S. C. Agrawal, J. -
(1.)This appeal, by certificate granted under Art. 133(1)(a) of the Constitution, is directed against judgment and order of the High Court of Judicature at Calcutta dated December 20, 1974, in Appeal No. 104 of 1972.
(2.)Karnani Properties Ltd., appellant herein, is a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1913. It owns several mansion houses known as Karnani Mansions at Park Street, Calcutta. There are about 300 flats in these mansions which have been let out to tenants. The appellant provides various facilities to its tenants in these flats, e.g. free supply of electricity, washing and cleaning of floors and lavatories, lift service, electric repairs and replacing, sanitary repairs and replacing, etc., and for that purpose the appellant employs over 50 persons, namely sweepers, plumbers, malis, lift-man, durwans, pumpmen, electric and other mistries, bill collectors and bearers, etc., in connection with these properties. A dispute arose between the employees of the appellant represented by Barabazar Zamandar Sangh (hereinafter referred to as 'the union') and the appellant with regard to wages, scales of pay, dearness allowance and gratuity. The Government of West Bengal, by order dated July 29, 1967, referred for adjudication to the 6th Industrial Tribunal, West Bengal, the industrial dispute relating to:
(a) Fixation of Grades and Scales of pay of the different categories of workmen;
(b) Dearness Allowance; and
(3.)The appellant raised preliminary objections with regard to the validity of the reference before the Industrial Tribunal on the ground that the alleged dispute is not an industrial dispute and that the reference is barred by Section 19 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') for the reason that in 1960 there was an Award on the basis of settlement made With the union, and the said Award has not been terminated by either of the parties and is still binding on the parties. The Industrial Tribunal, by its order dated August 24, 1968 overruled the said preliminary objections raised by the appellant and thereafter the Tribunal gave the Award dated March 3, 1969. The Industrial Tribunal expressed its inability to fix any grades and scales of pay of the workmen for the reason that the evidence adduced by the union -on this issue was scrappy, none too convincing and not very much acceptable. As regards dearness allowance the Industrial Tribunal held that since November, 1964 the price index of working class in Calcutta has considerably gone up from 460 to 750 points (as was in October, 1968), i.e. roughly by 300 points. The Industrial Tribunal awarded enhanced DA at the rate of Rs. 60/- per month (Rs. 20/- per 100 points) to the sweeper, bearer, helper, mali, mazdoor, lift-man, head sweeper, durwan, pumpman, and assistant electric mistry. DA at the rate of Rs. 54/- per month (Rs. 18/- per 100 points) was awarded to the plumber, raj mistry, head durwan, electric mistry and driver and bill collector. It was also directed that the said rates of DA would remain in force as long as the price index will remain between 600 to 800 points and if the price index goes up beyond 800 points the rate of DA will be revised according to the rates mentioned and if it goes below 600 points it also may be revised accordingly. With regard to gratuity the Industrial Tribunal pointed out that under the existing scheme gratuity is payable to every workman after completion of three years continued, faithful and satisfactory service at the rate of 10 days consolidated salary for every completed year of service since the date of appointment. The Industrial Tribunal held that three- years' period was too short to make a workman entitled to gratuity and that "satisfactory" and "faithful" are vague terms. The Industrial Tribunal framed a scheme of gratuity whereunder after completion of six years of continuous service with the appellant every workman on retirement or on death will get an amount of gratuity at the rate of 10 days' consolidated salary for every completed year of service since the date of appointment and a workman who resigns voluntarily would also be entitled to get the gratuity at the same rate provided he completed 10 years of continuous service. The Industrial Tribunal also directed that if the termination. of service is the result of misconduct which caused financial loss to the employer that loss would first be compensated from the gratuity payable to employee and the balance, if any, should be paid to him. It was also directed that the services of the workmen prior to 1950 would not be taken into consideration for the purpose of payment of gratuity.