State of Maharashtra Vs. Mohanlal
Devichand Shah  INSC 79 (23 March 1965)
23/03/1965 SIKRI, S.M.
CITATION: 1966 AIR 189 1965 SCR (3) 461
CITATOR INFO :
R 1972 SC1177 (20)
Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (11 of 1948), s. 2(b)
Schedule Part 1 Entry 8-Stone breaking or stone-crushing in a quarryJurisdiction
whether of Central or State GovernmentCompetency to file complaint.
The Labour Inspector, appointed under the Minimum
Wages Act, 1948 filed two complaints before the Judicial Magistrate alleging
that the respondent, doing quarrying operation work, had contravened certain
provisions of the Minimum Wages (Control) Rules, 1950. The respondent, inter
alia, submitted that the Inspector was not authorised to file the complaint,
and only an Inspector appointed by the State Government was competent to file
the complaint. The Judicial Magistrate held that the word "mine" in
sub-cl. (1) of s. 2(b) of the Act, does not include a stone quarry and
therefore, the appropriate government was the State Government and not the
Central Government. The appellants' appeals were dismissed by the High Court.
In appeal to this Court.
HELD: An examination of the definition of
"appropriate Government" in s. 2(b) of the Minimum Wages Act in the
context and background of Government of India Act, 1935, and the Mines Act,
1923, shows that the word "mine" in s.
2(b)(i) includes quarries. Also stone
breaking or stone crushing in a quarry is within Entry 8 in Part 1 of the
Schedule of the Act. Since the employment in stone breaking or stone crushing
is in a quarry, it is within the jurisdiction of the Central Government,
because it is a scheduled employment in a mine Within the meaning of s. 2(b)(i).
Therefore, the Inspector appointed under the Act was competent to file the
complaints. [465F; 466A-B, D] Madhya Pradesh Mineral Industry Association v.
The Regional Labour Commissioner, Jabalpur, [19601 3 S.C.R. 476, applied.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeals Nos. 198 and 199 of 1963.
Appeals from the judgment and order dated
February 4, 1963, of the Bombay High Court in Criminal Appeals Nos. 779 &
780 of 1962.
S. C. Patwardhan, B. R. G. K. Achar for R. H.
Dheber, for the appellant.
Avadh Behari, for respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Sikri,
J. These are two appeals by certificate granted by the High Court of Judicature
at Bombay against its judgment dated February 4, 1963, in Criminal Appeals Nos.
779 and 780 of 1962. By this judgment the High Court affirmed the order of
(N)4SCI-3 462 acquittal passed against the respondent by the Judicial
Magistrate, A First Class, Vadagaon (Mawal).
The relevant facts are as follows: The Labour
Inspector (Central), Bombay-1, appointed under the Minimum Wages Act (XI of
1948) (hereinafter called the Act) by the Central Government filed two
complaints in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate alleging that the respondent
had contravened certain provisions of the Minimum Wages (Central) Rules, 1950.
It was alleged that the respondent was doing quarrying operation work in quarry
survey Nos. 23(1) Kusegaon village near Lonavala, and while carrying on this
quarrying operation work he, failed to observe certain provisions in the Rules.
The respondent submitted a written statement admitting the facts but he contended,
inter alia, that the Inspector was not authorised to file the complaint and it
was only an inspector appointed by the Maharashtra State who was competent to
file a complaint. The Judicial Magistrate, treating this as a preliminary
objection, came to the conclusion that the Inspector was not entitled to file
the complaint. According to him, the word "mine" in sub-cl. (i) of s.
