Decided on August 18,1978



- (1.) THE petitioner seeks issuance of an appropriate writ for quashing the proceeding in the Industrial Dispute Case No. 52 of 1977 pending before the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Orissa. The petitioner is a registered co-operative society and has been functioning as an All India News Agency having its head office at Mandi House, New delhi, within the territorial jurisdiction of the Delhi Government. Opposite party No. 4, Prasanta Kumar Patnaik, was appointed as a probationary journalist under the petitioner on a monthly pay of Rs. 200 and was posted at bhubaneswar. His services having been terminated, he raised an industrial dispute which was referred by the Government of Orissa for adjudication by the Labour Court under section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act and accordingly Industrial Dispute Case No. 52 of 1977 was started. The petitioner submitted his show-cause before the Labour Court raising a preliminary objection that the appropriate Government as contemplated by section 2 (a) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, was the Delhi Government and not the orissa Government and that the latter had no jurisdiction to refer the dispute for adjudication by its Labour Court. The objection was overruled by the labour Court by its order dated 19th January, 1978 (annexure 7 ). The petitioner has filed this writ application challenging the legality of the proceeding in the Industrial Dispute Case No. 52 of 1977. The contention is that the petitioner is an All India News Agency having its headquarters at New Delhi and though it has representatives in different places there is no other office to exercise control over its employees in any other State. It is further contended that the conditions of service of the opposite party No. 4 are directly controlled by the petitioner and that the cause of action for the dispute arose at Delhi. Accordingly it is contended that the Government of Orissa was not the appropriate Government within the meaning of section 2 (a) of the Industrial disputes Act to refer the dispute to this Labour Court for adjudication. Opposite party No. 4 filed counter contending that though the petitioner has its head office at Delhi it has a branch office at Cuttack which disburses his salary and is authorised to function independently. It is also contended that the order terminating the services of opposite party No. 4 was served on him at Bhubaneswar and, accordingly, the cause of action arose within the jurisdiction of the Government of Orissa.
(2.) THE question for consideration in this writ application is whether the government of Orissa was the appropriate Government to refer the industrial dispute between the parties for adjudication by its Labour Court. The term "appropriate Government" is defined in section 2 (a) of the industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The definition is not very helpful for determining the appropriate State Government. But section 10,of the Act does contemplate that the appropriate Government would be that Government in whose jurisdiction industrial dispute arises or is apprehended when it says that "where the appropriate Government is of opinion that any industrial dispute exists or is apprehended, it may at any time by order in writing" make a reference. The proper test to determine "appropriate Government" in relation to an industrial dispute is to see where the dispute substantially arose. If a workman is working in a separate establishment, the dispute can be taken to arise only at the place where the establishment exists. The mere fact that the head office exercises administrative control over the workman does not confer jurisdiction on the Government, within whose territorial jurisdiction the head office is located, to make a reference under section 10.
(3.) THE Supreme Court in Workmen of Sri Ranga Vilas Motors (P) Ltd. v. Sri Ranga Vilas Motors (P) Ltd. 1967 (14)F. L. R332 = (1950-67) 4 S. C. LJ. 2301 = (1967) 31 FJ. R. , has laid down the tests for determination of the appropriate Government in relation to an industrial dispute. The facts of that case are on all fours with the facts of the present case. In that case, the workman working at Bangalore branch of a company having its head office at Krishnagiri, Madras State, was transferred by the orders of the head office. The workman did not obey the said orders of transfer. Subsequently, the workman was removed from service for disobeying the orders of transfer. In relation to the order removing him from service a reference under section 10 (1) (c) of the Act was made by the State of Mysore. The question arose whether the State of Mysore had jurisdiction to refer the dispute. The supreme Court, after referring to the principles laid down in its earlier decision in Indian Cable Co. Ltd. v. Their Workmen,. 1962 (4) F. L. R. 444 = (1962) 22 F. J. R. 262. laid down that the dispute in that case arose at Bangalore where the concerned employee was working at the time of the transfer and that as such the Mysore State within whose jurisdiction the dispute arose is the appropriate State to refer the dispute. The relevant observations of their Lordships are quoted below : ". . . The order of transfer, it is true, was made in Krishnagiri at the head-office, but the order was to operate on a workman working in Bangalore. In our view, the High Court was right in holding that the proper question to raise is : where did the dispute arise ? Ordinarily, if there is a separate establishment and the workman is working in that establishment, the dispute would arise at that place. As the High Court observed, there should clearly be some nexus between the dispute and the territory of the state and not necessarily between the territory of the State and the industry concerning which the dispute arose. ";

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