R.N. Misra, C.J.
1. This appeal at the instance of the Employees' Provident fund Commissioner is directed against the judgment of acquittal passed , by Shri P. K. Panigrahi', Judicial Magistrate First Class, Cuttack, in a case under Section 14(2) of the Employees' Provident Funds . Act.
2. Prosecution alleged that the accused-respondent, the Employer, failed to make payment of the provident fund contribution amounting to Rs. 29.50 relating to the period September, 1975 to November, 1975. The prosecution alleged that the Employer Messrs Panda Workshop employed 38 workmen while the acoused took the, plea that it had no liability under the statute as the number of workmen was less than 20.
Before the learned Magistrate, 2 witnesses were examined for the prosecution and some documents were marked as exhibits. No evidence oral or documentary'. was led by the defence. The learned Magistrate came to hold From order of P. K. Panigrahi, Judl. Magistrate 1st class. Cuttack, D/- 20-3-1978 that the Inspector's evidence could not be held to be sufficient to prove that the establishment employed 38 workmen who were engaged in the manufacture of electrical, mechanical and engineering products. He also was not prepared to accept the prosecution plea that the establishment was in existence, for more than five years by the date of visit of the Inspector on 3-8-1975. He, therefore, acquitted the accused. This appeal is directed against the judgment of acquittal.
3. In paragraph 10 of his judgment, the learned Magistrate stated :
There is yet another aspect of the prosecution case which deserves mention. According to Section 468(2)(b) Cr.P.C., this case is barred by limitation as the offence was detected on 8-8-1975, whereas the case was instituted on 30-7-1977. though for obtaining sanction there was practically no delay. It is admitted by the Inspector (P. W. 1) :My inspection report, copies of notice etc. were placed before the Regional Director for sanction on 15-t5-1977. On the same day it was sanctioned.
On this score against the prosecution must fail, especially when no explanation for the delay is offered.' There is no dispute that for the offence under Section 14(2) of the special Act, the punishment prescribed is a fine of Rs. 1,000/- or six months' imprisonment. Section 468 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 prescribes :
(1) Except as otherwise provided elsewhere, in this Code, no Court shall take cognizance of an offence of the category specified in Sub-section (2), after the expiry of the period of limitation.
For the present offence, the relevant provision is Sub-section (2} (b), which provides:
(2) The period of limitation -shall be
(b) one year, if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year;
Section 473 of the Code authorises that the Court may extend the period of limitation in cases where from the facts it is satisfied that circumstances existed to explain the delay. In the instant case, no evidence was placed before the trying magistrate of any such circumstances which would authorise jurisdiction in Section 473 of the Code to be exercised. The period of limitation for initiating the prosecution was therefore, one year. Admittedly, it has been done more than a year after the detection of the offence. Learned Standing Counsel contended that non-payment of the contribution was a recurring liability and. therefore, it was a continuing offence. ,He has not been able to support his stand. I would accordingly uphold the finding of the learned Magistrate that the prosecution is barred by limitation prescribed in Section 468 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and, therefore, there is no necessity to examine the. other contentions.
The appeal fails and is dismissed.