1. This writ petition is directed against the Government's refusal to make a reference.
2. Thiru A. Veerapandian an employee of Indian Oxygen Ltd., the second respondent herein, went to his native place during the Deepavali holidays in 1978. Quite unexpectedly, he was stated to have fallen ill there and subsequently he was unable to join duty immediately. He returned for duty on January 29, 5 1979, and produced medical certificate for the period of his absence due to sickness. The second respondent did not allow him to resume duty. Therefore, through the petitioner Union, he raised an industrial dispute. Conciliation proceedings initiated before the Labour Officer, I, Madras, failed. On receipt of the failure report, the Government of Tamil Nadu/first respondent herein, after taking into consideration the relevant materials, declined to make a reference by its order in G.O.Ms. No. 2112, Labour and Employment Department, dated December 20, 1979. It is this order of the first respondent that is now challenged in this writ petition.
2a. From the pith substance of the submissions made by learned counsel on both sides, the following points emerge for consideration :
(i) Whether the Government's refusal to make a reference suffers from the serious infirmity of considering extraneous or irrelevant matters ?
(ii) Whether the writ petition is liable to be dismissed merely on the ground of laches ?
(iii) Whether the workman A. Veerapandian's abstention from duty without sanction of leave for more than eight consecutive days amounts to abandonment of his job and consequent termination thereof, on the face of clause Nos. 7(f) and 12(vi) of the Standing Orders, thereby not entitling him to raise an industrial dispute ?
3. Point No. (iii) is so intimately and inextricably connected with point No. (i), meriting discussion simultaneously. The finding given either way on the question of abandonment, is likely to have an impact on the question of the Government's refusal to make a reference. Different consequences are to follow if the workman Veerapandian's abstention from duty without sanction of leave amounts to abandonment of his job and consequent termination thereof. If a finding is to be recorded that his abstention from duty in the circumstances of the case amounts to abandonment of his job, the termination of his services is the sphere of law of industrial parlance can by no stretch of imagination be stated to amounting to termination of service as a consequence of discharge, dismissal or retrenchment, since the termination of his service in such eventuality is automatic without there being any over act on the part of employer terminating his services. In such a situation, the further question that poses for consideration is whether the individuals whose services automatically stood terminated could be considered as workman as defined under S. 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act. 1947, hereinafter referred to as 'the Act' so at to enable them to raise an industrial dispute under S. 10(1) of the Act. The effect of the salient provision adumbrated under S. 10(1) in the context of S. 2A of the Act is that only workman who had been discharged, dismissed, or retrenched or whose services have been otherwise terminated could raise an industrial dispute and on the face of such provision, if the concerned workman is to be construed in the circumstances of the case as a person not falling within any of the above categories, the provisions of S. 10(1) cannot at all be invoked for reference. To put it otherwise, because of the automatic termination of his service on his abstention from duty without leave for more than the requisite number of days, as incorporated in the Standing Orders, he could not at all be considered to be a workman as defined under S. 2(s) of the Act, so as to enable him to raise an industrial dispute. If the admitted facts and circumstances of the case warrant such a conclusion, then it is legitimately open to the Government to decline to make a reference on the sole ground of his being not a workman as defined under the Act.
4. We now proceed to sift the materials available on record, inclusive of the relevant Standing Orders, in an endeavour to reach a just conclusion in the case. In the process of analysis of such materials, we may advert to certain facts admitted, beyond pale of controversy, they being : The workman went to his native village during the Deepavali holidays in 1978. He was stated to have fallen ill there. After he was cured of the malady of the illness with which he was suffering, he reported for duty on January 29, 1979, These aspects are referred to in his letter dated January 29, 1979 addressed to the Manager of the first respondent company. Of course, no reference is made in the letter as to from what date he absented himself without leave. Though this aspect is not specifically referred to in his letter, there is no controversy as to his abstention from duty without leave on and from November 1, 1978. Nothing is seen from the contents of the said letter, that he had sent any application for leave, enclosing a medical certificate for his illness. As such, the sordid but admitted fact remains that he was absent between November 1, 1978 and January 28, 1979, without making any application for leave and consequent sanction thereof. When he returned for duty on January 29, 1979, the first respondent did not allow him to resume duty on the fact of the provisions adumbrated in clauses 7(f) and 12(vi) of the Standing Order.
