United Provinces Electric Supply Co.
Ltd. Allahabad Vs. T. N. Chatterjee  INSC 73 (13 March 1972)
SIKRI, S.M. (CJ) RAY, A.N.
BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH
CITATION: 1972 AIR 1201 1972 SCR (3) 754 1972
SCC (2) 54
CITATOR INFO :
F 1972 SC1626 (8) F 1973 SC2650 (6)
Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act,
1946, s. 4 and Schedule items 8, 9 and 11C and U.P. Industrial Employment
(Standing Orders) Rules, 1946--Model Standing Orders, para 13--Applicability of
Standing Order, re : age of retirement to employees in service before the
certifying of Standing Orders--Framing of Standing Order regarding retirement
before amendment, of Schedule--Certifying Officer, if could certify the
standing order as fair or reasonable before amendment of s. 4--High Court
deciding question and remanding--When operates as res judicata.
In accordance with the provisions of the Industrial
Employment (standing Orders) Act, 1946, and the U.P.
Industrial Employment (Standing Orders)
Rules, 1946, the appellant substituted draft standing defining the conditions
of employment of its employees and they were certified bythe Certifying Officer
in 1951. Clause 32 of the Standing Orders provided that an employee who has
served 30 years or who has reached the age of 55 years will be retired, but,
exemption from this may be granted by the company in special case. In 1959,
notices were served on the respondentworkmen that they were retired by reason
of their having attained the age of superannuation as per cl. 32. The workmen
contended that the clause was not binding or enforceable as far as they were
concerned, because, they had entered the service of the appellant prior to the
certification of the Standing Orders and there was no condition that they would
be liable to retirement after attaining any prescribed age or any fixed period
of service, and that they were entitled to continue in service as long as they
were physically. fit. The industrial dispute was referred to the Industrial
Tribunal and the Tribunal held in favour of the appellant. The respondents
filed a writ petition in the High Court They also applied in 1960, under s'
10(2) of the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, for amendment
and notification of cl. 32 claiming fixation of retirement age at 60. The
Certifying Officer modified the clause and fixed the age of retirement at 58,
but the appellate authority refixed it at 55.
The High Court, in the writ petition, on the
basis of the decision or this Court in Guest Keen Williams Pvt. Ltd.,  1
S.C.R. 348 her that Cl. 32 was not applicable to the employees and directed the
Tribunal to rehear the case.
The Tribunal thereafter held that the
respondent. workmen were wrongfully and unjustifiably retired.
In appeal to this Court,
HELD : (1) It was not intended by the
Legislature that different sets of conditions should apply to employees
depending on whether workman was employed before the Standing Orders were
certified by after, as that would defeat the object of the legislation. The
objection and 755 scheme of the Act is that the employers must define precisely
the conditions of employment of all the employees and have them certified by
the Certifying Officer. The right given to be workmen to express their views,
to raise objections, to appeal to the appellate authority and to ask for
modification of the Standing Orders under s. 10 of the Act, show that every
possible safeguard has provided in the interests of the workmen. Moreover, the
individual items in the Schedule to the Act show that there cannot be different
conditions for different employees depending upon the point of time when they
came to be employed, for that would result in a great deal of heart burning
between the employees inter se. [762 F-H; 763 A-D] Salem Erode Electricity
Distribution Co. Ltd. v. Its Workers;  2 S.C.R. 498, and Agra Electric
Supply Co. Ltd., v. Sri Alladin & Ors.  1 S.C.R. 808, followed.
(2) The decision in Guest Keen Williams Pvt.
Ltd. that the Industrial Tribunal had to consider not only the propriety,
reasonableness and fairness of a Standing Order but that it had also to deal
with the question as to whether a particular Standing Order could be made
applicable to employees who had already been employed without any limit as to
age of retirement was delivered under the unlamented s. 4 of the Act, under
which the Certifying Officer or the appellate authority could not go into the
reasonableness or fairness of the Standing Orders. But after the amendment of
the section in 1956, the Certifying Officer and the appellate authority are
bound to examine the question of fairness of the standing orders, and
therefore, there can be no justification now for not giving effect to the
principle of uniformity of conditions of service which is clearly contemplated
by the provisions of the Act. [763 D-F] (3) But cl. 32 of the Standing Orders
as certified in 1951 was not valid and could not be binding on the respondents,
because, there was then 'no item in the Schedule to the Act covering cases of
superannuation or ret retirement, with respect to which Standing Orders could
be made. [766 E-F, GH] Item 8 and 9 of the Schedule deal with the termination of
employment and notice thereof, and suspension or dismissal for misconduct. The
language of item 8 shows that it does not cover the case of superannuation,
which does not depend on )any notice and which covers an event which is
automatic and which must be given effect to without any volition on the Part of
the employer or workmen. If termination is to be read in a wide sense as
meaning 'employment coming to an end' there was no necessity to have item 3,
because, dismissal would then be covered by termination. From the paragraph 13
of the Model Standing Orders contained in the Schedule to Rules it is apparent
that item 8 is confined to termination of employment by notice in writing and
'does not refer to superannuation or retirement. It was only in 959 that item
11(C) was introduced in the Schedule enabling the framing of Standing Orders in
relation to the age of retirement and superannuation. [765 F-H; 766 A-C] Saroj
Kumar v. Orissa State Electricity Board, A.I.R. 1970 Orissa, 126, approved.
