Decided on November 22,1961



- (1.) THE short point which arises for consideration in this Rule, is whether a Conciliation Officer, appointed under the Industrial Disputes Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act), is competent to continue a conciliation proceeding for more than fourteen days after the commencement thereof or whether he must submit his report on conciliation within fourteen days of the commencement of the conciliation proceedings or within such shorter period as may be fixed by the appropriate government, otherwise lose his jurisdiction to conciliate.
(2.) BETWEEN the petitioner and its workmen there arose an industrial dispute over dismissal of certain workmen and certain demands relating to grade; scale of pay, dearness allowance, provident fund, working hours, confirmation in appointments, bonus and other matters, all contained in a charter of demand.
(3.) ON the items of dispute being brought to the notice of the Assistant Labour Commissioner, on various dates in the months of July and August, 1958, he directed A. C. Roy Chowdhury, a Labour Officer, to commence conciliation of the dispute. The said labour Officer, by his letter dated August 29, 1958 (Annexure "a" to the petition), asked the petitioner to attend a joint conference with the workers' association, named the Press Employees' Association, to be held on September 9, 1958. The conference, however, could not be held on the date fixed and by his letter, dated September 15, 1958 (Annexure "b" to the petition), the Labour Officer shifted the date of the conference to September 22, 1958. It was found out at the conference, held on September 22, 1958, that A. C. Roy Chowdhury was not the proper officer to conciliate in the dispute because the local area within which the dispute arose fell within the territorial jurisdiction of the Labour Officer, South Region. The proceedings were thereupon transferred to B. G. Mukherjee, the appropriate Labour Officer. This latter officer, by his letter dated September 30, 1958 (Annexure "c" to the petition), arranged for a joint conference on October 3, 1958 but the petitioner's representative did not attend that conference on the following pretext, as appears in its letter, dated October 3, 1958 (Annexure "d" to the petition), addressed to B. G. Mukherjee, respondent No. 2:- "in this connection I may point out to you that a joint conference has already been held by Sri A. C. Roy Chowdhury, Labour Officer, Government of west Bengal, on the 22nd September, 1958 over the same subject-matter as mentioned in your aforesaid letter and the matter was finally discussed with him. In the circumstances if you still intend to hold the joint conference, then please let me know. ";

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