5. It is to be mentioned here that during the course of conciliation proceedings, the Secretary of the petitioner Union made a claim that the concerned workman did not at all abstain from duty without any intimation and in fact he sent a intimation to the first respondent, enclosing a medical certificate and praying for sanction of leave for the period of his illness. No probative weight could be attached to this sort of a claim, especially when it is not the case of the worker as revealed by his letter dated January 29, 1979 that he in fact sent an intimation to the first respondent. In the face of the uncontroverted facts, it is rather certain that the concerned worker was absent from duty from November 1, 1978 to January 28, 1979 without making any application for leave and consequent sanction thereof. It is in this context, we have to consider the consequences that flow from the operation of clauses 7(f) and 12(iv) of the first respondent's company's Certified Stating Orders, which are reproduced hereunder :-
"7(f) if the employees absents without leave or remains absent beyond the period of leave originally granted or subsequently extended, he shall be considered as having voluntarily terminated his employment unless he
(i) returns to work within eight working days of the commencement of such absence and
(ii) has given an explanation to the satisfaction of the Manager for such absence.
12(vi) Any employer who absents himself without written permission from work or place of work for more than 10 consecutive days shall be deemed to have left the service without giving notice."
Clause 7(f) consists of two limbs. According to the first limb, if the employee is unable to return to work within eight working days from the date of the expiry of the leave originally granted or subsequently extended, he shall be considered as having voluntarily terminated his service. The second limb is connected to the first limb by the use of the word 'and' and according to this limb, he can give an explanation to the satisfaction of the Manager for such absence. The construction of the two limbs in the clause connected by the word 'and' poses some difficulty in the interpretation of this clause. The difficulty is posed this way.
"Whether it is necessary for the employee to return to work within eight working days from the expiry of the period of leave originally granted or subsequently extended and submit his explanation to the satisfaction of the Manager for such absence, or whether the can return for work at any time and offer his explanation for such absence."
In clause 12(vi) of the Standing Orders, the language is so simples as not admitting of any other interpretation, except the one that if the employee absents himself for more than ten consecutive days from work or place of work without written permission, he shall be deemed to have abandoned his services.
6. We shall now proceed now proceed to consider the effect of clauses 7(f) and 12(vi) of the Standing Orders in the light of the contention raised by learned counsel on both sides and the decisions cited by them Mr. N. G. R. Prasad, learned counsel appearing for petitioner, relying on the recent trends in the development of law in the industrial sphere by the apex of the judicial administration and various High Courts in the country, would point out that a liberal interpretation has to be given to clause like the ones before us, in the sense of construing the second limb of clause 7(f) as a proviso to the first limb and thereby giving a meaning that it was open to the employee to report for duty at any point of time and officer his explanation for the absence. But for such a construction, the possibility of the employee losing his lien on the job and being deprived of a decent living, in these hard days where it is difficult to procure a job, cannot be lost sight of, especially when the various industrial and labour legislations are enacted so as to give a social security to the employees. On the other hand, Mr. Sanjay Mohan, learned counsel appearing for the second respondent/Company, would repel such a submission, by stating that such an interpretation is not warranted by the words and phraseology used in the said clauses.
