PFA – HC of MP@ Jabalpur – M/S Alkem Laboratories Ltd Vs State of MP – Misbranded Jelly case – April 11-2018


 IN THE HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
       PRINCIPAL SEAT AT JABALPUR

         M.Cr.C.No.10083/2018

M/s Alkem Laboratories Limited
A company incorporated under the
provisions of the companies Act,
1956, having its registered office
at Alkem House, Senapati Bapat
Marg,    Lower     Parel,        
Mumbai-400013 and its depot at 5,
Indrapuri Colony, laxmi Nagar,
Indore, (M.P.)
Through its Authorized Signatory
Ms.     Divya    Melwani,        Deputy
General Manager of the applicant,
having    her    office     at       Alkem
Laboratories      Limited,           Alkem
House,    Senapati    Bapat          Marg,
Lower Parel, Mumbai - 400013
                                             ..........Petitioner
            Vs.
1.The State of Madhya Pradesh
through the Principal Secretary,
Public Health and Family Welfare,
Food and Drug Administration,
Idgah Hills, Bhopal,(M.P.).
                                                       2
                                                                                M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018



          2. The Food Inspector, Food and
          Drugs Administration,
          Upsanchalak
          Office, Bhopal, M.P.
                                                                          ..........Respondents
.................................................................................................................
Present: Hon'ble Shri Justice C.V. Sirpurkar
..................................................................................................................
          Shri Akshay Sapre, counsel with Shri Arun Siwach, counsel for
the petitioner.
          Shri Sharad Sharma, Government                              Advocate                for          the
respondent no.1/State.
................................................................................................................
                                              ORDER

(11-04-2018)

1. This miscellaneous criminal case has been instituted on an application under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. filed on behalf of petitioner/accused M/s. Alkem Laboratories Limited for quashing the order dated 01.09.2015 passed by the Court of Special Magistrate (Prevention of Food Adulteration Act), Bhopal in Criminal Case No.8208/2010, whereby the petitioner M/s. Alkem Laboratories Limited was directed to be arrayed as accused.

2. The facts giving rise to this miscellaneous criminal case may briefly be stated thus: Adline E. Panna, Food Inspector, Food and Drugs Administration, District-Bhopal inspected the establishment of Valecha enterprises, shop no.11, Patel Market, Bhopal (accused no.1) at about 03:00 p.m. on 03.10.2008.

M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 Packed food articles Orange Tammy Sugarless Jelly (hereinafter referred to in this order as “the Jelly”) was found displayed therein for sale. Since, the Food Inspector doubted the purity of the food article, she proposes to buy the same for the purpose of testing. The seller accepted the proposal. Accordingly, she purchased three company packed jars of Jelly weighing 350 grams each. Following label was affixed at those jars. “Batch No.-TMJO-8181B, dt. of manufacturing Mfd. By- Cachet Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. C-582, Rico Industrial Area- Bhilwadi-301019, Rajasthan. Mktd. by -Alkem Health Foods (A Division of Alkem Labs Ltd.) Alkem House, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai-400013”. The seller failed to produce any receipt regarding the purchase of the articles by him from the marketer and stated that he would file the receipt later in the Officer of Food Inspector. Other formalities as per the provisions of the Food Adulteration Act and Rules were observed and the sample was sent to the Public Analyst for examination. The Local Health Authority, by its letter dated 26.11.2008 informed that the sample of the Jelly was misbranded. Consequently, the letter was sent to Seller Dinesh Valecha for producing food licence and receipt of the purchase of the jelly from any marketer or manufacturer. Pursuant to aforesaid letter, accused Dinesh Valecha produced the food licence and receipt for purchase of Jelly from M/s Alkem Laboratories Limited, 5 Indrapuri Colony, Laxmi Nagar, Indore, (M.P.). Subsequently, the Food Inspector sent a letter to the Local Health Authority, Bhopal and to petitioner M/s M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 Alkem Laboratories Limited, Indore for providing information regarding Manager/Director/Partner or nominee of the laboratories. However, no response was received from either. Consequently, a reminder was sent but to no avail and the original letter was received back in the office. Later, the Food Inspector sent a letter to the Office of the Deputy Director, Food and Drugs Administration, Indore for obtaining information regarding petitioner M/s Alkem Laboratories Limited and for providing food licence of the establishment but no information was received. She also tried to obtain information regarding petitioner M/s Alkem Laboratories Limited from Commissioner, Nagar Nigam, Indore; however, she failed to obtain any information. Consequently, a complaint was filed in the Court of JMFC (Municipal Corporation), Bhopal against co-accused Dinesh Valecha for the offence punishable under Sections 2 (ix) (g), 7 (ii) read with section 16 (1) (a) (ii) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (hereinafter referred to in this order as “the Act”).

3. During the course of the trial, statement of Food Inspector, Adline E. Panna was recorded by the trial Court on 21.09.2011. The prosecution evidence was closed on 18.08.2015 and the case was fixed for defence evidence. Accused Dinesh Valecha examined himself under Section 315 of the Cr.P.C. as a witness. On 26.08.2014, accused Dinesh Valecha moved an application under Section 20A of the Act praying that petitioner M/s. Alkem Laboratories Limited be M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 arrayed as accused in the case as they were manufacturer/distributor of the Jelly. Petitioner M/s. Alkem Laboratories Limited appeared before the trial Court through its counsel and challenged the order dated 01.09.2015 by way of this petition under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. before the High Court.

4. The order dated 01.09.2015 and consequent arraignment of petitioner M/s. Alkem Laboratories Limited as accused has been challenged by the learned counsel for the petitioner in this petition mainly on the following grounds:-

(i) It has been argued that the petitioner is not the manufacturer of the offending jelly. He was merely a marketer of the same; therefore, he was not privy to the ingredients of the food items. Under these circumstances; therefore, for want of mens rea, he cannot be held liable for the sale of misbranded food articles.

(ii) On account of negligence and deliberate omission on the part of the prosecution, the petitioner was denied his statutory right under Section 13 (2) of the Act.

(iii) The impugned order was illegal and bad in law as the provisions of Section 20A of the Act were inapplicable to the facts of the case.

(iv) There was inordinate delay in arraignment the petitioner as an accused defeating the ends of justice; therefore, it has been prayed that the impugned order be set- aside and complaint, qua the petitioner M/s. Alkem Laboratories Limited, be quashed.

M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018

5. Learned Government Advocate for the respondent State has supported the impugned order and has contended that no case has been made for setting aside the same and quashing the complaint qua the petitioner.

6. A perusal of the documents filed along with the petition and upon due consideration of the rival contentions, this Court is of the view that this petition under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. must fail for the reasons hereinafter stated:

7. It is settled position of law that the High Court may exercise its inherent powers under Section 226of the Constitution of India or section 482 of the Cr.P.C. and may interfere in the proceedings relating to the cognizable offences to prevent abuse of process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. However, the powers should be exercised sparingly and that too in rarest of the rare cases. ( State of Haryana Vs. Bhajanlal, AIR 1992 SC 604). It is true that the Supreme Court clarified in the case of Som Mittal Vs. Government of Karnataka, AIR 2008 SC 1528, that words “rarest of rare cases” merely emphasize what is intended to be convened by words “sparingly and with circumspection”. Expression “rarest of the rare cases” is not used in the sense in which it is used with reference to capital punishment for the offences punishable under Section 302 of the IPC. However, it is manifest that power is not to be used in a routine manner but has to be used sparingly and with due care and circumspection.

8. After a very broad elucidation of the scope of inherent powers reserved to the High Court by virtue of Section 482 of M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 the Cr.P.C., the Court shall proceed to examine arguments advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioner one by one.

9. The first argument that has been advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioner, (though, it does not find mention in the written arguments) is that the petitioner was merely a marketer (distributor) of the offending jelly. It is clear from the complaint itself that the label upon the offending jelly mentioned in clear terms that the food article was manufactured by Cachet Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd., C-582 RICO Industrial Area, Bhilwadi-301019 (Rajasthan). It also explicitly mentioned that the food article was merely marketed by Alkem Health Foods (A Division of Alkem Labs Ltd.) Alkem House, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai

-400013. Thus, the offending food article was not manufactured by the petitioner M/s. Alkem Laboratories Limited. It was merely distributed by the petitioner in a packed and sealed condition to the vendor Valecha Enterprises. As such, the petitioner was not privy to ingredients of the food articles; therefore, for want of mens rea, he cannot be held responsible for any misbranding, for which only the manufacturer can be held liable.

