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STATE OF MAHARASHTRA versus MOHANLAL DEVICHAND SHAH

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1966 AIR 189 1965 SCR (3) 461

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STATE OF MAHARASHTRA V. MOHANLAL DEVICHAND SHAH [1965] RD-SC 79 (23 March 1965)

23/03/1965 SIKRI, S.M.

SIKRI, S.M.

WANCHOO, K.N.

MUDHOLKAR, J.R.

CITATION: 1966 AIR 189 1965 SCR (3) 461

CITATOR INFO :

R 1972 SC1177 (20)

ACT:

Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (11 of 1948), s. 2(b) Schedule Part 1 Entry 8-Stone breaking or stone-crushing in a quarry- Jurisdiction whether of Central or State Government- Competency to file complaint.

HEADNOTE:

The Labour Inspector, appointed under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 filed two complaints before the Judicial Magistrate alleging that the respondent, doing quarrying operation work, had contravened certain provisions of the Minimum Wages (Control) Rules, 1950. The respondent, inter alia, submitted that the Inspector was not authorised to file the complaint, and only an Inspector appointed by the State Government was competent to file the complaint. The Judicial Magistrate held that the word "mine" in sub-cl. (1) of s. 2(b) of the Act, does not include a stone quarry and therefore, the appropriate government was the State Government and not the Central Government. The appellants' appeals were dismissed by the High Court. In appeal to this Court.

HELD: An examination of the definition of "appropriate Government" in s. 2(b) of the Minimum Wages Act in the context and background of Government of India Act, 1935, and the Mines Act, 1923, shows that the word "mine" in s.

2(b)(i) includes quarries. Also stone breaking or stone crushing in a quarry is within Entry 8 in Part 1 of the Schedule of the Act. Since the employment in stone breaking or stone crushing is in a quarry, it is within the jurisdiction of the Central Government, because it is a scheduled employment in a mine Within the meaning of s.

2(b)(i). Therefore, the Inspector appointed under the Act was competent to file the complaints. [465F; 466A-B, D] Madhya Pradesh Mineral Industry Association v. The Regional Labour Commissioner, Jabalpur, [19601 3 S.C.R. 476, applied.

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeals Nos. 198 and 199 of 1963.

Appeals from the judgment and order dated February 4, 1963, of the Bombay High Court in Criminal Appeals Nos. 779 & 780 of 1962.

S. C. Patwardhan, B. R. G. K. Achar for R. H. Dheber, for the appellant.

Avadh Behari, for respondent.

The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Sikri, J. These are two appeals by certificate granted by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay against its judgment dated February 4, 1963, in Criminal Appeals Nos. 779 and 780 of 1962. By this judgment the High Court affirmed the order of (N)4SCI-3 462 acquittal passed against the respondent by the Judicial Magistrate, A First Class, Vadagaon (Mawal).

The relevant facts are as follows: The Labour Inspector (Central), Bombay-1, appointed under the Minimum Wages Act (XI of 1948) (hereinafter called the Act) by the Central Government filed two complaints in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate alleging that the respondent had contravened certain provisions of the Minimum Wages (Central) Rules, 1950. It was alleged that the respondent was doing quarrying operation work in quarry survey Nos. 23(1) Kusegaon village near Lonavala, and while carrying on this quarrying operation work he, failed to observe certain provisions in the Rules. The respondent submitted a written statement admitting the facts but he contended, inter alia, that the Inspector was not authorised to file the complaint and it was only an inspector appointed by the Maharashtra State who was competent to file a complaint. The Judicial Magistrate, treating this as a preliminary objection, came to the conclusion that the Inspector was not entitled to file the complaint. According to him, the word "mine" in sub-cl. (i) of s. 2(b) of the Act does not include a stone quarry and, therefore, the appropriate Government was the State Government and not the Central Government. There upon he acquitted the accused of the offence under s. 22A, read with s. 18, of the Act and for contravening certain rules of the Minimum Wages (Central) Rules, 1950.

