The trade unions. The right to form associations

The right of association pre-supposes organisations. It Is an organisation of permanent relationship between its members in matters of common concern. It thus includes the right to form companies, societies, partnership, trade union and political parties.

The right guaranteed is not merely the right to form association implies also the freedom to form or not to form, to join or not to join an association or union, as has been held in Damyanti v. Union of India, AIR 1971 S.C. 966.

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The right to form associations or unions does not refer to statutory bodies like local board and municipalities and therefore suppression of a local board or municipalities under the relevant law cannot be deemed to be an infringement of such right to form associations or unions.

In O.K.A. Nairv. Union of India, AIR 1976 S.C. 1176, and the appellants were members of the civil employees unions in the various centers of Defense Establishments. The Commandant declared their unions as unlawful association. They challenged the validity of the impugned order on the ground that the said order was volatile of Article 19 (1) (c).

The Supreme Court held that the civil employees of the defense establishments, answer the description of the members of the Armed forces within the meaning of Article 33, and therefore they are not entitled to form trade unions.

The right to form associations or unions does not carry with it the right to achieve any object. Thus, the trade unions have no guaranteed right to an effective bargaining. In Balakotaih v. Union of India, AIR 1958 S.C. 232, the services of the appellant was terminated under Railway Service Rules for his being a member of the communist party and a trade unionist.

The appellant contended that the termination from service amounted in substance to a denial to him the right to form association. The appellant had no doubt a fundamental right to form association, but he had no fundamental right to continue in Government service.

Hence, it was held that the order terminating his services was not in contravention of Article 19 (1) (c) because the order did not prevent him to continue in Communist Party as a trade unionist. Reasonable Restrictions

In G.K. Ghosh v. E.X. Josef AIR 1963 S.C. 812, Rule 4-B of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955, requires a Government servant not to join or continue to be a member of the Association of Government servants as soon as recognition given to such association is withdrawn or if the association is formed, no recognition is granted to it within six months.

The Supreme Court held that the condition on recognition of the said association to be a right would be ineffective and illusory and the imposition of such condition on the right of the association, has no connection with the public order of the State.

The restrictions on the right to form associations and unions imposed by law must be reasonable and they can only be imposed on the grounds specifically mentioned in clause (4) of Article 19, Le, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, or public order or morality on the exercise of this right.

A restriction which does not fulfill these conditions will be considered as unreasonable by the courts and will be declared illegal. It would be unreasonable restriction to compel employees to have previous permission before becoming members of a particular union.

Similarly, where a law imposes a restriction on the union on the ground that a union shall not be entitled to represent its members in an industrial dispute unless the union is approved by the administrative authority at his absolute discretion, cannot be sustained. In Raghubar v. Union of India, AIR 1962 S.C. 263, it has been similarly held that nobody can be compelled to become member of a Government sponsored union.