Subba Rao, J. -
(1.)This is an appeal by special leave against the order of the Labour Appellate Tribunal of India setting aside the award of the Industrial Tribunal, Allahabad, and directing the re-instatement of the workers in Kundan Sugar Mills at Amroha. "Kundan Sugar Mills" is a partnership concern and owns a sugar mill at Amroha. The respondents 1 to 4 were employed by the appellant as seasonal masons in the year 1946. In 1951 the partners of the appellant-Mills purchased the building machinery and other equipment of another sugar mill at Kiccha in the district of Nainital. They closed the said mill at Kiccha and started it at Bulandshahr. The new factory was named Pannijee Sugar and General Mills, Bulandshahr. On January 19, 1955, the General Manager of the appellant-Mills ordered the transfer of the respondents 1 to 4 from the appellant-Mills to the new mill at Bulandshahr. The said respondents through their representative, the fifth respondent, protested to the General Manager against the said transfer. But the General Manager, by his letter dated January 22/24, 1955, insisted upon their joining the new mill at Bulandshahr. But the said respondents did not accede to his request. On January 28, 1955, the General Manager served a notice on the respondents 1 to 4 stating that they had disobeyed his orders and thereby committed misconduct under Standing Order No. L(a). They were asked to submit their explanation as to why action should not be taken against them under the Standing Order. The Labour Union, by its letter dated January 31, 1955, denied the charges. On February 2, 1955, the General Manager made an order dismissing the respondents 1 to 4 from service on the ground that they had disobeyed his order of transfer and thus they were guilty of misconduct under Standing Order No. LI(a). The Labour Union thereafter raised an industrial dispute and the Government of U.P. by its notification dated November 7, 1955, referred the following issue for decision to the State Industrial Tribunal for U.P. at Allahabad:
"Where the employers have wrongfully and / or unjustifiably terminated the services of Sarva Shri Zia Uddin, Raisuddin, Shafiquddin and Ahmed Bux for refusal to obey the orders of transfer to M/s. Pannijee Sugar and General Mills Co., Bulandshahr. If so, to what relief are the workmen entitled."
The State Industrial Tribunal by its order dated February 6, 1956, made its award holding that the management was within its rights and that, as the respondents 1 to 4 had disobeyed the order of the manager, they were properly dismissed by the management. The said respondents through their Union, respondent No. 5, preferred an appeal to the Labour Appellate Tribunal of India and the said Appellate Tribunal held that the management had no right to transfer the respondents 1 to 4 to the new factory and therefore the order dismissing them was illegal. The management has preferred the present appeal against the said order of the Labour Appellate Tribunal.
(2.)Learned counsel for the appellant raised before us the following two questions:(1) The right to transfer an employee by an employer from one of his concerns to another is implicit in every contract of service; (2) the State Industrial Tribunal having held that both the concerns, i.e., the mills at Amroha and the mills at Bulandshar, formed one unit, the Appellate Tribunal had no jurisdiction to set aside that finding under S. 7(1) of the Industrial Disputes (Appellate Tribunal) Act, 1950.
(3.)To appreciate the first contention, it is necessary to notice the undisputed facts in this case. It is true that the partners of the Sugar Mills at Amroha own also the Sugar Mills at Bulandshahr; but they were proprietors of the former Mills in 1946 whereas they purchased the latter mills only in the year 1951 and started the same in Bulandshahr in or about 1955. The respondents 1 to 4 were employed by the owners of the appellant-Mills at the Sugar Mills at Amroha at a time when they were not proprietors of the Sugar Mills at Bulandshahr. It is conceded that it was not an express term of the contract of service between the appellant and the respondents 1 to 4 that the latter should serve in any future concerns which the appellant might acquire or start. It is also in evidence that though the same persons owned both the Mills they were two different concerns. In the words of the Appellate Tribunal, the only connection between the two is in the identity of ownership and, but for it, one has nothing to do with the other. It is also in evidence that an imported workmen at Amroha is entitled to house-rent, fuel light and travelling expenses both ways, while at Bulandshahr the workmen are not entitled to any of these amenities. The workmen at Amroha are entitled to benefits under the Kaul Award while those at Bulandshahr are not so entitled. The General Manager, E. W. 1, in his evidence stated that "the interim bonus of the Bulandshahr factory as ordered by the Government in November 1955 was Rs. 11,000 while for Amroha it was nearly 1 1/2 lacs". He also stated that "the bonus for last year at Amroha would be probably equal to 1 1/2 month's wages and at Bulandshahr equal to about 4 or 5 days' wages". It is also in evidence that apart from the disparity in the payment of bonus the accounts are separately made up for the two mills. It is clear that the two mills are situated at different places with accounts separately maintained and governed by different service conditions, though they happened to be under the common management; therefore, they are treated as two different entities.