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The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
Section 17 in The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
Section 19(6) in The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
The Regional Rural Banks Act, 1976
Section 17(1) in The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947

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Karnataka High Court
All India Regional Rural Banks ... vs Union Of India And Other on 11 November, 1998
Equivalent citations: ILR 1999 KAR 1064, 2000 (3) KarLJ 157
Bench: K P Rao

ORDER

1. This writ petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for quashing the report dated 17th May, 1997 submitted by 5th respondent on salaries, allowances of employees of Regional Rural Banks by issue of writ of certiorari holding that the appointment of the Committee and its recommendations is incompetent, illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory and contrary to the provisions of Regional Rural Banks Act, 1976, contrary to the binding terms of the award dated 30th of April 1990 made by the National Industrial Tribunal and ultra vires the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and opposed to the mandate of Articles 14 , 16(1) and 39(d) of the Constitution of India and issue a writ of mandamus directing the respondents to pay salary and allowances to all the employees of Regional Rural Banks with effect

from 1-11-1992 in accordance with the pay, allowances and benefits implemented in respect of the employees of Nationalised Commercial Banks as per Memorandum of Settlement dated 14-2-1995 vide Annexure-D and as per wage revision given to officers of NCBs from 1-11-1992 and 1-7-1993 vide Annexure-D1 produced along with this writ petition.

2. Petitioner 1 is the All India Regional Rural Banks Employees' Association which is a trade Union having as its members about 60,000 employees working in various Regional Rural Banks (in short 'RRBs') in the Country constituted under the Regional Rural Banks Act, 1976 (in short 'RRB Act') represented by its Organising Secretary and the second petitioner who is an employee in the services of the 3rd respondent-Bank which is one of the RRBs established in the Country, filed the present writ petition for the above said reliefs, calling in question the failure of the respondents in implementing the 6th Bipartite Settlement pursuant to the National Industrial Tribunal Award (in short 'NIT Award') and action of the 2nd respondent in appointing the 5th respondent-Committee on salaries and allowances of employees of RRBs, They are also calling in question the recommendations of the 5th respondent-Committee.

3. The RRBs are established under the provisions of RRB Act. It is stipulated that the remuneration of the officers and other employees appointed by RRBs shall be such as may be determined by the Central Government and in determining such remuneration, Central Government shall have due regard to the salary structure of the employees of the State Government and the Local Authorities of comparable level and status in the notified area. Section 29 gives power to make Rules by the Central Government after consultation with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (in short 'the NABARD') and the Sponsor Bank by notification in the Official Gazette, for carrying out the provisions of the Act. One of the subjects in regard to which such rules shall be made is the manner in which the officers and other employees of the Regional Rural Banks shall be appointed. Section 30 provides power to make regulations and under the said regulation the Board of Directors of Regional Rural Bank may after consultation with the Sponsor Bank and the NABARD and with the previous sanction of the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette, make regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act and the rules made thereunder to provide for all matters for which provision is necessary and expedient for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of the Act.

