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Sadasivam Vs. State of Madras, by the Asst. Inspector Labour X Circle, Madras-1 - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revn. Case No. 71 of 1956 and Criminal Revn. Petn. No. 61 of 1956
Reported inAIR1957Mad144; 1957CriLJ374; (1957)ILLJ524Mad
ActsMadras Shops and Establishments Act, 1947 - Sections 6 and 11; Weekly Holidays Act, 1942 - Sections 3, 3(1), 3(2) and 11(1); Constitution of India - Article 19, 19(1) and 19(6)
RespondentState of Madras, by the Asst. Inspector Labour X Circle, Madras-1
Appellant AdvocateR.M. Seshadri, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateV.V. Radhakrishnan, Adv. for ;Public Prosecutor
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredIn Matrumal v. Chief Inspector Of Shops
constitution - right to carry on trade - sections 6 and 11 of madras shops and establishments act, 1947 - petitioner running hair dressing saloon - labour working in saloon - labour granted holidays differently but once in week - government made mandatory to close saloon on monday - petitioner challenged it as violative of article 19 - public purpose mandates opening of saloon all days in week - petitioner may apply to government to grant exemption from closing of shop once in week under section 6. - - ) and for the shops and establishments acts of other states, volume ii of the law relating to service in india, by bar-well & kar oriental longmans ltd. 'the occupier may open his shop or establishment on a close day, if such day coincides with a religious festival subject to the.....orderramaswami, j.1. this is a criminal revision preferred against the conviction and sentence by the learned second presidency magistrate, madras, in c. c. no. 11265 of 195,5.2. the facts are the petitioner m. sadasivam is the proprietor of a hair-dressing saloon. under the madras shops and establishments act (hereinafter called the act) he had specified monday as the weekly holiday for the saloon and had exhibited a notice to that effect in the saloon. 'on 26-9-1955 which was a monday he was found running the 'saloon and serving customers with' the assistance of 12 persons. therefore, be had been prosecuted and convicted under section 45(1) of the act for contravening the provisions of section 11(1) of the said act.3. the case for the revision petitioner was two-fold. first of all, that.....

Ramaswami, J.

1. This is a Criminal Revision preferred against the conviction and sentence by the learned Second Presidency Magistrate, Madras, in C. C. No. 11265 of 195,5.

2. The facts are The petitioner M. Sadasivam is the proprietor of a hair-dressing saloon. Under the Madras Shops and Establishments Act (hereinafter called the Act) he had specified Monday as the Weekly holiday for the saloon and had exhibited a notice to that effect in the saloon. 'On 26-9-1955 which was a Monday he was found running the 'saloon and serving customers with' the assistance of 12 persons. Therefore, be had been prosecuted and convicted under Section 45(1) of the Act for contravening the provisions of Section 11(1) of the said Act.

3. The case for the revision petitioner was two-fold. First of all, that he had applied to Government that he was going to work on a shift system arid that the shop would not be: wholly closed on any day and that, he proposed to give each worker a complete holiday every week and that he should be granted exemption from the provisions of Section 11(1) of the Act. There is no evidence that this revision petitioner has been grant-ed any such exemption.

If this exemption applied for had been granted, then it would be a complete answer. But such not being the case, we have to consider the next contention raised by this revision petitioner. It is common ground that the revision petitioner gives all his workers one day's holiday in a week in conformity with the provisions of Section 11(2) of the Act.

4. On the foot of that it is contended by the revision petitioner that Section 11(1) of the Act providing for a complete closure of the shop for one day in the week offends the provisions of Article 19 (I) (g) of the Indian Constitution which lays down that all citizens shall have the right to practice any profession or carry on any occupation, trade or business, that when the revision petitioner gives every worker, a holiday in conformity with the provisions of Section 11(2) of the Act, he is not bound to completely close his shop for one day in the week, that Section 11(1) of the Act is an unreasonable restriction and interference-with his right to the practice of his trade or business, that it is not a reasonable restriction on the exercise of the said right in 'the interests of the general public protected by Clause 6 of Article 19, that the Act has been designed only to give workers in the shops one day's holiday in the week and that this Intention of the Act is amply fulfilled by the restriction imposed under Section 11(2) compelling an employer to give each worker a day's holiday in the week and that the employer is entitled to conduct his business in such a manner that he gives a day's holiday in the week to all the workers by working on a shift system spread over the Week, without actually closing the shop, on any particular day of the week.