Management of the Windu' v. Secretary Hindu
Office & National Press Employees Union, A.I.R. 1961 Mad. 107, disapproved.
(4) No assistance can be derived by the use
of the word 'retirement' in para, 16 of the Model Standing Orders, because, it
may well refer to 756 retirement under the terms of the contract of employment
entered into between the employer and the employees. [765 AB, E] (5) Since
before the amendment of s. 4 the Certifying Officer and the appellate auhority
were debarred from adjudicating upon, the fairness or reasonableness of the
Standing Orders, the Certifying Officer at that time, could not certify any
Standing Order on the ground that it was reasonable or fair. Therefore, in
1951, when the Standing Orders were certified, cl. 32 could not have been framed
because there was no item in the Schedule relating to superannuation and the
Certifying Officer could not certify it on the ground it was fair and
reasonable because he bad no power to do so. [766 D-F] (6) The Certifying
Officer, however, when be modified cl. 32 and fixed the retirement age at 58
(after s. 4 was amended) could have validly certified such clause as modified
This Court could also give an appropriate
direction with regard to fixing the age of superannuation. In the circumstances
of this case the age of superannuation should be 58 years. Therefore, the
concerned workman should be deemed to have continued in service of the
appellant till they had attained the age of 58 years. [767 A-C, G-H] (7) The
order of the High Court in the writ petition did not finally terminate the
proceedings at all. The proceedings were terminated only by the award of the
Industrial Tribunal after remand. Therefore, the order of the High Court
following Guest Keen William's case did not debar a fresh consideration of the
question by virtue of the rule or principle of res judicata. [768 A-B, E-F]
Satyadhyan Ghosal v. Smt. Deorajan Devi,  3 S.C.R.
Management, of N. Railway Co-operative
Society v. Industrial Tribunal,  2 S.C.R. 476, explained.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 1734 of 1967.
Appeal by Special Leave from the Award dated
the May 19, 1967 of the Industrial Tribunal (1) at Allahabad in Adjudication
Case No. 15 of 1960.
S. V. Gupte, D. N. Mukherjee and Gautam Banerjee,
for the appellant.
G. C. Bhattacharyaand M. V. Goswami, for
respondents Nos. 1 and 3 to 8.
O. P. Rana, for respondent No. 9.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Grover, J. This is an appeal by special leave from an award of the Industrial
Tribunal, Allahabad, dated May19, 1967.
757 The material facts May be stated, The
appellant, which is a limited liability company and which later on went into
voluntary liquidation, was carrying on the business or undertaking of
generation, distribution and supply of electricity. One of such undertakings
was the Electric Supply Undertaking at Allahabad in the State of Uttar Pradesh.
Its affairs and business were being% looked after and managed by Martin Bum
& Co. I-Ad., Calcutta. Some of the appellant's workmen in Allahabad and its
surrounding area were members of Bijli Mazdoor Sangh-a trade union registered
under the Indian Trade Union Act, 1926. The U.P. State Electricity Board
compulsorily acquired and took over the assets of the appellant's aforesaid
undertaking or business with effect from 16/17th September 1964.
In accordance with the provisions of the Industrial,
Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946, hereinafter called the 'Act and the U.P.
Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules 1946 the appellant submitted
draft Standing Orders defining the conditions of employment of its employees.
