Mining Act
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This article is written by Akella Poornima, a 2nd year law student of LL.B 3 yrs, Symbiosis Law School, Pune. This article talks about the Mines Act in detail; its functionalities, workings, and scope in our country.

Table of Contents

Introduction

India has a cultural history of contributing most of its economy through ‘Mining’. A country with 80 percent being produced by public sector companies and rest by private companies; legislation was needed to regulate and examine the scams or haphazard prevailing in the mining industry. Therefore, the Central Govt in 1952 and in 1957, simultaneously promulgated The Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act and The Mines Act

Aims, Objects, and Commencement

To understand the aims, objectives, and limitations of this Act, it is necessary to define what ‘Mines’ are called. Sec 2(i) of the Act defines ‘Mines’ as any kind of evacuations or extraction operated upon earth’s crust in order to obtain minerals.

Hence, the basic objective of the Act is to provide labour and safety of the mines as well as to amend and regulate the legislation for the betterment of labourers and workmen employed in it.

The regulatory framework of the mining industry is taken care of by both central and state governments. Generally, there are two types of minerals. One is called ‘Major minerals’ and another is called ‘Minor Minerals’. Policies are made in relation to the exploration, extraction, and process of all minor minerals (such as building stones, clay, and sand) by State Governments whereas, the federal government takes the charge of revision, fixing of royalty, issuing regulations, etc of major minerals.

‘The Ministry of Mines’, an apex body that is handled by the Government of India is responsible for legislation in regards to the mining sector, its policy formulation for proper functioning and administration of mines and minerals in the country. It is principally composed of four departments namely:

  • The Geological Survey of India (GSI);
  • The Indian Bureau of Mines;
  • The Controller of Mining Leases; and
  • The Directorate General of Mines Safety.

Exemptions

The said Act does not apply to any excavations or digging made for the purposes of prospecting and not for the purposes of extracting minerals. In lay-man words, the objective of extracting minerals is important to determine any activity under this Act. Also, minerals should be extracted for the purpose of commercial use or sale of it.  

Again, if the Central Government deems to see it fit to change or alter any of the class of the workers or the mines or the part of it or the ground in relation, it can do it with the passing of such change in a gazetted notification. 

References to time of day

“The references to the time of the day” in the Act is referred to as the Indian Standard Time, being five and a half hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. The Central Government holds the scope of doing any alterations in this regard. Also, the Central Government can set out rules for any part of the country where the Indian Standard Time is not ordinary observed. 

Inspectors and Certifying Surgeon

Chief Inspector and Inspectors

The Central Government can appoint any person it feels to see fit to be eligible for the post of ‘Chief Inspector of Mines’ for all the territories in the country to which the Act extends whereas any such person who has an interest in any mining activity or mining rights in India (either directly or indirectly) should not be made to have any such post of importance. 

Further, according to the Act, the District Magistrate can exercise the powers and perform the duties of an Inspector (exceptional to the general or special orders of the Central Government). 

Functions of Inspectors

The Chief Inspector can prohibit or restrict any Inspector/s from any powers conferred upon them under the said Act and can decide upon the local area/s within which Inspectors will be limited to exercise their respective powers. But, very much the Inspectors are required to give the information of the area under which their duty of work prevails;  to the owners, agents, and managers of mines. 

Powers of Inspectors of Mines

  1. The Chief Inspector and/or Inspector/s can conduct examination or inquiry, whatever they feel to see fit; to ascertain different provisions of this Act for a proper understanding of what all are reasonable actions to be taken and which, do not impede or obstruct the working of any Mine. 
  2. Inspectors can also examine and inquire about the state and condition; the ventilation of the Mine; the sufficiency of the bye-laws in relation; and all matters and things connected with the health, safety, and welfare of the persons employed in the mine.
  3. Inspectors can also exercise all the powers prescribed by the Central government to them in this regard.
  4. A case where an offence under this Act has been committed:
  • A search of any such place and possession in relation; and
  • to any register or other record appertaining to the mine etc.

can be done by the Chief Inspector or any Inspector. He may search or seize under this Act with a warrant issued legally.

Powers of the special officer to enter, measure, etc

The special officer might enter the mine and survey, level or measure the mine at anytime he feels important, but in such a case, he is obligated to give a minimum of three days’ notice to the Manager of such mine where he wishes to enter or introspect. Whereas, in case of any emergency arisen in the opinion of Chief Inspector or any Inspector related to the mine; an order in writing may authorize any person to enter into the Mine without giving any notice.

Facilities to be afforded to Inspectors

All reasonable facilities for entering, inspecting, surveying, measuring, examining or inquiring under this Act is required to be facilitated by every owner, agent and manager of the mine to the Chief Inspector or any Inspector.