The learned Magistrate had therefore considered whether a reference should be made to the High Court or not. But he did not make ft reference because he states that after giving the question his careful and anxious consideration, ho was of opinion that Section 11(1) of the Act is not ultra vires. This is made a ground for revision' in that the learned Magistrate erred in declining to make a reference to this Court under Section 432 of the Cri P. C. on the Constitutional validity of ,Section 11(1) of the Act. -

5. The point for consideration therefore is whether when the revision petitioner gives each of his workers a day's holiday in a week and complies with the provisions of Section 11(2) of the Act, a compulsory closure of the shop for a day in the week as provided by Section 11(1) of the Act is an unreasonable, arbitrary and excessive restriction beyond what is required in the interests Of the general public and the closure is ultra vires,

6. To determine the point raised by the learned advocate for the revision petitioner, it is necessary to set out Section 11 of the Impugned. Act and the analogous provisions in the Shops and Establish merits Act of other Indian States and in the parent Act viz. the English Shops Act. -Then we shall have to consider the object of enacting Section 11 of the impugned Act and the social evils, it is intended to cure and then finally consider whether these restrictions fall within the scope of the legitimate restrictions permissible under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.

7. The literature on the-subject of the Shops and Establishments Act is sparse. But 'fortunately for the Madras Shops and Establishments Act, we have the commentary by C. L. Aravamudha lyengar (P. Varadachary '& Go.) and for the Shops and Establishments Acts of other States, Volume II of the Law relating to Service in India, by Bar-well & Kar Oriental Longmans Ltd.) and for the English Shops Acts. Wilksnson's The Shops Acts 1912-1938, Third Edition (1947)- and for the Shops Acts of 1950, Stone's Justices' Manual being the Justices' Yearly Practice, Volume 2, 1956, Special India Paper Edition, pages 2211 and following.

8. Section 11 of the Madras Shops and Establishments Act runs as follows:--

'(1) Every shop shall remain entirely closed on one day of the week which day shall be specified by the shop-keeper in a notice permanently exhibited in a conspicuous place in the shop; and the day so specified shall not be altered by the shop-keeper more often than once in three months,

(2) Every person employed in a shop shall be allowed in each week a holiday of one whole day:

Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall apply to any person whose total period of employment 'in the week, including any days spent on authorised leave, is, less than six days, or entitle a person who has been allowed a whole holiday on the day on which the shop has remained closed in pursuance of Sub-section (1) to an additional holiday'.

9. The Bengal Shops and Establishments Act XVI of 1940 the first of its kind in India, lays down that every shop must be entirely closed on at least one-and-a-half days each week and every person engaged in a shop must be allowed that period as holidays and that a notice shall be conspicuously displayed by the shop-keeper at the shop specifying the day and the half-day for which the shop is closed. (Barwell and Kar, page 179 and follow. ing).

10. The Central Provinces & Berar Shops and Establishments Act XXII of 1947 provides for weekly and fortnightly holidays viz;, one day in the week without deduction in wages for shops and commercial establishments and one day in a fortnight without any deduction in wages for restaurants, eating-houses, theatres or other places of Public Entertainment or Amusement.

As in the Bengal Act provision is made lor the exclusion of certain establishments and persons from the operation of the Act and they do not Include barbers' and hair-dressers' saloons. The establishments in which the members of the family of the employer were employed are excluded from the operation of the Act (Barwell and Kar, page 183 ana following).

11. The United Provinces Shops and Commercial Establishments Act XXII of 1947 provides that shops and commercial establishments not included in the schedule to the Act, shall be closed on one day of the week (referred to as 'a close day' in the Act) and also on all holidays for Government treasuries, and that the close day shall not be altered except once in a year, with effect from 1st January of the year and that such alteration shall be effected by a notice displayed conspicuously at the shop not later than 15th December.

