Mathura Refinery Mazdoor Sangh Vs. Indian
Oil Corporation Ltd.  INSC 44 (15 February 1991)
M.M. Punchhi, M.M. Saikia, K.N. (J)
1991 SCR (1) 468 1991 SCC (2) 176 JT 1991 (1) 472 1991 SCALE (1)297
Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1971:
Refinery-Casual Labourers-Some Labourers forming Co- operative Societies and
entering contracts with refinery while others working under contractors who
have contracts with refinery-Claim for regularisation and parity with employees
of refinery-Casual labourers held not employees of refinery and hence not
entitled for absorption in refinery.
appellant-Union, representing about 900 casual labourers falling under the
Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1971 some of whom formed
Co-operative societies and entered into contracts with the respondent- refinery
while others worked for contractors who had contracts with the refinery, filed
a writ petition in this court claiming parity in wages and service conditions
with the regular workmen of the respondent-refinery. This Court disposed the
petition by directing the Central Government to refer to the Industrial
Tribunal for adjudication the questions whether the petitioners and some of the
workmen whose services were terminated were employees of the refinery; whether
their termination was justified and to what relief they were entitled to. The
Government referred and the Tribunal decided the questions against the
appellant-union by holding that the labourers were employees of the contractors
and not of the refinery and their termination was justified. But the Tribunal
gave certain directions by way of relief for consideration by the Advisory
Board about the desirability of continuance of the contract system in the
refinery, for providing minimum pay of scale of regular employees to the
contract labour and giving them preference in the regular employment.
the award of the Industrial Tribunal, the Union
filed an appeal in this Court praying for directions to the refinery to absorb
and regularise the casual labourers in a phased manner.
the appeal, this Court, 469
contract laboures are not, and have also not been found to be, having a direct
connection with the Refinery, even though it is a State for the purpose of
enforcement of fundamental rights. The directions given by the Tribunal was the
only relief which was due to the appellant_union and its members. Hence the
Tribunal has given to the appellant -union the maximum which could be given in
the facts and circumstances of the case.
the impugned Award of the Tribunal cannot be improved upon. [472E-F] BHEL
Workers Association, Hardwar and Ors. etc. v. Union of India and Ors.,
 1 SCC 630, referred to.
Distt. P.W.D. Literate Daily Wage Employees Association and Ors. V. State Of Karnataka and Ors.,  2 SCC 396,
APPELLATE JURISDICTION:Civil Appeal No. 1430 of 1990.
the Judgment and Order dated 21.10.1989 of the Central Government Industrial
Tribunal, New Delhi in I.D. No. 40 of 1986.
and A.M. Khanwilkar for the Appellant.
H. Desai, R.P. Bhatt. P.H. Parekh and Mrs. Sumita Sharma for the Respondents.
Judgment of the Court was delivered by PUNCHHI, J. This appeal by special leave
is directed against the Award of the Central Government Industrial Tribunal, New Delhi, in I.D. No. 40 of 1986 published
in the Gazette of India, New
Delhi dated 21.10-89.
appellant is the Mathura Refinery Mazdoor Sangh (here-after referred to as 'Union'). The contesting respondent is the Indian Oil
Corporation Ltd., Mathura Refinery Project, Mathura, U.P.
referred to as the 'Refinery'). The Union
represents about 900 casual labourers working in the Refinery. These labourers
are contract labourers coming under the Contract Labour (Regulation &
Abolition) Act, 1971. The nature of their work has grouped them .Some of the labourers
have formed themselves into cooperative societies and those societies have
entered into labour contracts with 470 the Refinery. Other labourers are
working under labour contractors who have contracts with the Refinery.
is not a constant relationship with one contractor and these labourers keep
shifting from one contractor to another. However it is claimed that these
casual labourers, have been working in the Refinery for so many years in the
past ranging between ten to fifteen years but they are denied wages and other
benefits as also other beneficial service conditions enjoyed by workmen who are
regular employees of the Refinery. Claiming that they had a right to be treated
at par with regular employees, the Union
filed Writ Petition No. 2876 of 1985 under Article 32 of the Constitution of
India in this Court which was disposed of on January 16, 1986 by directing the Central Government to refer to the
Industrial Tribunal for adjudication the following questions:
Whether, in law, the petitioners and the 48 workmen whose services have been
terminated are employees of the Indian Oil Corporation, Mathura Refinery
Whether the termination of the services of 48 workmen was justified? and
what relief are the workmen entitled?" Status quo was ordered to be
maintained and the services of the workmen were ordered not to be terminated.