Facilities to be provided for occupational health survey

The owner, agent or manager of the mine is required to afford all necessary facilities to such Inspector or officer such as:

  • The examination and testing of plant and machinery;
  • The collection of samples and other data related to the survey; and 
  • The transport and examination of any person employed in the mine chosen for the survey etc.

Further, the total time spent by any person employed in any mine (who is working for examination in the safety and occupational health survey) should be counted towards his working time, also acknowledging any overtime he is working for, to be paid at the ordinary rate of wages. The “ordinary rate of wages” means the basic wages added to any dearness allowance, underground allowance, and compensation in cash.

The owner, agent or manager under his cost should make any person undergo a medical treatment who on examination is found medically unfit to discharge the duty of which he was discharged in a mine. 

In the case where after the medical treatment, a person is declared medically unfit to discharge a duty he was discharged in a mine, in such a case the owner, agent, and manager is required to provide such person with alternative employment in the mine for which he is medically fit. Such a medically unfit person will also be paid by the owner, agent, and manager; a disability allowance determined in accordance with the rates prescribed. In the case where such a person decides to leave his employment in the mine, he has to be paid by the owner, agent, and manager, a lump sum amount by way of disability compensation determined in accordance with the rates prescribed.

Secrecy of information obtained

All copies, extracts, registers or other relevant records of any mine, should be regarded as confidential and should not be disclosed to any person or authority unless the Chief Inspector or the Inspector considers such disclosure necessary. Also, any person functioning in contradiction in the course of his duty, shall be made liable to the punishment with imprisonment for a term extending to one year, or with fine, or with both (imprisonment and fine).

Also, only with the previous sanction of the Central Government, the court should proceed to any trial in this regard.

Certifying surgeons

The Central government appoints qualified medical practitioners to be certifying surgeons. The central government may also impose, a certifying surgeon authorizing him to exercise his powers.

Any person, who is an owner, an agent or a manager of the mine and who is directly or indirectly (interested in any business carried or in any patent or machinery connected or is in the employment of mine) will not be appointed or authorized to exercise the powers of a certifying surgeon.

Also, the certifying surgeon is mandated to carry out his duties regarding the examination and certification of adolescents, persons who are engaged in a mine in dangerous occupations, etc exercising the medical supervision for any mine where cases of illness have occurred or are likely to cause health injury. 

Committees

The Ministry of Labor and Employment, under the Government of India, constitutes a committee to handle the powers and functions with respect to the said act. The committee constitutes of a chairman and its members who look after taking the decisions regarding various functionalities to the territory this act extends and most of the time its decision is considered final and binding. 

Functions of the Committee

  1. A Committee should be constituted which will look after: 
  • proposals, for making rules, regulations, and recommendations for the Central Government;
  • enquiring into accidents or other matters which are referred to it by the Central Government and make reports upon; and
  • hearing and deciding appeals or objections against notices or orders or the regulations, rules or bye-laws thereunder.

2. The Chief Inspector is not supposed to take part in the proceedings of the Committee regarding any appeal or objection against an order or notice made or issued by him or act in relation to any matter pertaining to such appeal or objection as a member of the Committee.

Powers, etc., of the Committees

A Committee is constituted should be exercise the powers of an Inspector for discharging its functions, have the same powers as are vested in a court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) when trying a suit in respect of the following matters, namely:

  • discovery and inspection;
  • enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath;
  • compelling the production of documents; and
  • such other matters as may be prescribed.

Recovering of Expenses

The Central Government can direct all the expenses of any inquiry conducted by a Committee constituted to be borne by the owner or agent of the mine concerned. The amount so directed is paid on application by the Chief Inspector or an Inspector to a magistrate having jurisdiction at the place where the mine is situated or where such owner or agent is for the time being resident.

Mining Operations and Management of Mines

Notice to be given of mining operations

The owner, agent or manager of a mine is required to give notice in writing containing particulars of the mine to the Chief Inspector, the controller, Indian Bureau of Mines and the District Magistrate in which the mine is situated, before the commencement of any mining operation. 

Such notice should reach the persons concerned for at least one month before the commencement of any mining operation.

Managers

Every Mine is required to have a sole manager who will have the prescribed qualification for holding a post of that importance and the owner or agent of every mine shall appoint a person having such qualification to be the manager. Further, the owner or agent may appoint himself also as manager if he possesses to have such prescribed qualifications.

The manager has to take responsibility and also, he can be held liable for the overall management, control, supervision and direction of the mine and all instructions when given by the owner or agent.

In case of an emergency, the owner or agent of a mine or anyone on his behalf shall not give, otherwise without the consent of the manager any kind of instructions affecting the fulfilment of his statutory duties, to a person, employed in a mine, who is responsible to the manager.

