[Case Brief] National Kamgar Union v/s Kran Rader Pvt. Ltd. & Others, 2018

Case National Kamgar Union v/s Kran Rader Pvt. Ltd. & Others
Case Number Civil Appeal Number 20 of 2018
CourtSupreme Court of India
BenchJustice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice R.K. Agrawal
Author of the judgmentJustice Abhay Manohar Sapre
Decided OnJanuary 5, 2018
Relevant Act/SectionsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1997- Sections 25FFA, Chapter VB
Author of the briefLavanya Gupta

Brief Facts and Procedural History:

Members of National Kamgar Union were working in Kran Raders Pvt. Ltd. In 1990, Kran Raders Pvt. Ltd. suffered huge losses and decided to shut down their manufacturing unit permanently where the National Kamgar Union members worked. Kran Raders Pvt. Ltd. issued notice of closure to the Maharashtra State Government under Section 25 FFA of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 with a copy to National Kamgar Union stating the firm’s intention to close the operation of unit on expiry of 60 days w.e.f 29.10.1990. National Kamgar Union filed complaint against Kran Raders Pvt. Ltd. under Section 28 read with Items 9 and 10 of the Schedule IV of the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practises Act, 1971 in Industrial Court at Pune. The Court gave its judgement in favour of National Kamgar Union and held that Kran Raders Pvt. Ltd. employed 115 workers at their unit and so failed to comply with the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act. Kran Raders Pvt. Ltd. filed a writ petition before Bombay High Court and the Industrial Court’s award was set aside.  High Court held that only 99 workers had been employed hence no provisions of law had been violated. National Kamgar Union appealed in Supreme Court.

Issues before the Court of Law:

  • Whether the 36 men, apart from the 79 workers, working at Kran Raders Pvt. Ltd. can be given the status of a “worker”?
  • Whether the Bombay High Court exceeded its jurisdictional limits given under Article 227 of the Indian Constitution when it revised the number of “workers” working at the unit?

Ratio of the Court:

No, not all the 36 men, apart from the 79 workers, working at Kran Raders Pvt. Ltd. can be termed as “workers”. The number of workers employed by the firm is a question of fact as well as a question of law. As per precedents, Supreme Court would not interfere with conclusions of Tribunals unless it is satisfied that the conclusion is erroneous. Yet, in this case Supreme Court looked through all evidence and agreed with High Court’s finding that Kran Raders Pvt. Ltd. employed only 99 “workers”, i.e., only 20 out of the 36 men were workers. As National Kamgar Union did not give any substantial evidence to prove that the rest 16 men were also “workers”, their claim was not admitted. Though National Kamgar Union contended that the Industrial Court was more plausible, the Trade Union could not produce any cogent evidence and hence, lost. With regards to the question involving exercise of jurisdictional powers by the High Court, it has been well observed time and again that the High Court is duty-bound to see that subordinate Court has exercised its powers in accordance with law and did not commit any errors. In this case, when High Court found that the subordinate Court failed to take into consideration all evidence, it exercised its supervisory jurisdiction as given under Article 227 of the Indian Constitution and interfered. Thus Bombay High Court did not oust its jurisdictional powers in any way.

Decision Held:

The Industrial Court had erroneously given a conclusion and so it was correct of the Bombay High Court in re-examining the evidence and giving the right judgement. The Supreme Court affirmed the Bombay High Court’s decision and held that Kran Raders Pvt. Ltd. had employed only 99 workers and thus complied with all the necessary legal provisions. The Court also held that just and proper compensation be given to the workers who filed the suit and did not accept the compensation as first offered by Kran Raders Pvt. Ltd.




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