Decided on November 17,1964

STATE Respondents


H.C.P. Tripathi, J. - (1.)THIS revision is directed against an order of the learned Additional Sessions Judge of Agra upholding the applicant' conviction and sentence of Rs. 1000/ - as fine under Rule 125(9) of the Defence of India Rules, 1962 read with the Essential Articles (Price Control) Order, 1963, as recorded by Sri Mahabir Singh; Sub -Divisional Magistrate, Fitozabad on March 28, 1963. The applicant had been directed to undergo six months' rigorous imprisonment in default of payment of fine.
(2.)ACCORDING to the prosecution, the applicant is a dealer in vegetable products. His shop was raided on 27th of March, 1963 at about noon by a police party when it was found that he had not displayed on a special board the list of the vegetable products held by him in stock for ready delivery, the past price of each such product and the price at which he proposed to sell them. Further it was alleged that he sold a tin of golden arrow trade mark vegetable Ghee for a sum of Rs. 13/ - on the same date and at the same time to some person, though its price should have been only Rs. 12.82 nP. and had thus committed an offence punishable Under Section 125(9) of the Defence of India Rules.
The applicant was arrested on the 27th of March, 1963. From the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge it appears that he was produced on 28 -3 -1963 presumably by the police before the Sub Divisional Magistrate who held his court on that day in the Tehsil premises in Firozabad. He made an application to the Magistrate that he wanted to confess his guilt requesting him that his case should be decided immediately. Accordingly, the learned Magistrate examined him and put to him that he had not displayed any board showing the stock of ghee with him with its past price and the price at which he wanted to sell it to which he replied in the affirmative. He also stated that he had committed a mistake and should be pardoned. The other question put to the applicant was that he sold a tin of golden arrow trade mark vegetable ghee to Mohammad Rafiq for Rs. 13/ - though the selling price should have been Rs. 12.82 nP. and had thus charged 18 nP. above the control rate. To this also the applicant had replied in the affirmative and had added that a mistake had been committed and he should be excused. These affirmative answers given by the applicant to the questions put by the Magistrate were held to be a plea of guilty by him and he was convicted and sentenced as indicated earlier on that basis, their being no other evidence in support of the allegations.

(3.)LEARNED Counsel for the applicant has raised several points in support of this revision. His contention is that the trial of the applicant has taken place in a manner which is not in consonance with law and is violative of the principles of natural justice. Learned Counsel contends that the applicant was arrested on 27th of March and while in police custody, an application seems to have been obtained from him under duress showing that he was willing to confess and then the learned sub -Divisional Magistrate in hot haste held the trial beyond courts hours in the premises of the Tehsil and had recorded the conviction of the applicant on the basis of his alleged plea of guilty which shows that the applicant was denied the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice as provided under Article 22 of the Constitution. Learned Counsel has further argued that the statement made by the applicant before the learned Magistrate does not amount to a plea of guilty within the law as it is not clear as to what was the offence charged against the applicant to which he is alleged to have pleaded guilty and as to how the prosecution alleged that the price charged by him for selling the ghee was over and above the price which was permissible to be charged under the law.

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