10. Section 7 of the Act prohibits manufacture for sale, storage, sale or distribution of misbranded food, which reads as hereunder:

7. Prohibition of manufacture, sale, etc. of certain articles of food.–No person shall himself or by any person on his behalf manufacture for sale, or store, sell or distribute–

(i) any adulterated food;

(ii) any misbranded food;

M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018

(iii) any article of food for the sale of which a licence is prescribed, except in accordance with the conditions of the licence;

(iv) any article of food the sale of which is for the time being prohibited by the Food (Health) Authority in the interest of public health;

(v) any article of food in contravention of any other provision of this Act or of any rule made thereunder;

(vi) any adulterant.

Explanation.–For the purposes of this section, a person shall be deemed to store any adulterated food or misbranded food or any article of food referred to in clause (iii) or clause (iv) or clause (v) if he stores such food for the manufacture therefrom of any article of food for sale.

11. Section 19 of the Act specifies the defenses, which may or may not be allowed in any prosecution under the Act. For ready reference, Section 19 is being reproduced herein below:

19. Defences which may or may not be allowed in prosecutions under this Act.–(1) It shall be no defence in a prosecution for an offence pertaining to the sale of any adulterated or misbranded article of food to allege merely that the vendor was ignorant of the nature, substance or quality of the food sold by him or that the purchaser having purchased any article for analysis was not prejudiced by the sale. (2) A vendor shall not be deemed to have committed an offence pertaining to the sale of any adulterated or misbranded article of food if he proves–

(a) that he purchased the article of food–

(i) in a case where a licence is prescribed for the sale thereof, from a duly licensed manufacturer, distributor or dealer;

(ii) in any other case, from any manufacturer, distributor or dealer, with a written warranty in the prescribed form; and

(b) that the article of food while in his possession was properly stored and that he sold it in the same state as he purchased it.] (3) Any person by whom a warranty as is referred to in Section 14 is alleged to have been given shall be entitled to appear at the hearing and give evidence.

12. While examining and upholding the vires of Sections 710 and 19 of the Act, a three judges Bench of Supreme Court in the case of Andhra Pradesh Food and Grains Merchant Association etc. Vs. Union of India and others, AIR 1971 SC 2346 has held that: (a) The Act does not make mens rea an ingredient of the offence. Ordinarily, for the protection of the liberty of a citizen, in the definition of offences, blame-worthy mental M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 condition is made an ingredient: but in Acts enacted to deal with a grave social evil or for ensuring public welfare especially in offences against health, it is often found necessary in the larger public interest to provide for imposition of liability without proof of a guilty mind. If from the scheme of an Act, it appears that compliance with the regulatory provisions will be promoted by imposing such absolute liability and that it cannot otherwise be reasonably ensured, the court will be justified in holding that the restriction on the right of the trader is in the interest of the general public. Adulteration and misbranding of food is a rampant evil in our country. The channels of supply and the movement of goods from trader to trader, and fertile sources of adulteration and misbranding, make it extremely difficult in a large majority of cases to establish affirmatively that storage or sale of adulterated or misbranded food-stuffs was with a guilty mind. Therefore, a statute calculated to control that evil is in the interest of the general public and merely because it makes a departure from the normal structure of statutes enunciating offences and prescribing punishments, the restrictions on traders will not be deemed unreasonable. The defenses set out in s. 19(2) are open to the vendor and the act does not dispense with proof that the article of food is adulterated, misbranded or that its sale is prohibited: it only enacts that a vendor selling adulterated and misbranded articles of food cannot merely plead that he was ignorant of the nature and quality of the goods. (d) Under s. 19(2) if the vendor has obtained the article of food from a licensed manufacturer, distributor or dealer or from a manufacturer, distributor or dealer with a warranty, he is protected, provided he has properly stored the article and sold it in the same state M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 as he purchased it, even if it turns out to be adulterated or misbranded. By merely opening the container the article of food does not cease to be in the same state in which the vendor purchased it. Therefore, the vendor will not lose the protection of the sub-section merely because he opens the container.

13. Likewise, a co-ordinate bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Gujrat Cooperative milk Marketing Federation Ltd. Versus State of Punjab and others (CRM M-12559 of 2011 (O&M) Dt. September 07, 2012), in similar factual back-drop has held that:

“Now coming to the first contention of the learned counsel, it is appropriate at the outset to consider Section 14 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act,1954 (for short, ‘the Act’) and then Section 14-Aof the Act, Section 20-A of the Act and the provisions of Section 2 of the Act. The expression ‘misbranded’ is defined under clause (ix) of Section 2 of the Act. Clause (ix) contains as many as 11 sub-clauses . As per the said provision, an article of food shall be deemed to be misbranded, if it is sold in packages, which have been sealed or prepared by or at the instance of the manufacturer or producer and which bear his name and address, the contents of each package are not conspicuously and correctly stated on the outside thereof within the limits of variability prescribed under the Act and when a package containing it or the label on the package bears any statement, design or device regarding the ingredients or the substances contained therein, which is false or misleading in any material particular or package is otherwise deceptive with respect to its contents or if the package containing it or the label on the package bears the name of a fictitious individual or company as the manufacturer or the producer of the article etc., If the necessary particulars, as enjoined under Rule 32 of the Rules, are lacking on the label affixed to the package as per Section 2 (ix) of the Act, it is a misbranded food item. It may be reiterated that the allegation against the petitioners and others is that label is conspicuously absent in the necessary particulars as enjoined under Rule 32 (e) of the Rules and is, therefore, misbranded as opined by the public analyst.

Here in the instant case, the vendor, the marketeer and the manufacturer have been impleaded as accused simultaneously. Section 7 of the Act prohibits expressly that no person shall manufacture for sale or store, sell or distribute any adulterated food or any misbranded food. It is obvious in the said provision that the prohibitions equally apply to the manufacturer, seller, the person who stores or distributes any adulterated food or misbranded food. Violation of Section 7 of theM.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 Act is punishable under Section 16 of the Act. Under Section 14 of the Act, the manufacturer, distributor or dealer is obliged to give the vendor a warranty in writing in the prescribed form about the nature and quality of the article sold to the vendor. Under Section 14-A of the Act, every vendor is obliged to disclose to the Food Inspector, the name, address and other particulars of the person from whom he purchased the article of food. While Section 14 of the Act is meant to protect the ultimate vendors before the food reaches a consumer, Section 14-A of the Act mandates the vendor to furnish the particulars of the person from whom he purchased the article of food. Section 14 of the Act, which protects the interest of the ultimate vendor, is obviously not in the nature of excluding the dealer or the manufacturer from the purview of the Act, nor it is in the nature of carving out an exception in favour of the manufacturer or the dealer. In the case of Bhagwan Das Jagdish Chander V. Delhi Administration, AIR 1975 SC 1309, it was held in paras 12 and 13 thus:

“12. We are not impressed by the argument that a distributor could only be prosecuted for selling without giving a warranty to a vendor which is a separate offence under Section 14of the Act. It is clear from Section 14 itself that a manufacturer as well as a distributor can sell. The definition of Sale, given in sub- section (xiii) of the Act, is wide enough to include every kind of seller. Every seller can be prosecuted of an offence created by Section 7 of the Act which prohibits a sale as well as distribution of an adulterated article of food. The mere fact that, for the purposes of Section 14, the person who could be the last seller, in the sense that he sells to the actual consumer, is described as the vendor, could not affect a liability for an offence under Section 7 of the Act of a sale of an article of food which is found to be adulterated. A sale of an article of food by a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer is a distinct and separable offence. Section 14 was not meant to carve out an exemption in favour of a distributor or a manufacturer who sells articles of food, found to be adulterated, irrespective of the question whether any warranty was given for them. It is true that the manufacture of an adulterated article of food for sale is also an offence under Section 7 of the Act. But, neither Section 7 nor Section 14 of the Act bars trial of several offences by the same accused person, be he a manufacturer, a distributor, or a last seller, referred to as the vendor in Section 14 of the Act.

