Decided on January 03,1968



- (1.) These three cases arise under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (hereinafter referred to as the Act.) They raise common questions; and hence they were heard jointly, and are being disposed of by this single judgment.
(2.) In Calendar Revision No. 5 of 1967, the accused, a provision merchant, was charged by the Food Inspector of Nedumangad Panchayat in the Court of the Additional First Class Magistrate, Nedumangad, in C. C. No. 72 of 1966 for an offence under S.16(1)(a)(i) read with S.7 of the Act. The complaint against him was that, on 5-9-1965, he sold adulterated compounded asafoetida to the Food Inspector. The accused was found guilty of the said offence, and he was sentenced by the learned Magistrate to suffer simple imprisonment for 6 months and to pay a fine of Rs. 1000/-. The accused filed Criminal Appeal No. 106 of 1966 in the Sessions Court of Trivandrum; and the learned 1st Additional Sessions Judge, by his judgment dated 15th February 1967, allowed the appeal and acquitted the accused on the ground that what was sold to the Food Inspector was "compounded misky asafoetida" and not "compounded asafoetida'', and that standards have been prescribed only for the latter, and not for the former. Our learned brother Velu Pillai J. issued notice in Calendar Revision on 8-4-1967, and that is how this matter has come before this Court. The case was first heard by Sadasivan J., who considered that the question whether compounded misky asafoetida is the same as compounded asafoetida is an important one, not covered by any authority; and he adjourned the case for being heard and decided by a Division Bench.
(3.) Criminal Revision Petition No. 670 of 1966 and Calendar Revision No. 24 of 1967 arise out of a complaint which the Food Inspector, Chavara Panchayat, filed in the Court of the Additional 1st Class Magistrate, Karunagapally as C. C. No. 18 of 1966, charging the two accused persons in that case with the offence under S.16(1)(a)(i) of the Act read with S.7. The accusation against them was that, on 22-9-1965, the second accused, who was in charge of the grocery shop run by the first accused, sold adulterated compounded asafoetida to the Food Inspector. Both of them were found guilty by the learned Magistrate, who took a lenient view of the offence, and sentenced each of them to pay a fine of Rs. 500/-. They filed Criminal Appeal No. 32 of 1966 in the Sessions Court of Quilon. The learned Additional Sessions Judge, who heard the appeal, dismissed it, and confirmed the conviction and sentence. He also pointed out that the minimum sentence provided for the offence was imprisonment for 6 months and a fine of Rs. 1000/-, and that the Trial Court acted illegally in awarding a lesser sentence. He however, dropped the matter there, observing that he had no power to enhance the sentence. The accused filed Criminal Revision Petition No. 670 of 1966 against their conviction and sentence. When the case came before our learned brother Sadasivan J., it was contended on behalf of the accused that the authorisation of the Food Inspector by the State Government under S.20(1) of the Act to institute the prosecution was granted before that Section was amended by Act 49 of 1964, and that such an authorisation was not sufficient to institute the complaint. Our learned brother considered it an important question; and he adjourned the case for being heard by a Division Bench. On hearing the learned counsel for the accused, we took the view that the accused were rightly convicted; we, therefore, ordered notice to show cause why the sentence awarded to them should not be enhanced, as they were below the minimum punishment fixed under the Act. Accordingly, Calendar Revision No. 24 of 1967 was taken up against the accused.;

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