7. In Buckingham and Carnatic Mills Co. Ltd. v. Venkataya and another (1963-II-LLJ-638), the Supreme Court had occasion to consider the effect of a Standing Order, applicable to the employee in that case. The relevant Standing Order in that case stated that an employee who absented himself for eight consecutive working days without leave should be deemed to have left the company's service without notice, thereby terminating his contract of service. It further provided that if the absence was proved to the satisfaction of the management, to be one due to sickness, then such absence should be converted into medical leave for such period as the employee was eligible with permissible allowances. While interpreting this clause, the Supreme Court observed as follows : (p. 642) :
"This Standing Order is a part of the certified Standing Orders which had been revised by an arbitration award between the parties in 1957. The relevant clause clearly means that if an employee falls within the mischief of its first part, it follows that the defaulting employee has terminated his contract of service. The first provision in Clause (ii) proceeds on the basis that absence for eight consecutive days without leave will lead to the inference that the absentee workman intended to terminate his contract of service. The certified Standing Orders represent the relevant terms and conditions of service in a statutory form and they are binding on the parties at least as much, if not more, as private contracts embodying similar terms and conditions of service. It is true that under common law an inference that an employee has abandoned or relinquished service is not easily drawn unless from the length of absence and from other surrounding circumstances an inference to that effect can be legitimately drawn and it can be assumed that the employee intended to abandon service. Abandonment or relinquishment of service is always a question of intention, and normally, such an intention cannot be attributed to an employee without adequate evidence in that behalf. But where parties agree upon the terms and conditions of service they are included in certified Standing Orders, the doctrines of common law or consideration of equity would not be relevant. It is then a matter of constructing the relevant term itself. Therefore, the first part of Standing Order 8(ii) inevitably leads to the conclusion that if an employees is absent for eight consecutive days without leave, he is deemed to have terminated his contract of service and thus relinquished or abandoned his employment.
The latter part of this clause, however, provides that the employee that the employee can offer an explanation as to his absence and if his explanation is found to be satisfactory by the management, his absence will be converted into leave without pay or dearness allowance. Now this clause is in substance a proviso to the first part. Before effect is given to the inference of relinquishment of service which arises from the first part of the clause, an opportunity is given to the employee to offer an explanation and if the said explanation is treated as satisfactory by the management the inference of termination of contract of service is rebutted and the leave in question is treated as leave without pay or dearness allowance. This latter clause obviously postulates that if the explanation offered by the employee is not found to be satisfactory to the management, the interference arising from the first part prevails and the employee shall be deemed to have terminated his contract of service with the result that the relationship of master and servant between the parties would be held to have come to an end."
In National Engg. Industries Ltd. v. Hanuman (1967-II-LLJ-883) the Supreme Court, while considering the effect of a Standing Order, more or less similar to the ones in the present case, observed as follows (p. 886) :
"Where the Standing Order provides that a workman would lose his line on his appointment if he does not join duty within 8 days of the expiry of his leave, it obviously means that his services are automatically terminated on the happening of such contingency; he cannot be said to continue in service thereafter. Therefore, by not allowing him to join duty, in such as case, S. 33 of the Industrial Disputes Act is not contravened and S. 33A. does not apply".
