Decided on December 14,1960

BADRI PRASAD Respondents


- (1.)These appeals arise out of an industrial dispute between the appellant company and some of its workmen. The dispute was set out in the order of reference in these terms:-
"Whether the employers should be required to designate their 15 workmen mentioned in the annexure as permanent workmen. If so, with what details -

As regards 4 out of these 15 workmen the dispute was settled amicably between the parties and so the Tribunal had to deal with the case of the remaining 11 workmen. The workmen's case was that they were permanent workmen within the meaning of the Standing Orders of the company. The company's case on the other hand was that all these 11 were seasonal workmen. In answering the question whether these workmen or any of them were permanent workmen or not the Tribunal had first to construe the definition of a permanent workman as in the Standing Orders and apply that construction to the facts found. The definition of a permanent workman in this Standing Order is in these words: "A permanent workman is one who is engaged in a permanent nature of work throughout the year and has completed his probationary period, if any." According to the Tribunal a proper reading of this definition leads to the conclusion that in order that the workmen concerned may claim the status of permanent workmen two things are necessary, viz., (1) that they were engaged on a job of a permanent nature, and (2) they were engaged throughout the year on such a job. On a consideration of the evidence the Tribunal held that 7 of these workmen satisfied this test and so they had acquired the status of permanent workmen. As regards the remaining 4 the Tribunal held that they did not satisfy the test and, therefore, were not entitled to be designated as permanent workmen. Even as regards these 7 who according to the Tribunal had acquired the status of permanent workmen the Tribunal rejected their claim for the periods during which they had not been employed by the company. It directed however as regards these 7 that on appearing and applying within 15 days of the order to be put on work they shall be treated as permanent with effect from the date of their having completed one year's service and shall be paid full wages with effect from the date when they appear and apply to be put on work.

(2.)Both parties appealed to the Labour Appellate Tribunal. That Tribunal putting a different construction on the definition of permanent workman held that all the 11 had acquired the status of permanent workmen. Regarding the wages for the period of unemployment the Appellate Tribunal held that the ends of justice would be met by allowing these workmen 50 per cent of their wages for the period of their forced unemployment till their reinstatement. Accordingly, the Labour Appellate Tribunal dismissed the employer's appeal and allowed the workmen's appeal.
(3.)The main question for our consideration in the present appeal by the employer by special leave is the proper construction of the definition of a permanent workman. In deciding on the proper meaning to be attached to the words and phrases used in the definition it will be proper to consider the question in the background of the definition in the Standing Order of two other kinds of workmen, viz., Seasonal Workmen and Temporary Workmen. A Seasonal Workman is defined as one who is engaged for the crushing season only and/or may also be employed for the period necessary for cleaning and overhauling either before or after the season and is discharged after the work is finished. A Temporary Workman is defined as one who is engaged in the work of a temporary and casual nature or to fill in a temporary need of extra hands on permanent or temporary jobs.

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