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



The Deputy Director, Regional Office (Pondicherry) Employees' State Insurance Corp, Pondicherry v/s M/s. Hindustan Lever Limited, Tea Factory, Pondicherry & Others


Company & Directors' Information:- J K CORP LIMITED [Not available for efiling] CIN = U21015OR1938PLC000427

Company & Directors' Information:- G CORP PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U70102KA2001PTC028962

Company & Directors' Information:- R S M TEA COMPANY LIMITED [Amalgamated] CIN = U01132WB2000PLC092591

Company & Directors' Information:- V T CORP PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U29253MH2010PTC199851

Company & Directors' Information:- TEA (INDIA) LTD [Active] CIN = U51226WB1992PLC055229

Company & Directors' Information:- L K TEA COMPANY PVT LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15491AS1997PTC005202

Company & Directors' Information:- M K TEA PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U01132WB1990PTC048457

Company & Directors' Information:- K N TEA COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15491AS2002PTC006903

Company & Directors' Information:- R D TEA LTD [Active] CIN = U19202WB1973PLC028737

Company & Directors' Information:- J V S TEA COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01132TZ1999PTC009045

Company & Directors' Information:- G B TEA COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U51109UP1997PTC021697

Company & Directors' Information:- D D TEA COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01132WB1999PTC090113

Company & Directors' Information:- S B TEA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15549DL1995PTC070054

Company & Directors' Information:- J C TEA COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U15491WB1998PTC088102

Company & Directors' Information:- I T FACTORY (INDIA) PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U72200DL2002PTC114798

Company & Directors' Information:- K C TEA CO PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01132WB1999PTC089821

Company & Directors' Information:- R V TEA CO PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U15500WB2011PTC169754

Company & Directors' Information:- A M TEA LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = L15491WB1996PLC081663

Company & Directors' Information:- R S TEA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01132PB1997PTC020323

Company & Directors' Information:- P K TEA PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U51226WB1978PTC031643

Company & Directors' Information:- S CORP PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74900TN2011PTC083426

Company & Directors' Information:- K S TEA COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U01132PB1999PTC022220

Company & Directors' Information:- J AND S CORP (I) PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U15122MH2013PTC245783

Company & Directors' Information:- M & A CORP PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U74120MH2012PTC233794

Company & Directors' Information:- TEA INDIA PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U15491WB1959PTC024311

Company & Directors' Information:- S K TEA COMPANY PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U67120WB1985PTC038815

Company & Directors' Information:- HINDUSTAN CORPORATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Dissolved] CIN = U74900KL1901PTC000424

Company & Directors' Information:- HINDUSTAN LTD. [Active] CIN = U99999MH1917PTC000472

Company & Directors' Information:- HINDUSTAN CORPORATION LIMITED [Dissolved] CIN = U99999MH1949PLC007790

    Writ Appeal No. 1971 of 2011

    Decided On, 14 March 2019

    At, High Court of Judicature at Madras

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE T.S. SIVAGNANAM & THE HONOURABLE MRS. JUSTICE V. BHAVANI SUBBAROYAN

    For the Appellants: S. Subbiah, Senior Counsel, G. Bharadwaj, Advocate. For the Respondents: A.L. Somayaji, Senior Counsel, Anand Gopal, M/s. T.S. Gopalan, R2, R4, P.R. Thiruneelakandan, Advocates.



Judgment Text

(Prayer: Appeal under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent to set aside the order dated 02.11.2010, passed in W.P.No.36431/2004.)

T.S. Sivagnanam, J.

1. The appellant, the Deputy Director, Regional Office (Pondicherry), Employees State Insurance Corporation, is before us challenging the correctness of the order passed in W.P.No.36431 of 2004, filed by the first respondent herein. Respondents 2 & 3 are the employees of the first respondent and the fourth respondent is the Workers Union.

2. The first respondent herein filed the Writ Petition praying for issuance of a Writ of Certiorarified Mandamus to quash the proceedings of the appellant, dated 11.10.2004 and consequently forbear the respondent (appellant herein) from in any manner implementing the provisions of the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, (the Act for brevity) to the first respondent factory situated at Pondicherry.

