The Godavari Sugar Mills Ltd. Vs. Shri
D. K. Worlikar  INSC 45 (14 March 1960)
CITATION: 1960 AIR 842 1960 SCR (3) 305
CITATOR INFO :
E 1966 SC 925 (9) RF 1972 SC1589 (14)
Dispute-Notification-Construction-Head office of Sugar Industry, if within its
purview-Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946 (Bom. 11 of 1947), S.
2(4)-Notification No. 1131-46 of 1952.
The respondent, a stenographer employed by
the appellant at its head office in Bombay, challenged the legality and propriety
of the dismissal order passed against him by an application under the
provisions of the Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946, and contended that the
1131-46 issued by the Government of Bombay in
1952 under S. 2(4) of the said Act brought within its purview the head office
of the appellant which was dealing in Sugar Industry.
The appellant challenged the competency of
the application on the ground that the Act did not apply to the respondent's
case and the Labour Court had no jurisdiction as the Notification did not apply
to the head office of the appellant:
Held, that on a proper construction of the
Notification, it cannot be said that the Government of Bombay intended to
extend the scope of the Notification to the head office of a Sugar Industry.
The Notification did not bring within its purview the sugar industry as such
but the manufacture of sugar and its by-products, the object being to confine
its benefits to service or employment which was connected with the manufacture
of sugar and its by-products including the growing of sugar canes and all
agricultural and industrial operations connected with the growing of sugarcane.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 425 of 1958.
Appeal by special leave from the Decision
dated October 9, 1956 of the Labour Appellate Tribunal of India, Bombay, in Appeal (Bom.) No. 111 of 1956.
M. C. Setalvad, Attorney-General of India, S.
N. Andley, J. B. Dadachanji, Rameshwar Nath and P. L. Vohra, for the
M. S. K. Sastri, for the respondent.
1960. March 15. The Judgment of the Court was
delivered by GAJENDRAGADKAR, J.--This appeal by special leave raises a short
question about the construction of the notification No. 1131-46 issued by the
Government of Bombay on October, 4, 1952, under s. 2(4) of the Bombay
Industrial Relations Act, 1946 (Bom. 11 of 1947) (hereinafter called the Act).
The respondent, 306 who was a stenographer
employed by the appellant, the Godavari Sugar Mills Ltd., at its head office in
Bombay was dismissed by the appellant on April 22, 1955. He had been working as
a stenographer for some years past on a salary of Rs. 135 plus Rs. 27 as
dearness allowance. He was charged with having committed acts of disobedience
and insubordination, and after a proper enquiry where he was given an
opportunity to defend himself, he was found guilty of the alleged misconduct;
that is why his services were terminated ; that is the appellant's case.
The respondent challenged the legality and
propriety of his dismissal by an application before the Labour Court at Bombay;
he purported to make this application under s. 42(4) read with s. 78 (1) (a)
(i) and (iii) of the Act. The appellant in reply challenged the competence of
the application on the ground that the Act did not apply to the respondent's
case, and so the Labour Court had no jurisdiction to entertain it. Both the
parties agreed that the question of jurisdiction thus raised by the appellant
should be tried as a preliminary issue; and so the Labour Court considered the
said objection and upheld it. It held that the notification in question on
which the respondent relied did not apply to the head office of the appellant
at Bombay; accordingly the Labour Court dismissed the respondent's application.
The respondent challenged the correctness of this decision by preferring an
appeal before the Industrial Court. His appeal, however, failed since the
Industrial Court agreed with the Labour. Court in holding that the notification
did not apply to the head office of the appellant. The matter was then taken by
the respondent before the Labour Appellate Tribunal and this time the
respondent succeeded, the Labour Appellate Tribunal having held that the
notification applied to the head office and that the respondent was entitled to
claim the benefit of the provisions of the Act. On this finding the Labour
Appellate Tribunal set aside the order passed by the courts below and remanded
the case to the Labour Court for disposal on the merits in accordance with law.
It is this order which has given rise to the present appeal and the only
question which it 307 raises for our decision is whether the notification in
question applies to the head office of the appellant at Bombay.
The Act has been passed by the Bombay
Legislature in order to regulate relations of employers and employees, to make
provision for settlement of industrial disputes and to provide for certain
other purposes. It has made elaborate provisions in order to carry out its
object, and has conferred some benefits on the employees in addition to those
which have been conferred on them by the Central Industrial Disputes Act, XIV
of 1947. Under s. 42(4) of the Act, for instance, an employee desiring a change
in respect of any order passed by the employer under standing orders can make
an application to the Labour Court in that behalf subject to the proviso which
it is unnecessary to set out.
Section 78(1)(a)(iii) requires the Labour
Court to decide whether any change made by an employer or desired by an
employee should be made. An order of dismissal passed by an employer can,
therefore, be challenged by the employee directly by an application before the
Labour Court under the Act, whereas under the Central Act a complaint against
wrongful dismissal can become an industrial dispute only if it is sponsored by
the relevant union or taken up by a group of employees and is referred to the
industrial tribunal for adjudication under s. 10 of the Act Since the respondent
claims a special benefit under the Act he contends that his case falls under
the notification. It is common ground that if the notification applies to the
case of the respondent the application made by him to the Labour Court would be
competent and would have to be considered on the merits; on the other hand, if
the said notification does not apply then the application is incompetent and
must be dismissed in limine on that ground.