On July 14, 1951 these Orders' were certified by the Certifying Officer. Clause
32 of the Standing Orders was in the following terms :"32. RETIREMENT-An
employee who has served 30 years or who has reached the age of 55 will be
retired, but exemption to this may be granted by the Company in-special
The workmen through the Bijli Mazdoor Sangh
preferred an appeal under s. 6 of the Act from the order of (the Certifying
Officer to the State Industrial Tribunal which was the. appellate authority
under the Act. That appeal, however,, was dismissed. The Agra Electric Supply
Co. Ltd., Agra and Benaras Electric Light & Power Co. Ltd., Varanasi, which
is the appellant in the connected appeal (C.A. 164/68) also got certified
Standing Orders in similar terms. These electric undertakings, were also under
the management of Martin Burn & Co. Ltd. On July 16, 1959 notices were
served on seven worlen with effect from September 1, 1959 on the ground that
they had attained the age of superannuation or completed 30 years of service
and they were retired by reason of their having attained the age of
Out of these workmen one of them Haider Ali
died during the pendency of proceedings. The other six employees have been
impleaded as respondents Nos. 1 to 6 in the present appeal.
According to the appellant these, respondents
accepted all the accumulations due to them in respect of Provident Fund
contributions made by the appellant in respect of them and by themselves and
were also paid gratuities credited to them in their respective Provident Fund
accounts for their services prior to their becoming members of the Provident
By an order dated February 22, 1960 made
under s. 4-K of the U.P. Industrial Disputes Act 1946 the Government of U.P.
referred to the Industrial Tribunal (1) at
Allahabad for adjudication an industrial dispute alleged to exist between the
appellant and its workmen on the following issues :
"Whether the employers have wrongfully
arid/or unjustifiably retired their workmen, mentioned in the Annexure, with
effect from 1st August, 1959 ? If so, to what relief are the workmen entitled
?" Respondents 1 to 6 and Haidcr Ali (since deceased) were the workmen
mentioned in the Annexute. The case of the workmen before the Industrial
Tribunal was that they had entered service of the appellant prior to the
certification of the Standing Orders. At the time of their appointment there
was no condition that they would be liable to retirement after attaining any
prescribed age or after putting in any fixed period of service. A practice was
in vogue that the workmen would continue in service till he was physically fit.
Accordingly clause 32 of the certified
Standing Orders was neither binding nor enforceable. The Industrial Tribunal
made an award on May 2, 1960 finding, interalia, (a) theemployers were within
their rights in retiring, the workmen concerned. (b) The act of the employers
in compulsorily retiring the concerned workmen,-from service could not be
characterised as wrongful, illegal or unjustified and (c) the workmen were
entitled to no relief.
On June 14, 1960 the Bijli Mazdoor Sangh
moved an application under s. 10(2) of the Act for amendment and modification
of clause 32 claiming fixation of retirement age at 60 years. On September 20,
1960 the Union also filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court for
quashing the award.
On April 22, 1961 the Certifying Officer
modified clause 32 and fixed the ago, of retirement at 58 years. On September
10, 1961 the appellate authority refixed the age of retirement at 55 years.
Similarly appeals were filed by the Agra Electric Co. and the Banaras Electric
Light and Power Co. Ltd. in which similar orders were made. On July 12, 1966
the, High Court recorded an order quashing the award.
It was held that Standing Order 32 was not
applicable to the employees Who had entered service before the certification of
the Standing Orders. The Industrial Tribunal was directed to reheat the case
and after giving an opportunity to-the parties of being heard give an award in
accordance with law. Finally the award against which the appeal has been
brought 759 was given on May 19, 1967. It was held in the award that all the
seven workmen had been wrongfully and unjustifiably retired and that they
should be deemed to have continued in service till September 16, 1964 from
which date they would be taken to Wave been retrenched. The appellant having
been taken over by the U.P. State Electricity Board, it was directed that the
employers should pay full wages from the period August 1, 1959 to September 16,
1964 and retrenchment compensation within s. 25-F read with s. 25-FF and s.
25-J of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
While deciding the writ petition the High
Court relied on three decisions of this Court for holding that where there is
no age of superannuation prescribed for the employees of a concern a provision
in the Standing Orders certified subsequent to the date of employment regarding
compulsory retirement will not be applicable to them. The first decision is in
Guest Keen, Williams Private Ltd. v. P. J.
Sterling & Others(1). In that case after
the enforcement of the Act the industrial concern submitted its draft Standing
Orders for certification to the Certifying Officer. That Officer certified the
Standing Orders after giving the trade union of workmen an opportunity to be
heard and after considering their objections. The Standing Orders relating to
retirement provided that the workmen shall retire from the service of the company
on reaching the age of 55 years.
