Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mukta Gupta, J. set aside the order of Additional District Magistrate as he failed to impose a sentence of imprisonment as provided under Section 16 of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.

The petitioner was the first offender in a case of bonded labour. The victim was employed by the respondent but was not paid wages as per the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Thus, it was presumed that employment of the victim was a bonded labour. Holding the petitioner guilty under Section 16, the Additional District Magistrate directed him to pay a fine of Rs 2000. The petitioner paid the said fine. Subsequently, the Additional District Magistrate passed another order wherein he reviewed his previous order and awarded a punishment of 15 days imprisonment along with the fine. This order was challenged by the petitioner in the present proceedings.

The High Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in Mohammed Zakir v. Shabana, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 819 to hold that a criminal court doesn’t have power to review its order except for typographical/clerical mistakes under Section 362 CrPC. In Court’s view, non-imposition of a sentence for a term could not be said to be a typographical/clerical error; therefore the review order was sans jurisdiction. Furthermore, it was observed as evident that the sentence prescribed under Section 16 was both imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years and a fine that may extend to Rs 2000. Thus, while passing the original order, the trial court committed an error as the sentence of imprisonment as required by the section was not awarded to the petitioner. Resultantly, the order Additional District Magistrate was set aside and the matter was remanded back to the trial court for hearing the petitioner on quantum of sentence and passing appropriate order. [Bhagwat Singh Meena v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine Del 10802, dated 14-08-2018]

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