At that time, the services of 48 workmen alone were involved but as is evident
the adjudication of the Tribunal would have affected others too.
to the order of this Court, the Central Government referred and the Industrial
Tribunal decided the above referred questions holding that the workmen were not
employees of the Refinery and were rather the employees of the contractors.
With regard to the termination of the services of the workmen and to what
relief they were entitled, the Tribunal, after answering the questions against
the Union and in favour of the Refinery,
suggested the following steps in the interest of Industrial harmony:
Though the Union should have pressed their demand for abolition of the contract
labour system in the Refinery to the Central Advisory Board constituted under
the Act, and even though it had been pursuing its remedies before this Court
and the Tribunal, suggestions were made to the Refinery to approach 471 the
Advisory Board to make a study with regard to the desirability of continuance
of the contract labour system in the Refinery.
Till the Central Advisory Board makes its recommendations and the action is
taken, the management of the Refinery to ensure that the contract labour is
paid at least the minimum of the pay scale of its regular employees performing
the same or similar duties as the workmen of the contract labour and further
that the workmen among the contract labour who have put in 5 years or more of
work at the Mathura Refinery shall be continued to be employed in the same work
even if there is a change in the contractor and such workmen shall not be
terminated except as a punishment inflicted by way of disciplinary action for
misconduct, etc., voluntary retirement or retirement on reaching the age of
superannuation (which may be taken as the superannuation age for the I.O.C.
or on ground of continuous ill-health.
Refinery to give preference to those workmen in its employment by waiving the
requirement of age and other qualifications wherever possible and it may also
consider the creation of a benevolent fund for the contract labour wherein it
may make a lumpsum contribution initially and then make equivalent or even more
contribution to match the contribution made by the workmen of the contract labour.
suggested these, the Tribunal has clarified that these ameliorative steps, if
taken by the Refinery, shall not be taken to mean that the contract labour has
become the direct employees of the Refinery.
counsel for the appellant says that though the above suggestions, which have
the colour of directions, are in accord with the decision of this Court in
13HEL workers Association, Hardwar and Others etc. v. Union of India and
Others, [ 1985] 1 SCC 630 yet they fall short of the expectancies of the Union
and in particular to the wide sweep of the principles laid down by this Court
in Dharwad Distt P.W.D. Literate Daily Wage Employees Association and Others v.
State of Karnataka and Others, [ 1990] 2 SCC 396 and prayed for directions such
as those given to the State of Karnataka in the Dharwad's case (supra).
argument of the learned counsel has barely to be noted and 472 rejected. The
Tribunal has given to the appellant-Union the maximum which could be given in
the facts and circumstances of the, case. In Dharwad's case (supra), the State
of Karnataka had itself come out with a scheme
to absorb the casual workers in regular government service in a phased manner
and though it did not satisfy all concerned, yet it was given a workable final
shape. This Court observed as follows:
the, scheme so finalised is not the ideal one but it is the obligation of the
court to individualise justice to suit a given situation in a set of facts that
are placed before it. Under the scheme of the Constitution the purse remains in
the hands of the executive. The legislature of the State controls the
Consolidated Fund out of which the expenditure to be incurred, in giving effect
to the scheme, will have to be met. The flow into the Consolidated Fund depends
upon the policy of taxation depending perhaps on the capacity of the payer.
Therefore, unduly burdening the State for implementing the constitutional
obligation forth with would create problems which the State may not be able to
handle. Therefore, the directions have been made with judicious
restraint." Those casual workers were under the employment of the State
and the State came out with a scheme for phased absorption and a graded
financial responsibility. In the instant case before us, the contract labourers
are not, and have also not been found to be, having a direct connection with
the Refinery, even though it is a State for the purpose of enforcement of
fundamental rights.The suggestions/directions given by the Tribunal, appear to
us to be the only relief which was due to the appellant and its members in the
given situation and circumstances. Therefore, the impugned Award of the
Tribunal cannot be improved upon.
no merit in the appeal, we dismiss the same.