STATE OF KERALA Vs. V M PATEL
LAWS(SC)-1960-10-6
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on October 12,1960

STATE OF KERALA Appellant
VERSUS
V. M.Patel Respondents


Referred Judgements :-

CHINTAMAN RAO VS. STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH [REFERRED TO]



Cited Judgements :-

MODERN CANDLE WORKS VS. COMMISSIONER OF TAXES ASSAM GAUHATI [LAWS(GAU)-1988-2-4] [REFERRED TO]
MEGHA ASSAM COAL MINES INDIA LTD VS. STATE OF ASSAM [LAWS(GAU)-2004-6-45] [REFERRED TO]
V P GOPALA RAO VS. PUBLIC PROSECUTOR ANDHRA PRADESH [LAWS(SC)-1969-3-27] [FOLLOWED]
DSOUZA R E VS. REGIONAL INSPECTOR OF FACTORIES [LAWS(KER)-1968-2-26] [REFERRED TO]


JUDGEMENT

HIDAYATULLAH,J. - (1.)THIS appeal, with the special leave of this Court, is directed against an order of the High Court of Kerala dismissing a complaint filed under the Factories Act, 1948, against the respondent, who was sentenced to a fine of Rs. 5 by the Sessions Judge, Anjikaimal. The appellant is the State of Kerala.
(2.)ON 10 November 1953, an Inspector of Factories inspected the premises occupied by a firm known as the Gujarat Travancore Agency at Mattancherry. He found that 23 persons were employed in the process of garbling pepper and packing them in bags. They were working without the aid of power. The respondent, V. M. Patel, who is a partner in the said firm, was prosecuted as an occupier of the factory under S.92 of the Factories Act. He was charged with three offences under Ss. 6(1)(a), 6(1)(d) and 7 of the Factories Act read with the rules, for failure to apply for registration, to obtain the permission of the Chief Inspector of Factories before commencing the work, and for not sending a notice under S. 7 containing the information required under that section and rule 12. The prosecution examined four witnesses in support of the case, and produced some correspondence and the sanction to prosecute, obtained under S.105 of the Factories Act from the Chief Inspector of Factories and Boilers. It may be mentioned here that no notification was issued by the State Government under S.85 of the Factories Act declaring that the provisions of the Factories Act were to apply to this factory.
Three questions arose at the trial, and they were whether the premises could be called a factory where manufacturing process was going on, whether manufacturing process could be said to be going on, and lastly, whether the persons garbling pepper could be said to come within the definition of "worker", so as to bring the respondent within the penalty of the law.The Magistrate, who tried the case, held on all the three points against the respondent and imposed a fine of Rs. 51. On appeal, the Sessions Judge upheld the conviction, but reduced the fine to Rs. 5. On revision by the High Court, the conviction was set aside, and the respondent was acquitted. It is, in these circumstances, that the present appeal with special leave has been filed by the State.

(3.)THE short question in this case is whether the definition of "worker" as given in the Factories Act can be said to apply to the persons who were working on the premises of the firm on 10 November, 1953. The work they were doing has been described by the witnesses in the case. It consisted of winnowing, cleaning, washing and drying pepper on concrete floor. A similar process was also being applied to ginger, which was dipped in lime and laid out to dry in a warehouse on the premises. The work also consisted in putting the product into bags and baskets. The contention of the respondent was that the persons working on his premises were not employed by him, and were thus not his workers, to make him liable. In this connexion, P.W. 3, the works supervisor, was examined by the prosecution. He stated that the labourers were not working for daily wages for the respondent and that he (P.W. 3) had provided these labourers and had undertaken a contract for cleaning pepper for which he was paid at the rate of Rs. 6 per candy. He, therefore, claimed to be what the respondent described as an "independent contractor" employing his own labour and executing work for payment, though on the premises of the respondent.
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