The company gave notice to forty-seven of its
workmen who were over the age of 55 years retiring them and a dispute was
raised about their retirement which was referred to the Tribunal for
adjudication It was ultimately held, by the Labour Appellate Tribunal that
those workmen who were in employment prior to the date of certification of the
Standing Orders would not be governed by it and their retirement was illegal.
This Court examined the scheme of the Act including the relevant provisions.
Notice was taken, in particular, of the fact that when the standing Orders were
submitted to the Certifying Officer all that he could do was to satisfy himself
that they made provision for other matters set out in the schedule to the Act
and that they were otherwise in conformity With its provisions.
Under s. 4, as it was originally enacted the
Certifying Officer could not adjudicate upon the fairness or reasonableness of
the provisions of the Standing Orders.
This section was subsequently amended-in 1956
and the effect of the amendment was that the Certifying Officer was enabled to
adjudicate upon the fairness or reasonableness of the provisions of the
Standing Orders. It was pointed out by the court that the scope for enquiry before
the Certifying Officer prior to the amendment of s. 4 was extremely limited.
The only way in which the employees could claim modification of the standing
Orders prior to the amendment of s. 4 was by raising an industrial dispute in
that (1)  1 S.C.R. 348.
760 behalf. Subsequent to the amendment the
employees could raise the same dispute before the Certifying Officer and in a
proper case they could apply for its modification under S.
10(2) of the Act. It was observed that the
Standing Orders certified under the Act became part of the terms of the
employment by operation of S. 7 but if an industrial dispute arose in respect
of such Orders and it was referred to the Tribunal by the appropriate
Government the Tribunal had the jurisdiction to deal with it on the merits. It
was, therefore, held that the Tribunal had to consider not only the propriety,
reasonableness and fairness of the rule but it had also to deal with the
question as to whether the said rule could and should be made applicable to
employees who had already been employed without any limit as to age of
retirement. The decision in this case was followed in Workmen of Kettlewell
Bullen & Co. Ltd. v. Kettlewell Bullen & Co. Ltd.(1). The next case in
which a similar question arose in Salem Erode Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd.
Salem Erode Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd.
Employees Union(2). It was claimed by the company which was the employer there
that the urgent need for increased production and supply of electrical energy
could be met if the existing rules embodied in two of its certified Standing
Orders relating to holidays and leave were suitably amended. The amendments
proposed sought to introduce different rules relating to holidays and leave for
employees who were appointed before a specified date and those who joined
service after that date. Both the Certifying Officer and the appellate
authority disallowed the amendments. The company appealed, to this Court and
the scheme of the Act was examined once again. It was emphasised that after the
amendment of s. 4 of the Act made in 1956 jurisdiction had been conferred on
the Certifying Officer as well as the appellate authority to adjudicate upon
the fairness or easonableness of the provisions of the Standing Orders.
Thus the jurisdiction had been widened..
Moreover under s.10(2) as originally enacted it was only the employer who could
make an application to the Certifying Officer to I have the Standing Orders
modified. By the amendment made in 1956 even workmen were enabled to exercise
Addressing itself to the question whether it
was permissible for an industrial establishment to have two sets of Standing
Orders to govern the relevant terms and conditions of its employees it was laid
down after an examination of the scheme of the relevant provisions of the Act
in the light of the matters specified in the Schedule that there was no scope
for having separate Standing Orders\ in respect of any one of them, It was said
"........ the conclusion appears to be irresistible that the object of the
Act is to certify Standing Orders in (1)  2 L.L.J. 146.
(2)  2 S.C.R. 498.
761 respect of all the matters covered by the
schedule and having regard to these matters Standing Orders so certified would
be uniform and would apply to all Workmen alike who are employed in any
It was considered that Guest Keen Williams
Pvt. Ltd.(1) could afford no assistance because that matter came to this Court
from an industrial dispute which was the subject matter of industrial adjudication
and all that this Court did was to fixed the age of superannuation for workmen
who had been employed prior to the date of the certification of the relevant
Standing Orders. That course was adopted in the special and unusual
circumstances of that case.
In the next decision Agra Electric Supply Co.
Ltd. v. Sri Alladin & Ors.(2) one of the main questions was whether three
workmen who had been employed long before 1951 when the cornpany's Standing
Orders were certified could be retired under Standing Order which prescribed
the age of superannuation as 55 years. This Court took a view which seemingly
runs counter to Guest Keen Williams Pvt. Ltd.(1).
