as provided in the Service Regulations, 1975 with the following
definition: - "Crushing season means the period commencing from the date
when the crushing of sugarcane in concerned sugar factories commences till the
date when crushing ends."
It is the case of the appellant that due to this amendment, the length of
the employment of the seasonal workmen and also their wages was affected.
Further, all the seasonal workmen were placed in the same position as prior to
1975 regulations, which made their employment at the whims and fancies of the
employer exposing the workmen to all vulnerable tactics of the employer. Since
a lot of work is required to be done before actual crushing starts and comes to
an end, like management of movement of sugarcane, extension of loans to the
cane growers, supply of fertilizers, recovery of loans, etc. hence employment
of seasonal workers could not be made limited to the crushing period only. On
these grounds, the appellant filed a writ petition before the High Court of
Allahabad challenging the order dated 17th of May, 1993 and the order dated
14th of July, 1993 whereby the services of Late Shri. Niranjan Singh (writ
2 before the High Court) were terminated. The High court, as noted herein
earlier, rejected the writ petition of the appellant. It is this order of the
High Court, which is impugned in this appeal in respect of which leave has
already been granted.
4. The main questions that need to be decided in this appeal are: - i)
Whether it was mandatory to give notice under Section 4- I of the U.P.
Industrial Disputes Act, 1956 or Section 9A of the Industrial Disputes Act,
1956 before passing the order dated 14th of July, 1993 altering the conditions
of service of the appellant on the basis of the order dated 17th of May, 1993.
ii) Whether the respondent no. 1 is vested with the power to frame
regulations on service conditions and further the power to amend them under
Section 122 of the U.P.
Cooperative Societies Act, 1965.
5. The learned senior counsel for the appellant Mr. Brijender Chahar
vehemently argued before us that the change of the definition of "Crushing
Season" without any reasonable and justifiable cause is not only arbitrary
but also amounts to change of service conditions of the employees to their
detriment, which is not permissible under law and in any case, the same could
not be done without observing the principles of natural justice. The learned
senior counsel further contended before us that the action of the Cane
Commissioner was contrary to the provisions of Section 4-I of the U.P.
Industrial Disputes Act, 1956 inasmuch as no notice of change was given to the
employees. The learned counsel for the respondents on the other hand contended
that mere change in the definition of the term "Crushing Season" in
the Service Regulations, 1975 would not in any manner adversely affect the
appellant because earlier also, there had been retention in service only during
the period for which the sugar factory had actually operated and in no season
were they retained in service after expiry of the aforesaid period.
6. While dismissing the writ petition of the appellant, the High Court made
the following findings: - "It has been submitted on behalf of the
petitioner that no employer can change the service condition applicable to the
workmen as is specified in the Third Schedule. The Court has perused the Third
Schedule and after perusal of the Third Schedule it is clear that it deals
regarding mode of payment, contribution paid or payable by the employer,
compulsory and other allowances, hours of work and rest intervals, leave,
starting alteration or discontinuance of shift working, classification by
grades, withdrawal or privilege, introduction of new rules of discipline,
rationalization or improvement of plant, any increase or reduction in number of
The Third Schedule does not talk regarding the change of service condition.
Therefore, in my view, the only contention raised on behalf of the petitioner
is not applicable. The order of the respondent in any way is not covered under
the provisions of 4-I and the Third Schedule. As no further point has been
argued and the amendment does not call for any change in the service conditions
of the petitioner therefore, I am of the view as submitted by the petitioner
that no notice was required."
7. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties and after examining the
judgment of the High Court and other materials on record including the relevant
provisions, as mentioned herein earlier, we are of the view that this appeal
deserves to be allowed and the order of the High court set aside for the
reasons stated hereinafter.
8. Let us deal with the first question, as noted herein earlier, for our
consideration. Section 4-I of the U.P. Industrial Disputes Act provides for
Notice of Change' and reads as under: - "4-I Notice of Change No employer
who proposes to effect any change in the conditions of service applicable to
any workmen in respect of any matter specified in the Third Schedule, shall
effect such change a) without giving to the workmen likely to be affected by
such change a notice in the prescribed manner of the nature of the change
proposed to be effected; or b) within twenty-one days of giving such notice."
The Third Schedule provides as under: - "The Third Schedule (See
Section 4-I) CONDITIONS OF SERVICE FOR CHANGE OF WHICH NOTICE IS TO BE GIVEN 1.
Wages including the period and mode of payment.
9. 10. ..
11. .Omitted (because not required in this case)."
9. We have examined Section 4-I of the U.P. Industrial Disputes Act, 1956
which provides for 'Notice of Change' and the 'Third Schedule'. From their
careful examination, we are unable to agree with the High Court that the Third
Schedule does not speak about the change of service conditions of the workmen.
It is clear from Section 4-I that if any change is required to be made in the
conditions of service applicable to any workman in respect of any matter
specified in the Third Schedule, the same can only be done by notice to the
workman who would be affected by such change.
The Third Schedule clearly deals with Conditions of Service for change of
which notice is to be given. Clause 1 of these Conditions in the Third Schedule
would clearly indicate that if any change is required to be made in the Wages
including the period and mode of payment of workmen, the same can only be done
after service of notice to the workmen. Therefore, from a plain reading of the
Third Schedule, it is clear that it enumerates the conditions of service for
change of which notice has to be served upon the workmen. In this view of the
matter, the finding of the High court that the Third Schedule does not talk
about the change of service conditions is unfounded and not acceptable. For
this reason, a notice ought to have been served upon the employees before
effecting any change in their conditions of service. Let us now examine if the
change effected by the Cane Commissioner in the definition of "Crushing
Season" would have any impact on the conditions of service of the
appellant. Admittedly, as per the earlier definition, as noted herein earlier,
"Crushing Season" meant the period beginning on the 1st of October in
any year and ending on 15th of July next following. By virtue of the amended
definition, "Crushing Season" means the period commencing from the
date when the crushing of sugarcane in the concerned sugar factories commences
till the date when crushing ends. In our view, this change in the definition of
"Crushing Season" would affect the period for which the employees are
to be paid the wages and this change is squarely covered by Clause 1 of the
Third Schedule as noted herein earlier. Therefore, in our view, it was
incumbent upon the Cane Commissioner to serve a notice upon the appellant
before effecting any change in the definition of "Crushing Season".
10. In view of our discussions made hereinabove, we, therefore, hold that
the orders dated 17th of May, 1993 and 14th of July, 1993 could not have been
passed without giving any notice in compliance with Section 4-I read with the
Third Schedule of the U.P. Industrial Disputes Act, 1956, as mentioned herein
earlier. In view of our finding made hereinabove, it is, therefore, not
necessary to deal with Question No. 2 regarding power of respondent No. 1 to
frame and amend regulations under Section 122 of the U.P. Cooperative Societies
11. For the reasons aforesaid, the impugned judgment of the High Court is
set aside. The writ petition filed by the appellant is allowed to the extent
indicated above. The appeal is thus allowed without any order as to costs.
However, it would be open to the respondent to amend the definition of
"Crushing Season" in accordance with law.