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Salient Features of The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947

During the 18th- 20th century, a new branch of jurisprudence known as industrial jurisprudence has developed across the world and subsequently in our country. Industrial jurisprudence is of great importance to all developed or developing countries of the world because it is concerned with the study of problems related to human relations arising out of a large scale development of factory system which has emerged in consequence of industrial revolution Proper regulation of employer-employee relationship is a condition precedent for planned, progressive and purposeful development of any society.

Welfare in industry can be achieved only if there is healthy understanding between employers, workers and the Government. There can be no growth of the industrial structure unless workers and employers realize their mutual responsibilities. Labour welfare has special significance in India where the Constitution itself enjoins the promotion of humane conditions of work and securing to all workers full employment of leisure and social as well as cultural opportunities.

With the advent of mechanical inventions came the industrial friction and unrest. Thus the modern industrialization has brought blessings as well as inherent evils to society. The immediate victims of these evils are the workers employed in the industries. Their efforts to eradicate such evils lead to serious disputes and conflicts with the employers. The outbreak of such disputes and conflicts is sometimes accompanied by a stoppage in the working of some parts of economic machinery.

Industrial relations play an important role in the establishment and maintenance of industrial democracy. Industrial democracy cannot succeed unless all concerned- workers, employers, Government and public- fully realise its importance and its due place in the national life.

Industrial workers in India had to go through these stages of privation for many decades. World War-I brought a new awakening among the working class. The prevailing economic misery was aggravated which led to generation of a feeling of class consciousness amongst the working class.

Workers resorted to strikes and employers retaliated by declaring lock-outs. Industrial peace was thus violently disturbed. A need was felt, to enact legislations and statutes that could curb the increasing differences between the employer class and the working class.
After independence it was largely felt that the labour policy must emphasize upon self-reliance on the part of workers.

Since independence till 1954, the period when Shri V.V. Giri was the Labour Minister, all official pronouncements emphasized that labour should become self-reliant. An equally forceful approach had been to prefer reliance upon the Government, thus, establishing the concept of Tripartism. As per the system, the Government paid reliance on three-party approach, namely, the trade union representing the workmen, the employers, and the Government. The Five-Year Plans have also placed particular emphasis on measures for the welfare of the workers and on the industrialization of India. The Government has accepted the establishment of a welfare state, with economic policies based on the socialist pattern of society.

This need paved way for the labour legislations that form an integral part of development of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 which is the subject-matter of the instant research project. The project further deals with certain basic concepts such as that of an industry, employer, workmen, etc which are important for understanding the main issue of industrial disputes.

Objectives of The Study
This project seeks to give a brief idea of industrial disputes as per the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Following are the objectives of the given project report:
· To introduce the concept of Industrial Jurisprudence and its need;
· To trace the enactment of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and its objectives as well as applicability/jurisdiction;
· To put forth the concepts of industry and industrial disputes amongst others as per Industrial Disputes Act, 1947;
· To analyse the authorities under the Act for redressal of grievances and settlement of industrial disputes;

The Salient features of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, bear a huge impact on the settlement and prevention of the industrial disputes as well as in amelioration of the conditions of workers, tempered by a practical sense of peaceful co-existence to the benefit of both and to impose restraints on laissez faire and exhibit concern for the welfare of the weaker lot.

Research Question
What is the generalized scheme and nature of orientation of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, inferring from its salient features?

Research Methodology
This research is descriptive and analytical in nature. Secondary and electronic resources have been largely used to gather information and data about the topic. Books, case laws and other reference as guided have been primarily helpful in giving this project a firm structure. Websites, articles and cases have also been referred. Footnotes have been provided wherever necessary to acknowledge the same.

Enactment of The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947

Industrial Jurisprudence in India is a development of mainly post-independence period although its birth may be traced back to the industrial revolution. Before independence it existed merely in a rudimentary form in our country. But later on with the development of industry, the Industrial Law developed side by side. The growth of industrial jurisprudence can significantly be noticed not only from increase in labour and industrial legislations but also from a large number of industrial law matters decided by the Supreme Court and High Courts. Therefore, the progress of a country depends upon the development of industry; the Industrial Laws play an important role in the national economy of a country.

In the 18th century, India was not only a great agricultural country but a great manufacturing country too. But the British government in India as a matter of policy discouraged Indian manufacturers in order to encourage the rising manufacturers in England. In India, with the advent of 19th century and growing consciousness amongst the working class, a number of labour legislations have been enacted to promote the condition of the labour keeping in view the development of industry and national economy.

