C. Honniah, J.
1. These revision petitions arise out of the orders passed in C.C. Nos. 112, 110, 111 of 1971 respectively on the file of the Munsiff-cum-J.M.F.C. Kudligi.
The facts that have given rise to these petitions are these: The accused in these cases were charged under Sections 70, 72-C(1)(b) and 73 of the Mines Act, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) read with Regulations, 1961. The accused raised a preliminary point, that the complaints filed against them by the State (Government of India) represented by the Deputy Director of Mines (Safety), Bellary Sub-Region, Bellary were not maintainable as barred by time. The learned Magistrate upheld the objections and consequently dismissed the complaint petitions. Aggrieved by these decisions these revisions are filed by the Deputy Director of Mines (Safety). The question that arises for decision in these petitions being the same, they are considered together.
2. The Deputy Director of Mines (Safety) filed four complaints against the accused persons in these cases in the first instance in the court of the First Class Magistrate, Hospet. The said complaints were filed within six months from the date of the commission of offences or from the date of the knowledge of the commission of the offences. The learned Magistrate registered the cases and issued processes to the accused. In that court the accused persons contended that that court had no territorial jurisdiction to entertain the complaints. The learned Magistrate held that the Court had not territorial jurisdiction to entertain the complaints. He. therefore, returned the complaints to the Deputy Director of Mines (Safety) giving him 30 days time to file the complaints in a competent court of law. Therefore, the Deputy Director of Mines (Safety) filed the present complaints in the Court of the First Class Magistrate, Kudligi. The accused persons contended that in view of the provisions of Section 79 of the Act, the complaints were barred by limitation and as such they were liable to be dismissed. Accordingly, the learned Magistrate dismissed the complaints. Hence these revision petitions.
3. Section 79 of the Act provides:
No Court shall take cognizance of any offence under this Act. unless complaint thereof has been made:
(i) within six months of the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed: or
(ii) within six months of the date on which the alleged commission of the offence came to the knowledge of the Inspector; or
(iii) in any case where a Court of inquiry has been appointed by the Central Government under Section 24, within six months after the date of the publication of the report referred to in Sub-section (4) of that section.
Whichever is later.
Note: Explanation is not necessary for these cases.
4. Sri H.G. Balakrishna, the learned Counsel appearing for the complainant contended that the complaints in these cases were filed in the first instance in the Court of the First Class Magistrate, Hospet and the learned Magistrate of that Court committed a mistake in not returning the complaints on the same day on which they were filed. According to him if they had been returned on the same day, the complainant would have filed all the complaints in the Court which had jurisdiction, in which case, all the complaints would have been within time. He contended that because of the mistake of the Court the complainant cannot be penalised. Therefore he urged that these are fit cases in which the Court should exercise its inherent powers under Section 561(A) of the C.P.C. and direct the Magistrate of Kudligi to take the complaints on his file and to proceed with the cases. There is no substance in the contention of Sri Balakrishna. Section 79 of the Act clearly lays down that no Court shall take cognizance of any offence under the Act unless the complaint thereof has been made within six months from the date on which the offence alleged to have been committed or within six months from the date on which the alleged commission of the offence came to the knowledge of the complainant. The facts in these cases clearly go to show that the complaints filed before the Magistrate's Court at Kudligi are clearly beyond six months. The filing of the complaints by the complainant in the Magistrate's Court at Hospet cannot save the limitation.
In Queen-Empress v. Nageshappa Pai (1896) ILR 20 Bom 543. Their Lordships were dealing with Section 11 of the General Salt Act 12 of 1882. In that case the prosecution was barred under Section 11 of the General Salt Act 12 of 1882 which lays down a period of six months within which all prosecutions under that Act should be instituted. The Magistrate overruled this plea and held that the complaint was in time as limitation only commenced from the time when the fraud was discovered and became known to the complainant. It was contended that the Magistrate was in error in invoking the General Law of Limitation into consideration. Dealing with this question this is what their Lordships observed:
Moreover, when a statute is complete by itself (such as the Registration Act or Bengal Rent Law) the general law of limitation may not be read along with it, or be incorporated with it. None of these principles have any relations to criminal proceedings. The Principles on which rules of limitation are framed have no natural application to prosecutions which are, in theory at least, instituted by the Crown. The general law of limitation and its schedules are chiefly intended for civil matters. Of course for the greater protection of subjects certain periods are laid down in special laws for prosecution to be instituted under them; but these special periods are not those which are contemplated by parts 2 and 3 of the general law.
In Provincial Govt., C.P. and Berar v. Ganapat Dharmaji Bhaosar, reported in AIR 1943 Nag 243 : 44 Cri LJ 587 the facts were that on 18th February 1942 the Inspector of Factories visited the premises of the factory and found some of the workmen working during the legitimate period of rest. The Manager and the occupier were accused of violating Section 42 punishable under Section 60(b)(i) by allowing workmen to work at hours otherwise than in accordance with the notice of periods of work displayed under Section 39 and the entries made in the register as also Section 38, of the Factories Act. On a particular day factory Inspector sent a report to which he attached a draft complaint to the Deputy Commissioner asking for sanction to prosecute the manager and the occupier or either of them, as he thought fit under Section 74(1) of the Factories Act, The Deputy Commissioner sanctioned the prosecution and sent the complaint to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate for disposal. The Deputy Commissioner accorded the sanction on 18th August, 1942 but his sanction and the complaint did not leave his office until 20th August, 1942. The complaint was actually received by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate on 21st August, 1942. It was held that the rule of Limitation laid down in Section 75 of the Act was peremptory and cannot be circumvented by any considerations imported from the provisions of the limitation Act.
The same view was taken in Abdullabhai Kasamali Bohara v. The State : (1957)59BOMLR1163 . In that case it was pointed that:
Section 79 of the Indian Mines Act, 1952 purports to lay down a limitation for prosecutions under that Act, and the words of the section do not allow of any exception to the limitation laid down under Clauses (i), (ii) and (iii) thereof. It was further pointed out that:
If a complaint under this Act is filed and then sought to be amended beyond six months from the date on which offence is alleged to have been committed or from the date when the offence came to the knowledge of the Inspector, the amendment cannot be deemed to relate back to the date of the filing of the original complaint, but must be judged as on the date of the amendment itself.
Under Section 79 of the Indian Mines Act after the lapse of the time provided therein, a valuable right accrues to the accused, namely, a right not t0 be prosecuted thereafter, and that right cannot be taken away by an amendment of the complaint.
In these cases, the complaints were filed in the Court of the First Class Magistrate at Hospet which had no territorial jurisdiction to take cognizance of the cases. The filing of the cases in the said Court cannot circumvent the rights accrued to the accused persons. The complaints filed in the said Court do not help the complainant. The contention that the complainant diligently prosecuted the complaints has no substance. In these cases, the complaints filed in the Court of the Magistrate. Kudligi are clearly beyond six months and are barred by limitation. There is no substance in these revision petitions and therefore, they are dismissed.