3. The proceedings which was impugned in the Writ Petition was an intimation given to the first respondent by the appellant informing that as per the provisions of the Act under Section 1(3) of the Act, the Central Government has issued notification, dated 26.12.1981, making the provisions of the Act applicable with effect from 27.12.1981, to all factories covered under the Act within the notified area. Attention of the first respondent was invited to Section 2A of the Act, which states that a factory within notified area is required to register under the Act and Chapter-IV thereof casts a responsibility on the Principal employer thereof to insure its employees and to pay contribution in respect of such employees covered under the Act. Further, it was stated that on the basis of the particulars in respect of the first respondent factory submitted by them, the Inspector of the Appellant has submitted a report stating that the first respondent's factory falls within the purview of Section 2(12) of the Act with effect from 01.01.2004. Therefore, the first respondent was requested to take immediate steps for registration of it's employees by filling in declaration forms, payment of contribution and maintenance of records etc., from the date of coverage of their factory under the Act. A code number was also allotted to the first respondent and requested them to give adequate publicity to its employees about the list of State Insurance Dispensaries to enable the employees to choose the dispensaries. In the foot note to the said communication, the activities done by the first respondent was mentioned as blending, processing and packing of black tea. The date of commencement was fixed as 01.01.2004 with the employees' strength of 141.

4. The first respondent's case before the learned Writ Court was that they are a public limited company engaged in manufacture of various items, which include popular brands of tea. The first respondent further stated that it has tea factories at various locations in the country and in southern region, it has three factories engaged in the manufacture of black coffee. The factory at Pondicherry was established in 1997 and it is engaged in the manufacture of black tea with effect from 19.11.1997, employed about 139 workmen. In paragraph 4 of the affidavit, a brief write-up has been given as to how tea is prepared. It is further stated that unblended garden teas are available for sale at various tea auction centres across the country. Original garden teas from plantations of the first respondent or purchased at various auction centres through private purchase are received at the factory at Pondicherry. The factory is stated to be equipped with sophisticated blending machines so as to give a distinctive blend with its own characteristic and flavour, having a homogeneity taste, colour and strength, which is identified with a particular brand name. The first respondent would further state that process of manufacture at factory involves original garden teas of different flavour, taste and colour being blended in defined proportions through sophisticated machines and they are being filled and sealed in cartons or pouches in a synchronised manner. It is further stated that the process of blending and packaging of tea amounts to manufacture of tea and that the packaged blended tea so produced has its own price structure, than the loose tea with a distinctive class of customers and having altogether different commercial incidents. This submission is made in the strength of the decision of the Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka in the case of Brooke Bond Lipton India Limited vs. State of Karnataka reported in 109 STC 265. It is submitted that the appeal filed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court against the said judgment was dismissed by judgment reported in 111 STC (J) 2. It is submitted that in the Factory License submitted for the first time on 31.10.1997, the first respondent has clearly mentioned that the factory is engaged in the manufacture of blending, processing and packaging of black tea. Therefore, the first respondent would state that they are a “seasonal factory” within the meaning of Section 2(19A) of the Act and the provisions of the Act is not applicable to their factory at Pondicherry. It is submitted that the provisions of the Act in the first instance apply to all factories other than seasonal factories. It is submitted that Section 2(12) defined 'seasonal factory', which definition was amended with effect from 28.01.1968, by Amending Act 44/66, which was further amended by Amendment Act, 29/89 by which Section 2(19A), was inserted with effect from 20.10.1989.