Developmental Timeline
Prior to 1929, the only law in force to settle disputes was the Employers and Workmen (Disputes) Act, 1860. The provisions of the Act were confined to the settlement of disputes concerning wages. Apart from its limited character, the Act contained various undesirable provisions such as the one which made breach of contract by a workman, a criminal offence. Also, there was an absence of tripartite system (between and amongst employers, workmen and Government).

Though Government enacted a few labour laws, it did not intervene to settle disputes and secure good employer-employee relations except in cases of prolonged strikes. Owing to numerous strikes and lockouts in important industries during the period of 1928-1929, Government was forced to enact the Trade Disputes Act, 1929, for promoting early settlement of disputes by providing for enquiry and conciliation board. The 1929 Act was amended in 1938; it authorized Central & Provisional Government to intermediate at the time of industrial disputes.
Further Govt. introduced Defence of India Rules post World War II. Rule 81A gave powers to the Government to intervene in the Industrial Disputes so as to provide speedy remedies. Further Standing Orders Act of 1946 was also passed.

On the basis of Trade Disputes Act, 1938, Defence of India Rules and Standing Orders Act, 1946, Industrial Disputes Bill was introduced in the Central Legislative Assembly in 1945 which embodied the essential principles of Defence of India Rules and Trade Disputes Act, 1938 concerning Industrial Disputes. The Bill was passed in March 1947 and became a law from 1947 which came to be known as Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

As such, it would not be wrong to consider the Constitution of India as the source of all labour laws. All the matters related to labour laws such as trade unions, industrial and labour disputes are covered under entry-22 of List III of Schedule VII i.e. the Concurrent List while all matters of Industrial dispute concerning Union employees (under public utility services or services in national interest) are covered under entry-61 of List I of Schedule VII, i.e. the union list. As such, the Union government as well as the State governments have framed various laws to deal with labour related issues. Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 is one of the initial legislative steps taken by the Parliament in this regard.

Before understanding the intricacies of the aforementioned Act, it is desirable to take note of its applicability and its objectives as stated in the Act itself.

Applicability of the Act
The Act is applicable in the whole of India as per Section-1 of the Act. The Act has been extended to new provinces and merged states such as the states of Manipur, Tripura and the states merged into the State of Bombay. Further, this Act has been also applied to the union territory of Pondicherry, Daman and Diu as well as to Goa. Now this Act has been applied to the state of Jammu and Kashmir by the Central Labour Laws (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Act, 1970.

The Act however, does not apply to members of the Railway Protection Force constituted under the Railway Protection Force Act, 1957.

The Industrial Disputes Act does not override state laws on the same subject matter[1]. Section 31 of the ID Act as amended in 1956 provides for the same.

Further, Schedule-I to the Act specifically lays down certain industries that are declared as public utility services for the purposes of the Act. Schedule-I read with Section-2(n)(vi) provides an in exhaustive list of around 20 industries (such as transport by land or water for the carriage of passengers or goods, banking, cement, coal, cotton textiles, defence establishments, foodstuffs, fire brigade service, copper, lead, zinc mining, iron ore, pyrites and phosphorite mining, service in the uranium industry, service in any oil field, hydrogen gas industry, surgical and pharmaceutical industry, leather etc.) that are declared as public utility services for the purpose of this Act, entry-7, thereof, mentions Iron and Steel industries.

Therefore, Bhilai Steel Plant comes under the purview of the Industrial Disputes Act and it is applicable over BSP being involved in a public utility service. Further, upon an amendment in 2010, the Act has been made specifically applicable over Bhilai Steel Plant along with the Chhattisgarh Industrial Relations Act, 1960. Both these Acts have similar, if not the same, objectives to deal with the employee-employer relationship that are enumerated subsequently.

Objectives of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947

The Supreme Court has analysed the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947[2] in various cases and laid down the principal objects of the Act in the case of Workmen of Dimakuchi Tea Estate v. Management of Dimakuchi Tea Estate[3]as follows:
1. The promotion of measures for securing amity and good relations between the employer and workmen.
2. An investigation and settlement of industrial disputes between employers and employers, employers and workmen or workmen and workmen with a right of representation by a registered Trade Union or Federation of Trade Unions or Association of employers or a federation of association of employers.
3. The prevention of illegal strikes and lockouts.
4. Relief to workmen in the matter of layoff, retrenchment and closure of an undertaking.
5. Collective bargaining.

