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Supreme Court of India
G.B. Pant University Of … vs Vsstate Of Uttar Pradesh & Ors on 10 August, 2000
Author: Banerjee
Bench: S.B. Majumdar, J., Umesh C. Banerjee, J.
           PETITIONER:
G.B.  PANT UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE & TECHNOLOGY, PANTNAGAR,

	Vs.

RESPONDENT:
VSState of Uttar Pradesh & Ors.

DATE OF JUDGMENT:	10/08/2000

BENCH:
S.B.  Majumdar, J.  & Umesh C.	Banerjee, J.




JUDGMENT:

BANERJEE, J.

L….I……….T…….T…….T…….T…….T…….T..J
Redressal of grievances of the Cafeteria workers in
Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and
Technology, Nanital by reason of an award of the Presiding
Officer, Labour Court, Haldwani, Uttar Pradesh and
subsequent confirmation thereof by the High Court prompted
the University to move this Court in Appeal against the
same.

G.B. Pant Univerisity of Agriculture and technology
established under U.P. Agricultural University Act, 1958
happens to be a residential University having about 14
hostels to provide accommodation to the students and a
Cafeteria to provide food services to the residents of the
hostels and others. There are about 170 employees working
in these Cafeterias and these are the employees who claim
regularisation of the services as regular employees of the
University which, however, stands negated by the University
authority. The records depict that by reason of refusal to
accept such a claim, the disputes were referred under two
separate References in terms of Section 4(k) of the Uttar
Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act in November 1991 which were
registered as Reference No.141 of 1991 and 142 of 1991. The
Labour Court upon acceptance of the claim of the employees
in no uncertain terms found the entitlement of the employees
of Cafeteria and declared the latter to be the regular
employees of the University from the date of the award and
held entitled to receive the same salary and other benefits
as the other regular employees of the University. The
University however, being aggrieved by the award moved two
Writ Petitions by way of challenges to the two awards under
Article 226 of the Constitution. The High Court also on a
detailed scrutiny of the Regulations and other materials on
record dismissed the Writ Petitions with an observation that
the impugned award of the Labour Court are perfectly
justified in the facts and circumstances of the case and do
not suffer from any error of law. It is this order which is
under challenge in this Appeal being Civil Appeal No.13087
of 1996 and 13089 of 1996 (G.B.Pant University of
Agriculture and Technology, Nainital Vs. State of Uttar
Pradesh and Others).

There cannot possibly be any doubt that socialistic
concept of the society as laid down in Part III and IV of
the Constitution ought to be implemented in the true spirit
of the Constitution. Decisions are there of this Court
galore wherein this Court on more occasions than one stated
that democratic socialism aims to end poverty, ignorance,
disease and inequality of opportunity. In D.S.Nakaras case
(1983 1 SCC 305) as also lately in Secretary, H.S.E.B. v.
Suresh & Ors.
etc. etc. (1999 3 SCC 601), the same has
been well pronounced and we need not dilate on that score
any further.

Mr. Trivedi, the learned Additional Solicitor General
appearing in support of the Appeals rather strongly
contended that the High Court has totally misconstrued the
Regulations framed under the Statute pertaining to the
Hostel and Cafeteria (Hostel and Cafeteria Regulations under
U.P.Agriculture University Act, 1958) and rather after a
longish narration of the Regulations contended that it is
not the University which has any control over the employees
of the Cafeteria but the Food Committee which has specific
role in the matter of management and control of the
cafeteria and since there exists no evidence whatsoever on
record that the employees working in the cafeteria were
appointed by the University in accordance with the
provisions contained in the Act or the statute framed
thereunder, question of there being any master – servant
relationship would not arise. It is in this context also it
has been contended by Mr. Additional Solicitor that there
is no budgetary allocation provided in the University Budget
to meet the expenses on account of the salaries of the
Cafeteria employees and as such, question of the Cafeteria
employees being termed to be the employees of the University
would not arise. Strong reliance was placed on the decision
of this Court in All India Railway Institute Employees
Association v. Union of India ( 1990 2 SCC 549) wherein
this Court observed:

