As modernisation and industrialization emerged and grew, trade unions were
formed eventually. Trade unions are basically an association of employees who
share common goals to achieve. Due to various social and economic evils it
became necessary for the employees to devise effective means to deal with the
employers in the form of trade unions.
Deteriorating economic conditions and low wages resulted in further growth of
the trade unions.
During the end of 1925, the number of trade unions eventually increased. They
demanded for securing the rights of the employees and a machinery dealing with
settlement and prevention of industrial disputes. The continuous exploitation of
the employees by the employers resulted in the formation of Trade Unions Act,
in order to protect their interests and fulfil their genuine demands. This
Act legalized the right to form and organise unions and therefore, allowed the
employees to form trade unions.
The act laid down detailed provisions for the procedure, formation, conditions
for the registration of trade unions, advantages of the procedure, advantages of
registration and immunities available to the union leaders from civil and
criminal laws for the activities of a registered trade union.
Indian Trade Unions Act, 1926 defines trade unions as:
any combination, whether
temporary or permanent, formed primarily for the purpose of regulating the
relations between workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, or
between employers and employers, or for imposing restrictive conditions on the
conduct of any trade or business, and includes any federation of two or more
Chapter II of the Trade Unions Act, 1926 deals with the provisions of the
registration of the trade unions.
Procedure for Registration of a Trade Union
Under section 3, registrar is appointed for process of registration of the Trade
Also, the Appropriate government is authorised to appoint additional and deputy
registrar for particular state, where the registrar of trade union is unable to
discharge the powers and functions. Within a local limit, he may exercise the
power and functions as Registrar as prescribed for this purpose.
Mode of Registration
Section 4(1) of the act, talks about the registration of trade unions. Which
says that for the purpose of registration of the trade union, there should be a
minimum of seven members. The reason behind the fixation of a minimum of seven
members is to encourage the formation of more and more trade unions.
In order to summarize, section-7 talks about the two conditions required to
fulfil the registration of a Trade union.
These conditions are:
Requirement of seven or more members as signatories.
Provided that there are 100 or 10% whichever is less are employed in the
The sec 4(2) of the act mentions that any application made under section (1)
regarding the registration of a Trade union cannot be termed as invalid merely
on the reason that some of the applicants not exceeding half of the total number
of persons have:
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (1993)
- Either ceased to be the members of Trade union before the registration
of the Trade union; or
- Has given a written notice in writing to the Registrar mentioning about their
In this case, the court held that for the purpose of regulating the relations
between the workmen and the employers, any group of employees may be registered
as a trade union under the act.
Application for Registration
According to the Section-5, application shall be made to the registrar for the
registration of trade union and it should be followed with the copy of rules of
the Trade Union and following particulars:
- The name, occupation and address of the members who all are making the
- The name of the Trade Union and the address of its head office; and
- The titles, names, ages, addresses and occupations of the office-bearers of the
If a trade union already exists for more than a year, then a copy of the assets
and liabilities of the Trade Union should be submitted along with the
application for registration.
Provisions to be contained in the rules of a Trade Union
As per section-6 of the act, a Trade union shall not be entitled to register
under the act, if the provisions and rules mentioned under the act are not duly
complied. The rules are as following:
Power to Call
- The name of the trade union
- The object for which the trade union has been established;
- The whole of the purposes for which the general funds of the trade union
shall be applicable;
- The maintenance of a list of the members of the trade union;
- The admission of ordinary members (person engaged or employed in the
industry) with which the trade union is connected;
- The conditions under which any member shall be entitled to any benefit
assured by the rules
and under which any fine or forfeiture may be imposed on the members;
- The manner in which the rules shall be amended, varied or rescinded;
- The manner in which the members of the executive and the other office
bearers of the Trade Union shall be elected and removed;
- The manner in which the trade union may be dissolved.
As per section 7, the registrar may call members of the application to acquire
further information to check whether the application is complete as per the
provision of section 5, or the Trade Union is enable for registration under
section 6, and if all such information is incomplete, registrar may refuse to
register the Trade Union.
