Mohd. Siddiq vs Ranganath Singh And Ors. on 3 November, 1978

Rajasthan High Court
Mohd. Siddiq vs Ranganath Singh And Ors. on 3 November, 1978
Equivalent citations: 1978 (11) WLN 592
Author: K Sidhu
Bench: K Sidhu


K.S. Sidhu, J.

1. These three criminal appeals from acquittal, which were filed by the complainant, Mohd. Siddiq, with the leave of this Court, are directed against three different orders, dated, July 13, 1972, passed by the Sub-divisional Magistrate, Beawar, whereby the accused persons in the three complaints filed by Mohd. Siddiq were acquitted by the learned Magistrate of the offence punishable under Section 29 read with Section 32 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1974 (hereinafter called the Act). The circumstances giving rise to these appeals may be stated as follows:

2. Disputes arose between Bijai Cotton Mills Limited, Bijainagar, and its workmen in respect of claims of the latter for retrenchment compensation and other dues payable under the Act. From time to times the Government of Rajasthan referred two of these disputes to the Labour Court, Jaipur and one to the Industrial Tribunal, Jaipur for adjudication. The Labour Court made two awards, on July 9, 1965, and October 13, 1965, respectively, directing the employer to pay to its workmen certain amounts by the dates specified in those awards. Similarly, the Industrial Tribunal made its award on September 1, 1966 requiting the Management to pay retrenchment compensation be a specified date to the group of workmen involved in the reference before it Tie two awards made by the Labour Court were published by the Government on November 25, 1965. The third award made by the Industrial Tribunal was published on January 3, 1967. As laid down in Section 17A of the Act, these awards became enforceable oh the expiry of 30 days from the respective dates of their publication. Thus, the employer was bound under all the three awards to pay to the worker’s retrenchment compensation and other dues on or before the respective dates specified in these awards. The employer did not pay these am bunts to the workmen by those dates and, thus, committed breach of the terms of all the three awards, Mohd. Siddiq, Secretary, Rasbtriya Mill Mozdoor Sargh, Bijainagar (hereinafter called the complainant) thereupon, obtained the sanction of the Rajasthan Government to prosecute the directors, namely, Raghunath Singh Mansinghka, Sanwarmal Mansinghka, Radhey Shyam Mansinghka, and Ram Richhpal Mansinghka, of the employer company for the offence consisting of the breach of the terms of these awards punishable under Section 29 read with Section 32 of the Act. On the authority of the sanction so obtained, the complainant filed three different complaints in the court of the Sub divisional Magistrate, Beawar. The learned Magistrate issued process in all the three complaints and summoned the four accused mentioned above to stand trial accordingly. The accused denied the accusations against them. The learned Magistrate recorded evidence in three complaints. On the conclusion of the evidence, he recorded the statements of all the four accused persons under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898. In their answers to the questions put by the Court, each of the four accused admitted the commission, of the offence. Acting on the evidence produced before him and the admissions made by the accused persons in their statements under Section 342 CrPC the learned Magistrate passed three separate orders of conviction and sentence in these complaints on July 30, 1969; The accused were sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 50/- and in default of payment of fine to undergo simple imprisonment for 15 days each, separately in all the three complaints.

3. Even after their conviction and sentences, as aforementioned, the, accused did not pay the retrenchment bent fits and other dues to the workmen in terms of the said awards. The complainant once again obtained the sanctions of the State Government for the prosecution of the accused for committing a continuing breach of the awards. These (Sanctions were granted by the Government on Match 10, 1970 On the authority of these sanctions, the complainant filed three fresh complaints in the court of the learned Sub-divisional Magistrate, Beawar, who registered them as numbers 461, 462 and 463 of 1970. These complaints wore instituted on one and the same date i.e. July 14, 1970. As already stated above, the learned Magistrate decided these complaints on July 13, 1972 by acquitting all the four accused persons. Sanwarmal Mansinghka and Radhey Shyam Mansinghka have been acquitted on the ground that they were not directors of the employer company at the relevant time. Raghunathsingh Mansinghka and Ram Richhpal Mansinghka have been, acquitted because, in the opinion of the learned Magistrate, the offence was committed by the employer company without their knowledge and consent.