Duties and responsibilities of owners, agents, and man

For making financial and other provisions and for taking such other steps, the regulations, rules, bye-laws, and orders, etc to make the Managers, owners, and agents of such concerned mine are held responsible.

The responsibility of the matters in this regard is provided in the rules made which shall be exclusively carried out by the owner and agent of the mine and by such person (other than the manager) whom the owner or agent may appoint for securing compliance with the aforesaid provisions.

In carrying out any instructions given or otherwise given through the manager, if results in the contravention of the provisions of this Act or of the regulations, rules, bye-laws or orders made, every person giving such instructions will be obligated to be held liable for the contravention of the provisions concerned.

A person shall be deemed to be guilty of contravention when it is proved that he had used due diligence to secure compliance and had taken reasonable means to prevent such contravention.

If it appears on inquiry and investigation, that any such person is not prima facie liable, he must not have proceeded against any inquiry or investigation. 

There shall not be any defence in any proceedings brought against the owner or agent of a mine stating that the manager and other officials have been appointed in accordance with the provisions of this Act or that a person to carry the responsibility has been appointed.

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Provisions as to Health and Safety

Drinking water

Effective arrangements should be there in every mine to provide and maintain good content and a sufficient supply of cool drinking water at suitable points for all persons employed there. For all persons employed below the ground, the Chief Inspector should, in lieu of drinking water, provide, maintain or permit suitable points for any other effective arrangements.

Also, all such points shall be legibly marked ‘Drinking Water’ in a language understood by a majority of the persons employed in the mine and no such drinking point shall be situated near any washing place, urinal or latrine.

The Central Government can make rules for securing compliance with the provisions of the supply and distribution of drinking water with respect to all mines or any class or description of mines.

Conservancy

There shall be a sufficient number of latrines and urinals provided separately for both males and females in every mine.

Further, all latrines and urinals provided should be adequately lit, ventilated and at all times maintained in a clean and sanitary condition.

The Central Government can specify the total number of latrines and urinals to be built in any mine with respect to the number of males and females employed in the mine. 

Medical appliances

First aid boxes should be provided in every mine to be readily accessible during all working hours. 

Every first-aid box has to be kept in charge of a responsible person, who is medically trained in the first-aid treatment of any kind of hurt which can cause in the course of employment and who will always be readily available during the working hours of the mine to treat such suffered workers.

Arrangements have to be done beforehand, for the conveyance to hospitals or dispensaries, of persons who while in employment in the mine, suffer any kind of bodily injury or become ill.

In every mine where more than one hundred and fifty persons are employed, a maintained first-aid room of such size with such equipment and in the charge of such medical and nursing staff as may be prescribed.

Powers of Inspector when causes of danger not expressly provided against exist or when the employment of persons is dangerous

  1. The chief inspector or an inspector, by giving notice to the owner, agent or manager of the mine can state the particulars about the threat which he can foresee or defect he has discovered in any mine or part of it, in order to control, supervise, manage or direct the danger and can rectify the threat causing any kind of bodily injury. 
  2. In the case where the owner, agent or manager fails to comply with the terms of notice, the Chief Inspector or the Inspector, through his writing, can prohibit the employment of any person for ensuring compliance in any manner in any mine. 
  3. The Chief Inspector or the Inspector through his writing can also prohibit the extraction or reduction of pillars or blocks of minerals in any mine if he discovers the continuance of such work to be endangering the mine or the people employed there.
  4. Every person who is prohibited from employment in such hazardous conditions is entitled to get paid with full wages as if they were in term with work they would have done otherwise and the payment should be done by the owner, agent, and manager of the mine or part of the mine.  Also, in such case, such manager, agent or the owner can provide the worker with alternative employment at the same wage allowance than paying full wages to such worker who has been prohibited to work. 
  5. If the owner, agent or manager of the mine objects to a notice sent by the Chief Inspector or an order made by the Chief Inspector he may, within twenty days after the receipt of the notice containing the requisition or of the order or after the date of the decision on appeal, whatever the case be, can send his objection in writing stating the grounds there to the Central Government which shall, ordinarily within a period of two months from the date of receipt of the objection, refer the same to a Committee.
  6. Also, Nothing with respect to the powers of Inspectors or Chief Inspectors will affect the powers of a Magistrate under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.

Power to prohibit employment in certain cases

In a situation, where any owner, agent or manager fails to comply with the provisions laid in this act in matters relating to safety; the Chief Inspector can give notice in writing stating the same to comply within the time limit he wishes to specify in the said notice.

Every person whose employment is prohibited is entitled to payment of full wages for the period for which he would have been, but for the prohibition, in employment, he couldn’t fulfil his course of work, and the owner, agent or manager shall be liable for payment of such full wages of that person. The owner, agent or manager instead of paying such full wages, can provide such person with alternative employment at the same wages with which such person was receiving in the employment which was prohibited.

