Devan Ramachandran, J.
1. The fasciculus of the allegations, contentions and averments in the various pleadings in this appeal would present on its exterior be a ubiquitous dispute between two unions regarding recognition from the establishment, but on a closer analysis what we see is an existential conflict between two groups of employees of the Kerala State Financial Enterprises Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as 'the KSFE Ltd.' for short); one of which claims to be an Association registered under the Travancore Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as 'T.C. Act' for brevity) and the other to be a Trade Union registered under the provisions of the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926 (hereinafter referred to as 'the T.U.Act' for short).
2. The appellant is the writ petitioner who claims to be an Association of the officers of the KSFE by name 'Kerala State Financial Enterprises Officers Association'. They say that they were registered as a society under the provisions of the Travancore Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955 and they have produced Ext.P4, being the registration certificate obtained by them, in evidence of their assertion. Their allegation is that the sixth respondent, which is called 'KSFE Officers Association' has obtained registration under the T. U. Act by employing deception and by adopting a name which is identical or deceptively similar to themselves. The foundation of the above assertion of the appellant is that they have been in existence since the year 1974 and that they have been recognised as an association of officers by the KSFE Ltd. for all the years past. According to them, the members of the sixth respondent Trade Union formed themselves as such only on 9.8.2015 and that they made an application before the Registrar of Trade Unions under the provisions of the Trade Unions Act, 1926 for registration only thereafter.
3. The appellant says that they had filed detailed objections, against the name proposed for the sixth respondent, before the Registrar of Trade Unions, but that the said Authority did not consider the objections in its right perspective and went on to reject the same, thus allowing the sixth respondent registration in the name presently given to them. After the Registrar of Trade Unions thus allowed the registration of the sixth respondent, Ext.P11 certificate was issued to them, which has been impugned by the appellant in the writ petition for various reasons and primarily on the ground that the Registrar of Trade Unions was in error in allowing registration in violation of the provisions contained in section 7 of the T.U.Act.
4. We have heard Sri Kaleeswaram Raj, learned counsel for the appellant assisted by Sri Thulasi Raj; the learned Government Pleader appearing for respondents 1 to 5; Sri T.A.Shaji, learned senior counsel assisted by Smt.Anuja Nair, appearing on behalf of respondents 6 to 8 and Sri E.K.Nandakumar, learned senior counsel assisted by Sri Jayamohan, appearing on behalf of the 9th respondent.
5. Since the entire edifice of the assertions of the appellant is underpinned on the provisions of section 7 of the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926, we extract it as under:
'7. Power to call for further particulars and to require alteration of name.-
(1) The Registrar may call for further information for the purpose of satisfying himself that any application complies with the provisions of section 5, or that the Trade Union is entitled to registration under section 6, and may refuse to register the Trade Union until such information is supplied.
(2) If the name under which a Trade Union is proposed to be registered is identical with that by which any other existing Trade Union has been registered or, in the opinion of the Registrar, so nearly resembles such name as to be likely to deceive the public or the members of either Trade Union, the Registrar shall require the persons applying for registration to alter the name of the Trade Union stated in the application, and shall refuse to register the Union until such alteration has been made.'
6. As is clear from the provisions above extracted, the Registrar under the T.U.Act is empowered to register a trade union on a proper application made before him. The provisions of section 7(2) of the T.U.Act provides that if a trade union approaches the Registrar for registration and the Registrar finds that the name proposed is identical with an existing registered trade union or that it resembles such name, then the Registrar should require the persons applying, to alter the name of the union or refuse registration if such alteration is not made. The purpose of this provision has a practical intent behind it. It is intended to ensure that no two Trade Unions bear identical or similar names because if they are allowed to do so, that would amount to a deception to the public as also the members of the union. The Registrar is, for this reason, statutorily obligated to ensure that no such deception is permitted.
7. Sri Kaleeswaram Raj, learned counsel appearing for the appellant submitted that the name of the sixth respondent is identical or similar to that of the appellant association. He says that the appellant Association was in existence at least from the year 1974 and that the 6th respondent union admittedly had its inception only in August 2015. He shows Ext.P5, viz. the application made by the 6th respondent, in confirmation of his assertion that the 6th respondent union came into existence only on 9.8.2015. His contention is that the Registrar, while acting under section 7 of the T.U. Act, ought not have allowed registration of the 6th respondent Union in the same name as that of the appellant association because they had raised serious objections to it.
8. The above submission of the appellant has to be tested on the touchstone of the specific prescriptions of section 7(2) of the T.U. Act. It is certain that the Act provides that there should not be two trade unions bearing identical or similar names. This is clear from the way Section 7(2) of the T.U.Act is worded, because it mandates that the proposed trade union shall alter its name, if such name is found to be identical or similar to an existing Trade Union which has already been registered. The submissions of Sri. Kaleeswaram Raj is that the Registrar was under a legal and statutory obligation to consider all the documents produced by the appellant to verify whether the name of the proposed sixth respondent Union was identical or similar to them. He says that the documents produced before the Registrar, viz. Exts.P1 to P3, would show that the appellant association was in existence much prior to the admitted inception of the sixth respondent. He asserts that the Registrar ought to have considered, evaluated and adjudicated upon these documents, and thereafter ought to have concluded that the name of the 6th respondent is identical or similar to the appellant thus denying registration to them.
