Facts of the case
Appelants are the workmen of Dimakuchi tea estate represented by Assam karmachari sangha, Dibrugarh and the respondents are Management of Dimakuchi Tea Estate. K.P Banerjee was appointed as assistant medical officer, however his appointment was subject to satisfactory medical report and was on probation for 3 months where his suitability for employement would be considered. If deemed not to be fit, a seven day notice would be given prior to termination of the employment. If found to be liable for any misconduct, instant dismissal of the employee. Dr. Banerjee was given increment of Rs. 5 per mensem but then he received a letter from one Mr. Booth, manager of the tea estate where it was said that his services were terminated but he would receive one month’s salary in lieu of notice.
On enquiring about the termination of his appointment, it was reasoned due to the incompetency of K.P Banerjee in the medical field. Dr Banerjee’s cause was espoused by Assam Karmachari Sangha and the secretary of Assam Karmachari Sangha wrote a letter asking for the reasons to terminate Dr. Banerjee’s contract. In reply the manager said that the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Cox had found that Dr. Banerjee was incompetent and did not have sufficient knowledge of simple everyday microscopical and laboratory work which befalls the lot of every assistant medical officer in tea garden practice and also he administered a faulty Quinine injection to one of the assistants working there that almost led to the paralysis of his leg.
There were unsuccessful conciliation proceeding of the same and the matter was referred to tripartite appellate board which gave a award to Dr. K.P Banerjee of Rs30610 and re-instatement from the date he was removed. However government felt the need that the case should be heard by the tribunal constituted under section 7 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The case referred under 10 (1) (c) gave rise to two main issues.
Whether the Management of Dimakuchi has justified in terminating K.P Banerjee?
If not, is he entitled to re-instatement or any other lieu thereof?
After both parties submitted their written statements the Tribunal held that Dr. Banerjee being not a “workman”, his case was not one of an “industrial dispute” under the Industrial Disputes Act and his case was therefore beyond the jurisdiction of this Tribunal and the Tribunal has therefore no jurisdiction to give any relief to him. There was then an appeal to the Labor Appellate Tribunal of India, Calcutta which affirmed the decision by the earlier tribunal.
Hence the case was moved to the supreme court under article 136 of the Indian constitution granting for special leave.
In front of the three bench justice- S.R. Das, S.K Das and A.K Sarkar, the word “any person” in section 2 (k) of the industrial disputes Act, 1947 was discussed and opined by the justices in detail. S.R. Das and S.K Das had a similar opinion while A.K had dissenting opinion and allowed the appellants to seek relief under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Anyway in the court of law the majority is given priority and the case was dismissed However while dealing with this issue the court has also thoroughly examined and scrutinized the Act to determine its scope and has laid down the following to be the principal objects of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947:
The promotion of measures for securing and preserving amity and good relations between the employer and workmen.
Investigation and settlement of industrial disputes, between employers and employers, employers and workmen, or workmen and workmen, with a right of representation by a registered trade union or federation of trade unions or association of employers or a federation of associations of employers.
· Prevention of illegal strikes and lock-outs.
· Relief to workmen in the matter of lay-off and retrenchment.
· Promotion of collective bargaining.
· Provide machinery or authority for settlement of industrial disputes.
· Relief to workmen in case of transfer and closure of undertaking.
· Improving service conditions of labor.
Hence after a detailed and careful perusal of the case, we can say that this case highlights and deals with the one of the most indispensable and important labor legislations of the day- Industrial Disputes Act, 1947- its scope, ambit, framework, interpretation and application. The Supreme Court has extensively dealt with the issue raised in this case. Since the concept of labour is one of the most crucial in any society, hence after exhaustive discussions, deliberations, arguments and consensus, the Honourable Court has delivered its judgment which is not only reasonable and fair, but keeps up with the present labour requirements and also upholds the principles of justice, equity and good conscience.
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