The Ballarpur Collieries Co. Vs. State
Industrial Court, Nagpur & Ors  INSC 248 (15 November 1965)
15/11/1965 WANCHOO, K.N.
GAJENDRAGADKAR, P.B. (CJ) RAMASWAMI, V.
CITATION: 1966 AIR 925 1966 SCR (2) 589
Central Provinces and Berar Industrial Disputes Settlement Act. No. 23 of 1947, s. 1(3), Notification
under-Certain industries exempted from operation of provisions of the ActHead
Office of mining company whether exempted.
The appellant was a mining company with its
head office at Nagpur. The business of the head office was to look after the
sale of coal extracted from the collieries. An employee of the company working
in the head office made applications under s. 16 of the Central Provinces and
Berar Industrial Disputes Settlement Act, 1947, to the Assistant Commissioner
of Labour, Nagpur. The company objected that by virtue of the notification
under s. 1(3) of the Act the mining industry had been exempted from the
operation of the Act including s. 16 and therefore the Assistant Labour
Commissioner had no jurisdiction. The authorities under the Act as well as the
High Court under Arts. 226 and 227, rejected the company's contention. The High
Court took the view that what was exempted by the third item in the
notification was not the head office of a mine but the mine itself and
consequently the employees of the head office were governed by the Act. The
company appealed to the Supreme Court by special leave.
HELD : The notification in question said that
the Act would come into force on 21st November, 1947 "in all the
industries except the following" and then went on to name four industries
the third one being 'Mines'. After the word 'following' the, word industries
must be read and thus read the notification in effect said the Act would come
into effect on the given date in all industries except the industries
mentioned. Therefore it was not only mines but the mining industry itself that
was exempted from the operation of the Act. [593 A-B, D E] If the notification
exempted the industry of mines or the mining industry it could not be said that
it merely exempted that part of the said industry of mines or mining industry
which consisted of raising coat at the colliery and did not include the head
office thereof. As the High Court said, the head office was part of the
integrated activity of the company. Therefore when the mining industry was
exempted from the operation of the Act the exemption applied not only to that
part of the industry which consisted of raising coal at the colliery but also
to that part of it which consisted in the sale of coal and its supply to the
customers and would thus include the head office also. [593 E-G] M/s. Godavari
Sugar Mills Ltd. v. D. K. Worlikar, A.I.R.
1960 S.C. 842 and M/s. Serajuddin and Co. v.
Their Workmen,  3. Supp. S.C.R. 934, distinguished.
On the above view the Assistant Labour
Commissioner had no jurisdiction under the Act to deal with the matter in
question. [595 E]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 30 of 1965.
5 9 0 Appeal by special leave from the
judgment and order dated September 8, 1962 of the Bombay High Court in Special
Civil Application No. 364 of 1961.
C. B. Agarwala, 0. P. Malhotra, J. B.
Dadachanji, O. C.
Mathur and Ravinder Narain, for the
G. L. Sangli and A. G. Ratnaparkhi, for
respondent No. 3.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Wanchoo, J. The only question raised in this appeal by special. leave is
whether the Central Provinces and Berar Industrial Disputes Settlement Act, No.
XXIII of 1947, (hereinafter referred to as the Act) is applicable to the head
office of the appellant which is known as the Ballarpur Collieries Company. The
head office is situate in Nagpur and has a staff of about 35 employees. The
business of the head office is to look after the sale of coal extracted from
The question arises in this way. Bapat
respondent was a stenographer working in the head office at Nagpur. He was
dismissed from service on July 31, 1959. It is not necessary for present
purposes to go into the facts and circumstances leading to this dismissal.
Suffice it to mention that an enquiry was said to have been held before the
dismissal order was passed. While this enquiry was pending Bapat made an
application under S. 16 of the Act before the Assistant Commissioner of Labour,
Nagpur, on July 21, 1959. In this application Bapat prayed that the employer
should be ordered to pay him wages from the date of dismissal, discharge or
removal to the date of the order under s. 16 in addition to a sum not exceeding
Rs. 2,500 by way of compensation. It was also prayed that the employer should
be ordered to pay retrenchment compensation under Chap. V-A of the Industrial
Disputes Act, No. 14 of 1947 (hereinafter referred to as the Central Act No.
Though this application was headed as
application for reinstatement and compensation etc., there was no prayer for
reinstatement and Bapat was only content to ask for a sum of Rs. 2,500 by way
of compensation. While this application was pending, Bapat was, as already
indicated, dismissed on July 31, 1959. Thereupon he filed another application
under S. 16 of the Act on August 19, 1959. In this application he prayed for
reinstatement or in the alternative for full compensation amounting to Rs.
2,500 and such other relief as he might be entitled to.
