BEFORE THE MADURAI BENCH OF MADRAS HIGH COURT DATED: 21/10/2011 CORAM THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE K.CHANDRU W.P.(MD)No.10113 of 2009 and M.P.(MD)No.1 of 2009 Deputy General Manager, Sterlings Spinners Limited, Rep. by its Deputy General Manager, S.Chandrasekar ... Petitioner Vs 1.The Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Trichy (Dindigul Camp). 2.P.Jaiganesh ... Respondents PRAYER Writ Petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for the issuance of a Writ of Certiorarified Mandamus, to call for the records relating to I.A.No.119 of 2007 in I.D.No.126 of 2003 dated 25.04.2009 on the file of the first respondent and quash the same and consequently, direct the first respondent to set aside the preliminary issue according to law raised by the petitioner. !For Petitioner ... Mr.D.Saravanan ^For Respondent No.1 ... Court For Respondent No.2 ... M/S.D.Geetha ****** :ORDER
The petitioner is the Management of Sterlings Spinners Limited at
P.Pudupatti, represented by its Deputy General Manager. In this Writ Petition,
the challenge is made to a common order passed by the first respondent Labour
Court, Trichy, at its Dindigul Camp, dated 25.04.2009 made in various I.Ds,
starting from I.D.Nos.184 of 2004 and ending with I.D.No.121 of 2007.
2. When the Writ Petition came up for admission on 18.11.2009,
notice of motion was ordered. I.A.No.119 of 2007 in I.D.No.126 of 2003, raised
by the petitioner and the said I.A. was tried along with several I.As. in
various I.Ds., relating to the same petitioner Management and a common order was
passed on 25.04.2009. By the impugned order, the Labour Court held that it is
unnecessary to try any preliminary issue separately and all issues can be
comprehensively tried by the Labour Court at the disposal of the main I.Ds.
3. It is seen from the records that the workmen employed in the
petitioner Mill raised industrial disputes under Section 2(A)(2) of the
Industrial Disputes Act,1947, including the second respondent. The grievance
projected by the workmen was that a general dispute under Section 2(k) was
pending conciliation before the Conciliation Officer and at that time, charges
were framed against the workmen and despite request for postponing the enquiry,
an ex parte enquiry was conducted and they were all dismissed from
service. On the strength of the failure report given by the Conciliation
Officer, claim statements were filed before the Labour Court and the Labour
Court registered the case of the second respondent as I.D.No.126 of 2003 and
notice was ordered to the Management.
4. The Management instead of filing a counter statement, filed an
application stating that the disputes raised by the workmen were not
maintainable. In the interim applications, counter statements were filed by the
workmen contending that their dismissals were unjustified. Since similar interim
applications were filed (as many as 39 applications), they were consolidated and
a common enquiry was conducted. After hearing both sides, the Labour Court held
that it was unnecessary to try any issue as a preliminary issue and all issues
can be comprehensively dealt with at the time of the disposal of the main I.Ds.
In this context, the Labour Court also referred to the judgments of the Supreme
Court reported in 1983 (2) LLJ 425, D.P.Maheswari Vs. Delhi Administration and
others , in 1983 (2) LLJ 429, S.K.Verma Vs. Mahesh Chandra and another (SC)
and in 1996(2) LLJ 125, National Council for Cement and Building Materials Vs.
State of Haryana and others (SC). In the last judgment, the Supreme Court had
observed that the Court cannot shut its eyes to the appalling situation created
by such preliminary issues, which takes long years to settle the issue as the
decision of the Labour Tribunal on the preliminary issue is immediately
challenged in one or other forum including the High Court and proceedings in the
reference are stayed which continue to lie dormant, till the matter relating
to the preliminary issue, is finally disposed of. It is in these circumstances,
the Labour Court refused to accept the plea of the Management for trying
particular issue as the preliminary issue.
5. This Court does not find that any case made out for interfering
with the impugned order. As already referred to the judgments cited supra,
pointed out by the Court below, there is no obligation for the Court to frame
and try a particular issue as a preliminary issue. When the Labour Court had
clearly expressed itself that it would try all issues including the issue raised
by the Management, the matter should have ended therein. It is not open to the
Management to file such a Writ Petition.
6. Further, when the impugned order is a common order, dated
25.04.2009, there is no question of choosing to challenge in respect of one
interim application by the Management. Since the finding rendered by the Labour
Court in respect of other interim applications filed by the Management, is final
and will operate as res judicata against the Management, the present attempt by
the Management in challenging in relation to one application from a common order
is also not permissible.
7. In this context, the Supreme Court while dealing with the filing
of appeals from a common order and in which orders were passed, but were not
appealed against, held that would operate as res judicata vide its Judgment in
K.H.Siraj v High Court of Kerala reported in 2006 (6) SCC 395 and in Paragraph
No.76, it was observed as follows:-
76. One more factor has also to be noticed in regard to the civil appeals
filed by Mr K.H. Siraj which, in our opinion, is also hit by res judicata. His
writ petition in the High Court was OP No. 5219 of 2002. That was partly allowed
without giving him any relief for a direction for appointment. On the other
hand, the High Court set aside the selection of candidates occupying Ranks Nos.
60, 62, 64, 66, 68, and 70. The High Court filed Writ Appeal No. 1496 of 2004
before the Division Bench. Mr K.H. Siraj himself filed WA No. 1584 of 2004
against that part of the impugned judgment which was against him. Candidates
occupying Rank No. 60, etc. who are affected by the judgment had themselves
filed WAs Nos. 1498, 1510, 1526, 1527, 1541, 1588 and 1574 of 2004. All these
appeals filed by the High Court and by these parties were allowed setting aside
the judgment of the learned Single Judge. Mr K.H. Siraj’s appeal (WA No. 1584 of
2004) was dismissed. However, Mr Siraj has chosen to file appeals only against
the decision in WA No. 1496 of 2004 filed by the High Court and WA No. 1584 of
2004 filed by himself and has not chosen to file any appeal against the decision
in the other appeals, WA No. 1498 of 2004, etc. filed by the affected parties.
The decision therein has become final and, therefore, operates as res judicata
and Mr K.H. Siraj’s appeal is to be dismissed as such.
Therefore, the Writ Petition is misconceived and dismissed with costs of
Rs.2,000/- (Rupees two thousand only) payable to the learned counsel for the
second respondent. Consequently, the connected miscellaneous petition is closed.
The Presiding Officer,
Trichy (Dindigul Camp).