12. By their very nature further the services of the
Institutes/Clubs are availed of beyond working hours only.
It is common knowledge that not all members of the railway
staff avail of them. One has to be a member to do so by
paying fees. The membership is also optional. That is why
most of the staff employed in the Institutes/Clubs is part
time. As has been stated by the respondents, out of about
1741 employees engaged in 499 Institutes and 332 Clubs
nearly half are part time employees. The services rendered
by the employees are not of a uniform nature. They are
engaged for different services with different service
conditions according to the requirement. The
Institutes/Clubs further do not engage in uniform
activities, the activities conducted by them varying
depending upon the infrastructure and the facilities
available at the respective places.

13. What is more important as far as the issue
involved in this petition is concerned, is that the
provisions of the Institutes/Clubs is not mandatory. They
are established as a part of the welfare measure for the
railway staff and the kind of activities they conduct
depend, among other things, on the funds available to them.
The activities have to be tailored to the budgets since by
their very nature the funds are not only limited but keep on
fluctuating. If the costs of the activities go beyond the
means, they have to be curtailed. So also, while starting a
new activity, it is necessary to take into account its
financial implications and the capacity of the
Institute/Club to raise the necessary funds. The only
varying component of the funds is the membership fee which
is uncertain.

The facts of the matter under consideration are rather
a pointer to the material difference between the canteens
run in the Railways Establishment and that of the Railway
Institute and Clubs. This Court on a very poignant note
observed that canteen services are no longer looked upon as
a mere welfare activity but as an essential requirement
where sizeable number of employees work, this Court went on
to record that the same however, cannot be said to be of
Institutes and Clubs.

While the Appellants contention is, as noticed above,
the Respondents contended that the under the provisions of
the Act and Statute, it is obligatory on the students to
reside in hostel and avail of food services and there being
an obligation to provide food services to the inmates of the
hostel, the Cafeteria is maintained and the obligations of
the University cannot be run down. Mr. Gupta, the learned
Advocate appearing for the Respondent No.3 strenuously
contended that there is per se a statutory and legal
obligation and the University authorities are under a duty
to maintain residential accommodation, promote the health
and welfare of the students, make housing and messing
arrangement and the existence of Cafeteria together with its
staff members cannot but be a part of such accommodation and
arrangements. Strong reliance has also been placed on the
Regulations for their true purport, scope and effect. We
find substance in the submission of Mr. Gupta. A perusal
of the Regulations as framed under the statute (U.P.
Agricultural University Act) unmistakably depict that the
twin conventional tests of implicit obligation and factors
of over all control and supervision by the University stands
satisfied and the legal responsibility cannot be shifted to
the students as is sought to be contended. Reliance by Mr.
Trivedi on to the Regulations 48,49,64,65,67,68,69,78,86,92
and 93 though apparently may have some relevance pertaining
to the issue, but reading the Regulations as a whole, it
cannot be doubted that the same are only framed for moral,
persuasive and democratic reasons so as to involve the
students and to elicit their views, suggestions and ensure
their participation in mutual exercise of co-operation. We,
however, feel it expedient to quote herein below a few of
the Regulations which would unmistakably depict total
control of the University in the matter of running and
maintenance of the Cafeteria and the same being as below:

54. It shall be compulsory for each student residing
in a hostel to join the cafeteria of that hostel unless
otherwise permitted by the Chief Warden of the hostel on the
request of the guardian of the student, and the
recommendation of the Warden of that hostel to take food
with his guardian. In that event the Chief Warden shall
inform all concerned officers of the University, for
example, Comptroller, Dean Student Welfare, Hostel Warden,
etc.

76. The Comptroller of the University shall operate
the G.B.P.U.A. Food Services Account, issue cheques,
maintain the cash book and classified accounts
(unitwise/head wise) of income and expenditure as well as
students ledgers in his office like other accounts of the
University. In addition to arranging timely payment of the
Cafeteria bills duly authorised by the Warden and ensuring
recovery of all Cafeteria dues from the students and staff
members concerned the Comptroller shall be responsible for
getting the Cafeteria accounts audited Cent- Percent
regularly.

