Prinsep and Ameer Ali, JJ.
1. This is a case under Act XIII of 1859, in which the Magistrate has refused to act against a cooly woman under contract to a tea garden, who has already been committed to prison under the Act, but who on expiry of the sentence has again refused to perform her contract. Mr. Henderson on the authority of some English cases--Unwin v. Clarke L.R. 1 Q.B. 417 and Cutler v. Turner L.R. 9 Q.B. 502 under the English Statute 4 Geo. IV., Cap. 34, Section 3--contends that a person under contract is liable for successive breaches of the same contract. These cases in our opinion are not completely in point, owing to the difference between the Statute and the Indian Act. The two cases cited proceed on the terms of the Statute. The parts of the Statute upon which the judgments were delivered are not to be found in the Indian Act, and the reasons given for those judgments are consequently not applicable. It is sufficient to state that there is no power given by the Indian Act, as by the English Statute, to discharge a person from liability under the contract, so as to show that unless such order be passed, the contract can still be enforced. The object of the Indian Act, moreover, is stated in the preamble to be to punish fraudulent breaches of contract, as well as to enable a contractor to obtain a more speedy remedy than by recourse to the Civil Courts, which would ordinarily have jurisdiction, so as to afford him relief.
2. We cannot hold that it is the intention of the Legislature that a contumacious labourer under contract should be liable to imprisonment for several terms for several breaches so as to end in his imprisonment until the term of his contract has expired. This might be the consequence of a persistent refusal to perform a contract for labour for a specific term.
3. We accordingly approve the law laid down by the Magistrate. From the terms of the order of the Magistrate under which the cooly woman has already suffered imprisonment, it would seem that sentence was summarily passed. It is, however, not quite clear what the terms of the order were. We would point out that a Magistrate's order should at the option of the complainant be either for repayment of the advances made (in whole or in part at the Magistrate's discretion), or for performance of the contract, and that it is only on failure to comply with such order that a sentence of imprisonment can be passed. The application is rejected.