Subba Rao, J. -
(1.)This batch of three connected appeals raises the question whether and to what extent the activities of the Corporation of the City of Nagpur come under the definition of "industry" in S. 2 (14) of the C. P. and Berar Industrial Disputes Settlement Act, 1947 (hereinafter called the Act).
(2.)The appellant is the Corporation of the City of Nagpur constituted under the City of Nagpur Corporation Act, 1948 (Madhya Pradesh Act No. 2 of 1950). Disputes arose between the Corporation and the employees in various departments of the Corporation in respect of wage scales, gratuity, provident fund, house rent, confirmation, allowances etc. The Government of the State of Madhya Pradesh by its order dated October 23, 1956, referred the said disputes under S. 39 of the Act to the State Industrial Court, Nagpur and the reference was numbered as Industrial Reference No. 18 of 1956. The appellant filed a statement before the Industrial Court questioning the jurisdiction of that Court, inter alia, on the ground that the Corporation was not an industry as defined by the Act. On February 13, 1957, the Industrial Court made a preliminary order holding that the Corporation was an industry and that the further question whether any department of the Corporation was an industry or not, would be decided on the evidence. The appellant challenged the correctness of that order by filing a petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution in the High Court of Bombay at Nagpur, but that petition was dismissed, as the award was made before its hearing. On June 3, 1957, the Industrial Court made an award holding that the Corporation was an industry and further that all departments of the Corporation were covered by the said definition. It also revised the pay scales of the employees and accepted the major demands made by them. On July 15, 1957, the appellant again filed a petition in the High Court of Bombay at Nagpur, questioning the validity and the correctness of the said award. A division bench of the said High Court, by its order dated September 11, 1957, rejected the contention of the appellant that the Corporation was not an industry as defined by the Act and remanded the case to the State Industrial Court to decide the activities of which departments of the Corporation fell within the definition of "industry" given in the Act and to re-examine the schedules and categories of persons and to restrict the award to the persons concerned within the definition of the word "industry" in the Act. On remand, the said Industrial Court scrutinized the activities of each of the departments of the Corporation and held that all the departments of the Corporation, except those dealing with (i) assessment and levy of house-tax, (ii) assessment and levy of octroi, (iii) removal of encroachment and removal and pulling down of dilapidated houses, (iv) prevention and control of food adulteration, and (v) maintenance of cattle pounds, were covered by the definition of "industry" under the Act. It further gave findings in regard to the disputes between the parties and also as to the persons entitled to the reliefs. It is not necessary to give the particulars of the findings arrived at or the reliefs given by the Industrial Court, as nothing turns upon them in this appeal. The appellant by special leave filed in this Court Civil Appeal No. 143 of 1959 against the award of the Industrial Court. It also filed in this Court by special leave Civil Appeal No. 144 of 1959 against the order of the High Court holding that the activities of the Corporation came under the definition of "industry" in the Act and remanding the case to the Industrial Court for decision on merits in respect of each of the activities of the Corporation.
(3.)Civil Appeal No. 545 of 1958, the third appeal in this batch, arises out of a reference made by the State Government of Madhya Pradesh in regard to the disputes between the appellant, i.e., the Corporation of the City of Nagpur, and the employees of the Corporation in the Fire Brigade Department, representing themselves and other employees. The said reference was numbered as Industrial Reference No. 1 of 1957. As there was overlapping of the disputes raised in Industrial Reference No. 18 of 1956 and Industrial Reference No. 1 of 1957, the Industrial Court heard both the references together and, by consent, the evidence in Reference No. 18 of 1956 was treated as evidence in Reference No. 1 of 1957. On December 14, 1957, an award was made in Reference No. 1 of 1957 and it was based on the findings in the award made in Reference No. 18 of 1956. The Industrial Court held that the Fire Brigade Department was an industry within the meaning of the Act and, on that basis, gave the necessary reliefs to the employees.