Decided on May 05,1951



- (1.)The appellants are a company registered under the Indian Companies Act, and have got mills at Tilaknagar, District Ahmednagar, in the State of Bombay, for manufacturing sugar. For the purpose of their business, they employ muster labour and contract labour.
(2.)By a notification dated 8-1-1948, published in the Govt. Gazette, under S:2 (4), Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946 (Bombay Act XI [11] of 1947), the Provincial Govt. applied the provisions of the Act to sugar industry with effect from 12-1-1948. A dispute arose between the employees of the appellants including the seasonal and contract labour and the appellants as regards the demand made by the employees for payment of six months' wages as bonus for the year 1947-48 and as the dispute was not resolved by conciliation, the Govt. of Bombay issued the following notification on 1- 4-1949:
" Whereas an industrial dispute has arisen between the Maharashtra Sugar Mills Ltd., Belapur Road, District Ahmednagar and its employees (hereinafter referred to as the said industrial dispute') in respect of payment of six months' wages as bonus for the year 1947-48 to all employees including the seasonal and contract labour;

And whereas the provincial Govt. is satisfied that the said industrial dispute is not likely to be settled by other means;

Now. therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by S. 73. Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946 (Bombay Act XI [11] of 1947), the Govt. of Bombay is pleased to refer the said industrial dispute to the arbitration of the Industrial Court."

It was urged on behalf of the appellants before the Industrial Court that contract labour was not covered by the definition of 'employee' under the Act and that the Court had, therefore, no jurisdiction to go into the dispute in regard to contract labour. The Industrial Court held that contract labour was within the definition of 'employee' and that it had jurisdiction to decide the dispute. It made its award on 8-12-1949 whereby it awarded bonus equal to "three-eighths of the total basic earnings" of each worker earned during the year 1947-48 on the condition as stated therein. The award was published in the Govt. Gazette on 29-9-1949 and the appellants were ordered to pay the said bonus both to the seasonal labour and contract labour.

(3.)The appellants filed a petition in the High Court of Bombay, urging that contract labour were not in fact employed by them nor were they their employees within the definition contained in S. 3 (13) (a), Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946, and that being so, there was no industrial dispute between the appellants and the contract labour and the reference to the Industrial Court was without jurisdiction. It was prayed that the award be quashed. The petition was heard by Bhagwati J. and he held that the Industrial Court had no jurisdiction to make the award with respect to the contract labour as that Class of labour was not covered by the definition of 'employee' contained in the Act and he granted a writ of certiorai quashing the award.

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