Lordship S.VAIDYANATHAN,J full order –a single workman is entitled to raise a dispute, challenging the non- employment against illegal closure, which needs to be decided by the appropriate Labour Court / Tribunal.

W.P.Nos.5360 and 5365 of 2021

and W.M.P.Nos.5958, 5953, 5954 and 5957 of 2021

 

W.P.No.5360 of 2021

 

Swadeshi Panchalai Thozilalar

Urimai Padukappu Sangam

No.23, 1st Floor, Middle Street,

Veeman Nagar, Thilaspet,

Puducherry-605 009

Rep. by its President Mr.K.Mohandass                                                    … Petitioner

 

-vs-

 

  1. The Secretary

Industries and Commerce

Government of Puducherry,

Puducherry.

 

  1. The Secretary (Labour)

Government of Puducherry

Puducherry.

 

  1. M/s.Pondicherry Textile Corporation Ltd.,

A Government of Puducherry Undertaking

AFT Mill Premises, Cuddalore Road,

Pondicherry-605 004.

Rep. by its Director

 

  1. M/s.Swadeshee-Bharathee Textile Mills Ltd.,

A unit of M/s.Swadeshee-Bharathee Textile Mills Ltd.,

A Government of Puducherry Undertaking,

Maraimalai Adigal Salai,

Puducherry-605 004.

Rep. by its Managing Director

 

  1. The Managing Director,

M/s.Swadeshi Cotton Mill

A unit of M/s.Swadeshee-Bharathee Textile Mills Ltd.,

A Government of Puducherry Undertaking,

Maraimalai Adigal Salai,

Puducherry-605 004.

Prayer: to call for records relating to the impugned notice dated 29.09.2020 issued by the 5th Respondent and quash the same and consequently, direct the Respondents to take appropriate steps to make the 5th Respondent Mill operative and pass such further orders.

 

*****

W.P.No.5365 of 2021

 

Sri Bharathi Mills Thozilalar

Urimai Padukappu Sangam

No.23, 1st Floor, Middle Street,

Veeman Nagar, Thilaspet,

Puducherry-605 009

Rep. by its President Mr.K.Mohandass                                                    … Petitioner

-vs-

  1. The Secretary

Industries and Commerce

Government of Puducherry,

Puducherry.

 

  1. The Secretary (Labour)

Government of Puducherry

Puducherry.

 

  1. M/s.Pondicherry Textile Corporation Ltd.,

A Government of Puducherry Undertaking

AFT Mill Premises, Cuddalore Road,

Pondicherry-605 004.

Rep. by its Director

 

  1. M/s.Swadeshee-Bharathee Textile Mills Ltd.,

A unit of M/s.Swadeshee-Bharathee Textile Mills Ltd.,

A Government of Puducherry Undertaking,

Maraimalai Adigal Salai,

Puducherry-605 004.

Rep. by its Managing Director

 

  1. The Managing Director,

M/s.Sri Bharathi Mills

A unit of M/s.Swadeshee-Bharathee Textile Mills Ltd.,

A Government of Puducherry Undertaking,

Maraimalai Adigal Salai,

Puducherry-605 004.

 

Prayer: to call for records relating to the impugned notice dated 29.09.2020 issued by the 5th Respondent and quash the same and consequently, direct the Respondents to take appropriate steps to make the 5th Respondent Mill operative and pass such further orders.

 

******

 

  • S.VAIDYANATHAN,J.,

 

On 27.04.2021, this Court suo motu impleaded Thiru.E.Vallavan, I.A.S., The Secretary to Government (Industries and Commerce), Chief Secretariat, Puducherry, as 6th Respondent in his individual capacity. Mrs.N.Mala, learned Government Pleader (Puducherry) has stated that she filed an affidavit of the 2nd respondent into the Registry this morning, which could not have been tagged along with the bundle, as the bundle has reached my residence yesterday night itself by routine circulation.

