Ramachandra Rao, J. -
(1.) In this batch of Writ Petitions, the petitioners herein challenge the vires of Sections 2(ia), 7, 10, 13, 16 and 19 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954 (hereinafter called the Act) and Rule 5 of Appendix-B to the Rules of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, as infringing the rights of the petitioners under Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
(2.) The petitioners are retail dealers in the State of Andhra Pradesh who trade in food-grains, edible oils, tea, coffee, biscuits, atta, ravva, maida, chilli power and other articles of food. They purchase some of the items from the wholesale dealers, who in their turn purchase them from producer and Manufacturers. Some of the items like cereals such as rice, wheat, maize, etc., and pulses like redgram, black-gram, green-gram, horse-gram etc., are purchased from Agriculturists and wholesale dealers.
(3.) Before adverting to the contentions urged by the petitioners, it is necessary to notice the scheme and object and relevant provisions of the Act and the Rules framed thereunder. The object of the Act is to make provision for prevention of adulteration of food. Section 2(ia) defines "adulterated" as follows : "2(ia) adulterated an article of food shall be deemed to be adulterated. (a) If the article sold by a vendor is not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser and is to his prejudice, or is not of the nature, substance or quality which it purports or is represented to be; (b) if the article contains any other substance which affects, or if the article is so processed as to affect injuriously the nature substance or quality thereof; (c) if any inferior or cheaper substance has been substituted wholly injuriously the nature, substance or quality thereof; (d) if any constituent of the article has been wholly or in part abstracted so as to affect injuriously the nature, substance or quality thereof; (e) if the article had been prepared, packed or kept under in sanitary conditions whereby is has become contaminated or injurious to health; (f) if the article consists wholly or in part of any filthy, putrid, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance or is insect-infected or is otherwise unfit for human consumption; (g) if the article is obtained from a diseased animal; (h) if the article is contains any poisonous or other ingredient which renders it injurious to health; (i) if the container of the article is composed, whether wholly or in part, of any poisonous or deleterious substance which renders its contents injurious to health; (j) if any colouring matter other than that prescribed in respect thereof is present in the article, or if the amounts of prescribed colouring matter which is present in the article are not within the prescribed limits of variability; (k) if the article contains any prohibited preservative or permitted preservative in excess of the prescribed limits; (l) if the quality or purity of the article falls below the prescribed standard or its constituents are present in quantities not within the prescribed limits of variability, which renders it injurious to health; (m) if the quality or purity of the article falls below the prescribed standard or its constituents are present in quantities not within the prescribed limits of variability but which does not render in injurious to health; Provided that, where the quality or purity of the article, being primary food, has fallen below the prescribed standards or its constituents are present in quantities not within the prescribed limits of variability, in either case, solely due to natural causes and beyond the control of human agency, then such article shall not be deemed to be adulterated within the meaning of this sub-clause. Explanation. - Where two or more articles of primary food are mixed together and the resultant article of food :- (a) is stored, sold or distributed under a name which denotes the ingredients thereof; and (b) is not injurious to health, Then such resultant article shall not be deemed to be adulterated within the meaning of this clause." Food is defined in Section 2(v) as meaning :- "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 use in the composition or preparation of human food, (b) any flavouring matter or condiments, and (c) any other article which the Central Government may having regard to its use, nature, substance or quality, declare, by notification in the official Gazette, as food for the purposes of this Act." "Primary Food" is defined, in section 2(xii-a) as meaning :- Primary food means any article of food being a produce of agriculture or horticulture in its natural form.";