It was held that the Standing Orders when
certified would be binding on the employers as well as all the workmen who were
in employment at the time the Standing Orders came into force and those
employed thereafter as uniform conditions of service. The process of reasoning
which prevailed was (1) the Act is a beneficent piece of legislation, its
object being to require employers in industrial establishments to define with
sufficient precision the conditions of employment of workmen employed therein
and to make them known to such workman. (2) Before the passing, of the Act
there was nothing in law to prevent an employer having different contracts of
employment with workmen which led to confusion and made possible discriminatory
treatment. This was also clearly incompatible with the principles of collective
bargaining. (3) Section 3 of the Act was enacted to do away with such diversity
and bargaining with each individual workman. (4) Section 4 indicates that
particulars of workmen in the employment on the date of the submission of the
draft Standing Orders or certification and not of those only who could be employed
in future after certification were to be given. (5) Sections 4 and 5 show that
draft orders are certifiable if they provide for all matters set out in the
schedule and are otherwise in conformity with the Act and if they are
adjudicated as fair and reasonable by the Certifying Officer or the appellate
authority. The Certifying Officer has also to forward a copy of the draft
Standing Orders to the Union (1)  1 S.C.R. 348.
(2)  1 S. C.R. 808.
762 or to the workmen in the prescribed
manner and has to decide whether or not any modification or addition should be
made after hearing the, Union or the, workmen concerned.
Sections 6, 7, 9 and 10 contain provisions
for appeal by aggrieved persons as also for sending of authenticated copies by
the Certifying Officer to the parties where no appeal is filed and further the
employer has to post the Standing Orders as finally certified in the manner
prescribed. The employer or the workmen can even apply for modification after
expiry of six months from the date on which the Standing Orders or the last
modification thereof comes into operation. (7) The schedule, sets out the
matters which the Standing Orders must provide for.
For the reasons given above this Court held
that the Act was meant to enable Standing Orders to be made to bind not only
those who were employed subsequent to their certification but also those who
were already in employment. If any other result were to follow there would be
different conditions of employment for different classes of workmen which would
render the conditions of their service as indefinite and diversified as before
the ,enactment of the Act. Support was derived from the decision in Salem Erode
Electricity Distribution case(1) in which departure was made from the view
previously taken in the case of Guest Keen William,s Pvt. Ltd.(2) It has been
urged before us on behalf of the respondents that the decision in Guest Keen
Williams Pvt. Ltd. (2) still holds the field and the point which was decided
there and which arises in the present case did not come up for consideration in
Salem Erode Electricity Distribution Co.
Ltd.(1). In our opinion the principle applied
in the latter case is fully supported by the scheme of the Act and was rightly
extended and applied 'in Agra Electric Supply Co.
Ltd. (3). We concur with the view expressed
therein that it was not intended by the legislature that different sets of
conditions should apply to employees depending on whether a workman was
employed before the Standing Orders were certified or after, which would defeat
the very object of the legislation. In the preamble it is stated in categorical
terms "whereas it is expedient to require employers in industrial
establishments to define with sufficient precision the conditions of employment
under them and to make the said conditions known to workmen employed by
them". Not only the object but the scheme of the Act is such that the
employers must define precisely the ponditions of employment of all the
employees and have the same certified by the Certifying Officer against whose
orders an appeal lies to the appellate authority. The, right given to workmen
to express their (1)  2 S.C.R. 498.
(3)  1 S.C.R. 808.
(2)  1 S.C.R. 348.
763 view and to raise objections is of great
significance. They can even ask for modification of the Standing Orders in
accordance with s. 10 of the Act. Every possible safeguard has been provided
for keeping the workmen informed about their conditions of service so that they
can take whatever steps they desire or are advised to take in their interest
before the Certifying Officer or the appellate authority.
It is also very difficult to conceive, taking
each individual item in the schedule how there can be different conditions for
different employees depending upon the point of time when they came to be
employed; for instance item 3 relates to shift working. It is possible to
suggest that for the same kind of work employees who were in employment before
the Standing Orders were certified would have different hours of shift from the
other employees who were employed subsequently. In the very nature of things a
great deal of irritation and annoyance between employees inter se would result
if any such discrimination is made in any of the items in the schedule. It has been
rightly pointed out in Agra Electric Supply Co. Ltd. that this would only lead
to industrial unrest and not industrial peace, the latter being the principal
object of legislation.
It must be remembered that in Guest Keen
Williams Pvt. Ltd.
the Certifying Officer could not go into the
reasonableness or fairness of the Standing Orders according to s. 4 of the Act
as it stood at the material time. The law was changed only in 1956. Perhaps
that was one of the main reasons which prompted the court in taking the view it
did. But after the amendment of the law in 1956 the Certifying Officer and the
appellate authority are duty bound to examine the question of fairness of the
Standing Orders and there can be no justification now not to give, effect to
the principle of uniformity of conditions of service which is clearly contemplated
by the provisions of the, Act.