Notice to be given of accidents

Whenever an accident occurs in a mine, causing loss of life or serious bodily injury, or an outbreak of fire or such similar rush of the cause, or an influx of inflammable or noxious gases, or a breakage of ropes, chains or other gear by which persons or materials are lowered or raised in a shaft or an incline, or an overwinding of cages or other means of conveyance or a premature collapse of any part of the working, or any other accident which may be prescribed in such case, the owner, agent or manager of the mine is obligated to give notice of the occurrence to such authority in a form and within desired time, and as well as he shall simultaneously post one copy of the notice on a special notice board in the prescribed manner at a place where it may be inspected by trade union officials, ensuring that the notice is kept on the board for not less than fourteen days from the date of such posting.

Power of Government to appoint a court of inquiry in cases of accidents

If in the opinion of the Central Government, a formal inquiry is needed into the causes and circumstances attending the accident ought to be held; an appointment of a competent person to hold such inquiry should be done and may also be appointed one or more persons possessing legal or special knowledge to act as assessor or assessors in holding the inquiry.

The person appointed to hold any such inquiry shall have all the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), for the purpose of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and compelling the production of documents and material objects.

Any person holding such inquiry may exercise the powers of an Inspector under this Act as he thinks it necessary or expedient to exercise for the purposes of the inquiry held.

The person holding an inquiry is supposed to make a report to the Central Government stating the causes of the accident and its circumstances and adding any observations which he or any of the assessors may think fit to make under their observation.

Notice of certain diseases

  1. Where any person employed in mine contracts any disease notified by the Central Government as a disease connected with mining operations, the owner, agent or manager of the mine, in such case, are obligated to send a notice to the Chief Inspector and to such other authorities, in the desired form and within the desired time.
  2. And If any medical practitioner attends on a person who is employed in a mine and who is or is believed by the medical practitioner to be suffering from any disease, the medical practitioner should without delay send a report in writing to the Chief Inspector stating:
  • the name and address of the patient;
  • the disease from which the patient is suffering or diagnosed, and
  • the name and address of the mine in which the patient is or was last employed.
  1. After this report has been sent, the Chief Inspector is required to pay the medical practitioner such fee as prescribed, and the fee so paid shall be recoverable as an arrear of land revenue from the owner, agent or manager of the mine in which the person contracted the disease.
  2. Further, If any medical practitioner fails to comply with the provisions, he shall be punishable with fine which may extend to fifty rupees.

Power to direct investigation to cause of disease

The Central Government can appoint a competent person to inquire into and make a report of it on any case where a disease has been or is suspected to have been contacted in a mine, and may also appoint one or more persons possessing legal or special knowledge to act as assessors in such inquiry.

Publication of reports

The Central Government can cause any report submitted by a Committee or any report of extracts from any report submitted to it and will cause every report submitted by a Court of inquiry to be published at such time and in such manner as it may think fit.

Hours and Limitation of Employment

A weekly day of rest

A person is required not to work in any mine for more than six days in any given week.

Compensatory days of rest

A person employed in any mine who in the course of his duty, is deprived of any of the weekly days of rest, then in such circumstances, they will be allowed to rest for such extra work done, within a month or two months immediately following that month, as compensatory days of rest equal in number to the days of rest of which he has been deprived.

Hours of work above ground

  1. Any person (above 18 years of age) who is employing in the above-ground in any mine, is not required as well as not allowed to work for more than forty-eight hours in any given week or for more than nine hours in any day provided.
  2. To facilitate the change of shifts, or to enhance the production of work; the daily maximum hours specified may exceed.
  3. The arrangement of work of any such person should be in a way that – 
  • He/she gets ample time of leisure hours to take rest.
  • For any such person, the working hours should not exclude more than 12 hours every day.
  • He/she should not work for more than five hours continuously and in case of five or more hours of work being done, there has to be an interval given for the rest of at least half an hour.
  1. Also, the Chief Inspector under this act can impose conditions to permit work to extend for long hours but it should not be for more than fourteen hours a day. 
  2. Those who do two or more shifts should not be allowed to do the work of the same kind above ground at the same time.

Hours of work below ground

  • No adult who is employed below ground in any mine will be allowed to work for more than forty-eight hours in any week or for more than eight hours in any day with a condition that the chief inspector may exceed the working hours, if he deems it fit, to facilitate the change of shift.
  • Work shall not be carried on below ground in any mine except by a system of shifts, so arranged that the period of work for each shift is not spread-over more than the daily maximum hours.
  • A person employed in a mine shall not be allowed to be present in any part of a mine below ground except during the periods of work shown in respect of him in the register maintained

Night shift

For those who work for night shifts which extend to midnight:

  • a weekly day of rest is required for all such people who work at night shifts, which should not be not less than a period of twenty-four consecutive hours beginning when his shift ends.
  • The following day for him after his work will be considered to be a period of twenty-four hours beginning from when such night shift ends, and the hours he has worked after midnight should be counted in the previous day.

