STEEL CITY PRESS LTD Vs. PROVIDENT FUND INSPECTOR EMPLOYEES PROVIDENT FUND BIHAR
LAWS(PAT)-1979-5-7
HIGH COURT OF PATNA
Decided on May 18,1979

STEEL CITY PRESS LTD Appellant
VERSUS
PROVIDENT FUND INSPECTOR,EMPLOYEES PROVIDENT FUND,BIHAR Respondents

JUDGEMENT

P.S.Sahay, J. - (1.)All these thirty three applications have been heard together and will be governed by this common judgment.
(2.)The petitioners have moved this Court for quashing the cognizance taken against them on 21.9.1976/23.9.1976 under section 14 of the Employees Provident Fund and Family Pension Act, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). Petitioner No. 1 is a Press and petitioner No. 2 is said to be the Director of the said Press. On 24.4.1970 there was inspection by the Provident Fund Inspector and the petitioners were noticed to show cause as to why the provisions of the Act would not apply to the establishment of the petitioners, a copy of the notice of the Provident Fund Inspector has been filed along with this application and marked as Annexure-1. On 24.5.1971 a representation under section 19-A of the Act was filed by the petitioners stating, inter alia, that the provisions of the Act were not applicable to them and they further claimed exemption under section 16 (!) of the said Act. A copy of the representation has been filed and remarked as Annexure 2 to this application. On 14.9.1976/21.9.1976 a petitioner of complaint was filed by the Provident Fund Inspector for prosecution under paragraph 76 (d) of the Employees Provident Fund Scheme, 1952 read with sections 14 (1a), 14 (2), 14 (2-a), 14 (A) (1) and/or 14 (A) (2) and 14 (AA) of the said Act. On receipt of the said complaint the Magistrate took cognizance against the petitioners in all the cases under section 14 of the Act. Being aggrieved by the aforesaid order the petitioners have moved this Court for quashing of the prosecution launched against them.
(3.)Mr. Sanyal, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioners in all the cases, has submitted that the offence, according to the petition of complaint, was committed some times between the years 1968 to 1970 and cognizance was taken on 21.9.1976/23.9.1976 which was clearly barred under section 68 (2) (b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. It will be better to quote the entire section which runs as follows : -
"468. (1) Except as otherwise provided elsewhere in this Code, no Court shall take cognizance of an offence of the category specified in sub-section (2) after the expiry of the period of limitation. (2) The period of limitation shall be - (a) six months, if the offence is punishable with fine only; (b) one year, if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year ; (c) three years, if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for ft term exceeding one year but not exceeding three years".
Learned counsel has submitted that the maximum punishment under section 14 of the Act, for which the cognizance has been taken, is six months imprisonment and in view of section 468 (2) (b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure the cognizance was barred because the offence had been committed in 1970 whereas he cognizance has been taken in 1976, Learned Standing Cousel for the Central Government appearing on behalf of the opposite party has however, contended that a dispute was raised by the petitioners under section 19-A of the Act, vide Annexure-2, and the matter was being investigated and there is nothing to show from the record as to when that inquiry was completed and thus, according to his submission, the matter can be decided only after evidence is adduced in the case and, therefore, this Courtshould not interfere with the order taking cognizance, at this stage. A counter affidavit has also been filed on behalf of the opposite party in which it has been clearly stated that the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner by his order dated 17.1.1977 addressed to the petitioners had considered all the points raised bv the petitioners their letter dated 24.5.1971. This clearly shows that no decision was 'taken on the representation filed by the petitioners on 24.5.1971. In the petition of complaint also there is no mention as to why the complaint was filed after a lapse of seven to eight years. Such facts should have been mentioned in, the petition of complaint in order to get the benefit of the period of limitation on as required under section 473 of the Code of Criminal Prrocedure. Therefore in my opinion, nothing has to be investigated and from the papers filed by the parties it is clear that cognizance has been taken on 21.9 1976/23 9 1976 for offences having been committed between the period 1968 to 1970 which is clearly barred by limitation In this view of the matter the contention raised on behalf of the petitioners has to be accepted. Another point has been raised that the petitioners were entitled to the benefit under section 16 (1) (b) of theAct at least for a period of three year commencing from March, 1968 but in view of the fact the petitioners have succeeded on the first point it is not necessary to cognizance dated 21.9.1976 is hereby set aside and the criminal prosecution launched against them is quashed.


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