The next question for determination is
whether clause 32 of the Standing Orders relating to age of retirement could be
certified in July 1951. On behalf of the respondents it has been pointed out
that there is no item in the schedule which covers the case of retirement or
superannuation. Items 8 and 9 are in these terms "8. Termination of
employment and the notice thereof to be given by employer and workmen,
9. Suspension or dismissal for misconduct,
and acts or omissions which constitute misconduct." The model Standing
Orders framed by the Central Government and by the Government of the State of
Uttar Pradesh did not contain any clause relating to retirement or
It was for the first time that on November
17,1959 item 11-C 764 relating to superannuation and retirement was introduced
by the State of U.P. in exercise of the rule-making powers conferred by S. 15
of the Act. In other States the item relating to age of retirement or
superannuation was introduced either by legislation or by the exercise of rule
making power. In the State of Bombay s. 19 of the Industrial Employment
(Standing Orders) (Bombay Amendment) Act 1957 provided for insertion of item
10-A in the Schdule which was "age for retirement or superannuation".
According to counsel for the respondents there was no item until the
introduction of item 11-C in November 1959 in the schedule under which any
Standing Orders could be framed and got certified relating to the age of
retirement and superannuation. It has been maintained that items 8 and 9 cannot
possibly include retirement and superannuation and therefore till item 11-C was
added in the schedule so far as the State of U.P. was concerned in November
1959 no Standing Orders could be legally or validly framed and certified
providing for age of retirement and superannuation. In Saroj Kumar Ghosh v.
Orissa State Electricity Board(1) the Orissa High Court considered this
question a some length and expressed the view that where a Standing Order has
been certified by the Certifying Officer containing a clause relating to
superannuation not covered by the schedule of the Act nor by the model Standing
Orders such certification cannot be valid under S. 4 of the Act. The clause
'termination of employment' in item 8 of the schedule cannot be equated with
the word "superannuation". According to the Orissa High Court,
superannuation is an event which comes more or less in an automatic process. An
age is fixed on the reaching of which the holder of office has no option but to
go out of office. There is no volition involved in that act. The employer and
the employee have notice of the matter long before the event is to occur and
the event is such that it cannot be arrested by either one of them if the rule
is to be followed. On the other hand termination is a positive act by which one
party even against the desire of the other can bring about the end of
employment. The judgment of the learned single. judge in Management of the
"HINDU", Madras v. Secretary Hindu Office & National Press
Employees Union and another(2) was dissented from. In that case the expression
"termination of employment" in item 8 was considered to be wide
enough to include retirement of an employee at the age of superannuation. The
learned Madras Judge sought support from para 16 of the model Standing Orders
which is as follows "Every permanent workman shall be entitled to a
service certificate at the time of his dismissal discharge' or retirement from
service"., (1) A.I.R. 1970 Orissa 126.
(2) A.I.R. 1961 Mad. 107.
765 In the model Standing Orders there was no
clause providing for superannuation or retirement on attaining a certain age.
In our judgment much assistance or help cannot
be derived from para 16 of the model Standing Orders as contained in schedule 1
to the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Central Rules 1946. Retirement
which is mentioned there may be under the terms of contract of employment
entered into between the employer and the employees. Section 2(oo) of (the Industrial
Disputes Act 1947 throws a certain amount of light on the matter. It is
reproduced below :,"Retrenchment" means the termination by the
employer of the service of a workman for any reason whatsoever, otherwise than
as a punishment inflicted by way of disciplinary action, but does not include(a)
voluntary retirement of the workman; or (b) retirement of the workman on reaching
the age of, superannuation if the contract of employment between the employer
and the workman concerned contains a stipulation in that behalf;" It
shows, firstly, that termination 'of service of a workman is distinct from
retirement on reaching the age of superannuation; secondly, retirement can take
place on resch & the age of superannuation under the terms of the contract
of employment entered into between the employer and the workman. Therefore, the
word "retirement" in para 16 cannot be regarded as conclusive of the
question whether termination of: employment includes retirement and
superannuation. In the schedule to the Act item 8 covers termination of
employment and the notice to be given either by the employer or the workman and
item 9 relates to suspension or dismissal for misconduct etc. Item 8 by virtue
of the language employed does not appear to cover the case of super annution
which does not depend on any notice and which covers an event which is
automatic and which must be given effect to without any volition on the part of
the employer or the workmen as pointed out in the Orissa judgment. If
termination is to be read in a wide sense as meaning employment coming to an
end there was a necessity to have item 9 because dismissal would then be covered
by termination. In the context in which the word ",termination" is
used in item 8 it cannot mean each and every form of termination or cessation
of employment. From para 13 of the Model Slanding Orders contained in schedule
1 to the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Central Rules 1946, it is
apparent that item 8 is confined to termination of employment by notice in
writing and does not contain any mention L1061 Sup. CI/72 766 of superannuation
or retirement. It was perhaps this difficulty which prompted the state or U.P.