In R. Thaker Prasad v. Phoenix Mills (1976-I-LLJ-93) a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court had occasion to consider a similar situation. In that case, the petitioner was an employee of the respondent Mills. He was on leave and on expiry of his leave, he did not join duty but sent a leave letter along with a medical certificate for extension of leave. The Management refused him duty. The worker filed an application before the Labour Court, which was allowed, and reinstatement was ordered. The respondent-Mills appealed to the Industrial Court under. S. 84 of the Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946. The Industrial Court allowed the appeal and consequently, the petitioner came to the High Court. The Division Bench, after considering the relevant Standing Order, held as follows (pp. 106-107) :
".. even after the expiry of the eight days of leave originally granted or subsequently extended, the employee has a right to report for duty and offer explanation for his absence without leave or permission. It is obligatory on the employer to consider such explanation and if he is not satisfied with the explanation to indicate to the employee the reasons for which he considers the explanation unsatisfactory and give an opportunity to the employee to prove the same. The employee will then be entitled to prove his explanation by producing the relevant evidence. It is only when the employee fails to justify his absence in spit of the opportunity given to him as aforesaid, that the deeming provisions of the Standing Order in question providing for the legal fiction of the abandonment or automatic termination of service comes into operation, and not till then. It will also be operation, and not till then. It will also be open for the industrial adjudicator to examine the question as to whether an employee has discharged his obligation properly or not. According to us any other view of the Standing Order in question will not only be contrary to the principles of industrial law so far development, but will be highly unjust and fraught with great mischief. For then, it will mean that irrespective of the justifiability of the reasons preventing an employee from reporting for duty within the stipulated period, his services will stand terminated on the expiry of the said period. The serious consequences of the loss of job will ensure automatically on account of reasons which may be beyond his control. He will not be entitled to the benefit even of the most elementary safeguard, namely, of the right to be heard, before his is visited with the most drastic penalty. Where as before he is met with a minor punishment he has the advantage of a full-fledged departmental enquiry, he is to be deemed to have been deprived of even the opportunity of offering his explanation, when his services are to stand terminated. Such an interpretation will make a mockery of the right to the security of employment which the labour has come to acquire over the period of years."
The Division Bench had also occasion to consider the decision in National Engg. Industries Ltd. v. Hanuman (supra), and distinguished the same in the following terms (pp. 102-103) :
"An examination of this decision of the Supreme Court shows that on the first question, viz. whether the employee was or was not ill in fact during the relevant period and whether he had sent a certificate in support of his illness or not, the Court reappraised the evidence on record and set aside the finding of the Labour Court on the said question. Since the Court came to the conclusion that the employee was not in fact ill and the he had not sent the medical certificate as claimed by him, there was no valid explanation for his absence without leave or permission. It is in these circumstances that on the second point, the Court held that the Standing Order in question came into operation and as a consequence of its coming into operation, the services of the employee stood terminated automatically. What is important to note for our purpose is that the Supreme Court has not taken the view in this case that whatever the merits of the explanation offered by the employee, the Standing Order in question comes into operation as a matter of course after the expiry of the eight days and the services of the employee stand terminated. For if that were the view of the Court, the Court would not have examined the validity of the finding given by the Labour Court on the first point and reappraised the evidence on record and set aside the same. The Court would have further disapproved of the action of the Labour Court in framing the first point for determination and investigating the same, since it was unnecessary to do so, but before recording its finding on the second point, it satisfied itself that the explanation given by the employee was in fact not valid. It can at once be appreciated that if the ratio of the said decision is as contended on behalf of the petitioner, viz. that there is no obligation on the management to consider the explanation if it is given after the expiry of the eight days, then there was no need to find out whether the explanation was valid or invalid. It appears that such a proposition was not even canvassed before the Supreme Court. Apart from the fact that there is a complete absence of any such statement or observation in the said decision, the entire discussion in the case points to the entire discussion in the case points to the contrary. In fact it can be said that the Supreme Court has in terms approved of the action of the Labour Court in going into the questions about the validity of the explanation. It is only when the Court was satisfied that the finding of the Labour Court on the said questions was perverse, that it turned to the said question, viz., the effect of the provisions of the Standing Order. It is because the explanation given by the employed in that case was found to be unsatisfactory that the Court held that the provisions of the Standing Order in question came into operation and as a result, the employee lost his lien on his appointment. In other words, what the Supreme Court has laid down in that decisions is that an employee has a right to give his explanation and satisfy the employer about the justness of the same after the expiry of the eight days provided for in the Standing Order. If he gives a satisfactory explanation, then the provisions of the Standing Order will to come into operation and his services will not stand terminated. The Supreme Court has nowhere laid down in the said decision that an employee is precluded from reporting for duty and giving his explanation after the expiry of the eight days provided in the Standing Order."
