Decided on August 01,1979



S.B.MAJMUDAR - (1.) These two appeals against an acquittal order are preferred by the State of Gujarat and Surat Municipal Corporation challenging the order of acquittal passed by the learned Judicial Magistrate (F.C.) Surat (Municipal) in Shop Establishment case No. 1052/77 acquitting respondent No. 1 accused of the offence pertaining to the alleged breach of sec. 18 (1B) (b) of the Bombay Shops and Establishments Act 1948 hereinafter referred to as `the Act. As both the appeals arise out of the same case they are heard together and are being disposed of by this common judgment.
(2.) The prosecution case against respondent No. 1 accused in short is that the accused on 3-7-1977 was running a grocery shop in Ward No. 8 in Gopipura Vorvad Surat. The said shop of the accused was named Jalaram Stores. For Ward No. 8 Sunday was the closed day of the week as per the provisions of sec. 18 (1B) (b) of the Act. It was further the case of prosecution that in spite of the fact that Sunday was a closed day the accused had kept the shop open on that day i. e. on 3-7-1977 which was a Sunday and hence he had committed breach of the provision of sec. 18 (1B) (b) of the Act. Accordingly a complaint was filed by the Shop Establishment Inspector of Surat Municipal Corporation before the Judicial Magistrate Surat after obtaining necessary sanction from the Municipal Commissioner against respondent No. 1-accused.
(3.) Respondent No-1-accused pleaded not guilty to the charge. The learned Judicial Magistrate came to the conclusion that even though Sunday was a closed day for all shops in Surat Municipal Ward No. 8 the accused wanted permission to close his shop on Thursday instead of Sunday every week and for that he had already applied to the competent authority for permitting him to do so and to change over closed day from Sunday to Thursday. That application was rejected subsequently. The learned Magistrate found that the request was wrongly refused and a businessman must be free to choose any day of a week for closure otherwise any restriction in that respect affected the religious and other freedom of a person and hence it was unconstitutional and it was not in the interest of justice to impose restriction to compel a person to close his shop on a particular day in a week. On the aforesaid reasoning the accused came to be acquitted of the offence with which he was charged.;

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