4. The employees and officers of the Rural Banks were repeatedly representing to the first respondent to sanction scales of pay and other service benefits on par with the employees and officers of Nationalised Commercial Banks (in short the 'NCBs') who had sponsored various Banks. When the said request was not considered by the Central Government on behalf of them, the first petitioner filed Writ Petition No. 132 of 1984 before the Supreme Court of India and connected Writ Petition Nos. 7149 and 7150 of 1982 also came to be filed by another set of RRB employees. One G.S. Kaushik also joined the first petitioner in filing Writ Petition No. 132 of 1984. In the said writ petitions, directions were sought to the 1st, 2nd and 4th respondents to fix the emoluments of the employees of RRBs in conformity with the laid down principles of equal pay for equal work and industry-cum-region formula which are well accepted principles in wage determination in industrial jurisprudence. A direction was sought to bring about parity in pay, allowance and emoluments between the employees of RRBs inter se and with those of employees of NCBs contending that both RRBs and its employees and the NCBs and its employees whose principal employer is the Government of India are carrying on the same activities and performing the duties of same nature and despite that there is a wide disparity between the emoluments paid to the RRBs sponsored by NCBs and the employees of NCBs. The Supreme Court directed the Central Government to refer the dispute to the Tribunal preferably to a Retired Chief Justice of a High Court within four weeks from the date of the order. The Tribunal was also directed to pronounce the award as expeditiously as possible in terms of the order of the Supreme Court. The Central Government appointed a National Industrial Tribunal consisting of Shri Justice S. Obul Reddi, Retired Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh as its Chairman. After recording elaborate evidence and hearing extensive arguments, the NIT gave its award on 30-4-1990 holding that the duties and functions of the officers and other employees in the comparable posts of rural branches of Sponsor Banks and that of the Commercial Banks and RRBs carry on similar banking business and participate in the development of rural economy as partners in the rural development acting as instrumentalities of the State in accordance with the Directive Principles of the Constitution and it would be unjust and unreasonable to deny the RRB employees parity in the scales of pay in Sponsor Banks in comparable posts, having regard to similarity in the nature of duties, functions and responsibilities. The final recommendations of the award were ordered to be given effect to from 1987. Thereafter the Government of India constituted an Equation Committee on 5-10-1990 for the purpose of recommending the equation of posts and consequent fixation of new scales of pay, allowances and other benefits for officers and other employees of the RRBs on par with other officers and other employees of comparable level in corresponding posts in Sponsor Banks of comparable level. In accordance with the directions given in the award, the Equation Committee submitted their recommendations on 16-1-1991. The 1st respondent-Union of India accepted the award of NIT and the report of the Equation Committee and issued directions by the communication dated 22-2-1991 vide Annexure-A to all RRBs to implement the NIT Award and the Equation Committee Report with effect from 1-9-1987 and to pay all arrears from 1-1-1991. Regarding payment of arrears for the period 1-9-1987 to 31-12-1990 the Government called upon the RRBs to calculate the arrears and communicate to the Government of India and NABARD as early as possible. The first respondent implemented the parity between RRBs employees and employees of NCBs on 1-9-1987 and also extended the parity as on 1-11-1987 by extending V Bipartite

Settlement and the revision or pay scales and allowances to NCB officers and also to the employees of RRBs from 1-11-1987. Subsequently, the first respondent appointed a Committee to submit service regulations, recruitment and promotion policy and any other matter relating to the implementation of any other matter of the NIT Award and the report of the Equation Committee. The Committee submitted their report on 17-2-1992. Thereafter, as instructed by the 1st respondent-NABARD issued a letter on 20-3-1993 giving necessary directions to various Grameen Banks for implementation of the award of the Tribunal and when there was enormous delay in implementing certain benefits pursuant to the NIT Award, the first petitioner herein along with Sri G.S. Kaushik filed an interlocutory application before the Supreme Court in Writ Petition No. 132 of 1984 seeking directions to the respondents to forthwith appropriately implement the NIT Award, direct payment of arrears of service conditions and directing full implementation of the award and also seeking redressal or certain grievances arising out of Equation Committee Report and report of the Working Group. The Supreme Court by an order dated 12-4-1996 in G.S. Kaushik and Another v Union of India and Others, gave certain directions specifying the manner in which the liability for payment of arrears payable to the employees of RRBs for the period up to 30-12-1990 in terms of the award of the Tribunal shall be discharged. The Supreme Court also held regarding the other directions sought in the I.A. application, the award of NIT shall be treated as the award of the Tribunal under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (in short the 'I.D. Act, 1947') and it is open to the employees of RRBs to seek their remedies for implementation of the award in respect of all those matters before the appropriate Forum under the I.D. Act, 1947. In pursuance of the said directions issued by the Supreme Court, NABARD issued a Circular dated 11-7-1996 directing the RRBs to disburse the arrears as per the time schedule given in the Circular. In the meanwhile, the 6th Bipartite Settlement was entered into between the representatives of the Nationalised Banks and their managements on 14-2-1995. By the said settlement, the pay, allowances and other service benefits of the employees of the NCBs were revised upwards w.e.f. 1-11-1992 and it gave an overall wage increase of about 12% to the employees of the NCBs. It is the contention of the petitioners that the employees of RRBs also became entitled to upward revision and their terms and conditions of service in line with the Sixth Bipartite Settlement w.e.f. 1-11-1992 by virtue of the directions given in the NIT Award at paras 4.425 to 4.429 since their request in this regard was not acceded by the respondents and since respondent 2-RBI, appointed 5th respondent-Committee to examine the allowance and other benefits that are presently available to the RRB employees and suggest rationalisation and simplification thereof to examine the desirability and the feasibility of introducing performance linked incentives for the RRBs. The petitioners approached this Court for quashing the said appointment of the Committee and the report submitted by it and for a

direction to the respondents to extend the benefits of the IV Bipartite Agreement to the employees of RRBs.

