The law relating to labour and employment in India is primarily known under the broad category of “Industrial Law”. Industrial law in this country is of recent vintage and has developed in respect to the vastly increased awakening of the workers of their rights, particularly after the advent of Independence.
There is no provision for appeal against such awards and the same can only be challenged by way of writ under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India before the concerned High Court or before the Supreme Court by way of appeal under special leave under Article 136 of the Constitution of India.
However before the provisions of the Act, 1947 may become applicable certain pre-requisite conditions must exist.
1. The dispute must relate to an ‘Industry’;
2. Section 2(j) of the Industrial Dispute Act gives a comprehensive definition of ‘industry’. The definition of industry in this clause is both exhaustive and inclusive and is quite comprehensive in its scope. It is in two parts, the first part says that ‘it means any business, trade, undertaking, manufacture or calling of employees and then goes on to say that it, includes any calling, services employment, handicraft or industrial occupation or avocation or workmen.
This definition has undergone variegated judicial interpretation. In case of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board Vs. A. Rajagappa [(1978) 1 LLJ 349] a 7 judges bench of the Supreme Court has given the widest possible meaning of the term ‘industry’ which virtually covers almost all organized activities under the ambit of the term ‘industry’. After the decision of the Supreme Court in Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board case the question to be asked is not what is an industry, but what is not an industry.A very sensible and pragmatic definition of the term ‘industry’ has been attempted in the Industrial Relations Bill of 1978. With the dissolution of the Parliament in 1979 the Bill lapsed.
The definition has been amended by the Parliament in the Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Act, 1982 with new definition of industry in Section 2(j). However the amendment has yet to be brought into force. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive and practical definition of the ‘industry’.
3. Under this Act an Industrial Dispute can be raised only by ‘workman’ employed in an ‘industry’. Section 2(s) of the Act defines ‘workman’, which means any person employed including an apprentice, in any industry to do any skilled, unskilled, manual, clerical, supervisory or technical work for hire or reward, whether the terms of employment be expressed or implied. The definition of workman under the Act also includes any person who has been dismissed, discharged or retrenched in connection with or as a consequence of any dispute. However, in this regard it is not the nomenclature or designation of the employee but the actual nature of duties performed by him/her that will determine the status of such employees.
In India even the Pilots and Engineers of aircraft have been covered under the definition of workman although in terms of their salary and wages and authority they exercise, by no stretch of imagination, they can be equated with labour and working force of the industry. In some cases, even doctors have been recognized as workman as they perform technical or skilled job. This area of the definition of workman requires an urgent legislative modification. Stressing the need for recasting the definition of workman, the Second National Labour Commission recommended as follows.
“Relatively better off section of employees categorized as workmen like Airlines Pilots, etc, do not merely carry out instructions from superior authority but are also required and empowered to take various kinds of on the spot decisions in various situations and particularly in exigencies. Their functions therefore, cannot merely be categorized as those of ordinary workmen.
4. The dispute must be an ‘Industrial Dispute’. Section 2(k) of the Act defines ‘Industrial Dispute’ and only disputes covered under the definition can be referred for conciliation or adjudication under the Act. The definition of ‘Industrial Dispute’ in section 2(k), can be divided into two parts viz :
1. Dispute or difference
between employer and employers
Between Employer and workman
Between Workman and workman
2. Subject matter of dispute.
Connected with the employment or non-employment
The terms of employment
With the condition of labour.
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