 

  1. The contention of the Government is that an application for closure was made on 02.06.2020 and consequent to some defects in the application, it was returned and the same was re-presented on 01.07.2020. Even though the date of closure was mentioned as 01.09.2020 in the application, the actual closure took place only on 30.09.2020. The 2nd Respondent forwarded the application to the Government for conducting enquiry, which was kept in a cold storage and the time of 60 days got automatically lapsed and the closure has come into effect.

 

  1. It is represented by the Government that Workers were re-presented by Union and they are willing to accept the compensation without prejudice to their rights and that the majority have accepted the compensation also. Some of the aforesaid facts are disputed by the Union on the ground that the date of re-submission has to be taken as the date of closure, which has been admitted by the 5th Respondent in Paragraph 5 sub-clause (r) of the counter affidavit and it was also admitted by the Government that no notice of enquiry was issued and they cannot allow the deeming provision to come into force, thereby defeat the claim of Workmen and the Authority has made the application under Section 25(O) of the I.D.Act to become redundant by his inaction.

 

  1. Learned counsel for the Petitioners submitted that the compensation amount in part was directed to be paid after filing of the Writ Petition for which the petitioner produced the Government Order dated 18.03.2021 and that not even a single pie was paid. He further submitted that as the closure is illegal, the Workers are entitled to the entire benefits.

 

  1. Mrs.N.Mala, learned Government Pleader (Puducherry) in reply stated that the petitioner has referred to only one Government Order dated 18.03.2021 and there is yet another Government Order dated 16.11.2020, vide which a portion of the amount has been paid and the said Government Order has been conveniently omitted to be mentioned by the Union and the Workmen. She further stated that though enquiry was not conducted, the Government is willing to settle the amount, which is due as on date so that the issue can be given quietus to and no further financial loss is caused to the Government / Management.

 

  1. Heard the learned counsel on either side in extenso.

 

  1. On consideration of the submissions made by the parties, a detailed adjudication is required in this case with regard to the legal submissions of the parties. In the meanwhile, the Government shall release 50% of the balance amount due to the employees within 15 days, preferably on or before 15.05.2021, so that no estoppal plea would be taken and the Government also cannot take a stand that as major portion of the amount has been paid, nothing survives to be adjudicated further. The amount shall be released without waiting for a copy of this order, as the Secretary to Government (Industries and Commerce) is present virtually to communicate the order. Any amount paid will be without prejudice to the rights of the parties in the Writ Petitions, as the legal issued has got to be answered and it cannot be closed.

 

The contention raised by Mrs.N.Mala, learned Government Pleader (Puducherry) that except a handful of Workmen, all other Workmen have accepted the compensation, knowing very well that the Undertaking suffers loss. This Court makes it clear that a Five Man Committee or Seven workmen can join together, form an Union and raise a dispute, questioning the non-employment on account of illegal closure under Section 2-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, which is maintainable. Even assuming that all the Workmen mentioned supra have been settled, a single workman is entitled to raise a dispute, challenging the non- employment against illegal closure, which needs to be decided by the appropriate Labour Court / Tribunal.

 

  1. It is reiterated that leaving all the issues open and to be decided, without prejudice to the rights of the parties as stated supra, 50% of the balance amount shall be released on or before 15.05.2021. Since some amount is pending to be paid, this Court is not inclined to close these Writ Petitions on the ground that it is only academic. Since the Secretary to Government (Industries and Commerce) is present through virtual mode pursuant to the instruction given by the learned Government Pleader, it is represented that the matter may be listed for hearing on 21.06.2021.

 

  1. List these matters for hearing on 21.06.2021. In the meanwhile, Thiru E.Vallavan, I.A.S., The Secretary to Government (Industries and Commerce) is expected to file a counter affidavit in his individual capacity, as the counter has been filed by him in the official capacity of 2nd Respondent.

 

29.04.2021

 

ar

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