9. We are afraid the above submissions are fraught with serious handicap because the Registrar of Trade Unions is an Authority constituted under the T.U. Act and, therefore, being obligated to act within the four corners of the said Act and nothing else. The Registrar is only enjoined, by the said Statute, to verify whether the name of a proposed Trade Union is similar or identical to that of a Trade Union already registered. This is extremely crucial, because the Registrar can only consider the legality of allowing a proposed Union to be registered with a particular name, with reference to a pre-existing Trade Union which has already been registered.
10. The submission of the appellants is that they were in existence as an association of persons, thus expressly conceding that they are not registered under the Trade Union Act. They also admit that their registration under the T.C.Act was also after the 6th respondent had made an application under the Trade Union Act. This is evident from the fact that the application made by the 6th respondent, namely Ext.P5, is dated 9.9.2015, when admittedly, the appellant had not been registered as an Association or Society under any of the Statutes, they concededly having been registered as a Society under T.C. Act, 1926 only on 21.1.2016.
11. The factual scenario, therefore, becomes clear that at the time when the 6th respondent applied for a registration, the appellant Association was not even in existence, at least not in existence as a registered entity. They may have been in existence, as is contended by them, as an unregistered Association of the Officers of the KSFE and it will be a travesty to conclude that their registration obtained much after Ext.P5 application was made by the 6th respondent would stand in the way of registration of the 6th respondent as a Trade Union under the Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926.
12. That being said, the position would have been no different even if the appellant Association had been registered as a society under the T.C.Act even before the 6th respondent Trade Union had been formed. This is because the power and jurisdiction of the Registrar while dealing with applications for registration of Trade Unions under the T.U.Act is expressly restricted and confined its specific statutory limitations. This becomes perspicuous from the way Section 7(2) of the T.U.Act is worded. This section obligates the Registrar to seek the applicants of a proposed Trade Union to alter its applied name only if it is identical or deceptively similar to that of another Trade Union already registered under the T.C.Act. Hence, all that the Registrar can do is to examine if the proposed Union's name is identical or similar to another Trade Union and no other. The fact that there may be other entities with the same or similar names would be of no avail and would not statutorily impose any obligation on the Registrar unless such entities are Trade Unions registered under the T.U.Act. The Registrar cannot and has no competence to enter into any enquiry or adjudication regarding any other entity which is not a Trade Union and, therefore, it would not be possible for the said Authority to adjudiate upon the documents produced by the appellant, namely, Exts.P1 to P3, because the appellant is not a registered Trade Union.
13. We notice that the learned Single Judge has considered these issues and has further opined that the registration of these two entities under the TC Act and the T.U. Act respectively would not confer either of them any special status as far as the KSFE is concerned. The recognition of these two entities as a registered Association or as a registered Union would depend upon the provisions of the Kerala Recognition of Trade Unions Act, 2010, since KSFE is a Government of Kerala undertaking. Merely because the appellant or the 6th respondent is registered as an Association and Union respectively, it would not be incumbent upon the KSFE to recognize either of them as a Trade Union or as an Association of the employees. It is completely upto them to decide, based on the relevant factors as would be presented before them and on applications to be made by the appellant and the 6th respondent, whether recognition should be given to either of them in terms of law. We, therefore, fail to understand the submissions of Sri. Kaleeswaram Raj, learned counsel appearing for the appellants that merely because the 6th respondent has secured registration as a Trade Union, it would obtain to them an unfair or undue favour in applying for and getting recognition by the KSFE.
14. At this time, Sri.Nandakumar, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the 9th respondent intervened to say that since both the appellant Association and the 6th respondent Union respectively are comprised of Officers, it is doubtful whether the provisions of the Kerala Recognition of Trade Unions Act, 2010 would apply. Even accepting this submission, we are of the view that notwithstanding this, it would upto the KSFE to offer recognition to either of the two entities as per provisions applicable and relevant to it after following the procedure established for this purpose and not otherwise. We are only pointing out that the mere registration of the 6th respondent as a Trade Union would not offer them any undue advantage over the appellant Association, if the appellant Association is otherwise entitled and competent of being recognized by the KSFE as per the Statutes, Rules or
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Regulations applicable to it. 15. Our above discussion would, therefore, unreservedly lead us to the conclusion that the learned Single Judge has assessed the facts and pleadings available in this case in its right perspective and that the learned Judge was completely justified in concluding in the manner, as has been done by him, in the judgment impugned before us. 16. The learned Judge, we also notice, has been extremely circumspect in leaving the parties to their remedies under the civil law, recording in the last line of the judgment that the 'factional disputes between them are to be settled before a Civil Court and not this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.' This view is irreproachable because, as is now well recognized, a court acting under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and while dealing in writ jurisdiction is proscribed from entering into considerations of facts, especially severely disputed facts, and it will be up to the parties to avail their remedies, as are available to them under the civil law, based on circumstances and facts to be proved by them with the aid of cogent evidence. For the above, we see no reason to interfere in any manner with the judgment impugned in this appeal. We therefore close this appeal, however without making any order as to costs and leaving the parties to suffer their respective cost.