13. We are also unable to accept as correct a line of reasoning found in V.N. Chokra v. State1 and Food Inspector, Palghat Municipality v. Seetharam Rice & Oil Mills; and in P.B. Kurup v. Food Inspector, Malappuram Panchayat, that, in every case under the Act, there has to be initially a prosecution of a particular seller only, but those who may have passed on or sold the adulterated article of food to the vendor, who is being prosecuted, could only be brought in subsequently after a warranty set up under Section 19(2) has been pleaded and shown to be substantiated. Support was sought for such a view by referring to the special provisions of Section 20-A and Section 19(2) and Section 20 of the Act. A reason for Section 20-A seems to be that the prosecution of a person impleaded as an accused under Section 20-A in the course of a trial does not require a separate sanction. Section 20-A itself lays down that, where the Court trying the offence is itself satisfied that a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer is also concerned with an M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 offence, for which an accused is being tried, the necessary sanction to prosecute will be deemed to have been given.

Another reason seems to be that such a power enables speedy trial of the really guilty parties. We are in agreement with the view of the Delhi High Court that these special provisions do not take away or derogate from the effect of the ordinary provisions of the law which enable separate as well as joint trials of accused persons in accordance with the provisions of the old Sections 233 to 239 of Criminal Procedure Code. On the other hand, there seems no logically sound reason why, if a distributor or a manufacturer can be subsequently impleaded, under Section 20-A of the Act, he cannot be joined as a co- accused initially in a joint trial if the allegations made justify such a course.”

Section 14 of the Act, therefore, shall have to be understood in proper perspective for which reference is necessary to Section 19 of the Act. Section 19 of the Act enumerates the defences that can be taken validly by an accused. No defence can be taken by the vendor about his ignorance of the nature, substance or quality of the food sold by him. However, it also simultaneously takes care of the ultimate vendor, who innocently purchases the food item from a dealer or manufacturer. Therefore, it is open to him to take the defence under a written warranty from the manufacturer, distributor or a dealer in the prescribed form that the article of food while in his possession was properly stored and that he sold it in the same state as he purchased it. Such a defence, if is proved, would absolve him from the penal consequences of the Act. Thus, Sections 14 and 19 of the Act, if read together, make it crystal clear that they are meant to protect the interests of the ultimate vendor, who in turn purchased innocently the article of food, which eventually found to be adulterated or misbranded from any manufacturer, distributor or dealer. At the same time, the provisions tell us that they are not in the nature of allowing the manufacturer, distributor or a dealer to escape from the liability with impunity. Section 14 A states that every vendor of an article of food shall, if so required, disclose to the food inspector, the name, address and other particulars of the person from whom he purchased the article of food. The form VII clearly indicates that on package details about the petitioners are mentioned as required under Rule 32 of the Rules. Section 20-A of the Act is the provision which enables the Court to implead, during the course of the trial of any offences under the Act, the alleged manufacturer, distributor or dealer of any article of food, which is eventually found to be adulterated or misbranded. The stage for such impleading is laid down under the Act specifically, which is obviously the stage of evidence during the course of trial. That does not mean that always and at all times the manufacturer, distributor or dealer shall be impleaded only at a later point of time, but not simultaneously along with the ultimate vendor. Section 20-A of the Act can be invoked only when the manufacturer, distributor or dealer has not been impleaded initially and it has come to light in the evidence during the course of trial, the details about such manufacturer, distributor or dealer of the food article, which is eventually found to be adulterated or misbranded. An overview of these provisions and the scheme of the Act clearly tell us that the vendor, the manufacturer or the distributor or the dealer can simultaneously be prosecuted. In view of clear legal position discernible from a combined reading of the provisions M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 and the scheme of the Act, it requires to be seen what is the material that warrants the inclusion of the manufacturer or distributor or dealer or all of them together along with the vendor in a complaint filed by the Govt. Food Inspector alleging either adulteration or misbranding of the article in question. In the absence of the warranty, which is obliged to be given by the manufacturer, distributor or dealer to the vendor, it does not mean that no such person can be legitimately prosecuted. What is required is the evidence, which links or connects the manufacturer, distributor or dealer with the food article, which has been eventually purchased by the Food Inspector from the vendor in his shop. In the instant case, as can be seen from its matrix, a label is affixed on the packet containing ice cream. That label is obliged to be affixed on the packet in accordance with Rule 32 of the Rules. That label contains the address particulars of the manufacturer and marketeer, other particulars as are required under Rule 32 (e) of the Rules. Prima facie those particulars constitute the necessary material to connect the manufacturer and the marketeer i.e petitioners in this case, to the offence along with the vendor. If there is any written warranty with the vendor and if he is able to show before the Court that he stored the food article purchased under that warranty in a good condition and kept it in the same condition before it was purchased by the Food Inspector, he would be exonerated from the liability. In the absence of any such warranty, he cannot take any such valid defence as is allowable under Section 19of the Act. But, insofar as the manufacturer or distributor or dealer is concerned, once the article of food is shown to be adulterated, they cannot escape the liability until they are able to show before the Court that the food article which has been sold by them, or anyone of them has not been kept in the same condition when it was sold to the vendor and therefore the adulteration or misbranding must be at the point of the vendor. Thus, the defences to be taken by the vendor, the manufacturer, the distributor or dealer, as the case may be, would ultimately fix the liability on any one of them. This is obvious from the provisions of the Act, as discussed herein above. Therefore, the contention that as much as Sarbjit Singh accused represented before the GFI that the product was delivered at his doorstep and he had no purchase bill would not warrant any exoneration of petitioners on that premise. Till such time it is shown before the Court that the container which contains the label and the particulars mentioned on the label are not accurate or false and that the food article found therein is not the article manufactured, distributed or sold to the vendor, the manufacturer, distributor and dealer, cannot legitimately contend before the Court that they cannot be prosecuted along with the vendor.”

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14. In the opinion of this Court, complete answer to the argument advanced on behalf of the petitioner is to be found in the judgment rendered by the Supreme Court in the case of Andhra Pradesh Food and Grains Merchant (supra) and Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Gujrat Cooperative milk Marketing Federation Ltd. Accordingly, regardless of whether the petitioner was privy to ingredients of the offending jelly, whether he had any mens rea in selling that jelly or not, he shall be held liable for misbranding by virtue of Section 7 of the Act, validity whereof, has been upheld by the Supreme Court; therefore, the first argument advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioner is not acceptable.

15. The next argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the sample was taken on 03.10.2008 and the petitioner M/s Alkem Laboratories Limited was arrayed as accused on 01.09.2015, i.e., almost 7 years later. After the receipt of report of the Public Analyst, the Local Health Authority failed to forward the copy of the report of the result of the analysis to the petitioner; thus, the valuable right of the petitioner to get the sample of the article of food kept by Local Health Authority analyzed by the Central Food Laboratory, was defeated. Inviting attention of this Court in this regard to the judgments rendered by the Supreme Court in the cases of Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs. Ghasi Ram, AIR 1967 SC 970, Medicamen Biotech Limited and another Vs. M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 Rubina Bose (2008) 7 SCC 196 and Rameshwar Dayal Vs. State of U.P, passed in Criminal Appeal No.231/1981 dated 30.04.1992, judgments rendered by coordinate benches of this Court in the cases of Prahlad Gattani and four others Vs. State of M.P., order dated 22.03.2012 passed in M.Cr.C.No.12665/2011 and M/s. R. Jagdish Tea Company Vs. State of M.P. and anr., 2015 Cr.L.J. 3400 and in the case of Rohit Mull and Cadbury India Limited Vs. State of Goa, 2006 Vol. 108 (1) Bombay Law Reporter 0350, it has been argued that since the aforesaid valuable right of the petitioner under Section 13 (2) of the Act has been defeated by the prosecution, proceedings against the petitioner are liable to be quashed.

16. There can be no doubt with regard to the proposition of law that the right provided to an accused under Section 13 (2) of the Act is an extremely valuable right; however, the question to be considered in the case at hand is whether that right is available in the case of misbranding of food articles without there being any adulteration involved? It may be noted in this regard that the petitioner is proposed to be prosecuted only for misbranding of the offending jelly. There is no allegation that the transgression involving adulteration as well.

17. Sections 13 (1) and (2) of the Act read as hereunder:

13. Report of Public Analyst.–1[(1) The Public Analyst shall deliver, in such form as may be prescribed, a report to the Local (Health) Authority of the result of the analysis of any article of food submitted to him for analysis.

(2) On receipt of the report of the result of the analysis under sub-section (1) to the effect that the article of food is adulterated, the Local (Health) Authority shall, after the institution of prosecution against the person from whom the sample of the article of food was taken and the person, if any, whose name, address and other particulars have been M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 disclosed under Section 14-A, forward, in such manner as may be prescribed, a copy of the report of the result of the analysis to such person or persons, as the case may be, informing such person or persons that if it is so desired, either or both of them may make an application to the court within a period of ten days from the date of receipt of the copy of the report to get the sample of the article of food kept by the Local (Health) Authority analysed by the Central Food Laboratory.