5. Respondents 1 and 2 filed their separate counters contending that the award of NIT deciding the parity of the RRBs employees pay and allowances on par with the employees of Nationalised Commercial Banks covers only the Fifth Bipartite Settlement. With a view to achieve the uniform pay scales of the employees of the RRBs throughout India and to remove the anomalies that exist between the different Regional Rural Banks in the matter of pay-scale, allowances etc., the Central Government decided to set up a Committee to advise the Government for determining the suitable restructuring in the Regional Rural Banks under Section 17(1) of the RRB Act and accordingly the Government of India requested the RBI, vide its communication dated 24-10-1996 to appoint a Committee to go into the matter. The Government of India has also specified the terms of reference to the Committee. The composition of the committee was by the Government of India itself. Accordingly, the Reserve Bank of India vide its letter dated 5-11-1996 appointed the Committee with Sri S.C. Mahalik as the Chairman of the Committee, the terms of reference of the Committee were also indicated in the order itself as determined by the Government of India. The Reserve Bank of India has only carried out the directions of the Government of India in this regard to assist the Government of India to pass appropriate orders in respect of the matters enumerated in Section 17 of RRB Act. The Mahalik Committee have submitted a report which has been forwarded by the Government of India recently and the said report is under active consideration of the Ministry of Finance, Banking Division, Government of India. The Government would pass appropriate orders determining the remuneration of all the Employees of the Regional Rural Banks in terms of the provisions of RRB Act. It is contended by respondents 1 and 2 that in the above circumstances, the filing of the writ petition is premature and is not maintainable and that the petitioners are not entitled to seek the implementation of 6th Bipartite Agreement to the employees of RRBs. They also contended that it is open for them to raise a dispute under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 in case they have any grievance in respect of the determination of the pay scales that would be made by the Government of India under the provisions of the Act.

6. I have heard the elaborate arguments advanced by the learned Counsel appearing on both sides.

7. It is vehemently contended by Sri P.S. Rajagopal, learned Counsel appearing for the petitioners, that the award passed by NIT is still in force and the direction given in the said award that the employees of RRBs are entitled to the same pay scales, allowances and benefits as that of Sponsor Banks by applying the principles of Equal Pay for Equal Work are binding on all parties to the award and so the respondents are bound to implement the pay and allowances granted to the employees of the Sponsor Banks by the 6th Bipartite Agreement and the wage revision granted to the officers of the NCBs from 1-11-1992 and 1-7-1993

also to the petitioners and the action of the Reserve Bank of India in appointing Committee when the earlier award is binding and when no notice of termination of award is issued by any party to the award, is arbitrary, discriminatory premature and contrary to the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act. It is further contended by him that the finding given in the award passed by the NIT, that the officers and other employees of RRBs will be entitled to claim parity with the other officers and other employees of the Sponsor Bank in the matter of pay scales, allowances and other benefits is the finding given once for all which is to be implemented for all time to come and the said finding cannot be restricted to the implementation of only 5th Bipartite Agreement, as contended by the respondents and the benefits given to the employees and officers of RRBs cannot be considered as one-time package to them as contended by the respondents. It is also his contention that no fresh sanction under the second proviso to Section 17 of the RRB Act by the second respondent for implementing the provisions contained in 6th Bipartite Agreement is necessary when the award of NIT is still in force and when it has not ceased to operate. It is further contended by him that the 2nd respondent has neither jurisdiction nor competency to constitute 5th respondent-Committee to submit its report on the points of reference relating to pay structure of the employees of RRBs. Per contra, Sri N. Devadas, learned Counsel for respondent 1 and Sri K. Kasturi, learned Counsel for respondents 2 and 5, contended that the award of NIT is no longer in force as the maximum period for which it could be in force is only one year under the provisions of Section 19(3) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and the benefits given to the employees of RRBs under the said award by the first respondent is only one-time package covering 4th Bipartite Agreement and 5th Bipartite Agreement which were in force at that time. It is further contended by them that the Government of India is vested with powers under the second proviso to Section 17(1) of RRB Act, 1976 to determine the remuneration of the officers and other employees of the Regional Rural Banks and even while implementing the award of NIT the requirement of second proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 17 of the RRB Act, 1976 has been complied with and for any further revision in the pay scale the Government of India has to issue orders under the aforesaid section.

