Apprenticeship contract interpreted
S J Tubrazy
A careful examination of rule 18 of Apprenticeship Rules, 1966 will show that on the eve of recruitment of an apprentice, an apprenticeship contract is to be executed by the employer and the apprentice or by the parents or guardian of apprentice on behalf of apprentice, if the apprentice happened ‘to be a minor, in the form prescribed under the rules. Sub-Rule (4) of rule 18, prohibits any subsequent alteration or amendment in the contract of apprenticeship after it is executed, except with the prior approval of the competent authority. Rule. 19 of Apprenticeship Rules, 1966 which deals with the duration of apprenticeship period, provides in its sub-rule (1) that the competent authority shall determine the duration of apprenticeship period for each such trade, which is declared as apprentice able on consideration of factors enumerated in clauses (i) to (v) of the said sub-rule. Sub-rule (2) of Rule 19 makes it obligatory on the parties to state/specify the apprenticeship period in the contract of apprenticeship. Sub-rule (3) of rule 19 provides that any extension in the ‘apprenticeship period, if it is considered essential in the interest of apprentice trainee, in individual cases, shall be made with the approval of competent authority. This sub-rule further provides, that in no case tile extension in the apprenticeship period shall exceed more than 1/4 of the original duration of apprenticeship. From reading of above two rules, it is clear that while rule 18 deals generally with the form and manner of execution of the contract of apprenticeship by the parties and the mode in which amendment and alteration can be made therein after execution rule 19 deals only with the prescription of the period of apprenticeship and its extension in certain cases, by the competent authority. Rule 18, therefore, in our view, contains general provisions governing the contract of apprenticeship; while rule 19 is in the nature of a special provision, dealing only with the prescription of tile period of apprenticeship in respect of each apprentice able trade and extension in the prescribed period of apprenticeship in individual cases by the competent authority. Therefore, to the extent a case falls under the special provision of rule 19, the general provision contained in rule 18 will be inapplicable.
All subsequent alterations and amendments in the contract of apprenticeship require prior approval of competent authority under Rule 18(4) of the Rules which is a general provision, but the case of extension in the period of apprenticeship falls under the special provision of rule 19, therefore, it will not be governed under rule 18. The extension in the apprenticeship period under Rule 19(3), Apprenticeship Rules, 1966, can be granted by the competent authority in individual case, if it is considered essential up tile interest of apprentice trainee. The framers of Rules though used the word “prior” before the expression “approval of competent authority” in Rule 18(4), but deliberately omitted the word “prior” in the following Rule 19(3) before the same expression. “approval of competent authority’. This deliberate omission of word “prior” in Rule 19(3) clearly indicated the intention of the framers that in the case of extension in the period of apprenticeship no prior approval of competent authority was necessary although such prior approval was needed in all other events of amendment and alteration in the contract of apprenticeship under Rule 18(4). However, the extension, in the apprenticeship period to be granted by the competent authority under Rule 19(3) is neither mechanical nor automatic in its nature. This extension is to be granted by the competent authority only on its satisfaction in an individual case, that such extension is necessary in the interest of apprentice trainee and in no case such extension can exceed 1/4 of the original period of apprenticeship. Prior approval of competent authority is not necessary in the case of extension in the period of apprenticeship of a trainee and such-approval can be accorded by the competent authority under Rule 19(3) of the Rules even after commencement of the extended period of apprenticeship. It is not disputed that an extension in the period of apprenticeship can be granted by the competent authority on the request of employer but it is urged that such extension must necessarily precede expiry of the original period of apprenticeship: (M/s. Sargodha Vegetable Ghee Mills v. Muhammad Mukhtar Khan 1988 P L C 295 ref)