1. The petitioner in this has filed a complaint under Section 1 of the Workman's Breach of Contract Act against the respondent before the Stationary Sub-Magistrate, Kovur, and that officer proceeded to hear and determine the case as provided in the Act. On one of the dates of hearing, the petitioner was absent and the Magistrate thereupon passed an order purporting to acquit the respondent under Section 247 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The petitioner subsequently applied to the Magistrate to review the order of acquittal and to proceed with the trial from the stage at which the case was thrown out. The Magistrate held that he had no power under the Criminal Procedure Code to review an order of acquittal under Section 247 and accordingly dismissed the petition. Against that dismissal the present revision is preferred.
2. In our opinion the Magistrate's view was wrong. It has been held by this Court in Hussaina Beari v. King Emperor I.L.R.(1920) Mad. 443 that the Magistrate's proceedings under the Workman's Breach of Contract Act up to the stage of the passage of an order by the Magistrate for repayment or performance under Section 2 are not criminal proceedings at all, and this is also the view taken in Emperor v. Dhondu I.L.R.(1904) 33 Bom. 22. If the proceedings are not criminal proceedings, it is difficult to see how the procedure can be regulated by Chapter XX of the Criminal Procedure Code or how Section 247 of the Code can be held to apply. Mr. Ethiraj, who argued the case for the Public Prosecutor, suggested, that the definition of 'Summons Case' in the Code as 'a case relating to an offence and not being a warrant case' would cover proceedings leading up to an offence (i.e., disobedience to a Magistrate's order), which has not been committed at the time when the proceedings were initiated; but it seems to us that that would be an unwarrantable stretch of the definition. The ruling in Hussaina Beari v. King Emperor I.L.R. (1920) M. 443 is to the effect that no offence is committed until the workman disobeys the Magistrate's order. In the second place, Mr. Ethiraj asks, under what provision of law the enquiry contemplated by the Act can be conducted at all, if not under the Criminal Procedure Code? We think the answer to it is contained in the closing words of Section (1) of the Act, which empowers the Magistrate to 'hear and determine the case.' This view is in accordance with the judgment of the Calcutta High Court in Averan Das Mochi v. Abdul Rahim I.L.R.(1899) Cal. 131 in which the learned Judges have in fact held that the Criminal Procedure Code does not apply to the enquiry contemplated by Section (1) of the Workman's Breach of Contract Act. They say, 'The learned pleader, who appeal's for the petitioner, urges (1) that the evidence has not been properly recorded; and (2) that the Magistrate has written no judgment. He however, has not been able to show us any section of Act XIII of 1859, or of the Criminal Procedure Code, pre scribing how evidence in a case of this nature should be recorded or requiring a judgment to be written.' These words imply that Chapter XX of the Criminal Procedure Code does not govern the case. We have been referred to a Calcutta case, Girish Chandra Das v. Bhusan Das I.L.R. (1919) Cal. 867, similar to the present case, in which the learned Judges apparently assumed that Section 247 would apply, but the question of the applicability does not appear to have been raised in that case at all, nor was their attention drawn to the difficulty.
3. In our opinion, the enquiry directed by Section 1 of the Workman's Breach of Contract Act cannot be held to be one under Chapter XX of the Criminal Procedure Code, and the Magistrate's order of acquittal was in effect not passed under that Chapter of the Code but was merely a dismissal of the complaint. Viewed in this light, there is nothing to prevent him from reviewing that order if he sees cause to do so. We must therefore set aside his dismissal of the petitioner's review petition dated 23rd February, 1922 and direct him to restore the petition to file and dispose of it according to law.