8. Mr. Prasad, learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner, would heavily rely upon the aforesaid observation of the Bombay High Court to justify his contention that it is always open to the employee to return to duty at any time and satisfactorily explain such absence, even on the face of the express and explicit provision of Clause 7(f) of the Standing Order. Even assuming for argument sake that such a contention is accepted as regards the interpretation of Clause 7(f), we are afraid that it is not going to serve any purpose, in the sense of saving the workman from losing lien on his employment, on his assenting himself for a period of ten consecutive days without permission from work or place of work without giving due notice. As already referred to, it is a admitted fact, beyond pale of any controversy, that the workman absented himself without any leave on and from November 1, 1978 to January 28, 1979. On the face of this, it does without saying that the workman shall be deemed to have abandoned his services and lost his lien on employment, as per clause 12(vi) of the Standing Orders referred to supra. Once this decision is reached, it can by no stretch of imagination be construed that he is a workman as defied under S. 2(s) of the Act and consequently no reference can ever be made by the government under S. 10(1) of the Act.
9. A useful reference may be made in this connection to the decision of the Supreme Court in Prem Kakar v. State of Haryana (1976) 40 FJR. 51. In that case, the State Government had found that the petitioner was not a workman within the meaning of the Act and, therefore, declined to make a reference, stating that it is not a fit case for reference for adjudication. The question was whether a mandamus could be issued to the Government to make a reference under S. 10(1). The Supreme Court expressed the view that the Government had jurisdiction to go into the question as to whether the person seeking a reference are workmen or not, and if the Government found that they are not workmen, it can decline to make the reference.
10. Despite the factual aspect as culled out from the admitted facts and the legal position flowing from such points, the first respondent/Government, while passing the order in the shape of G.O.Ms. No. 2112, Labour and Employment Department dated December 20, 1979, declined to make a reference, using inarticulate language, so to say 'bad expression', the consequence of which is that it appears as if the Government took into consideration certain irrelevant and extraneous matters for reaching a conclusion, refusing to refer the matter for adjudication. This can be best explained by referring to the back-drop of circumstances and other materials, which formed the basis for the Government to pass such an order. We feel it is better in this context to refer to the operative portion of the order in verbatim to emphasise the point that the Government could not have taken into consideration matters which were not germane to the issue and it reads as under :-
"It is seen that the management have terminated the services of the workmen as per their standing orders after conducting a proper enquiry in which the workman failed to avail of the opportunity given to him. There is nothing to prove the contention that worker had been victimised for his trade union activities.
Hence the government consider that there is no case to refer the issue in dispute for adjudication."
The literal meaning of the order as extracted above, if analysed into its various components will reveal the following : There was proper enquiry. The workman failed to avail of the opportunity give to him. The services had been terminated as per the Standing Orders. There is no material available to prove victimisation. The various components of the order ex facie reveal that the termination of his services had been effected for certain misconduct, after conducting a proper enquiry in which he did not participate and that the termination was not due to victimisation for his trade union activities. If we examine the materials, which could have formed the opinion for the Government to decline to refer the matter for adjudication, it would emerge that what the Government meant was not duly conveyed by the use of proper language. Pertinent it is to note here that it was the consistent case of the second respondent/Management right from the beginning that the concerned worker absented himself from duty without leave on and from November 1, 1978 to January 28, 1979. If the Management wanted to remove him from the rolls on the ground of his abandoning the services, on the face of Clause 12(vi) of the Standing Orders, it could have done so, after his consecutive absence for a period of ten days, viz., on November 11, 1978. Obviously, the Management did not do so, on humanitarian grounds and in fact a registered letter dated November 17, 1978 had been sent to the concerned worker, directing him to report for duty on or before November 27, 1978, but unfortunately the letter was returned undelivered with the endorsement 'addressee left'. This was the