(emphasis supplied)

18. A bare reading of sub-section (2) of Section 13 reveals that aforesaid right of an accused to get the second sample of the article of food kept by Local Health Authority, analyzed by the Central Food Laboratories is valuable only where a public analyst has found that the article of the food was adulterated. This right is not available where the article was merely misbranded. Accordingly, in the opinion of this Court, the right provided under sub-section (2) of Section 13 of the Act was not available to the petitioner M/s Alkem Laboratories Limited at all. This proposition of law is fortified by views taken earlier by coordinate Benches of this Court in the cases of Indrajeet Walia Vs. Food Inspector (order dated 18.12.2014 passed in M.Cr.C.No.993/2012) and M/s. Sai Enterprises Vs. State of M.P. (Order dated 24.10.2017 passed in M.Cr.C.No.2017/2015).

19. In the case of Indrajeet Walia (supra) a coordinate Bench of this Court has held as follows:

“However, the principles laid down in the judgments referred to above, are not applicable in this case, as the sample was only found misbranded and not adulterated. Under Section 13 of the Act, only when the samples were found adulterated, the report of public analyst was sent to the accused after filing of the complaint. The provision of Section 13 of the Act do not apply on the sample if found misbranded, and, therefore, no right given to the accused under Section 13(2) of the Act is violated in the present case.”

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20. In the case of Sai Enterprises (supra), it has been held that:

However, with respect to the allegations of misbranding, the contentions advanced by the learned counsel for the applicant in terms of Section 13 (2) of the Act of 1954 are not acceptable for the reason that the valuable right so provided under Section 13 (2) of the Act of 1954 is irrelevant with respect to the charge of misbranding because in the instant case, there is a prima facie case made out against the applicant from the perusal of the complaint that the complete name and address of the manufacturing or packaging Unit has not been provided on the cover of the seized article. In this regard, perusal of Para 8 of Annexure P-2 would be relevant. At this stage, it would also be relevant to consider the decision taken by a Co-ordinate Bench of this Court in the case of Indrajeet Walia v. Food Inspector, MCRC No. 993/2012 decided on 18.12.2014 (Indore Bench), wherein it was categorically held that the provisions of Section 13 (2) of the Act of 1954, do not apply on the sample, if found misbranded, and, therefore, no right is given to the Accused under section 13(2) of the Act of 1954.

21. In aforesaid view of the matter, it is clear that the right under Section 13 (2) of the Act, valuable or otherwise, was not available to the petitioner in the present case. Thus, there is no question of violation of any such right; therefore, this argument is also not sustainable.

22. Another argument that has been advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioner is that there was inordinate delay in institution of the prosecution because it was instituted qua the petitioner almost 7 years after the sample was taken. In this regard, he has invited attention of the Court to the judgments rendered by the Supreme Court in the cases of State of M.P. Vs. Shiv Kumar, (2011 (1) FAC 41), Prahlad Gattani (supra) and M/s. R. Jagdish Tea Company (supra). It may be noted; however, that none of the aforesaid cases relate solely to mis- branding of food articles, as the present case is. In those cases, the adulteration of food articles was involved; therefore, the M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 Courts held that the delay, in the facts and circumstances of those cases, had defeated the valuable right of the accused under Section 13 (2) of the Act. However, as held in preceding paragraphs, in the present case, no such right is available to the petitioner; therefore, the delay would not cause any prejudice to the petitioner, so far as his defence is concerned. Therefore, this argument is also not acceptable.

23. Another argument that has been advanced is that the criminal proceedings cannot be set in motion as a matter of course. It has been contended that in the complaint, the Food Inspector had elected to prosecute only the vendor Valecha Enterprises. No prosecution was sought against the present petitioner; therefore, the impleadment of the petitioner 5 years after the filing of the complaint and that too at the instance of co-accused (Vendor) is liable to be quashed.

24. A perusal of the complaint reveals that the complainant Food Inspector was convinced that the present petitioner M/s Alkem Laboratories Limited must also be arrayed as accused; therefore, she tried her best to obtain the address of the present petitioner so that it could also be arrayed as accused in the complaint. For this purpose, she had also written to the present petitioner on their registered address; however, her repeated attempts in this regard addressed to the petitioner as well as to other authorities failed; therefore, probably because the filing of complaint was getting delayed, she ultimately filed the complaint without impleading the petitioner as accused. In these circumstances, if the Court has taken cognizance of the offence M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 against the petitioner, it cannot be said that it is abuse of process of Court or any injustice has been caused to the petitioner.

25. The last argument that has been advanced is that the petitioner has been impleaded contrary to essential conditions prescribed under Section 20A of the Act and is; therefore, bad in law. It has been submitted that the provisions of Section 20A of the Act can be invoked only where the evidence adduced before the trial Court satisfactorily indicates that the manufacturer, distributor or dealer of the article of food is concerned with the offence charged in the complaint. It has been contended that in the present case, it cannot be said that on the basis of testimony of vendor Dinesh Valecha any case is made out. Moreover, the enabling power under Section 20A of the Act has not been exercised suo muto or at the instance of the prosecution but at the instance of the co-accused. In this regard, learned counsel for the petitioner has invited attention of the Court to the judgment passed by this Court in the case of Dammani Brothers Vs. State of M.P., (2016) SCC Online MP 4524; wherein, it has been held that as per section 20A of the Act, the Court can implead a manufacturer, distributor of dealer only on the basis of evidence adduced before it during the trial. Since the accused no.1 has adduced no evidence during the trial, the essential conditions prescribed under Section 20A of the Act have not been met.

26. Section 20A of the Act is herein below reproduced:

M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018 20-A. Power of court to implead manufacturer, etc.–Where at any time during the trial of any offence under this Act alleged to have been committed by any person, not being the manufacturer, distributor or dealer of any article of food, the court is satisfied, on the evidence adduced before it, that such manufacturer, distributor or dealer is also concerned with that offence, then, the court may, notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (3) of Section 319 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), or in Section 20 proceed against him as though a prosecution had been instituted against him under Section

20.

27. Plain reading of Section 20A reveals that where the Court is satisfied, on the evidence adduced before it that the manufacturer, distributor or dealer is also concerned with the offence being tried before it, it may proceed against any of them as though prosecution had been instituted against such persons under Section 20. The enabling power under Section 20A of the Act is granted to the Court. The Court may exercise it suo moto. However, there is no bar to exercise of such power at the instance either the prosecution or the co-accused. All that is required is that the conditions as specified in the section must be fulfilled to the satisfaction of the Court. Again, there is no requirement that such satisfaction has to be reached only on the basis of evidence adduced by the party making such application (in this case the co-accused). The Court may be satisfied on the basis of material filed earlier along with the evidence adduced during the trial by either of the parties. Thus, the arguments that the satisfaction was not reached on the basis of evidence adduced by the co-accused is fallacious. At any rate, this argument is factually incorrect because the copy of order sheet dated 18.08.2015 (filed by the petitioner himself) reveals that co-accused Dinesh Valecha had examined himself under Section 315 of the Cr.P.C. Thus, this argument is also not acceptable.

M.Cr.C.No.10883/2018

28. On the basis of foregoing discussions, the Court is of the view that the petitioner has failed to make out any ground on the basis of which it may be assumed that inherent powers of the High Court under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. must be exercised in this case either to prevent abuse of process of Court or otherwise to secure ends of justice.

29. Consequently, this petition under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. filed on behalf of petitioner M/s. Alkem Laboratories Limited deserves to be and is accordingly dismissed.

(C.V.Sirpurkar)

Judge

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PFA – HC of Himachal Pradesh – CRP – Sanjay Kumar Vs State of HP – Misbranded ‘Petha’ case – April-6-2018

IN THE HIGH COURT OF HIMACHAL PRADESH, SHIMLA .

Cr. Revision No. 41 of 2008.

Judgment reserved on: 02.04.2018.

Date of decision: 6th April, 2018.

     Sanjay Kumar                                                      .......Petitioner.

                                       Versus


     State of Himachal Pradesh                                       ......Respondent.

     Coram

The Hon’ble Mr. Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, Judge.

For the Petitioner : Mr.Satyen Vaidya, Senior Advocate with Mr.Vivek Sharma, Advocate.

For the Respondent : Mr.Vinod Thakur, Additional Advocate General with Mr.Bhupinder Thakur, Deputy Advocate General.