Salient features
Some of the distinguishing features of the ID Act, 1947 may be summarized as under:
1. Any industrial dispute may be referred to an industrial tribunal by an agreement of parties to the dispute or by the Appropriate Government if it deems it expedient to do so.
2. An award declared the arbitrator shall be binding on both the parties to the dispute for the specified period not exceeding one year. It shall be normally enforced by the government.
3. Prohibition of illegal strikes and lockouts.
4. Compensation to the workmen in cases of layoff, retrenchment and transfer or closure of an undertaking.
5. A number of authorities such as the Works Committee, Conciliation Officers, Board of Conciliation, Courts of Enquiry, Labour Courts, Industrial Tribunal and National Tribunal are provided for the settlement of industrial disputes. Each one of these authorities plays an important role in speedy redressal of grievances and peaceful and amicable settlement of disputes, thus, ensuring industrial peace.

As a matter of fact, the object of the industrial relations legislations in general is industrial peace and economic justice. The prosperity of any industry very much depends upon its growing production. Dissatisfaction with the existing economic conditions is the root cause of industrial disputes. There are some other factors that influence the production, namely existence of any dispute between the employers and workmen, thus, creating a sort of interruption and hindrance in the industrial peace. Every industrial relations legislations, thereby, intends to ensure that the production process does not stop even during the existence of any dispute. As such, they provide for amicable means of settlement of these disputes, like the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Therefore, every such legislation aims at providing conditions congenial to the industrial peace.

Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 Interpretation Clause

The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 provides the meaning of certain basic terms essential to understand the concept of industrial disputes. The interpretation clause as given under Section-2 provides these definitions.

Some important terminology and concepts are given hereunder:
Appropriate Government
The Central Government as well as the State Governments are vested with various powers and duties in relation to matters dealt with in this Act. In relation to some industrial disputes the Central Government and in relation to some others the State Government concerned are the Appropriate Governments [as provided under Section-2(a) of the Act and further elaborated in sub-sections 2(a)(i)(a), 2(a)(i)(b) and 2(a)(ii)] to deal with such disputes. Whether the Appropriate Government is the Central Government or the concerned State Government depends upon the subject-matter of the dispute.

The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 defines an employer in Section-2(g) as:
a. In relation to an industry carried on by or under the authority of any department of the Central Government or a State Government, the authority prescribed in this behalf, or where no authority is prescribed, the head of the department.

b. In relation to an industry carried on by or on behalf of a local authority, the chief executive officer of that authority.

The industries run or owned by the authorities other than the Central and State Governments or local authorities, are also covered by this expression under the Act. It was held by the Supreme Court that where a worker or group of workers labour to produce goods or services and these goods or services are for the business of another then that other is, in fact the employer.[4]

Definition of the term industry first originated from Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Section-2 (j) of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 provides that:
The term industry means any business, trade, undertaking, manufacture or calling of employers & includes any calling, service, employment, handicraft, or industrial occupation or avocation of workmen.[5]

The question as to what comes under the purview of industry has baffled the courts, and to answer it is not easy. The application of tests laid down in several judgments of the Supreme Court is not found to be uniform. At times the tests are qualified in subsequent cases and in some, reasons given by judges are contradictory and difficult to reconcile. The tests of industry have been formulated and applied to find out what falls within and outside the definition of industry. The judgments on the subject have crystallized the features or the essentials of industry, the working principles, and the ruling tests for characterization or identification of an industry.

Bangalore Water Supply v. A Rajappa[6]judgment analysed earlier decisions[7] and laid down the guiding principles to judge whether an activity is an industry and the situations in which exclusion[8] can be claimed.

The test, known as the Triple Test, so laid down states that any activity systematically carried on with cooperation between the employer and the workmen for the production, supply or distribution of goods and/or services with a view to satisfy human wants or wishes is an industry. It must not be for oneself, nor for pleasure nor necessarily for profit.[9] If the organization is a trade or business, it does not cease to be one because of philanthropy animating the undertaking.

Where a department discharges many functions, some pertaining to industry as defined in the Act and other non-industrial activities, the predominant functions of the department shall be the criterion for the purposes of the Act. Minor, subsidiary and incidental work should not be allowed to lend its industrial colour to the principal activity.

This is known as the Dominant Nature Test. It is however important that the Dominant Nature Test follows the Triple Test as well. This approach was illustrated in the Corporation of the City of Nagpur case[10] and further approved in the Bangalore Water Supply case.

