Bharat Earth Movers Limited And … vs Union Of India And Ors. on 9 November, 2001

Karnataka High Court
Bharat Earth Movers Limited And … vs Union Of India And Ors. on 9 November, 2001
Equivalent citations: 2002 (1) KarLJ 588
Author: R Gururajan
Bench: R Gururajan


R. Gururajan, J.

1. Bharat Earth Movers Limited and its officials are before this Court in W.P. Nos. 31454 to 31458 of 1999 for a writ of mandamus declaring that the notification bearing S.O. No. 779(E), dated 9-12-1976 issued by
Union of India, is invalid and inoperative. Petitioners are also seeking writ of prohibition forbearing Hon’ble Magistrate from proceeding with the criminal proceedings in complaint No. 14460 of 1999 before the VI Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Nrupatunga Road, Bangalore, C.C. No. 22367/9 before the X Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Mayo Hall (complaint yet to be numbered) before the Additional Judicial Magistrate, CH No. 2 and C.C. No. 816 of 1999 before the Judicial Magistrate First Class, KGF and quash the said proceedings and pass such further or other orders as this Hon’ble Court deem fit in the circumstances of the case, in addition to awarding costs.

2. Petitioner is a public sector having its registered corporate office at S.R. Nagar, Bangalore. Petitioner has three factories and the petitioner 2-employer notified under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 to the respondent 2. Petitioners 3 and 4 are designated employers to the factories at Bangalore and Mysore, respectively. The factories of the petitioners are registered under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act (for short “Act”), before the State Labour Commissioner with Registration No. AIC:B-II/CL/2/75-76, dated 4-2-1976 and No. CLA/RC/Mys/3/84-85, dated 27-9-1984. Petitioner 2 for a similar registration under the Regional Labour Commissioner No. being 7/99-C4/Reg., dated 29-7-1999. They also have factory licence under the Factories Act. Petitioners say that they are covered under the provisions of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act. After the pronouncement of judgment by the Supreme Court in Air India Statutory Corporation v. United Labour Union and Ors., the petitioner was advised by the Regional Labour Commissioner (Central), Bangalore that the petitioners should obtain a fresh registration from the Central Labour Department. Petitioners obtained a second Registration Certificate. Contractors have also filed applications for licences even though they had licences earlier from the State Government under the Act.

3. Petitioners say that notification bearing No. S.O. 779(E), dated 9-12-1976 was issued by the Central Government in terms of Section 10 of the Act. Petitioners say that they were all along under the jurisdiction of the State Government for implementation of the Act. Therefore, they bona fide, believe that the Central Government notification would not apply to them. The Supreme Court in the Air India Statutory Corporation’s case, supra, took a view that in respect of Central Government Public Sector Undertaking, Central Government would be the appropriate Government. In the light of this judgment the respondent 2 issued show-cause notice to petitioners dated 19-2-1999. In the notice it was stated that the petitioners had violated the said notification and cause was to be shown by them as to why they should not be prosecuted for non-compliance with the notification. Replies were filed by the petitioners in terms of Annexure-B series and C. The Regional Labour Commissioner convened a meeting and it was held in his office on 25-2-1999. Petitioners took some time to consider the legal implication. In the
meanwhile respondent 2 launched criminal proceedings for violating the provisions of the Act. Petitioners are questioning the initiation of these proceedings and also the notification in the light of above referred facts.

4. Heard Sri Kasturi, learned Senior Counsel for the petitioners, Mr. M.C. Narasimhan, learned Senior Counsel for respondent 3 and Sri Hariprasad, learned Central Government Standing Counsel.

5. Matter is heard for final disposal.

6. Similar matters are also posted and ail the matters are heard together. Since similar facts/legal issues are involved in the connected cases, a common order is passed.

7. Mr. Kasturi, learned Senior Counsel submits that the points involved in this case are no longer res Integra in the light of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Steel Authority of India Limited and Ors. v. National Union Waterfront Workers and Ors. Counsel says that this notification has been specifically struck down by the Supreme Court and therefore he says that appropriate orders may be issued by this Court in the present case. Contesting Counsels also admit that the said notification is quashed.

8. After hearing the Counsels I have perused the materials placed before me in the light of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Steel Authority of India Limited’s case, supra.

9. Admitted facts reveal that the petitioners are being prosecuted for violation of a notification dated 9-12-1976 issued by the Central Government. The very said notification was the subject-matter of a dispute before the Supreme Court in the case of Steel Authority of India Limited, supra. The Supreme Court in an elaborate judgment has noticed the validity of this notification. The Supreme Court has overruled its earlier decision in the case of Air India Statutory Corporation, supra,. The Apex Court in para 124 has quashed this very notification which reads as under:

“(b) Inasmuch as the impugned notification issued by the Central Government on December 9, 1976 does not satisfy the aforesaid requirements of Section 10, it is quashed but we do so prospectively i.e., from the date of this judgment and subject to the clarification that on the basis of this judgment no order passed or no action taken giving effect to the said notification on or before the date of this judgment, shall be called in Question in any Tribunal or Court including a High Court if it has otherwise attained finality and/or it has been implemented”.

10. In the light of the said pronouncement of the Supreme Court the first and second prayer are fully answered by the Supreme Court. In the light of the judgment of the Apex Court there is no need for this Court to issue any further direction with regard to this notification. There is also
no necessity of issuing any further direction in the light of the quashing of the notification by the Apex Court.

11. Insofar as 3rd prayer regarding pending criminal proceedings arc concerned I am of the view that the same does not survive in the light of the Apex Court judgment. Material facts reveal that proceedings are initiated by the Central Government for violation of the notification dated 9-12-1976 by way of show-cause notice. The present pending proceedings before the Criminal Courts are also with regard to alleged violation notification dated 9-12-1976.

12. In the light of the judgment of the Apex Court no useful purpose would be served by allowing the Criminal Courts to continue the proceedings in the peculiar circumstances of this case. Nothing services for consideration in the light of the quashing of the notification by the Apex Court.

13. In these circumstances I deem it proper to accept the prayer 3 on the peculiar facts of this case. These petitions are allowed. The prayers 1 and 2 has already been granted by the Supreme Court and therefore no further directions are necessary at the hands of this Court. Prayer 3 is accepted and grantee!. The respective Criminal Courts in each of this case are directed to close the proceedings in the light of the orders of the Apex Court and not to proceed further in each one of the cases. Ordered accordingly. No costs.

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