same case put forward by the Management during the course of conciliation proceedings. The workman's case on the other hand was projected by the petitioner/Union right from the inception, as if his services were terminated by the Management on account of victimisation for his participation in the union activities. Since a settlement could not be brought about in the matter, the Labour Officer I, Madras, set a failure report under S. 12(4) of the Act to the Government. While perusing the failure report and other connected records, the Government mistook the opportunity given by the Management to the worker to report for duty before November 27, 1978, as an enquiry which was not properly availed of by the worker, in the sense of his not reporting for duty as directed by the Management. The automatic termination of his services under the relevant Clause of the Standing Orders as pleaded by the Management, had been simply referred to in the Order, as termination of his services as per the Standing Order. To the plea of victimisation, obviously snatched by the Union to side-track the issue during the course of conciliation proceedings, the Government have fallen a prey, by stating that the there is nothing to prove the contention that the worker had been victimised for his trade union activities. As a matter of fact, there was no misconduct on the part of the workman, impelling the Management to resort to an enquiry. The question of participation of the worker in the enquiry in such circumstances and the termination of the worker from service on account of victimisation, will never arise at all for consideration. The admitted fact, without any controversy whatever, is that the worker abstained from duty and his services stoods automatically terminated by his abstention from duty for more than the requisite period without leave as per the Standing Orders. It is of course stated in the Government Order that the Management have terminated the services as per the Standing Orders. Considering that along with the other circumstances stated therein, viz., the enquiry, termination not on account of victimisation, etc., it appears as if the Government had taken into consideration certain irrelevant and extraneious matters in declining to make a reference for adjudication. The workman cannot at all be expected to succeed in this case by harping on this ground, for, even if the matter is remitted back to the Government for fresh consideration on this technical ground, no useful purpose will be served. On a fresh consideration of the materials by the Government, what is to follow is that the impugned order of the Government will get rectified by the use of proper expression in declining to make a reference for adjudication. Manifold reasons are there for the Government to adopt such a curse in this case. They are :
(i) As already referred to, there is no misconduct whatever on the part of the worker for initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him.
(ii) The case of the Management is one of automatic termination of services as per Clause 12(vi) of the Standing Order, as a consequence of his abandoning the job on account of his abstention from work without leave for more that the requisite number of days and which is an admitted fact and beyond pale of any controversy.
(iii) Once his service are construed to have been terminated automatically, as per the provision of the Standing order, it goes without saying that he ceased to be workman under S. 2(s) of the Act.
(iv) The claim of the worker in such state of affairs is obviously frivolous.
(v) The provisions of the certified Standing Orders have to be construed as part and parcel of service conditions and in that view of the matter, the Standing Orders are nothing but an agreement between the Management and the workmen, and in such state of affairs, the claim made by the worker is inconsistent with the express and implicit provisions adumbrated under Clause 12(vi) of the Standing Order.
(vi) To crown all, his termination in such circumstances, can by no stretch of imagination be constructed to tantamount to termination of his services by way of discharge or dismissal by any overt act on the part of the Management for his misconduct.
The presence of the aforesaid factors in the case will constitute sufficient ground for the Government to decline to make a reference for adjudication under S. 10(1) coupled with S. 12(5) of the Act.
11. To fortify the view we have taken above, useful reference may be made to the decisions in Shaw Wallace Co. v. Tamil Nadu represented by Commissioner and Secretary, Labour Department (1988-I-LLJ-177), to which one of us was a party, wherein the Division Bench, on an analysis of various decisions of the Supreme Court and other High Courts, deduced the following principle in deciding the power of the Government to make a reference under Ss. 10(1) and 12(5) of the Act. (p. 195) :
"1. The Government would normally refer the dispute for adjudication :
2. The Government may refuse to make reference, if -
(a) the claim is very stale :
(b) the claim is opposed to the provisions of the Act.
