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Section 18 – The Trade Unions Act, 1926

The Trade Unions Act, 1926

 

18. Immunity from civil suit in certain cases.—

 

(1) No suit or other legal proceeding shall be maintainable in any Civil Court against any registered Trade Union or any 1[office-bearer] or member thereof in respect of any act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute to which a member of the Trade Union is a party on the ground only that such act induces some other person to break a contract of employment, or that it is in interference with the trade, business or employment of some other person or with the right of some other person to dispose of his capital or of his labour as he wills.

 

(2) A registered Trade Union shall not be liable in any suit or other legal proceeding in any Civil Court in respect of any tortious act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute by an agent of the Trade Union if it is proved that such person acted without the knowledge of, or contrary to express instructions given by, the executive of the Trade Union.

 

COMMENTS

 

Availability of immunity to a trade union leader

Immunity to a trade union leader (such as the President) is not available when he is discharged after holding an enquiry into his misconduct; West India Steel Co. Ltd. v. Azeez, 1990 LLR 142 (Ker).

 

Object

 

Immunity is provided to the registered trade union from being sued by way of civil suit under section 18. In respect of any act done in contemplation on furtherance of a trade dispute to which a member of the trade union is a party on the ground only that such act induces some other person to break a contract of employment or that it is in interference with the trade, business or employment of some other person or with the right of some other person to dispose of his capital or of his labour as he wills; Standard Chartered Bank v. Hinudstan Engg. & General Mazdoor Union, 2002 LLR 254 (Del).

 

Scope

 

It is manifest in the present case that the striking workmen are not prevented from taking recourse to the protection of section 18 of the Trade Unions Act mainly because the strike was illegal under section 24(1) of the Industrial Disputes Act; Rohtas Industries Staff Union v. State of Bihar, AIR 1963 Pat 1970.

 

The Act has not provided that period of illegal strike would be treated as period of unauthorised absence or relationship of “employer and employee” would cease; U.P. Rajya Setu Nigam Sanyukt Karmachari Sangh v. U.P. State Bridge Corporation, Lucknow, 2000 LLR 151 (All).

 

It is not within the purview of the civil court to prevent or interfere with the legitimate rights of the workmen to persue their demands by means of strike or otherwise as also acts done in furtherance of a trade dispute; Ahmedabad Textile Research Association v. ATRA Employees’ Union, 1995 LLR 91 (Guj) DB.

 

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1. Subs. by Act 38 of 1964, sec. 2, for

 

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The Trade Unions Act, 1926

 

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