Case Study: Management of Chandramalai Estate v. Its Workmen and Anr.

By Swarada Rane 5 Minutes Read

Citation: AIR 1960 SC 902

Date of Judgement: 5th April, 1960

Bench: K.C. Das Gupta (J), Pralhad Balacharya Gajendragadkar (J), Kailas Nath Wanchoo (J)


  • On 9th August, 1955 union of the Workmen of the Chandramalai estate submitted demands to the management, out of which only few were agreed to while principal demands remained unsatisfied.
  • Matter was forwarded to the conciliation officer, Trichur by the labour officer.
  • On 30th November, 1955 day of last meeting for conciliation, union gave a strike notice and workmen went on a strike from 9th Dec, 1955 which ended on 5th Jan, 1956.
  • On 17th Oct, 1957, Industrial Tribunal, Ernakulam granted workmen’s demands on all issues. So, appeal was made by the management of Chandramalai Estate against Tribunal’s award.


  • Was the price realised by the management for the rice sold to the workers after decentral excessive; and if so, are the workers entitled to get refund of the excessive value so collected?
  • Are the workers entitled to get cumbly allowance with retrospective effect from the date it was stopped and what should be the rate of such allowance?
  • Are the workers entitled to get wages for the period of the strike?

Tribunal’s Decision:

Tribunal held that the management had charged more than the cost price an it had to be refunded. Regarding the cumbly allowance, tribunal awarded Rs 39 per workman. They held that strike happened due to both parties, so management has to pay workmen 50% of their total emoluments for the strike period.

Key Legal Points Established by the Court:

  • Are the worker’s entitled for the wages for the period of the Strike?


Court observed workmen knew on 30th Nov, 1955 that conciliation attempts had failed. In a hurry, they gave notice of strike on 1st Dec, 1955 and went on strike from 9th Dec, 1955. Conciliation officer would have submitted his report and then reference could be made to Industrial dispute. There was no need of such hasty action.

Court held that strike is a legitimate and sometimes unavoidable weapon in the hands of labour it is equally important to remember that indiscriminate and hasty use of this weapon should not be encouraged. It will not be right for labour to think that for any kind of demand a strike can be commenced with impunity without exhausting reasonable avenues for peaceful achievement of their objects. There may be cases where the demand is of such an urgent and serious nature that it would not be reasonable to expect labour to wait till after asking the Government to make a reference. In such cases, strike even before such a request has been made may well be justified. The present is not however one of such cases.


Court discarded the half justification formula of tribunal and held the strike as unjustified.

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