HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
Click here to view full judgement.
Roxburgh, J. -
(1.) These are two Rules obtained by one D. Kominatos who in two separate trials has been convicted for offences in connection with the possession of certain drugs. Case No. 135 relates to his conviction under R. 81 (4), Defence of India Rules, for a contravention of clause 3 of the Essential Drugs Census Order, 1941, on three counts, the offences consisting in failure to submit return of such drugs as on 20th October, 20th November and 20th December 1943, respectively. He has been convicted on each count and sentenced to three months' rigorous imprisonment on each count, the sentences to run concurrently and under clause 10 of the Order the stock of drugs in his possession as found on search on 8th January 1944 has been forfeited to Government. In case No. 136 the accused has been convicted for a contravention of clause 12 of the Drugs Control Order, 1943, for having in his possession on 8th January 1944, a quantity of drugs in excess of the amount reasonably required to be held for the purpose of his business, and has been sentenced under R. 81 (4), Defence of India Rules, to six months' rigorous imprisonment and further under clause 17 of the same Order the drugs seized have been forfeited. He has also been convicted under section 13 (1), Hoarding and Profiteering Prevention Ordinance, 1943, for a contravention of the provisions of section 5 (a) and section 8 of that Ordinance, but no separate sentence has been passed on this conviction.
(2.) The facts in the two cases are scarcely disputed and the defence taken in each case is on the same lines. The accused called his partner Andrew Mentxapolous to support his case that he originally arranged to enter into partnership with this witness for dealing in some wholesale drugs. This was in 1942. Later the arrangement was not completed and Mentxapolous made over the stock, which he had purchased with the accused's money and been keeping, to the accused and thereafter the accused was trying to dispose of it. As regards the charge under the Essential Drugs Census Order his defence is that he did not know that the law required that any return should be submitted. Mentxapolous said that he had submitted returns including these articles whilst he was in the business but thereafter admittedly when the stock was with the accused no further returns were submitted. Substantially the accused's own statement amounts to a plea of guilty under this charge with some claim for consideration on the basis of alleged, ignorance of the law. The suggestion appears to be that this was not his normal line of business and this in some way is to explain and mitigate his offence. The argument has its weakness having regard to the time when this business, unusual for the accused, was entered on by him. As the learned Chief Presidency Magistrate has pointed out, it is common knowledge that at the time when this was done there was, owing to war conditions, considerable shortage of these drugs and it was possibly erroneously thought, but certainly it was common opinion that it was a time when profiteers were flourishing. We do not think it necessary to say more on this particular case. The conviction must clearly be upheld.
(3.) As regards the convictions under the Drags Control Order, 1943, and the Hoarding and Profiteering Prevention Ordinance, 1943, the facts are that acting on information a search was made of the accused's premises on 8th January and a very large quantity of drugs was seized. The accused had no licence for sale and had made no application to any authority in respect of his stocks. The argument of Mr. Noad on his behalf was substantially that the accused had not really been able to discover exactly what new provisions of the law applicable to his case were and that he certainly had no intention of breaking any of the laws made applicable to Drugs and Profiteering and in the last resort Mr. Noad urges that at any rate the accused was entitled to some time after the new laws came into force to take action and that at the worst the offence, if any, is not of a very serious character.;
Copyright © Regent Computronics Pvt.Ltd.