Aug 10, 2023 05:42 UTC
Aug 10, 2023 at 15:05 UTC
Case Study: Management, Essorpe Mills Limited v. Presiding Officer, Labour Court and Others
” A valid notice under Section 22 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 means deemed conciliation proceedings.”
Citation: (2008) 7 SCC 594, AIR 2008 SC 2504
Date of judgement: 4th April, 2008
Bench: Arijit Pasayat (J), P. Sathasivam (J)
- Workers went on illegal strike from 08.11.1990. All 55 workers who resorted to strike were suspended. After this, some remained in premises causing obstruction, which led to all workers being charged for mis-conduct.
- Upon apologizing, 34 of them were taken back to work however respondent nos. 2 to 23 did not relent.
- On 14.3.1991 notice was served by the General Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Panchalai Workers’ Union on the management stating that “strike would commence on or after 24.3.1991” and on 8th and 24th April and 13th May, 1991 the respondents 2 to 23 were dismissed from service after holding a disciplinary enquiry.
- Petitions were filed under Section 2-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 for re-instatement with back wages and continuity of service.
Labour Court’s Decision:
Labour Court held that the strike was illegal. Under Section 11-A of the Act, the Court substituted the punishment of dismissal and awarded compensation of Rs.50,000/- to each workman.
Madras High Court’s Decision (Single bench):
Relying upon the decision in Jaipur Zila Sahakari Bhoomi Vikas Bank Ltd. V. Ram Gopal Sharma, court observed that a copy of the strike notice dated 14.3.1991 was sent to the Conciliation Officer and, therefore, conciliation proceedings were pending on the date of dismissal. So, appeal was allowed on the ground of non-compliance of Section 33 (2)(b) of the Act and directed re-instatement of the workmen with full back wages and continuity of service.
Madras High Court’s Decision (Division bench):
The bench dismissed the writ appeals filed by the appellant stating that there is no distinction between the proceeding pending before the Conciliation Officer and those pending before an Industrial Tribunal.
Supreme Court Decision:
The appeal was allowed and the judgments of learned Single Judge as well as that of the Division Bench were set aside.
Issues and Reasoning:
- Was the notice of 14.03.1991 valid within the terms of Section 22 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947?
The strike notice issued on 14.03.1991 stating that the strike will commence on or after 24.03.1991, i.e. just 10 days’ notice, does not satisfy the requirement of advanced notice stipulated under Sec 22(1).
- Was there any deemed conciliation proceeding in the present case?
In absence of a valid notice of strike in terms of Section 22(1) there can be no commencement of conciliation proceedings in terms of Section 20(1) of the Act.
- Is Section 33 of the Act attracted in the present case?
Since, no conciliation proceedings was pending on the date of dismissal of workers. Hence, Section 33 could not be attracted.
- Does notice under Section 22 of the Act means deemed conciliation proceedings?
It was observed that unlike in the case of non-public utility service, the concept of deemed conciliation has been statutorily provided in the case of public utility service so that workmen did not go on strike during pendency of the conciliation proceedings. When strike notice under Section 22 of the Act has been given, the conciliation officer is mandatorily required to hold the conciliation proceedings under Section 20(1) of the Act.
In Lokmat Newspapers Pvt. Ltd. v. Shankarprasad, it was held that once strike notice is issued under Section 22 of the Act, conciliation proceeding is deemed to have been commenced and no further notice from conciliation officer is required.
 2002 (2) SCC 244.
 1999 (6) SCC 275.