Madras HC: Retired employees can form Association under the Trade Union Act, 1926
High Court Madras: Retired employees can form Association under the Trade Union Act,1926
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS
THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE S.VAIDYANATHAN
Civil Miscellaneous Appeal No.2758 of 2019
Karur Vysya Bank Retirees- Association,
Rep. by its General Secretary,
Plot -E-, New No.44, Old No. 33B,
8th Street, Sowrashtra Nagar,
Choolaimedu, Chennai~600 094. … ……………Petitioner/Appellant
Deputy Commissioner of Labour I
Teynampet, Chennai~600 006. ……………………………… Respondent
PRAYER: Petition is filed under Section 11 of the Trade Unions Act, 1926 to set aside the order dated 26.10.2016 passed in O.M. A3/5794/16 by the Deputy Commissioner of Labour I, Chennai / the Authority under the Trade Unions Act.
For Appellant : Mr.Balan Haridas
For Respondent : Mr.M.Sricharan Rangarajan
Spl. Govt.Pleader (CS)
O R D E R
This Appeal has been filed to set aside the order dated 26.10.2016 passed in O.M. A3/5794/16 by the Respondent, namely, Deputy Commissioner of Labour I, Chennai, who is the Authority under the Trade Unions Act, by which, the request of the Appellant Association (hereinafter referred to as -the Association-) to register its Association was negatived by the Authority on the ground that the members of the Association are not in service.
2. It is not in dispute that none of the members of the Association are in employment of the Bank, though they were ex~employees of the Bank. It is the case of the Association that the members of the Association had decided to form an Association to espouse their grievances, relating to pension and other benefits, as the existing Trade Union is not widely bringing out their grievances. It is the further case of the Association that the issue regarding the eligibility period for the purpose pension can be raised in the form an Industrial Dispute and it cannot be done by an individual or he cannot approach the Civil Court for the relief. It is submitted that the individual is also barred from approaching this Court by way of Writ Petition, as the Court may shut the doors on the ground that the disputed question of fact cannot be gone into before this High Court.
3. According to the learned counsel for the Appellant, a reading of Section 2(g) of the Trade Unions Act, 1926 (in short -the Act, 1926-) shows that it authorizes any person, who was in employment to form an Association, which should be registered under the Act, 1926. Though the employer, Workmen and industrial dispute have not been defined under the Act, 1926, the Industrial Disputes Act alone can be invoked for the purpose of raising a dispute with regard to the issue falling under Section 2(k) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, It is stated by the learned counsel for the Appellant that the mandatory requirement is that a group of seven persons can only form an Association and in that event, it is obligatory on the part of the Authority to register the Trade Union, unless or otherwise there are any obstacles like reflection of very same name or any other issue concerned or that are prohibited under the 1926 Act. It is further stated by the learned counsel for the Appellant that when the minimum requirement is seven even after amendment in 2002, substituted by Act 31 of 2001, which came into force from 09.01.2002, it is not right on the part of the Authority to reject the registration of the Association.
4. Mr.M.Sricharan Rangarajan, learned Special Government Pleader (CS) appearing for the respondent has vehemently contended that the persons, who are on roll can only make such application for registration of the Association under the Act, 1926 and even after amendment in the year 2002, there was no deletion of any mandatory requirement. He has further contended that a reading of the words used in Section 2 (e), (g) and 22 (1) & (2) makes it very clear that there shall be persons actually engaged or employed in an industry with which the Trade Union is connected and in the absence of such stipulation, the Authority is empowered to reject the application. On the date of application, there should be a group of seven persons and in case the number is reduced, still the Authority is empowered to register the Trade Union, but making an application with seven persons, who retired from service and are not connected with the employment on the date of application is not permissible in law and it will set a bad precedent for other similarly placed persons to knock at the doors of Registrar of Trade Unions to register their Association.
5. The learned Special Government Pleader (CS) has submitted that there are two judgments with regard to registration of Trade Union, viz., a judgment of Karnataka High Court in the case of Government Tool Room and Training Centre-s Supervisory and Officers- Association, Bangalore and another vs. Assistant Labour Commissioner and Deputy Registrar of Trade Unions, Bangalore Division~I, Bangalore and others, reported in (2002) 2 LLJ 330 (Karnataka) and another judgment of the Bombay High Court in Bajaj Auto Ltd., vs. State of Maharashtra, reported in 2018 (3) Mh.L.J. 466. Out of these two judgments, though the finding of the Karnataka High Court does not support the case of the Respondent herein, the other judgment of the Bombay High Court is otherwise.
5.1. In Government Tool Room and Training Centre-s Supervisory and Officers- Association, Bangalore and another vs. Assistant Labour Commissioner and Deputy Registrar of Trade Unions, Bangalore Division~I, Bangalore and others (cited supra), it has been held as follows:
“4. After hearing the learned Counsel, I have carefully perused the impugned endorsement. The registration was refused on the ground that the supervisory officers and managers are not workmen within the meaning of Section 2(s) of the I.D. Act. The question that requires consideration by this Court is as to whether the non~workmen under the I.D. Act have a right to form a Trade Union in terms of the Indian Trade Unions Act of 1926.
5. The Trade Unions Act of 1926 is a pre~Constitution Law. The object of the Trade Unions Act is to provide for the registration of a Trade Union and in certain respects to define the law relating to Trade Union. Section 2 defines various terms including Trade Dispute and Trade Union. Chapter II provides for registration of Trade Union. Section 5 provides for an application being made for registration to the Registrar, Section 6 provides for provisions to be contained in the rules of a Trade Union. Section 7 provides for power to call for further particulars in the matter. Registration is provided under Section 8 of the Act. To understand the dispute between the parties, it is relevant to note the two definitions in Section 2(g) and 2(h). The said definitions read as under:
(g) “Trade Dispute” means any dispute between employers and workmen or between workmen and workmen, or between employers and employers which is connected with the employment or non~employment, or the terms of employment or the conditions of labour, of any person and workmen means all persons employed in trade or industry whether or not in the employment of the employer with whom the trade dispute arises; and
(h) “Trade Union” means any combination, whether temporary or permanent, formed primarily for the purpose of regulating the relations between the workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, or between employers and employers, or for imposing restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or business, and includes any federation of two or more Trade Unions”.
6. In the light of these two definitions, it is clear to me that the word workmen under the Trade Unions Act includes all persons employed in a Trade or Industry. It is not a restricted definition as in any other enactment of Labour Laws. When the Act itself provides for a wider definition and for a wider meaning of that definition, the Courts cannot narrow it by its decision. That would be against the very object of the Trade Unions Act itself. It is a well~settled principle of law that two conditions are necessary for interpreting an earlier enactment in the light of the provisions of a later Act. They are:
(1) The two Acts of the Legislature must be in parimateria, that is to say that they form a system or code of Legislature; and