Let us now read the notification. It has been
issued by the Government of Bombay in exercise of the powers conferred on it by
s. 2, sub-s. (4), of the Act, and in supersession of an earlier notification,
and it provides that " the Government of Bombay is pleased to direct that
all the provisions of the said Act shall 308 apply to the following industry,
viz., the manufacture of sugar and its by-products Including (1) the growing of
sugarcane on farms belonging to or attached to concerns engaged in the said
manufacture, and (2) all agricultural and industrial operations connected with
the growing of sugarcane or the said manufacture, engaged in such concerns.
Note: For the purposes of this notification
all service or employment connected with the conduct of the above industry
shall be deemed to be part of the industry when engaged in or by an employer
engaged in that industry ".
It is significant that the notification
applies not to sugar industry as such but to the manufacture of sugar and its
byproducts. If the expression " sugar industry " had been used it
would have been possible to construe that expression in a broader sense having
regard to the wide definition of the word " industry " prescribed in
s. 2(19) of the Act; but the notification has deliberately adopted a different
phraseology and has brought within its purview not the sugar industry as such
but the manufacture of sugar and its byproducts. Unfortunately the Labour
Appellate Tribunal has read the notification as though it referred to the sugar
industry as such. That is a serious infirmity in the decision of the Labour
Besides, the inclusion of the two items
specified in cls. (1) and (2) is also significant. Section 2(19)(b)(i) shows
that " industry " includes agriculture and agricultural operations.
Now, if the manufacture of sugar and its byproducts had the same meaning as the
expression sugar industry, then the two items added by cls. (1) and (2) would
have been included in the said expression by virtue of the definition of "
industry " itself and the addition of the two clauses would have been
superfluous. The fact that the two items have been included specifically
clearly indicates that the first part of the notification would not have
applied to them, and it is with a view to extend the scope of the said clause
that the inclusive words introducing the two items have been used. This fact
also shows the limited interpretation which must be put on the words " the
manufacture of sugar and its by-products 309 It is true that the note added to
the notification purports to include within the scope of the notification some
cases of service and employment by the, deeming process.
Unfortunately the last clause in the note is
unhappily worded and it is difficult to understand what exactly it was intended
to mean. Even so, though by the first part of the note some' kinds of service
or employment are deemed to be part of the industry in question by virtue of
the fact that they are connected with the conduct of the said industry, the
latter part of the note requires that the said service or employment must be
engaged in that industry. It is possible that the workers engaged in manuring
or a clerk in the manure depot which is required to issue manure to the
agricultural farm which grows sugarcane may for instance be included within the
scope of the notification by virtue of the note; but it is difficult to see how
the respondent, who is an employee in the head office at Bombay, can claim the
benefit of this note. The addition made by the deeming clause on the strength
of the connection of certain services and employments with the conduct of the
industry is also controlled by the requirement that the said services or
employments must be engaged in that industry so that connection with the
industry has nevertheless to be established before the note can be applied to
It has been urged before us by Mr. Sastri,
for the respondent, that at the head office there is accounts department, the
establishment section, stores purchase section and legal department, and he
pointed out that the machinery which is purchased for the industry is landed at
Bombay, received by the head office and is then sent to the factories. In fact
the factories and the offices attached to them are situated at Lakshmiwadi and
Sakharwadi respectively and are separated by hundreds of miles from the head
office at Bombay. The fact that the machinery required at the factories is
received at the head office and has to be forwarded to the respective factories
cannot, in, our opinion, assist the respondent in contending that the head office
itself and all the employees engaged in it fall within the note to the
notification. The object of the 40 310 notification appears to be to confine
its benefit to service or employment which is connected with the manufacture of
sugar and its by-products including the two items specified in cl. (1) and cl.
(2) Subsidiary services such as those we have indicated are also included by
virtue of the note; but in our opinion it is difficult to extend the scope of
the notification to the head office of the appellant. We must accordingly hold
that the Labour-Appellate Tribunal erred in law in holding that the case of the
respondent was governed by the notification.
Incidentally we would like to add that the
registrar appointed under s. 11 of the Act has consistently refused to
recognise the staff of the head office as coming under the notification, and it
is common ground that the consistent practice in the matter so far is against
the plea raised by the respondent. It is perfectly true that in construing the
notification the prevailing practice can have no relevance;
but if after construing the notification we
come to the conclusion that the head office is outside the purview of the
notification it would not be irrelevant to refer to the prevailing practice which
happens to be consistent with the construction we have placed on the
notification. It appears that in the courts below reference was made to a
similar notification issued in respect of textile industry under s. 2, sub-s.
(3) of the Act and the relevant decisions construing the said notification were
cited. We do not think any useful purpose will be served by considering the
said notification and the decisions there under.
In the result the appeal is allowed, the
order passed by the Labour Appellate Tribunal is set aside and the respondent's
application is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.