SHRI. S.P. SRIVASTAVA Vs. THE STATE OF MEGHALAYA AND ORS.
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
Shri. S.P. Srivastava
The State Of Meghalaya And Ors.
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K. Lahiri, J. -
(1.)BY this application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the Petitioner questions the validity of the order compulsorily retiring him from government service with effect from 15.10.75, while he was serving as a Compositor Grade -II of the Government Press, Meghalaya, Shillong.
(2.)SINCE August 1953, the Petitioner was working in the Government Press, Meghalaya, which was formerly known as the Assam Government Press, The Superintendent of the Government Press by an order dated October 15, 1975, in exercise of the powers conferred by FR 56(b) of the Meghalaya Fundamental Rules and Subsidiary Rules, compulsorily retired the Petitioner. It may be stated here that the Government Press, Meghalaya is a Government "undertaking". The Petitioner has contended that at all relevant time, he was a workman of the press as contemplated under Section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, hereinafter "the Act", and, he was working as such in "the industry" known as "Government Press, Meghalaya". The case of Government is that he was compulsorily retired on the ground that he had attained the age of 50 years, or at least he had completed 25 years of service by that date. The Petitioner contents that in his Service Book, the date of birth was recorded as 3.9.1936 but without affording him any opportunity whatsoever and behind his back, the Government altered the date of birth to 3.9.1924, which was violative of the principles of natural justice as well as violative of the provisions of the relevant Fundamental Rules and Subsidiary Rules. The contention of the Petitioner is that as he was a workmen as contemplated under "the Act" the provisions of the Fundamental Rules and Subsidiary Rules were inapplicable in his case and as such, the order is illegal. The Petitioner also contends that the service conditions of the workmen are governed by the relevant Standing Orders and the Rules and, in the absence of any power contained therein to compulsorily retire a workman on his attainment of 50 years of age, or on completion of 25 years of service, the impugned order is illegal and void.
Mr. A. Sarma, learned Government Advocate, Meghalaya, appearing on behalf of the State submits that it is the case of the Petitioner that he is a workman as defined in Section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act, so his remedy is to raise an industrial dispute and have his case determined by the appropriate. adjudicatory body under "the Act".
(3.)IT is the admitted position that the Government Press is an "Industry" and the employees of the Press are "workman" governed by the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act and other cognate Acts and Rules. It is also not disputed that any dispute or difference between employers and workmen which is connected with the employment or non -employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour of any person is "an Industrial dispute", as defined in Section 2(k) of "the Act". The Petitioner, who claims to be a workman, contends that the order of compulsory retirement was in breach of the service conditions as no such order of compulsory retirement on attainment of 50 years of age or on completion of 25 years of service is envisaged in the standing orders, applicable to the establishment or any other rules or contract governing the service conditions of the workmen of the Industry. The Petitioner also contends that the order of compulsory retirement is mala fide, a colorable exercise of a non -existent power. It has also been contended that even assuming the provisions of Rule 56(b) of Fundamental Rules and Subsidiary Rules are applicable to the workman, the alteration of the date of birth in the Service Book of the Petitioner was made in breach of the principles of natural justice as well as in contravention of the express provisions contained in the Rules, and, as such the impugned order is bad.
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