Extra wages for overtime

Where in a mine, a person works above ground for more than nine hours in any day, or works below ground for more than eight hours in any day or works for more than forty-eight hours in any week whether above ground or below ground, he will in respect of such overtime work, be entitled to wages at the rate of twice his ordinary rate of wages, for the period of overtime work being calculated on a daily basis or weekly basis, whichever is more favourable to him.

Where any person employed in a mine is paid on piece-rate basis, the time-rate should be taken as equivalent to the daily average of his full-time earnings for the days on which he actually worked during the week immediately preceding the week in which overtime work has been done, exclusive of any overtime, and such time-rate shall be deemed to be the ordinary rate of wages of such person.

The Central Government can prescribe the registers to be maintained in a mine for securing compliance with the provisions of the Act.

Prohibition of employment of certain persons

If a person is already working in any other mine preceding twelve hours of his duty, then in such case he should not be allowed to work or required to work further.

Limitation of daily hours of work including overtime work

Any person employed in any mine should work or allowed to work in the mine for more than ten hours in any day inclusive of overtime.

Notices regarding hours of work

A notice in the desired manner in desired language should be posted outside the office of the mine stating about the time schedules of commencement and end of work each day, by the manager of every mine.

Where proposal is made for any alteration in the time schedules with respect to work hours or criteria of work hours to decide, an amended notice in the prescribed form is needed to be posted outside the office of the mine in not less than seven days before this change is made to be obliged by workers of that mine, and a copy of such notice is required to be sent to the Chief Inspector in not less than seven days before such change.

Further, no one should be allowed to work in a mine otherwise than in consonance with this notice.

Supervising staff

Further, these rules may not apply to any such persons who by rules be defined to be, persons holding positions of supervision/ management/ employed in a confidential capacity.

Exemption from provisions regarding employment

In case of an emergency condition involving a serious risk to the safety of the mine/ persons employed there/ accident/ act of God or in case of any urgent work to be done to machinery, plant or equipment of the mine etc; the manager can permit some persons to be employed on such work as per necessity, to protect the safety of the mine or of the persons employed there.

The manager may take a permitted action, (even though the production of the mineral would be incidentally affected if that action been carried off), to overcome some irregularities of any machinery, plant or equipment, to avoid serious interference with the ordinary working of the mine.

Power to make exempting rules

The central government can make rules defining the exemptions, in different circumstances and subject to different conditions:

  • where an emergency threatening some serious risk to the safety of the mine or to the persons employed is foreseen there;
  • where a work of some preparatory or complementary nature is carried for the purpose of avoiding serious interference;
  • for persons who are engaged in urgent repairs; and
  • for persons employed in technical works and who must carry it continuously.

Employment of persons below eighteen years of age

After the enactment of the Mines (Amendment) Act, 1983, the law obligated the persons below eighteen years of age to be allowed to work in any mine or part related to it.

Any apprentices and other trainees (who are not below sixteen years of age) can still be allowed to work but under proper supervision. In such a case, the prior approval of the Chief Inspector or an Inspector is required to be obtained before they are allowed to work.

Power to require a medical examination

  1. When a person is employed in a mine,(who is not an apprentice or trainee), is not an adult (above 18 years) or when a person employed in a mine as an apprentice or trainee, is either below sixteen years of age or is no longer fit to work; the Inspector in such case can serve the manager of the mine, with a notice stating that such person should be examined by a certifying surgeon and that such person should, if the Inspector directs, be not employed or permitted to work in any mine until he has been certified that he is an adult. 
  2. Every certificate granted by a certifying surgeon on a reference should be conclusive evidence of the matters referred here.

Prohibition of the presence of persons below eighteen years of age in a mine

Any person below eighteen years of age should not be allowed to be present in any part of a mine above ground where any operation connected with or incidental to any mining operation is being carried on.

Employment of women

No woman or female can be employed in any part of a mine which is below ground or above ground (except between the hours of 6 A.M. and 7 P.M.)

Also, every woman employed in any such mine working above ground is granted to be allowed an interval of eleven hours or even more, between the termination of employment on any one day and the commencement of the next period of employment.

Whereas, the Central Government can, vary the hours of employment of women working above the ground in any mine or class or description of mine. But the condition is that women should not be obligated to work from the hours between 10 P.M. to 5 A.M.