5. It is further stated that a factory exclusively engaged in the manufacture of tea or any manufacturing process incidental to or connected with manufacture of tea is deemed to be a 'seasonal factory' even though it operates throughout the year. Further, the purpose of amendment was to enlarge and not to restrict the statutory meaning of the definition 'seasonal factory'. Amendment does not restrict the original definition of 'seasonal factory', but makes addition thereto by inclusion. It is further submitted that the Insurance Inspector visited the factory during July 2001, informing the Factory Manager that the provisions of the Act have to be implemented. By letter dated 11.07.2001, the first respondent appears to have informed the Insurance Inspector that they are a 'seasonal factory' and the provisions of the Act are not applicable, more particularly, because they were one of the parties to the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Regional Director ESI vs. M/s.Highland Coffee Works, 1992 (1) LLJ 287. It is submitted that after the letter dated 11.07.2001, the Appellant dropped the request for the factory to implement the provisions of the Act and no further action was taken. It is submitted that without appreciating the well settled legal position, by communication, dated 11.10.2004, (impugned in the Writ Petition) the Appellant determined to cover the factory under the provisions of the Act with effect from 01.01.2004, and simultaneously allotted a code number. It is submitted that the appellant has not followed the procedure prescribed under the Regulation 10B of the Employees' State Insurance (General) Regulations Act, 1950, relating to registration of factories and establishment and has allotted a code number in violation of the prescribed procedure and principles of natural justice. In this regard, reference was made to the Regulation 10B and it is stated that the statutory form under the Regulation provides an opportunity to the first respondent to place all records and relevant facts and without affording such an opportunity, the appellant allowed the code number. Relying upon the communication dated 11.10.2004, it is stated that the appellant themselves have mentioned that the activity of the factory is blending, processing and packaging for black tea and this amounts to manufacture of tea and this position has been settled in the decision relied on and the factory is a 'seasonal factory' within the meaning of Section 2(19A) of the Act and hence, the provisions of the Act are not applicable.

6. The appellant filed a counter affidavit in the Writ Petition contending that the Writ Petition is not maintainable, as there was efficacious alternate remedy under Section 75 of the Act. It is submitted that the first respondent has admitted that their factory at Pondicherry is not engaged in the manufacture of tea, which means plucked tea leaves undergo withering, maceration, drying and grinding in the factories situated within the plantation and this fact having been candidly admitted by the first respondent, they are not a seasonal factory. It is stated that the first respondent has admitted that its factory at Pondicherry is engaged only in “blending and packing of tea”, and so the manufacturing activity in the factory is only blending and packaging of tea, which has also been ascertained during the survey conducted in the factory on 21.09.2004. It is submitted that a plain reading of the definition of 'seasonal factory', as it originally stood and after the amendments, does not include the process of blending, packing and repacking, where the factory was engaged in such process for a period exceeding seven months in a year.

7. It is further submitted that as pointed out by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in M/s.Highland Coffee Works, case, the definition of “seasonal factory” was to include the factory which is engaged in the process of blending, packing and repacking, provided the factory should work only for a period not exceeding 7 months in a year in that process. The first respondent factory being functional for more than seven months, it is not a 'seasonal factory'. Thus, it is pointed out that what is important is the duration of working of the factory and number of days, they work in a particular year and the inspection report clearly reveals that the factory was engaged in the process of blending and packing of tea for more than seven months in the year 2003. Thus, the appellant justified their action in calling upon the first respondent to register themselves under the Act and also in assigning the code number. It is further submitted that under Regulation 10B of the Regulations, it is not mandatory for the appellant to bring any factory under the coverage of the Act only on the submission of the Form-I, as Regulation 10B(c) states that the appellant may direct an employer who fails to comply with the requirements of the Regulation 10B(a) with regard to submission of Form-I. Further, it is submitted that submission of Form-I is not a condition precedent for allotment of code number and at the time of survey conducted at the factory on 21.09.2004, it was found that the first respondent did not submit Form-I and therefore, the proceedings issued by the appellant dated 11.10.2004 is legal and valid.

