Decided on November 11,1960

S.GUHA Respondents


Gajendragadkar, J. - (1.)This is an appeal by special leave and it arises from an industrial dispute between the appellant, the Cawnpore Tannery Ltd. and its employees. This dispute was in regard to the discharge of one of the employees of the appellant, Mr. S. Guha. It appears that Mr. Guha was appointed as Assistant Store Keeper in the Boot Factory Stores owned by the appellant on a salary of Rs. 140 p.m. Subsequently his services were terminated on May 1, 1951. This gave rise to a dispute between the appellant and its employees and the dispute was adjudicated upon by the Tribunal. The employees alleged that the termination of Mr. Guha's services was wrongful whereas the appellant urged that the discharge of Mr. Guha became necessary partly because measures of economy had to be adopted after the appellant's Boot Factory Stores and General Stores were amalgamated. The plea raised by the appellant was upheld by the Tribunal and it was held that Mr. Guha's discharge was not wrongful. The workmen made an appeal against the said decision but the appeal failed and the award made by the Tribunal was upheld.
(2.)Meanwhile the appellant had employed two clerks, Mr. Zaidi on August 16, l95l and Mr. Joseph in July 1952. Subsequently, another clerk was also employed in April 1953. On January 10, 1953, a complaint was filed in which it was alleged that the retrenchment of Mr. Guha was not bona fide and that persons junior to Mr. Guha had been retained while he was discharged. This complaint has given rise to the present industrial proceedings. When it was referred for adjudication, the issue framed was 'whether the management of the appellant have wrongfully and/or unjustifiably kept Mr. Guha out of employment from the time when there was scope for his re-employment If so, to what relief is he entitled ' This complaint was tried as an industrial dispute by the Tribunal. After considering, the evidence adduced before it the Tribunal has held that the appellant had kept Mr. Guha wrongfully and unjustifiably unemployed at least since August 16, 1951, when it employed Zaidi as a clerk and so it has directed the appellant to re-employ Mr. Guha with effect from the date on which the award would become enforceable, according to law. The appellant has also been directed to pay Mr. Guha the highest consolidated pay which was then being paid to the three clerks subsequently employed. The appellant challenged the correctness and propriety of this award by preferring an appeal before the Labour Appellate Tribunal. This appeal, however, failed, because the Appellate Tribunal agreed with the findings recorded by the original Tribunal. It is this decision of the Labour Appellant Tribunal which has given rise to the present appeal by special leave.
(3.)Mr. Sen for the appellant has urged before us three points. He contends that there was and could be no industrial dispute between the appellant and the respondents in regard to the retrenchment of Mr. Guha, because Mr. Guha had been retrenched as long ago as May 1951, and had ceased to be the workman of the appellant. In our opinion, there is no substance in this contention. Even after Mr. Guha was retrenched, it would have been open to the Union of which Mr. Guha was a member to raise a dispute about his non-employment. The definition of the term "workman'' even prior to its amendment in 1956 would have included a person like Mr. Guha whose services were terminated. This position is now made perfectly clear by the present definition of "workmen" which includes a person who had been dismissed, discharged or retrenched. Besides, the definition of the term "industrial dispute" is wide enough to justify the Union of which Mr. Guha as well as the propriety of the appellant's conduct in not giving him an opportunity to be re-employed when an occasion for the employment when an occasion for the employment of an additional clerk arose. That is the view taken by the Labour Appellate Tribunal and we are not satisfied that the said conclusion is erroneous in law so as to justify our interference.

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