80. The accounts Clerk-Cum-Store Keeper of the hostel
Cafeteria shall be responsible for the proper and up-to-date
maintenance of the Cafeteria stores, Stores records and
account books including daily menu book, cash book,
consumable stock book, daily preparation and sales register,
cash credit and coupon transaction register, Stores day book
(Roznamcha) indents, challans, bill register, daily sales
sheets, Cash memo book bill book etc. under the direct
supervision, control and guidance of the Hostel Manager.
His functions and duties shall be as follows:

..

82. The other cafeteria staff including tea man,
Head-Cook, Bearers, etc. shall work in accordance with the
instructions of the Hostel Manager/Warden. The duties of
these staff members shall be defined/prescribed by the
Warden of the Hostel.

88. The accounts of the Wardens Office (bills and
vouchers) shall be taken by the Hostel Manager to the Office
of the Comptroller for scrutiny and checking.

92. The entire Cafeteria staff shall work under the
direct supervision of the Warden/Asstt. Warden in
accordance with the advise of the Food Committee and under
the administrative control of the Chief Warden. All cases
of appointments, termination of service and other
punishments and promotions, rewards etc. shall be dealt
with by the Chief Warden in consultation with the Warden and
the Food Committee.

93. (i) All the appointment of Cafeteria staff would
be made by the Food Committee of the hostel with the
approval of the Chief Warden.

(ii) The leave, annual increments, unifrom, travelling
allowance etc. to the Cafeteria staff shall be governed in
accordance with the policies laid down by the Central Food
Committee.

106. (i) The bills/vouchers/imprest/temporary advance
adjustment accounts and monthly food accounts duly passed by
the respective Food Secretary/Chairman, Food Committee to
their entire satisfaction and entered in the Food Provision
control Registrar shall be sent to Comptroller directly for
the scrutiny and payment/adjustment/recovery of dues
expeditiously. The Wardens, Hostel Managers and the
respective Food Secretaries will be fully responsible for
making stock entries of all purchases made in respect of
their Hostels. The payment will be made only if a
certificate in the following form is given on the bill
(rubber stamp for which could be got made for convenience).

Certified that the goods as per specification have
been received and entered in the stock books.

(ii) The Warden shall have full financial and
administrative control of their Hostel Cafeteria funds and
be responsible for up-to-date maintenance of accounts books
and submission of bills/vouchers/adjustment accounts, the
preparation of monthly food accounts and submission of
monthly recovery lists accurately within the time and
according to the procedure prescribed in the Hostel
Cafeteria Regulations. The Wardens/Hostel Managers/Food
Secretary concerned will be fully responsible for checking
of rates charged in the bills and payments will be
authorised on the basis of the Certification.

107. (i) Similarly, the preparation of vouchers for
adjustment account of temporary advances and re-coupment of
the permanent advance shall be done by the Accounts
Clerk-Cum-Store Keeper/Hostel Manager which shall be checked
and signed by the food Secretary, Warden expeditiously and
the Warden shall ensure that no cash is drawn and retained
by the Hostel Cafeteria when it is not required for its
immediate expenditure.

109. The Hostel Cafeterias Accounts Clerk cum
Store-Keeper shall be responsible to Warden/Chief Warden on
the one hand and on the other be also responsible to the
Comptroller for correctness of the Cafeteria accounts.

The detailed analysis as above has been introduced in
this judgment so as to exhibit the control of the University
in the matter of running of the Cafeteria. As noticed
above, a residential University having a canteen facility
and the inmates of the hostel not being permitted to have
food from outside cannot possibly be said to be a mere
welfare service to the students. It is a requirement of the
Regulations framed under the Act and thus having statutory
sanction and force the issue thus comes up for
consideration as to whether it is a mere ancillary benefit
conferred on to the inmates of the hostel or an essential
requirement. The Regulations pertaining to the hostel
accommodation and the supplies of food do not warrant any
other conclusion than to treat it as an essential
requirement so far as the inmates of the hostel are
concerned. The involvement of the Vice-Chancellor, the
Warden and the Food Managers who admittedly all belong to
the University as employees thereof cannot negate the cry of
the labour force asking for a parity in their scale of pay.
Regularisation will undoubtedly bring forth a parity with
the other employees of the University. The requirement of
the number of employees also cannot be brushed aside. More
than 175 employees are required for the purpose of providing
food to the inmates of the hostels there are altogether 14
hostels and the inmates have to depend on to the Cafeteria
for their food service since nobody else can, as a matter of
fact, avoid the needs of the Cafeteria it is a requirement
of the Regulation.

