Decided on April 20,1970



- (1.) These two Rules, issued on two applications under Article 226(1) of the Constitution, arise out of a criminal case, being Case No.5 of 1965, now pending in the Additional Special Court, Calcutta. Civil Rule No. 2210 (W) of 1966 had been obtained on August 19, 1966 by Chandrasekhar Pathak who is accused No.4 in the trial. Civil Rule No. 2239 (W) of 1966 by Amulya Chandra Bhattacharjee, accused No. 5 in the trial. As the two rules involve a common question as to the maintainability of the prosecution on the ground of invalidity of the sanction they were directed to be heard analogously.
(2.) In order to decide the point raised it is necessary to refer to the facts leading to the aforesaid prosecution. Government of West Bengal framed a scheme for distribution of Chemical Fertilizer and execution thereof was left in charge of the Department of Agriculture. Under this scheme, various distributors were to place their indents for fertilizer with the department, on receipt whereof the Government was to issue directions to the suppliers for booking the required stock of fertilizer to the destination stations mentioned by the distributors. Such consignments, however, were to be booked in the name of the Deputy Secretary of the Department as consignee and their relative Railway Receipts were to be sent to the Deputy Secretary. On receipt of the Railway Receipts, the distributors concerned were called upon to pay the price in advance to the department and on receipt thereof the Deputy Secretary was to endorse the Railway Receipts in favour of the distributors. It appears that a system was invoked - there being some doubt as to whether there was proper sanction therefore or not - to receive the payment of price by cheques. The procedure followed was that on receipt of the price by cheques, challans for the deposit thereof in the Reserve Bank were to be prepared and forwarded to the deputy Secretary by the Accountant of the Fertiliser Section through the Assistant Secretary; on receipt thereof the Deputy Secretary was to endorse the Railway Receipts in favour of the distributor and send back the cheque and the challan to the Accountant for deposit with the Reserve Bank. Up to March 1962 such deposits were made through the cashier but thereafter directly by the Accountant of the Fertiliser Section.
(3.) It appears that while the Railway Receipts were made over to the distributors after endorsement by the Deputy Secretary on the date the cheque was made over or immediately thereafter; there gradually occurred unconscionable delay in presenting the cheques to the Reserve Bank for encashment. This threw open the door to unscrupulous distributors to cheat the Government in respect of the price of fertilizer already taken delivery of by them taking advantage of this inordinate delay in the presentation of cheques. In many cases after the goods were taken delivery of when the cheques were presented for encashment they were dishonoured and the Government suffered heavy loss from a number of distributors who subsequently failed to pay up those dues in entirety. In some cases, a particular distributor was allowed to receive subsequent consignments on the relative Railway Receipts being endorsed in its favour on the recommendation of the Assistant Secretary even at a time when his cheque for the previous consignment had been returned uncashed being dishonoured on presentation by the Reserve Bank.;

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