The definition of Industry was, therefore, amended in 1982 to incorporate the TRIPLE TEST and also to specifically exempt certain establishments and undertaking from the purview of the definition so given. This definition has however not enforced yet and the position of the decision given in Bangalore Water Supply case still stands strong.

Industrial Disputes:
Industrial Dispute is defined in Section 2(k) of ID Act, 1947. This definition is a modification of definition given in Section 2(j) of Trade Dispute Act, 1929.

It provides that industrial dispute means any dispute or difference between employers and employers, or between employers and workmen, or between workmen or workmen, which is connected with the employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour, of any person.

The analysis of this definition as provided in the Act and considered by the Court in several judgments is the subject-matter of the research project. Hence, it will be discussed in the subsequent chapters of the project report.

The definition of workman is important because the Act aims at investigation and settlement of industrial disputes which implies a difference between employer and workmen.

The term workman has been defined under Section 2(s) of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 in three parts, substantive, inclusive and exclusive. As per the statute, workman means any person (including an apprentice) employed in any industry to do any manual, unskilled, skilled, technical, clerical or supervisory work for hire or reward, whether the terms of employment be express or implied (Substantive Part), and for the purposes of any proceeding under this Act, in relation to an industrial dispute, includes any such person who has been dismissed, discharged or retrenched in connection with, or as a consequence of, that dispute, or whose dismissal, discharge or retrenchment has led to that dispute (Inclusive Part).

Workman does not include any such person (EXCLUSIVE HALF) -
a. Who is subject to the Air Force Act, 1950, or the Army Act, 1950, or the Navy Act, 1957; or
b. Who is employed in the police service or as an officer or other employee of a prison; or
c. Who is employed mainly in a managerial or administrative capacity; or
d. Who, being employed in a supervisory capacity, draws wages exceeding ten thousand rupees per month or exercises, either by the nature of the duties attached to the office or by reason of the powers vested in him, functions mainly of a managerial nature.

The expression apprentice has not been defined in Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. An apprentice is one who is a learner of art meaning thereby one who is bound by a legal agreement to serve an employer for a period of years with a view to learn some handicraft, trade etc. in which the employer is reciprocally bound to instruct him.

Distinction between Workman and Contractor

In the case D.C. Works Ltd. v. State of Saurashtra[11], Supreme Court provided a clear distinction between Workman and Contractor. The Supreme Court observed that the broad distinction between workman and independent contractor lies in this that while the former agrees himself to work, the latter agrees to get other persons to work.

Now that we are familiar with the basic terminology as used in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the researcher can move on to explain industrial disputes and the authorities provided under the Act for settlement of such disputes and redressal of grievances.

Industrial Disputes: An Analysis

Industrial dispute means any dispute or difference between employers and employers, or between employers and workmen, or between workmen or workmen, which is connected with the employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour, of any person.[12]

This definition is vital to the jurisdiction of industrial tribunal and the labour court since their jurisdiction is generally confined by reference to the determination of industrial dispute, but it should be remembered that this jurisdiction is in some cases further restricted to the points specifically referred for adjudication and to matters incidental thereto and in other cases extended[13] beyond this definition.[14]

The definition opens with and employs very general words of wide application. The definition brings out the essential characteristics of the dispute with which the Act purports to deal.

The definition is in three parts.
i. There must be a dispute or difference. (FACTUM OF DISPUTE)
ii. The dispute must be between employers and employers, or between employers and workmen or between workmen and workmen. (PARTIES TO THE DISPUTE)
iii. The dispute or difference must be connected with the employment, non-employment, terms of employment or conditions of labour, of any person. (SUBJECT-MATTER OF DISPUTE)

It is necessary to note that the definition of industrial dispute presupposes the continued existence of an industry.[15]

In Pipraich Sugar Mills[16] case, it was observed that it cannot be doubted that the entire scheme of the Act assumes that there is in existence an industry, and then proceeds to provide for various steps being taken, when a dispute arises in that industry.
To further explain the concept of industrial disputes, it is necessary that we analyse the different parts of the definition so given under the Act.

