No discretion of Court to award less than the specified fine U/s. 85(a)(i)(b) of the ESIC Act #indianlaws


The Supreme Court held that the object of creating offence and penalty under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 is clearly to create deterrence against violation of provisions of the Act which are beneficial for the employees. Non-payment of contributions is an economic offence and therefore the Legislature has not only fixed a minimum term of imprisonment but also a fixed amount of fine of five thousand rupees under Section 85(a)(i)(b) of the Act. There is no discretion of awarding less than the specified fee, under the main provision. It is only the proviso which is in the nature of an exception where under the court is vested with discretion limited to imposition of imprisonment for a lesser term. No words are found in the proviso for imposing a lesser fine than that of five thousand rupees therefore, no interpretation is required unless there is a requirement of saving the provisions from vice of unconstitutionality or absurdity.

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