2(b) of the Act does not include a stone quarry and, therefore, the appropriate
Government was the State Government and not the Central Government. There upon
he acquitted the accused of the offence under s. 22A, read with s. 18, of the
Act and for contravening certain rules of the Minimum Wages (Central) Rules,
The State then filed two appeals before the
High Court. The High Court also came to the conclusion that the Inspector was
not competent to file the complaints but the reasoning of the High Court was
different. It was of the opinion that "a stone quarry can fall within the
category of a mine as defined in the Mines Act of 1952 or the Mines and
Minerals (Regulation and Development) ,Act of 1957." But even so,
according to it, "the Schedule does not mention either a mine or a stone
quarry and item No. 8, viz., Employment in stone breaking and stone crushing, cannot,
therefore, be said to be an employment in respect of a mine whether in its
broadest sense so as to include a stone quarry or in narrow sense as given in
the Oxford English Dictionary." The High Court further held that 'unless,
therefore, the Parliament amends item No. 8 of the Schedule so to include the
operation of stone-breaking and stone-crushing in a stone quarry or in all
mines including a stone quarry, it is not possible to hold that the appropriate
Government would be the Central Government, merely on the basis that, in its
widest connotation, the words 'stone quarry' may fall within the ambit of the
word 'mine'." Section 2(b) of the Act defines "appropriate
government" as follows:
"2(b) "appropriate government"
means(i) in relation to any scheduled employment carried on 463 by or under the
authority of the Central Government or a railway administration or in relation
to a mine, oilfield or major port, or any corporation established by a Central
Act, the Central Government, and (ii) in relation to any other scheduled
employment, the State Government." Sub-clause (g) defines 'scheduled
employment" to mean in employment specified in the Schedule, or any
process or branch of work forming part of such employment.
The Schedule is divided into two parts, and
Part 1 contains entry 8-Employment in stone breaking or stone crushing.
Section 22 prescribes the penalties for
certain offenses and s. 22A provides that "any employer who contravenes
provisions of this Act or of any rule or
order made there under shall, if no other penalty is provided for such
contravention by this Act, be punishable with fine which may extend to five
hundred rupees." Section 22B deals with the cognizance of offences and
provides that "no Court shall take cognizance of a complaint against any
person for an offence... under clause (b) of section 22 or under section 22A
except on a complaint made by, or with the sanction of, an Inspector." The
first question which arises is whether the quarry which the respondent is
alleged to be working and in which the employees are alleged to be carrying on
the operation of stone breaking or stone crushing is a mine, within s. 2(b).
Learned counsel for the appellant has drawn
our attention to the definition of the word mine" in the Mines Act, 1952 (XXXV
of 1952), and the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957
(LXVII of 1957). Section 2(j) of the Mine Act defines 'mine', and the relevant
part of the definition is as under:
"Mine" means any excavation where
any operation for the purpose of searching for or obtaining minerals has been
or is being carried on, and includes(iv) all open cast workings." The word
'minerals' is defined to mean all substances which can be obtained from the
earth by mining, digging, drilling dredging, hydraulicing, quarrying or by any
other operation and includes mineral oils (which in turn include natural gas
and petroleum). he learned counsel says that a quarry is a mine within this
In the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and
Development) Act, 1957, the expressions 'mine' and 'owner' have the meanings
assigned to them in the Mines Act, 1952. The learned counsel contends that this
meaning should be read into the Minimum Wages Act.
464 The learned counsel for the respondents
relies on the observations of this Court in Pandit Ram Narain v. The State of
Uttar Pradesh(1) that "it is no sound principle of construction to
interpret expressions used in one Act with reference to their use in another
Act. The meanings of words and expressions used in an Act must take their
colour from the context in which they appear." The learned counsel further
contends, relying on a number of English decisions, that in its primary
signification the word 'mine' means underground excavations or underground
workings. He relies in particular on the speech of Lord Macnaughten in Lord
Provost and Magistrates of Glasgow v. Farie (2) . The House of Lords was
concerned in that case with the interpretation of s. 18 of the Waterworks
Clauses Act, 1847, which was in the following terms:
"The undertakers shall not be entitled
to any mines of coal, ironstone, state, or other minerals under any land
purchased by them, except only such parts thereof as shall be necessary to be
dug or carried away or used in the construction of the water-works unless the
same shall have been expressly purchased, and all such mines, excepting as
aforesaid, shall be deemed to be excepted out of the conveyance of such lands,
unless they shall have been expressly named therein and conveyed thereby."
The appellants in that case had purchased from the respondent a parcel of land
for the purpose of erecting waterworks and the conveyance contained a
reservation of the "whole coal and other minerals in the land in terms of
the Waterworks Clauses Act, 1847." Under the land was a seam of valuable
brick clay. The respondent worked this clay in the adjoining land, and having
reached the appellants' boundary, claimed the right to work out the clay under
the land purchased by the appellants. The House of Lords held that common clay,
forming the surface or subsoil of land, was not included in the reservation in
the Act, and that the appellants were entitled to an interdict restraining the
respondent from working the clay under the land purchased by them. It is true
Lord Macnaughten first construed the word 'mine' in this enactment to mean underground
excavations or underground workings, and then proceeded to construe the
section. But Lord Watson was of the opinion that the word 'mine' did not necessarily
mean underground excavations. He said that "it does not occur to me that
an open excavation of auriferous quartz would be generally described as a gold
quarry; I think most people would call it a cold mine." Later he observed
that "the word 'quarry' is, no doubt, inapplicable to underground
excavations but the word 'milling' may without impropriety be used to denote
some quarries. Dr. Johnson defines a quarry to be a stone mine".