The State then filed two appeals before the High Court. The High Court also came to the conclusion that the Inspector was not competent to file the complaints but the reasoning of the High Court was different. It was of the opinion that "a stone quarry can fall within the category of a mine as defined in the Mines Act of 1952 or the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) ,Act of 1957." But even so, according to it, "the Schedule does not mention either a mine or a stone quarry and item No. 8, viz., Employment in stone breaking and stone crushing, cannot, therefore, be said to be an employment in respect of a mine whether in its broadest sense so as to include a stone quarry or in narrow sense as given in the Oxford English Dictionary." The High Court further held that 'unless, therefore, the Parliament amends item No. 8 of the Schedule so to include the operation of stone-breaking and stone-crushing in a stone quarry or in all mines including a stone quarry, it is not possible to hold that the appropriate Government would be the Central Government, merely on the basis that, in its widest connotation, the words 'stone quarry' may fall within the ambit of the word 'mine'." Section 2(b) of the Act defines "appropriate government" as follows:

"2(b) "appropriate government" means- (i) in relation to any scheduled employment carried on 463 by or under the authority of the Central Government or a railway administration or in relation to a mine, oilfield or major port, or any corporation established by a Central Act, the Central Government, and (ii) in relation to any other scheduled employment, the State Government." Sub-clause (g) defines 'scheduled employment" to mean in em- ployment specified in the Schedule, or any process or branch of work forming part of such employment.

The Schedule is divided into two parts, and Part 1 contains entry 8-Employment in stone breaking or stone crushing.

Section 22 prescribes the penalties for certain offenses and s. 22A provides that "any employer who contravenes any.

provisions of this Act or of any rule or order made thereunder shall, if no other penalty is provided for such contravention by this Act, be punishable with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees." Section 22B deals with the cognizance of offences and provides that "no Court shall take cognizance of a complaint against any person for an offence... under clause (b) of section 22 or under section 22A except on a complaint made by, or with the sanction of, an Inspector." The first question which arises is whether the quarry which the respondent is alleged to be working and in which the employees are alleged to be carrying on the operation of stone breaking or stone crushing is a mine, within s. 2(b).

Learned counsel for the appellant has drawn our attention to the definition of the word mine" in the Mines Act, 1952 (XXXV of 1952), and the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957 (LXVII of 1957). Section 2(j) of the Mine Act defines 'mine', and the relevant part of the definition is as under:

"Mine" means any excavation where any operation for the purpose of searching for or obtaining minerals has been or is being carried on, and includes- (iv) all open cast workings." The word 'minerals' is defined to mean all substances which can be obtained from the earth by mining, digging, drilling dredging, hydraulicing, quarrying or by any other operation and includes mineral oils (which in turn include natural gas and petroleum). he learned counsel says that a quarry is a mine within this definition.

In the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957, the expressions 'mine' and 'owner' have the meanings assigned to them in the Mines Act, 1952. The learned counsel contends that this meaning should be read into the Minimum Wages Act.

464 The learned counsel for the respondents relies on the observations of this Court in Pandit Ram Narain v. The State of Uttar Pradesh(1) that "it is no sound principle of construction to interpret expressions used in one Act with reference to their use in another Act. The meanings of words and expressions used in an Act must take their colour from the context in which they appear." The learned counsel further contends, relying on a number of English decisions, that in its primary signification the word 'mine' means underground excavations or underground workings. He relies in particular on the speech of Lord Macnaughten in Lord Provost and Magistrates of Glasgow v. Farie (2) . The House of Lords was concerned in that case with the interpretation of s. 18 of the Waterworks Clauses Act, 1847, which was in the following terms:

"The undertakers shall not be entitled to any mines of coal, ironstone, state, or other minerals under any land purchased by them, except only such parts thereof as shall be necessary to be dug or carried away or used in the construction of the water-works unless the same shall have been expressly purchased, and all such mines, excepting as aforesaid, shall be deemed to be excepted out of the conveyance of such lands, unless they shall have been expressly named therein and conveyed thereby." The appellants in that case had purchased from the respondent a parcel of land for the purpose of erecting waterworks and the conveyance contained a reservation of the "whole coal and other minerals in the land in terms of the Waterworks Clauses Act, 1847." Under the land was a seam of valuable brick clay. The respondent worked this clay in the adjoining land, and having reached the appellants' boundary, claimed the right to work out the clay under the land purchased by the appellants. The House of Lords held that common clay, forming the surface or subsoil of land, was not included in the reservation in the Act, and that the appellants were entitled to an interdict restraining the respondent from working the clay under the land purchased by them. It is true Lord Macnaughten first construed the word 'mine' in this enactment to mean under ground excavations or underground workings, and then proceeded to construe the section. But Lord Watson was of the opinion that the word 'mine' did not necessarily mean underground excavations. He said that "it does not occur to me that an open excavation of auriferous quartz would be generally described as a gold quarry; I think most people would call it a cold mine." Later he observed that "the word 'quarry' is, no doubt, inapplicable to underground excavations but the word 'milling' may without impropriety be used to denote some quarries. Dr. Johnson defines a quarry to be a stone mine".