8. In view of the above said rival contentions advanced by the learned Counsels on both sides it must be first seen whether the award passed by NIT, which has become final and binding on all the respondents is still in force and has not ceased to operate as contended by the petitioners. By virtue of the directions given by the Supreme Court by an order dated 12-4-1996, G.S. Kaushik's case, supra, the award passed by NIT shall be treated as the award of the Tribunal under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Since the said direction was given by the Supreme Court on 12-4-1996 it must be taken that the said non- statutory award has become the statutory award with effect from 12-4-1996. Section 19 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 reads as follows:--

"Period of operation of settlements and awards.-

(3) An award shall, subject to the provisions of this section, remain in operation for a period of one year from the date on which the award becomes enforceable under Section 17-A:

Provided that the appropriate Government may reduce the said period and fix such period as it thinks fit:

Provided further that the appropriate Government may before the expiry of the said period, extend the period of operation by any period not exceeding one year at a time as it thinks fit, so however, that the total period of operation of any award does not exceed three years from the date on which it came into operation.

(4) Where the appropriate Government, whether of its own motion or on the application of any party bound by the award, considers that since the award was made, there has been a material change in the circumstances on which it was based, the appropriate Government may refer the award or a part of it to a Labour Court, if the award was that of a Labour Court or to a Tribunal, if the award was that of a Tribunal or of a National Tribunal for decision whether the period of operation should not, by reason of such change be shortened and the decision of Labour Court or the Tribunal, as the case may be, on such reference shall be final.

(5) Nothing contained in sub-section (3) shall apply to any award which by its nature, terms or other circumstances does not impose, after it has been given effect to, any continuing obligation on the parties bound by the award.

(6) Notwithstanding the expiry of the period of operation under sub-section (3), the award shall continue to be binding on the parties until a period of two months has elapsed from the date on which notice is given by any party bound by the award to the other party or parties intimating its intention to terminate the award.

(7) No notice given under sub-section (2) or sub-section (6) shall have effect, unless it is given by a party representing the majority of persons bound by the settlement or award, as the case may be".

Since no period of operation is fixed under the award of NIT, it must be taken that the maximum period of its operation is one year from 12-4-1996, the date on which it is ordered to be treated as an award passed under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 by the direction given by the Supreme Court. However, by virtue of the provisions in Section 19(6) even after the expiration of the period of operation of the award, which is one year in the present case, it must be taken that the award will continue to be in force till a notice is given to the first petitioner by the first respondent intimating its intention to terminate the award. Since, admittedly, no such notice has been issued by the first respondent or any of the parties to the award, intimating their intention to terminate the award passed by the NIT, the said award passed by the NIT, must

be deemed to he in torce and is binding on all the parties and I agree with the said contention advanced by the learned Counsel for the writ petitioners. When it is found that the said award passed by the NIT, is still in force, the question of issuing a fresh sanction under the second proviso to Section 17 of RRB Act by the 2nd respondent for implementing the provisions contained in 6th Bipartite Agreement in respect of the employees and officers of RRBs does not arise and the earlier sanction given in terms of proviso (1) of Section 17 of RRB Act, 1976 for implementing the NIT Award and the recommendations of the Equation Committee referred in the communication dated 22-02-1991 sent by the 1st respondent-Union of India vide Annexure-A to the Chairman and Managing Director of All Sponsor Banks (except UPCB), holds good even for implementing the 6th Bipartite Agreement. I am, therefore, unable to accept the contention of the learned Counsel for respondents 1 and 2 that the award passed by the NIT, ceased to be in force and that it is open now for the Central Government to fix the salary and other allowances of the employees and officers of the RRBs, in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 17(1) of the RRB Act. Further, the dispute which is referred to NIT, for its decision is as follows: "Dispute relating to pay, salary other allowances and other benefits payable to the employees of the Regional Rural Banks in terms of the pleadings of the parties in the Writ Petition (Civil) Nos. 7149 and 7150 of 1992 and 132 of 1984 filed in the Supreme Court of India."

The finding given on the said point of reference at para 4.425 of the award of NIT is as follows:

"What flows from my findings is that the officers and other employees of RRBs will be entitled to claim parity with the officers and other employees of the Sponsor Banks in the matter of pay scales, allowances and other benefits. What stems from this finding is that date from which effect should be given to the award. I have given my anxious consideration as to the date from which the award should he given effect. The Writ Petition Nos. 7149 and 7150 of 1982 and 132 of 1984 were not filed at one and the same time. They were filed on different dates. Petitioners in W.P. Nos. 7149 and 7150 of 1982 claimed reliefs from the date of establishment of RRBs. Petitioners in W.P. No. 132 of 1984 did not specify any date but in their claim statement filed before me they have asked for effect being given from the date of writ petition i.e., 16-09-1984. I think it would be proper, just and reasonable, if I direct that the award shall be given effect from 1st day of September, 1987, the date on which the Supreme Court passed the order directing the Central Government to constitute the Tribunal."

