Kapur, J. -
(1.)This is an appeal brought in pursuance of a certificate under Art. 134(1)(c) of the Constitution against the judgment and order of acquittal of the High Court of Patna.
(2.)There were certain disputes between the workmen and Management of Mankatha Distillery of which the proprietor is the respondent. On November 23, 1953, a petition was submitted on behalf of the workmen of the Distillery to the Assistant Labour Commissioner, Bhagalpur, which was signed by on Banarsi Choudhuri on behalf of himself and for and on behalf of the workmen of the Distillery. In this petition, certain grievances of the workmen were set out. Conciliation proceedings were started, and there was an agreement of December 5, 1953, which the High Court has described as 'some sort of agreement'.
(3.)On January 12, 1954, an application was made for the registration of the Union of the workmen of the Distillery under the Indian Trade Unions Act, and the same was registered on March 23, 1954, under the name and style of Mankatha Distillery Mazdoor Panchayat. The Distillery was closed and the workmen were discharged, and thereafter on February 19, 1954, the General Secretary of the Mankatha Distillery Mazdoor Panchayat, even tough it was not registered at the time, sent a letter to the Management, protesting against the discharge of the workmen without payment of compensation and objection to the intention of the employers to re-start the factory after employing other workmen. It was also stated therein that the workers who had been discharged, had been working for some years and a list of such workmen was attached to the letter. The following portion of the letter is relevant for the purposes of this appeal:
"All the persons, named below, shall work in the factory in legal manner, on monthly salary on permanent basis. It is not only hoped, rather fully believed that you would consider the above facts and gladly accept the same.
On getting a satisfactory reply, all the workers, who had been working in your factory since years, would report themselves to duty and work according to your orders".
Although it is addressed to the proprietors of the Distillery, it seems to have been sent to the Assistant Commissioner of Labour, Bhagalpur, where it was received on February 25, 1954. The following endorsements were made on this letter:
"Discussed with out. The management is requested to attend conciliation proceeding on 10th March, 1954, at 11 a.m. The Union is also informed accordingly".
Another petition dated March 5, 1954, was sent by the General Secretary of the Distillery Mazdoor Panchayat to the Assistant Labour Commissioner, in which the names of all the persons who had been freshly employed by the proprietors, were mentioned and it was prayed that those who were discharged at the time of the closing of the factory, may be reinstated and wages paid, and a request was made to the Assistant Labour Commissioner to visit and see the situation for himself and get the workmen reinstated. The order on this petition was:
"The parties have been called to-morrow in my office for conciliation. The result of the proceeding may be awaited."
On March 18, 1954, a settlement was arrived at between the management and the workers which is signed by the Conciliation Officer appointed under S. 4 of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 (Act 14 of 1947) (hereinafter termed, for the sake of brevity, the Act). This document was signed by the proprietor and the manager of the Distillery and by Banarsi Choudhuri, General Secretary of he Workers' Panchayat and also by six other members of the Panchayat who were evidently the members of the Executive Committee of the Panchayat. The terms of the settlement were as follows:
"1. It is agreed that the workers named is Schedule "A" shall be taken to jobs without break in their services.
2. The new hands appointed after the closure of the factory shall be discharged.
3. If three shifts will start and any other increased opportunity of employment will be available in the factory, the management shall employ only those workers who are left to-day and who had worked in August 1953 and September 1953 in order of seniority.
4. Shri Banarsi Choudhury, Balmiki Singh, Bhaso Singh and Kaltu ( ) Singh are accused in a case pending before the Court at Monghyr. The management agrees that if they will be acquitted from the court, they will be given jobs.
5. All the workers will be put in permanent basis as they were previously. The order putting them in the temporary basis after the opening of the Mill ( ) is cancelled.
6. The arrears will be paid on monthly basis as before instead of weekly basis as at present after the re-opening of the factory.
7. The grievances raised by the workers and covered by the agreement dated the 5th December, 1953, will be decided by the Labour Commissioner Bihar, Patna and his decision shall be acceptable to and final for the parties.
8. The work of the factory will be resumed immediately.
9. The workers will continue to have all the benefits and privilege which are guaranteed by law or usage and custom.
10. The workers will not be victimised for their Trade Union activities".