Decided on December 19,1972

Mahadeo Ramchandra Dance Appellant
Pyar Alli Khas Mohamad Tejani Respondents


Deshpande J. - (1.) [His Lordship after dealing with some contentions of the accused, proceeded.] The main contention of Mr. Talaulikar is that 'Supari' cannot be said to be an article of food and as such admixture of saccharin with 'Supari' cannot attract the provisions of the Act or the Rules thereunder. Now, the word 'food' has been defined in the Act in section 2(v). The definition is to the following effect: "'food' means any article used as food or drink for human consumption other than drugs and water and includes- (a) any article which ordinarily enters into, or is used in the composition or preparation of human food, and (b) any flavouring matter or condiments;" Before, therefore, 'Supari' can be held to be food, it shall have to be demonstrated that (1) either it is used as a food for human consumption; or that (2) it ordinarily enters into human food; or is used in the composition or preparation of human food; or (3) it is a flavouring matter or is one of the condiments. It is true that this definition is not complete and exhaustive and it still requires finding out what is meant by using an article as 'food'? Ordinarily no one uses 'Supari' as an article of food in the sense in which the, word 'food' is understood in common parlance. Resort, therefore, shall have to be made to its dictionary meaning and the context in which the word finds its place as also to the object of the enactment and the mischief, eradication of which is aimed at by the legislation.
(2.) According to Murray's dictionary food is "what is taken into the system to maintain life and growth, and to supply the waste of tissue ; aliment, nourishment, provisions, victuals." Second meaning of the word 'food' is given as "what is edible as opposed to 'drink'." Thus the essential attributes of any article of food is its capacity, to be taken into the system to maintain human life and its growth and to be useful for nourishment or being edible. In Webster's International Dictionary 'food' is defined as- "Nutritive material absorbed or taken into the body of an organism which serves for purposes of growth, work or repair and for the maintenance of the vital processes". Then follows this explanation : "Animals differ greatly from plants in their nutritive processes and require in addition to certain inorganic substances (water, salts, etc.) and organic substances of unknown composition (vitamins) not ordinarily classed as foods (though absolutely indispensable to life and contained in greater or less quantities in the substances eaten) complex organic substances which fall into three principal groups, Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats". Chamber's Twentieth Century Dictionary defines 'food' to mean- "What one feeds on: that which, being digested, nourishes the body: whatever sustains or promotes growth; substances elaborated by the plant from raw materials taken in". Murray has also given the meaning of the word 'Betel nut' (Supari) as being a nut or fruit of Areca Palm which is chewed with the betel leaf. In Encyclopedias Britannica, 1968 edn., at p. 551, this is what is stated about betel nut : "The name betel is applied to two different plants which in the east are very closely associated in the purposes to which they are applied. The betel nut is the fruit of the areca or betel palm Areca catechu, and the betel leaf is the produce of the betel pepper or pan (Pipper betel), a plant allied to that which yields black pepper. The chief purpose for which betel nuts are cultivated and collected is for chewing, their use in this form being so widespread among oriental nations that it has been estimated that one-tenth of the world population indulges in betel chewing. In chewing, a small piece is wrapped in a leaf of the betel pepper, with a pellet of shell lime or chunam; in some cases a little cardamom, turmeric or other aromatic is added. Chewing of the material causes a copious flow of brick-red saliva, which may temporarily dye the mouth, lips and gums an orange-brown colour Betel nuts are used as a source of inferior catechu; its chief alkaloid is are colone, to which anthelmintic properties are attributed. The drug finds some use in veterinary medicine as an anthelmintic."
(3.) In the text book of "Pharmacognosy" by Wallis at page 229, the following information is given about the constituents of Areca nuts : "Areca nuts contain several alkaloids together with tanni (15 per cent) and fat (14 per cent).";

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