1. The applicants Ram Sarup and Ram Shiroman were convicted by a Magistrate, First Class, Hardoi, under Section 14, U.P. Industrial Disputes (Second) Ordinance, No. 13 of 1947, and sentenced each to rigorous imprisonment for one year. They went up in appeal to the learned Sessions Judge who maintained the conviction but reduced the sentence to rigorous imprisonment for three months each.
2. The prosecution case briefly was that there was a certain dispute between the Lakshmi Sugar Mills, Hardoi, and its employees. This was referred to the Conciliation Officer of the U.P. Government for adjudication, and the adjudicator gave his award on 27th November 1917. This award was enforced by an order of the Government, dated 18th January 1948, whereby the decisions contained in the award were made binding on the company as well as on its employees and it was directed that no employee shall go on strike for two months from the date of the order. A copy of the order was duly served on Tabarak Khan, President of the Workers' Union of the Mill, on 19th January 1948. Contrary to the Government orders there was a strike by the workers commencing at 3-30 A.M. on 29th January 1948. It ended at 8 p.m. on 30th January 1948. The prosecution case was that among the strikers were also Ram Shiroman and Ram Sarup, the present applicants. Ram Sarup stated that he was called by one of the Directors of the Mills very early in the morning and asked to do some work which it was not his duty to do, that when he refused a false report was made against him for participating in the strike. Ram Shiroman stated that he was off duty when the strike began, that he was to resume duty at 6 P.M. on 29th January 1948, but failed to do so as he had stomach ache. The prosecution case further was that these two persons and one Tabarak Khan had gone about asking the employees not to work and to continue the strike. This part of the prosecution case has not been believed by the trial Court and the two applicants were acquitted of that charge.
3. In this application it has been contended that there is no evidence to show that Ram Shiroman applicant went on strike, that the prosecution evidence merely showed that he was absent from duty and mete absence from duty is no offence under the U.P. Industrial Disputes (Second) Ordinance, 1947. It was also urged that the Ordinance having been withdrawn on 1st February 1948, and proceedings against the applicants having been taken on a subsequent date in February 1948, the applicants could not be tried for an offence which was punishable under an Ordinance which had ceased to have effect at the date the proceedings were commenced. It was contended that the sentence passed in any case is too severe .
4. As to the contention that the applicants could not be prosecuted for an act which was an offence under a repealed Ordinance, it has no force, Section 21, U.P. Industrial Disputes Act, No. 28 of 1947, reads as follows:
21. (1) The provisions of Section 6, U.P. General Clauses Act, 1904, shall apply upon the expiry or withdrawal of the U.P. Industrial Disputes Ordinance, 1947, and the V.P. Industrial Disputes (Second) Ordinance 1917, as if they had then been repealed by a U.P. Act; and any order or appointment made or deemed to be made under the said Ordinances and in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall continue in force and be deemed to be an order or appointment made under this Act.
(2) No order made in exercise of any power conferred by or under this Act or the said Ordinances shall be called in question in any Court.
(3) When any order purports to have been made and signed by any authority in exercise of any power conferred by or under this Act or the said Ordinances, a Court shall within the meaning of Evidence Act, 1872, presume that such order was so made by that authority.
5. This section clearly lays down that the withdrawal of the United Provinces Industrial Disputes (Second) Ordinance, 1917, will bring into play operation of Section 6, U.P. General Clauses Act of 1901. Section 6, U.P. General Clauses Act, is as follows:
Where any United Provinces Act repeals any enactment hitherto made or hereafter to be made, then, unless a different intention appears, the repeal shall not-
(a) revive anything not In force or existing at the time at which the repeal takes effect; or
(b) affect the previous operation of any enactment so repealed or anything duly done or suffered thereunder; or
(c) affect any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred under any enactment so repealed; or
(d) affect any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred in respect of any offence committed against any enactment so repealed; or
(e) affect any remedy, or any investigation or legal proceeding commenced before the repealing Act shall have come into operation in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation, liability, penalty, forfeiture or punishment as aforesaid;
and any such remedy may be enforced and any such investigation or legal proceeding may be continued and concluded and any such penalty, forfeiture or punishment imposed as if the repealing Act had not been passed.
It will be seen that Clause (c) of Section 6 provides that the repeal shall not affect any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred under any enactment so repealed. There can be no doubt that the commission of a criminal offence makes the person committing the offence incur a liability. The learned Counsel for the applicants says that this liability is restricted to a civil liability. He is unable to cite any authority which would support the restricted meaning he desires to give to the word 'liability.' The words used are perfectly general and comprehensive, and I find no reason why we should exclude criminal liability under the clause. I am satisfied that it is perfectly legal under Clause (d) to begin proceedings against a person for an act which when committed was an offence under an enactment, even after the repeal of such enactment. The trial was therefore valid in this case.
6. It was contended that Ram Siroman is not guilty of any offence on the admitted facts of this case because all that he did was to absent himself from work on that day and mere absence from work does not amount to participation in a strike. Under Section 2, U.P. Industrial Disputes (Second) Ordinance, 13 of 1947, the expression 'strike' shall have the meaning assigned to it in Section 2, Industrial Disputes Act, 1917. Under Section 2 (q), Industrial Disputes Act, No. 14 of 1947 'strike' means:
a cessation of work by a body or persons employed in any industry acting in combination or a concerted refusal, or a refusal under a common understanding of any number of persons who are or have been so employed to continue to. work or to accept employment.
7. In the present case it was alleged on behalf of the prosecution that the applicant Ram Shiroman was to have come on duty at 6 P.M., on 29th January 1948, but he did not come to work. It was also alleged that he along with certain other persons went along to the other employees and instigated them not to work. This part of the story was disbelieved by trial Court; so the only evidence against Ram Shiroman is that he did not come to work from 6 P.M., on 29th January 1948. Mere absence from work does not amount to taking part in a strike within the meaning of that expression in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1917. There ought to be some evidence to show that the absence of the applicant Ram Shiroman was the result of some concert between him and other persons or that there was a common understanding between him and other persons that they would not continue to work or there should have been a refusal on his part. Such evidence is lacking in this case and I must hold that Ram Shiroman by his mete absence from work cannot be said to have participated in the strike and his conviction under the circumstances is illegal.
8. It was said that the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for three months of Ram Sarup is excessive in the circumstances of this case. The offence is punishable under Section 14, U.P. Industrial Disputes (Second) Ordinance, 1917, with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. The Government of the Province has always been mindful of the welfare of mill labour and this is clearly indicated by the steps it takes to appoint adjudicators to settle disputes between the employer and the employees, and in this particular case an award was given in favour of the employees and orders for enforcing it had been passed. The employer was given opportunity to give effect to the orders of the Government within a certain time and the minimum time given was 15 days. The employees did not wait for the time to elapse to enable the employers to give effect to the orders of the Government but illegally and wilfully went on strike on 29th January. Such lapses on the part of the employees in these difficult times when everybody should help to increase the production in this country cannot be dealt with lightly and the punishment awarded ought not to be such as to bring the law into contempt. Considering all these circumstances I think that the sentence of three months' rigorous imprisonment passed in his case is not excessive,
9. Accordingly I set aside the conviction and sentence of Ram Shiroman and direct that he need not surrender. The conviction and sentence of Ram Sarup are confirmed. He is on bail and he should surrender forthwith to undergo the unexpired portion of his sentence.