w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n

Bhagwan Das Perta & Others v/s State of A.P. Rep. by the special Secretary (Home) Labour Dept. Govt. of A.P. Hyderabad & Others

    W.P. No. 334 of 1972 & W.P. No. 1826 of 1971

    Decided On, 20 December 1971

    At, High Court of Andhra Pradesh


    For the Appellants: P. Kondanda Ramayya, Advocate. For the Petitioners: A. Suryanarayana Murthy, Advocate., R3, Govt. Pleader, P. Nagaramaiah, V.B. Sastry, Advocates.

Judgment Text

Gopal Rao Ekbote, C.J.

1. The Writ appeal and the Writ petition raise a common question. We propose therefore to dispose them of by a common order.

2. The brief facts are : The State Government of Andhra Pradesh by G.O. Ms. No. 839 dated 24-6-1969, issued under Section 5 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, hereinafter called the Act, appointed a Committee to advise the Government in respect of revision of minimum wages with regard to employees in the cinema theatres of Andhra Pradesh.

3. It consisted of two independent members one of whom was appointed as Chairman, three representatives of the employers to which category one more member was subsequently added, and three representatives of the employees to which category, one more member was added subsequently. The Committee thus consisted of ten members.

4. The Committee submitted its report. From the report, it is seen that if discussed at length the percentage of increase to be given in the existing minimum wages. Members representing the employers as well as those representing the employees put forth their views, which views were different. Th