Register of persons employed

A prescribed form needs to be there for every mine as well as a place a registration for all persons employed where-

  • the name of the employee is to be written along with the name of his/her father, her husband (if married), and such other particulars which are necessary for the purposes of identification;
  • the age and sex of the employee who is going to work, the nature of his/her employment, and the date of commencement of his/her work has to be provided, 
  • other particulars and the relevant entries authentication with signature or thumb impression of the person working.
  • Also, no person will be employed in any mine until the above-mentioned particulars are recorded in the register.

Leave with Wages

Application of Chapter

No person should be deprived of any right in any mine to which he is entitled under any other law or under the terms of any award, agreement or contract of service.

Leave defined

Leaves should not include the following which is prescribed to all the workers:

  • weekly days of rest provided to all workers; or
  • holidays for festivals given to all employees; or
  • Any other similar occasions whether occurring during or at either end of the period of leave.

The calendar year defined

A calendar year means a period of the year with twelve months, beginning with the first day of January every year.

Annual leave with wages

  1. Every person who is employed in any mine and who has completed his one calendar year’s service will be said to be allowed, a leave with wages, calculated accordingly by, any person employed below the ground, at the rate of one day for every fifteen days of work performed by him or at the rate of one day for every twenty days of work performed by him, whatever is feasible.
  2. Further, a calendar year’s service should get completed when:
  • a person employing below the ground in any mine puts in attendances for not less than one hundred and ninety at the mine; or
  • he has put in not less than two hundred and forty attendances at the mine during his course.
  • Any person who has not taken the leaves entitled to him in that prescribed calendar will get it added to the number of leaves granted in the succeeding year. 
  • Any person in need of leaves to get granted is required to write about it, in not less than fifteen days, before the date he wishes to have. Only, in cases of illness of any kind, such a person can avail leave before fifteen days of intimation. 
  • In a case, where a person employed in a mine is terminated by the owner, agent or manager of the mine (before he has taken the entire leave to which he is entitled to), or when a person applied for a leave but has not been granted, or when he quits his employment before he has taken all the leave, in such a case, the owner, agent or manager of the mine is required to pay him the amount payable in respect to the leaves not taken. Also, payment in such a case shall be made before the expiry of the second working day after the termination, and where a person himself quits his employment, on or before the next payday.
  • The unveiled leave of a person employed in a mine shall not be taken into consideration in computing the period of any notice required to be given before the termination of his employment.
  • Where a person employed in a mine is discharged or dismissed from service or quits his employment or is superannuated or dies while in service, in such a case, he or his heirs or his nominee, shall be entitled to wages in lieu of leave due to him.

Payment in advance in certain cases

Any person employed in any mine who has been allowed to take leave for not less than four days is required to before his leave begins, be paid the wages due for the period of the leave allowed.

Mode of recovery of unpaid wages

The owner, agent or manager of any mine when is required to pay the wages or any such considerable amount but not paid, should be made recoverable as delayed wages under the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936.

Power to exempt mines

When the Central Government is satisfied that the leave rules applicable to persons employed in any mine provide benefits it may, by order in writing and subject to such conditions as may be specified therein, exempt the mine from all or any of the provisions.

Regulations, Rules, and Bye-laws

Power of Central Government to make regulations

The Central Government can make regulations and bye-laws:

  • for appointment as Chief Inspector or Inspector regarding the duties and powers of the Chief Inspector and Inspectors;
  • for the duties of owners, agents, and managers of mines.
  • for facilitating the managers of mines and other persons acting under them;
  • to grant and to renew their certificates of competency;
  • for determining fees payment for examinations, granting and renewing certificates.
  • to determine whether it is lawful to have one manager for more mines than one.
  • for controlling misconduct/ incompetence on the part of any person holding a certificate and suspending/cancelling such certificate if necessary, 
  • for regulating the provisions of the Indian Explosives Act, 1884.
  • for prohibiting/ restricting/ regulating the employment of women in mines or on particular kinds of labour.
  • for the safety of persons employed in a mine as well as for the safety of the roads and working places in mines. 
  • for ventilation of the mines and precautions taken with respect to dust, fire, inflammable and noxious gases.
  • regulating the provisions of the Indian Electricity Act, 1910.
  • for proper lighting of mines and usage of safety lamps.
  • against explosions/ ignitions of inflammable gas/ dust/ irruptions/ accumulations of water in mines.
  • for owners, agents and managers of mines to have fixed boundaries for the mines. 
  • for regulating the occurrence of accidents/ explosions/ ignitions in mines. 
  • for protection from injury, when the workings are discontinued, and the property vested in the Government or any local authority or railway company as per the Indian Railways Act, 1890.

