FSSA – Limitation period – Madhya Pradesh High Court Dayachand vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh on 23 January, 2017

                         MCRC-10677-2016
              (DAYACHAND Vs THE STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH)


23-01-2017

     Shri Narendra Jain, Advocate for the applicant.
     Shri Amod Gupta, Panel Lawyer for the respondent/State.

With the consent of parties, the matter is heard finally. This petition has been preferred undersection 482 Cr.P.C. for quashment of the order dated 20.05.2016 passed by the A.S.J. Rehli, District Sagar in Sessions Trial No.233/2015, whereby the order dated 26.5.2015 passed by JMFC Garhakota, District Sagar, in Criminal Case No.467/2014 was set aside.

The learned JMFC has discharged the applicant for the offence under sections 26(2)(i), 26(2)(ii),31(2)(ii) read with section 51, 58, 59 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, on the ground that complaint was filed against the applicant after one year of the incident in contravention of the provision of section 77 of the Act, wherein one year maximum time limit is prescribed after the date of incident for taking cognizance of the offence under the Act.

Having considered the contention advanced by learned counsel for the parties and on perusal of record it appears that as per the complaint, the date of incident is 18.10.2013 on which sample of the food item was collected under the Act and thereafter complaint was filed on 24.11.2014 before the JMFC concerned. The JMFC took cognizance of the offence. Thereafter, the applicant on appearance before the Court concerned, filed an application stating that the order of cognizance is against the provisions of section 77 of the Act, hence the Court has no jurisdiction to prosecute him, hence he be discharged.

The learned revisional court has set aside the order of the learned JMFC on the ground that period of limitation will be counted from date of getting the report from the Food Analyst and after getting sanction for prosecution, i.e. 9.1.2014 and 2.6.2014 respectively. Accordingly, the complaint was filed within time.

After going through the record this Court is of the considered opinion that the findings arrived at by the learned revisional court is contrary to law. The provision of section 77 of the Act is very clear which reads as under :-

“77. Time limit for prosecutions.- Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, no court shall take cognizance of an offence under this Act after the expiry of the period of one year from the date of commission of an offence:

Provided that the Commissioner of Food Safety may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, approve prosecution within an extended period of upto three years”.

The limitation period is to be counted from the date of commission of the offence and not from the date of report of Food Analyst or from the date of sanction of prosecution. All these formalities are required to be completed within one year from the date of commission of the offence so that the accused may not be adversely affected.

The object of prescribing the period of limitation has been clarified by Hon’ble the Apex court in the case of State of Punjab Vs. Sarwan Singh, AIR 1981 SC 1054, wherein it is held that in putting a bar of limitation on prosecutions was clearly to prevent the parties from filing cases after a long time, as a result of which material evidence may disappear and also to prevent abuse of the process of the court by filing vexatious and belated prosecutions long after the date of the offence. The object which the statute seeks to subserve is clearly in consonance with the concept of fairness of trial as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that any prosecution, whether by the State or a private complainant must abide by the letter of law or take the risk of the prosecution failing on the ground of limitation.

In view of the aforesaid object of the provision of limitation, the learned JMFC has rightly accepted the objection of the applicant and discharged the applicant from the offence; contrary to it, the order passed by the learned revisional court is illegal and is not sustainable, as it amounts to miscarriage of justice. Hence, this petition is allowed and the impugned order dated 20.5.2016 passed by the revisional court is set aside. The order passed by learned JMFC is hereby affirmed.

With the aforesaid, this petition stands allowed and disposed of.

C.C. as per rules.

(J. P. GUPTA) JUDGE HS

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