Thus, it is clear from the said finding that the parity of the scales of pay and allowances of the officers and other employees of RRBs with officers and other employees of Sponsor Banks is given effect from 1-9-1987 and the said parity is not confined to any particular period after 1-9-1987. Even the reliefs claimed by the petitioners in the above said writ petitions in the matter of extending the parity of said pay scales and allowances is not for any particular period, but it is for once for all and for all time to come as could be seen from the reliefs claimed in the writ petitions which is extracted in para 1.09 of the award of the NIT. The said reliefs claimed are as follows:--

"(a) Issue a writ, order or direction in the form of Certiorari or any other appropriate writ, order or direction quashing the directives of the respondent 1 contained in the letter No. F. 4/27/75. AC dated 26th November, 1975 and No. F.2-17/79 RRB dated 29th April, 1980 (Annexed to the petition as Annexures-B and C respectively) as being ultra vires of Section 17 of the RRB Act, 1976.

(b) In the alternative, declare Section 17 of the RRB Act, 1976, as being ultra vires of Articles 14 and 16(1) of the Constitution of India.

(c) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction directing the respondents to fix the emoluments of the RRB employees in conformity with the constitutionally laid down judicial maxims of "equal pay for equal work" and "industry-cum-region formula" and bring about parity in emoluments between the employees of RRBs inter se and employees of the Nationalised Commercial Banks.

(d) Pass such other or further orders as this Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper in the circumstances of the case and in the interests of justice".

9. The points for determination framed by the NIT, are at para 4.01 of the award and the relevant points for determination are points 4 to 11 which are as follows:--

"4. Whether the Commercial Banks and RRBs carry on the same or similar banking business and participate in the development of rural economy as instrumentalities of the State in accordance with the Directive Principles of the Constitution?

5. Are the duties and functions of the officers and other employees of the RRBs the same or similar as those of the officers and other employees of rural branches of the Sponsor Banks?

6. What is the scope and ambit of Section 17 of the RRB Act?

7. Does the second proviso to Section 17(1) of the RRB Act deny the writ petitioners equality before law so as to offend the Articles 14 and 16 in the context of Article 39(d) of the Constitution?

8. Are the writ petitioners entitled to claim parity in the salary structure with the employees of the Sponsor Banks within the framework of the 2nd proviso to Section 17 of the Act on the facts and circumstances of the case?

9. Is the Central Government common employer for the employees of both Sponsor Banks and RRBs?

10. Should the financial viability of the RRBs be the sole criterion in deciding the wage structure of the RRB employees?

11. Is there any justification in equating employees of the State Government and Local Authorities as of comparable level and status with the employees of the RRBs in the notified area"?

The findings recorded by the NIT in respect of points 4 and 5 are at para 4.102 at page 323 of the award which are to the following effect:--

"The duties and functions of the officers and other employees of the RRBs are similar as those officers and other employees in the comparable posts of rural branches of Sponsor Banks. There is not any appreciable difference in the duties and functions of the employees in the two types of branches in the rural sector.......Indisputably Commercial Banks and RRBs carry on similar banking business and participate in the development of rural economy as partners in the rural development acting as instrumentalities of the State in accordance with the Directive Principles of the Constitution. Establishment of RRBs is to fill in the vacuum in the economic development of the rural sector. It is a national objective in the direction of ushering in a welfare state. That the RRBs have brought about a socio-economic reformation in the lives of the small farmers, traders, agricultural labourers, artisans, SC/STs and weaker sections is borne out by the evidence on record".

The Finding of the NIT on points 6, 7, 8 and 9 is at pages 358-359 in paras 4.186 and 4.188, the relevant finding at 4.188 is as follows:

"Where the two sets of posts though under different enactments, are of comparable level and involve themselves in the performance of the same and similar duties in the implementation of an avowed national policy of amelioration of the poverty conditions of the rural poor, it would be unjust and unreasonable to deny the RRB employees parity in the scales of pay with the employees in Sponsor Banks in comparable posts, having regard to similarity in the nature of duties, functions and responsibilities. That, in my opinion, would be a just and equitable equation of posts. This finding is recorded by me, having regard to my interpretation of second proviso to Section 17(1) of the Act that the expression "having regard to" is of sufficient dimension adaptable and supple to extend its application to the salary structure of the nationalised Bank employees".

The finding on point 10 is recorded by NIT at para 4.239 to the effect that:--

"....It is in fulfilment of the hopes and aspirations aroused in the preamble and the Directive Principles of the Constitution that the RRB Act has been enacted and the performance of such institutions in furtherance of those principles, shall not be judged from the curved angle of viability or from the point of view of a private

money-lendor or business man or from mere profit and loss statements".