8. The learned Writ Court allowed the Writ Petition by the impugned order.

9. Mr.S.Subbiah, learned Senior Counsel assisted by Mr.G.Bharadwaj, learned counsel appearing for the appellant submitted that the definition of “seasonal factory” is agricultural and consequently, factual in nature and Writ Petition is not maintainable. It is further submitted that the appellant having admitted that unblended “garden teas” treated with plantations are available for sale at various tea auction centres or other companies or purchased at various auction centres and therefore, they cannot contend that their product is a seasonal product. It is submitted that significant changes were brought about in the definition of “seasonal factory”, which originally formed part of Section 12 which defines “Factory”, when a separate provision namely Section 12(19A) of the Act was introduced. It is submitted that by means of Act 44 of 1966, the definition of seasonal factory has undergone significant change by addition of the clause at the end of the existing section namely “and includes a factory which is engaged for a period not exceeding seven months in a year” and not every factory; but only those engaged in any process of blending or repacking of tea or coffee or such other manufacturing process notified by the Central Government. It is submitted that the said addition made by virtue of the amendment is not related to any process incidental to or connected with those enumerated in the Section, as it originally stood. It is submitted that in none of the decisions, which were relied on by the first respondent and referred to by the learned Writ Court, the scope of the clause “not exceeding seven months in a year” had been dealt with. Furthermore, the first respondent has never pleaded in the Writ Petition that their factory worked only for seven months in a year or that it was a continuous activity from the stage of plucking and drying. Further, the Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka in the case of ESI Corporation vs. M/s.Highland Coffee Works, reported in 1997 (1) LLJ 178, posed a question to itself as to whether the seasonal factory under unamended definition would cease to be such if it is worked for a period exceeding seven months in a year and the said question was answered in paragraph 8 of the judgment that the factory engaged in blending, packing independently would be a seasonal factory, provided such a factory worked for a period not exceeding seven months in a year. The said decision has been upheld by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the decision reported in Regional Director ESI vs. M/s.Highland Coffee Works, 1992 (1) LLJ 287.

10. Further, the first respondent's specific case is that the factory at Pondicherry is exclusively engaged in blending, packing and repacking tea and sending them for marketing and all other processes preceding the blending were carried out in the plantation and in addition, they also purchased the materials from other companies and from auction centres. Therefore, it is submitted that the order passed in the Writ Petition is liable to be reversed.

11. Mr.A.L.Somayaji, learned Senior Counsel assisted by Mr.Anand Gopalan for M/s.T.S.Gopalan & Co., learned counsel for the first respondent reiterated the stand taken in the Writ proceedings and emphatically submitted that in more than one place, the appellants have admitted that the first respondent's manufacturing activity is blending, processing and packing of tea and this has been specifically stated in the communication, dated 11.10.2004, which was impugned in the Writ Petition. Thus, having admitted in the counter affidavit that the first respondent was carrying on manufacturing activity, they would automatically fall within the first limb of definition of seasonal factory as defined under Section 2(19A) and the question of working for a period not more than seven months would not apply to the case of the first respondent. The learned counsel had taken us through the order passed in the Writ Petition, the decision of the Calcutta High Court in the ESI Corporation vs. Brooke Bond India Limited 1978 LIC 1074; the decision of the High Court of Karnataka in the case of ESI vs. M/s.Highland Coffee Works,(supra), and the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court affirming the said decision. Thus, it is the submission of the learned Senior counsel that the learned Single Bench had elaborately considered the matter and referred to the decisions relied on took note of the admission in the counter affidavit and has allowed the Writ Petition and at this stage, this Court will not re-appreciate the factual matrix and come to a different conclusion. Therefore, the learned Senior counsel prayed for sustaining the order passed in the Writ Petition.

12. Heard the learned counsels appearing for the parties and perused the materials placed on record.

13. The short yet important question which falls for consideration is whether the first respondent is a “seasonal factory” in terms of the definition contained in Section 2(19A) of the Act, which was inserted w.e.f., 20.10.1989.

14. Before going into the said aspect, it may be necessary to have a brief prelude as to how 'seasonal factory' had been defined under the Act prior to 1989 Amendment. The Act as it originally stood, defined 'seasonal factory' under Section 2(12) to mean a factory, which is exclusively engaged in one or more of the following manufacturing processes, namely, cotton ginning, cotton or jute pressing, decortication of groundnuts, the manufacture of coffee, indigo, lac, rubber, sugar (including ghur) or tea or any manufacturing process which is incidental to or connected with any of the aforesaid processes. The expression 'manufacturing process' and 'power' shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in the Factories Act, 1948.

15. The definition of 'seasonal factory' was amended by Amendment Act, 44/66 w.e.f., 28.01.1968, as under:-

“Seasonal factory” means a factory which is exclusively engaged in one more of the following manufacturing processes, namely, cotton ginning, cotton or jute pressing decortication of groundnuts, the manufacture of coffee, indigo, lac, rubber, sugar (including ghur) or tea or any manufacturing process which is incidental to or connected with any of the aforesaid processes and includes a factory which is engaged for a period not exceeding seven months in a year:-

(a). In any process of blending or re-packing of tea or coffee; or

(b). in such other manufacturing process as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify;

The expressions “manufacturing process” and “power” shall have the meaning respectively assigned to them in the Factories Act, 1948.

