STATE OF GUJARAT Vs. M/S. PUNJAB TYRES AND ANOTHER
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
STATE OF GUJARAT
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(1.) This is one of those cases in which a ridiculously inadequate sentence has been awarded by the trial court against the accused, who pleaded guilty to the charge for the offence under Section 22-A of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (the Act) for breach of rules 22, 26B and 26 (2) of the Gujarat Minimum Wages Rules, 1961 (the Rules). The respondent- accused are the employers in an establishment governed by the Act. When the Minimum Wages Inspector visited their premises on the 17th of December, 1976. he found that they had committed breach of rule 22 by not exhibiting extract of the Minimum Wages Act, the rules made thereunder and the name and address of the Inspector as also the minimum rates of wages fixed as provided under the said rule. He also found that they had failed to maintain attendance cards of employees as enjoined to be maintained by the employers under Rule 26B, and he lastly found that they had failed to give a wage slip in form IV-B to the employees as provided by Rule. 26 (2). On a complaint being filed against them on the said three counts before the learned Judicial Magistrate First Class, 2nd Court, Baroda, they appeared and pleaded guilty to the charges. The learned Magistrate accepted their plea of guilty and convicted them for the offence under Section 22-A of the Minimum Wages Act and inflicted a fine on each of them in the sum of Rs. 20/- on each count in default 7 days S. I.
(2.) It is against this order that the appellant State has preferred this appeal for enhancement of sentence. It is obvious that the sentence of fine of Rs. 20/- on each count awarded by the learned Magistrate is ridiculously inadequate. It should be borne in mind that while dealing with a measure of social justice like the Act, the courts have to be conscious of the fact that the sentence which they impose on the offenders found guilty should be in keeping with the object and purpose of the enactment which, in the instant case, happens to be a piece of legislation for social justice. It has to be sufficiently deterrent so that the, accused as well as others similarly placed, may not flout the statutory provisions contained in the Act and the Rules and walk away from the precincts of the Court by paying a paltry amount of fine. They should feel that the courts in such cases will not take a lenient view of the matter but will strictly deal with the offenders so that it would lead to a strict observance of the provisions contained in the legislation. Unless, the rules are strictly observed, the provisions enacted in the Act with the object of assuring minimum wages to the employees employed in establishments governed by the Act cannot be effectively implemented and the very purpose for which the legislation has been brought on the Statute book will be frustrated.
(3.) The learned Magistrate, it seems, was oblivious of these considerations and he appears to have been carried away by the fact that this was the first offence on the part of the accused and he, therefore, awarded a nominal amount of a fine of Rs. 20/- only when the section provides fine up to Rs. 500/-. Had he kept before him the above considerations he would not have awarded such an inadequate sentence of fine.;
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