SITA RAM SUGAR MILK LIMITED BAITALPUR DISTRICT DEORIA U P DEORIA SUGAR MILLS LIMITED DEORIA U P THE STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH Vs. THEIR WORKMEN:THEIR WORKMEN:THEIR WORKMEN
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
SITA RAM SUGAR MILK LIMITED,BAITALPUR,DISTRICT DEORIA (UTTAR PRADESH R),DEORIA SUGAR MILLS LIMITED,DEORIA (U.P.),STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH
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Gajendragadkar, J. -
(1.)This appeal by special leave arises out of an industrial dispute between the Appellant Sri Sitaram Sugar Mills Ltd., and its workmen, the respondents. The dispute in question was referred for adjudication to the Industrial Tribunal by the U. P. Government and it was in reference to the payment of Rs. 1,130-8-9 made by the appellant as bonus to employees engaged at the head office at Calcutta. The respondents' case was that under the U. P. Government Order which regulates the payment of bonus the said employees were not entitled to share in the bonus whereas the appellant urged that the said employees were included amongst its employees and payment of bonus to them was fully justified. The relevant year is 1953-1954. During this year the total bonus distributed by the appellant was Rs. 19,935; out of this amount the appellant paid Rs. 1130-8-9 to the employees at its head office at Calcutta, and it is in regard to this latter payment that the present dispute has arisen. A similar dispute had also been referred to the Industrial Tribunal in respect of interim bonus for the year 1954-1955; but the said dispute was amicably settled. The tribunal has upheld the plea raised by the respondents and has directed the appellant to distribute the bonus in question strictly in accordance with the terms of the Government Order excluding the employees at the head office. It is the validity of this award that is questioned before us by Mr. Veda Vyasa on behalf of the appellant.
(2.)It appears that in the State of U. P. the payment of bonus in sugar industry has more or less acquired the character of a regular annual payment. Orders are issued by the State Government specifying the scale according to which the sugar industry is required to pay bonus. This order is preceded by a tripartite conference at which agreed decisions are attempted to be reached. This system of awarding bonus under Government Orders was introduced in the year 1946 and has continued since then. Accordingly for the year 1953-1954 a committee was appointed by the State Government consisting of the Labour Commissioner, U. P. as Chairman and 4 members, two to represent the employers and two the workmen in the sugar industry. The said committee made its report to the Government and on the basis of that report Government passed G. O. No. 7095 (ST)/36-A-71-(ST)-54 on January 10, 1955, ordering the payment of bonus on the basis of the actual production of sugar. One of the terms of this order with which we are concerned in the present appeal was that the sugar factories in U.P. "shall pay the bonus as specified in the order to all persons employed in or under them and who were so employed in the crushing season 1953-1954". It is this clause on the construction of which the decision of the present industrial dispute depends. The tribunal has held that the 211 employees in question who are engaged at the head office at Calcutta are not persons employed in or under the appellant; and so they were not entitled to claim any bonus under the Government Order from the appellant. Mr. Veda Vyasa contends that this finding is erroneous.
(3.)The construction of the clause itself presents no difficulty. What has given rise to the controversy, however, in the question as to whether the head office employees are in fact and in law employed by the appellant In dealing with this question the tribunal had naturally to consider the evidence adduced by the parties and it is in the light of the said evidence that the tribunal has ultimately reached the conclusion that the head office staff at Calcutta are not the employees of the appellant Sri Sitaram Sugar Mills Co. Ltd. This is a question of fact and normally we would be reluctant to interfere with the finding of the tribunal on such a question of fact. The conclusion drawn by the tribunal rests on the appreciation of evidence and no question of law is involved in the process of reaching that conclusion. However, since the matter has been elaborately argued before us we propose to indicate briefly what the evidence is and what inference legitimately follows from it.
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