Decided on September 01,1983



- (1.) THIS Rule Is at the Instance of the Employers of the Cinema Exhibitors' industry in West Bengal, represented by Sri nabanidhar Majumdar, Chairman, West bengal Exhibitors' Section, Eastern India motion Pictures Association as well as at the instance of the Chitra Cinema challenging the non-compliance with the provisions of section 12, Sub-section (6) of the industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (Act XIV of 1947) by not submitting his report to the appropriate Government. There is also a prayer for Issuance of a writ of Mandamus commanding the respondents nos. 1 to 4 and also the Conciliation Officer, to act in accordance with law and also to discharge the statutory duties imposed upon the Conciliation Officer by submitting his report to the appropriate government. There is also a prayer for a writ of Certiorari commanding the respondent nos. 1 to 4 to certify and transmit to this Hon'ble Court all records of the case to enable the court to quash the same.
(2.) THE facts of the case in brief is that the petitioner no. 1 which is the association of the employers of the Cinema Exhibitors' industry in West Bengal and members of the Eastern India Motion Pictures Association represented by its chairman, the petitioner no. 3 of the West Bengal Exhibitors' section of association is a company and the employers of the cinema industry are represented by the said association of which the respondent no. 3 is the Chairman and he is also the proprietor of the petitioner no. 2, Chitra Cinema. There is a long standing industrial dispute between the employers of Cinema Industry in West Bengal and their workmen represented by their union-the Bengal Motion Pictures Employees Union, the respondent no. 5. The dispute related to the grades and scales of pay, Dearness Allowances and its linking with the cost of living Index. The employers of the petitioner's company pleaded their inability to accept such enormous and big charter of demands submitted by their employees Union the respondent no. 5 on the ground of their financial incapacity to accept financial burden, uncertainty in the market condition, unfavourable market condition, acute competition in the market, frequent and erratic load shedding, disproportionate increase of expenses and maintenance cost over the income, gloomy future prospect and lack of standing in business and over increasing financial loss in business, in fact, the employers through their representative Association submitted various representations to the Government and the appropriate authorities for consideration of their problems sympathetically and to provide some relief to enable the employers to remain in business and more particularly for the purpose of having any negotiated settlement for the purpose of revision of their pay-scale, etc. subject to the Government's agreeing for introduction of tax-free service chorges for tendering the day to day services to the Cinema goers for maintaining perfect condition of cinema Houses and for revision of the pay structure of the workmen. The petitioners state that during the pendency of the conciliation proceeding, the Employees Union instead of moving through constitutional way, switched over to all illegal and unjustified acts, instigating the workmen in stop-page of work, refusal to work as per their allotted duties and all illegal and unjustified acts against the smooth running of the business. Consequent upon all such illegal and unjustified acts, there were cases of lock-out, closure and strike and in fact since the year, 1980 none of the Cinema exhibitor's business in West Bengal had any peaceful day in running their administration of business. It has been stated that in the year 1974, there was a settlement in respect of the pay-scales, Dearness Allowance and fixed cost of living index. Apart from these the issue of minimum wages and its linking with the cost of living index is now pending before this Hon'ble Court in f. M. A. No. 496 of 1980 wherein after hearing of the parties including the State of west Bengal, the Union and the petitioner's association the [following interim order was made :- "the operation of the impugned notification is stayed pending hearing of the appeal on condition that the petitioners will go on paying to the employees at the rate at which they were paying before the order passed to-day and there would be no deduction or diminution of the payment. "
(3.) IN view of the aforesaid order none of the employers of the Exhibitors Section made any diminution of the payment of wages of the workmen. But the Union has been constantly claiming for the implementation of exorbitant wages without moving in a constitutional manner and in violation of the aforesaid order made by this court it has also been stated that the petitioner's association in spite of the said order and also of the settlement effected in 1974 made increase of wages on the basis of negotiations with the representatives of the workmen and thereby conditions of services of the workmen were placed in a comfortable position. On 15th October, 1980, there was an Ad-hoc settlement that the pending disputes will be settled through constitutional process and utmost efforts will be made to resolve the dispute, preferably within November, 1980. A copy of the said ad-hoc settlement has been annexed as annexure 'b to the petition. In the said agreement in the tripartite settlement dated 15th October, 1980 it was agreed that utmost efforts would be made for finalisation of the industrial dispute within november, 1980, failing which the dispute would be referred to the Industrial Tribunal for adjudication. The Joint Labour commissioner, West Bengal, Mr. S. N. Bhattacharjya in fact took up the file of conciliation proceeding from Sri Sudhir kumar Bhattacharjya, Labour Commissioner, West Bengal. The conciliation officer took a stand which was not congenial to the interest of the employers as he openly expressed his biased attitude against the employers. As a result, the petitioners' representative found no other alternative but to lodge a complaint against him to his superior Mr. Sudhir Kumar Bhattacharjya, labour Commissioner, West Bengal, vide their letter, dated 24th December, 1980 and requested him to intervene and take up the conciliation file from the said Sri S. K. Bhattacharjya, Joint Labour Commissioner. It has been stated that the objections raised by the petitioners' association were twofold. Firstly, such case of industrial dispute was not within the competence and jurisdiction of the Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, Government of west Bengal and secondly, Mr. S. K. Bhattacharjya being admittedly hot an officer of the said Department and against whom there was a complaint of the employers affected thereby, he ought not to be allowed to be the Chairman of the said purported Committee. On receipt of such objections Sri S. K. Bhattacharjya, the Joint labour Commissioner himself personally called the petitioners' representatives and told them that such purported committee had no connection or relevancy with that of the pending industrial dispute and in fact he issued thereafter letters for holding further conciliation as Additional Labour commissioner, West Bengal as in the mean time he was promoted from the post of the joint Labour Commissioner to Additional labour Commissioner. Even then the said Additional Labour Commissioner, the respondent no. 3 sent a letter on 13th October, 1982 on the subject of charter of demands regarding pay-scale etc. of the workmen in the cinema Industry In West Bengal. In the said letter curiously enough he imposed a big and absolutely impossible grade and scale of pay on the plea of amendment of the West Bengal Taxation Laws. On such circulation by the Union as Grades and scales of pay of the workmen of Cinema exhibitors and Distributors as framed and formulated by the Government of the West bengal thereby caused a total confusion with the workmen and instigated them on the basis thereof for compelling the employers to accept such arbitrary recommendation of the said Additional Labour Commissioner. The executive officers of the Government of West Bengal issued directive upon the individual owners of Cinema houses for acceptance of such recommendation of the Additional Labour Commissioner as if the grade and scale of pay was fixed by the Government of West Bengal.;

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