16. By Amendment Act, 29/89, w.e.f., 20.10.1989, Section 2(19A) was inserted under Section 2(19) by which seasonal factory stood separately defined. The said section is as follows:-

'Seasonal factory' means a factory exclusively engaged in one more of the following manufacturing processes, namely, cotton ginning, cotton or jute pressing decortication of groundnuts, the manufacture of coffee, indigo, lac, rubber, sugar (including ghur) or tea or any manufacturing process which is incidental to or connected with any of the aforesaid processes and includes a factory which is engaged for a period not exceeding seven months in a year.

a) in any process of blending, packing or repacking of tea or coffee; or

b) in such other manufacturing process as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify;

17. The amendment which was made to Section 2(12) by Amendment Act 44/66 included a factory which is engaged for a period not exceeding seven months in a year, if they are engaged in any process of blending, packing or re-packing of coffee or tea. By Amendment Act 28 of 89, as pointed out, seasonal factory, was separately defined by inserting a new provision, wherein the same condition that the factory should not be engaged in the process for a period exceeding seven months in a year, found place and in clause (a) after the word blending, 'packing' was added.

18. The case of the first respondent is that they are carrying on a manufacturing activity in blending and packing of tea and therefore, the rigour of the amended Section fixing a seven month period would not apply and in the case of Brooke Bond India Ltd., (supra), this position has been clearly stated by pointing out that the legislative intent is in favour of widening the definition of 'seasonal factory' and it is immaterial, if the factory worked throughout the year.

19. The sheet anchor of the arguments of the learned Senior counsel for the first respondent is the admission stated to have been made by the appellant in the counter affidavit filed in the Writ Petition. Therefore, first we need to see as to whether there is any admission to the said effect made by the appellant in the counter affidavit. The relevant paragraphs, which were referred to by the learned Senior counsel are :-

4. I submit that with regard to para 5 of the petition, the petitioner had described what is blending of Tea. In para 6, the petitioner explained the packing of Tea. In para 9, the petitioner itself admitted that its Factory at Pondicherry is engaged only in “blending and packing of tea”. So the manufacturing activity in the petitioner's factory at Pondicherry is blending and packing of tea as admitted by the petitioner itself. This has been found out by the Survey conducted by the respondent Corporation in the petitioner's factory on 21.09.2004 and a copy of the Survey Report, dated 21.09.2004 is enclosed for reference.

5. There is no dispute of fact about the manufacturing activity. The manufacturing activity of the petitioner as per Form No.2 submitted to the Factory Inspectorate, Govt of Pondicherry is also blending, processing and packing of tea. Admittedly, the respondent Corporation also brought the petitioner's Factory under the provisions of the ESI Act only for this blending, processing and packing activities.

7......Both the parties agree that the manufacturing activity is blending and packing of tea. But the petitioner had not clearly brought out to this Hon'ble Court the duration of working of the Factory, number of days worked in any particular year. However, as per the report of the Insurance Inspector of the respondent Corporation, it is evident that the petitioner's Factory was engaged in the process of blending and packing of tea for more than 7 months in the year, 2003.

20. The appellant in the counter affidavit has stated that the factory of the first respondent at Pondicherry is engaged only in blending and packing of tea. This has been referred to by the appellant as manufacturing activity in more than one place. Can this expression 'manufacturing activity' used by the appellant be termed to be accepting the case of the first respondent that they are engaged in the manufacturing process of tea as per the substantive portion of the definition of 'seasonal factory' under Section 2(19A). Our definite answer to this question is an emphatic no. This is so because the substantive portion of the definition defines 'seasonal factory' to mean a factory exclusively engaged in any one or more of the manufacturing processes mentioned therein and tea is one such manufacturing process. It also brings within its fold any manufacturing process which is incidental to or connected with any of the 'aforesaid' processes.