The finding on point 11 has been given by the NIT at para 4.260 answering in the negative. The ultimate finding on the point of reference is at para 4.425 which is as follows:

"What flows from my findings is that the officers and other employees of RRBs will be entitled to claim parity with the officers and other employees of the Sponsor Banks in the matter of pay scales, allowances and other benefits. What stems from this finding is the date from which effect should be given to the award. I have given my anxious consideration as to the date from which the award should be given effect. The Writ Petition Nos. 7149 and 7150 of 1982 and 132 of 1984 were not filed at one and the same time. They were filed on different dates. Petitioners in W.P. Nos. 7149 and 7150 of 1982 claimed reliefs from the date of establishment of RRBs. Petitioners in W.P. No. 132 of 1984 did not specify any date but in their claim statement filed before me they have asked for effect being given from the date of writ petition i.e., 16-09-1984. I think it would be proper, just and reasonable, if I direct that the award shall be given effect from 1st of September, 1987, the date on which the Supreme Court passed the order directing the Central Government to constitute the Tribunal".

Thus it is clear from the above findings given by NIT on the points of reference made by the 1st respondent that irrespective of the financial conditions of RRBs, their employees and officers are entitled to party in pay and allowances with the employees in the corresponding posts of the sponsoring Banks. It is further clear from the records that for equation of posts as directed in the award and Equation Committee has been appointed on 15-10-1990 under the Chairmanship of Sri P. Kotaiah, the then Managing Director of NABARD and the report submitted by the Equation Committee on 8-1-1991 has been accepted by the 1st respondent and instructions have been issued to all the implementing Agencies by a Circular dated 22-2-1991 vide Annexure-A by the 1st respondent Whereby RRBs employees and officers have been brought into the Sponsor Banks scales of pay with effect from 1-9-1987. The salaries of employees in the employment of RRBs are being paid in the revised scales from 1-1-1991. It is also relevant to note that in the very order appointing the NIT at para 8 at page 5 of the award, first respondent made it clear that the decision of the Tribunal shall be final and binding. It is, therefore, not open to the first respondent still to contend that the matters which have been settled once for all in the said award of NIT, can still be reopened by referring them to the 5th respondent-Committee appointed by it in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India-2nd respondent. It is also pertinent to note than one of the terms of reference made to the 5th respondent-Committee constituted by the 1st respondent in consultation with the 2nd respondent-RBI by an order dated 5-11-1996 vide Annexure-E to study and make recommendations on salaries and allowances of employees of RRBs as per clause (d) of the

terms of reference is as follows:--"In making recommendations on the foregoing, the Committee shall apart from other relevant factors have regard to the wide differences in parameters like size, level of business, productivity ratios and profitability of the various Regional Rural Banks", which aspect has already been dealt in the NIT Award and which has been concluded by the finding recorded in the award. The only aspect which has been left to be agitated before the appropriate forum under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 is the implementation of the award of NIT, in respect of certain directions given in the award which have not been implemented by virtue of the directions given by the Supreme Court in the decision in G.S. Kaushik's case, supra. So, the contention of the learned Counsel for the respondents that the petitioners have got alternative remedy to seek the reliefs claimed in the present writ petition before the Industrial Tribunal under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 is devoid of any merit. Further, it is pointed out by the learned Counsel for the petitioners that the first respondent has issued a Circular to the RRBs dated 22-7-1996, a copy of which is produced by him in the present proceedings to the effect that a case of seeking benefits of 6th Bipartite Settlement under Section 33-C(2) of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 has no legal basis and no relief is admissible to petitioners in such case. So when the first respondent has seriously disputed that the 6th Bipartite Settlement vide Annexure-D and the salary revision of officers and employees governed by All India Bank Officers' Service Regulations Annexure-D1, are applicable to the employees and officers of RRBs, unless the said question is settled by this Court in the present proceedings, the petitioners have no alternative remedy before the Industrial Tribunal to seek for enforcement of the 6th Bipartite Agreement as per Annexures-D and D1. In a decision of Supreme Court rendered in the case of Municipal Corporation of Delhi v Ganesh Razak and Another, it was held that "the Labour Court cannot adjudicate dispute of entitlement or basis of claim of workmen. It can only interpret the award or settlement on which the claim is based. Its jurisdiction is like that of Executing Court. Without a prior adjudication or recognition of the disputed claim of the workmen to be paid at the same rate as the regular employees, proceedings for computation of the arrears of wages claimed by them on that basis is not maintainable under Section 33-C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947." In the instant case also, the dispute relating to the entitlement of the RRBs employees and officers of the benefit of 6th Bipartite Settlement cannot be adjudicated by the Industrial Tribunal and the said question has to be decided in the present proceedings, in view of the above legal position. So, the contention of the respondents that alternative remedy is available to the petitioners to approach the Industrial Tribunal under Section 33-C(2) of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, cannot be accepted. Further, even if it is open to the first respondent to terminate the award of the NIT by giving 2 months notice to the petitioners under the provisions of Section 19(6) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, they are not

