 On July 26, 1957, Mr. Ramakrishna Iyer, director of the appeal agency, was violently attacked by some workers, causing him serious injuries, breaking 6 bones and having to be hospitalized for more than a month in Madras.

  The appellants’ Staff who working in the Kelso department were also threatened by workers.

  Thus, three employees wrote to the appellant on 27 July  1957 that they would be in danger if they worked in the lower division.

  They further said that workers in the  lower ward would kill them if they worked in the lower ward.

 Brief facts:

The plaintiff in this case is the owner of a rope manufacturing facility. He agreed with several businessmen to hire workers in his industry. The contractor’s job is to hire workers and meet the petitioner’s requirements. Some  workers were refused employment on the grounds that they were not  factory workers. These 29 workers requested compensation and rehabilitation.

The Kerala state government referred the dispute to the industrial court as an industrial dispute. The petitioner filed a special leave petition before the Kerala High Court. There the matter was heard by a learned Single Judge and a Division Bench of Judges.

Arguments by the side of petitioner

The plaintiff argued that there was no employer-employee relationship between him and the employee. He argued that the workers were employed by the contractor and that he was not obliged to provide them with work. These workers are not defined as workers of an industry under Section 2 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

Arguments of the Respondent

Respondents were 29 workers who were refused work; they claimed that the factory was their only source of employment. It is the employer’s duty  to provide them with work. They claim compensation for the days work was not provided to them.

Related issues

Do workers employed by independent contractors to work in the employer’s factory  fall within the definition of “workman” as set out in section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 ?

History of the procedure

The case was taken up before the Industrial Court by the Kerala state government. The petitioner (employer) filed a special leave application before the Kerala High Court. Before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the matter was heard by the learned Single Judge, where the learned Judge ruled in  favor of the workman. The matter was then referred to the  High Court, which upheld the single judge’s decision. Thereafter, the petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Kerala High Court on the special leave petition.

India is a country where the maximum population is labor class. People work in industries and earn their livelihood. India is a developing country and industries play a major role in employment. But with the development of the nation, another thing that is developing is unemployment and exploitation of labors. So there are legislations that secure the rights of the labors. The Industrial Dispute Act 1947, secures the rights of labors, provides the remedies and process for resolving the industrial disputes.
Here the question arises what is an industrial dispute, an industrial dispute according to section 2(k) of Industrial Dispute Act 1947, is any dispute between the employer and employee, employer and employee and employee and employee, which is related to the employment, non employment or the terms of employment.
For any industrial dispute i.e. between the employee and employer, there should be fulfillment of triple test:

  1. There should be an establishment of a systematic activity.
  2. The systematic activity should be between the employee and the employer in the establishment.
  3. The activity should give the output resulting out from production of goods, or, distribution of goods, or, the catering of services (not being religious or spiritual in nature, exception – Prasad making establishment)

This triple test was established in the case of Bangalore Water Supply & Sewerage Board v. A. Rajappa and followed in this case. The Supreme Court in this case examined the established employer and employee relationship, the systematic activity and the goods and services produced.


Advocate Muskan Chauhan


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