It was also provided that every employee of a shop or commercial establishment, whether included in the schedule or not, except a watchman or caretaker, shall be allowed a holiday of one whole day in every week (Section 11). The schedule referred to above includes as No. 6, to which the provisions of Sections 6, 10 and 11 shall not apply, shops and establishments of barbers and hairdressers. (Barwell & Kar, page 187 and following),

12. The, Bombay Shops and Establishments-Act LXXIX of 1948, repealing the earlier Bombay Shops and Establishments Act. 1939, provides in Section 18 that every shop and commercial establish-merit shall remain closed on one day of the Week and that no deduction shall be made, from the-wages of employees for such, closure and that at the beginning of each year, a list of such closing days shall be prepared by the employer' and con spicupusly exhibited1 in the shop or commercial establishment, that the Inspector should be notified of the list and that the employer may keep-the shop or establishment open on any day notified as closed, provided such shop or establishment is closed on some other day in the same week and that the Inspector is notified to that effect at least seven days before the notified day or the closed day, whichever is earlier.

In schedule II setting out the employees and establishments exempted from the provisions of Sections 10. 11 and 13 to 18 of the Act, the establishment of barbers and hairdressers is not' found (Barwell and Kar, page 189 and following:-- See also S.S. Borkar's Bombay Shops and Establish, ments Act of 1948, page 35 and following; and Khandekar's Bombay Shops and Establishments Act of 1948, page 315 and following.

13. The Bihar Shops and Establishments Act VIII of 1954 is of very recent origin and is meant to apply in the first instance to, areas comprised, within a municipality, or a notified area, or a municipal corporation and to any mining settlement. for which a Mines Board' of Health has been established. The barber' and hairdressers' saloons are not included in the establishments exempted from the provisions of this Act,

Provision has been made for keeping every establishment entirely closed on on day of the weefe: and for granting a full holiday on that day to all employees, without any deduction from, their wages. (Barwell & Kar, page 202 and following).

14. A bill known as the Orissa Shops and Establishments Bill, was introduced in the Orissa Legislature in 1953, but the Orissa Government ultimately decided to drop It, so that when Volume-II of Harwell & Kar's book was published in February 1956, there was no such statute in. Orissa.

15. The Punjab Trade Employees Act X of 1948, although differently named from the statutes of the same nature framed by other States, was intended to limit the hour's of work of shop assistants and commercial employees and to make certain regulations concerning their holidays, wages and terms of service. It now applies to the State-of East Punjab and to Delhi State.

In the shops and commercial establishmentsexempted from the provisions of Ss. 6 and 7 of the-Act, shops of barbers and hairdressers are inducted. By Section 7 of the Act it is Provided that every-shop and commercial establishment shall remainclosed on the close day, which means the day ofthe week on which the shop or commercial establishment remains closed. The choice of the day restswith the occupier and he may change the dayonce every year by notifying the prescribed authority at least fifteen days before the change iseffected. ' The occupier may open his shop or establishment on a close day, if such day coincides with a religious festival subject to the conditions that he bad kept his shop or establishment closed on either of the two preceding days, and had given notice to the prescribed authority of his intention to beep the shop or establishment open on the close day. (Barwell & Kar, page 204 and follow-tag).

16. The Sind Shops and Establishments Act XVIII of 1940 is the last of the series of Acts and though Sind is now a province in Pakistan arm ai-, though this Act was passed in 1940 before the establishment of Pakistan, it is still in force in Sind with such amendments as have been made up-to-date; The Bengal Shops and Establishments ' Act . is in force in East Pakistan. Section 4 deals with exemptions which are similar to the exemptions in other States. A weekly holiday is provided for the employees of shops, as also of commercial establishments without deduction of wages.

17. Turning to the parent English Acts, in view of the Shops Act of 1950, replacing the earlier Acts, it is unnecessary to examine the Shops Acts from 1912 to 1938 which have been set out in Wuk-kinson's Shops Acts, 1912-1938, Third Edition, and in Halsbury's Laws of England, Second Edition, 14th Volume, pages 674 to 695.

