The Reserve Bank was established on April 1, 1935 as a shareholders’ Bank with a capital of Rs. 5 crores which was mainly subscribed by the public. It was taken over in 1948 by the Government of India, when, under the Reserve Bank (Transfer 10 Public Ownership) Act, 1948, the shares were compulsorily acquired by Government at a premium of Rs. 18.62 over and above the face value of the share of Rs. 100. Thereafter the Reserve Bank is administered by a Central Board of Directors nominated by the Central Government from the civil services and public men, There are four local Boards to advise the Central Board and to function as its delegates.
The Head Office of the Reserve bank is situated at Bombay with branches at Calcutta, New Delhi, Kanpur, Madras, Bangalore, Nagpur, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Gauhati, Trivandvum, Patna, Ahmedabad, Ludhiana, Jaipur and Indore. The Reserve Bank acts as Bank to the Central and State Governments and Commercial Banks and controls the issue and circulation of currency. It has special duties to perform under the Banking Companies Act 1949 and supervises and controls the banking industry in India, It regulates and controls foreign exchange and exchange of currency and remittances to and from India. It is hardly necessary to refer to its multifarious duties and functions as the Central Bank and as the bankers’ bank.
The primary purpose for which the Reserve Bank of India was originally constituted was “to regulate the issue of bank notes and the keeping of the reserves with a view to securing monetary stability in India and generally to operate the currency and the credit system of the country to its advantage”.
But in course of time other functions came to be added as a result of various statutes passed by the Parliament from time to time to meet the economic needs of the country. The administrative machinery of the Reserve Bank for carrying out these diverse functions was at the material time divided into the following five groups of departments: (1) Group I : General Side, that is Banking Department, Issue Department, Public Debt Division and Exchange Control Department; (2) Group II: Department of Banking Operations, Development and Industrial Finance Department and Department of Non-banking Companies; (3) Group III: Agricultural Credit Department, (4) Group IV : Economic Department and Department of Statistics and (5) Group V: Industrial Development Bank of India.
The departments falling within the first group were known as the general departments, while the departments falling within the other four groups were known as the specialised departments. Though recruitment to these different groups of departments was made on a common basis, each group of departments was treated as a separate unit for the purpose of determining the seniority and promotion of the employees within that group and this was done on centerwise basis.
The Reserve Bank employs four classes of employees, the first class being of officers. At the material time the total number of employees of all description was about 9,500 of which 3,300 were in the head office, 1,800, 1,100 and 1,100 respectively at Calcutta, New Delhi and Madras and the rest were distributed in varying numbers among the remaining twelve branches. The present dispute has a long history into the details of which it is hardly necessary to go but as both sides have made reference to it, some of the leading events connected with bank disputes in general and the present dispute respecting the Reserve Bank, in particular, may be mentioned[1945 ].
The Reserve Bank during the years between 1946 and 1960 undertook from time to lime revision of salaries and allowances. In 3947 and 1948 dcarness allowances were revised and in T948 there was a general revision of scales cf pay as from April 1. 1948. These revisions were made at the demand of the Association. In 1951 ad hoc increases in dearness allowances were made and compensatory allowances were introduced and from 1951 local allowances were paid to certain classes of employees :-erv;n� at some of the important offices of the Reserve Bank and subsequently the scheme of local allowances was extended to a few other branches. In 1954 local allowances were converted into local pay and 25% of the dearness allowances was treated as pay for calculation of retiring benefits etc. In 1957 family allowances to class IV employees were raised and in 1958 and 1959 clearness allowances were again slightly raised. These increases, though welcome to them, hardly satisfied the demands of the employees. There were many conciliation conferences but none was successful. The cost of living index with base year 1949—100 had increased by 26 points in February 1960 and the principles of minimum and fair wages were deliberated upon and adverted to in the Report of the 15th Indian Labour Conference. These principles, to which detailed reference will be made presently, were desired by the employees of the Reserve Bank to be put into operation. As a result the gap between the demands of the employees and the offers of the Reserve Bank, which was wide already, became wider still and conciliation which hail always succeeded in the past, was not possible. The Association suggested arbitration but the Reserve Bank by its letter dated February 11, I960, did not agree. The Reserve Bank stated that it did not wish to get “seriously out of step” with Government or the Commercial Banks. The Reserve Bank referred to the Pay Commission Report and pointed out that the demands of the employees took no notice of the state of Indian economy. The Association, through its Secretary, in icply (Feb. 22, 1960) observed :
“Your criticism, that the association’s charter of demands has been pitched so high as to exclude all scope for satisfactory solution through negotiations, we may point out, is baseless and incorrect, as the charter has been based on the norms set up by the Fifteenth Tripartite Labour Conference at Nainital where the need-based wage formula for Indian worker was evolved, and the coefficient for conversion to arrive at the minimum wage for a middle class salaried employee has been accepted from the Rajadhyaksha report…”.