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Indian Case Summary

Uttaranchal Forest Development … vs Jabar Singh And Ors on 12 December, 2006 – Case Summary

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In the case of Uttaranchal Forest Development Corporation vs. Jabar Singh and Others, the Supreme Court of India delivered a judgment on 12th December 2006. The bench comprised of Dr. Ar. Lakshmanan and Tarun Chatterjee. The case was an appeal against the judgment and order dated 21.08.2003 by the High Court of Uttaranchal in Writ Petition No. 1376 of 2001, which was filed by the respondent-workmen against the award dated 24.12.1997 of the Labour Court, Dehradun.

Facts of the Case

The U.P. Forest Corporation, the predecessor of the appellant Corporation, had engaged daily wages workers for the purpose of measurement of wood, protection of timber at the logging site, and depots of the Corporation. The services of the respondent were retrenched by order dated 30.05.1995 and 31.05.1995 after giving one month’s wage in lieu of notice and retrenchment compensation in compliance with Section 6-N of the Industrial Act, 1947.

Issues Raised

The main issue raised was whether the provisions of Section 25N of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 are attracted or not and whether for non-compliance of the conditions contained in section 25N, retrenchment order as well as award are illegal and non est. The High Court observed that the appropriate Government by framing the Rules known as the Industrial Disputes (Uttar Pradesh) Rules, 1976 have made Section 25N applicable in relation to Industrial establishment in the State of U.P.

Court’s Observations

The High Court held that the Forest Corporation carries the activity of cutting, removal, disposal, and sale of trees over the area allotted to the Corporation and, therefore, the area of the land over which such activities are carried on is “premises”. Thus, the first requirement of the definition of factory is satisfied. The High Court held that cutting of trees by axe and shaping the cut trees into logs is a manufacturing process under the definition of Section 2(k) of the Factories Act and therefore it is an industrial establishment within the meaning of Section 25-L of the Industrial Disputes Act.

The High Court held that since the retrenchment was made without complying with the provisions of Section 25N of the Industrial Disputes Act, the retrenchment order was void and accordingly the said order of retrenchment was quashed. The High Court further directed that the writ petitioner shall be put back on duty and shall be paid salary/wages.

The Supreme Court heard the arguments from both sides and considered various precedents and definitions under the Factories Act and the Industrial Disputes Act. The case was a significant one as it dealt with the definition of a ‘factory’ and ‘manufacturing process’ under the Factories Act and the applicability of the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act to the Forest Corporation.