He arrived at the conclusion that "the word 'mine' must be taken to signify all (1) [1956] S.C.R. 664 at 673.

(2) 13 A.C. 657.

465 excavations by which the excepted minerals may be legitimately worked and got." In our opinion, as stated in Halsbury's Laws of England, Third Edition, volume 26, p. 317, the word 'mine' is not a definite term, but is one susceptible of limitation or expansion according to the intention with which it is used.

In s. 2(b) of the Act, we have to see the context in which the word has been used. What the legislature is purporting to do is to demarcate the jurisdiction of the State Governments and the Central Government in respect of minimum wages to be paid to persons employed in the employments enumerated in the Schedule. Entry 35 in List 1 of Schedule VII of the Government of India Act, 1935, was "regulation of tabour and safety in mines and oilfields." Entry 36 read "regulation of mines and oilfields and mineral development to the extent to which such regulation and development under Dominion control is declared by Dominion law to be expedient in the public interest." It is not seriously contested that in Entries 35 and 36 the word ,mines' would include quarries. The Mines Act, 1923 (IV of 1923) which was the existing law when the Government of India Act came into force, made provisions regarding health and safety in mines and regulated hours and limitations of employment in the mines. The word 'mine' had been defined to mean any excava- tion where any operation for the purpose of searching for or obtaining minerals has been or is being carried on, and includes all works, machinery, tramways and sidings, whether above or below ground, in or adjacent to or belonging to a mine, provided that it shall not include any part of such premises on which a manufacturing process is being carried on unless such process is a process for coke making or the dressing of minerals. Therefore, if we examine the definition of 'appropriate government' in s. 2(b) in the context and in the background of the Government of India Act and the existing law, it seems to us that the Central Legislature must have intended to include quarries in the word 'mine', otherwise it would be rather incongruous that some matters such as health and saftey, hours and employment in quarries should be regulated by the Central Government and minimum wages by the State Governments. Further. there is no indication whatsoever in the Act that the word 'mine' has the narrower meaning suggested by the learned counsel for the respondent.

If the word 'mine' is held to include a quarry, the next question that arises is whether stone breaking or stone crushing in a quarry is within the Schedule. While interpreting Entry 8 in the Schedule, this Court observed in Madliva Pradesh Mineral Industry Association v. The Regional Labour Commissioner, Jabalpur(1) as follows:

"When we speak of stone-breaking or stone- crushing normally we refer to stone in the sense of "piece of rock" (1) [1960] 3S.C.R. 476.

466 and that would exclude maganese. Employment in stone-breaking or stone-crushing in this sense would refer to quarry operations." This Court thus read Entry 8 to refer to quarry operations, and we hold that stone-breaking or stone-crushing in a quarry is within the Schedule.

Thus reading item 8 of the Schedule and s. 2(b) of the Act together, it seems to us that the definition demarcates the jurisdiction of the Central Government and the State Governments in this way: If the employment in stone-breaking or stone-crushing is in a quarry then it is within the jurisdiction of the Central Government; if the employment in stone-breaking or stone-crushing is not in a quarry, it is the State Government that will have jurisdiction. We are unable to appreciate the observations of the High Court that the operation of stone-breaking and stone-crushing in a stone quarry does not fall within item 8 of the Schedule and that it is necessary that Parliament should amend item 8 of the Schedule.

In the result, we hold that the Inspector was competent to file the complaints and the Magistrate and the High Court should not have acquitted the respondent on the ground of his being incompetent to file the complaints. The appeals are allowed and the judgment of the High Court and the order of the Magistrate are reversed and the cases remitted to the Magistrate to proceed with the complaints in accordance with law.

Appeals allowed.


Copyright

Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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