The substance of these Shops Acts which has also been embodied in the Shops Act, 1950, in so far as holidays and shops assistants are concerned, is that at least on one week day in each week (in 'the case of Jewish hairdressers' or barbers' shops open on Sunday, one day in every week other than Saturday) a shop assistant must not be employed about the business of a shop after half past one in the afternoon.

The occupier must fix and specify in a notice in the prescribed form, which must be affixed in the shop in such manner and time as may be prescribed, the day of the week on which the shop assistants are not employed after 1-30 P.M. He, may fix different days for different shop assistants. Then every shop shall, save as otherwise provided by Part IV, of the Shops Act Of 1950, be closed for the serving of customers on Sunday. It is un- necessary for our purpose to deal with the limited exemptions thereunder.

18. Having examined the provisions of the Shops Acts in other States of India and the parent Acts of England, we shall now consider the object of enacting Section 11 of the impugned Act and the social evils it was intended to cure.

19. The statement of objects and reasons in regard to' the Madras Shops and Establishments Act XXXVI of 1947 is as follows:

'There is no enactment in this Province regulating the conditions of work of employees in shops, commercial undertakings, restaurants, etc. The Weekly Holidays Act, 1942 (Central Act XVIII of 1942) which' has been brought into force from 1st January 1946 is. limited in scope in that it provides only for the grant of holidays and does not contain' provisions for various other matters affecting them, such as hours of work, payment of wages, health and safety.

It is considered that there should be a comprehensive measure, in this 'Province to regulate these matters on the lines of similar enactments in force in other Provinces. The Bill is intended to give effect to this object'.

20. The preamble to this Act states that it is intended to provide for the regulation of conditions of work in shops, commercial establishments restaurants, theatres and other establishments and - for certain other purposes.

21. The circumstances leading to the introduction of this Act we set out by Mr. O. L. Aravamudha Ayyangar in his book at pages 3 and 4 as follows;

'This Act is intended to protect certain classes of employees who work for wages in establishments. It does not govern the conditions of work, wages, etc., of labourers employed in factories, industrial undertakings, inagriculture and plantations. The Factories Act of 1934,' the Mines Act of 1923, the Indian Dock Labourers Act of .1934-and various other laws in the Statute Book of Indian Laws regulate the conditions of work in specific industrial undertakings.

This Act is made applicable to persons employed in shops, in clerical departments of factories and industrial undertakings, commercial establishments' like Banks, Insurance Companies, etc. and for theatres and restaurants. No benefits are conferred by this Act to the near relations of the employer who depend upon him and we live with him. Under Section 4 of this Act, the persons and establishments to whom and which this Act does not apply are set out.

As would appear from a study of the growth of labour legislation at the Centre and in our province particularly, though workers in factories and in industrial undertakings had their conditions of work, regulated, shop assistants and commercial employees had no benefit of legislation, until they were granted holidays under the Weekly Holidays Act, 1942.

But the Province of Bombay went ahead of the other provinces by passing the Bombay Shops and Establishments Act, 1939, with regard to giving relief to such type of workers though it began its attempts to introduce such a measure from the year 1936 onwards, when, with the then Government, it did not And much favour. An enquiry was conducted by the Bombay Government Labour Department and the conditions of hours of work were surveyed with respect to retail trade establishments.

The report published in 1936 by the Bombay Government showed the average daily hours of work ranging between 11 and 141/4 hours, a day, while in vegetable and fruit shops, even a 16 hours-a-day work was found very common. Such a state of affairs led to State interference.

In Madras City and other municipal areas and major panchayats in the province, the persons employed in shops, commercial establishments, theatres, restaurants, etc., are overworked. Excepting perhaps in the City of Madras, in all mofussil towns, shops remain open throughout all the days of the week, which, however, was avoided by the introduction of the provisions of the Weekly Holidays 'Act, 1942, on and from 1st January, 1946.

Restaurants and theatres, which did not close ' on any day were forced to grant weekly holidays to all its employed persons and adopt shift systems of work. It is no doubt true that the commercial establishments, like banks and insurance companies, are said to be closed oh Sundays and other public holidays declared under the Negotiable instruments Act, but it will be seen that the employees attend their offices on such days to clear off arrears of work, and the Intention of rest underlying the grant of holidays is not achieved practically....'

