27 Jan 2121

Central Government is the ‘appropriate government’ under Section 2(a) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 - Gauhati High Court

Case : M/S. Gilbarco Veeder Root India Pvt. Ltd. And Anr. v. The Union of India & Ors. Writ Petition No. 8290 of 2019

Court : Gauhati High Court

Bench : Justice Michael Zothankhuma

Decided on : 27 Jan 2121

Relevant Statutes

Section 2(a) and 10 of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947

Brief Facts and Procedural History

1. Petitioner is a registered Company under the Companies Act, 1956, having its corporate office in Mumbai.  The petitioner’s Company is in the business of manufacturing, selling and servicing fuel dispensing units.

2. The petitioner had taken over and acquired Midco Ltd, which was engaged in a similar business as that of the petitioner. Thereafter, the employees of the erstwhile Midco Ltd. were transferred by the petitioner to its sister concern i.e, M/s Monalisha EDC which was a manpower supply agency.

3. Being aggrieved by the transfer, 13 employees of the erstwhile Midco Ltd. submitted a complaint to the Labour Enforcement Officer (Central), Office of the Regional Labour Commission (Central), Guwahati.

4.  Subsequent to the above, the Labour Enforcement Officer (Central) issued a letter dated 28.01.2019 to the petitioners, requesting them to offer their comments with respect to the complaint made by the 13 disgruntled employees of the erstwhile Midco Ltd. As no conciliation could be arrived at between the parties, the Under Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Labour & Employment issued the impugned Order, whereby it referred the dispute between the parties to the Central Government Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, Guwahati for adjudication in the exercise of Clause (d) of Sub-section (1) and Sub-section (2A) of Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

The Issue of the Case

Whether the Central Government or the State Government is the appropriate Government for referring the dispute between the parties, in terms of Section 2(a) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947?

The Observations of the Court

1. The Honourable Gauhati High Court while referring to Carlsbad Mineral Water Mfg. Co. Ltd Vs. P.K. Sarkar & Ors., reported in AIR 1952 Calcutta 6 and Heavy Engineering Mazdoor Union Vs. State of Bihar & Ors. reported in (1969) 1 SCC 765 observed that the fact that petitioner Company is engaged in the business of manufacturing, selling and servicing of fuel dispensing units does not give any indication that their business involves working the oil fields. The petitioner’s business might be relatable to the products of an oil field.

2. Further, the petitioner Company is a maintenance contractor in respect of fuel dispensing units. There is nothing to show that the business carried on by the Petitioner Company is partly owned by the Central Government. Also, the business of operating oil fields is different from manufacturing, selling and servicing fuel dispensing units.

3. The Honourable Gauhati High Court Central Government is not competent to make the present reference, in the exercise of the powers conferred by Section 10 of the 1947 Act, as the Central Government is not the appropriate Government.

The Decision Held by the Court

1. The impugned Order passed by the Under Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment is hereby set aside.

2. The dispute raised by the private respondents should be sent by the Assistant Labour Commissioner to the Secretary to the Government of Assam, Labour Department for referring the dispute to the learned Labour Court within 2 weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.

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