[Case Brief] S. Thilagavathi v/s The Presiding Officer – Madras High Court

Case nameS. Thilagavathi v/s The Presiding Officer
Case numberW.A.Nos.1375 & 1376/2007
CourtMadras High Court
BenchJustice P. Jyothimani and Justice Aruna Jagadeeshan
Author of the judgmentJustice Aruna Jagadeeshan
Decided OnMay 12, 2009
Author of the case briefAditya Gor

Facts concerning the dispute

Madurai Children Aids society is a society registered under the Societies Registration Act. The appellant was working as an assistant matron there. Owing to her misconduct and misbehavior, her services were thus terminated. This termination was challenged by her and thus an industrial dispute arose between her and the employer.

Issue

Whether Madurai Aid society is an ‘industry’ under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1956?

Procedural history

It was held by the Labour court that Madurai Children Aid Society is an Industry under the 1956 Act. Thus the Labour Court ordered reinstatement of the appellant. Against this, an appeal was made before the Learned Single Judge who held that Madurai Children Aids Society is not an industry for the following reasons-

  • It carries a governmental function which is not related to trade/business.
  • It does not carry out any economic activity it only promotes physical and mental health of children.
  • Appellant was engaged to take care of the children and she cannot be termed as a workman.

Ratio of the Judge-

On the basis of the activities of the Society, it can be held that they are carrying out systematic activities and that there are joint efforts being made by the employer and employee for achieving human necessities. The court was of the opinion that two types of charitable institutions can be termed as an industry-

  1. When the enterprise yields profit but they are siphoned off for altruistic objects;
  2. Where an institution makes no profit, but it hires the employees, and the output generated is sold at low or no cost to the indigent needy

Merely because a Society is run by Government, it will not be exempted from the definition of Industry. Moreover, the appellant in the present case also does supervisory/clerical work.

The decision of the court-

The Society in question is thus an industry and the appellant is a workman under the Act of 1956.

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