Factum of dispute
The essence of the dispute is disagreement. The dispute, if it is to form the basis of a reference, must be a real dispute in fact. The expression dispute or difference as used in the Act means a controversy which is fairly definite and of real substance and being connected with the terms of employment or conditions of labour, is one which the contesting parties are directly and substantially interested in maintaining their respective contentions. Thus, the term industrial dispute connotes a real and substantial difference having some element of persistency, and likely, if not adjusted, to endanger the industrial peace of the community.[17]

There are innumerable subjects on which industrial disputes can arise between employers and workmen. The Act does not specify any particular disputes as industrial disputes. However, the Act has provided schedules[18] giving subject-matters regarding which industrial disputes can arise and be adjudicated by Labour Courts and Industrial Tribunals.

Parties to the dispute
The dispute may arise between employer and employer. This forms a very rare ground for existence of any industrial dispute. Further, the Act also provides for any difference or dispute between employer and workmen which is the most commonly observed scenario in the industrial arena. Lastly, the Act includes dispute between workmen inter-se which is also a very rare observance. The statute provides for peaceful and speedy settlement of disputes arising between these parties.

Subject-matter of dispute
The dispute or difference that arises in any industry may relate to:
a. Employment: The concept of employment involves three ingredients:
i) employer
ii) employee
iii) the contract of employment.[19]

The word employment refers to a condition in which a man is kept occupied in executing any work. In other words, it means not only an appointment to any office for the first time but also the continuity of that appointment.[20]

b. Non-employment: Non-employment is the negative of employment and means that disputes of workmen out of service with their employers are within the ambit of the definition. It is the positive or negative act of an employer that leads to employment or non-employment. The failure to employ or refusal to employ are actions on the part of the employer which would be covered under the term non-employment

The words connected with widen the scope of the dispute and do not restrict it by any means. It would ordinarily cover all matters that require settlement between workmen and employers, whether those matters concern the causes of their being out of service or any other question, and it would also include within its scope the relief necessary for bringing about harmonious relations between the employers and workers.[21]

c. Terms of employment: The word terms postulate existence of contract of employment. The rights and obligations of employer and employees inter se depend, in the first instance, on the initial fact of a contract between the parties.

d. Conditions of service: Conditions of service may comprise matters from appointment to termination and even beyond in matters like pension, etc. and matters pertaining to disciplinary action.[22] They may be laid down by standing orders, rules, regulations or bye-laws.

e. Conditions of labour: The expression conditions of labour has reference to the amenities to be provided to the workmen and the conditions under which they are required to work. Terms of employment is an expression of amplitude and is wide enough to cover the subjects of employment, non-employment and conditions of labour. The word conditions of labour in the definition of the Act point to work done by workmen.[23]

Individual Dispute And Industrial Dispute

To constitute a dispute, there must be some disagreement between workmen and employer who stand in some industrial relationship upon some matter that affects or arises out of that relationship. It must be concerned with an industry and the difference between the parties must be concerned in some way with the workman as defined in the Act.

The words industrial dispute convey the meaning to the ordinary mind that the dispute must be such as would affect large groups of workmen and employers ranged on opposite sides on some general questions on which each group is bound together by a community of interests- such as wages, bonus, allowances, pension, provident fund, number of working hours per week, holidays and so on.

The Act is designed to deal with employees collectively and their employer. A dispute between a single workman and the employer cannot be an industrial dispute unless it is taken up by the union of employees or a number of workmen except in cases covered by Section- 2A[24] which does not control the definition in Section-2(k). The cause must be espoused by the union of the employees or a considerable section of the employees.[25] That is why industrial tribunals deal with disputes in relation to individual cases only where such disputes assume the character of an industrial dispute by reason of the fact that they are sponsored by the union or have otherwiseibeen taken up by a group or body of employees as held in the case of Jagdish Narain Sharma & Anr. v. Rajasthan Patrika Ltd & Anr.[26]

Section-2A is of limited application. It does not declare all individual disputes to be an industrial dispute. Any dispute connected with any matter other than those mentioned in the provision, needs to satisfy the test laid down in judicial decisions. Thus only a collective dispute could constitute an industrial dispute but collective dispute does not mean that the dispute should either be sponsored by a recognized union or that all or majority of the workmen of an industrial establishment should be parties to it. All that is necessary is that those taking up the cause of the aggrieved workman must be in the same employment, i.e., there must be community of interest when the act complained against happened and not when the dispute was referred to.[27]

In order to make a dispute an industrial dispute it is not necessary that here should be a resolution of substantial or appreciable number of workmen. What is necessary is that there must be some expression of collective will of substantial or appreciable number of workmen taking up the cause of the aggrieved workman.[28]

In Workmen of Indian Express Newspapers Ltd. v. Management of Indian Express Newspapers[29], a dispute relating to two workmen of Indian Express Newspapers Ltd. was espoused by the Delhi Union of journalists which was an outside union. About 25% of the working journalists of the newspaper were its members. It was held that the Delhi Union of journalists could be said to have a representative character qua the working journalists employed in the Indian Express and the dispute was thus transformed into an industrial dispute.