He arrived at the conclusion that "the
word 'mine' must be taken to signify all (1)  S.C.R. 664 at 673.
(2) 13 A.C. 657.
465 excavations by which the excepted
minerals may be legitimately worked and got." In our opinion, as stated in
Halsbury's Laws of England, Third Edition, volume 26, p. 317, the word 'mine'
is not a definite term, but is one susceptible of limitation or expansion
according to the intention with which it is used.
In s. 2(b) of the Act, we have to see the
context in which the word has been used. What the legislature is purporting to
do is to demarcate the jurisdiction of the State Governments and the Central
Government in respect of minimum wages to be paid to persons employed in the
employments enumerated in the Schedule. Entry 35 in List 1 of Schedule VII of
the Government of India Act, 1935, was "regulation of tabour and safety in
mines and oilfields." Entry 36 read "regulation of mines and
oilfields and mineral development to the extent to which such regulation and
development under Dominion control is declared by Dominion law to be expedient
in the public interest." It is not seriously contested that in Entries 35
and 36 the word ,mines' would include quarries. The Mines Act, 1923 (IV of
1923) which was the existing law when the Government of India Act came into
force, made provisions regarding health and safety in mines and regulated hours
and limitations of employment in the mines. The word 'mine' had been defined to
mean any excavation where any operation for the purpose of searching for or
obtaining minerals has been or is being carried on, and includes all works,
machinery, tramways and sidings, whether above or below ground, in or adjacent
to or belonging to a mine, provided that it shall not include any part of such
premises on which a manufacturing process is being carried on unless such
process is a process for coke making or the dressing of minerals. Therefore, if
we examine the definition of 'appropriate government' in s. 2(b) in the context
and in the background of the Government of India Act and the existing law, it
seems to us that the Central Legislature must have intended to include quarries
in the word 'mine', otherwise it would be rather incongruous that some matters
such as health and saftey, hours and employment in quarries should be regulated
by the Central Government and minimum wages by the State Governments. Further.
there is no indication whatsoever in the Act that the word 'mine' has the
narrower meaning suggested by the learned counsel for the respondent.
If the word 'mine' is held to include a
quarry, the next question that arises is whether stone breaking or stone
crushing in a quarry is within the Schedule. While interpreting Entry 8 in the
Schedule, this Court observed in Madliva Pradesh Mineral Industry Association
v. The Regional Labour Commissioner, Jabalpur(1) as follows:
"When we speak of stone-breaking or
stonecrushing normally we refer to stone in the sense of "piece of
rock" (1)  3S.C.R. 476.
466 and that would exclude maganese.
Employment in stone-breaking or stone-crushing in this sense would refer to
quarry operations." This Court thus read Entry 8 to refer to quarry
operations, and we hold that stone-breaking or stone-crushing in a quarry is
within the Schedule.
Thus reading item 8 of the Schedule and s.
2(b) of the Act together, it seems to us that the definition demarcates the
jurisdiction of the Central Government and the State Governments in this way:
If the employment in stone-breaking or stone-crushing is in a quarry then it is
within the jurisdiction of the Central Government; if the employment in
stone-breaking or stone-crushing is not in a quarry, it is the State Government
that will have jurisdiction. We are unable to appreciate the observations of
the High Court that the operation of stone-breaking and stone-crushing in a
stone quarry does not fall within item 8 of the Schedule and that it is
necessary that Parliament should amend item 8 of the Schedule.
In the result, we hold that the Inspector was
competent to file the complaints and the Magistrate and the High Court should
not have acquitted the respondent on the ground of his being incompetent to
file the complaints. The appeals are allowed and the judgment of the High Court
and the order of the Magistrate are reversed and the cases remitted to the
Magistrate to proceed with the complaints in accordance with law.