TATA FLOBAL BEVERAGES LTD. Vs. TATA TEA EMPLOYEE TRADE UNION & ANR.
HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY (AT: PANAJI)
Tata Flobal Beverages Ltd.
Tata Tea Employee Trade Union And Anr.
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P.R. Bora, J. -
(1.) The present appeal is directed against the order passed by the learned Single Judge in Writ Petition No. 4009/1997, on 19th of September, 2007. Present respondent No. 1 had filed the said writ petition challenging the award passed by present respondent No. 2 in Reference (I.T.) No. 156/1985 on 31st of July, 1996. Following was the dispute referred to the Industrial Tribunal for adjudication.
SCHEDULE "To determine the propriety, validity and legality of the Company's circular dated 22nd May, 1974 intimating unilateral withdrawal of the Pension Scheme from 9th of May, 1974. "
The learned Industrial Tribunal rejected the Reference. In the writ petition, the learned Single Judge set aside the order passed by the Industrial Tribunal and held that the benefit which initially was extended unilaterally by the employer had metamorphosed into a privilege with the passage of time and the workers were entitled to receive pension as a matter of right. Aggrieved thereby, the employer has preferred the present appeal. For convenience, appellant is hereinafter referred to as 'Company' and respondent No. 1 as 'Union'.
(2.) The company had introduced a Pension Scheme for its clerical staff and had informed the employees about the said Scheme by a circular dated 2nd of March, 1948. The circular reads thus:
"TO ALL MEMBER OF THE INDIAN CLERICAL STAFF PENSION The Directors have agreed that, with effect from 1st January 1948 pensions on the following scale will be paid to employees retiring with the consent of the Company after 35 years' service.
50% of Salary drawn in last year of service less whatever sum the Company's contribution to the Provident Fund in respect of the employees and his share of the Capital Reserve Account will yield when invested at 4% For example:
Assume 50% is Rs.100/- and the Company's Contribution and share of Capital Reserve Account in Provident fund payable to retiring employee is Rs.3,000/-. The maximum pension payable will be Rs.100/- less Rs.10/- (being interest of 4% p.a. on Rs.3000 or Rs.90/- per month.
For retirement with the consent of the company before 35 years' service but not before 30 years' service proportionate pension will be paid as follows:-
34 years 47% of Salary less Provident Fund adjustment as above.
Retirements under 30 years' service to be considered on their merits and will receive the sympathetic consideration they have received in the past. The same applies to assistance to widows and dependents in the event of the premature decease of the employee. No fixed rules regarding these will be laid down.
So long as a dearness allowance remains in force, a retiral dearness allowance equal to 50% of the minimum dearness allowance payable from time to time to employees will be paid to retiring employees eligible for pensions. It must be clearly understood that the above scheme is entirely discretionary on the part of the Directors and that they are at liberty to withdraw it any time and particularly if the legislature or any award made under legislation places the company in a position where the company is bound to pay any pension, gratuity or retiral or superannuation allowance.
For Pro JAMES FINLAY and Co., LIMITED Sd/- Charles Forgan Worries.
Bombay, 2nd March 1948 "
(3.) On 22nd of May, 1974, the company issued another circular informing thereby that the clerical staff shall not be entitled to pension since the Payment of Gratuity Act 1972 had come into force and withdrew the said Pension Scheme w.e.f. 9th of May, 1974. In the year 1983, an employee by name P.S. Manian, claimed the pension as per the Scheme introduced by the Company vide circular dated 2nd of March, 1948. After his request was rejected by the Company informing him that the said Pension Scheme was withdrawn by the Company after introduction of Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, the Union raised a dispute about withdrawal of the said Pension Scheme and the Government, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-clause
(d) of sub-section (1) of Section 10 read with sub-section (5) of Section 12 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 ( hereinafter referred to as the "ID Act ") referred the said dispute for adjudication to the Industrial Tribunal.;
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