Admittedly, Cafeteria employees need succour for
livelihood would they continue to remain half fed and half
clad as long as they live is this is the society that we
feel proud of: Is this the guarantee provided by the
founding fathers of our Constitution or is this the concept
of socialism which they conceived? None of the answers can
possibly be in the affirmative. The situation is rather
awesome and deplorable the University by compulsion
directs students to be residents of hostel with a definite
ban on having food from outside agencies excepting under
special circumstances and the provider of food, namely the
staff of the Cafeteria ought not to be treated as an
employee of the University whose employees they are if we
may ask and we think it would not be impertinent on our part
to ask the same is it the consumer of food? Since when
the consumer of food becomes the employer? These are the
questions which remain unanswered: The society shall have
to thrive: The society shall have to prosper and this
prosperity can only come in the event of there being a wider
vision for total social good and benefit: It is not
bestowing any favour to anybody but it is a mandatory
obligation to see that the society thrives. The deprivation
of the weaker section we had for long but time has now come
to cry halt and it is for the law courts to rise up to the
occasion and grant relief to a seeker of a just cause and
just grievance. Economic justice is not a mere legal jargon
but in the new millenium, it is the obligation for all to
confer this economic justice to a seeker: Society is to
remain, social justice is the order and economic justice is
the rule of the day. Narrow pedantic approach to statutory
documents no longer survives. The principle of corporate
jurisprudence is now being imbibed on to industrial
jurisprudence and there is a long catena of cases in regard
thereto the law thus is not in a state of fluidity since
the situation is more or less settled. As regards
interpretation widest possible amplitude shall have to be
offered in the matter of interpretation of statutory
documents under industrial jurisprudence. The draconian
concept is no longer available. Justice social and
economic, as noticed above ought to be made available with
utmost expedition so that the socialistic pattern of the
society as dreamt of by the founding fathers can thrive and
have its foundation so that the future generation do not
live in the dark and cry for social and economic justice.

We can in this context, usefully record the
observations of this Court in Parimal Chandra Raha & Ors.
v. Life Insurance Corporation of India & Ors.
(J.T. 1995 3
SC 288) wherein this Court in paragraph 31 of the Report
observed:

31. The facts on record on the other hand, show in
unmistakable terms that canteen services have been provided
to the employees of the Corporation for a long time and it
is the Corporation which has been from time to time, taking
steps to provide the said services. The canteen committees,
the cooperative society of the employees and the contractors
have only been acting for and on behalf of the Corporation
as its agencies to provide the said services. The
Corporation has been taking active interest even in
organising the canteen committees. It is further the
Corporation which has been appointing the contractors to run
the canteens and entering into agreements with them for the
purpose. The terms of the contract further show that they
are in the nature of directions to the contractor about the
manner in which the canteen should be run and the canteen
services should be rendered to the employees. Both the
appointment of the contractor and the tenure of the contract
is as per the stipulations made by the Corporation in the
agreement. Even the prices of the items served, the place
where they should be cooked, the hours during which and the
place where they should be served, are dictated by the
Corporation. The Corporation has also reserved the right to
modify the terms of the contract unilaterally and the
contractor has no say in the matter. Further, the records
shows that almost all the workers of the canteen like the
appellants have been working in the canteen continuously for
a long time whatever the mechanism employed by the
Corporation to supervise and control the working of the
canteen. Although the supervising and managing body of the
canteen has changed hands from time to time, the workers
have remained constant. This is apart from the fact that
the infrastructure for running the canteen, viz, the
premises, furniture, electricity, water etc. is supplied by
the Corporation to the managing agency for running the
canteen. Further, it cannot be disputed that the canteen
service is essential for the efficient working of the
employees and of the offices of the Corporation. In fact,
by controlling the hours during which the counter and floor
service will be made available to the employees by the
canteen, the Corporation has also tried to avoid the waste
of time which would otherwise be the result if the employees
have to go outside the offices in search of such services.
The service is available to all the employees in the
premises of the office itself and continuously since
inception of the Corporation, as pointed out earlier. The
employees of the Corporation have all along been making the
complaints about the poor or inadequate service rendered by
the canteen to them, only to the Corporation and the
Corporation has been taking steps to remedy the defects in
the canteen service. Further, whenever there was a
temporary breakdown in the canteen service, on account of
the agitation or of strike by the canteen workers, it is the
Corporation which has been taking active interest in getting
the dispute resolved and the canteen workers have also
looked upon the Corporation as their real employer and
joined it as a party to the industrial dispute raised by
them. In the circumstances, we are of the view that the
canteen has become a part of the establishment of the
Corporation. The canteen committees, the cooperative
society of the employees and the contractors engaged from
time to time are in reality the agencies of the Corporation
and are, only a veil between the Corporation and the canteen
workers. We have, therefore, no hesitation in coming to the
conclusion that the canteen workers are in fact the
employees of the Corporation.

