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Management of Western India Match Company, Ltd. Versus Industrial Tribunal and Anr.

1958 (3) TMI 82 - MADRAS HIGH COURT

Dated:- 12-3-1958 - N. Rajagopala Ayyangar And Subramanya Ramachandra Iyer, JJ. JUDGMENT N. Rajagopala Ayyangar, J. 1. The petitioner, representing the management of a match factory at Madras applied under Article 226 of the Constitution for the issue of a writ of certiorari to set aside the award of the Industrial Tribunal, Madras, dated 25 July 1957, in I.D. No. 9 of 1957. In view of the peculiar feature of this application that it was filed after the petitioner had failed to obtain leave of t .....

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ore purchase quota. The last enabled a workman to purchase at the stores the factory maintained essential and other commodities at pre-war prices upto the limit of the quota allotted to him. The minimum quota allotted to each of the workmen was ₹ 13. 1460 of the workmen received this minimum quota. The quota allotted to 202 others who belonged to the artisan class, ranged from ₹ 14 to ₹ 26. The employer and the employees both preferred a wage structure which provided for cash p .....

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he cash dearness allowance was payable to all workmen. Secondly what all the workmen lost thereafter was the right to the basic minimum quota of ₹ 13. We have pointed out that 202 of the workmen were in receipt of quotas above ₹ 13. How each of them should be compensated by the management for the loss of that excess quota was not the subject-matter of the award in I.D. No. 6 of 1953. Even before the industrial tribunal, the management offered to devise later an acceptable formula for .....

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allowance. 3. That even that undertaking should be made part of the award was one of the claims of the workmen in the appeal that they filed against the award in I.D. No. 6 of 1953, That appeal, however, failed. One other feature to be noted is that the cash dearness allowance, which did away with the stores purchase quota upto ₹ 13, was based on the cost of living index and not on the evaluation of the lost quota right in terms of money. 4. Even before the disposal of the appeal preferred .....

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nagement was embodied in its memorandum dated 6 May 1954. It consisted of two parts. The first part which provided the basis for the evaluation of the quota is best set out in the words of the management: In pursuance of the above undertaking we have worked out the value received by workers from those who purchased the stores and added the cash dearness allowance paid to them and against this total . amount a comparison was made against the cash dearness allowance that was paid to them for Novem .....

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g but is benefited to the extent of ₹ 10-13-0. 7. The basic assumption of this proposal appears to have been that a workman did not utilize the full store purchase quota to purchase articles for his consumption alone, but that articles purchased at the concessional pre-war rates were subsequently sold at market prices or loss, and further that this abuse of the quota system was likely to be more pronounced in the case of the workmen who were in receipt of a quota above the minimum of ͅ .....

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wing three slabs, viz.: Thus, according to the management only 29 of its workers would be entitled to any further compensation besides the dearness allowance they had already become entitled to under the award in I.D. No. 6 of 1953. . From the report of the Assistant Commissioner of of Labour, who acted as the conciliation officer dated 20 December 1954, it would appear that at that stage the workmen accepted the basis of evaluation proposed by the management, but that they only wanted compensat .....

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; 7-8-0, and those who lost over ₹ 10 should be compensated to the extent ₹ 12-8-0. 9. The management claimed that it implemented this agreement by issuing orders on 28 December 1954 to pay the workmen in accordance with the modified slabs of compensation. In his letter dated 24 June 1955 the secretary of the Workmen's Union informed the management : We have agreed to the conciliation officer's recommendation in regard to compensation for stores quota. In that letter and In t .....

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preceded the settlement which he claimed to have effected on 20 December 1954 and The statement showing the method of calculation of the loss and the rate at which compensation was to be paid . . . was given to the union. The modification finally suggested by the conciliation officer was only in the rate of compensation and not in the method of arriving at the loss. The . matter was settled when the parties accepted the modification. When the union complained in November 1955 regarding the paym .....

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and he eventually reported that it was not possible to bring about a settlement between the parties. 11. On 14 May 1957 the Government referred to the industrial tribunal as an industrial dispute for adjudication the question of the "calculation of the loss sustained by the workers who were formerly drawing stores quote of more than ₹ 13." [The quotation is from the headnote of the award in I.D. No. 9 of 1957.] 12. During the proceedings before the industrial tribunal in I.D. No. .....

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was denied, the tribunal had to decide whether there had been any agreement, and if so, what its terms were. The agreement pleaded by the management consisted of two parts: (1) the method to be adopted to evaluate the loss of quota rights above the minimum of ₹ 13, which minimum had merged in the cash dearness allowance, and (2) the rates at which compensation should be paid for that evaluated loss. The petitioner desired to examine the conciliation officer to prove that there had been an .....

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I have not thought it necessary to examine that officer. The tribunal eventually found: It will therefore be seen that except for the arrangement fixing the limits in regard to the payment of the loss there was no agreement between the parties to the method of calculation or assessment of the loss incurred by these employees. The award of the tribunal was: With reference to the large body of employees who drew the minimum store quota of ₹ 13 the award passed by the tribunal In the previou .....

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the minimum ₹ 13. That will be his loss in terms of the store quota, but in terms of cash at the post-war price, that loss must be multiplied 3 1/2 times; that is to say, if the difference in store quota is Re. 1, his loss would be ₹ 3-8-0 ; if his loss is ₹ 2 stores quota his loss would be ₹ 7. Having thus ascertained the loss, what is the amount of compensation to be paid to him will be determined in terms of the agreement between the parties before the conciliation off .....