Tarlok Singh Chauhan, Judge .

Aggrieved by the judgments of conviction and sentence passed by the learned Judicial Magistrate Ist Class, Theog, on 14.08.2007/25.08.2007 and affirmed by the learned Sessions Judge, Shimla, on 13.02.2008, the petitioner has filed the instant revision petition under Section 397 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (for short ‘Code’).

2. On a complaint having been filed by the Food Inspector, the petitioner was tried for an offence punishable under Section 16(1)

(a) (i) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (for short ‘Act’). It was alleged therein that on 11.11.2005 at about 10.30 a.m., the Food Inspector/Complainant (for short ‘Complainant’) inspected the shop of the petitioner i.e. shop ‘M/s Sood Brothers, Chhailla’ and found the Whether the reporters of the local papers may be allowed to see the Judgment?Yes petitioner conducting the business of the shop as a proprietor thereof. He was having 4×500 grams poly packs of ‘Gupta Special Agra Petha’ .on counter kept for sale to the general public. It was thereafter averred that the complainant after disclosing his identity issued notice, declaring his intention to take sample of ‘Petha’ for the purpose of analysis. Thereafter, the complainant purchased 3×500 grams poly packs of ‘Petha’ on cash payment of Rs.60/- and ‘Petha’ so purchased was separately labelled and wrapped into a thick paper.

3. After completing the requisite formalities, the complainant prepared the spot map in the presence of the witnesses Raj Kumar and Ashok Kumar. The sample was thereafter sent to the Public Analyst, Kandaghat and the same on examination was found to be misbranded as the month and year in which the product had been manufactured or packed and the month and year upto which the product was best for consumption had not been mentioned on the label. The complainant after obtaining sanction to launch prosecution against the petitioner filed the complaint before the learned trial Magistrate, who vide his judgment dated 14.08.2007/25.08.2007 convicted the petitioner and sentenced him to undergo simple imprisonment for six months and pay fine of Rs.1,000/- under Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act and in case of failure to pay the fine, the petitioner was ordered to suffer further simple imprisonment for one month.

4. The petitioner being aggrieved filed an appeal before the learned Sessions Judge, Shimla, but the same came to be dismissed vide judgment dated 13.02.2008. It is against both these judgments that the petitioner has filed the instant revision petition on the ground that the findings recorded by the learned Courts below are totally perverse and, therefore, not sustainable in the eyes of law.

.

5. It is vehemently argued by Shri Satyen Vaidya, Senior Advocate assisted by Shri Vivek Sharma, Advocate that the findings recorded by the learned Courts below are totally perverse as the same are not based on correct appreciation of evidence and the provisions of law and are, therefore, deserve to be set aside. Whereas, on the other hand, learned Additional Advocate General r would contend that the findings rendered by the learned Courts below being strictly in conformity with law and based on correct appreciation of evidence do not call for any interference.

I have heard the learned counsel for the parties and have gone through the records of the case.

6. However, before I deal with the contentions put-forth by the learned Senior counsel for the petitioner, it would be necessary to delineate the scope and power of this Court whi le dealing with revision petition of the instant kind.

7. At the outset, it may be observed that the revisionary jurisdiction of this Court under Section 397Cr.P.C. is extremely limited and this Court would only interfere in case the petitioner has been convicted and sentenced by examining the material placed on record with a view to ascertain that the judgments so rendered by the learned Courts below are not perverse and are based on the correct appreciation of evidence on record. This Court would definitely interfere in case it comes to the conclusion that there is a failure of justice and misuse of judicial mechanism or procedure or where the sentence awarded is not correct. After all, it is the salutary duty of this Court to prevent the abuse of justice or miscarriage of justice or/and correct irregularities, incorrectness committed by the inferior Criminal Court in .

its judicial process or illegality of sentence or order. This Court has very limited revisionary jurisdiction as held by this Court in Criminal Revision No. 50 of 2011, titled as Rajinder Singh vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, decided on 13.9.2017, wherein the scope of criminal revision has been delineated in the following manner:-

In Amur Chand Agrawal vs. Shanti Bose and another, AIR 1973 SC 799, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that the revisional jurisdiction should normally be exercised in exceptional cases when there is a glaring defect in the proceedings or there is a manifest error of point of law and consequently there has been a flagrant miscarriage of justice.

In State of Orissa vs. Nakula Sahu, AIR 1979, SC 663, the Hon’ble Supreme Court after placing reliance upon a large number of its earlier judgments including Akalu Aheer vs. Ramdeo Ram, AIR 1973, SC 2145, held that the powe r, being discretionary, has to be exercised judiciously and not arbitrarily or lightly. The Court held that “judicial discretion, as has often been said, means a discretion which is informed by tradition methodolised by analogy and discipline by system”.

In Pathumma and another vs. Muhammad, AIR 1986, SC 1436, the Hon’ble Apex Court observed that High Court “committed an error in making a re-assessment of the evidence” as in its revisional jurisdiction it was “not justified in substituting its own view for that of the learned Magistrate on a question of fact”.

In Bansi Lal and others vs. Laxman Singh, AIR 1986 SC 1721, the legal position regarding scope of revisional jurisdiction was summed up by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the following terms:

“It is only in glaring cases of injustice resulting from some violation of fundamental principles of law by the trial court, that the High Court is empowered to set aside the order of the acquittal and direct a re-trial of the acquitted accused. From the very nature of this power it should be exercised sparingly and with great care and caution. The mere circumstance that a finding of fact recorded by the trial court may in the opinion of the High Court be wrong, will not justify the setting aside of the .

order of acquittal and directing a re-trial of the accused. Even in an appeal, the Appellate Court would not be justified in interfering with an acquittal merely because it was inclined to differ from the findings of fact reached by the trial Court on the appreciation of the evidence. The revisional power of the High Court is much more restricted in its scope.”

In Ramu @ Ram Kumar vs. Jagannath, AIR 1991, SC 26, Hon’ble Supreme court cautioned the revisional Courts not to lightly exercise the revisional jurisdiction at the behest of a private complainant.

In State of Karnataka vs. Appu Balu, AIR 1993, SC 1126 = II (1992) CCR 458 (SC), the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that in exercise of the revisional powers, it is not permissible for the Court to re-appreciate the evidence.

In Ramu alias Ram Kumar and others vs. Jagannath AIR 1994 SC 26 the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as under:

“It is well settled that the revisional jurisdiction conferred on the High Court should not be lightly exercised particularly when it was invoked by a private complaint.”

In Kaptan Singh and others vs. State of M.P. and another, AIR 1997 SC 2485 = II (1997) CCR 109 (SC), the Hon’ble Supreme Court considered a large number of its earlier judgments, particularly Chinnaswami vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 1962 SC 1788 ; Mahendra Pratap vs. Sarju Singh, AIR 1968, SC 707; P.N. G. Raju vs. B.P. Appadu, AIR 1975, SC 1854 and Ayodhya vs. Ram Sumer Singh, AIR 1981 SC 1415 and held that revisional power can be exercised only when “there exists a manifest illegality in the order or there is a grave miscarriage of justice”.

In State of Kerala vs. Puttumana Illath Jathavedan Namboodiri (1999) 2 SCC 452, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as under:

“In Its revisional jurisdiction, the High Court can call for and examine the record of any proceedings for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the correctness, legality or propriety of any finding, sentence or order. In other words, the jurisdiction is one of Supervisory Jurisdiction exercised by the High Court for correcting miscarriage of justice. But the said revisional power cannot be equated with the power of an Appellate Court nor can it be treated even as a second Appellate Jurisdiction. Ordinarily, therefore, it would not be appropriate for the High Court to re-appreciate the evidence and come to its own .

conclusion on the same when the evidence has already been appreciated by the Magistrate as well as the Sessions Judge in appeal, unless any glaring feature is brought to the notice of the High Court which would otherwise tantamount to gross miscarriage of justice.”

In State of A.P. vs. Rajagopala Rao (2000) 10 SCC 338, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as under:

“The High Court in exercise of its revisional power has upset the concurrent findings of the Courts below without in any way considering the evidence on the record and without indicating as to in what manner the courts below had erred in coming to the conclusion which they had arrived at. The judgment of the High Court contains no reasons whatsoever which would r indicate as to why the revision filed by the respondent was allowed. In a sense, it is a non-speaking judgment.”

8. Adverting to the facts, it would be noticed that the complainant in order to establish his case has examined four witnesses.