The Regulations if read on the lines as noticed
hereinbefore lead to unmistakable conclusion that the
employees of the Cafeteria cannot but be termed to be the
employees of the University. It is on this score the High@@
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Court in the judgment impugned observed as below: The@@
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learned counsel also assailed the findings of the Labour
Court on the question of relationship of master and servant.
I have perused the findings and in my opinion this
contention is also not correct. The Labour Court has
referred to various documents, appointment letters, transfer
orders which clearly demonstrate the control of the
University over the Cafeteria staff. The documents have
been fully corroborated by oral evidence. No evidence was
adduced on behalf of the University to controvert this
documentary and oral evidence. In these facts and
circumstances, it cannot be said that the findings suffer
from any error of law. The relationship of employer and the
employees between the University and the Cafeteria staff is
established from the provisions contained in the Act, the
Statutes and the Regulations framed thereunder and also by
the documentary and oral evidence filed before the Labour
Court. The claim raised by the members of the Cafeteria
staff in the two cases has rightly been accepted. The
impugned awards of the Labour Court are perfectly justified
in the facts and circumstances of the case and do not suffer
from my error of law.

In a faint attempt Mr. Trivedi wanted to introduce a
pragmatic approach to the problem and contended that the law
courts should consider the matter from different angles
applying practical experience and factual contexts before
arriving at the solution. It has been contended that the
financial implications would be rather much too heavy on the
University to be borne by it and unless State assistance is
made available, it would a well neigh impossibility to meet
the burden, we are, however, unable to record our
concurrence thereto. Pragmatism does not necessarily be
deprivation of the legitimate claims of the weaker sections
of the society. The submission, if we may say with respect,
is totally misplaced and does not warrant any further
discussion thereon. In that view of the matter, we do not
see any merit in these two appeals. The appeals are
dismissed. All interim orders are vacated. The University
is directed to regularise the services of the employees in
terms of the award passed by the Labour Court by 31st
August, 2000 so as to entitle the employees of the Cafeteria
to obtain the monthly wages at par with the other employees
of the University, as directed by the labour court. The
arrears of salary, if there be any payable, as per the said
directions, as confirmed by the High Court, be paid to the
canteen staff concerned by 12 equal monthly instalments
alongwith the regularised salary.

The learned additional Solicitor General submitted that
once the Cafeteria staff employees are held to be direct
employees of the University, then the University, in
exercise of its entrepreneurial or managerial functions, can
constitute a separate cadre of Cafeteria staff employees
with suitable hierarchy of posts in the said cadre with
separate pay scales as would be commensurate with the other
perquisites and facilities available to all such staff under
the relevant regulations framed by the University. We are
not concerned with this aspect of the matter in the present
proceedings, as such we are not expressing any opinion
thereon excepting recording that the parties would be at
liberty to take appropriate steps in accordance with law.
The appeals are accordingly dismissed with no order as to
costs.


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