entitled to re-agitate the question relating to panty of pay-scales of the employees and officers of RRBs 'on par with the pay scales of employees of Nationalised Banks' when the matter has been finally concluded by the award of the NIT which has become final and binding on the first respondent. Further, it is also relevant to note that only for the limited purpose of implementing the award passed by the NIT in respect of certain directions given in the award which remained unimplemented, the Supreme Court gave the direction in the Interlocutory Application filed in Writ Petition No. 132 of 1984 and Writ Petition Nos. 7149 and 7150 of 1982 by an order dated 12-4-1996 Annexure-B, which is reported in AIR 1996 (L and S) 1099 that the said award is to be treated as the award under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and all employees of RRBs whether or not falling within the definition of "workman" under Section 2(s) of the Act are permitted to seek their remedies for implementation of the award before the appropriate Forum under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. So, in my view, it is not open to the first respondent to seek for a fresh award by approaching the Industrial Tribunal even after expressing their intention to terminate the award passed by the NIT by issuing 2 months' notice under the provisions of Section 19(6) of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, in respect of matters which have already been concluded by NIT particularly the question relating to parity of pay and allowances of RRBs employees and officers on par with the employees of Nationalised Commercial Banks which are binding on the first respondent.

10. It is also seen from the provisions of Section 18(3) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 that the award passed by the NIT is also binding on all the parties summoned to appear in the proceedings as parties to the dispute. It is also seen from the award of NIT that Union of India, Reserve Bank of India, NABARD, All Regional Rural Banks, State Government IBA and Sponsor Banks, were summoned and all of them were heard, before finally adjudicating the matters in dispute and submitting the award. So, the contention of the learned Counsel for the respondents that the said award is not binding on Reserve Bank of India and on RRBs etc. is without any merit. It is also contended by the learned Counsel for the respondents that since all the shareholders of the RRBs are not parties to the previous writ petitions filed in the Supreme Court, the award passed by the NIT is not binding on all Regional Rural Banks. But even this contention cannot be accepted as under the provisions of Section 3(2) of the RRB Act, every RRB is a body corporate which can be sued in its name. The question whether the employees and officers of South Malabar Grameen Bank are entitled to the benefits of the 6th Bipartite Settlement came up for consideration in the writ petition filed in the High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam in O.P. No. 1871 of 1997 (Ker.) and the said writ petition has been allowed by the said High Court holding that the directions issued by the Central Government by communication dated 22-2-1991 vide Annexure-A, which is marked as Ex.P-1 in the said proceedings, to the Chairman and Managing Director of All Sponsor Banks and to the Chairman of RRBs can be construed as a sanction under the second proviso to Rule 17 of the RRB Act for the

implementation of the future settlements including 6th Bipartite Settlement and that it is not necessary to issue a fresh sanction order in this regard, xerox copy of the said order is produced by the petitioners in the present proceedings (Annexure-J) since I have come to the conclusion that the award passed by the NIT has not ceased to exist and that it is still in force and that there is no necessity to issue fresh directions by the Central Government under second proviso to Section 17 of RRB Act, 1976, I respectfully agree with the above view taken by the Kerala High Court. The learned Counsel for the respondents has relied upon an unreported decision rendered by Calcutta High Court, xerox copy of which is produced by him. In the said decision rendered in C.O. No. 12653 of 1995 (Cal.), the Calcutta High Court held that:-- "An award of the National Industrial Tribunal was accepted by the Central Government when IV and V Bipartite Settlements were in operation. The pay structure of the employees of the Class-A Banks may vary with other Banks inasmuch as the same would depend upon various factors. The volume of work, the responsibility and other relevant factors are required to be taken into consideration for the purpose of fixation of fair wages. Such a job essentially is within the domain of Industrial Tribunal".