4. Learned Counsel has assailed these findings as beings contradictory to the findings of the trial court itself in its earlier judgment, dated, July 30, 1969, whereby it had convicted all the four accused on the footing that they were directors in the employer company at the relevant times that company Fad committed a breach of these awards with their consent and knowledge. It is submitted in this context that the conviction of the accused in the first set of complaints is conclusive on these issues and that it is not open to the accused to reagitate the same matter over again in the subsequent complaints.

5. This argument is, in my opinion, wholly untenable. We are dealing sow with complaints containing allegations that the accused have committed fresh offences, after their conviction on July 30, 1969, by commit% ting a continuing breach thereafter of the terms of the three awards. The findings of the trial court in its earlier judgment to the effect that the accused were * the directors of the employer company at the time material to the decisions, of the earlier set of complaints and that the employer company had committed the offences of breach of the terms awards with the con lent for the purpose of the present trials, for, it is obvious that the possibility cannot be ruled out that the accused had ceased to be the directors or officers of the employer company after July 30, 1969, and that the other directors or officers of the employer company committed a continuing breach, if any, of the awards in question thereafter without knowledge or consent of the accused. Even otherwise, Section 43 of the Evidence Act would exclude the earlier judgment from any consideration during the subsequent trial Section 43 of the Evidence Act lays down that judgments other than those mentioned in Sections 40, 41 and 42 are relevant unless the existence of such judgments is a fact in issue or is relevant under some other provision of the Evidence Act. The earlier judgment in the instant case is not relevant, for it does not operate as a plea in bar as envisaged in Section 40, nor does it amount to a judgment in the under Section 41, nor it is a judgment relating to matters of public nature as covered by Section 42 of the Evidence Act, The appreciation of evidence by the court in the earlier criminal trail and its findings on the basis of that evidence are not relevant in the subsequent trial under any their provisions of the Evidence Act. Such findings cannot be relevant in a criminal case merely on the ground that the judgment containing such findings is an inter-parties judgment.

6. Learned Counsel for the respondents, on the other hand, raised an argument going to the root of the matter, and since I am inclined to uphold that argument, it will not be necessary to go into the other matters raised by learned Counsel for the appellant in support of his plea for reversal of the impugned judgment of acquittal It is argued by the learned Counsel for the respondent that since, under all the three awards the employer company is bound to pay its workman various amounts of money by way of retrenchment compensation and the like, these awards do not cast any continuing obligation on the employer company with the result that there cannot bean continuing breach of offence. Reference is made by learned Counsel to the provisions of Sub-sections (3) and (5) of Section 19 of the Act to show that there are two categories of awards viz. (i) those which do not impose a on tinuing obligation, but decide the industrial dispute under reference once and for all; and (ii) those which impose a continuing obligation over a period of time. Sub-sections (3) and (5) of Section (1) read as under:

(3) An award shall, subject to the provisions of this section, remain in operation for a period of one year from the date on which the award becomes enforceable under Section 17A:

provided that the appropriate Government may reduce the said period and fix such period as it thinks fit;

provided further that the appropriate Government, may, before the expiry of the said period extend the period of operation by any period not exceeding one year at a time as it thinks fit so, however, that the total period of operation of any award does not exceed three years from the date on which it came into operation.

(5) Nothing contained in Sub-section (3) shall apply to any award which by its nature, terms or other circumstances does riot impose, after it has been given effect to, any continuing obligation on the parties bound by the award.

Sub-section (5), speaking, as it does, of an award, which “by its nature, terms or other circumstances does not impose…any continuing obligation on the parties bound by the award” [i.e. first category] carries the built in and necessary implication that an award may also “by is nature, terms or other circumstances” impose a continuing obligation on the parties bound by if [i.e. second category]. An award directing the payment of money is an instance of the award of the first category which decides the matters under inference once and for all and does not, ipso facto, impose any continuing obligation on the parties bound by it. On the other hand, an award, dealing with conditions of service, like, wage-structure, paid holidays, dearness allowance and other similar benefits which by its very nature impose continuing obligations on the parties, is an instance of the awards of the second category.

7. Mr. Dave, learned Counsel for the appellant, submitted that even an award for money imposes a continuing obligation to pay, for, it is contended, the obligation to pay continues de di in diem and it does not end with one breach thereof by the parties bound by it. The obligation to pay remains in fact, so runs the argument, in spite of its successive breaches from day to day by the obligee.

