Chaudhuri, J. -
(1.) In this case arising out of an application under Section 401 read with Section 482 of the Cr. PC. 1973, and Article 227 of the Constitution, a prayer has been made for quashing the proceedings in Case No. G/2969 of 1975, in the fifth Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, Calcutta, and for setting aside the order dated October 11, 1979, passed in the said case.
(2.) The aforesaid case before the Metropolitan Magistrate arose out of a petition of complaint filed by the Registrar of Companies, West Bengal, under Section 209A(8) of the Companies Act, 1956, impleading the present petitioners as accused. It was alleged that Poobong Tea Co. Ltd. was incorporated under the Indian Companies Act, 1913, on March 27, 1923, having its registered office at 44, Strand Road, Calcutta, and the accused were directors of the company. Pursuant to the provisions of Sub-section (2) read with Sub-section (5) of Section 209A of the Companies Act, 1956, the books of account and the other books of the company were required to be produced before Shri J. B. Bhaduri, Assistant Inspecting Officer, an officer authorised under Clause (ii) of Section 209A(1) of the Act on September 19, 1975, after a notice to that effect was given to the directors by a letter dated August 30, 1975. The company, by a letter dated September 8, 1975, expressed its inability to produce the books of account on September 19, 1975, and prayed for one month's time. The complainant alleged that by another notice dated October 17, 1975, the directors of the company were individually informed that default in the matter of production of records before the authorised officer was well within their knowledge and they were required to show cause why action should not be taken against them under the appropriate section of the Companies Act. Instead of complying with the above direction, the accused remained silent and the company requested for directions on the authorised officer to carry on the inspection of the books at its premises which was contrary to the specific directions given by the complainant in its notice. The complainant, therefore, alleged that the accused committed an offence under Section 209A(2), read with Sub-section (5) and Sub-section (S) when the company, by its letter dated November 15, 1975, expressed its unwillingness to produce the books of account. In the petition of complaint it was alleged that after giving prior notice to the company, Mr. Bhaduri had visited the premises of the company on April 16, 1974, April 18, 1974, and April 25, 1974, in vain for inspection of the books of account. After receiving the complaint, the then Chief Metropolitan Magistrate by his order dated December 25, 1975, took cognizance of the case and ordered issue of summons against the accused petitioners. Simultaneously, he transferred the case to the fifth Court of Metropolitan Magistrate for. disposal. Entering appearance in the case, the accused took some preliminary objections to the proceedings and prayed that the order taking cognizance of the case be reviewed and the proceedings dropped. By order dated October 11, 1979, impugned herein, the learned Metropolitan Magistrate, fifth Court, refused the prayer of the accused. Against the above background, the present revision case has been filed.
(3.) Mr. Santosh Nath Sen, the learned advocate on behalf of the petitioners, challenges the legality and validity of the proceedings before the learned Metropolitan Magistrate on various grounds. He contends that offence, if any, was committed by the company between April 16, 19,74, and April 25, 1974. The case before the Metropolitan Magistrate instituted on December 23, 1975, is barred under Section 468(2)(b) of the Cr. PC. This contention does not have any substance on its face. It has been clearly stated in para. 7 of the complaint that the complainant issued another notice on October 16, 1975, reiterating specifically that the directors of the company individually were aware of the default of not producing the records before J.B. Bhaduri on August 30, 1975, and the directors were asked to show cause why action should not be taken against them, but the directors remained silent and the company prayed for direction on Mr. Bhaduri to carry on inspection at its premises contrary to the directions given in the original notice dated August 30, 1975. In para. 10 of the petition of complaint, it has been specifically pleaded that the offence occurred on November 15, 1975, when the company by its letter of the same date expressed its unwillingness to produce the books of account. If is thus evident that the complaint was not for offences committed on different dates in the month of April, 1974, to which references were incidentally made in paras. 5, 6 and 7 of the complaint. The complaint gave clear indication that the prosecution undertaken was for the offence committed on November 15, 1975. By no, stretch of imagination can it be said that the cognizance of the said offence was taken beyond the period of limitation prescribed by Section 468(2)(b) of the Cr. PC. The first, contention of Mr. Sen, therefore, fails.;