The main contention of the appellant before
the Assistant Commissioner of Labour was that the Act did not apply to it and
591 therefore the Assistant Commissioner had no jurisdiction to proceed in the
matter. The Assistant Commissioner held that the Act applied and he had
jurisdiction to deal with the matter. He therefore gave relief by setting aside
the order of dismissal and directing that the employer should pay Rs. 2,000 as
compensation and wages from the date of dismissal to the date of his order.
This order was taken in revision by the
appellant to the State Industrial Court at Nagpur, and the main contention
again urged there was that the Act did not apply to the appellant and the
Assistant Commissioner had no jurisdiction to deal with the matter. This
contention did not find favour with the State Industrial Court with the result
that the revision was dismissed.
The appellant then filed a petition under
Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution in the High Court, and the same
contention was raised that the Act did not apply and the Assistant Commissioner
had no jurisdiction in the matter.
The High Court held on a construction of the
relevant provisions of the Act and the notification issued there under that the
Act was applicable and in consequence the writ petition was dismissed. The High
Court having refused to give leave to appeal to this Court, the appellant
obtained special leave from this Court; and that is how the matter has come
Section 1 of the Act came into force on June
2, 1947, and as provided by S. 1(3) thereof, the rest of the Act came into
force on November 21, 1947, on a notification being issued by the State
Government in that behalf. Section 1(3) lays down that "the State
Government may by notification bring the remaining sections or any of them into
force in such area or industry and on such date as may be specified in the
notification." By virtue of the power conferred on the State Government by
S. 1(3) the following notification was issued on November 2, "In exercise
of the powers conferred by subsection (3)of section 1, of the Central Provinces
and Berar Industrial Disputes Settlement Act, 1947, the Provincial Government
are pleased to direct that sections 2 to 61 of the said Act shall come into
force on the 21st November 1947, in all the industries except the following
namely :(i) Textile industry.
(ii) Employment in any industry carried on by
or under the authority of the Central Government 592 by an Indian State Railway
or by a Railway Company operating an Indian State Railway.
(iv) Saw Mills." It is the
interpretation of this notification which calls for consideration in the
present appeal. The appellant's contention is that by this notification, the
Act was applied as from November 21, 1947, to all industries except four
specified therein; and of these, the third was mines. It is urged on behalf of
the appellant that when the notification provided for the application of the
Act to .all industries except four which were excepted it was exempting the
mining industry by the third item of exemption. The nlining industry according
to the appellant will include the head office, for as the High Court says,
"it is not disputed that the Head Office is a part of integrated activity
of the petitioner-company which carries on the business of producing coal and
its sale and supply to its various customers." The argument is that the
head office at Nagpur being a part of integrated activity of carrying on the
mining industry by the appellant, the head office was equally exempt from the
application of the Act by the notification in question. If that is so, no
application under S. 16 of the Act could be made by Bapat to the Assistant
Commissioner of Labour. It is also pointed out on behalf of the appellant that
Bapat would have a remedy under the Central Act No. 14 of 1947 which came into
force earlier than the Act from April 1, 1947, though the procedure for
obtaining relief under that Act would be different namely, through a reference
by the appropriate Government under s. 10 of the Central Act No. 14 of 1947.
The High Court however held that what was
exempted by the third item in the notification was not the head office of a mine
but the mine itself and no more.. Consequently the employees at the head office
of the appellant were governed by the Act. This view of the High Court is being
supported by the respondents before us, and it is urged that the notification
uses the word " mines" and not the words "mining industry"
in the exemption part and therefore what was exempted from the Act were merely
-the coal mines where mining operations were carried on and not the mining
industry, which may include the head office also.
We are of the opinion that the contention
raised on behalf of the appellant is correct, and what the notification
exempted was the mining industry from the operation of the Act. In this
%connection we may refer to the following words in the notification 5 93 namely,
"the said Act shall come into force on the 21st November, 1947 in a11 the
industries except the following".