8. I have carefully considered the rival arguments and I find that the argument raised by learned Counsel for the respondents must prevail. To begin with, we may draw upon the legal terminology, as enunciated by well known authorities in the field of analytical jurisprudence, to show that an award directing the payment of money (i.e. the first category) does not carry any continuing obligation so as to attract any per any under law for the so-called continuing breaches of the terms of such award A reference to Jowitt’s Dictionary of English Law Second Edition by John Burke) would bring out the distinction between primary and secondary rights and the correlative duties. Primary or antecedent rights are those, which can be created without reference to rights already existing. Secondary or remedial rights can arise only for the purpose of protecting or enforcing primary or antecedent rights. In the instant case the right of the workmen to recover money on the strength of the awards in their favour is a primary or antecedent right, and it imposes a correlative duty on the employer to pay the various amounts. There is, in that sense, an original primary right duty relation, created by the awards, between the workmen and the employer, and the said relation remains in existence in its primary duty until its compliance or breach by the employer company. The moment there is a compliance or breach, nothing is left of the original primary right-duty relation between the parties. Of course, in the event of a breach, the workmen aggrieved by the breach have their remedy by enforcing the recovery in the legal modes open to them The breach by the employer of the original primary right duty relation, created by the awards, immediately brings into existence another right which the analytical jurisprudence would describe as secondary or remedial to distinguish it from primary or antecedent Breach of the terms of an award made punishable by Section 29 of the Act is the breach of the original primary right-duty relation and not the secondary or remedial right-duty relation

9. Turning now to the second category of awards, I have already mentioned that an award dealing with the conditions of service like wage structure, paid holidays, dearness allowance and the like would fall in this category or it imposes continuing obligations on the parties bound by its throughout the period it remains in operation. As against a single primary is light-duty relation created by an award of the first category discussed above, by an award falling in the second category is a bundle of several primary rights duty relations spread over the entire period of its operation. It is only in the context of the second category of awards that the, commission of a containing offence involving a continuing breach as envisaged by Section 29 of the Act, is possible.

10. Case law on the subject also lends support to the view taken above. In Benatras Ice Factory v. U.P. Government and Ors. , a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court held that:

The award of an Industrial Tribunal or an adjudication may impose upon an employer the duty of some act which extends over a period of time such for example as reinstatement of dismissed employees, or it may impose upon the employer an obligation to pay a sum of money. In the first case, the obligation is one of a continuous nature, in the second it is not.

11. The Kerala High Court expressed a somewhat similar view in Indian Aluminium Co. Ltd v. Aluminium Factory Workmen Union and M. Velayudhan and Ors. v. Slate of Kerala . Section 19(5) if the Act deals with awards which settle disputes once and for all and that a claim to recover money under an award does not impose a continuing obligation on the parties bound by it.

12. In State of Bihar v. Deokoran , the Supreme Court also drew a distinction between an act or omission which constitutes an offence once and for all and an act or omission which Continues and therefore, constitutes a fresh offence every time or occasion on which it continues, and then pointed out that the failure to submit annual returns Within the time prescribed by law is an offence which is committed once and for all and that unless the law expressly renders the continuing non-compliance a continuing offence, failure to submit the annual return Within the prescribed time is not a continuing offence.

13. Reference may also be usefully made to Balakrishna v. D.M. Sansthan to appreciate the distinction between an award which does not impose a continuing obligation While dealing with the real import of a continuing wrong under Section 23, Limitation Act, 1908y the Supreme Court observed:

It is the very essence of a continuing wrong that it is an act which creates a continuing source of injury and renders the doer of the act responsible and liable for the continuance of the said injury. If the wrongful act causes an injury which is complete, there is no continuing wrong even though the damage resulting from the act may continue. If however, a wrongful act is of such a character that the injury caused by it itself ‘continues then the act constitutes a continuing wrong. In this connection, it is necessary to draw a distinction between the injury caused by the Wrongful act and what may be described as the effect of the said injury.

Applying the principle enunciated in the above ruling to the facts of the present case, it may be held that the initial breach of the terms of the award by the employer company caused to the workmen an injury which was complete, though the effect of the said injury continued thereafter. There I was no fresh injury caused to the workmen by the continuing breach of the terms of the award by the employer company.

14. For all these reasons, I am quite clear in my mind that the awards in question do not impose upon the employer continuing obligations in the sense that continuing non-compliance there of by the employer would constitute continuing breach of offences. The respondents cannot therefore by held guilty of any continuing breach of offence. Their acquittals by the court below in all the three cases are justified. These appeals consequently fail and are hereby dismissed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. More Information