Decided on October 21,1971


Cited Judgements :-



- (1.)This is an appeal by the State against the judgment of the learned Fourth City Magistrate, Hyderabad acquitting the four respondents of offences under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. The prosecution case was that on 9th October, 1968, P.W. 1 and P.W. 2 two Drugs Inspectors went to Adarsh Medical Hall for a routine inspection. The four respondents who were partners were proprietors of the medical shop. A-2 alone was present. In the course of the inspection they found that there was a large quantity of drugs in an attic bearing the labels "Medical Stores GMH' and 'Medical Stores OGH'. 'GMH' meant Gandhi Medical Hospital and 'OGH' meant Osmania General Hospital. There were also several drugs with the labels ' physician's Sample not for sale P.W. 1 then telephoned to the office of the Director of Medical Services for assistance. Panchas were also gathered. Appa Rao and Gopalakrishna Murthy, two. senior Drugs Inspectors came to the shop. They brought with them P.W. 3 a Sub-Inspector of Crime Branch of the G.I D. In their presence several drugs bearing marks ' Medical Stores GMH', 'Medical Stores OGH', 'ESI, Government of Maharashtra' and ' Physician's sample not for sale' were seized. As many as 129 items were seized under a panchnama Exhibit P-1. A copy of the Panchnama Was given to A-2 one of the partners of the firm who was present. A-2 endorsed on the panchnama that he had received a copy of it and that the search and seizure were conducted and made in his presence. A receipt in form No. 16 prescribed by the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules was prepared and was given to A-2. The next day P.W. 1 and Appa Rao visited the shop once again and issued an order under section 22 (c) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act directing him not to dispose of the stock in his possession for a period of twenty days. A-2 signed Exhibit P-3 in token of having received a copy of the order. Another similar order Exhibit P-4 was also served on A-2 and he signed that also. On 17th October, 1968, a notice was issued to the firm of the respondents to disclose the source from which the firm acquired the drugs found in its possession. Another notice was issued to produce the purchase bills etc. The notices were served on A-2 and he made endorsements to that effect on Exhibits P-5 and P-6. Subsequently A-3, one of the partners of the firm wrote a letter to P.W. 1 on 23rd October, 1968, requesting that he might be given a fortnight's time to send a reply to the notices. No reply was, however, ever sent. On 19th November, 1968, P.W. 1 and Appa Rao once again went to the shop of the respondents and seized some more drugs under panchnama Exhibit P-8. The signature of A-2 was taken in Exhibit P-8 and a notice in form No. 16 was also served on him. Thereafter a complaint was laid against the four respondents. The learned Magistrate framed charges under section 17 (e) read with section 18 (a) (ii) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, section 18 (a) (vi) read with rule 65 (17) of the Rules, section 18 (a) (vi) read with rule 65 (4) and rule 65 (5) (3) and section 18 (a) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
(2.)The plea of the accused was one of denial. Accused 1, 3 and 4 stated that the and accused alone Was in charge of the business and that they knew nothing. The and accused examined himself as D.W.1 and stated that he was solely responsible for the conduct of the business. On 9th October, 1958 at about 5 P.M. one Ramana Rao, a senior Drugs Inspector came to his shop for inspection. While he was there P.Ws, 1 and 2 also came there and had a talk with him and went away. Later at 6 P.M. P.W. 1 came to the shop once again and took his signature on some papers stating that Ramana Rao had detected some faults in the maintenance of accounts. When he protested he was told that he would be committing another offence if he refused to sign the papers. He, therefore, signed the papers as requested. He did not read the contents of the papers nor was he given copies of those papers. Next day again P.W. 1 came and took his signatures on some more papers. Then also he was not given copies of the papers signed by him. On the 17th he received two notices from the office of the Director of Medical Services to furnish details and particulars of purchases for the drugs claimed to have been seized from the shop. In fact, no drugs were seized from the shop. As there was no seizure of any drugs from the shop he was unable to send any reply immediately. As he was away from Hyderabad for some time A-3 sent a reply asking for some time. Again on 3Oth October, 1968, P.W. 1 came and took his signatures on some more papers He did not read those papers and no copies were given to him.
(3.)The learned Magistrate acquitted the accused on the ground that the seizure of the drugs from the shop of the accused could not be said to be established in view of the failure of the prosecution to examine the panch witnesses. The learned Magistrate also held that there was failure to comply with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code relating to searches. The learned Magistrate also held that the Drugs Inspector was not justified in taking the signatures of A.2 on the panchanamas and the receipts. The State has preferred the present appeal.

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