M.P. Thakkar, J.
1. Crusaders of the egalitarian cause proclaim that law in its application and implementation should be loaded in favour of the poor and should be administered with understanding and sympathy in an activist manner in order that the inequality in the income and the wealth between the poor and the rich disappears and to secure that a section of the citizens do not enjoy privileged treatment and constitute itself in a privileged class. Some may not subscribe to this view and may even oppose it. The proponents of no philosophy, however, have ever advocated that law should be so administered that it frowns at the poor and favours the rich. And even so in actual practice we often find that the law is administered in this fashion even in our society notwithstanding the professions of ushering in a sodialistic society enshrined in the preamble and Directive Principles of the Constitution. How else can one explain the discriminatory treatment in the matter of administration of justice which comes to one's notice in the course of one's experience as a Judge? Only three months back a matter was brought to this Court which disclosed that in a matter where a Company had deducted employees' contribution from the wages of the workers to the extent of Rs. 46,239/- and had retained the amount with it in contravention of the Employees' Provident Funds and Family Pension Funds Act, 1952 (for which contravention the Legislature has prescribed a minimum substantive sentence of three months) an atom sized fine of Rs. 25/- was imposed by the learned Magistrate (vide Criminal Revision Application No. 217/77 with Criminal Revision Applications Nos. 213 to 216 of 1977 decided on 22nd March 1978). And soon thereafter a case decided by the Judicial Magistrate, First Class (Railway), Surat, has been brought to the notice of this Court in which for parking an auto-rickshaw at a place other than the stand provided by the competent authority, a fine of Rs. 300/- was recovered on the spot from the said rickshaw driver. The press report which gave rise to this suo motu revision was to the effect that every time that the rickshaw driver pleaded for mercy, the fine was raised. Every protest appears to have cost rupees one hundred. As the auto-rickshaw driver protested thrice, a fine of Rs. 300/- appears to have been levied. These two instances highlight the situation which has occasioned the foregoing observations. It may also be stated that the aforesaid instance of a fine of Rs. 25/- was not an isolated instance. Only three months back 50 appeals came up before this High Court arising from allegations regarding violation of the Minimum Wages Act. And even in such vital matters fines ranging from Rs. 5/- to Rs. 15/- were imposed by the learned trial Magistrate (vide Criminal Appeals Nos. 462 and 463 of 1977 and allied matters decided in March 1978). It appears that there is a lack of sense of proportion in the matter of imposing sentences. When poor persons happen to commit minor offences, a very harsh and heartless approach is made whereas when members belonging to the affluent section of the society happen to be hauled up, somehow a very soft approach comes to be made. This is more than enough to shatter the faith of the common man in the judicial system. This imbalance is the approach and the tendentious administration must be halted forthwith. So far as the present petition is concerned, the learned Magistrate has imposed a sentence of Rs. 300/-. In the impugned order it is mentioned that the accused had 'raised his voice' in the Court and that his conduct was 'reprehensible'. This factor has been taken into account by the learned Magistrate for imposing a sentence of Rs. 300/- when in the case of others he has imposed a sentence of Rs. 100/.
2. The learned Magistrate ought to have realised that he was imposing penalty for the identical offence viz. that of parking the vehicle at a place other than the parking place. For the same offence he could not have imposed a disproportionate sentence merely because the accused protested loudly and aroused his anger thereby. He ought to have realised that if the accused got excited, he had good reason to be so. A fine of Rs, 300/- would have perhaps represented his income for 15 days and his family may perhaps have to starve for a number of days as a result of the sentence. Justice has to be administered with a human face without being ruthless and unmindful of the impact on the society. It may also be realised that rickshaw drivers are perhaps more sinned against than sinning. While traders and businessmen can sell their goods at 'any' profit and doctors and lawyers can charge 'any' fees, the rickshaw driver can charge fees only as per the schedule and no more. There is a ceiling on earning as if there is a Maximum Wages Act for them whereas rickshaw drivers' there is no ceiling on the incomes or profits of the other elitist sections of the society, the socialistic professions of all concerned notwithstanding. Citizens as also Courts can, therefore, afford to be more considerate to them.
3. The petition is allowed. The fine imposed by the learned trial Magistrate is reduced from that of Rs. 300/- to Rs. 5/-. The excess fine recovered shall be refunded to the accused concerned, namely, Ali Umar Mangalji as soon as practicable and, in any case, before July 31, 1978, by issuing a special notice to the accused informing him of the fact that his sentence has been reduced and he should come to the Court and collect the amount of refund. Rule is made absolute to this extent.