Interpretation: Proviso Clause annexed to Section 85(a)(i)(b) of the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation Act
Criminal Appeal No(s). 1065- 1066 of 2005
Bench: Justice Dipak Misra; Justice Shiva Kirti Singh
Case Brief: The present before the Bench is having its origin from the Criminal Proceedings, where the Respondents were charged under section 85 of the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, Act for non- payment of contributions required under the provisions of that Act and the Charges were initiated by the appellant- Employees State Insurance Corporation. After facing trial before the Special Court, the employees- respondent were held guilty and as such were sentenced to imprisonment till rising of the Court and fine of Rs. 1000. However, taking up the plea that the fine amount should have imposed by the court, as Rs. 5000 as it is mandate of law, thus, appellant had preferred a revision petition before High Court, which has dismissed the plea of the appellant by the impugned judgement, which is now challenged before the Bench. It is observed by this Court that the concerned High Court had decided the matter, by placing reliance on judgments of several High Courts. It is also considered by the Bench that the section 85(a)(i)(b) of the said Act states about the imprisonment which should not be less than 6 months and the fine of Rs. 5000. However, the proviso clause attached to this provision is stating that the court may impose a sentence of imprisonment for lesser term by recording the special and adequate reasons in the judgment. Thus, the only issue is whether the court has been given judicial discretion only to reduce the sentence of imprisonment for any terms lesser than 6 months or whether it also has discretion to levy no fine or fine of less than five thousand rupees. Thus, the Bench held that the object of creating the offence and penalty under the concerned Act is clearly for deterrence against the violation of the provisions of the Act, which are beneficial for the employees. And as the said offence of the non- payment of the contributions falls under the category of economic offence, the legislature has fixed minimum term of imprisonment along with fixing of amount of fine under the concerned provision. Moreover, as the Bench has analysed the proviso clause attached to the section, it is not showing any words for imposing a lesser fine than that of five thousand rupees. Thus, the intentions of legislature found clear and leaves no space for interpretation, as per the well settled law that if the wordings of the statute are clear, no interpretation is required unless there is a requirement of saving the provisions from vice of unconstitutionality or absurdity. Thus, the Bench ruled in favour of the Appellant and imposed penalty of Rs. 5000.
Read the Judgement: Emp.State Insurance Corporation Vs. A.K.Abdul Samad & Anr