The Supreme Court on Friday upheld Kerala High Court's order of refusing to quash the case registered against Kitex Garments Private Limited MD, Sabu M Jacob over accidental death of a worker at the factory.
The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by Kitex MD Sabu M Jacob assailing Kerala High Court's order dated February February March 18, 2022 passed by the bench of Justice Ziyad Rahman AA.
Sabu was charged for the death of one of the workers PT Ajeesh who had died due to MD's failure of ensuring health, safety & welfare of the workers while they were at work at the factory by providing and maintaining arrangements for the same.
Aggrieved with the registration of the case, Sabu had approached Kerala High Court seeking to quash the complaint and all the proceedings thereto.
Counsel for the MD had contended that the prosecution initiated against the petitioner was unsustainable. According to him, the prosecution contemplated under Section 92 of the Factories Act was against the 'occupier' of the premises and in the absence of any specific documents indicating the same, the petitioner who was the Managing Director of the Company, could not be treated as an occupier.
It was also contended that the concept of vicarious liability cannot be attributed to the accused in a criminal prosecution and no person can be implicated in an offence on the basis of the said principle. In this case, merely because of the reason that, he was the Managing Director of the Company, he could not be implicated as an accused as the same will have an effect of applying the principles of vicarious liability which is not supported by the principles of law relating to the criminal prosecution.
Opposing the grant of said relief, PP that the prosecution was rightly initiated against the petitioner as he is the Managing Director of the Company. According to him the deeming provision contemplated under Section 2(n) of the Factories Act was attracted.
The issue that arose before the court for consideration was whether, the prosecution against the petitioner herein by treating him as an 'occupier' of the factory was correct or not.
The bench in this regards while referring to the relevant provisions said,
"Thus it is evident that, as on the date of accident no documents were submitted before the authorities concerned nominating any person as occupier or intimating the statutory authorities, as the person who is in ultimate control over the affairs of the factory. In the absence of any such specific nomination or intimation in this regard, in my view, the deeming provision contemplated under Section 2(n) of the Factories Act would come into play. As per the aforesaid provision, any one of the directors of the company can be the occupier of the Company."
While dismissing the plea preferred the bench said,
"do not find any merit in the contentions put forward by the petitioner, mainly because of the reason that, the question as to whether the petitioner was the occupier even in terms of deeming provision, is a matter to be adjudicated at the time of trial and after evaluating the evidence adduced. This is because, the deeming provision as contemplated under Section 2(n) of the Act is confined to only one of the directors, which would indicate that, the director who is in control of the factory shall be held responsible as an occupier. In the result, this Crl.M.C. is dismissed, leaving open the said question, as it is to be decided during the course of trial."