Bank of India & Ors Vs. State Bank of India Canteen Employees' Union & Ors  INSC 275 (5 May 1998)
O R D
1 to 3 herein moved a learned Single Judge of the Calcutta High Court for the
issue of a writ of mandamus directing the appellants to forthwith absorb the
members of the first respondent-union as employees of the appellant-bank with
effect from their respective dates of joining or within such time as the Court
may deem fit and proper and for other consequential directions.
learned Single judge passed the following order:- " The Court: having
heard the Learned Counsel for the petitioner and the respondent-State Bank of India it is directed that the matter will
come as application 3 months hence. A/O by 6 weeks and Reply by 3 weeks there after.
Pendency of the petition will not prevent the parties to proceed before the
Tribunal in the manner mentioned in the petition. Any step to be taken by the
respondent pursuant to the impugned settlement will abide by the result of the
writ petition. Liberty to mention for early hearing after
filling of affidavit.
parties to act on a signed copy of the minutes of this order on the usual
undertaking." Aggrieved by the above order, respondents 1 to 3 moved the
Division Bench of that High Court and the learned Judges of the Division Bench
withdrew the case from the learned Single Judge and heard the main case itself
along with the appeal filed against the interim order of the learned Single Judge.
learned Judges accepted the case of the first respondent-union and directed the
appellants to treat the employees of the canteens of all the Branches as
employees of the bank. Aggrieved by that, the present appeals are filed by
heard extensively Mr. Shanti Bhushan, learned senior counsel for the
appellants, and Mr. Anindya Mitra, learned senior counsel for the contesting
have noticed that at the instance of the first respondent-union, on an
identical issue, a dispute was a raised espousing the cause of its members
(workmen) and on failure of settlement the matter was referred to the Central
Government Industrial Tribunal. While the matter was pending, respondents 1 to
3 seem to have moved the High Court simultaneously. The appropriate way of
disposing of the matter by the High Court would have been to direct the parties
to proceed with the case before the Industrial Tribunal and not to permit the
union to simultaneously move the High Court. Alternatively the High Court could
have kept the matter pending till the Industrial Tribunal decided the issue by
giving findings on the disputed questions of fact.
Division Bench itself has noticed that the appellant- bank has not accepted the
material facts and still the Division Bench, while exercising jurisdiction
under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, gave findings on questions of
important aspects on which the facts seriously disputed were that the canteen
employees were not the employees of the bank as there was no relationship of
employer and employee and there was no similarity between the canteens in
dispute and the canteens run by the bank.
Division Bench proceeded on the assumption that the canteen employees of the
bank and the canteens run by the bank and the canteens now in question are
similar in all respects. It appears that as a result of bipartite agreement
between the bank and employees federation (after four stages) ultimately the
Bank agreed to take over and run the canteens where the Branch is manned by not
less than 100 employees. The canteens now in question are the canteens in the
branches where the bank employees are less than 100.
to the bank, there are 231 branches in which only 5 employees are there and in
126 branches the staff strength was only between 6 and 10. According to the
learned counsel appearing for the bank, the question whether there was
necessity to run a canteen in those branches and other similar questions should
have been gone into by the High Court and without deciding such factual aspect
the High Court has issued the mandamus as prayed for.
facts, we are of the view that the High Court ought not to have entertained the
Writ Petition when the identical issue between the same parties was pending
before the Industrial Tribunal and that too at the instance of the Writ
petitions before the High Court. We are told that the matter before the
Industrial Tribunal is still pending.
reliance was placed on the recent judgments of this Court in Employers in
Relation To The Management of Reserve Bank of India vs. Workmen (1996 (3) SCC
267), Parimal Chandra Raha & Others vs. Life Insurance Corporation of India
& Ors. (1995 (Supp) (2) SCC 611), Associate Banks Officers' Association vs.
State Bank of India & Ors. (1998 (1) SCC 428. In all these cases, the case
in M.M.R. Khan & Ors. vs. Union of India
& Ors. (1990 (Supp) SCC 191) was referred to, elaborately considered and
explained to a certain extent. For appreciating and applying the principles laid
down by this Court in these recent judgments, it is absolutely necessary to
have clear and elaborate findings on facts based on materials.
this circumstances, taking advantage of the pendency of the identical issue in
Ref. No. 2/92 before the Central Government Industrial Tribunal at Calcutta,
instead of directing the parties to go before the same Tribunal in this matter
as well, to avoid delay and in the interest of both the parties, we direct the
Central Government Industrial Tribunal to expedite the hearing of Ref. No. 2/92
and render the Award within six months. The parties shall avoid taking
adjournments. The party, aggrieved by the Award of the Tribunal to be passed
pursuant to the direction as given above, will be at liberty to move this Court.
appeals will be listed after the disposal of the Reference by the Central
Government Industrial Tribunal as aforesaid alongwith the SLP, if any, filed
against the Award of the Central Government Industrial Tribunal.