Housing Co-operative Society is not an ‘Industry’ within the meaning of Industrial Disputes Act

Bombay High Court: The Single Judge Bench of S.C. Gupta, J. has held that a co­operative housing society cannot be termed as an industry within the meaning of Section 2 (j) of the Industrial Disputes Act if it carries on some commercial activity, not as its predominant activity, but as an adjunct to its main activity.

The petitioner was a Cooperative Housing Society which had engaged Respondent 1 as a watchman. Upon the latter’s completion of 60 years of age, his services were terminated with effect from 1 November 2000. Petitioner’s case was that the termination was with mutual consent and with payment of retirement benefit. This was a matter of dispute as Respondent 1 thereafter raised a demand for reinstatement. The Labour Court held against petitioner and rejected its claim of non-maintainability of reference.

The Court referred to Supreme Court’s judgment in Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board v. A. Rajappa, (1978) 2 SCC 213 where the Apex Court held that when there are multiple activities carried on by an establishment, what is to be considered is the dominant function. The Court held that merely because the society charged some extra charges from a few of its members for display of neon signs, the society cannot be treated as an industry carrying on business of hiring out of neon signs or allowing display of advertisements. The Court set aside the order of the Labour Court. [Arihant Siddhi Co.Op. Hg. Soc. Ltd. v. Pushpa Vishnu More, Writ Petition No. 787 OF 2007, order dated 22-06-2018]

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