It must be noted here that a dispute is an industrial dispute even where it is sponsored by a union which is not registered; but the Trade Union must not be one unconnected with the employer or the industry concerned.

Thus, it can be concluded that the cumulative effect of Section-2(k) and Section-2A is that an individual dispute of an industrial workman whether espoused by the union, a group of workmen or by the workman himself is also an industrial dispute. Therefore, the doctrine that the dispute becomes an industrial dispute only if it is espoused by a union or a substantial number of workmen has no validity after the addition of Section- 2A in respect of disputes mentioned therein.

Consequently, whether the dispute referred to is an industrial dispute within the meaning of section-2(k) or section-2A of the Act is of no consequence so far as the Labour Court or the Tribunal to which reference is made for adjudication is concerned.

Chapter 4- Authorities Under The Act
The object of the Industrial Disputes Act, as set out in the preamble, is to make provisions for investigation and settlement of industrial disputes and for certain other purposes hereinafter appearing. The word settlement suggests the idea of establishing compromise between the interests of disputing parties. As such, the Act provides for different classes of authorities who are entrusted with the powers and duties of investigation and settlement of industrial disputes.

The adjudication of industrial disputes has at the first instance been kept out of the jurisdiction of the Municipal Courts. The various modes of settlement of disputes provided by the Act may broadly be classified under the three heads, namely:
a) Conciliation
b) Adjudication and
c) Arbitration

Chapter-II sets out the authorities under the Act and they are: (1) the Works Committee, (2) Conciliation Officers, (3) Boards of Conciliation, (4) Courts of Enquiry, (5) Labour Courts, (6) Industrial Tribunals and (7) National Tribunals. These are different authorities with different powers. The purposes for which they are set up are broadly indicated and their functions are prescribed under the Act.


Those authorities that make use of conciliation as the sole method of settlement of disputes are as follows:
The Works Committee as prescribed under Section-3 consists of representatives of employers and workmen engaged in a particular establishment and is constituted in the prescribed manner in order to promote measures for securing and preserving amity and good relations between the employers and workmen and to that end to comment upon matters of their common interest or concern and endeavour to compose any material difference of opinion in respect of such matters.

Section-4 talks about appointment of Conciliation officers. The Conciliation officers are appointed by the notification by the Appropriate Government charged with the duty of mediating in, and promoting the settlement of industrial dispute. He may be appointed for a specified area, or for one specified industries in a specified area, or for one or more specified industries. The appointment may be made either permanently or for a limited period. Similarly, Boards of Conciliation are constituted as per Section-5 of the Act by notification by the Appropriate Government as occasion arises for promoting the settlement of industrial disputes.


The following adjudicating authorities decide any dispute referred to them under the Act:
Labour Courts (Section-7), Industrial Tribunal (Section-7A) and National Tribunals (Section-7B) are constituted by the appropriate Government for the adjudication of industrial disputes in accordance with the provisions of the Act. Chapter-IV prescribes the procedure, powers and duties of the several authorities under the Act.


Section-10A of the Act makes provision for voluntary reference of disputes to arbitration. The section authorizes the parties to the dispute themselves to choose their own arbitrator, including a Labour Court, Industrial Tribunal or National Tribunal.

Apart from the above, provision has also been made for the constitution of a Court of Enquiry whose main function is to inquire into any matter appearing to be connected with or relevant to an industrial dispute. Courts of Enquiry are constituted under Section-6 by notification by the appropriate Government, as occasion arises, for the said purpose.

Different authorities which are constituted under the Act are set up with different ends in view and are invested with powers and duties necessary for the achievement of the purposes for which they are set up.

Scheme of Section-10
The steps which are contemplated in the manner indicated in Section-10 of the Act for a reference of disputes to Boards, Courts, and Labour Courts, Tribunals or National Tribunals are indicated while dealing with the scheme of the Act. The section provides for reference of industrial disputes whether they exist or are apprehended to Boards of Conciliation for promoting a settlement, or to a Labour Court or to an Industrial Tribunal for adjudication or even to a National Tribunal.