Since the petitioners in the said writ petition have already taken recourse to the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 it was held that they cannot take recourse to the writ proceedings in the High Court. However, a direction has been given in the said order to the Central Government to consider the question of extending the benefits of 6th Bipartite Settlement in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 17 of RRB Act, to the petitioners, but I respectfully disagree with the above view taken by the Calcutta High Court that a fresh directions are to be issued under second proviso to Section 17(1) of RRB Act by the 1st respondent for implementation of 6th Bipartite Agreement to the employees and officers of RRBs and I am of the opinion that no fresh direction by the 1st respondent is necessary when the award passed by the NIT which has become final and binding on the first respondent, has not ceased to exist and is still in force and when it covers all future settlements by virtue of the direction given that the parity of pay scales of the employees of the RRBs and officers is to be maintained on par with their counterparts in the Nationalised Commercial Banks. In the above decision of the Calcutta High Court, the scope of Section 19(6) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and the question whether the award passed by the NIT has ceased to exist though no notice expressing an intention to terminate the award has been issued by the 1st respondent as required under the mandatory provisions of Section 19(6) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, has not been considered in the above decision. Though in the award passed by the NIT, the volume of work, the responsibilities and other relevant factors are taken into consideration while recommending parity of the pay-scales to the employees and officers of RRBs 'on par with their counterparts in the Nationalised Commercial Banks', the said fact has not been considered in the above decision while observing that those factors are to be taken into consideration

by the Industrial Tribunal for the purpose of fixation of fair wages.

11. The learned Counsel for the petitioners has relied on a decision of the Supreme Court in LIC of India v D.J. Bahadur and Others, in support of his contention that so long as NIT Award is not terminated it has to be given effect to. He also relied upon another decision of the Supreme Court in South Indian Bank Limited v A.R. Chacko, in support of the proposition that unless the award is terminated by issue of a notice under Section 19(6) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the award will be operative, valid and is bound to be implemented. Having regard to the above statutory provision under Section 19(6) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and having regard to the above principles of law laid down by the Supreme Court, I find that the award passed by the NIT which is not terminated by issue of a notice as required under Section 19(6) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 must be deemed to be in force and has not ceased to exist and the said award which has become final and binding on the 1st respondent, is liable to be enforced even in respect of the 6th Bipartite Settlement in favour of the employees and officers of RRBs. I have, therefore, no hesitation to hold that in terms of the award passed by the NIT, the 6th Bipartite Agreement dated 14th February, 1995 vide Annexure-D and the Wage Revision given to officers of NCBs, from 1-11-1992 to 1-7-1993 vide Annexure-D1 automatically apply to the employees and officers of RRBs and that the action taken by the 1st respondent in consultation with the 2nd respondent-Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai, in constituting the 5th respondent-Committee on salaries and allowances of employees of RRBs by the order Annexure-E to examine the pay structure of the employees of RRBs, is illegal and the order Annexure-E and the report submitted by the 5th respondent, are liable to be quashed.

12. It is further contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioners that the 2nd respondent-RBI, has no independent power to constitute the 5th respondent Committee by the order dated November 5, 1996 vide Annexure-E for the purpose of examining the pay structure of the employees and officers or RRBs under the provisions of Section 17(1) read with Section 24 of RRB Act, 1976. But it is pointed out by the learned Counsel for the 1st respondent that the said action has not been taken by the 2nd respondent-RBI, independently on its own and that it has acted on the instructions given by the 1st respondent in their communication dated 24-10-1996 addressed to the 2nd respondent, a copy of which is produced by him with a memo dated 07-10-1998. So, in view of the above clarification given, the above contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioners, does not merit any consideration. However, as it is found that the Constitution of the 5th respondent-Committee for the above said purpose by the 1st respondent in consultation with the 2nd respondent, is illegal when the award of NIT is still in force, I find that the order Annexure-E dated November 5, 1996 and the report submitted

by the 5th respondent vide Annexure-H dated 17th May, 1997 are liable to be quashed.

13. In the result, this writ petition is allowed quashing the appointment of the 5th respondent-Committee vide Annexure-E dated 5-11-1996 and the report submitted by the 5th respondent-Committee dated 17-5-1997 vide Annexure-H by issue of writ of certiorari and a writ of mandamus is issued to the respondents directing them to pay, salary and allowances with effect from 1-11-1992 to all the employees of Regional Rural Banks in accordance with the pay, allowances and benefits implemented in respect of employees of Nationalised Commercial Banks as per the Memorandum of Settlement dated 14-2-1995 (Annexure-E) and as per Wage Revision given to the officers of NCBs from 1-11-1992 and 1-7-1993 (Annexure-Dl). In the circumstances, I direct the parties to bear their respective costs.