Subba Rao, J. -
(1.)This appeal by special leave is directed against the decision of the Labour Appellate Tribunal of India setting aside the award of the Industrial Tribunal, Assam, in the matter of an industrial dispute between the Management of Itakhoolie Tea Estate and its workmen.
(2.)The facts lie in a small compass. The Government of Assam by a Gazette notification dated October 13, 1952, referred the dispute between the said parties under S. 10(1) (c) of the Industrial Disputes Act (XIV of 1947) to the Judge, Industrial Tribunal, Assam, for adjudication on the following issues:
"(1) Whether the management of Itakhoolie Tea Estate was justified in declaring a lock-out in the garden from 13th September to 25th September, 1952.
(2) If not, are the workmen involved entitled to wages for the above period."
The said dispute between the management and the workmen of the Tea Estate arose under the following circumstances. On September 5, 1952, at 12 noon, the labourers wanted leave on the ground that it was raining, but the manager of the Estate refused to give the leave and directed them to pluck leaves in the afternoon also. The labourers did not do any work in the afternoon on that day. On September 11, 1952, thirty-nine men-labourers left plucking at 3-20 p.m. without permission, although the schedule time for stopping work was approximately 4-30 p. m. Those who left early were weighed in after all the other labourers had been weighed in and they were also each fined two annas and were also directed not to pluck but to weed on the next day. On the next day i.e., on September 12, 1952, the other men also left plucking and joined the weeders and later on in the day all went on plucking. At mid-day on the same day the women-labourers were weighed in, but the men-labourers refused to be weighed in unless those who were ordered to weed were also weighed in. The Manager did not agree to this course. The same trouble occurred in the evening also. In the afternoon of September 12, 1952, the then Zonal Secretary, Mr. Allen, and the Government Labour Officer, Dibrugarh, arrived at the garden at 3 p.m. and they were apprised of the intention of the Manager to close down the garden from September 13, 1952, for garden labour and from September 14, 1952, for factory labourers. At the intervention of the said officers, the Manager agreed not to close down the garden without any further instance of insubordination on the part of the labourers. On the morning of September 13, 1952, upto 9 O'clock only 402 out of the 1542 labourers had turned up for work. The practice in the garden was that the labourers who turned up late were allowed to work but they had to make up for their late arrival in the evening by working after the schedule time for stoppage of work. The Manager declared a lock-out of all labour of the garden at 9 a.m. on September 13, 1952, and the lock-out continued till September 25, 1952, and the garden was opened on the morning of September 26, 1952. On the aforesaid facts the question arises whether the lock-out was justified. On issue (1) the Tribunal held on the material placed before it that the action of the Manager in declaring a lock-out at 9 a.m. was hasty, that it was not just or equitable to punish all the labourers for the acts of indiscipline committed by a few of them and that, therefore, the lock-out was not justified. On issue (2) it found that there was no material showing that the workers reported for work but were refused work on any of the working days from September 14 to September 27, 1952. But as 402 workmen reported for work on September 13, 1952, it directed their wages for that day to be paid to them. In regard to the women-labourers who were weighed in on September 11 and 12, 1952, and also the men-labourers whose leaves were weighed in on September 11, 1952, they were directed to be paid off their dues. Against the said award the workmen filed an appeal to the Appellate Tribunal of India in so far as the award was against them, but the management did not prefer any appeal. The Appellate Tribunal held that, as the lock-out was not justified, the entire body of workmen were entitled to compensation for the period of lock-out. The learned counsel for the management sought to sustain the award of the Tribunal on the ground that the lockout was justified. The Appellate Tribunal negatived the contention for the reason that "it is not open to the party-respondent to challenge a finding where on the challenged finding disappearing, the relief given against it would be affected" In the result the appeal filed by the workmen was allowed. The management preferred the present appeal questioning the correctness of the said order of the Appellate Tribunal.
(3.)The learned Attorney-General, appearing for the management, raised before us the following two points:(i) The management, though it did not prefer an appeal against the award of the Appellate Tribunal in so far as it was against it, was entitled under Order XLI, rule 22, of the Code of Civil Procedure to support the said award on any of the grounds decided against it by the original Tribunal, and, therefore, the Appellate Tribunal was wrong in disallowing its contention in that regard; and (ii) the labour refused to attend the conciliation proceedings on September 17, 1952; and therefore they were not entitled to compensation after that date.