(c) the claim is inconsistent with any agreement between the parties,
(d) the claim is patently frivolous :
(e) the impact of the claim on the general relations between the employer and the employer in the region is likely to be adverse :
(f) the person concerned is not a workman as defined by the Act :
3. The Government should not act on irrelevant and extraneous considerations :
4. The Government should act honestly and bonafide :
5. The Government should not embark on adjudication of the dispute; and
6. The Government should not refuse reference on the ground that domestic enquiry was fairly and properly held and punishment awarded was appropriate".
12. In view of the discussion as above, it goes without saying that Point No. (i) has to be answered in the negative and Point No. (iii) in the affirmative.
13. Point No. (ii) revolves on the question of laches on the part of the writ petitioner. There is no manner of doubt whatever that the order of the Government in declining to make a reference for adjudication by the issuance of G.O. No. 2112 is dated December 20, 1979, Admittedly, the petitioner had knocked at the door of this Court by invoking the writ jurisdiction only on October 16, 1982 after a lapse of nearly two years and ten months. A cursory perusal of the affidavit filed in support of the petition, would bring to the surface the complete absence of any explanation for such inordinate delay. No doubt, true it is that in the counter affidavit filed by the second respondent such a plea has not been taken, but nonetheless, Mr. Sanjay Mohan, learned Counsel appearing for the second respondent would raise such an argument, which was stoutly opposed by Mr. Prasad, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner. Since no averment had been incorporated in the affidavit filed by the petitioner with regard to this contention, there was no occasion for the second respondent to counter the same The burden is always there for a person like the petitioner, knocking at the door of writ jurisdiction, to explain satisfactorily the delay caused. In a bid to explain the delay, rather a vain attempted had been made by learned counsel for the petitioner, by stating that subsequent to the Government declining to make a reference by its order dated December 20, 1979, the petitioner had been making consistent demands with the Government for re-consideration of the matter by sending representations. Our attention has been drawn to the representation dated June 19, 1981, which was rejected by the Government by its letter dated April 2, 1982, stating that no valid fresh points have been adduced to warrant re-consideration of the earlier order passed. Puzzling it is to note as to why he was waiting for more that one-and-a-half years even to give a petition for re-consideration of the order passed, declining to make a reference. The other sordid factor is that even after the rejection of the representation for re-consideration of the order on April 2, 1982, the petitioner was keeping silent till October 16, 1982, the date on which the writ petition was filed. Even assuming for argument sake that in between December 20, 1979 and June 19, 1981, he had been making representations to the Government for reconsideration of the matter, such representations would not come to the petitioner's rescue, in pointing out that there was no laches on his part at all. It is rather clear in the circumstances of the case that the petitioner resorted to the device of making a representation to the Government on June 19, 1981 for re-consideration, to make it appear that he was awaiting the orders of the Government before seeking the writ jurisdiction of this Court, obviously in a bid to explain the delay. As such, we are of opinion that there is undue and unexplained delay on the part of the petitioner in seeking the writ jurisdiction of this Court. In Shaw Wallace Co. v. Tamil Nadu represented by Commissioner and Secretary, Labour Department, referred to above, the Division Bench had also occasion to consider the question on laches on the part of the petitioner seeking the jurisdiction of the Court and it held as follows (pp. 197-198) :
"... We do not think that there was any justification for the delay. The petitioner cannot go on making representations to the Government for any length of time and ultimately invoke the jurisdictions under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India. We are of the opinion that the writ petition ought not to have been entertained in view of the inordinate delay. The learned single Judge has taken the view that the representations for reconsideration made by the petitioner to the Government could be taken into account. Even after the rejection of the last of representations, the petitioner has not approached this Court for eight months. We do not agree with the reasoning of the learned Judge. We hold that the petitioner is not entitled to any relief from this Court in exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction."
In such circumstances, we are of the view that on the second point relating to laches also, the writ petition is liable to be dismissed.
14. In view of the discussion as above, we see no merit in this writ petition. The writ petition fails and is dismissed, but in the circumstances of the case, we make no order as to costs.