(1.)These two appeals by two different Trade Unions of Barauni Refinery are directed against the decision of the High Court of Delhi which set aside, the modification of Cl. 20 of the Standing Orders certified under S. 5 of the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 (hereinafter called 'the Standing Orders Act'). The brief facts giving rise to these two appeals are as under:
Two companies, namely, the Indian Re- finery, Limited and Indian Oil Company, Limited amalgamated in 1964 and a new Company known as Indian Oil Corporation, Limited (IOCL) was incorporated. This newly formed company comprised essentially of two divisions, namely, (1) Marketing Division, representing the staff, assets and business of Indian Oil Company Limited, and (2) Refinery and Pipe Lines Division, re-presenting the staff, assets and oil refinery manufacturing of petroleum products of Indian Refinery Limited. The age of superannuation of the staff in the Marketing Division was 60 years whereas the age of superannuation for the Refinery and Pipe Lines Division was fixed at 58 years under Cl. 20 of. the Standing Orders concerning Barauni Refinery. The IOCL has refineries in different parts of the country including one at Barauni. The Standing Orders concerning the Barauni Refinery came into force on 5th December, 1964 as provided by S. 7 of the Standing Orders Act and apply to all work-men employed in the said industrial establishment. Cl. 20 of the Standing Orders reads as under:
"Every employee shall retire from service.
on completing the age of 58 years. Extension for a maximum period of 5 years but not for more than one year at a time may be given at the discretion of the company provided the employee is certified to be fit by the Company's Medical Officer and provided further that the employee concerned also consents to such extension."
(2.)By a joint letter dated 15th December, 1981, 14 recognised unions representing the employees of the IOCL working in different refineries and pipe lines divisions submitted a charter of demands in terms of Cl. 2.1.3 of the long term settlement dated 3rd December, 1979. By Cl. 18 of this charter of demands the superannuation age was sought to be enhanced to 60 years. A similar- charter of demands was forwarded by the Barauni Telshodhak Mazdoor Union to the General Manager, IOCL, Barauni Refinery, on 23rd December, 1981. Pursuant to the presentation of this charter of demands, meetings were held between the Management of IOCL (R and P Division) and the recognised unions of the said Division from time to time. As a result of discussions held at the said meetings a settlement was mutually arrived at by and between the parties on May 24, 1983. Clauses 19 and 21 of this general settlement concerning all the Refineries and Pipe Lines Divisions, inter alia provided as under:
"19. The Corporation agrees that such terms and conditions of service as well as amenities and allowances as are not changed under this settlement shall remain unchanged and operative during the period of the settlement."
"21. The Unions agree that during the period of operation of this settlement, they shall not raise any demand having financial burden on the Corporation other than bonus provided that this clause shall not affect the rights and obligations of the parties in regard to matters covered under S. 9A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947."
This general settlement was to remain in force from 1st May, 1982 to 30th April, 1986. After this general settlement was signed by the Management and the union representatives a separate memorandum of settlement dated 4th August, 1983 was signed between the IOCL (R and P Division), Barauni Refinery, and their workmen represented by Barauni Telshodhak Mazdoor Union, Barauni Refinery, under Ss. 12(3) and 18(3) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, in conciliation proceedings initiated by the Assistant Labour Commissioner and Conciliation Officer, Begusarai. This settlement too was to remain in force from 1st May, 1982 to 30th April, 1986. Cls. 19 and 21 of this settlement were verbatim reproduction of those in the general settlement dated 24th May, 1983 extracted hereinabove. It may here be mentioned that despite the specific demand made in the charter of demands for the upward revision of' the age of superannuation, no specific provision was made in that behalf either in the general settlement or in the special settlement concerning Barauni Refinery. On the contrary Cl. 19 of both the settlements provides that the terms and conditions of service which are not changed under the settlement shall remain unchanged and operative during the period of settlement.
(3.)The Petroleum and Chemical Mazdoor Union through its General Secretary, Ram Vinod Singh, served notice on the Regional Labour Commissioner (Central) under S. 10(2) of the Standing Orders Act for modification of Cl. 20 of the certified standing orders of Barauni Refinery for raising the age of superannuation from 58 years to 60 years mainly on the ground that the staff members working in the Marketing Division superannuated on completing the age of 60 years. It was also contended by the said union that the demand for the upward revision of the age of superannuation could not be pressed at the time of the settlement arrived at pursuant to the charter of demands because the age of retirement was fixed at 58 years under the relevant certified standing orders. It was, therefore, felt necessary that Cl. 20 of the certified Standing Orders applicable to Barauni Refinery of the IOCL should be got suitably modified to raise the age of retirement to 60 years. This demand was based on the averment that the nature of work performed by the workmen in the Refinery and Pipe Lines Division was identical to that performed by the staff members of the Marketing Division. The pay-scales of the employees of the Refinery Division and Marketing Division were also identical. It was, therefore, contended that there was no valid reason for fixing different ages. for retirement for the staff members working in the said two Divisions of IOCL.