Syndicate Bank vs. K. Umesh Nayak case dealt with the issue of whether the strike was illegal. It also states the proper adjudicating authorities for deciding the matters in this dispute under the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947.
BENCH: Justice P.B. Sawant, Justice Kuldip Singh, Justice S. Mohan, Justice G.N. Ray, Justice N.P. Singh
SYNDICATE BANK JUDGEMENT DATE: September 13th, 1994
SYNDICATE BANK CASE CITATION: AIR 1995 SC 319
BACKGROUND SYNDICATE BANK CASE:
- This case was referred to the constitution bench because of the contrary opinions in the cases of Churakulam Tea Estate vs. Workmen; Crompton Greaves Ltd. vs Workmen and Bank of India vs T.S. Kelawala.
- The issue raised in these cases was whether the strike was illegal and whether it entitles them to wages during the strike period. So in the first two cases, we stated it entitled the workers to wages if the strike is legal and justified, but in the latter case, it did not entitle the workers to wages even if the strike is illegal or legal.
- In this case, the bank refused to pay the wages to the employee federation during the strike period, so because of this issue, it considered the above cases in adjudication.
SYNDICATE BANK CASE FACTS:
- On 10th April 1989, a memorandum of settlement was signed by the Indian Bank Association and All India Bank Employees Unions and it was binding on the appellant bank and the union.
- On 9th June 1989, the parties to the dispute entered three settlements under Section 2(p) with Section 18(1) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 where the employees of the appellant were eligible for some advantages but the appellant did not enforce the settlement.
- On 22nd June 1989, the employee federation sent a message to the appellant for implementation of the settlement, but the bank replied by stating that for implementation of the settlement the approval of the government is required and they are trying to get the approval.
- On 24th July 1989, again, the federation made the same request with a threat to conduct a strike, but the reply of the bank was the same.
- Then on 1st September 1989, the federation issued a notice to the appellant stating the date of the strike, which was on 18th September 1989 and demanded immediate implementation of the settlement.
- Then the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner and Conciliatory officer proceeded with this matter to resolve by providing an amicable settlement.
- With the pending proceedings before the conciliatory officer, the federation filed the writ petition in the High court for the immediate settlement by the appellant bank on 9th June 1989. The High court held for the immediate settlement of the agreement between the parties.
- On 12th October 1989, the bank issued a circular stating for deduction of wages if the federation went on a strike, but the federation went on strike.
- On 17th October 1989, the federation requested the officer to close the proceedings through a letter.
- Then on 7th November 1989, a writ petition was filed to quash the circular issued by the bank and not to deduct their salaries. Then an interim injunction was issued by the High Court restraining the bank from deducting salaries.
- Then the matter was referred to the single bench which decided in the favour of the bank then it was appealed to the division bench which overruled the decision of the single bench.
- Because of the contradictory decision by the benches, the matter was appealed and referred to the Supreme Court.
- Whether the strike by the employee’s federation was considered legal or illegal?
- Is the decision of the Division Bench should be set aside or not?
SYNDICATE BANK CONTENTION (APPELLANT):
- Under Section 22 (1) (d) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, the employees were not allowed to go on a strike during the conciliation proceedings and seven days after the proceedings, hence the strike will be considered illegal.
- They further contended that it is an industrial dispute as the question of the government’s approval by the bank for the settlement arose by the federation. Therefore, Section 22(1)(d) of the Industrial Dispute Act is valid in this case.
K. UMESH NAYAK CONTENTION’S (RESPONDENT):
- The respondent contended that the government’s approval was not needed for the settlement of the agreement, as there was no such condition in the agreement.
- They further contended that the conciliation proceedings are not valid as there were no industrial disputes and therefore Section 22 (1) (d) of the Industrial Dispute act will not be considered.
- Justice P.B. Sawant, Justice Kuldip Singh, Justice S. Mohan, Justice G.N. Ray, Justice N.P. Singh: The Bench referred to the case of T.S Kelawala that the strike, whether it is legal or illegal, it will deduct the wages during the strike period.
- They further stated that the authority or the forum with proper jurisdiction should adjudicate this matter under the Industrial Dispute Act 1947.
- They also stated that the decision of the High Court was not correct and they do not have the jurisdictional power to adjudicate this matter under the Industrial Dispute Act 1947.
- The Supreme Court held that the proper authorities for adjudicating this matter were the Conciliatory officer and the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner, so the proceedings will be continued there.
- The court set aside the impugned order of the High Court.
- Under Article 142 of the Constitution, the court allowed the appeal of the appellant to the proper adjudicating authorities within six weeks of the judgment.
The conclusion that we can draw from this case is that the strike must be legal in order to claim benefits and it must establish the legality according to the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947. It also states that proper adjudicating authorities or forums must proceed with the cases under the Industrial Dispute Act.
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