Power of Central Government to make rules

The Central Government can make rules like:

  • filling vacancies of the members of a Committee and for proceeding in term of office for transacting its business.
  • appointment, procedures, powers of Courts for inquiry, payment of travelling allowances to its members, and recovery of the expenses.
  • maintaining mines where any women are employed and standards of such room, nature, and extent of the amenities provided there.
  • standards of sanitation to maintain with latrines and urinal accommodation of good quality.
  • supply and maintenance of medical appliances. 
  • for prohibiting intoxicating drinks or drugs in a mine and the entry of such person. 
  • for prohibiting the employment of persons who are not certified by a medical practitioner.
  • for presenting themselves for medical examination. 
  • for notices, returns, and reports in connection.
  • for maintenance in mines, where more than fifty persons are employed.
  • to have rescue stations for specified mines and for prescribing how and by whom such stations should be established.

Power to make regulations without previous publication

To prevent the apprehended danger and to provide a speedy remedy in the case which has suspected danger with it; the central government can make regulations in such a place to dispense with the delay which can result from such publication and reference.

Bye-laws

The owner, agent or manager of a mine should frame and submit to the Chief Inspector/ Inspector, a draft of bylaws or any such regulations or rules for the time being in force, stating the governance, the use of any particular machinery or the adoption of a particular method of working in the mine.

If within a period of two months from the date on which any drafted bye-laws or drafted amendments are sent to the owner, agent or manager, and the owner, agent or manager are unable to agree as to the terms of the bye-laws which are made, then the Chief Inspector/ Inspector should refer the draft bye-laws for settlement.

When these bye-laws are approved by the Central Government, it must be given effect as a concrete legislature, and the owner, agent or manager of the mine should keep a copy of that bye-laws, in English and in such other language as preferable. This copy must be secretly kept in some conspicuous place at or near the mine, where the bye-laws may be conveniently read or seen by the persons employed.

The Central Government can by order in writing make any bye-law, and such bye-law shall cease to have effect accordingly.

Laying of regulations, rules, and bye-laws before Parliament

Every regulation made, every rule made and every bye-law made should be laid before each House of Parliament, while the parliament is in session. 

Penalties and Procedure

Obstruction

Any person who is obstructed to do his duty is liable for punishment with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.

Also, any person who refuses to produce any registers or other documents, or prevents, is liable to be punishable with fine which may extend to three hundred rupees.

Falsification of records, etc.

Any person or persons:

  • intentionally makes a false statement in any certificate/  any official copy, or
  • counterfeits such false certificate, or
  • produce/ use/ make any false declaration, statement or evidence or
  • falsifies any plan, section, register or record such false register, or
  • make/ give/ deliver any plan, return, notice, record or report containing a statement, entry or detail which is not true.

All such persons will be made liable for punishment with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

Use of false certificates of fitness 

Anyone who uses a certificate of fitness granted to self or allows it to be used by another person, intentionally, is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both.

Omission to furnish plans, etc.

Any person who omits any plan, section, return, notice, register, record or report required to be made without any reasonable excuse will be punishable with fine extending to one thousand rupees.

Contravention of provisions regarding employment of labour

When any person contravenes any provision/ regulation/ rule/  bye-law or any order made for prohibiting, restricting or regulating the employment will be made liable for punishment with imprisonment extending to three months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

Penalty for the employment of persons below eighteen years of age

If a person is below eighteen years of age and is employed in a mine, the owner, agent or manager of such mine shall be punishable with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

Failure to appoint a manager

If any person fails to appoint a manager, such person shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term extending to three months, or with fine extending to two thousand and five hundred rupees, or with both.

Notice of accidents

When anyone fails to give notice of any accidental occurrence or to post a copy of the notice, it will be punishable with imprisonment for a term extending to three months, or with fine extending to five hundred rupees, or with both.

Owner, etc.to report to Chief Inspector in certain cases

Where the owner, agent or manager of a mine has taken proceedings against any person employed in a mine in respect of an offence, then he shall report this result to the Chief Inspector within twenty-one days from the date of the judgment or order of the court.

Special provision for contravention of certain regulations

Anyone who contravenes any provision of any regulation or of any bye-law or any order made will be punishable with imprisonment for a term extending to six months, or with fine extending to two thousand rupees, or with both.

Special provision for contravention of orders under Section 22

Anyone who continues to work a mine in contravention of any order issued will be made punishable with imprisonment for a term extending two years, and will also be liable to fine extending to five thousand rupees.

Special provision for contravention of law with dangerous results

Whoever contravenes any provision of this Act will be punishable:

  • resulting in loss of life – with imprisonment extending to two years, or with fine extending to five thousand rupees, or with both;
  • resulting in serious bodily injury –  with imprisonment extending to one year, or with fine extending to three thousand rupees, or with both; or
  • causing injury or danger to persons employed in the mine – with imprisonment extending to three months, or with fine extending to one thousand rupees, or with both:
  • Where a person who is convicted again with this condition, will be punishable with double the punishment.