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stained by him, but subject to the maximum mentioned in each of these limits; that is to say, within the first group it would not mean that if the loss is 7 annas he would get a compensation of ₹ 3. It means he will get only a compensation of 7 annaa . . . 13. The main ground on which the learned Advocate-General who appeared for the petitioner, challenged the validity of the award was that the tribunal had denied the petitioner a real and effective opportunity to prove his case as a whole .....

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have already pointed out, that agreement was not reduced to writing and signed by both the parties, the management and the workmen, and it did not therefore satisfy the requirements of Section 12(3) of the Act. In that case both the sides would have had to be given opportunities to place the evidence on record on which could be based findings on both the points in dispute, the basis of the evaluation and the quantum of compensation. There was no occasion for the petitioner to seek such an oppor .....

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the ground that there had been no agreement about the method of evaluation that the tribunal directed that every rupee of the quota above ₹ 13 should be valued at a flat rate of ₹ 3-8-0. The learned Advocate-General complained that the petitioner had not been given a real and effective opportunity to prove that the agreement covered also the method of evaluation, and the evidence of the conciliation officer would have helped the petitioner to establish his case. The probative value .....

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the respondents urged, that there was material on which the tribunal could find that while there was no agreement on the question of the method of evaluation there was no agreement over the rates at which the loss after a proper evaluation should be compensated. 15. The tribunal of course was not bound by the strict rules of procedure and evidence applicable to a civil court. If for example the agreement in question had been reduced to writing and signed by the parties thereto, even the stricter .....

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s one of the terms of that agreement was what the tribunal had to decide. The question at issue was thus one of fact and not the interpretation of a clause the existence of which was itself not in dispute. The contention of the learned Advocate-General appears to us to be well founded that the petitioner had not been given a real and effective opportunity to prove a fact pleaded by the petitioner, that the method of evaluation had never been in dispute during the proceedings before the conciliat .....

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o be adopted for evaluation. That finding was vitiated, because the petitioner was not given an opportunity it was entitled to, to place all the relevant evidence bearing on that point on record. Again we would like to make it clear that we are not concerned with the question, what was the proper method of evaluation. That was wholly for the tribunal to decide on the material the parties were entitled to place before it. If there had been an agreement, that would have been a relevant factor for .....

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ari, had there been no other factor to be taken into account in deciding whether the petitioner should be given relief under Article 226 of the Constitution which is essentially discretionary in its scope. That brings us to the question whether the dismissal of the application the petitioner preferred to the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution, for the grant of leave to appeal against the award of the industrial tribunal, should be viewed in the circumstances of this case as a ba .....

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should always be accompanied by a petition for leave to appeal, and it should be made clear to the Judge sitting to receive petitions that the appeal is not presented as one which lies as of right. When even factually there was no appeal, no question of merger could arise. What the position would have been had the Supreme Court rejected the appeal thereby confirming the award appealed against, does not therefore arise for consideration. The petitioner failed to get leave and there was no appeal .....

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le to define with any precision the limitations on the exercise of the discretionary jurisdiction vested in this Court by the constitutional provision made in Article 136. The limitations, whatever they be, are implicit in the nature and character of the power itself. It being an exceptional and overriding power, naturally it has to be exercised sparingly and with caution and only in special and extraordinary situations. Beyond that it is not possible to fetter the exercise of this power by any .....

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, J., observed in Sangram Singh v. Election Tribunal 1955 S.C.J. 431 : The jurisdiction which Articles 226 and 136 confer entitles the High. Courts and this Court to examine the decisions of all tribunals to see whether they have acted illegally . . . The legality of an act or conclusion is something that exists outside and apart from the decision of an inferior tribunal. It is a part of the law of the land which cannot be finally determined or altered by any tribunal of limited jurisdiction. Th .....

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tionary and though no limits can be placed upon that discretion, it must be exercised along recognised lines and not arbitrarily; and one of the limitations imposed by the Courts on themselves is that they will not exercise jurisdiction in this class of cases unless substantial injustice has ensued or is likely to ensue. 20. The scope of the proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution is very much more limited compared to what the Supreme Court could order in an appeal, once leave is grant .....

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is entitled to the issue of a writ ex debito justitiae. Even such a limitation has not so far been expressly made applicable by the Supreme Court to the discretion with which it has been vested under Article 136 of the Constitution. 21. The right to apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution if it could be called a "right" at all cannot be equated to a right to appeal. Obviously a High Court cannot refuse to entertain an application under Artic .....

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nstitution would be left untouched. It has been consistently held that the existence of an alternative remedy is no bar to the assumption of jurisdiction under Article 226 or the Constitution, though it would be a very relevant factor in deciding whether the discretion to grant the relief would be exercised in a given case. That was restated by the Supreme Court in Uttar Pradesh v. Muhammad Noon A.I.R. 1958 S.C. 86 . As the learned Advocate-General however pointed out, Article 136 of the Constit .....

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e the rule issued in the present case is, however, a wholly different question. 23. Consistent with the practice of the Supreme Court, no reasons were given for the refusal to grant the leave the petitioner had sought to prefer an appeal against the award of the industrial tribunal. That does not alter the fact that leave was refused. That would imply that their lordships of the Supreme Court were not satisfied that ex facie the award there was any indication of any failure of justice. No doubt .....

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