Decided on June 09,1982

Jammu And Kashmir Project Construction Corporation Ltd Appellant
Labour Court, Jammu Respondents


- (1.) THEIR services having been terminated by their employer, the petitioner herein, respondent 2 to 10 approached the conciliation Officer for an amicable settlement of their claims against the petitioner in regard to retrenchment compensation. C. P. Fund deposits and bonus. Conciliation efforts proved abortive. The Government on receipt of the failure report from the conciliation officer made a reference u/s 10 (1) (c) of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 hereinafter to be referred to as the Act, to the Labour Court, respondent No 1 herein the terms whereof read as under: i) whether the affected workman are entitled to retrenchment compensation in terms of Sec. 25. (F) (b) of the Industrial Disputes Act, interest on C.P.F. deposit and bonus for the years 1968 -69, 1969 -70, 1970 -71 and 1971 -72: and ii) if so, award appropriate relief to the affected workman. The Labour Court reduced the controversy between the parties to a number of issues, out of which Issue No. 3 read as under: iii) Whether the petitioners or entitled to the claims mentioned in their petition and if to, how much O.P.P.  The parties joined the issues and led evidence on them, The Labour Court eventually accepted the employees case and made an award in their favour, the operative part whereof reads as under: "Taking all these facts in view it is found that the discharge of the workman is invalid in law and cannot be said to have terminated the services of the workman. In view of the discussion made above the workman are entitled to retrenchment compensation and also the other dues like G.P. Fund deposit and Bonus for the year 1968 -69 1969 -70, 1970 -71 and 1971 -72. The workman are entitled to the bonus. It is dully established on record that the management had given bonus to its employees and so the workman are also entitled to this benefit. The award is recorded accordingly and is submitted to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir under Section 15 of the Industrial Disputes Act. 
(2.) THIS award has now been assailed by the petitioner by virtue of this writ petition on a number of grounds but the grounds that alone were urged on its behalf during the course of arguments were these: i) respondent No: 1 had no jurisdiction to entertain and adjudicate upon the dispute referred to it as the reference was made to him by the Govt. without recording its satisfaction in regard to the existence of the dispute and nor was there any material before it to teach to such a satisfaction: ii) respondent No: l had no jurisdiction to entertain and adjudicate upon the claim relating to retrenchment compensation, C.P. Fund and bonus which was the exclusive domain of an Industrial Tribunal : iii) respondent 2 to 10 were not entitled to any retrenchment compensation as their services were terminated not because of being surplusage in a running business, but the same were terminated on account of their unsatisfactory conduct and performance: iv) respondent No; 1 could not have allowed their claim for retrenchment compensation without recording finding which he has failed to record that respondents 2 to 10 were retrenched by the petitioner and v) the award is beyond the scope of reference made by the Government in that whereas the reference relates to interest on C. P, Fund and bonus, respondent No: 1 has awarded C. P F. and bonus itself.
(3.) RESPONDENT 2 to 10 in their counter affidavit have denied all these allegations and have vehemently supported the award by raising a number of contentions in reply. Ground No : I Sro No: 481 issued by the Government on 23 -9 -1973, whereby the reference was initially made to the Labour Court, starts with the expression whereas, the Govt. is of the opinion that an industrial dispute exists between....  This Sro ex facie records the satisfaction of the Government about the existence of the industrial dispute. It was no doubt later on amended by another Sro, being No: 324 dated 14 -7 -1975, recasting the two disputes referred to the Labour Court, which of course did not speak of any such satisfaction, but, this does not detract from the opinion initially formed by the Government that an industrial dispute did exist between the parties that required an adjudication by a Labour Court. It was not necessary for the Govt. to have said so once again when the second Sro came to be issued by it. A reference u/s 10 (1) is made by the Govt. on its administrative side Whether or not, therefore, there was enough material before it to form its opinion that an industrial dispute existed is not amenable to judicial review. In Shambu Nath Goyal Versus Bank of Baroda AIR 1978 S. C. 1088, the law on the point was laid in these terms: ...But in making a reference u/s 10 (l) the Government is doing an administrative act and fact that it has to form an opinion as to the factual existence of an industrial dispute as a preliminary step to the discharge of the function does not make it any the less administrative in character. The court cannot, therefore, canvass the order of reference closely to see if there was any material before the Government to support its conclusion, as if it were a judicial or quasi -judicial determination. No doubt it will be open to a party seeking to impugn the resulting award to show that what was referred by the Government was not an industrial dispute within the meaning of the Act, and that, therefore the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to make the award. But, if the dispute was an industrial dispute as defined in the act was an industrial dispute as defined in the Act, its factual existence and expediency of making a reference in the circumstances of a reference in the circumstances of a particular case are matters entirely for the Government to decide upon and it will not be competent for the court to hold the reference bad and quash the proceedings for want of jurisdiction merely because in its opinion there was no material before the Government on which it could have come to an affirmative conclusion of those matters (Vide Madras State V. C.P. Sarathy, AIR 1953 SC 53) It cannot gainsaid that there was some material before the Government to - reach the satisfaction that an industrial dispute existed between the parties. Whether or not that material was sufficient is beyond the competence of the court to determine, Ground No: 1 consequently fails. Ground No: 2;

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