NORTH-EAST FRONTIER RAILWAY MAZDOOR UNION Vs. GENERAL MANAGER, NORTH-EAST FRONTIER RAILWAY
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
North-East Frontier Railway Mazdoor Union
General Manager, North-East Frontier Railway
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P.K.GOSWAMI, J. -
(1.) THIS application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is directed against an older dated 22nd September, 1968 passed by the General Manager, N.F. Rly informing the President of the North -East Frontier Rly. Mizdoor Union and the General Secretary of the said union by telegram and a letter of the same date that the recognition of the Union was withdrawn.
(2.) THE petitioner's case is that it is a Trade Union of non -gazetted employees, registered under the Indian Trade Union Act, 1926 and that it was accorded recognition by the Railway Administration as early as 1958. The petitioner states that it decided to call a token strike of its members on the 19th September, 1968 as per decision of the All India Rail way men Federation and the Joint Council of Action. On 3rd September, 1968, the petitioner gave notice of a taken strike on the 19th September, 1968 to the General Manager of the N.F. Railway as also to the conciliation officer under Section 22 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. It further avers that the said strike was launched with due regard to the provisions of law and the same was not an illegal strike. It is then stated that the President of India issued an Ordinance called the Essential Services Maintenance Ordinance, 1968 on 13th September 1968 and passed an order declaring the strike as illegal and arrested almost all the members of the Joint Council of Action. On 30th September, 198 me President of the petitioner union received a telegram dated 22nd September 1968 from the General Manager N.F. Railway withdrawing recognition of the petitioner Union. The telegram wag confirmed by a letter of the same date. Prior to this notice, the petitioner was not asked to show cause why the recognition should not be withdrawn and no reason for the withdrawal of the recognition was communicated to the petitioner or to any of its office bearers. The petitioner makes a grievance that no opportunity was given to the petitioner Union to show cause before the recognition was withdrawn. The petitioner in this connection refers to a judgment of this Court dated 15th May, 1961 in Civil Rules Nos. 96, 109 and 110 of 1960 between the same parties, namely the petitioner and the General Manager and the Union of India and others as opposite parties, and submits that in view of that decision, the present order of the General Manager is absolutely void. The petitioner contends that the order is in contravention of the Rules framed by the Administration for recognition, contained in Chapter XXXVI (Appendix XIII of Part I of the Indian Railway Establishment Code, 1951). The petitioner further submits that as a consequence of the recognition, the petitioner and the members were conferred several rights of important nature, namely, use of telegraph service, collection of subscription in Railway premises, grant of special casual leave for PNM meeting, grant of special casual leave and pass for attending meeting of the Central Committee and the Council, prohibition of transfer of Union officials in certain circumstances, authority to Union officials to leave office during office hours for Union activities, negotiation with and attending departmental enquiries on behalf and to represent employees held by officers at all levels, holding of meeting in Railway land, use of Railway Notice Board for notices of the Union and free passes to certain Union officials. As a result of the withdrawal of the recognition, the members of the Union will cease to have these rights. The petitioner therefore claims that the impugned order is illegal and without jurisdiction and should be quashed.
The respondents in their counter affidavit have stated that the Government specified the channel through which representations from the Rly. servants could be submitted to the Administration. On the acceptance of this, among other such conditions, recognition was given to the petitioner Union subject to the condition that the Central Council of the Union should exercise control over the members of the Union and take steps to prevent illegal action calculated to interfere with the working of the Railway. They allege that the petitioner however adopted methods other than those specified for ventilating their alleged grievances. They also deny that the petitioner Union acted in conformity to the Rules for recognition of Service Association of non -gazetted Railway servants. The respondents submit that the strike launched on 19.9.68 was illegal under the Essential Service Maintenance Ordinance, 1968 and that the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and all other Acts contrary to the provisions therein were inoperative and unenforceable in law. The General Manager notified the Union asking it to call off the contemplated strike and to desist from such illegal action. The respondents further state that the General Manager had to withdraw the recognition of the Union as the members of the petitioner Union actively participated in the strike on 19th September, 1968 which was declared illegal by the President of India. Since the members of the petitioner Union joined in the illegal strike, the General Manager did not consider it necessary to issue any notice to the President of the petitioner Union to show cause why its recognition should not be withdrawn. The respondents claim that the General Manager has got discretion to issue or not to issue a notice prior to withdrawal of recognition of the Union which depends on the circumstances of each case. It is the discretion of the authority to grant recognition or to withdraw it at any time. The respondents claim that the impugned order was merely an administrative one and the General Manager as the head of the N.F. Railway passed that order. The respondents further submit that it has been decided by the Government that the Administrative Rules in Chapter XXXVI of the Indian Railway Establishment Manual, which require service of a show cause notice prior to withdrawal of recognition, should be dispensed with in this case and accordingly the respondent No. 1 did not serve any show cause notice. The respondents, therefore, submit that the order is a valid order and the same is not liable to be quashed.
(3.) THE learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner submits that (1) the present case is governed by the previous decision of this Court in Civil Rules Nos. 96, 109 and 110 of 1960 dated 15th May.1961.and the principles of res judicator are attracted. (2) that Rule 1 of Part B of Appendix XIII of the Indian Railway Establishment Code Vol I, 1951 edition, has a statutory force and the impugned order has been passed in violation of this rule, and (3) that there is a flagrant violation of the principles of natural justice.;
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