EAST ASIATIC CO INDIA PRIVATE LTD Vs. FOURTH INDUSTRIAL TRIBUNAL WEST BENGAL
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
EAST ASIATIC CO. (INDIA) PRIVATE LTD.
FOURTH INDUSTRIAL TRIBUNAL, WEST BENGAL
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Lahiri, C.J. -
(1.) This appeal relates to a claim for bonus made by seventy retrenched employees and one dismissed employee of the appellant company, which is the employer. Sometime in the year 1955, the appel-lant company found it necessary to retrench 79 employees on account of bad financial condition; but at that time an industrial dispute between the appellant company and its workmen was pending before the First Industrial Tribunal of West Bengal and therefore it was necessary for the appellant company to take the permission of the Industrial Tribunal before it could direct retrenchment. An application was accordingly filed before the First Industrial Tribunal by the appellant for permission to retrench. 79 employees. The permission was granted by the First Industrial Tribunal to the appellant company to retrench 71 instead of 79 employees by an order dated 4-4-1956. These 71 employees included one K. K. Bhowmick, who was the Secretary of the Employees' Union of the appellant company. In the course of the proceeding pending before the First Industrial Tribunal, K. K. Bhowmick filed a written statement making certain scandalous and defamatory allegations against the appellant company. The appellant company thereupon issued a charge sheet against K. K. Bhowmick with the permission of the First Industrial Tribunal with a view to take disciplinary action against K. K. Bhowmick. Since however the said K. K. Bhowmick failed to furnish any satisfactory explanation of the defamatory allegations made by him, the appellant company decided on 16-9-1955 to dismiss him and applied to the First Industrial Tribunal for permission to dismiss K. K. Bhowmick. Before the application for permission to dismiss K. K. Bhowmick was disposed of by the First Industrial Tribunal, the proceeding pending before it came to an end, and the First Industrial Tribunal made an award, which was published in the Calcutta Gazette on 21-6-1956. The appellant company thereafter dismissed the said K. K. Bhow-mick by an order dated 26-11-1956. By a notice dated 21-11-1956, the company declared bonus at certain rates to be granted to its permanent staff. The 70 employees who had been retrenched by the order dated 4-4-1956 and K. K. Bhowmick who had been dismissed by the order dated 26-11-1956 made a claim for the bonus declared by the company on the 21st of November, 1956. K. K. Bhowmick further challenged the legality and validity of his dis-missal. Upon the appellant company's refusal to accept these claims, they were taken up by the Employee's Union of the appellant company. By an order dated ,2-7-1957 the Government of West Bengal referred the disputes to the Fourth Industrial Tribunal and the issues that were referred for adjudication were:
1. "Whether the Company was justified in not paying the extra bonus to the seventyone retrenched employees? To what relief are these employees entitled?
(2.) Whether the dismissal of Sri K. K. Bhowmick was justified? To what relief is he entitled?" 2. Before the Tribunal the appellant company filed a written statement challenging the validity of die order of reference and the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to adjudicate on the issues upon a preliminary ground that there was no industrial dispute between the appellant company and its Employees' Union. The appellant company further disputed the claims for bonus made on behalf of the retrenched and dismissed employees. By an award published in the Calcutta Gazette on 3-4-1958 the Tribunal overruled the preliminary objection about the want of jurisdiction of the Tribunal and answered the first issue in favour of the Employees' Union of the appellant company and the second issue relating to the dismissal of K. K, Bhowmick in favour of the appellant company. Against the aforesaid award the appellant company filed an application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for issue of appropriate writs for quashing the aforesaid award and for prohibiting the respondents and each of them from enforcing the award and for commanding the respondents to forbear from enforcing or giving any effect to the award. By a judgment dated the 22nd August 1958, Mr. Justice Sinha discharged the Rule with a slight modification about company's contribution in respect of the provident fund of K. K. Bhowmick. Against that order the employer company has brought this appeal.
(3.) Mr. Chowdhury appearing in support of the appeal has argued three points before us. The first point is that Mr. Justice Sinha erred in law in holding that the Tribunal had jurisdiction to try the issues referred to it. The second point is that on a true construction of the notice issued by the company on 21-11-1956, it should be held that the 70 retrenched employees and the dismissed employee (K. K. Bhowmick) are not entitled to claim any benefit under it. The third point is that the claim made by K. K. Bhowmick in respect of the bonus is not covered by the issues referred to the Tribunal for adjudication.;
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