Posted On by &filed under Bombay High Court, High Court.

Bombay High Court
Emperor vs Amratlal Amarchand on 25 July, 1928
Equivalent citations: (1928) 30 BOMLR 1422
Author: Patkar
Bench: Patkar, Baker


Patkar, J.

1. In this case, the accused was convicted under Sections 471 and 249 of the City of Bombay Municipal Act for not complying with the requisition for providing a sufficient number of water-closets or latrines or privies and urinals for persons employed as workmen or labourers in his premises.

2. It is urged on behalf of the applicant that there was already sufficient privy accommodation in premises No. 149 B, that godown in No. 149 B, which was contiguous to the shop building, was comprised in the premises No. 149 B, therefore, the case fell under Section 248 and not under Section 249 of the City of Bombay Municipal Act, and as there was no sanction by the Standing Committee as provided by Section 248, the notice was ultra vires and illegal.

3. Section 247 of the City of Bombay Municipal Act refers to buildings intended for human habitation, or at or in which labourers or workmen are to be employed, Sections 248 and 249 refer to premises. The words “premises” and “buildings” have been defined in the Act but the definitions are inclusive, and do not bear on the point which we have to consider, It is urged on behalf of the applicant that the shop and godown buildings were constructed in 1917 under one plan, and therefore they constituted one premises for which there was a sufficient accommodation of privies provided when the building was erected. It is suggested that the word “premises” means buildings which are contiguous to each other and owned by one private person. That definition is not supported by any of the provisions of the Municipal Act. On the other hand, in Section 234(b), the word “building” is used as distinct from “premises” and the word “premises” is used to signify something appurtenant to the building newly erected or rebuilt. The meaning of the word “premises” is discussed in Municipality of Bombay v. Shapurji Dinsha (1895) I.L.R. 20 Bom. 617, 625 where it is held that the word “premises” is used in different senses in different sections and is not used throughout the Act in one and the same sense, and that its sense has to be determined in connection with the context. It is further held in that case that Section 243 refers to buildings for private residence, and Section 249 be buildings intended for public use. It is suggested that the authority of the ruling is weakened on account of the subsequent amendment of the section, The additional words which find place in the amended Section 248 are “employed in any premises,” and it is suggested that these words are inconsistent with the restriction of the application of the section to a private residence. I think that the words “persons employed in any premises” might be construed as referring to the servants who are employed in the private residence, whereas Section 249 refers exclusively to a market, railway station, dock, wharf or other place of public resort or a place in which persons exceeding twenty in number are employed in any manufacture, trade or business or as workmen or labourers. It appears from the evidence that in the godown, with which we are concerned in No. 149 B, more than twenty persons are employed as workmen or labourers. It is clear, therefore that the provisions of Section 249 would apply to the godown in No. 149 B.

4. In this view of the case, it is unnecessary to consider whether the shop building and the godown constitute one building or separate buildings. I think that No. 149B, though it may consist of one building, consists of different premises, the shop building constituting one premises and the godown constituting another distinct premises to which Section 249 would apply.

5. It is urged, however, that the notice which was served upon the accused was not a legal notice, for reference is made in the correspondence to insufficiency of accommodation and not to the absence of any accommodation. The notice, however, is quite clear on the point. It refers to the absence of any accommodation of water-closets and it purports to have been issued under Section 249 of the City of Bombay Municipal Act.

6. A further point is raised as to the legality of the notice on the ground that the premises are not sufficiently and clearly described in the notice. They are described to be situate at the junction of the new Chinch Bundor Road and Sandhurst Road. We do not think that it is an incorrect description of the godown with which we are concerned, but even if the premises were not properly described, Section 525 of the Municipal Act would cure any defect in the notice and it is not suggested that the accused was in any way misled in his defence by the description in the notice.

7. On these grounds, we think that the view taken by the lower Court is correct, and the rule should, therefore, be discharged.

8. With regard to the other godown No. 149A, in Criminal Revision Application No. 130 of 1928, it appears that there is a lane between it and No. 149B, and the grounds mentioned above with regard to No. 149 B apply also to No. 149A. The rule, therefore, in that application is also discharged.

Baker, J.

9. I agree. The terms of Section 249 are very wide. The discretion given to the Commissioner may be exercised in any case where the premises are used as a market, railway station, dock, wharf or other place of public resort, or as a place in which persons exceeding twenty in number are employed in any manufacture, trade or business or as workmen or labourers. The premises in the present case admittedly are used by workmen who vary in number from 20 to nearly 100, and, therefore, the Commissioner, under this section, has the power to require the owner or occupier to construct a sufficient number of water-closets for their use irrespective of whether these godowns form part of the building at the corner of the street or not. I, therefore, agree that the rule should be discharged.

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