22. That is why closure on one day in the Week of the shop or establishment itself is being insisted and where Sunday closing as such is not in the interests of public welfare and where holiday given to each employee on one day in the Week can be so staggered that the shop can be kept open all round the week, powers-have been taken -by the Government under Section of the Act which lays down:

'The state Government may, by notification, exempt, either permanently or for any specified period, any establishment or class of establishments, or person or class of persons from all or any of the provisions of this Act, subject to such conditions as the State Government deem fit'.

This is an enabling clause not, intended to undo the whole Act itself but for properly administering the Act.

23. To sum' up, establishments which come under the category of shops 'within this enactment are bound to remain entirely closed for at least one day in the week. This compulsory closure is not laid down for establishments other than shops. Section 11(l). is a reproduction of Section 3(1) and (2) of the Weekly Holidays Act, 1942. The words 'entirely closed' mean entirely closed for the 'trade or business'. No person employed can be allowed to work therein, or engage himself in the trade or business, though the premises of the shop may be opened for certain incidental purposes by the proprietor or the employer.

The word 'entirely' signifies that even the employer or persons deemed in law to be such, or persons exempted from the Act, by reason of their being in position of management cannot transact business on a closed day. The compulsory closure of shops not only enforces the grant of holidays to the workers but also effectively prevents any evasion thereof by pretence of staggering and which no amount of inspection can always eradicate.

It also incidentally gives the employer one day's compulsory dissociation from business which is also good to him and promotes efficiency because 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'. In cases where public welfare dictated that the shops must be run for all the seven days in the Week, the shops can be exempted by order of the Government and such Shops need not close i their premises nor put up any such notice board.

But the employers are bound to grant their employees a holiday of one whole day in every week; Where shops remain closed for a day in the week, that day will be construed to be a holiday granted to the person employed in the establishment and such person will not be entitled to an additional holiday.

Barbers' and hairdressers' saloons have received favoured treatment at the hands of the States in India and have been exempted and in fact even in England there has been a special Hairdressers' and Barbers' Shops (Sunday Closing) Act. 1830, Which lays down 'subject as stated below, it is unlawful for any person to carry on the 'business of hairdresser or barber on Sunday'.

Any person carrying on the business of a hairdresser Or barber may, however, at any time, for the purpose of that business, attend any person (1) in any place, if that person is unable, by reason of bodily or mental infirmity, to go to the place where such business is carried on; or (2) in any hotel, if that person is resident therein; or (3) in any sea-going ship.

This does not authorise the employment of a shop assistant in or about the business of a shop when under the Shops Acts. 1912-1918, it would be unlawful for him to be so employed. In the case of Jewish barbers and hairdressers Saturday is substituted for-Sunday.

24. On 'this analysis can it be said that Section 11(1) of the Madras Shops and Establishments Act ' offends Article 19 of the Constitution of India?

25. Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India lays down :

('1) All citizens shall have the right- (g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business'

26. While the right to pursue any lawful occupation or calling is recognized in every democratic country, yet the right of the State to regulate such a business where its unregulated Operation may injuriously affect the welfare of others is equally well settled. The right to liberty and pursuit of happiness includes the right to employ one's faculties and property in a gainful occupation of his own choosing. While it is properly spoken of as fundamental and inalienable, it is nevertheless qualified to the extent that the sovereign power may interfere with, its enjoyment through regulations necessary or proper for the natural good of the members of the whole social body. Therefore, this right has never been regarded as absolute by either the English or the American or the Indian Law.

27. Under the Fourteenth Amendment Of the American Constitution a person cannot, be deprived of his property without due process of law, property in the context having been interpreted to mean and include any trade, business or enterprise. But when a person devotes his property to a use in which the public has interest, his business is said to become affected with a public interest and then it has been held in the United States of America that it can be controlled by the State in the exercise of its Police power hi the interest of the common good.