The registrar has the power to call the person applying for registration to
alter the name of the Trade Union, if the name of the Trade Union proposed by
the person applying for registration is identical to the name of existing
registered Trade Union or if registrar finds it bit similar, which tends to fool
the public or the members of either Trade Union. If such alteration doesn't take
place, registrar shall refuse to register the Union.
Section 8 of the act mentions that if the Registrar is satisfied that the Trade
Union has complied with all the requirements of the act in regard to the
registration, then he shall register the Trade union.
North Central Railway Employees Sangh and Others (2017)
In this case, the court held that in order to check whether the registration is
given rightly or not, the same can be examined only by the competent statutory
authority established under the Trade Unions Act. The other authorities like the
police have no role in this.
Inland Seam Navigation Workers' Union (1968)
An application was made by the workers' union to the registrar for
registration. But the application was declared unlawful by the registrar by
stating the reason that the objects mentioned are for all practical purposes.
The court said that the duties of the registrar include examining the
application, looking at the objects for which the union is formed. If the
objects for registration falls as per the act and all the requirements and
regulations made are complied as per the act, then it is the duty of the
registrar to register the union.
ONGC Workmen's Association (1988)
In this case the court made it clear that the registrar is not deemed to be a
quasi-judicial authority. He is not entitled to decide any disputed question of
fact or law. The Registrar has no authority to ask parties to lead evidence or
to cross-examine any witness.
Therefore, it can be said that under section-8, the authority given to the
registrar is limited in nature.
Certificate Of Registration
As per section 9, the registrar shall issue a certificate of registration, after
registering a Trade Union under section 8. The Trade Union can produce the
certificate as evidence, that it has been rightly registered under this Act.
If any person doesn't agree with the decisions of registrar related to:
- refusal to register the Union,
- withdrawal or cancellation of a certificate of registration may appeal
within prescribed time, in following:
- the head office of trade union which is situated within the restrictions
of a presidency town to the High Court
- the head office of trade union which is situated , within the
jurisdiction of a Labour Court or an Industrial Tribunal, to that court or
tribunal as the case may be;
- the head office of trade union which is situated in any area to such
court, not subordinate to the court of an additional or assistant judge of a
principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction as the appropriate government
Accordingly, court may either refuse the appeal or pass an order governing the
registrar to take suitable course of action.
Compulsory/ Voluntary Registration
As per the act, the registration of a trade union is not compulsory but it is
just voluntary in nature.
It is believed that compulsory registration would prove burdensome and expensive
and therefore, it is voluntary in nature.
On the other hand, it is argued that the registration should be made compulsory
for the trade unions so that they could be governed by the provisions and rules
laid down in the act in a similar manner.
Acts which do not apply to Registered Trade Unions ( Sec-14)
The acts which do not apply to the Registered Trade unions are:
- The Societies Registration Act,1860 (21 of 1860)
- The Co-operatives Societies Act, 1912 (2 of 1912)
- The Companies Act,1956 (1 of 1956)
Such acts shall not apply to any registered trade union, and if any Trade union
gets itself registered under any of these acts, then such a registration would
be void in nature.
Time Period for registration of Trade Union
In the Trade Unions Act,1926, no time period has been mentioned for the approval
or refusal of registration. It is a statutory duty of the registrar to register
the trade union if all the requirements of registration is fulfilled duly. But
in case, if any provision is not fulfilled then there is no time limit for the
grant or refuse the registration.
ACC Rajanka Lime Stone Quarries Mazdoor Union v. Registrar of Trade
The petitioner sent an application for registration of Union on 31st
July,1957 to the registrar of Trade Unions Government of Bihar, Patna, under a
registered postal cover with acknowledgment due. The Registrar of Trade Union
received the application on 3rd of August, 1957. For a long time there was no
action taken by the Registrar of Trade Unions.
Petitioner sent many reminders to the Registrar to speed up the process of
registration and on 23rd September, a telegraphic reminder was sent by the
petitioner, but there was no response to it.
