1. The petitioner herein is the manager of a rice mill at Rajampet known as Sri Seetharamanjaneya Rice Mill which is admittedly a factory within the meaning of S. 2(m)(1) of the Factories Act of 1948. The petitioner was convicted for contravening S. 63 of the Factories Act in that he allowed nine adult male workers to carry on work in the factory on 23 June 1956 beyond time. The Chief Inspector of Factories P.W. 1., inspected this factory on that day at 8-20 p.m. and found the nine adult workers working in the factory. The petitioner was accordingly charged under S. 92 of the Factories Act, for contravention of S. 63 thereof, by allowing 9 workers to work beyond the usual time fixed.
2. The petitioner contends that he was only taking work from these workmen form 7-45 p.m. to 8-20 p.m. as a special case in order to complete the rice-hulling work undertaken on behalf of D.W. 2.
3. The simple point for consideration is, whether the petitioner has committed any offence, and if so, under what provision of law he could be convicted. Section 92 provides that where there is any contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or of any rule made thereunder or of any order in writing given thereunder, the occupier and manager of the factory shall each be guilty of an offence and shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 500 or with both.
4. The learned Judicial First Class Magistrate who tried the case was of the opinion that no exemption has been granted by the State Government to the rice mills under S. 64 of the Act and as rule 84 of the rules framed by the State Government under this section had not exempted rice mills generally, the petitioner cannot take advantage of this section, that as he allowed workers to work in his factory beyond the schedule of timings specified in Ex.P. 2 there has been a violation of the mandatory provisions contained in S. 63 and hence the petitioner is shown to have contravened the said section. So holding, he sentenced the petitioner to a fine of Rs. 20 and in default to suffer simple imprisonment for a period of three weeks. The point for consideration is, whether the order of the learned Judicial First Class Magistrate could be supported under the provisions of the Factories Act. It is true that S. 63 of the Act provides that no adult worker shall be required or allowed to work in any factory otherwise than in accordance with the notice of periods of work for adults displayed in the factory and the entries made beforehand against his name in the register of adult workers of the factory. But the petitioner contends that S. 59 of the Act makes provision for payment of overtime. Section59 of the Act runs as follows :
'Extra wages for overtime. - (1) Where a worker works in a factory for more than nine hours in any day or for more than forty-eight hours in a week, he shall, in respect of overtime work, be entitled to wages at the rate of twice his ordinary rate of wages.
(2) Where any workers in a factory are paid on a piece-rate basis, the State Government, in consultation with the employer concerned, and the representatives of the workers shall, for the purposes of this section, fix time rates as nearly as possible equivalent to the average rate of earnings of those workers, and the rates so fixed shall be deemed to be ordinary rates of wages of those workers.
(3) * * *(4) * * *(5) The State Government may make rules prescribing
(a) the manner in which the cash equivalent of the advantages accruing through the confessional sale to a worker of food grains and other articles shall be computed; and
(b) the registers that shall be maintained in a factory for the purpose of securing compliance with the provisions of this section.'
5. His contention is that as S. 59 recognizes the payment of extra wages for overtime work and as there is no prohibition in the Act against the casual overtime on any particular day, Ss. 59 and 63 should be read together and that it must have been in the contemplation of the legislature that taking casual overtime work, which is compensated by extra wages, is not illegal. The point is not quite clear. The learned Public Prosecutor contends that S. 64 is the section which should grant exemptions from the operation of various other sections set out in the sub-sections of this section and that as S. 54 which provides nine hours' work a day and S. 51 which provides for a maximum of 48 hours in a week, are included in these sub-sections, specific exemption must be obtained from the operation of these rules before payment of overtime wages or employment of overtime work could be regarded as legal and proper. I am not convinced that S. 64 is intended to cover cases of casual overtime also. If that be the case, there would be certainly have been rules framed by the State Government providing for specific cases in respect of specific factories, the extent of overtime work that could be taken and other details. As it is, there appears to be no such provisions. In my opinion, S. 64 could appear to apply to cases of regular employment of labour over and above the maximum prescribed in Ss.51 and 54 of the Act. This is not such a case.
6. In the absence of a specific provision in the Act prohibiting employment of labour beyond the period prescribed in casual cases, it would be difficult to conclude that the petitioner specifically contravened any rule or section of the Act. It is a recognized principle of interpretation of statutes that when two provisions are mutually contradictory, they should be interpreted and read together so as to obviate the apparent inconsistency. Taking all the facts of the case into consideration and reading all the relevant sections of the Act, I am clearly of the opinion that casual overtime employment of labour which has been paid for in compliance with S. 59 could not be regarded as an offence under the Act. It is further contended by the learned counsel that S. 117 of the Act which runs as follows
'No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act.'
7. Is a complete answer to the present prosecution. He contends that there is no mens rea in this case, that the petitioner bona fide believed that he could employ casual labour overtime in emergencies and that he has maintained in the usual course of business an overtime register, Ex. D. 4, wherein the casual overtime payments made to labourers as such are entered and that he honestly believed that what he was doing was not contravening any provisions of the Act and that therefore even if for the sake of argument it is conceded that some provision of law has been violated, it could not have been intentional or done knowingly and that therefore the prosecution in this case does not lie. I am in entire agreement with this argument of the learned counsel. In either view of the matter the prosecution fails, and accordingly I set aside the conviction and sentence and allow this revision. The fine if collected will be paid back to the petitioner.