Decided on July 07,2005

Chhattisgarh Distillery Appellant
General Secretary, Chhattisgarh Chemical Mill Majdoor Sangh And Ors. Respondents


Sunil Kumar Sinha, J. - (1.) THIS writ petition has been filed for quashing the award dated 16.10.1999 passed by the state Industrial Court, M.P., Bench Raipur under section 51 of the M.P. Industrial Relations Act 1960 (Act 27 of 1960) in Reference Case No.10/MPIR Act/1996. Brief facts of the case are that the petitioner is a Public Limited Company, registered under Indian Companies Act 1956, having a factory in village Khapri, P.O. Kumhari, District Durg (C.G.). The said Company manufactures potable alcohol and supplies to the State Government under the Excise Act. On being satisfied about existence of an industrial dispute regarding services of the employees represented through the respondent union, in between the petitioner and the said employees, the State Government made a reference u/s 51 of M.P. Industrial Relations Act, 1960 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act") to the Industrial Court, Raipur on 26.02.1993 for its adjudication/arbitration. The terms of the reference are as under:
(2.) AFTER service of the notice to the parties, a preliminary objection was filed by the petitioner on 27.04.1993. it was mainly contended vide the said preliminary objection that the provisions of sub -section (2) of Section 51 of the Act have not been complied with when the reference was made. It was also contended that the party no. 1 i.e. respondent no. 1 herein had never raised a dispute and has not given a notice of change under section 31 of the Act to the petitioner in Form "J". Further the requirement of section 39(1) of the Act has not been complied with and as such since the matter was never seized in conciliation, no report was sent to the Chief Conciliator u/s 43(2) of the Act. The willingness of the parties was never obtained as is required u/s 43(6) of the Act and the conciliation proceedings have not been resorted to, therefore, the mandatory provisions have not been complied. This was also taken as an objection that the dispute in respect of suspension of the persons included in the attached list with reference is not such a dispute which is not likely to be settled by other means. Taking these objections, it was prayed that since the objections go to the root of the matter and relate to the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court, it should be decided first taking them as the preliminary issues in the matter. After receiving the said objection the matter was referred by the Industrial Court Judge, Raipur to the President, Industrial Court, Indore on 20.10.1994 for constituting a larger Bench to decide the same. On 31.05.1995 the division Bench of the Industrial Court, Indore, after hearing the parties, decided the questions raised in the preliminary objection by the petitioner and the same was dismissed. The State Government on 24.05.1995 further added the list of 807 employees in the original list of employees annexed as schedule to term No. 3 of the reference. This was made a part of records of tribunal on 07.08.1995. Thereafter, the State Government further added term No. 4 to the reference made to the Industrial Court vide its order dated 31.07.1995 which relates to the interim relief after which the respondent Union filed its statement of claim before the Industrial Court on 11.09.1995.
(3.) SINCE the preliminary objection about the maintainability of the reference was dismissed, a writ petition bearing W.P.No. 1231/1995 was filed by the petitioner, before the single Judge of the Indore Bench of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh but this petition was also dismissed vide order dated 27.09.1996. Against the said dismissal, the petitioner preferred a Letters Patent Appeal No. 156/1996 before the Division Bench. Ultimately, this matter went in the full Bench and by order dated 06.04.1999 the full Bench disposed of the said L.P.As. and directed the Industrial Court, Raipur to decide the reference on merits within a period of 4 months as per law after hearing the parties. The parties were directed to appear before the Industrial Court on 10th of May 1999. In fact, the LPAs were disposed of by the Full Bench by a consent order by which the Industrial Court's order dated 31.05.1995 rejecting the preliminary objection and upholding the maintainability of the reference and the writ court order dated 27.09.1996, affirming the said order of the industrial Court were upheld and the reference made by the State Government to the Industrial Court was found in order. It was also observed that any observations made by the successive bench of the High Court touching the substance and the merit of the dispute between the parties shall have no bearing in disposal of the reference by the Industrial Court which shall proceed in the matter uninfluenced by any such order. After the said order the matter was again taken up by the Industrial Court. It appears that the petitioner, even after giving repeated opportunities by the Industrial Court, did not file its written statement or the Statement of claims and ultimately the parties were called upon to lead their evidence. Respondent No. 1 examined only one witness and closed its case. Though the witness of respondent No. 1 was cross examined by the counsel for the petitioner but the petitioner did not produce any oral or documentary evidence in the case. The Industrial Court, after hearing he arguments passed the impugned award dated 16.10.1999 by which a direction was issued to the petitioner to reinstate the workers enlisted in the order of reference with 66% back wages. It was also directed that the minimum wages, dearness allowance and other allowances fixed by the State Government shall be payable to the employees from the date of their reinstatement. It is against this order the petitioner has filed this writ petition. Shri A.M. Mathur, learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioner submits that term No. 3 of the reference was wrongly amended by the State Government after a very long period by adding a list of persons to the Schedule annexed to the reference. It is submitted that such an amendment was contrary to Section 52 -A of the Act 1960. It is further submitted that this is an error of law apparent on the face of record as the State Government was having no authority to amend the reference and in consequence the Industrial Court was having no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the matter which was added later on by the amendment made by the State Government on a subsequent date. He further submits that term No. 3 of the reference relates to the termination of the workers whereas the list of the persons annexed to the reference shows that the workers are suspended persons. In this manner learned counsel submits that the Industrial Court erred in law in considering the case of suspended persons whereas term No. 3 of the reference relates to the terminated persons only.;

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