A WRIT OF MANDAMUS WOULD ONLY ISSUE WHEN THERE IS AN INACTION ON THE PART OF THE AUTHORITY, WHO ARE BOUND TO ACT IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW, WHICH INACTION CAN ONLY BE FOUND ON THE OBSTRUCTION BEING DECLARED TO BE ILLEGAL:KERALA HIGH COURT
The High Court of Kerala passed a judgement on 24 February, 2023 stating that A writ of mandamus would only issue when there is an inaction on the part of the authority, who are bound to act in accordance with law, which inaction can only be found on the obstruction being declared to be illegal.. It was stated in the case of Kerala Headload Workers Welfare Board vs Asiatic Transports (WA 23 & 176 of 2023) which was passed by the division bench comprising of JUSTICE K.VINOD CHANDRAN and JUSTICE C. JAYACHANDRAN
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The writ appeals raise the question of whether the members of a Pool constituted under the Kerala Headload Workers (Regulation of Employment and Welfare) Scheme, 1983 have an indefeasible right to carry on the loading and unloading work in the 3rd respondent’s establishment, carried out through the petitioner. The petitioner is a proprietary concern engaged in the business of clearing, forwarding & transporting. The 3 rd respondent has been appointed and notified as the Custodian of goods in the Container Freight Station (CFS) by the Commissioner of Customs. The petitioner has taken the contract to carry on the loading and unloading work in the CFS; which premises has been notified as a ‘Customs Area’ under Section 8(b) of the Customs Act and the activities carried on by the 3 rd respondent is fully under the control of the Commissioner of Customs. It was argued that the Kerala Headload Workers Act has been made inapplicable to establishments owned and controlled by the Central Government as per the notification which brought into force the enactment.
JUDGEMENT OF THE CASE
When an establishment is exempted from the enactment, there is no question of the authorities constituted under the enactment having any power to resolve disputes arising within such establishments. The writ petition though styled as one for police protection, essentially seeks the issuance of mandamus to the police, an authority under the State, who are obliged to act on the complaint of illegal obstruction raised before them. A writ of mandamus would only issue when there is an inaction on the part of the authority, who are bound to act in accordance with law, which inaction can only be found on the obstruction being declared to be illegal. The petitioner stopped engaging the members of the Pool under the Scheme for the loading and unloading work carried on in the 3 rd respondent establishment and employed their own workers. This resulted in the obstruction to the loading and unloading work in the 3 rd respondent establishment by the Pool members claiming a right under the Headload Workers Act. When it is found that there is no right, flowing from the statute, on the Pool workers to demand loading and unloading work in the precincts of the 3 rd respondent’s establishment, controlled by the Central Government; necessarily the consequence is a declaration that the obstruction is illegal which is the foundation for the writ of mandamus issued to the police to afford necessary police protection. The court found no reason to interfere with the judgment of the learned Single Judge and dismissed the appeals.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ROSHNI SABU, KERALA LAW ACADEMY LAW COLLEGE.