9. PW-1 Naresh Kumar, Dealing Assistant, from the Office of CMO proved on record the receipt of two parts of sample on November 11, 2005 along with two copies of Form No.VII. He deposed that on receipt of report of Public Analyst on 3rd January, 2006, one copy was sent to the complainant. He further stated that after written consent Ex.PW-1/A was received, notice under Section 13(2) of the Act was issued to the petitioner vide postal receipts Ex.PW-1/D and Ex. PW-1/E. While being cross-examined, the witness stated that no register was being maintained by him qua receiving of the written consent. He further admitted that there was no acknowledgment affixed with the aforesaid notice, but denied the suggestion that the written consent was not given and further denied that no notice as aforesaid had been issued to the petitioner.

10. PW-2 Ashok Kumar, Peon, in the Office of CMO, Shimla, stated that he along with the complainant had gone to the shop of the petitioner where the complainant purchased three packets of ‘Petha’ on payment of Rs.60/- vide receipt Mark X-1. He further deposed that .

every packet so purchased was leveled, folded with paper and paper slip was then affixed and lastly all these samples were sealed. He further stated that on 14th November, 2005, he had taken one sealed packet along with sealed envelope to the Public Analyst, Kandaghat and on return receipt Ex.PW-2/A was given to the complainant. In his cross examination, the witness admitted that he used to be a witness in all the food cases. He stated that there were shops on both sides of the shop of the petitioner. He further stated that the complainant had checked the licence of the shop but the same was not taken into possession. He further stated that witnesses were called by the complainant. Lastly, he stated that for the purpose of taking the samples to Kandaghat, they had maintained the register.

11. PW-3 Raj Kumar is the witness associated by the complainant at the time of taking of samples. However, he turned hostile and was thereafter permitted to be cross examined by the complainant. During cross examination, he admitted that the complainant had come to the shop of the petitioner on November 11, 2005. He further admitted that the petitioner had kept ‘Agra Petha’ for sale. He also admitted that the complainant had taken three packets of ‘Agra Petha’ after paying Rs.60/-. He further admitted that thereafter these samples were labelled and wrapped in a big paper and sealed. He further admitted that entire proceedings of taking samples were conducted by the complainant on the spot in his presence and as per procedure. On being cross examined by the petitioner, the witness stated that on the big packet in which ‘Petha’ was packed, the name of the company and date etc. were written. He further stated that the petitioner had disclosed to the complainant that dates of manufacturing and expiry were written on the packet.

12. PW-4 Shri L.D.Thakur is the complainant and deposed that he had inspected the premises known as ‘M/s Sood Brothers, Chhailla’ on November 11, 2005 at about 10.30 a.m. and found that Sanjay Kumar, the present petitioner, was conducting the business of the shop as a proprietor. He was having four poly packs of ‘Gupta Special Agra Petha’ on counter kept for sale to the general public. He revealed his identity and issued notice Ex.P-1 declaring his intention to take sample of ‘Gupta Special Agra Petha’ for purpose of analysis. He thereafter purchased three packets of ‘Petha’ on cash pay ment of Rs.60/- vide receipt Ex.P-2. ‘Petha’ so purchased was separately labelled, wrapped into a thick paper and paper slip bearing serial number and code number S-I/3741 issued and signed by the Local Health Authority, Shimla was affixed with glue from top to bottom of each packet. The signatures of the petitioner were taken in such a manner so that they appear both on the paper slip as also wrapper. The packets were fastened with strong thread and sealed with sealing wax. This process was witnessed by Raj Kumar and Ashok Kumar. Spot memo Ex.P-3 was prepared on the spot. Later, one part of sample was sent to the Public Analyst, Kandaghat along with memos Ex.P-4 and also Ex.P-5, seal impressions of seal that was used to seal the sample. Two parts of the sample were deposited with the Local Health Authority vide Ex.P-6. The Public Analyst found the sample to be misbranded vide his report Ex.P-7 which was received by him from the Local Health Authority vide Ex.P-8. The CMO, Shimla, accorded sanction to prosecute the petitioner vide Ex.PW-1/A that too after going through the documents and other material placed before him vide application Ex.P-9. In cross .

examination, the witness admitted that he had a witness in many food cases and even on that day, the samples were taken from the other shops also. He admitted that Atma Ram witness was already present in the shop, however, he denied that no sample was taken in his presence. He stated that on that date in total nine samples were taken and except witness Raj Kumar, other witnesses were not called to the spot. In his further cross examination, he stated that he had asked the petitioner to disclose from where he had brought ‘Petha’ and according to the petitioner, it was brought from Chandigarh. He denied that ‘Petha’ was kept in one big packet. He further denied that on the packet, date of manufacturing and date of expiry etc. were written. He further denied that packet had been seen by witness Raj Kumar.

13. The petitioner also led evidence by examining Parkash Sharma as DW-1, who stated that on November 11, 2005 at about 10.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m., he had gone to the shop of the petitioner to purchase articles. The complainant was present there and had taken sample of ‘Petha’ which was kept in a big box and it was not in packets. The packets were thereafter prepared by the complainant himself. He further stated that the box in which ‘Petha’ was kept was having date of manufacturing and packing. He further stated that the box was not taken into possession by the complainant. While being cross examined, the witness denied that on November 11, 2005, there were 4×500 poly packs of ‘Petha’ in the shop of the petitioner. It was denied that the complainant had taken three packets of 500 grams each as sample.

14. The petitioner examined another witness Parkash Hekta as DW-2, who in his examination in chief deposed in the same and .

similar manner as deposed by DW-1. In his cross examination, this witness denied that there were 4×500 poly packs of ‘Petha’ in the shop of the petitioner. He further denied that the complainant had taken three packets of 500 grams each for sample. This in entirety is the evidence led by the parties.

15. Notably, the petitioner has not denied that he was not selling ‘Gupta Special Agra Petha’ on the fateful day. His only defence appears to be that this ‘Petha’ was kept in a big container or packet which was complying with the provisions of the Act inasmuch as the date of manufacturing, date of expiry etc. had been mentioned.

16. Rule 32(f) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, (for short Rules) provides as under:-

“(f) Date of manufacture or packing-

The date, month and year in which the commodity is manufactured, packed or pre-packed, shall be given on the label:

Provided that the month and the year of manufacture, packing or pre-packing shall be given if the “Best Before Date” of the products is more than three months:

Provided further that in case any package contains commodity which has a short shelf life of less than three months, the date, month and year in which the commodity is manufactured or prepared or prepacked shall be mentioned on the label.”

17. Therefore, even if, it is assumed that ‘Petha’ was kept in the larger container, but the fact remains that the poly packs contained therein were for the purpose of selling in retail which did not comply with the provisions of Section 2(ix) of the Act which read thus:-

“”misbranded”– an article of food shall be deemed to be misbranded–

.

(a) if it is an imitation of, or is a substitute for, or resembles in a manner likely to deceive, another article of food under the name of which it is sold, and is not plainly and conspicuously labelled so as to indicate its true character;

(b) if it is falsely stated to be the product of any place or country;

(c) if it is sold by a name which belongs to another article of food;

(d) if it is so coloured, flavoured or coated, powdered or polished that the fact that the article is damaged is concealed or if the article is made to appear better or of greater value than it really is;

(e) if false claims are made for it upon the label or otherwise;

(f) if, when sold in packages which have been sealed or prepared by or at the instance of the manufacturer or producer and which bear his name and address, the contents of each package are not conspicuously and correctly stated on the outside thereof within the limits of variability prescribed under this Act;

(g) if the package containing it, or the label on the package bears any statement, design or device regarding the ingredients or the substances contained therein, which is false or misleading in any material particular; or if the package is otherwise deceptive with respect to its contents;

(h) if the package containing it or the label on the package bears the name of a fictitious individual or company as the manufacturer or producer of the article;

(i) if it purports to be, or is represented as being, for special dietary uses, unless its label bears such information as may be prescribed concerning its vitamin, mineral, or other dietary properties in order sufficiently to inform its purchaser as to its value for such uses;

(j) if it contains any artificial flavouring, artificial colouring or chemical preservative, without a declaratory label stating that fact, or in contravention of the requirements of this Act or rules made thereunder;

(k) if it is not labelled in accordance with the requirements of this Act or rules made thereunder;”

18. It is strongly urged by Shri Satyen Vaidya, Senior Advocate assisted by Shri Vivek Sharma, Advocate, that taking the complainant’s case at its best, even then it has not been proved on record that the sample was adulterated.

