D.B. Lal, J.
1. These 11 Criminal Appeals are brought from the orders of the Metropolitan Magistrate, Second Court, Bangalore City, acquitting one Ananda Rao who was the accused in all these cases for an offence committed Under Section 14 (2) of the Employees' Provident Funds and Family Pension Fund Act 195).
2. The cases before the learned Magistrate started on private complaints filed by the Provident Fund Inspector, Gr. I, Bangalore Division IV and since the trial was in the summons cases, Under Section 251 Cr.PC, the particulars of the offence of which Ananda Rao was accused, was read over to him in order to record his plea, While stating the case for the plea of the accused, it was specifically pointed out that the accused had failed to submit monthly returns in Forms Nos. 5, 10 and 12 due in respect of his establishment for the respective months as required under Paras 28 and 38(2) of the Employees' Provident Funds and Family Pension Funds Scheme and as such he was guilty of the offence Under Section 14(2) of the Act read with para 76 (b) of the scheme framed thereunder. The plea of the accused in all these cases was one of bare denial. He did not explain as to whether he really failed to submit the returns or that he was not liable to submit such returns under the provisions of law. Thereafter, in C.C. 612 of 1976 against which Cr. A. 90/77 is filed, as the order-sheet indicates, the complainant wanted to file certain documents and there was objection from the defence that there was inordinate delay in filing such documents, The learned counsel for the complainant further submitted that he wanted to explain the delay but the learned Magistrate considered that there was no provision in the Criminal Procedure code to explain the delay and since the documents were not filed in time, he refused to accept them. Thereafter, as the order- sheet points out, the complainant's counsel submitted, 'that without those documents he had no evidence'. The learned Magistrate upon that, passed the impugned order acquitting the accused. In the other 10 connected appeals, as the order-sheets indicate, on behalf of the complainant, adjournments were sought, for the obvious reason of giving evidence with reference to the relevant documents. However, the learned Magistrate, considered that no good reasons were made out to adjourn these cases. So saying. he acquitted the accused. Aggrieved by these orders of acquittal made by the learned Magistrate, the State has filed these appeals.
3. It is contended, in the foremost, by the Junior Central Government Standing Counsel, that Under Section 255 of Cr.PC the learned Magistrate could only record the order of acquittal after taking all the evidence referred to Under Section 254. It is evident that no evidence was recorded under that provision. In one of the cases, an attempt was made to procure such evidence in the shape of documents but those documents were shut out by the learned Magistrate. In the remaining cases, an adjournment was sought to produce the evidence and the adjournment was not granted by the learned Magistrate. In other words; it means, an opportunity was not given to the complainant to adduce evidence Under Section 254 in support of these cases. Under Section 309, the learned Magistrate had sufficient ground to grant the adjournment. The documents by themselves could not be considered irrelevant. At any rate, that was not the observation made by the learned Magistrate. Under Section 311, similarly, the trial Magistrate had absolute power to summon any witness whom he considered necessary with reference to those documents for the purpose of trial in order to fulfil the ends of justice.
4. It is rather a peremptory requirement for a Magistrate Under Section 255 to take evidence referred to in Section 254 and such further evidence if any as he may, on his own motion cause to be produced, to find, if the accused is not guilty upon such evidence, and only thereafter,, he can record the order of acquittal. If he does not do so, he commits an error of law which need be corrected by the appellate Court. If the complainant wanted to produce documents which were rather essential to arrive at a correct and just decision and these documents were shut out, it would be a case where the Magistrate trate refused to take evidence Under Section 254 but nevertheless acquitted the accused Under Section 255. If in order to produce such relevant evidence, adjournment was sought for, Under Section 309 and the Magistrate refused to adjourn the case, then too a case would arise where the relevant evidence was shut out and the Magistrate refused to take evidence referred to in Section 254 and proceeded to acquit the accused Under Section 255.
5. It is therefore manifest that the manner in which the learned Magistrate disposed of these cases was not warranted by law. In fact, the order of acquittal could not be passed Under Section 255 Cr.PC
6. In the result, these appeals are allowed and the orders of acquittal passed by the learned Magistrate are set aside. These cases, however, shall be sent back to him for consideration on merit, and for disposing them of in accordance with law. The copies of this judgment shall be kept on the records of the remaining connected appeals.