Decided on July 04,1939



Henderson, J. - (1.) This is an appeal by the Local Government under Section 417, Criminal P.C., against an order of acquittal passed by the learned Sessions Judge of Jalpaiguri. The accused was convicted by a Magistrate of an offence punishable under Section 6 read with Section 21, Bengal Food Adulteration Act. The appellant has a shop in a bazar named Barnes in the District of Jalpaiguri. On 21st July 1938 the Assistant Health Officer purchased 12 ounces of mustard oil for the purpose of chemical analysis. In accordance with the procedure laid down under the rules the oil was placed in three bottles which were sealed, one of the bottles being made over to the accused. One bottle was sent to the analyst employed by the District Board. The accused's bottle was sent at his request to the Government Test House at Alipur to be analyzed. As a result of the analysis made by the analyst of the District Board, which showed that the oil was adulterated, the accused was put on his trial and convicted. The point of law urged on behalf of the Crown in the appeal is concerned with the interpretation of Section 4 and Section 20 of the Act. Section 4 lays down that in certain circumstances a presumption is to be drawn that the article in question is not genuine. There can be no doubt that, if the certificate given by the District Board analyst is accepted, in view of the rules framed by the Local Government under Section 20 (2)(a) the mustard oil was not genuine. It is plain from his judgment that the learned Sessions Judge appreciated this. But according to the submission of the Crown he has stultified this provision of the law by the way in which he dealt with the question whether the presumption had been rebutted.
(2.) The learned Advocate-General put forward two points. His first contention was that the presumption could only be rebutted by following the oil from the mustard seeds throughout the proceed of manufacture right up to its arrival in the shop of the accused and demonstrating that no deleterious substance had been introduced. In the second place he argued as an alter, native that the only other way in which the presumption could be rebutted is by the accused proving that there was no adulterant, common or rare, of any sort in the oil. In support of the first proposition he relied on a series of English cases which were concerned with the interpretation of Section 6, Sale of Food and Drugs Act of 1875. Under the provisions of that Section no person shall sell to the prejudice of the purchaser any article of food which is not of the nature, substance and quality of the article demanded by the purchaser under a penalty. Section 4 makes provision for the raising of a presumption in circumstances similar to those in the Bengal Act.
(3.) The first of these decisions is that in Hunt v. Richardson (1916) 2 K.B. 446 which was heard by a Court of five Judges in the Kings Bench Division. They differed by 3 to 2. They were largely concerned with the meaning to be attached to the provisions of Section 6 which have no application to the Bengal Act. The only decision which goes so far as the contention of the learned Advocate-General is that in (1939) 160 1 T 5072 decided last April in which the accused was not represented. In my opinion the weight of the decisions is not in favour of this contention. Then again all these cases were concerned with milk-which is quite a different commodity from mustard oil. It is produced by an animal and sold within a few hours of its production. There can be no difficulty in tracing its history in any particular consignment from the animal to the distributor. If such a rule were to be applied to mustard oil, the burden cast upon the accused would be one which it would be quite impossible for him to discharge.;

Click here to view full judgement.
Copyright © Regent Computronics Pvt.Ltd.