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Chairman and the other independent member on the committee also put forth certain proposals. Despite prolonged discussions, however, no unanimity could be obtained. Prof. M. Ramakrishna Reddy, one of the independent members and the members representing the employers pressed for inclusion of their proposals in the report, but the Chairman suggested that the said members may send their respective proposals to the Government through the Secretary of the Committee.5. The Committee then proceeded to give its advice to the Government by major of members. They suggested revised monthly wages as proposed. The committee in para 21 of its report also considered the question of classification of different areas into 4 zones.6. According to the suggestion made by the Chairman of the Committee, the dissenting members that is to say, representatives of the employers gave a dissenting note. It is however not clear whether that note was directly sent to the Government by those representatives or it was sent through the Secretary of the Committee as was decided in the Committee.7. It is, however, clear that before the impugned G.O. was issued by the Government, both the views of the majority as well as those of the minority were before the Government. Taking into account not only the advice of the Committee, but several other representations received, the Government by G.O. Ms. 179 dated 1-2-1971, practically approved the advice tendered by the majority of committee members and revised the minimum wages in regard to the employees of the cinema theatres. It is to challenge the correctness of the notification that the writ petition out of which the appeal arises and the other writ petitions have been filed. The writ petition out of which this appeal arises is from the Hyderabad City and filed on behalf of the employers, whereas the writ petition is filed by the employers of Machilipatnam Town.8. The principal contention raised in both the writ petitions was that the Chairman's declining to make the proposals of the minority as part of the report violated the principles of natural justice and consequently, the advice tendered by the majority is vitiated. We find no strength in this contention. Section 5 of the Act empowers the Government to appoint a Committee to hold enquiries and advise it in respect of revision of the minimum wages, if already fixed. The Government can fix the minimum wages only after considering the advice of the committee so appointed.9. Rule 16 of the Rules made under the Act enjoins that all business before the advisory Committee shall be considered at a meeting of the committee and shall be decided by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting. In the event of an equal number of votes, the Chairman shall have a casting vote. It could not be disputed that when in spite of some efforts, unanimity could not be brought about, the business has to be decided in accordance with the view of the majority. Rule 16 does not possession and dissenting note, nor does it prohibit dissenting members from giving any such dissenting note. The Chairman of the Committee therefore was well within his power in taking a decision that if the dissenting members of the minority like to send their dissenting note they may do so either directly to the Government or through the Secretary of the Committee. It will be seen that the Chairman or the Committee did not shut out the minority members, nor could it be said that the majority members did not take into account the views expressed by the minority. In fact, it was because of the conflict in their approach that the independent members tried to find out whether there could be any unanimity in making representations to the Government. It is only when the opposing and confliction interests could not come together that the device suggested by Rule 16 has to be followed. It is not therefore correct to say that the dissenting note or the proposals made by the minority were refused to be made part of the report. The effect of the report will be that of the majority, while the dissenting note is also forwarded to the Government for such consideration as it deserves.10. Once it is remembered that the character of the Committee is of an advisory nature, then the Government was free either to accept the majority view or the minority view or decide in its own way keeping in view the advice so tendered and the representations, if any, made. The Government has considered both the majority as well as the minority views and then agreed with the view taken by the majority. We do not find anything wrong in such a decision taken by the Government. We are therefore satisfied that there is no merit in the first contention.11. The second contention was that the post of a manager or for that matter, even the subsequent one or two posts cannot be said to be posts belonging to sweated labour. Therefore, neither the committee was competent to advise for revision of their minimum wages, nor the Government was competent to revise the minimum wages earlier fixed for them. In support of this contention, we were referred to the Aims and Objects of the Bill of Minimum Wages as well as an observation made in C.B. Boarding and Lodging v. State of Mysore, A.I.R. 1970 S.C. 2042 at page 2048.12. We have carefully gone through the Aims and Objects of the Bill as well as the observation made by the Supreme Court. We do not think that the Supreme Court in any manner lays down that the General Manager or the Operators do not come within the purview of the Act and therefore minimum wages cannot be fixed in regard to such personnel. The preamble of the Act reads:-"Whereas it is expedient to provide for fixing minimum rates of wages in certain employments".13. Section 2 (i) gives the definition of the term "employee". Even a casual reading of that provision can leave no one in doubt that the Manager of a cinema theatre or operators do come within the definition of "employees". It is also pertinent to note that even initially minimum wages of the Manager and operators were fixed and no objections were then taken. In fact, in this case also, before the committee, no such express objection was taken. Even in the dissenting note of the minority members this objection was not taken at all. When the purpose of the Act is wide and definition of "employee" embraces Managers and operators, we fall to see why minimum wages in regard to them cannot be fixed.14. It is true that in the Aims and Objects, it is stated that "the items in the Schedule are those where sweated labour is most prevalent or where there is a big chance of exploitation of labour". The same feeling is echoed by the Supreme Court in C.B. Boarding and Lodging v. State of Mysore, A.I.R. 1970 S.C. 2042 at page 2048, where it was observed :"We have earlier noticed the circumstances under which the Act came to be enacted. Its main object is to prevent sweated labour as well as exploitation of unorganised labour".15. This observation has to be understood in the context of the Schedule attached to the Act. If Section 27 of the Act is kept in view, then it will be very clear that the legislature has empowered the Government to add to the schedule any employment. No restriction is placed upon the power of the Government to include in the list only such categories, of Labour which can be characterised as sweated labour. In fact, the Act itself does not lay down any such restriction anywhere. Merely because the items mentioned in the schedule shows that it comprises sweated labour, it does not necessarily follow that no minimum wages can be fixed in regard to labour in general which cannot actually be sweated labour. In fact, the terms "skilled" or "unskilled" labour used would indicate that the scope of the Act has not been restricted in any manner to sweated labour. This becomes clear from what is decided in Edward Mills Co. v. State of Ajmer, A.I.R. 1955 S.C. 25. We are therefore satisfied that the Government has not erred in any manner in revising the minimum wages of the Manager or operators working in the cinema industries.16. It was then contended by the employers that the classification of zones is not based on any rational basis nor it has any nexus to the object that such classification is offensive to Article 14 of the Constitution. We can find no substance in this contention. The same classification particularly in regard to Hyderabad and Machilipatnam was there even before the impugned G.O. was issued. No objection in that behalf was at any time taken. In this form no objection seems to have been taken even before the Government. Even otherwise, in para 21 of the report it is observed :"With regard to classification of different areas into zones for the purpose of fixing differential minimum wages taking into account the relative variations in cost of living, we do not think any major deviation necessary from the principle adopted by the previous committee. However, in view of the developments in the economic and industrial sphere that have taken place since the first fixation of minimum wage in 1961, we are proposing a few changes in the classification of centres under the various zones."17. Thus it immediately becomes plain that the committee had rational basis before it to make classification into 4 zones. The basis which was adopted previously has mainly been followed. It cannot therefore be argued that there was no basis whatsoever for dividing the different areas into 4 zones. No material has been placed before us to indicate that the basis which was kept in view by the earlier committee or the present committee cannot be considered as a rational basis having nexus with the object. When the cost of living had been kept in view and other allied matters were also considered, we fail to see how it can be said that these factors are irrelevant for the purpose of fixing the minimum wages. We do not therefore experience any difficulty in rejecting this contention also.Since no other contention was raised, the writ petition and the writ appeal fail and they are dismissed with costs.Advocates fee Rs. 100/- in each case.W.A, dismissed with costs.

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