to introduce item 11-C in exercise of the rule making powers conferred by s. 15
of the Act and the Bombay legislature to make similar amendment by legislation.
it would follow that unless an employer can include a clause relating to the
age of retirement and superannuation and the Certifying Officer can certify it
even though no such item appears in the schedule to ,the Act clause 32 as
certified in 1951, in the present case, could not be regarded to be valid. The
Madras High Court in the case of Management of the 'Hindu', Madras(1) made some
observations to the effect that there was no bar to the Standing Orders making
a provision for matters other than those specifically mentioned in the schedule
so long as ,the Certifying Officer certifies them on he ground that they are
fair and reasonable. The Orissa High Court, however, in Sarojkumar Ghosh's(2)
case did not subscribe to this view. Learned counsel for the appellant, apart
from relying on the Madras decision, has not addressed any arguments on the
larger and wider question as to whether even in the absence of any item in the
schedule Standing Orders can be framed on certain matters which may be regarded
as fair and reasonable and which may be so certified by the Certifying Officer.
it is, however, unnecessary to decide this point in the present case because
clause 32 of the Standing Orders on which the appellant has relied was
certified in July 1951 when according to the express language of s. 4 of the
Act the Certifying Officer or the appellate authority was debareed from
adjudicating upon the fairness or, reasonableness of the provisions of any
Standing Orders. It is difficult to understand how the Certifying Officer at
that point of time and before the amendment of s. 4 in 1956 could have possibly
certified ;my Standing Order which did not relate to any item in the schedule
on the ground that it was fair or reasonable Indeed the function of the
Certifying Officer, before the amendment of 1956, was very limited as is clear
from s. 3 (2) of the Act which says :
"Provision shall be made in such draft
for every matter set out in this schedule which may be applicable to the
industrial establishment and were model Standing Orders have been prescribed,
shall be, so far is practicable, in conformity with such model".
We must, therefore, hold that, clause 32 of
the Standing Orders as certified in July 1951 was not valid and cannot be
binding on the respondents. However, after item 11-C was introduced in the
schedule so far as the State of U.P. was concerned an item was added providing
for the age of retirement and superannuation. The Certifying Officer, when lie
modified clause 32 and (1) AIR 1961 Mad. 107.
(2) AIR 1970 Orrissa 126.
767 fixed the retiring age at 58 on April 22,
1961 could have validly certified such clause as modified by him. The necessary
consequence will be that the respondents could not have been relied 'on the
ground of superannuation in July 1959 and they could be validly retired only on
or after April 22, 1961 in accordance ,with clause 32 as modified by the
Certifying Officer. In other words, those out of the present respondent who had
attained the age of 58 years on April 22, 1961, could be regarded as having
been validly retired having reached the age of superannuation on that date
under that clause.
In view of the previous decisions of this
Court and in particular that of Guest Keen Williams Pvt. Ltd.(1) it has not
been disputed that in the industrial dispute which was referred it was open'
'to the Industrial Tribunal or the Labour Court to determine the age of
retirement or superannuation notwithstanding that clause 32 of the Standing
Orders as certified in 1961 had been legally ,And validly certified indeed in
Guest keen Williams Pvt.
Ltd.(1) It was not disputed that even this.
