Decided on September 06,2007

UNION OF INDIA Respondents


- (1.) WE have heard learned counsel for the parties on this appeal, which has been filed by the Workmen. Being aggrieved by the order dated July 18, 2006 passed by the appropriate government, a writ petition was filed by the workmen assailing the findings therein that the disputes raised should not be referred for adjudication under the Industrial Disputes Act. The writ petition has been dismissed by the learned single Judge vide judgment dated november 18, 2006, with an observation that the appellants can amend their statement of claim.
(2.) IN order to appreciate the contentions of the learned counsel for the parties, we have looked into the order of the Government of india, Ministry of Labour dated July 18, 2006 whereby the Ministry had informed the workmen that the dispute in respect of which reference was sought is not fit for adjudication on the grounds mentioned in the said order. Since the said grounds have relevance for deciding the issue raised before us, we extract the said reasons hereinbelow: "the workmen who raised the dispute did not produce any authentic documents to show that they were engaged by the management of IOC. The contractors who had engaged the workmen are holding licence under the Contract Labour (Randa)Act and the principal employer (IOCL) is registered under the above said Act for engaging workmen on contract basis. "
(3.) AT the time of deciding the question as to whether or not a reference is to be made, the' appropriate Government acts in the light of provisions of Section 10 of the Industrial disputes Act. It is settled law that whether or not a reference case could be made out is an administrative decision and at that stage, no final opinion on the lis of the parties could be decided by the appropriate Government. In the present case, the appropriate Government has proceeded to decide the Us between the parties, as if they are vested with the judicial or quasi-judicial power. In our opinion, therefore, the rejection of the prayer of the workmen to make reference of the disputes is illegal and without jurisdiction. In this connection, we may refer to the decision of the Supreme Court in telco Convoy Drivers' Mazdoor Sangh and another v. State of Bihar and Others, AIR 1989 sc 1565 : (1989) 3 SCC 271 : 1989-II-LLJ-558 of paragraph 13 of the said judgment it has been held that while exercising power under Section 10 (1) of the Act, the function of the appropriate government is an administrative function and not a judicial or quasi-judicial function, and that in performing the said administrative function the Government cannot delve into merits of the dispute/claims and take upon itself the task of determining the lis, which would certainly be beyond the power and the scope of Section 10 of the Act. The same proposition of lawn has been reiterated in other subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court like Dhanbad Colliery karamchari Sangh v. Union of India and others, 1991 Supp. (2) SCC 10; V. Veerarajan and Others v. Government of Tamil Nadu, AIR 1987 SC 695 : (1987) 1 SCC 479 : 1987-I-LLJ-209, Ram Avtar Sharma v. State of haryana, AIR 1985 SC915 : (1985)3 SCC 189 : 1985-II-LLJ-187 (SC), Air India Limited v. Jagesh Dutt Sharma, 2007-I-LLJ-751 (Del); and ITDC v. Delhi Administration, 1982 Lab. I. C. 1309 (FB ).;

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