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Delhi High CourtIndian Cases

G.S. Batra vs R.N. Mehrotra And Ors. on 23 October 2003

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Delhi High Court
G.S. Batra vs R.N. Mehrotra And Ors. on 23 October, 2003
Equivalent citations: 110(2004)DLT387, 2004(72)DRJ97
Author: Mukul Mudgal
Bench: Mukul Mudgal

Mukul Mudgal, J.

1. Rule.

2. There is no appearance for the respondent. The petition is taken up for final hearing.

3. It is not in dispute that the petitioner was employed in the Delhi office of the respondent and sought to raise a dispute relating to the termination of his services by respondent No. 2. By the award dated 12.1.76 impugned in this writ petition, the Labour Court has held that the Delhi Administration is not the Appropriate Government for making the reference on the following reasoning :

“…. An ‘industrial dispute’ arises not necessarily at the place where the workman are residing and working but at the place where their employer is exercising effective control over them. It is, therefore, urged that since in the present case evidently, the administrative control was exercised from the head office at Bangalore, and even the transfer orders had been passed from there, and the concerned workman had admittedly been making representations also to the head office, and transfer order was also alleged by the workman to have been cancelled by the head office, therefore, the mere fact that the concerned was working at Delhi would not make the Delhi State, the ‘Appropriate Government’ to make the reference. Under such circumstances, in view of the fact that admittedly the appointment of the concerned workman had initially been made not at Delhi but at Madras, and the administrative control of the Delhi branch was with the head office at Bangalore and the final orders regarding transfer etc. could be passed by the head office, and the workman himself in this case had also been seeking redressal of his grievances against the Delhi branch office to the head office, and had also stated that his transfer to Aligarh had been cancelled by the head office, and which transfer order, according to the statement of the management witness, had been made by the head office, the mere fact that the concerned workman worked at Delhi would, under the circumstances, not make the Delhi State the ‘Appropriate Government’ to make the reference in view of the railing relied upon on behalf of the concerned management, and it would be the place where the head office existed that would be the ‘Appropriate Government’. The Delhi Administration, therefore, is not the ‘Appropriate Government’ to make the reference. The issues are decided accordingly.”
4. In my view the aforesaid reasoning is totally fallacious and proceeds on an entirely erroneous view of the law. The respondent’s office being in Delhi and the petitioner being employed therein, any dispute relating to the employment of the petitioner could only be raised in Delhi and the mere fact that the head office of the respondent and the administrative decision and the transfer order having been passed at the head office at Bangalore are circumstances totally irrelevant to the jurisdiction relating to reference. Accordingly, Delhi Administration had jurisdiction for making the impugned reference. The learned counsel for the petitioner rightly relied upon a judgment of Bombay High Court in Lalbhai Tricumlal Mills Ltd. v. Vin (D.M.) and Ors. where it has been held as follows in respect of the employee of a branch office of the textile mill in Bombay where the head office of the mill was at Ahmedabad.

“…If that is going to be the subject matter of the inquiry before the labour court, that subject-matter arose in Bombay and not in Ahmedabad. We express no opinion as to whether the Ahmedabad court would equally have jurisdiction or not. We are only concerned with deciding whether on these facts the Bombay labour court has jurisdiction, and in our opinion, if as in this case the employee was employed in Bombay and dismissed in Bombay and he is making complaint about his dismissal and wants reinstatement and compensation the Bombay labour court has jurisdiction to decide this application. We, therefore, agree with the industrial court in the view it has taken.”
5. Learned counsel for the petitioner also relied upon judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Indian Cable Co. Ltd v. Its Workmen, 1962 (1) LLJ 409, wherein it had been held that branches located in different places lack functional integrality and are separate industrial establishment. Even on the basis of the aforesaid test laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court the petitioner is entitled to succeed. Even otherwise if the order of the labour court is upheld, a employee working in Delhi and dismissed in Delhi to agitate his grievance will have to travel to Bangalore merely to challenge the termination of his services in Delhi. Such a situation apart from being contrary to law is wholly unjust and indeed unconscionable. The respondent establishment from which the petitioner’s services stood termination was in Delhi. The cause of action i.e. termination of services of the petitioner was also in Delhi. Consequently the Delhi Courts clearly have jurisdiction and the Delhi Government is thus the Appropriate Government. Accordingly the impugned award is set aside.

6. The parties may appear before the Labour Court on 19th January, 2004. The record of the case if summoned, be sent back forthwith. Since the dispute is of the year 1972, the Labour Court I, is directed to dispose of the reference not later than 31st August, 2004. In the circumstances of the case, since the respondent succeeded on the wholly untenable plea taken by it, the petitioner will be entitled to costs quantified at Rs. 10,000/-payable within four weeks from today. In case the costs is not paid within the stipulated period the petitioner will be entitled to interest @ 12% p.a. on the sum awarded

7. The writ petition stands disposed of accordingly.