Decided on May 03,1994

Village Papers Mazdoor Sangh Mehatpur Appellant

Cited Judgements :-



- (1.)Village Papers Private Limited (the company). Respondent 4 in the appeal herein, questioned the legality of the reference dated 2-2-1987 made by the State of Himachal Pradesh under Section 12 (5 of the Industrial Disputes act, 1947 (the Act). The said reference was as under :
"Whether the termination of 30 workers (list attached by the management of M/s V. P. L. Mehatpur, District Una, (H. P. ) , is justified and in order. If not, to what relief and order If not, to what relief fund amount of compensation these workers are entitled -the precise argument raised before the High Court was that no demand was raised by the workmen upon the employer, either orally or in writing, and as such no dispute within the meaning of Section 2 (k) of the Act existed and as such no reference under the Act could be made by the State Government.

(2.)A three-Judge Bench of the High Court by majority accepted the contention of the company and came to the conclusion that there was no dispute between the workmen and the company. As a consequence by a majority judgment the High Court quashed the reference dated 2-2-1987. This appeal by way of special leave is against the judgment of the High Court.
(3.)We have heard learned counsel for the parties. We are of the view that in the facts of the present case it is not possible to hold that no dispute existed between the workmen and the company. We may briefly state the undisputed facts of the case. On 20-12-1985 a demand notice was served by the workmen's union upon the company which related to certain demands of the workmen in relation to their conditions of service. While conciliation proceedings were pending in respect of the said demands the company on 20-6-1986 suspended six of its workmen. It is further stated by the company that 32 workmen absented themselves from duty with effect from 30-6-1986. On 2-7-1986 the company served a notice upon the absenting workmen calling upon them to show cause why their services be not terminated. The workmen submitted theirreply on 12-7-1986. After taking into consideration the reply submitted by the workmen the company served another notice dated 21-7-1986 upon the 32 workmen wherein it was pointed out that they were absenting without any cause and their absence would be treated as abandonment. The workmen were called upon to join their duty by 26-7-1986 failing which the company would be compelled to terminate their services. Meanwhile on 23-7-1986 the Conciliation officer submitted a failure report in respect of the demands which were the subject-matter of the conciliation proceedings. On 31-7-1986 notices were served on the absenting employees informing them that they would be no longer employees of the company with effect from 1-8-1986. It was, however, stated in the notice that being old employees of the company they would be given preference in case they wish to join the duties within two weeks i. e. by 14-8- 1986. On 26-8-1986 Labour Commissioner sent a telegram to the Government informing that dhama was continuing in the company. Meanwhile Labour officer sent a notice to the company as well as to the workers' union informing that 2-9-1986 (3 p. m. ) was fixed for further conciliation. The meeting was attended by the representatives of the company but none appeared on behalf of the workers. No proceedings took place. On 27-10-1986 another notice was sent to the company and the workers' union informing that further conciliation proceedings would take place on 6-11-1986. On that date none appeared on behalf of the company. The workers' union, however, raised the demand regarding reinstatement of the 32 workmen. The Conciliation Officer conducted proceedings on 6-11-1986 in the absence of the company, prepared its report and sent the same to the Labour Commissioner with a copy to the State government. The Conciliation Officer had reported the failure of the conciliation proceedings. The Labour Commissioner endorsed the recommendation of Conciliation Officer and suggested to the State Government that a reference under the Act be made for adjudicating the dispute by the Court. As a consequence the reference quoted above was made by the State government on 2-2-1986.

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