Decided on February 05,1954


Referred Judgements :-



- (1.)THIS application under Article 226 of the Constitution in effect prays for a writ of mandamus to the State Government of Madhya Pradesh directing it to prosecute respondents 2 and 3 for offences under Section 22, Minimum Wages Act (11 of 1948 ).
(2.)IT is necessary to state the following facts for the determination of the points raised in this case. Petitioner No. 1 is the Nagpur Glass Works, Limited, and the second petitioner is the Central Glass Factory, Nagpur. Respondents 2 and 3 respectively are the Swastik Glass Works, Chanda, and the Onama Glass Works Limited, Jabalpur. They are factories manufacturing and dealing in articles of glass. By a gazette notification dated 21-8-1950 the State Government fixed the minimum rate of wages payable to employees in glass factories under the provisions of Section 5 (2), Minimum Wages Act (which for the sake of brevity shall be referred to in this Judgment as "the Act" ). In pursuance of the notification the State Government issued instructions to the petitioners as well as to respondents 2 and 3 directing that the minimum rates of wages so fixed for the glass industry shall come into effect immediately. The petitioners' grievance is that though they have brought into effect the minimum rates fixed as aforesaid by the Government in their factories, respondent No. 2 has not enforced the prescribed minimum wages and respondent No. 3 has not done so in respect of his employees at Jabalpur, though he has done so in respect of those in his factories at Gondia. The petitioners further state that they have been paying the minimum rates of wages fixed by the Government to their employees and respondents 2 and 3 have been benefiting themselves by a large sum of money by not paying the minimum rates of wages to their employees as aforesaid. The petitioners also aver that the State Government so far had failed to take any steps to compel the enforcement by respondents 2 and 3 of the minimum rates of wages thus fixed. Thus, the petitioners assert, the failure of the State Government to compel the enforcement of the minimum wages fixed by it amounts to a flagrant denial of the petitioner's fundamental right to equality before the law under Article 14 of the Constitution and its enforcement against the petitioners alone amounts to a denial of free occupation and trade under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution of India.
(3.)RESPONDENTS 2 and 3 have filed separate returns raising similar pleas in bar of the present application. Their contentions are that the provisions of Section 5 (2) of the Act had not been complied with and that therefore the minimum wages fixed really at the instance of the first petitioner were not binding on the industry as a whole; that the respondents had incurred large losses during the years 1948 to 1952 on the working of their factories, which showed that the industry could not bear the weight of the so called minimum wages purported to have been fixed under the Act; that the minimum wages were fixed at the instance of petitioner No. , 1 at unremunerative levels from the point of view of the employers, of factories located at places other than Nagpur; that the first petitioner was chiefly responsible for such high wages being fixed in order to crush the other competitors in the manufacturing business; that respondents 2 and 3 had submitted memorials to the State Government for a revision of those rates on the ground that they could not be borne by the industry outside the city of Nagpur; that the labour at Nagpur is much more skilled and efficient than elsewhere in Madhya Pradesh; that as a result of those representations the State Government have on 20-8-1953 issued a notification to the effect that an advisory committee had been appointed by the Government to revise the rates of minimum wages already fixed; that this application was intended to serve not the interests of the industry as a whole but only the interests of the petitioners as against the interests of the other manufacturing units situated outside the city of Nagpur; and that no 'writ' or direction should issue under Article 226 of the Constitution In the very special circumstances of this case, and particularly because a 'writ' is not meant to compel proceedings being taken against any individuals.

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