21. The next portion of the definition is very important which states that it includes a factory, which is engaged in any process of blending, packing or repacking of tea or coffee for a period not exceeding seven months in a year. We find that it is never the case of the first respondent that they are engaged in the manufacturing process of tea in their factory at Pondicherry. The candid admission of the appellant is that they not only source original garden tea from their own plantation but also purchase them at various auctions centres or through private purchase and they are received in the factory at Pondichery. This candid admission demolishes the very basis of the submission of the first respondent that the activity done by them in the factory at Pondichery is incidental and ancillary to manufacture of tea, which was done elsewhere.

22. The learned Senior counsel for the first respondent would strenuously contend that the first respondent was a party to the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of M/s.Highland Coffee Works,(supra), and the decision is a clear answer to the case of the contentions advanced by the appellant and apart from that the decision of the High Court of Calcutta is also a decision pertaining to the first respondent company in respect of their factory at Calcutta and therefore, the appellant can no longer take a different stand and those decisions would bind the appellant as in terms of Article 261 of the Constitution of India, the judgment delivered between the same parties are to be enforced in full faith and therefore, they are fully justified in approaching the Writ Court invoking Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

23. To be noted that the judgment of the High Court of Calcutta in the case of Brooke Bond India Ltd.,(supra), was rendered on a fact situation, which was prior to the Amending Act 29/89. The question which fell for consideration in the said case was as to the legal effect of the Amending Act 44/66, whereby the definition of 'seasonal factory' appearing in sub-section 12 of Section 2 of the Act was amended. The matter concerns the factory at Calcutta which also had a repair shop for repairing machinery and the question was whether the said factory was engaged in the process incidental to or connected with the manufacturing process of tea or coffee and whether roasting of coffee with chicory was manufacture of coffee or process incidental to or connected with manufacture of coffee. These questions were not decided by the learned Single Bench and it was pointed out that such questions involve determination of facts and therefore, granted liberty to the ESI Corporation to decide the same. This finding of the learned Single Bench was approved by the Division Bench in paragraph 19 of the judgment.

24. The position after the amendment by Act 44/66 was discussed in paragraph 17 of the judgment and it was pointed out that after the amendment, a factory which is not exclusively engaged in the manufacturing process referred to in the original unamended definition of 'seasonal factory', but is engaged for a period not exceeding seven months in a year in any process of blending, packing or repacking of tea or coffee would be regarded as a “seasonal factory”. Further, it was pointed out that the factories not being factories exclusively engaged in the manufacturing process referred to in the definition of “seasonal factories”, as it stood before the amendment would not be seasonal factories according to the definition as it stood before the amendment, but after the amendment, such factories come within the meaning of seasonal factories, provided, they are engaged in the process of blending, packing or repacking only for a period of not exceeding seven months in a year. At this juncture, it would be beneficial to refer to the operative portion of the said judgment, which reads as follows:-

“17..... In the present case, the position is otherwise and the context with reference to which the word “includes” was used cannot warrant a departure from the general principle that the word “includes” was one of extension and not of limitation. In the definition with which we are concerned the word “means” was also used and after exhausting the processes the engagement wherein would make a factory a “seasonal factory”, the definition included some particular processes the engagement wherein would render a factory a seasonal factory only if such particular processes were carried on for a period not exceeding seven months in a year. Thus, in the present case, there is no reason for regarding the word “includes” as one of limitation. The result, therefore, is that the amendment in the present case can in no way touch those factories which before the amendment were seasonal factories within the meaning of the unamended definition. What then is the effect of the amendment? The amendment cannot be regarded as entirely redundant. The legislature brought about the amendment with a definite object and that object obviously is to enlarge the scope of the original definition and to bring within its purview some factories which before the amendment were not seasonal factories according to the restrictive meaning assigned to it by the original definition before the amendment. Before the amendment a factory to become a seasonal factory must be one which is exclusively engaged in one or more of the manufacturing processes referred to therein. But after the amendment a factory which is not exclusively engaged in the manufacturing processes referred to in the original unamended definition of “seasonal factory” but is engaged for a period not exceeding seven months in a year in any process of blending, packing or repacking of tea or coffee would be regarded as a “seasonal factory”. There may be factories which are not exclusively engaged in the manufacture of tea or coffee or any manufacturing process which is incidental to or connected with any of the processes referred to in the earlier part of the definition of seasonal factory but which may be engaged in the blending, packing or repacking of tea or coffee and in other pursuits but not such pursuits as may bring them within the definition of factories. Such factories not being factories exclusively engaged in the manufacturing processes referred to in the definition of seasonal factories as it stood before the amendment would not be seasonal factories according to the definition as it stood before the amendment. But after the amendment such factories would come within the meaning of seasonal factories provided they are engaged in the process of blending, packing or repacking only for a period not exceeding seven months in a year.”

