SC to take up KSPCB's plea on declaring it an industry

The Supreme Court has decided to examine a plea by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board against the high court's order declaring it as an industry where contract employees would be treated as workmen and would be entitled to equal pay.

A bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose sought a response from the General Secretary of the 'Karnataka State Pollution Control Board Employees Noukarara Sangh' on the petition filed by the Board.

The Board, led by advocate V N Raghupathy, challenged the validity of the Karnataka High Court's order of April 11, 2019.

It claimed the board was not engaged in any manufacturing activity, as such it was not an industry as per the Industrial Disputes Act. 

It contended the dispute raised by the workmen for regularization of 45 contract workmen was not

maintainable since they were engaged only on an ad-hoc basis. The recruitment to various posts was regulated as per Cadre and Recruitment Rules of the Board, where there was no provision for regularising a contract employee. 

The high court, for its part, noted the Board was a statutory body constituted under the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981.

"The Board has been constituted to take effective measures to control air and water pollution. It charges the prescribed fee for the tests whenever industries are started. These are collected by the Board for issuing the clearances," the HC said. 

Since the Board was stated to be an instrumentality of the State under Article 12 of the Constitution, it was an industry as defined under Section 2(j) of the Industrial Disputes Act. It was rightly held that the workmen were to be paid equal pay when their performance was found satisfactory, the HC said.

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