Court could give an appropriate direction which might 'be considered reasonable
with regard to 'the age of superannuation as stated before according to clause
32 of 'the Standing Orders, as certified in April 1961, the age of
superannuation was fixed at 58. The appellant 'filed an appears that in the
cage of Agra Electric Supply Co.(2) also a appears that in the case of Agra
Electric supply Co.(4) also a similar Standing order had been certified and on
appeal the age of -retirement was reduced from 58 to 55 years by the appellate
'authority. This Court in that case held the Standing Order fixing the age at
55 years applicable not only to those employees who were employed subsequently
but also to all workmen who were in employment at the time when the 'Standing
Orders became legally applicable. It does not appear in that case that any such
argument was raised that the matter should be remitted either to the Industrial
Tribunal or the Labour Court to fix the age of superannuation or that this Court
itself might do so as was the course followed in the case of Guest keen
Williams Pvt. Ltd.(1) in which the age was fixed at 60 years with regard to
those employees who had raised the dispute on the ground that the Sanding
Orders could not govern them as they had been employed before the Standing
Orders became applicable. After considering the entire material and keeping in
mind the fact that according to the appellate authority even the age of
retirement at 55 was fair and reasonable we are of the view that the age of
superannuation of the respondents, in the present case, should be 58 years. In
other words. it will be the same as was fixed by the Certifying Officer by
modifying clause 32 on April 22, 1961.
(1)  1 S.C.R. 348.
(2)  1 S.C.R. 808 768 Lastly we must
deal with the contention raised on behalf of the respondents that the order of
the Allahabad High Court made on July 12, 1966 quashing the award after
following the decision of this Court in Guest Keen Williams Pvt. Ltd.(1) should
be deemed to be final and should debar any fresh consideration or decision of
that point by virtue of the rule or principle of res-judicata. It is noteworthy
that the order of the Allahabad High Court was not final against which the
matter could have, been taken in appeal either to a division bench of the High
Court or to this Court.
Reliance has been placed on a decision of
this Court in Management of Northern Railway Cooperative Society Ltd. v.Industrial
Tribunal Rajasthan, Jaipur and Another(2), where reference had been made by the
State Government to the Industrial Tribunal on the Railway Workers' Union
having raised an industrial dispute against the Management of the Northern
Railway Cooperative Society Ltd. The society filed a writ petition on the
ground that the dispute having been raised by the Railway Workers' Union and
not by the Society's own employees the reference to the Tribunal was not
competent. The High Court dismissed the petition.
thereafter the Tribunal heard the matter and
gave its decision in favour of the workman concerned. The society appealed to
this Court by special leave. It was held that the order of the High Court was
not interlocutory but was a final order in regard to the proceedings under Art.
The appropriate remedy for the appellant in
that case was to appeal against the High Court's order and that not having been
done the appellant's plea relating to the competency of the reference was
barred by res judicator as the same had been raised before the High Court and
had been rejected.
The present case is clearly distinguishable
inasmuch as the order made by the High Court was not final and a remand had
been directed presumably under Art. 227 of the Constitution.
That order in fact did not finally terminate
any proceedings at all. The proceedings were terminated only by the award
against which the present appeal has been brought by special leave. We are
unable to see how the decision in the aforesaid case can afford any assistance
to the respondents before us. Indeed the case which is more apposite in
Satyadhyan Ghosal & Ors. v. Smt. Deorajin Debi & Another ( 3 ) . There
an order of remand had been made by the High Court while exercising powers
under S. 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure. It was observed, after referring
to the various decisions of the Privy Council, that the order of remand was
interlocutory and did not pumort to dispose of the case. A party is not bound
to appeal against every interlocutory order which is a step in the procedure
that leads up to a final decision or award.
(1)  1 S.C.R. 348.
(3) (1960) 3 S.C.R 590.
(2)  2 S.C.R. 476.
769 The following observations from this case
may be reproduced with advantage "Interlocutory judgments which have the
force of a decree must be distinguished from other interlocutory judgments
which are a step towards the decision of the dispute between parties by way of
a decree or a final order".
We are unable, therefore, to accede to the
contention that the rule of res-judicata could be invoked by the, respondent in
the present case.
In the result the appeal is allowed and the
order of the Industrial Tribunal is hereby set aside. According to our decision
the workmen concerned could not have been retired on the ground of
superannuation in accordance with clause 32 of the Standing Orders till it was
certified after necessary modification on April 22, 1961. Even otherwise it has
been held by us that the proper age of retirement in ,he case of those
employees who joined service prior to April 22, 1961 should be 58 years. The award,
therefore, will be that the concerned workmen should be deemed to have
continued in service of the appellant till they had at attained the age of 58
years. It is declared that they shall be entitled to be paid full wages and all
other dues to which they are entitled under ,the terms of their employment till
they attained the age of 58 years. As regards any payments received by the
workmen pursuant to the award or after the notice of termination those shall
also be adjusted accordingly and the appellant undertakes not to claim refund
of any amounts which have already between received by them in excess of the
amounts due. No order as to costs.
V.P.S. Appeal allowed.