19. I find no merit in this contention. No doubt, the sample has not been proved to be adulterated, but misbranding in itself is a .

separate and distinct offence under the Act wherein the samples need not stricto sensu be adulterated as the petitioner can be convicted even if there is no adulteration, but the sample is misbranded.

20. It is thereafter contended by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner that admittedly the petitioner was not the manufacturer, distributor or dealer of ‘Gupta Special Agra ‘Petha’. Therefore, in absence of manufacturer, distributor or dealer, the petitioner could not have been convicted. Even this argument is without merit for the simple reason that in case the petitioner was really aggrieved, he could have conveniently filed an application under Section 20-A of the Act for impleading the manufacturer, distributor or dealer etc.

21. It is lastly contended by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner that sanction to prosecute the petitioner as given by the CMO is based on non application of mind and that being so, even the prosecution could not have been launched against him. I find no merit even in this submission for the simple reason that sanction in the present case unlike many other cases is not stereo type, rather sanction has been granted after due application of mind wherein the CMO has clearly reported as follows:-

“As per report of Public Analyst and his opinion that the month and year in which the product is manufactured or packed and month and year upto which the product is best for consumption have not been mentioned on the label and hence the sample of ‘Gupta Agra Petha’ (sweets) is misbranded.”

22. Unlike, the other cases, under the Act, the report of the Public Analyst relating to misbranding of the instant kind does not really have much importance or significance and even the averments contained in the complaint and other material on records would be .

sufficient to prove the offence of misbranding. However, in the instant case, even the Public Analyst has held the product to be misbranded.

23. There can be no dispute that in case the food article does not bear any label regarding the date of manufacture or period of uses etc., as contemplated under Rule 32 of the Rules, obviously, that would sidetrack or mislead any ordinary genuine purchaser from believing that the product being sold has no self life or expiry date and, therefore, clearly amounts to mischief under the Act.

24. The learned Courts below have discussed in detail the case of the complainant, the defence of the petitioner, oral and documentary evidence on record and it is only thereafter that the petitioner has been convicted. Such findings in my opinion cannot be said to be irregular, illegal much less perverse so as to call for any interference by this Court.

25. In view of the aforesaid discussion, I find no merit in this revision petition and accordingly the same is dismissed. Bail bonds, if any, furnished by the petitioner are discharged. Pending application, if any, also stands disposed of.

    6th April, 2018.                          (Tarlok Singh Chauhan),
    (krt)                                              Judge.

PFA – Delhi Dt.Court – CA – Food Inspector Vs S.C.Goyal – March 23-2018

     IN THE COURT OF MS.POONAM A. BAMBA:DISTRICT & 
               SESSIONS JUDGE: NEW DELHI

Crl. Appeal No. 8468/16

             Food Inspector/Food Safety Officer
             Department of PFA/FS
             Govt. of NCT of Delhi
             A­20 Lawrence Road
             Indl. Area,New Delhi­110035.             ....Appellant
                                   Versus
             Sh. Suresh Chand Goyal
             S/o Late Sh. Badri Prasad
             M/s Tip Top Food Tech India
             Sales Office 
             D­120B Veena Enclave, Near Railway Station
             Nangloi, Delhi­110041.
             Manufacturing Unit :
             D­313, Tagore Garden
             New Delhi­110 027.
             R/o 1st Floor, D­313
             Tagore Garden, New Delhi­110027.
                                                      ....Respondent

APPEAL UNDER SECTIONS 377 CODE OF  CRIMINAL   PROCEDURE   AGAINST   THE  ORDER DATED 24.09.2012 OF LD. ACMM – II, NEW DELHI.

 Date of Institution of Appeal   :  11.12.2012    

Arguments concluded on         :  21.03.2018    

Judgment announced on          : 21.03.2018

Present :  Sh. A.K. Mishra & Sh. Anil, Ld. Addl. Public Prosecutors for State  Sh. R.D. Goel, Ld. Counsel for the respondent C                                                                

J U D G M E N T

1.0  Vide this appeal, the appellant has challenged the order  on sentence dated 24.09.2012, whereby the Ld. ACMM­II, sentenced  the respondent for an offence punishable under Section 16(1)(a) r/w  Section 7 of the  Prevention  of Food  Adulteration  Act,  1954 (“PFA  Act”   in  short)   for  a  period  of one  day i.e.  till  rising of  the  court  (“TRC”  in  short) and  to pay a  fine  of Rs.  20,000/­.    In default  of  payment of fine, SI for 30 days.  It is pleaded that Section 16(1)(a) of  the  PFA  Act  prescribes minimum  imprisonment  of six months and  fine. Ld. 

Trial Court could not have awarded imprisonment of TRC i.e.  less than the minimum prescribed.  In support, Ld. Addl. PP placed  reliance   upon   the   judgment   of   Hon’ble   Supreme   Court   in  Balraj  Sharma V. State (UT Chandigarh), 2016(1) FAC 16).

2.0  On   the   other   hand,  Ld.   Counsel   for   the   respondent  sought   dismissal   of   this   appeal   pleading   that   it  is   barred   by   time.  Dismissal is sought even on merits.  It is submitted that it was only a  case of misbranding and  not of adulteration. Considering the same, the  Ld. Trial Court has rightly sentenced the appellant with TRC and fine  of Rs.20,000/­.

3.0  I have heard Sh. A.K.Mishra  and Sh. Anil,  Ld.  Addl.  Public Prosecutors for State and  Sh. R.D. Goel, Ld.  Counsel for the respondent and have carefully perused the record.

4.0  Let me first deal with the plea of limitation raised by the  respondent.     The   respondent     has   pleaded   that   the   appeal   is   time  barred.   

4.1  It   is   seen   that   the   impugned   oder   of   sentence   under  challenge in this appeal was passed on 24.09.2012.   The appeal was  filed on 11.12.2012 i.e. after 77 days.   For criminal appeals against  order of  sentence,   Article 115(b) of Limitation Act, 1963, prescribes  limitation period of 30 days from the date of order of sentence. Thus,  there is a delay of 47 days. 

4.2  The appellant has submitted that after receipt of certified  copy of  the  judgment/impugned order,  Ld.   Addl.   Public   Prosecutor  prepared   his   report   on   03.10.2012.     Thereafter,   the   Chief   Public  Prosecutor submitted his report  to the PFA department on 04.10.2012.  The file thereafter remained under consideration in PFA department.  After getting the approval of Commissioner, Food Safety, the file was  received back in the prosecution  branch on  30.12.2012. Thereafter, the  appeal was prepared and was sent to PFA Department for signatures  by the  concerned  FI/FSO.  On receiving the appeal after signatures it  was immediately presented in the court  without any  further  delay.   The  delay   was   caused   due   to   the   procedural   formalities   and   was  unintentional.   It is further submitted that the appellant has a good case on merits.  If the delay is not condoned, the appellant shall suffer  irreparable loss.

4.3  In rebuttal, the Ld. Counsel for the respondent submitted  that each day’s delay needs to be explained but the  appellant  has failed  to do so.  Therefore, this appeal is liable to be dismissed.

4.4   No doubt, there is a delay of 47 days.  The appellant has  explained that the delay took place  due to administrative  reasons  as  detailed above. It is a settled position of law that the court has to take a  pragmatic view while considering  such a prayer for condonation of  delay particularly when the appeal is filed by the State, in view of the  time  taken  in decision making at various levels in the Government.  It  would   also   be   pertinent   to   refer   here   to   the   judgment   of   Hon’ble  Supreme Court in  Land Acquisiton, Kerala   versus K.V. Ayisumma AIR  1996 SC 2750,  Special Tehsildar, wherein it was observed that :­­ “It is now settled law that when the delay was occasioned at the  behest of the Government, it would be very difficult to explain  the day to day delay.   The transaction of the business of the  Government   being   done   leisurely   by   officers   who   had   no   or  evince no personal interest  at different levels…… Nonetheless adoption of strict standard of proof leads to grave  miscarriage of public justice,  it would result  in public  mischief   by   skilful   management   of   delay   in   the   process   of   filing   the  appeal. The approach of the Court  would be pragmatic but not  pedandic.   Under   those   circumstances,   the   Subordinate   Judge  had   rightly   adopted   correct   approach   and   has   condoned   the  delay   without   insisting   upon   explaining   every   days   delay   in  filing the review application in the light of the law laid down by  this Court.   The High Court was not right in setting aside the order.  Delay was rightly condoned.”       

4.5  In   view   of   above   facts   and   circumstances,   settled  position of law and in the interest of justice,  the delay in filing the  present appeal is condoned.