The amendment made in 1982 in section-10 carry provisions for expeditious disposal of references by imposing obligation on the appropriate Government to prescribe the time limit for disposal of reference by the adjudicator, and inbuilt procedure for extension of time without the Government coming in picture.

It also provides for the parties to an industrial dispute applying whether jointly or separately for a reference of the dispute to a Conciliation Board, Court of Enquiry, Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal. Where a dispute has been so referred the appropriate Government is enabled to prohibit the continuance of any strike or lockout.

Chapter- IV (Section-11 to 21) of the Act

further deals with the procedure, powers and duties of the authorities set up under the Act. The Conciliation Officers as well as the Boards of Conciliation are charged with a duty to bring about settlement of a dispute, without delay to investigate the dispute and all matters affecting the merits and the right settlement thereof and are also empowered to do all such things as they think fit for the purpose of inducing the parties to come to an amicable settlement of the dispute.

If a settlement of the dispute or of any of the matters in dispute is arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings, they are to send a report thereof to the appropriate Government together with a memorandum of the settlement signed by the parties to the dispute.

If no such settlement is arrived at, the Conciliation Officers or the Board of Conciliation (as the case may be) have, as soon as practicable and after the close of the investigation, to send to the Appropriate Government, a full report setting forth the proceedings and steps taken by them for ascertaining the facts and circumstances relating to the dispute and for bringing a settlement thereof together with a full statement of such facts and circumstances, their findings thereon, the reasons on account of which, in their opinion, a settlement could not be arrived at and their recommendations for the determination of the dispute.

If, on a consideration of such report the appropriate government is satisfied that there is a case for reference to a Board or Tribunal, it may make such reference.

The Labour Courts or Tribunals to whom an industrial dispute may be referred for adjudication are to hold their proceedings expeditiously and, as soon as practicable on the conclusion thereof, submit their award to the appropriate Government. The jurisdiction of the Labour Court and the Industrial Tribunal with respect to industrial disputes is given under Schedule-II[30] and Schedule-III[31] to the Act, respectively.

These are the steps which are contemplated in the manner indicated in Section-10 of the Act for reference of disputes to various authorities established under the Act. It is not necessary that all these steps should be taken seriatim one after the other. Whether one or the other of the steps should be taken by the appropriate Government must depend upon the exigencies of the situation, the imminence of industrial strife resulting in cessation or interruption of industrial production and industrial peace endangering the public tranquility and law and order. If the matter brooks delay the appropriate Government may start conciliation proceedings culminating in a reference to a Board of Conciliation and also Court of Enquiry, if need be, before a full-fledged reference is made under Secrion-10 of the Act.

If, on the other hand, the matter brooks no delay the appropriate Government may possibly refer the dispute to a Board of Conciliation before referring it for adjudication or may straightaway refer it for adjudication to any of the authorities in section-10.

Industrial jurisprudence is of great importance to all developed or developing countries of the world because it is concerned with the study of problems related to human relations arising out of a large scale development of factory system which has emerged in consequence of industrial revolution. Welfare in industry can be achieved only if there is healthy understanding between employers, workers and the Government. This need paved way for the labour legislations that form an integral part of development of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 which was the subject-matter of the instant research project.

The research was started with the hypothesis that the Salient features of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, bear a huge impact on the settlement and prevention of the industrial disputes as well as in amelioration of the conditions of workers, tempered by a practical sense of peaceful co-existence to the benefit of both and to impose restraints on laissez faire and exhibit concern for the welfare of the weaker lot. The said hypothesis during the course of research has proved itself to be true.

Despite numerous Amendments, the main thrust of the Act, remains. Thus, maintenance of peace and harmony in an industry to promote industrial prosperity and through it the economic prosperity of the nation, concern for the underdog, the workers, and paving the way, ultimately, for industrial democracy are the prime priorities of the Act.

The personality of the statute, when considered as a whole, signifies that it is labour welfare oriented and as beneficial legislation, protects labour, promotes their contentment and regulates situations of crisis and tension where production may be imperilled by untenablestrikes and blackmail lockouts. Further, the machineries under the Act seek to confer regulated benefits to workman and strive to resolve their “actual or potential” conflicts according to a sympathetic rule of law.

