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Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health v Hospital Employees Union (2006) ILLJ

781 (Del) demonstration, immunity, strike


Section 17 and 18 of the Act provides certain immunities to the trade union such as
immunity from criminal conspiracy in trade disputes and from civil suits in certain cases,
but these are made available only to the registered trade unions.
S. 17 of the Trade Unions Act lays down the grounds for providing the members of a
trade union immunity from prosecution in criminal proceedings for any act performed by
them while carrying out legitimate functions of the trade union. The section provides that
no member of a registered trade union will be found liable under the provisions of s.
120B (2) IPC, 1860 in respect of any agreement made between the members for the
purpose of furthering any object enumerated in s. 15 of the Trade Unions Act, 1926,
unless the agreement in question is an agreement to commit an offence. Under the
definition of s. 17, the agreement' must be an agreement to do something contained in s.
15 and it cannot be an agreement to commit an offence as defined under s. 40 IPC.

S. 18 of the Trade Unions Act provides for exemption from prosecution in civil cases. It
essentially states that immunity from civil proceedings is granted to the office bearers and
members of a registered trade union for the offence of bringing about a breach of contract
of employment between the employer and the employee. The trade union itself is also
granted immunity from civil proceedings for the offence of inducing a person to break his
contract of employment between the employer and the employee or of interfering with
the trade, business or employment of some other person, provided that such inducement
is in furtherance of a trade dispute. However the section clearly states that this
inducement must be entirely legal and must be done by lawful means.

in the case of Vidya Sagar Institute of Mental Health And Neuro Services v Vidya Sagar
Hospital Employees Union, in which the court allowed the members of the union to
peacefully demonstrate outside the radius of 200 metres from the hospital premise so that
their act won't interfere in the normal functioning of the hospital.
Further:
From these following principles can be culled out:1.Civil Court has the jurisdiction to entertain suit of this nature

2.Immunity given to the Unions under Section 18 of the Trade Unions Act, 1926, does not
extend to conduct those acts which may amount to offence.
3.Peaceful demonstration is a fundamental right of the Unions/employees.

It is the legitimate right of the workers to make legitimate demands and when not met,
even go on peaceful but legal strike, a right so recognized under labor laws. Trade union
has a right to pursue its trade union activities by peaceful methods. However, in exercise
of such a right unions/employees cannot disrupt the functioning of the employer or
obstruct willing workers from performing their duties. Further they cannot indulge in the
acts of violence, physical assault, intimidation, threats etc.

Thus while it may be the right of the union to hold peaceful demonstration, such
demonstrations cannot be allowed to become violent or intimidating in nature. The safety
of those visitors who are visiting the employers premises as well, as those willing
workers, including their smooth ingress and egress is also to be ensured. This balance is
to strike between the two competing and conflicting interests. The Courts have devised
the methods to ensure it by fixing the distance from the employers premises within which
such demonstration etc would not be permissible meaning thereby Unions can resort to
these demonstrations only beyond a particular distance. In this way they are able to hold
peaceful demonstration and at the same time it is ensured that such peaceful
demonstration does not relegate the aforesaid rights of the employer.

Orissa Textiles & Stell Ltd. V State of Orissa


the petitioner's case is that the 'right to continue business' within the meaning of Article
19(1)(g) of the Constitution includes right to close down a business and the very fact that
the citizen cannot exercise the said right, inasmuch as permission of the State
Government is required under Section 25O before closing ; down the business, infringes
the right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
Held:The new Section insofar as it empowers the appropriate Government to refuse to
grant permission to an employer to close his industrial undertaking does not, in our view,
infringe the fundamental rights guaranteed: by Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the
Constitution being saved by Article 19(6) of the Constitution.

It is too well-settled that if the competent authority passed an order in exercise of his
power under a statute without conforming to the statutory requirements, then the order
gets vitiated and can be struck down if challenged before a court of law, but that does not
make the statute itself unconstitutional. The right to close a business is an integral part of
the fundamental right to carry on business and is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the
Constitution. The closure of any industrial undertaking is likely to have adverse impact
on the interest of the working class and, therefore, the Legislature enacted the provision
of Section 25O of the Industrial Disputes Act to consider the interest of the workers
employed in a large industrial undertaking. The interest of the labour has not to be
ignored and, therefore, a balance has been struck by prescribing the manner of seeking
permission for closure and by providing for dealing with the said application by the
competent authority and providing guidelines for the exercise of such power.
Workmen of Dewan Tea Estate v Their Management
The SC refused to accept the contention that S. 25 C of the Act recognizes a common law
right of Industrial employer to lay off his workman and observed that it would be
legitimate to hold that lay-off which primarily gives rise to a claim for compensation
under S. 25 C must be layoff as defined in Section 2(kkk).so the workman who claims the
benefit under S. 25 C must be workman who are laid-off and laid off for the reasons
contemplated in S 2(kkk). No common law right can be spelt out from S. 25C. According
to the provisions of S. 25 C a workman who has completed one year of continuous
service as defined in S. 25B and whose name is borne in the muster roll has been laid-off
will be entitled to 50% of the total wages