28. In a recent case the Supreme Court has taken the view that the theory of being clothed with public interest is little more than a fiction and forms only an unsatisfactory test. The true rule is that an industry is for an adequate reason subject to control for the public good,

29. The Indian Constitution avoids such controversy by providing in Article 19(6) that any business or trade, irrespective of its nature, is liable to be controlled or restricted by the State if necessary in the interests of the general public.

30. The expressions 'reasonable and 'Interests of the general public' are both elastic terms and a discussion of the full import of these expressions necessarily involves a discussion of the political, social and economic problems of the present day not only in this country but all over the world. In order to determine the reasonableness of the restriction regard must be had to the nature of the business and the conditions prevailing in the trade.

It is obvious that these factors must differ from trade to trade and no hard and fast rules concerning all trades can be laid down. The right of every citizen to pursue any lawful 'trade or business is obviously subject to such reasonable conditions as may be deemed by the governing authority of the country essential to the - safety health, peace, order and morals of the community.

31. On these propositions it follows that the freedom referred to in Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India does not mean freedom to carry on trade or profession in a way which may be prejudicial to the public interest. The avowed ob-ject of the Shops and Establishments Act. can be gathered from the statement of objects and reasons, the preamble to the Act and the circumstances under which the said Act came to be passed and the similar Shops Acts prevailing in England and which have all been set out above and show that this Act. came to be passed in order to prevent sweating of labour and any possible evasion thereof and to provide for compulsory rest for the utiexempted shop employer also in the interests of efficiency conducive to the public welfare. These restrictions are not arbitrary or of an excessive nature and do not go beyond what is required in the interests of the' public. Powers have also been taken to exempt shops and establishments in regard to which public interests require that they should be kept open on all days of the week.

32. In Matrumal v. Chief Inspector Of Shops etc., Kanpur, : AIR1952All773 (A) this very point viz., whether,provisions like Section 11 of the impugned Act offend Article 19(1) of the Constitution came to be considered. A Bench of the Allahabad High Court held: -

'The argument relating to the infringement of the freedom to practice the profession of their choice or to carry on any occupation, trade or business rests on three features of the Act. It is urged that' in as much as the Act (1) regulates the hours of regular and overtime work of the employees; (2) regulates the number of holidays and the extent' of sick leave and (3) necessitates the keeping of registers of attendance, fines and overtime work etc., it infringes the applicants' right to practise their trade as halwais or restaurant-keepers.

Sub-article (6) of Article. 19 lays down that nothing in Art. 19(1) Cg) shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right of freedom of profession in the interest of the general public and in particular nothing in the Sub-clause (g) shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it prescribes the professional or technical qualifications necessary for practising any profession or Carrying on any occupation, trade or business.

The freedom referred to does not mean thefreedom to carry on a trade or profession in away which may be prejudicial to the public interest and it has, for example, been generally recognized that the State may validly prohibitgambling or immoral occupation, the employmentof child labour in certain industries, the licensingof certain kinds of business -in the interest of thepublic safety or regulate the conditions for themanufacture of foodstuffs or chemical products',etc.

The avowed object of the Act as shown by its preamble is to provide for holidays and to regulate and lay down conditions of and the hours of employment in shops and commercial establishments. It is made applicable to all cases fall-ing outside the purview of Section 4 where labour is employed.

The regulation of the hours of work of the employees or the prescription- of holidays and sick leave or the insistence on the observance of the legislative requirements to keep proper records of attendance, fines or overtime work, does not, it would seem, prima facie deny the freedom of profession.

Its underlying purpose is to prevent what is called 'sweating of labour' by persons who by nature of their position as employers have a dominant voice and are apt to use it for their own benefit rather than for the benefit of their own employees'.

33. The only point of substance that can be urged is that barbers' and hairdressers' saloons in the City had not been treated in the same way as in other States and in England, having regard to the public requirements. The remedy is in the hands of the petitioner and it is for the barbers and hairdressers of this metropolitan area to move the State Government for exempting their establishments under Section 6 of the impugned Act.

There is no reason why on such an application the State Government should take an unreasonably different view from the other States.

34. This Revision is therefore dismissed.

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