Decided on March 24,1976



- (1.)IN this application under Art. 226 of the constitution of India, the petitioner is praying for appropriate writs directed against an order passed by the Eighth Industrial Tribunal, west Bengal, in case No. VIII-287/68, arising out of Government Order No. 5774-IR, dated 31 July 1968.
(2.)THE petitioner is a private limited company and carries on business of printing at its press situated at 26b, Dr. Suresh Sarkar Road, calcutta. The said business was alleged to have been closed down. It is alleged that the petitioner-company, at all material times, employed about eighty-seven workmen in the said printing business. It is alleged that besides office and supervisory staff the petitioner-company had about seventy workmen in the printing press. There were some difficulties which the petitioner-company was facing regarding the printing business and because of lack of printing orders the business of the petitioner-company was not running properly and that there was considerable fall in the printing orders. It appears that on 8. May 1968, the petitioner issued a notice stating that the management had been noticing that for some time past the workers were deliberately adopting tactics whereby usual normal day-to-day production was being regularly disrupted. They stated that unless the workmen stopped those tactics, the management would be compelled to take necessary steps against that. Thereafter, it appears that the petitioner issued a notice, dated 11/5/1968. The petitioner decided to retrench some of the employees who were, according to the petitioner, surplus to their requirement. The reason which was put forward was that due to considerable fall of printing work in the press the management will not be in a position to give full-time work to all the employees. It appears that on 11 May 1968, a notice was given by fifty-three workers of the petitioner-company in respect of the notice of the petitioner, dated 8 May 1968. The facts alleged in the said notice, dated 8 May 1968, were denied and disputed and it was alleged that the said notice was motivated. The company was called upon to withdraw the said notice. On 13/5/1968, several letters were written to the petitioner-company protesting against the notice of retrenchment. When the general meeting of the workers of the petitioner-company was held on 12/5/1968, it was decided that the workers would request the management to withdraw the said retrenchment order. It is alleged that on 12/5/1968, two tactics, namely "go-slow" and "sit-down strike," were adopted by the workers besides threats and intimidation. By a letter, dated 13 May 1968, the workers of the petitioner-company objected to such retrenchment notice. On 17 May 1968, the secretary of the union wrote a letter to the Labour Commissioner regarding this retrenchment and asked him to intervene in the matter. In the meantime, on 25 May 1968, a notice of closure was issued by the petitioner-company stating that the management had been finding it extremely difficult to run the press since the last few months with intentional low production by workmen with their go-slow policy and for various actions. Various other allegations were made. It was stated that the management found itself unable to run the press any more and that it had decided to close down the printing press which was the only alternative left. Accordingly by the said notice the management purported to close down the press with effect from 25 May 1968. On 27 May 1968, the union wrote a letter to the Labour Officer of the Government of west Bengal protesting against the said closure and asking him to intervene in the matter. It was stated that this was not a proper closure but a lockout. On 30/5/1968, the union wrote a letter to the petitioner-company with reference to the notice of closure. It was stated that the allegations of go-slow tactics and sit-down strike on the part of the workers were news to them. It was categorically denied by them that the go-slow tactics and sit-down strike were adopted by the workers at any point of time as alleged or at all. On 1 June 1968, the secretary of the union in a letter to Sri Hazra, Labour Officer, stated that the management failed to appear in the conciliation meeting called by him. By a letter, dated 24 June 1968, the petitioner-company made representations to the Labour Officer, west Bengal, as to the disputes raised before him regarding the retrenchment and closure and stated that they are justified in their action regarding the retrenchment of the workmen, and the closure. It appears that they had also made this point on 27/6/1968, before the Labour Officer in the presence of the workmen and the Conciliation Officer. Mean whlie, another letter was written through the union to the Labour Officer in respect of this alleged lockout, stating that there was no valid reason for closing. On 3/7/1968, the union made further representation to the directors of the petitioner-company and they made demand for opening of the press with immediate effect with full strength of the workers and for taking back all retrenched workmen. On 5/7/1968, another letter was issued by the petitioner-company to the labour Officer in connexion with the conciliation proceedings held regarding the retrenchment of the workmen and closure and justified their action regarding the same.
(3.)UNDER these circumstances, an order of reference was made by the Government of west Bengal on 31/7/1968, in exercise of the powers conferred on it by Sec. 10 of the industrial Disputes Act, 1947, whereby the disputes and differences between the petitioner and the workers were referred to the Eighth industrial Tribunal for adjudication. The issues referred to therein are as follows :
" Whether the retrenchment of Sarvasree (a) Golom Rasul, (b) Shaik Alauddin, (c) S. K. Rajabasu, (d) Mir Doulat Ali, (e) Golam Akbar, (f) Mohamad Ajmal, (g) Mohamad Wali, (h) Sahabat Ali, (i) Mohamad Ekbal, (j) Belayat Hossain, (k) Chunilal Bose, is justified ; whether the closure of the factory with effect from 25 May 1968, is real and bona fide ? Whether the closure is due to reasons beyond the control of the management and in the circumstances, justified? What relief, if any, are the workmen entitled ?"


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