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V. Sasidharan Versus Peter & Karunakar

1984 (8) TMI 353 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

C.A. 2029 of 1980 - Dated:- 23-8-1984 - Chandrachud, Y.V., And Tulzapurkar, V.D. For the Appellant : K.R.R. Pillai, K.M.K.Nair for Bar Council, Kerala, R.C. Misra & Vimal Dave for Supreme Court Bar Clerk's Association For Respondents : P. Govindan Nair E.M.S. Anm, M.K. Dua and Miss Baby Krishnan JUDGMENT: Chandrachud, C.J. The question which arises for consideration in this appeal is whether a firm of lawyers is a 'commercial establishment' within the meaning of the Kerala Shops .....

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al establishment. By a judgment dated August 11, 1977, the Appellate Authority upheld the preliminary objection and dismissed the appeal. Being aggrieved by that judgment, the appellant filed a writ petition (O.P.No. 3380 of 1977-B) in the High Court of Kerala. A learned single Judge of the High Court dismissed that writ petition, against which the appellant filed Letters Patent appeal (W.A. No. 11 of 1978). That appeal was dismissed on July 26, 1978. This appeal by special leave is filed agains .....

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ent or administrative service in which the persons employed are mainly engaged in office work, hotel, restaurant, or boarding or eating house, cafe or any other refreshment house, a theatre or any other place of public amusement or entertainment and includes such other establishment as the Government may, by notification in the Gazette declare to be a commercial establishment for the purposes of this Act, but does not include a factory to which all or any of the provisions of the Factories Act, .....

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shment or a shop attached to a factory where the persons employed in the shop are allowed the benefits provided for workers under the Factories Act, 1948 (Central Act 63 of 1948)" It is on the basis of these definitions that we shall have to decide whether the office of a lawyer or of a firm of lawyers is a commercial establishment within the meaning of the Act. The definition contained in section 2 (4) may be simplified by restating it in separate clauses as follows: (1) Commercial Establi .....

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shment includes such other establishment as the Government may, by notification in the Gazette, declare to be a commercial establishment for the purposes of the Act. Commercial Establishment does not include a factory to which any of the provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 apply. A lawyer's office or the office of a firm of lawyers cannot obviously fall under clauses (3) and (4) above. Nor has the Government issued any notification as contemplated by section 2 (4). The question thus narrow .....

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. The definition of 'shop' which is contained in section 2(15) shows that in order that an establishment can be regarded as a shop, it is necessary that some 'trade' or 'business' must be carried on there or some service must be rendered to 'customers. The expression 'shop' also includes offices, warehouses store rooms or godowns which are used in connection with the trade or business. It does not require any strong argument to justify the conclusion that the .....

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n 2(15) is inapposite in the case of lawyer's office or the office of a firm of lawyers. Learned counsel for the appellant argues that a lawyer's office is a commercial establishment because, persons who are employed in that office are mainly engaged in office work. This argument overlooks that. under the second clause of the definition in section 2(4), 'commercial establishment' means "an establishment or administrative service in which the persons employed are mainly engag .....

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proposition is well-established that words which occur in the same context must take their colour from each other. It is unrealistic to dissect the definition clause in section 2(4) and to catch a word here or there in order to bring a lawyer's office within the four corners of the definition of 'commercial establishment'. The various clauses of that definition would show that establishment, far apart from professional offices, were within the contemplation of the legislature. For t .....

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provides that no employee in any establishment shall be required or allowed to work for more than eight hours on any day or for more than 48 hours in any week Section 8 requires that, the period or work of an employee in an establishment for each day shall be so fixed that no period shall exceed four hours and that no such person shall work for more than four hours before he has had an interval for rest of at least one hour. Under section 10, no establishment shall, on any day, be opened earlie .....

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We are quite solicitous about the welfare of those who work in the lawyers' offices. But, there are many other ways in which their welfare can be ensured. If the current trends are any indication and if old memories fail not, the earnings of lawyers' clerks cannot, in reality, bear reasonable comparison with the earnings of employees of commercial establishments, properly so called. They, undoubtedly, work hard but they do not go without their reward. They come early in the morning and g .....

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