SINHA, J. -
(1.) THE facts in this case are shortly as follows.
(2.) THERE are eleven petitioners in this application who are all companies incorporated under the Indian Companies Act. The petitioner 1, Bangur Brothers, Ltd., is the managing agent for five companies, namely, Hastings Mills, Ltd., Fort William jute Company, Ltd., Belsund Sugar Mills, Ltd., Shalimar Rope Works, Ltd., and India Paint, Colour and Varnish Company, Ltd. The petitioner 1 manages the other companies, namely, Amalgamated Development, Ltd., Oceanic Navigation Company, Ltd., Bangur Land Development, Ltd., Vijay Luxmi, Ltd., and West Bengal Properities (Private), Ltd. The respondent 4 is stated to be a department of the petitioner 1. The factories and/or mills of the various companies are situated in different parts of the country. For example, the factories, etc, of Belsund Sugar Mills, Ltd., are in Bihar. The head offices of all the companies are, however, situated at 14, Netaji Subhas Road, Calcutta. In January 1957 a trade union called the 'National Union of Commercial Employees,' claiming to represent the workmen of the petitioner companies at their respective head offices situated at 14, Netaji Subhas Reed, Calcutta, submitted a charter of demands to the petitioner 1, claiming fixation of grades, dearness allowance and revision of casual leave. By an order dated 7 January 1958 the Government of West Bengal. referred an industrial dispute between 'Bangur Brothers, Ltd., 14, Netaji Subhas Road, Calcutta -1, and their Subordinate staff' for adjudication by the fifth industrial tribunal, Calcutta. The issues that were referred related to the fixation of grades and scales of pay of all categories of subordinate staff, dearness allowance and casual leave. In the written statement filed on behalf of the, workmen by the union, it was mentioned that the petitioner 1 was the managing agent of 11 companies, being petitioner 2 to 11 and the respondent 4. It was further stated that the petitioner 1 employed nearly 60 subordinate employees. It was contended that these companies were only departments of the managing agent, and the administration was common. It was stated that there was only one accountant and cashier common to all the companies, one common provident fund and the leave and holidays of the employees were the same. It was contended that under the same employer, i.e., Bangur Brothers, Ltd., the employees were being discriminated in respect of the pay -structure, and since 1946 no dearness allowance had been paid and the casual leave granted was insufficient. It was pointed out that until 1951 the petitioner 1 company had a system of consolidated pay for all classes of employees including the subordinate staff. Since 1952, the company split up the wages of subordinate staff into basic pay and dearness allowance. It was admitted, however, that the re -fixation was not the same with regard to all the companies. For example, the dearness allowance was fixed at Rs. 30 per month in most oases, but in the case of Shalimar Rope Works, Ltd., it was fixed at Rs. 21 per month. The petitioner 1 filed its written statement pointing out that it was not the managing agent in respect of four companies, as stated above. It was contended that the empoyees of all these companies were not the employees of the petitioner 1 but that it had only employees in the subordinate staff, and there was no existing dispute with thern.
Thereupon, on 13 April 1959 a corrigendum was issued by the Government of West Bengal, by which the order of reference was amended. A copy of the corrigendum is annexure E to the petition. As amended by the corrigendum, the order of reference was in respect of an industrial dispute existing between the petitioner land 'their 11 allied concerns' mentioning the. petitioners 2 to 11 and the respondent 4, and 'their subordinate staff. The issue referred were not disturbed end remained the same. After this 'amendment of the order of reference, the workmen filed a second written statement through the union on the same lines as before. Three of the petitioner -companies, namely. Hastings Mills, Ltd., Fort William Company, Ltd., and Belsund Sugar Mills, Ltd., filed one joint written statement. It was stated therein that although these three companies had a common managing agent, and had their head offices at 14, Netaji Subhas Road, they had separate bodies of subordinate staff. It was admitted that there being a common managing agency a common pattern was adopted in respect of wages, leave, etc. so far as was practicable, but these companies were distinct entities and were not adjuncts. of Bangur Brothers, Ltd. A separate written statement was filed jointly by the petitioner 1, the respondent 4 and the petitioners 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. In this written statement also, It was contended that the companies concerned were separate and distinct entities. A separate written statement was filed on behalf of the petitioner 10, Shalimar Rope Works, Ltd. In this written statement, it was similarly contended that it was a public limited concern with its head office at 14, Netajl Subhas Road, Calcutta, and its factory situate at Shibpur, Howrah. It has its own subordinate staff whose wages had been fixed according to prevailing circumstances. The company had agreed to pay dearness allowance at a flat rate of Rs. 22 -50 nP. Finally. a separata written statement was filed by the petitioner 11, the India Paint, Colour and 'Varnish Company, Ltd. It was similarly contended that it was a distinct and separate entity and had its own subordinate staff employed at the head office and Its factory. It was denied that this company was an adjunct of the petitioner 1. Upon this pleading the parties went to trial, and evidence was taken. The first witness called on behalf of the workmen was D.L. Chakravorty, secretary of the union. He said that he was an employee of the companies as a member of the clerical staff. He said that the factories of the 11 companies were situated at different places, but the head office of all of them was at 11, Netaji Subhas Road Calcutta. Bangur Brothers were the managing agents of all the companies. The following evidence is important and must be set out: I was appointed by the managing agents and placed in the India Paint, Colour and Varnish Company, Ltd, All the workmen concerned in this case were appointed by the said managing agents and were placed in different departments relating to the different companies. Usually, the manag ing agents transfer one employee attached to the head office of one company to that of another head office. Even though an em -ployee is transferred from one department to another, he enjoys the original privileges and conditions of his service. All the workmen are under the control of the managing agents, Bangur Brothers.
(3.) IN cross -examination he admitted that India Paint, Colour and Varnish Company, Ltd., had a separate attendance register. He did not know whether the other companies had separate attendance registers. The next witness was Debendra Nath Mukhopadhaya. According to him he was attached to the despatch department which dealt with all letters of the managing agents as well as the answering companies. With regard to the attendance registers he states as follows: In the despatch department, attendance register was maintained for the staff of all the companies except Shalimar Rope Works and India Paint. I maintain one attendance register. The register was maintained in this fashion up to the end of 1950. After this the attendance register was split up in the different departments. My name was entered in the name of Port William.;