G VENKATARAMARAO Vs. STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
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(1.)This criminal revision is filed against the Judgment in Crl.A.No. 142/90 dt. 3-12-90 on the file of the Sessions Judge, Guntur. This is a case of adulteration wherein the accused was convicted and punished for an offence under Sec.l6(l)(a)(i) read with Sec.7(i) and (2) (ia) and (m) of the P.F.A. Act. The learned Counsel for the petitioner relied upon a judgment of this Court in Abdul Gafoor vs. State of A.P. and contended that mixing a little of castor oil with groundnut oil doesnot amount to adulteration under Section 16(a)(i) but attracts Second proviso to Section 16. In that case the learned Judge held as follows:
"It is a matter of common knowledge that castor oil in limited doses is consumed though not as a drug. It can, therefore, safely be concluded that the second proviso to Section 16 is attracted to the facts of this case inasmuch as mixing a little quantity of castor oil with groundnut oil does not amount to adulteration within the meaning of Section 16(l)(a)(i) of the Act but such an adulteration comes only within the meaning of Section 16(l)(a)(ii) and is in respect of Rule 44(e)."
In the case of adulteration that is proved, the Court is bound to convict the accused for a minimum period of three months or six months depending upon the nature of the case. But if the above decision is applied, the possibility of convicting the accused under the main Section is completely ruled out and the benefit of Second Proviso to Sec.16 has to be given. If that is so, the very intention of the Legislature in making the provisions stringent is lost. Hence, this Court feels that the matter has to be decided by a Bench. Hence, the papers may be placed before My Lord the Chief Justice for orders regarding posting the matter before a Bench. This Crl.R.C. coming on for final hearing before the Hon'ble Sri Justice Sivaraman Nair and the Hon'ble Sri Justice Jagannadha Raju, finally on 28-1-1992, pursuant to the Order of reference of the Hon'ble Sri Justice Radha Krishna Rao, dt.24-9-91, upon perusing the said order dt.24-9-92 the Petition in Crl.R.C, the order of the Lower Court and the material papers connected thereto and upon hearing the arguments of the Counsel, appearing on behalf of the parties concerned, the Court delivered the following Judgment. JUDGMENT (Judgment of the Bench delivered by Sivaraman Nair, J.,) Is castor oil an edible oil and 'food' as defined in Section 2 (v) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act? Is its admixture with ground-nut oil an offence under Section 16 (l) (a) (i) or is it an offence only under Section 16 (l) (a) (ii) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. These questions arise in this criminal revision case which comes up before us on a reference by our learned brother Radhakrishna Rao, J. He could not persuade himself to agree with the finding in Abdul Gafoor vs. State of A.P. (1 supra) that castor oil is an edible oil and therefore the offence of admixture of castor oil with ground-nut oil and its sale as ground-nut oil is an offence punishable under Section 16 (l) (a) (ii) of the Act. Hence the reference.
(2.)The relevant facts which are not in dispute are the following: Petitioner was the accused in C.C.No.28/90, on the file of the Munsif Magistrate, Narasaraopet in Guntur district. On 22-9-89 at about 3.15 P.M. the Senior Food Inspector, Guntur, inspected the business premises of the accused known as M/s. Laxmi General Stores, Chejerla village, Nekarikal Mandal of Guntur District. The accused had groundnut oil for sale in his shop. The Food Inspector purchased a sample of 450 grams of groundnut oil on payment of its price of Rs.13/-, for sampling and analysis. The Public Analyst., Hyderabad, who analysed one of the samples sent up to him found traces of castor oil in that sample. He also found that some of the tests indicated that the ground nut oil did not conform to the standard requirements. Petitioner was prosecuted for an of fence under Section 16 (l) (a) (i) read with Section 7 (i) and Sec.2 (ia) (m) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The trial court found him guilty and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months and to pay a fine of Rs.5,000/-. Petitioner appealed to the Sessions Judge, Guntur, who affirmed the conviction as also the sentence of imprisonment. He however, reduced the cash penalty from Rs.5,000/- to Rs.2,000/-.
(3.)Counsel for the petitioner submits that castor oil is an edible oil as was found in Abdul Gafoor (1 supra) and as such, there was no adulteration as defined in Section 2 (ia) (m) of the Act. If there was no such adulteration, he submits that Section 16 (l) (a) (i) would not be attracted, since the prosecution had no case of misbranding within the meaning of Section 2 (ix) of the Act. He submits further that if Section 16 (l) (a) (i) was not attracted, the only offence would be contravention of Rule 44 (e) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, (for short, 'the Rules') which falls within Section 16 (l) (a) (ii) of the Act. it is his further submission that in that event, the second proviso to the section would apply and it was not obligatory to impose the minimum sentence of imprisonment for six months. He also submits that Ex.P.10 report of the Public Analyst indicates that the standard of the of fending article was tested otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of entry A.17.03 of the Appendix 'B' of the Rules and hence the report should not have been acted upon to hold the accused guilty.
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