Grammatically the word "industries"
must be understood as following the word "following" appearing in the
above sentence. Thus what the notification in effect said was that the said Act
shall come into force on 21st November 1947 in all the industries except the
It has however, been urged that if that was
so, it was not necessary, for example, in the first item of exemption to use
the words "textile industry", and it would have been sufficient to
use the word "textile". All that we need say is that the notification
is not a work of art and has to be read in its tenor without trying to find out
why the word "industry" was used in the first item and why the same
was not used in the third and fourth items, which deal with "Mines"
and "Saw Mills" respectively. Grammatically, however, this part of
the notification clearly says that the Act would apply to all industries except
the four industries specified therein for the purpose of exemption. These four
exemptions include the industry of mines. We see no difference between the
words "mining industry" and "industry of mines", for they
mean the same thing, namely, the industry which is concerned with mines. If
therefore the notification exempted the industry of mines or the mining
industry it cannot be said that it merely exempted that part of the said
industry of mines or mining industry which consisted of raising coal at the
colliery and did not include the head office thereof. As we have already
indicated, the High Court has said that "it is not disputed that the head
office is a part of integrated activity of the petitioner company which carries
on the business of producing coal and its sale and supply to its various
customers". Therefore, when the industry of mines or the mining industry
was exempted from the operation of the Act, the exemption applied not only to
that part of the industry which consisted of raising coal at the colliery but
also to that part of it which consisted in the sale of coal and its supply to
customers and would thus include the head office also. As we read the
notification we see no escape from the conclusion that what was exempted from
the application of the Act was the industry of mines or the mining industry and
that would include not only the colliery where the coal was raised but also the
head office from where the coal was sold 'and distributed to the customers.
It now remains to refer to two cases on which
reliance was placed by the High Court. The first is Messrs. Godavari Sugar
Mills Ltd. v. D. K. Worlikar (1). In that case this Court held (1)  3
5 9 4 that the notification under challenge
there did not apply to the head office of the Sugar Mills. That decision turned
on the actual words of the notification and is of no assistance to the
respondents. It was pointed out in that case that if the notification had
merely used the words "sugar industry" it would have been possible to
construe that expression in a broader sense having regard to the wide
definition of the word "industry"; but the notification had
deliberately adopted a different phraseology and had brought within its purview
not the sugar industry as such but the manufacture of sugar and its
by-products. The words of the notification in that case were "the said Act
shall apply to the following industry, namely, the manufacture of sugar and its
byproducts". Therefore on the words of the notification in that case, the
wide implication which might have arisen if the notification had merely stated
that the Act applied to the sugar industry was cut down by the specific words
in the notification, namely, manufacture of sugar and its byproducts, which
would clearly apply only to a part of sugar industry which dealt with the
manufacture of sugar and the by-products and would not apply to the head office
which did not deal with the actual manufacture but dealt with the consequent
steps following on the manufacture viz., sale and distribution to customers. In
the present case the notification clearly applied to the industry of mines
which in our opinion is nothing different from mining industry and must
therefore take in the entire industry including the raising of coal from the
colliery as .well as its distribution, sale and supply to the customers. That
case therefore is of no help to the respondents.
The next case to which reference is made is
Serajuddin and Company v. Their workmen(1).
In that case a dispute relating to the head office of a mining company was
referred by the Government of West Bengal to the industrial tribunal and a
question arose whether the Government of West Bengal was the appropriate
government within the meaning of S. 2 (a) (i) of the Central Act No. 14 of
1947. It was held that the West Bengal Government was the appropriate
government and the decision turned on the interpretation of S. 2 (a) (i) of the
said Act which defined "appropriate government". The words which came
in for interpretation were "in relation to an industrial dispute
concerning a banking or an insurance company, a mine, an oil-field, or a major
port". It was held that the word "mine" as used in s. 2 (a) (i)
of the Central Act No. 14 of 1947 referred to a mine as defined in the Mines Act
and that a dispute with reference to the head office of a mine was not a
dispute concerning the mine which (1)  3 Supp. S.C.R. 934.
5 9 5 must mean a mine as defined in the
Mines Act. That case also is of no help to the respondents for here we are not
concerned with the word "mine'; what we are concerned with is whether the
exemption clause in the notification which exempts the industry of mines or the
mining industry will take in the head office. The words therefore in the
present notification are different and the decision in that case is of no help.
We have no doubt that when the notification exempts the industry of mines or
the mining industry which in our opinion mean the same thing, the exemption
includes the he-ad office also which must be treated as an integral part of the
mining industry, for it deals with the subsequent steps taken to dispose of, in
this case, the coal raised from the colliery.
Learned counsel for the appellant wished to
argue that the head office carried on other activities besides the activity of
selling coal raised from the colliery. We have not allowed him to raise this
point for this was not raised in the High Court. We have already referred to
the observation of the High Court that it was not disputed that the head office
was a part of integrated activity of the appellantcompany which carried on the
business of producing coal and its sale and supply to its various customers. It
was not even the case of the respondents in reply in the High Court that the
head office carried on other activities besides the sale and distribution of
the coal produced in the colliery.
In the view we have taken of the notification
and its interpretation we are of opinion that the Assistant Commissioner of
Labour had no jurisdiction under the Act to deal with the application of Bapat.
In this view of the matter the appeal must be allowed and the orders of the
High Court, the State Industrial Court and the Assistant Commissioner of Labour
are set aside. We therefore direct the dismissal of the application under S. 16
of the Act. In the circumstances we pass no order as to costs.