Any court imposing or confirming in appeal, revision or a sentence of fine passed, while passing a judgment order, the whole or any part of the fine recovered has to be paid as compensation to the person injured and in the case of his death, to his legal representative.

General provision for disobedience of orders

Anyone who contravenes any provision of this Act or regulation or rule or bye-law or any order, made for the contravention of which no penalty is provided, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term extending to three months, or with fine extending to one thousand rupees, or with both.

Prosecution of the owner, agent or manager

A prosecution shall not be instituted against any owner, agent or manager for any offence under this Act except when the Chief Inspector or of the district magistrate or of an Inspector authorized in this behalf, states to do so, by general or special order in writing.

Determination of the owner in certain cases

Where the owner of a mine is a firm/other association of individuals or is a company/ a Government or any local authority then, to manage the affairs of the mine, some may be prosecuted and punished under this Act for any offence for which the owner of a mine is punishable.

Exemption of owner, agent or manager from liability in certain cases

When the owner, agent or manager of a mine, is accused of an offence alleging that another person is the actual offender, in that case, he will be entitled to get a prosecutor in not less than three clear days to have that other person brought before the court on the date appointed for the hearing of the case.

Power of court to make orders

Where the owner, agent or manager of a mine is convicted of an offence, the court may, in addition to awarding him any punishment, require him within a period specified in the order to take such measures specified for remedying the matters in respect of which the offence was committed.

Where an order is made, the owner, agent or manager of the mine, will not be liable in respect of the continuance of the offence during the period, if any, but on the expiry of such period, if the order of the court has not been fully complied with; all such owners, agents or managers will be deemed to have committed a further offence and will be held punishable with imprisonment for a term extending to six months, or with fine extending to one hundred rupees, or with both.

Limitation of prosecutions

No Court can take cognizance of any crime or offence unless the complaint has been made:

  • within six months from the time the offence is alleged to have been committed or have known of such commission, or
  • in the case where the accused is a public servant and had the previous sanction of the Central Government or the State Government in taking cognizance of an offence under any law, within three months from the date on which such sanction is received by the Chief Inspector, or
  • in the case where a Court of inquiry has been appointed by the Central Government, within one year after the date of the publication of the report referred.

Cognizance of offences

No courts inferior than a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class can try any offense which is alleged to have been committed by any owner, agent or manager of a mine or any offence made punishable with imprisonment.

References to Committee in lieu of prosecution in certain cases

If the Court opines that the matter which is instituted should be referred to a committee in lieu of prosecution, it can report such matter with the central Government under such observation. 

On the other hand, the Central Government can refer such case to any Committee it deems to see fit or may direct the Court to proceed with the trial.

Miscellaneous

The decision to the question of whether a mine is under this Act

The Central Government can decide the question and a certificate in this regard signed by a Secretary of Central Government if any question arises on whether to excavate or work on any part of a mine. 

Power to exempt from the operation of the Act, regulations, etc.

The Central Government can either exempt absolutely or conditionally, from the operation of all or any provisions of this act upon a part of or of mine. 

Power to alter or rescind orders

The Central Government can reverse or modify any order passed herein this matter with respect to this act. 

Application of Act to mines belonging to Government

This Act will also apply to mines which belong to the Government.

Persons required to give notice, etc., legally bound to do so

Every person is obligated to give a notice or to furnish any information to any authority which he is legally bound to do, within the meaning of Section 176 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The signing of returns, notices, etc.

All returns and notices are required to be furnished or communicated on behalf of the owner of a mine about any regulation, rule, bye-law or any order made to whom power in this behalf has been delegated by the owner by a power of attorney.

No fee or charge to be realized for facilities and conveniences

No fee or charge should be taken from any person who is employed in a mine in respect of any protective arrangements or who facilities to provide any equipment or appliances.

Application of certain provisions of Act 63 of 1948 to mines

The Central Government can direct to specify in notification applying to all mines about exceptions and restrictions in Chapters III and IV of the Factories Act, 1948.

Protection of action taken in good faith

No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings whatever, should lie against any person for anything done in good faith or intended to be done under this Act.

Conclusion

The Mines Act, 1957 has been commenced to look after the prospective employment in the mines sector as well as the safety and progress of workers related to mines. The act limits the unnecessary and manipulated labour ship among the poor classes of the society, also giving them the desired platform to be heard in case of injustice. Hence, the legislation of such exhaustive form is necessary for upbringing the economy of the country as well as to reform the less facilitated people. 

References


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