The above decision clearly supports the stand taken by the appellant.

25. The decision in the case of M/s.Highland Coffee Works, (supra) as decided by the High Court of Karnataka did not have an occasion to consider the purport and scope of the words “for a period not exceeding seven months in a year” and therefore, the said decision does not render any assistance to the case of the first respondent.

26. In the light of the factual background which were considered and decided by the High Court of Calcutta in Brooke Bond India Ltd.,(supra), and High Court of Karnataka in the case of M/s.Highland Coffee Works, (supra), the first respondent can place no reliance on Article 261 of the Constitution. That apart every establishment is an independent unit. The factory over which we are concerned is situated in the Union Territory of Pondicherry and not within the State of Tamil Nadu. The appellant is stated to be exclusively engaged in the manufacturing of tea, but such manufacturing process is admittedly not being carried on in the factory at Pondicherry as admitted by the first respondent in the affidavit filed in support of the Writ Petition, more particularly in paragraph 4.

27. The admission is to the effect that origi

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nal garden teas are procured from the plantations of the company and purchased from various auction centres and private vendors. In such circumstances, the first respondent cannot state that the activities carried on in the Pondicherry factory, namely, blending, packing or repacking of tea is incidental and connected with the exclusive manufacturing process of tea done elsewhere. As pointed out earlier, the appellant has nowhere admitted that the first respondent is a manufacturer of tea and the word “manufacturing activity” used in paragraph 4 of the counter affidavit refers to what the factory at Pondicherry does, namely, blending and packing of tea. 28. Mr.P.R.Thiruneelakandan, learned counsel appearing for the respondents 2 to 4 has produced the copies of wage slips issued to various workmen to show that the factory is working throughout the year and the factory would not fall within the definition of a “seasonal factory”, as defined under Section 2(19A) of the Act. 29. As pointed out earlier, the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of M/s.Highland Coffee Works, (supra), had not dealt with the restriction of working for a period not exceeding seven months in a year and the judgment cannot be relied on by the first respondent to support their stand that the factory engaged in blending and packing of tea exceeding seven months in a year is also included within the definition of seasonal factory. Furthermore, the decision does not state that blending and packing of tea is a manufacturing process and even assuming, if it is so, as the first respondent's factory works throughout the year, they will not fall within the definition of a “seasonal factory”. 30. To be noted that the provisions of the ESI Act applies to all factories other than seasonal factories. The submission of the learned Senior counsel for the first respondent is that seasonal factories are outside the purview of the Act and the appellant is not justified in assigning a code number and compelling them to register under the Act. The ESI Act is a labour welfare legislation intended to protect the workmen. Therefore, liberal interpretation should be given so that the objects of the Act are achieved. The interpretation should also lean in favour of the working force for whose welfare the legislation was enacted. We do not agree with the submission that by being a seasonal factory, automatically the provisions of the Act cannot be made applicable to the first respondent. 31. This argument would be sustainable, if seasonal factory had not been defined under the Act. Section 2(19A) defines “seasonal factory”, and a person who claims to be a seasonal factory should fall within the four corners of such definition. Therefore, the Act carves out an exception more or less akin to an exemption in respect of seasonal factories, provided the factory falls within the definition of 'seasonal factory' as defined under Section 2(19A). Therefore, there is no automatic exemption available as pleaded by the first respondent. Thus, for all the above reasons we are of the considered view that the order passed in the Writ Petition requires to be interfered. 32. In the result, the Writ Appeal is allowed and the order passed in the Writ Petition is set aside and the appellant is directed to proceed further pursuant to the proceedings dated 11.10.2004. No costs.
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