1. Commentary of K.D. Srivastava on Law Relating To Trade Unions and Unfair Labour Practices in India (Fourth Edition).
2. Goswani V.G., Labour and Industrial Laws (Vol.-II), (9thEdn. Central Law Agency 2011)
3. Malik P.L., Industrial Law(Vol.-2), Eastern Book Company (Twenty-fourth Edition).
4. Mishra S.N., Labour and Industrial Laws, (27th Edn. Central Law Publications 2013)
5. Patel Vithalbhai B., Law on Industrial Disputes (Vol.-I), (3rd Edn. Orient Law House)
6. Srivastava, Prof. SC, Labour Law and Labour Relations: Cases and Materials, Indian Law Institute (Third Edition)

[1]Several State Governments have enacted laws relating to industrial disputes such as the MP Industrial Relations Act, 1960 (later on adopted as C.G. Industrial Relations Act, 1960 by the state of Chhattisgarh); Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946, etc.
[2]Hereinafter, also referred to as the ID Act, 1947
[3]AIR 1958 SC 353
[4]Hussainbhai v. Alath Factory Tezhilali Union, AIR 1978 SC 1410
[5] This section is based on Section 4 of Commonwealth Conciliation & Arbitration Act, 1904 which is an Australian statute.
[6]1978 SC 548
[7]D.N. Banerjee v P.R. Mukherjee [1953 SC 58]; Hospital Mazdoor Sabha Case [; Madras Gymkhana Case [ (1968) 1 SCR 742]; Safdurjung Hospital v. Kuldeep Singh [(1971) 1 SCR 177] and Solicitors case[1962 SC 1080]; Delhi University v. Ram Nath [1963 SC 1873]
[8] Excluded activities include spiritual or religious activities, sovereign activities of the State (not welfare activities or economic adventures undertaken by the Government or statutory bodies), etc.
[9]Hospital Mazdoor Sabha Case [(1960) 2 SCR 879]
[10](1960) 2 SCR 942
[11] AIR 1957 SC 264.
[12]Section-2(k) of the ID Act, 1947
[13]Provisions of Section-33C(2) whereby the additional powers are assigned to the labour court. After the enactment of Section-2A their jurisdiction stands expanded.
[14]Workmen of Dimakuchi Tea Estate case, 1958 SCR 1156
[15]Indian Metal &Metallurgical Corp. v. IT Madras 1952-I LLJ 364(M)
[16]1956 SCR 872
[17]Shambu Nath Goyal v. Bank of Baroda, 1978 SC 1088
[18]Schedule-II (Matters within the jurisdiction of Labour Courts)- Propriety or legality of any order passed by an employer under the Standing Orders; application and interpretation of standing orders; discharge or dismissal of workmen including reinstatement of, or grant of relief to, workmen wrongfully dismissed; withdrawal of any customary concession or privilege; illegality or otherwise of a strike or lockout; and all matters other than those specified in the Third Schedule.
Schedule-III (Matters within the jurisdiction of Industrial Tribunals)- Wages, including the period and mode of payment; compensatory and other allowance; hours of work and rest intervals; leave with wages and holidays; bonus, profit sharing, provident fund and gratuity; shift working otherwise than in accordance with standing orders; classification by grades; rules of discipline; rationalization; retrenchment of workmen and closure of establishment; and any other matter that may be prescribed.
[19]Chintanman Rao v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 1958 SCR 1340
[20]Sukhnandan Thakur v. State of Bihar, 1957 Pat. 617
[21]WIAA v. IT, 1949-I LLJ 245
[22]State of M.P. v. Shardul Singh, (1970) 1 SCC 108
[23]United Commercial Bank Ltd. v. Shri Kedar Nath Gupta, 1952-I LLJ 782
[24]Section-2A: Dismissal, etc., of an individual workman to be deemed to be an industrial dispute- Where any employer discharges, dismisses, retrenches or otherwise terminates the services of an individual workman, any dispute or difference between that workman and his employer connected with, or arising out of, such discharge, dismissal, retrenchment or termination shall be deemed to be an industrial dispute notwithstanding that no other workman nor any union of workmen is a party to the dispute.
[25]Bombay Union of Journalists v. The Hindu, (1962) 3 SCR 893
[26] (1994) II LLJ 600 (Raj.)
[27]Shamsuddin v. State of Kerala & Ors., (1961) I LLJ 77
[28]Mrs. P. Soma Sundaran v. Labour Court, (1970) I LLJ 558 (AP)
[29]AIR 1970 SC 737
[30]Supra note-19
[31]Supra note-20

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