Decided on September 05,1974



- (1.) THESE writ appeals arise from the judgments in O. P. 1940 of 1974, 1951 of 1974 and 2025 of 1974. The original petitions were disposed of by a common judgment along with a number of other petitions where in also the same questions arose. The appeals before us have been referred by a Division Bench of this Court for hearing by a Full Bench in view of the importance of the questions raised. Three minimum wage notifications in regard to employees in tea and rubber, coffee and cardamom plantations in the State are under challenge. In O. P. 1940 of 1974 the petitioner challenged the notification Ext. P20 which concerned the revision of minimum wages for employees in tea and rubber plantations. O. P. 1951 of 1974 concerned the minimum wage revision regarding cardamom that being the notification under Ext, P22 in O. P. 1940 of 1974. In O. P. 2025 of 1974 the petitioner was concerned with the challenge to the fixation of minimum wages in regard to coffee, the notification being Ext. P21 in O. P. 1940 of 1974. For the sake of convenience we are referring to these notifications with reference to O. P. 1940 of 1974. These notifications so revising/ fixing minimum wages were under the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act 1948 (hereinafter called the "act" ). All these notifications issued by the Government of Kerala were of the date 20-3-1974. The appellants seek declarations by the Court that the notifications impugned by them are ultra vires the powers of the Government and they also seek directions or orders to the Government of Kerala restraining them from enforcing the said notifications.
(2.) FOR the employees in the tea and rubber plantations in the Travancore-Cochin area of the State minimum wages were fixed for the first time under Ext. P1 notification dated 30th June, 1952 This was on the basis of a report of a committee appointed under Section 5 (1) (a) of the Act. The then Government of Madras had similarly fixed the minimum wages operative in the Malabar area of the Kerala State under Ext. P2 notification, dated 20th March, 1952. This too was on the consideration of a report of a committee appointed under Section 5 (1) (a ). This notification covered tea, rubber and coffee plantations.
(3.) BY an amendment introduced to item 4 in the schedule to the Act by the State of Kerala cardamom plantations were brought under the purview of the Act. The first respondent, by notification, Ext. P3 (a), dated 17-3-1958 fixed the minimum rates of wages for the workmen employed in the cardamom plantations of the State of Kerala. This was so issued following the procedure prescribed under Section 5 (1) (a) of the Act. The Government of India appointed Central Wage Boards for tea, coffee and rubber plantations for recommending the wage structure for the employees in these industries. The Wage Boards made their recommendations and these were accepted by the Government. By Ext. P4 (l), dated 19-9-1965 the recommendation of the Coffee Wage Board were so accepted, by Ext. P4 (a), dated 4-61966 the recommendations of the Wage Board for tea were accepted and by Ext. P4 (b), dated 29-9-1966 the recommendations of the Wage Board for rubber plantations were similarly accepted. The Central Government requested the parties and the State Governments concerned to implement these recommendations. The recommendations of the Wage Board as well as their acceptance by the Central Government did not have any statutory force but were only recommendatory to induce the parties to arrive at settlements in terms of recommendations.;

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