No action was taken for over 3 months, therefore the Union filed a writ petition
before the Patna High Court. It requested that the Registrar of Trade Unions
should be governed to register or refuse to register the Union as his statutory
It was held by the High Court of Patna that, if the Registrar is
satisfied that application of registration is fulfilled with all the
requirements of the Act, then as per section 8 it is his statutory duty to
register a trade union. The court authorized the registrar to deal with the
application of the trade union according to law as soon as possible.
Cancellation of Registration
As per section 10 of the act, the registration of the trade union can be
cancelled if the certificate of registration is withdrawn or cancelled by the
Legal Status of a Registered Trade union
- On the application of the Trade union.
- If the registrar is satisfied that the certificate of registration is
obtained by mistake or fraud
The Trade union has ceased to exist.
The Trade union has wilfully contravened the provisions of the act even after
the notice from the registrar.
Benefits of registration of Trade unions
- Trade Union which is registered shall be a body corporate ( means
separate legal entity of trade Union) under the name it has been registered
- Trade Union have Perpetual Succession which means the existence of the Union or
the continuation with regardless of any death, change in membership etc. and a
- It also has a power to obtain and hold movable and immovable property and can be
a party to contract,
- It can sue and be sued by the name which is registered.
- No civil suit or legal proceeding can be proceed against trade union, related to
any act done in pursuit of a trade dispute in certain situation.
A registered trade union acquires the status of separate legal entity, Which
means that it can enter into contracts and can also sue others.
Privileges of Registered Trade Unions
The Trade Unions Act, 1926 has made provisions under section 17&18. Section 17
provides exemption from punishment of criminal conspiracy:
Immunities of registration of trade unions
- imprisonment for not more than six month
- With fine or both
to the member or office-bearers of registered trade union, related to any
agreement made between the members with the purpose of facilitating objects of
trade union. Section 18 provides immunity from civil proceedings:
- to the registered trade union
- any members or office bearers,
related to any act done in pursuit of a trade dispute to which a member of the
trade is party on the basis that such act provokes some other person
- to breach a contract of employment,
- to interfere in trade, business, employment of some other person.
- interference with the right of some other person to destroy his capital
or of his labour.
Section 17 provides immunity from the criminal liability
Section 18 provides immunity from civil liability.
Section 19 gives privilege to make agreements in restraint of trade.
Difference between Registration and Recognition of Trade unions
The main differences between registration and recognition of trade union is that
registration is done by the registrar and recognition is done by management as
collective bargaining agent.
None of them is mandatory under Trade Union Act. Registered trade union have
certain inherent benefits with it. Whereas, recognition of trade union has no
inherent right and once they are recognised, it leads to conferred certain
rights upon them.
National Labour Commission Reports on Registration of Trade union
In view of Trade unions Act, 1926 the National Labour Commission has proposed
various recommendations in the year 1969:
- The registration of Trade unions which is voluntary should be made
- Some time-limit should be prescribed for the Registrar to decide on the
issue of registration.
- Effective measures must be taken for cancellation if the conditions
mentioned in the Act are not complied by the Unions.
After the above mentioned recommendations, various enactments were passed.
After this, a Second National Labour Commission was established and consequently
a second report was submitted in the year 2002.
In this report, the commission recommended the eligibility condition i.e.
requirement of 10 percent membership shall not apply in the case of unions in
the unorganised sector.
The existence of Trade union creates a healthy working relationship between the
employer and the employees.
It is because of Trade union that the workers feel that their rights are duly
protected and can anytime create a pressure on the employers if they feel that
employers are overpowering them unnecessarily.
Apart from this the registration of Trade union under the Trade union Act, 1926
helped the trade unions to gain recognition and certification. The detailed
provisions of the act talks about the procedure, advantages of registering Trade
unions and various immunities available to the union leaders from civil and
criminal laws for the activities of a registered trade union.
- Sec. 2(h) of the Trade Unions Act, 1926
- (1996) IIILLJ 362 SC
- AIR 1936 Cal 57
- (1988) IILLJ 335 Cal
- AIR 1958 Pat 470, 1958 (6) BLJR 357, (1958) IILLJ 458 Pat
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Tanu Mehta
Authentication No: SP125833208096-15-0921