Jharkhand High Court: Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi, J., held that Section 106 of the Factories Act is mandatory in nature and the Courts have no power to entertain the issue once the period prescribed therein has ended.
The petitioners had filed this petition for quashing the order passed in a revision petition filed by the petitioners had been dismissed. The further prayer was made for quashing entire criminal proceeding initiated as against the petitioners.
A prosecution report was filed by the opposite party arraying the petitioners as accused with a prayer to take cognizance against them for allegedly committing an offence in terms of Section 92 of the Factories Act for violation of Rules 55(A )(2) and 56(A) of the Bihar (now Jharkhand) Factories Rules, 1950. The petitioners had been arrayed in their capacity as an occupier and Manager respectively of M/s. Tata Steel Ltd.
The complaint had been lodged in connection with an accident which took place on 19-06-2012 at 06:20 p.m. at G&H Blast Furnace Plavourize Coal bin/hopper where it was alleged that at the time of installation of 600 Kg mouthpiece the upper portion of chain block was broken due to which Birju Prasad, Fitter who was standing under it was crushed by the said mouthpiece and had sustained grievous injuries. The injured workman was carried to the hospital but died during the course of treatment. It had been alleged that the accident took place due to violation of Rule 55(A)(2) and 56(A) for which the petitioners were responsible.
Stand taken by the Petitioners
The petitioners contended that Section 106 of the Factories Act prescribes the period of limitation for three months for filing the complaint, under Section 92 of the Factories Act from the date of occurrence. Evidently, the date of occurrence was 19-06-2012 and the opposite party 2 inspected the place of occurrence on 20-06-2012 and subsequently, required information was furnished in statutory Form 17A by the company.
Hence, the petitioners contended that the knowledge was there to the Inspector on 19-06-2012 itself and the complaint was filed on 20-09-2012. It was further submitted the complaint had been filed after 90 days which was against the mandatory provision made under Section 106 of the Factories Act. It was also submitted that there was no provision of condonation of delay.
For ready reference, Section 106 of the Factories Act reads as under:-
“106. Limitation of prosecutions.—No Court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Act unless complaint thereof is made within three months of the date on which the alleged commission of the offence came to the knowledge of an Inspector…”
Findings and Conclusion
On perusal of Section 106 of the Factories Act, the Bench stated that the law with regard to filing of the complaint under the Factories Act within a period of three months from the date of commission of the offence or from the date of knowledge of the occurrence is crystal clear. Noticeably, it was in the knowledge of the Inspector that the occurrence took place on 19-06-2012 and the complaint was admittedly filed on 20-09-2012 and the cognizance under Section 92 of the Factories Act was taken against the petitioners even though there is no provision of condonation of delay.
Hence, the Bench opined that the revisional court’s finding about the knowledge of date of filing of the report was erroneous as Section 106 clearly speaks that no Court shall take cognizance of any offence unless complaint is made within three months of the date on which the alleged commission of the offence came to the knowledge of an Inspector. Similarly, the Court was of the view that the Judicial Magistrate by taking cognizance had filled up the lines and section and had failed to apply judicial mind as the complaint petition itself was time barred under Section 106 of the Factories Act.
In view of the aforesaid, the entire criminal proceedings including the revision order were quashed. [Hemant Madhusudan Nerurkar v. State of Jharkhand, 2021 SCC OnLine Jhar 624, decided on 15-09-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
For the Petitioners: Indrajit Sinha, Advocate
For the Opposite Party-State: Veervijay Pradhan, A.P.P.