Narayana Pai, J.
1. This is an appeal by the State against the acquittal of the secretary of Budihal Village Panchayat in prosecutions instituted against him for contravention of certain provisions of the rules framed by the State Government under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
2. The contraventions themselves consisting in the failure to maintain some registers prescribed by the rules are not denied. The facts constituting the contravention are also spoken to by the inspector appointed under the Act for Belgaum deposing as a witness in the case.
3. The accused came to be acquitted because the trial Magistrate accepted as correct certain of his legal objections. Hence, if those objections fail, it will have to be held that the accused was guilty of the offences with which he had been charged and will have to be convicted and punished appropriately.
4. The questions, therefore, are whether the Magistrate was right in accepting the following objections raised by the accused before him, viz.,
(1) that he could not have been prosecuted without sanction as contemplated under S. 197, Criminal Procedure Code, and
(2) that the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act and rules made thereunder were inapplicable to him.
5. Now, the secretary for a village panchayat is appointed under S. 80 of the Mysore Village Panchayat and Local Boards Act, 1959, by the Commissioner. The Commissioner is defined under Clause (5) of S. 2 to mean the Divisional Commissioner or such other officer as may be appointed by the Government to exercise the powers of the Commissioner under the Act.
6. Under S. 225 of the same Act, it is provided inter alia that every officer and servant employed under a panchayat shall be deemed to be a public servant within the meaning of S. 21 of the Indian Penal Code.
7. But previous sanction under S. 197, Criminal Procedure Code, is required, not in the case of every public servant, but only in the case of a public servant, who is not removable from his office save by or with the sanction of the State Government or the Central Government.
8. As already stated above, the secretary of village panchayat is appointed not by the State Government but by a Divisional Commissioner or other officer functioning as a Commissioner for purposes of the Act. Hence according to ordinary rules, the highest that the secretary of a village panchayat can claim is that he cannot he removed by an officer inferior in rank to the Commissioner who had appointed him. That is not the same thing as saying that he is not removable save by or with the sanction of the State Government.
9. Hence, the first objection raised on behalf of the respondent- accused has to be and is hereby overruled.
10. The applicability of the Minimum Wages Act depends upon two things : (1) whether the peon in the office of a village panchayat is an employee within the meaning of the Act, and
(2) whether the secretary of a village panchayat is an employer within the meaning of the said Act.
11. That the peon is an employee admits of no doubt whatever. That his employment is within the scope of the schedule to the Act is clear from entry 6 in Part I of the schedule reading 'employment under any local authority.' That much also was accepted by the trial Magistrate. He thought however that the word 'hire' occurring in the definition of an 'employee' (viz., 'employee' means 'any person who is employed for hire or reward to do any work, skilled or unskilled,' etc.) meant or could mean only what is paid to such persons as are employed for constructional works or projects. That seems to be a mistaken view to take. The word 'hire' in the context clearly means 'remuneration paid for work done.' That remuneration may be paid by the day, by the week, by the month or any other wage-period agreed upon between the parties subject no doubt to conditions if any prescribed by any law as to the length of wage-periods which could be fixed.
12. That the secretary of a panchayat can be held to be an employer for purposes of Minimum Wages Act also appears to us to be quite clear from the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act and also those of the Mysore Village Panchayat and Local Boards Act.
13. Clause (e) of S. 2 of the Minimum Wages Act defines an employer to mean any person who employs, whether directly or through another person, or whether on behalf of himself or any other person, one or more employees in any scheduled employment in respect of which minimum rates of wages have been fixed under this Act. According to the definition, it also includes, among other cases, a person appointed by a local authority for the supervision and control of employees in the case of any scheduled employment under such local authority. Now, under S. 82 of the Mysore Village Panchayat and Local Boards Act, servants like peons for a panchayat have to be appointed by the panchayat itself. But the same section provides that the secretary of a panchayat may, by a written order, fine, suspend, withhold the increment or reduce the pay of, any servant appointed by the Panchayat. The description of the powers so conferred on the secretary clearly makes him out as a person who has the authority of the panchayat for the supervision and control of the peon.
14. That minimum rates of wages have been fixed in respect of the village panchayat is deposed to by the Inspector who is examined as a witness. The respondent has not taken any steps to lead any evidence in rebuttal.
15. The result therefore is that this appeal is allowed and the order of the Magistrate acquitting the respondent is set aside. We hold the accused guilty of the offences with which he had been charged in the three cases which were disposed of by the Magistrate by the order under appeal, convict him and sentence him to pay a fine of Rs. 5 in each of the three cases.