Decided on December 02,1968



- (1.) This is an appeal by special leave from the judgment of the Kerala High Court. The appellants were accused of offences under S.7(1)and 16(1)(a)(i) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (Act XXXVII of 1954), hereinafter called the "Act'. The Trial Court imposed a sentence of fine of Rs. 500/- on each of the appellants. The learned Sessions Judge upheld the conviction and the sentence. The appellants filed a petition for revision in the High Court. When that came up for hearing the High Court issued a notice to the appellants to show cause why the sentence awarded to them should not be enhanced. Ultimately the High Court enhanced the sentence to one of simple imprisonment for six months and a fine of Rs. 1,000/-; in default the appellants were to undergo simple imprisonment for a further period of two months.
(2.) Briefly stated the facts are that appellant No. 1 is the owner of the shop from where the Food Inspector purchased an article of food (compounded asafoetida) for analysis on September 22, 1965. The first appellant was not there at that time but his brother, the second appellant, was present and it was from him that the article in question was purchased. The Food Inspector is stated to have divided the article taken into three parts. He put each part into a paper packet, fastened them with labels and affixed seals thereto. He gave one part to the second appellant and produced the second part in court. The third part was forwarded to the Public Analyst along with the memorandum in Form VII and a specimen impression of the seal used. The part of the sample which was to be sent to the Public Analyst and the memorandum and the specimen impression of the seal were entrusted according to the evidence of the Food Inspector, to the Panchayat Officer who sent them by registered post. The report of the Public Analyst showed that the sample sent to him contained coal tar dye and was adulterated.
(3.) The only point of any substance which has been pressed before us by the learned counsel for the appellants is that the Rules framed under the Act had not been complied with in as much as it has not been proved that the specimen impression of the seal used had been sent to the Public Analyst. R.18 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955 provides that a copy of the memorandum and a specimen impression of the seal used to seal the packet shall be sent to the Public Analyst separately by post. The High Court was not at all impressed with the contention based on R.18. It relied on the report of the Public Analyst Ext. P-9 which was in Form III as prescribed by the Rules in which it was stated, inter alia, that the Public Analyst had received from the Food Inspector a sample of compounded misky asafoetida marked No. C. 2/65 for analysis, properly sealed and packed and that he had found the seal intact and unbroken. The contention which was pressed and which has been reiterated before us is that it is nowhere stated in Ext. P-9 that the Public Analyst had compared the specimen impression of the seal with the seal on the packet of the sample. The High Court relied on the principle that official acts must be presumed to have been regularly performed. Under R.7 the Public Analyst has to compare the seal on the container and the outer cover with the specimen impression received separately on receipt of the packet containing the sample for the analysis. The High Court considered that it must be presumed that the Public Analyst acted in accordance with the Rules and he must have compared the specimen impression received by him with the seal on the container.;

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