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TN Govt had applied its mind, says HC
October, 04th 2007
Referring Deccan Sugars case to Industrial Tribunal

Section 10(1) of the Industrial Disputes Act contemplated even on apprehension a dispute could be referred to the Industrial Tribunal for adjudication. Since transfer of an undertaking (Deccan Sugars, Pugalur) from Nava Bharat Ferro Alloys Ltd to TN-based EID Parry Ltd, which was alleged to have caused non-employment of 651 workmen, itself was fictitious, the appellant (management of EID Parry) could not be said to be an unnecessary party to the reference, the Madras High Court has recently held.

Following agitation by workers against the transfer of Deccan Sugars, the Tamil Nadu Government referred the issue to Industrial Tribunal on April 4, 1993.

Aggrieved, the appellant preferred writ petition praying for quashing GO dated April 4, 1993. The management also filed writ petition for issue of writ of prohibition, prohibiting the Tribunal from proceeding to adjudicate dispute. The management contended that since the workmen were paid compensation, they could not challenge the agreement, and no such industrial dispute arose.

Single judge held that there existed an industrial dispute, which should be adjudicated by the Industrial Tribunal. The management preferred writ appeals, and the Division Bench ruled that there was no dispute that referring power of Government was amenable to judicial review. The Government had applied its mind and concluded that an industrial dispute existed.

Appellant herein then preferred SLP (civil) before the Supreme Court, which, inter alia, opined that interest of justice would be sub-served if the Division Bench of High Court was requested to give opportunity to parties as records were produced by the State after judgment was reserved.

The Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice Elipe Dharmarao, and Mr Justice S. Tamilvanan, ruled that when such a serious dispute was brought to its notice, a duty was cast on the Government to refer the matter for adjudication to the Industrial Tribunal based on material, which was properly done by the Tamil Nadu Government. There was no dispute that workmen had received compensation only under protest, but appellant, for no better reason, was stalling the entire reference proceedings by resorting to various kinds of litigations causing agony to the employees.

The Bench held that the appellant unnecessarily dragged on the dispute, stalling entire reference proceedings even after 14 years of reference, we consider it appropriate to direct appellant to deposit a sum of Rs 10,000 per each employee, by way of costs before the Industrial Tribunal.

The Bench said they were not able to find any merit in the contentions of appellant, and both appeals were dismissed.

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