Singh & Ors Vs. I.C.I. India Ltd. & Ors  Insc 119 (31 January 2008)
Arijit Pasayat & P. Sathasivam Dr. Arijit Pasayat, J.
Challenge in this appeal is to the order passed by a learned Single Judge of
the Allahabad High Court dismissing the writ petitions filed by the appellants.
Challenge before the High Court was to the order passed by the Presiding Labour
Court (II) U.P. Kanpur in Adjudication case-Arbitration dispute No. 164 of
following question was sent to the Labour Court for decision under Section
4(iv) of the U.P. State Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (in short the 'State
Act): "Whether 61 labourers mentioned in the Appendix should be declared
permanent? If so, then from which date and with what other particulars?"
Labour Court held that 61 labourers connected with the case do not possess the
right to be declared permanent under the employer- respondent No. 1. So far as
the question to be made permanent under the contractor, it was found that they
did not want to be declared permanent under the contractor.
Challenge in the writ petition revolved around the question as to the effect of
the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 (in short the
"Act"). In the background of the definition of the word
"employer" as in clause IV of Section 2(i)(iv) of the State Act, The
Indian Explosive Limited is a manufacturer of Urea and is covered under the
Act. It is registered under Chapter III of the same Act and has many licensed
contractor including one Abdul Rehman (hereinafter referred to as the
'Contractor'). These licensed contractors engaged many persons to do the work
contracted with them. Fertilizer Workers Union (hereinafter referred to as the
'Union') filed an application under Rule
25 (v)(a) of the U.P. Contract Labour (Regularisation and Abolition) Rules,
1975 (in short the "Rules") framed under the Act before the Labour
This was for the relief that the different persons working under the different
licensed contractors are doing work similar to the work assigned to the workmen
of the company and should have similar conditions of service regarding wages,
holidays etc. Proceedings were initiated. In the proceedings under Rule 25 of
the Rules, the Labour Commissioner by his order dated 15.12.1984 allowed the
application so far as persons engaged by the Contractor Rehman and one more
licensed contractor but for rest of the persons application for the Union was dismissed. The order of the Labour Commissioner
was upheld by the High Court. During pendency of the proceedings, under Rule 25
disputes were raised by the Union which is
the subject matter of consideration for the benefit of the workmen engaged by
the Contractor-Rehman. As noted above, the Labour Court rejected the application.
P.K. Jain, learned counsel for the appellants submitted that the High Court's
approach is hyper technical and the benefits intended by various beneficial
Statutes have not been kept in view.
Learned counsel for the respondents on the other hand supported the judgment.
few observations made by the High Court which are relevant need to be noted. It
was held by the High Court as follows:
labour court has held that the petitioners were not working as helpers to the
fitters; they were not paid by the company; and were engaged on contract for
intermittent work i.e. they did not have regular or permanent work.
work that the petitioners do may be similar to the work of the workman of the
company, but they are not doing the work that is ordinary part of the industry.
This is for reason that they- ? did not have permanent work;
engaged in intermittent work and
claimed to be workmen of the contractor Rehman in proceedings under Rule 25 of
the Labour Contract Act and got benefit under the same."
Similarly, the Labour
Court noted that
contractor Rehman had applied to the administration for licence under the State
Contract Labour Act and considering the nature of the contract licence has been
granted to him.
Steel Authority of India Ltd. v. Union
of India & Ors. [2006(12) SC 233] it was inter-alia held as follows:
workmen whether before the Labour Court
or in writ proceedings were represented by the same union. A trade union
registered under the Trade Unions Act is entitled to espouse the cause of the
workmen. A definite stand was taken by the employees that they had been working
under the contractors. It would, thus, in our opinion, not lie in their mouth
to take a contradictory and inconsistent plea that they were also the workmen
of the principal employer. To raise such a mutually destructive plea is
impermissible in law. Such mutually destructive plea, in our opinion, should
not be allowed to be raised even in an industrial adjudication. Common law
principles of estoppel, waiver and acquiescence are applicable in an industrial
view of the factual position highlighted above and the ratio of the decision in
Steel Authority's case (supra), the inevitable result is that the appeal is
sans merit, deserves dismissal, which we direct with no order as to costs.
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