ANDHRA CO OPERATIVE SPINNING MILLS LTD Vs. REGIONAL PROVIDENT FUND COMMISSIONER ANDHRA PRADESH
LAWS(APH)-1972-4-6
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Decided on April 18,1972

ANDHRA CO-OPERATIVE SPINNING MILLS LTD., GUNTAKAL, ANANTAPNR DISTRICT REPRESENTED BY ITS MANAGING DIRECTOR Appellant
VERSUS
REGIONAL PROVIDENT FUND COMMISSIONER, ANDHRA PRADESH Respondents

JUDGEMENT

Obul Reddi, J. - (1.) The question that arises in this writ appeal is whether the provisions of paragraph 26 (3) of the Employees Provident Funds Scheme, 1952 apply to the apprentices working in an establishment or factory.
(2.) For determination of the question, it is necessary to notice the relevant facts. The appellant-company, the Andhra Co-operative Spinning Mills Ltd., Guntakal, runs a spinning mill at Guntakal for the manufacture of cotton yarn. It takes apprentices, apart from the regular employees who number about 1000 on its rolls, to enable them to learn the trade and obtain training in the working of the spinning mills in order that they may secure employment after they finish their term of apprenticeship, either in the same mill or elsewhere. During the period of apprenticeship, they are paid stipends to cover expenses. A settlement was reached between the management of the appellant-mills and the unions regarding the revision of implementation of the work-load and, under it, the management had to employ some more workmen to cope with the increased workload. About 242 apprentices, who were undergoing apprenticeship, were employed with effect from 2nd January, 1967, and they were admitted into the fund with effect from 2nd January, 1968, as they had to put in 240 days of work in one year before they could be admitted to the fund. Contribution Was also paid in respect of those employees with effect from the date of their admission i.e., 2nd January, 1968. But the Provident Fund Inspector demanded the contribution with effect from and January, 1967, the date on which they were entertained as apprentices on the ground that the period of apprenticeship also should be taken into account for the purpose of calculating 240 days of work in one year's continuous service. The management of the mills brought to the notice of the respondent, (the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner) that the demand is not warranted under the relevant provisions of law and that the E.S.I. Court had also held that there is no liability to pay E.S.I contribution, as the apprentices are not deemed to be employed within the meaning of the Employees Provident Funds Act, 1952. The respondent did not accept the position of law stated by the management and addressed the District Collector, Anantapur, under a copy to the management, requesting him to take steps under the Revenue Recovery Act to recover a sum of Rs. 1,23,500 from the appellant mills. It is this step that was taken by the respondent that led to the filing of the writ petition.
(3.) The respondent, in his counteraffidavit contended inter alia that 242 apprentices ceased to be apprentices or trainees when they were entertained as employee? with effect from and January, 1967, and, therefore, they ceased to be an excluded class for the purposes of provident fund contribution and fell within the class of regular employees entitled and required to become members of the fund under paragraph 26 (3) of the Provident Funds Scheme from the beginning of the month following that in which they ceased to be apprentices. It is also pointed out that the apprentices who Were entertained as regular employees either had completed one year's continuous service or actually worked for not less than 240 Working days during the period of one year in the appellant mill. It is the case of the respondent that the appellant-mill is not entitled to the exemption claimed, as the service of an apprentice will also count for computing the qualifying service of one year's continuous service or 240 days of actual working days during a period of twelve months as laid down in paragraph 26 (3) of the Scheme for the membership of the Employees' Provident Fund.;


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