5.0  Let   me   now   examine   the   appeal   on   merits.     Briefly  stating, the factual background of the present appeal  is that a sample  of “Kuttu Atta” was lifted from the vendor/respondent’s premises i.e.  Store Operations of  LM 365 (a unit of M/s Lal Mahal Retail Ltd), J­ 8/77   H,   Nehru   Market,   Rajouri   Garden,   New   Delhi,   by   the   Food  Inspector on 08.04.2011.   One part of sample was sent for analysis. 

The Public Analyst vide his report dated 13.04.2011 reported the same  to be misbranded, as there was  violation of  rules 42 (zzz) 17 and 36  (2) (a)   of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955  (“PFA  Rules”   in   short).    The   sample   however   was   not   found   to   be  adulterated.     A   complaint   against   the   respondent   herein   was   filed  alleging   violation   of   Section   7/16   PFA   Act.  The   respondent   was  charged with violation of Section 2 (ix)(k) of the PFA Act read with  rules 42 (zzz) (17) and 36 (2)(a) of the PFA Rules, which is punishable  under Section 16(1)(a) read with Section 7 of the PFA Act.  

5.1 During   the   pendency   of   those   proceedings,   on  24.09.2012,   the   respondent   pleaded   guilty   to   the   offences   alleged against him and prayed that a lenient view may be taken against him.  In view of the same, the Ld. Trial Court passed the impugned order,  which reads as under:

“24.09.2012 Present:     Shri Masood Ahmad, Ld. SPP for the complainant.

        All accused (except accused no.4) are present with          their respective counsel Case file perused. Perusal of the case file reveals that an application  U/s 294 Cr.P.C., r/w S. 19(2) of the Act of 1954 (filed on behalf of accused nos.1 to 

6) is pending for disposal. Today reply to this application has been filed by accused no.7. Arguments heard.

Statement of the accused no.7 namely Suresh Chand Goel has been recorded separately(being the Proprietor of manufacturing­cum­supplier firm i.e. M/s Tip Top Food Tech India), whereby he has admitted that he had sold the sample commodity i.e. Kuttu Atta to accused no.6 vide Bill Ex.CW1/A and has further prayed that he has no objection if the benefit of Warranty U/s 19(2) of the PFA Act is given to the accused nos.1 to 6. After going through the record as well as the statement of the accused no.7, the accused nos.1 to 6 are hereby given the benefit of Warranty U/s 19(2) of the Act of 1954 and accordingly they are discharged.

Notice U/s 251 Cr.P.C. for the violation of Provisions of S.2(i­x) (k) of PFA Act, 1954 alongwith Rule 42(ZZZ)(17) & Rules 36 (2) (a) of PFA Rules 1955; punishable U/s 16(1)(a) r/w S.7 of the PFA Act 1954 has been framed upon the aforesaid accused to which he has pleaded guilty and prayed for mercy.             At this stage, Ld. Counsel  for   accused  no.7 has submitted that   this is  not a case of  adulteration and the accused is charged only with the offence of misbranded only and a lenient view is prayed. On  the other hand  Ld.SPP  has argued  that  the  offences  under  the PFA Act 1954  are  socio­economic offences and should be dealt severely.

Keeping   into   consideration   the   submissions   as   summarized   herein  above,this   court   is   of   the   considered   opinion   that   the   ends   of   justice   shall   be  reasonably and suitably met if  the accused no.7 is sentenced to S.I. for the period  of one day i.e. till rising of the court and to pay  a fine of Rs.20,000/­(Rs. Twenty  Thousand only). In default of payment of fine, one month S.I. Fine paid.

         File be consigned to Records after due compliance.

(Mohinder Virat)              ACMM­II/PHC/ND/24.09.2012″

5.2  The appellant has pleaded that the minimum sentence for  misbranding   as   prescribed   under   Section   16(1)(a)   PFA   Act,   is  imprisonment for a term of not less than six months; and therefore, the  Ld. MM could not have awarded the sentence of TRC i.e. less than the  minimum   prescribed   period   of   six   months.   Ld.   counsel   for   the  respondent   on   the   other   hand,   argued   that   it   was   only   a   case   of  misbranding and  not adulteration. The PFA Act now stands repealed  and   has   been   replaced   by   the   Food   Safety   &   Standards   Act,   2006  (“FSS Act” in short). Under FSS Act, misbranding is punishable only  with fine and punishment  of imprisonment  has been done away with.  In view of these facts, there is no infirmity in the sentence awarded by  the Ld. Trial Court.   In support, Ld. Counsel placed reliance upon the  judgment   of   Hon’ble   Supreme   Court   Of   India   in  Nemi   Chand   V.  State of Rajasthan 2016 (1) FAC 561 and that of Hon’ble Delhi High  Court in   State V. Amar Singh 2016 (1)  FAC 363; 2016 Cr.LJ 583.

5.3 No   doubt,   minimum   sentence   for   the   offences   under  Section  2 (i­x)(k)  of the   PFA  Act   read with  rule  42  (zzz) (17)  PF  Rules, with which the respondent was charged, as prescribed under  Section 7 read with Section 16(1) (a) PFA Act, is six months.  Thus,  the   Ld.   Trial   Court   awarded   less   than   the   minimum   prescribed  sentence.   

5.4  What is to be seen is, whether the Ld. ACMM could have  awarded a punishment less than the prescribed minimum.     It    is a  matter of record that that PFA Act stands repealed vide Notification  F.No.P­15025/41/2011­DFQC,   dated   4th   August,   2011  w.e.f.  05.08.2011 and now FSS Act has come into being. Under Section 52 FSS Act, misbranding is now  punishable only with penalty which may  extend to Rs.Three Lacs. The punishment of imprisonment has been  done away with. It would be pertinent to mention here that the similar  issue as involved in the instant case,  that is,  of awarding of sentence  less than the minimum prescribed under the old Act (PFA Act) came  up   for   consideration   before   the   Hon’ble   Supreme   Court   in  Nemi  Chand’s   case   (supra).     In   that   case,   the   appellant   was   tried   and  convicted for offence under Section 7/16 of the PFA Act by the trial  court and was inter alia, sentenced  to undergo  six months’ Rigorous  Imprisonment as well as fine of Rs.1,000/­. The same was challenged  by way of appeal before  the sessions court and on not succeeding, the  appellant filed revision petition before the Hon’ble High Court which  was also dismissed. The appellant then preferred an appeal before the  Hon’ble Supreme Court.  Hon’ble Supreme Court vide its order dated  10.03.2016,  had  modified/reduced   the   sentence   awarded  to   the  appellant therein to fine of Rs.50,000/­ for the offence under Section  7/16 of the PFA Act.

5.4.1 Hon’ble Supreme Court in above case, observed as under:

“……..It is not in dispute that the charge against the appellant was only of sub­ standardization of goods.  Mr. Sushil Kumar Jain,  learned senior counsel appearing  for the appellant, submits that though  the appellant has some prima facie case even on  merits, he would be giving up the plea  on merits and his  only submission  is about  the sentence which has been imposed by the courts below. He has, in this behalf,  argued that there has been an amendment in the Act by the Central Amendment  Act 34 of 1976  whereby Section 16A was added and under the said section, only a  fine is leviable. He has drawn our  attention  to  the judgment of this Court in ‘T. Barai  v. Henry Ah Hoe and Another‘ [1983 (1) SCC 177]  wherein this Court held that  since the amendment was beneficial to the accused persons, it can be applied   even with respect to earlier cases as well which are pending in the Court. In the  said judgment,  the Court held as under: 

“22. It is only retroactive criminal legislation that is prohibited under Article  20(1). The prohibition contained  in Article 20(1) is  that no person shall be  convicted of any offence except for  violation of a law in force  at the time of the  commission of the act charged as an offence prohibits nor shall he be subjected  to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in  force at the time of the  commission of the offence. It is quite clear that in so far  as the Central Amendment Act  creates new offences or enhances punishment  for a particular type of offence no person  can be convicted by  such   ex post facto   law   nor   can   the   enhanced   punishment   prescribed   by   the   amendment   be  applicable.  But   in   so   far   as   the   Central   Amendment   Act   reduces   the  punishment for an  offence  punishable under Section 16(1)(a) of the Act,  there is no reason why the accused  should not have the  benefit of such  reduced punishment. The rule of beneficial construction requires that even  ex post facto law of such a type should be applied to mitigate the rigour of  the law. The principle is  based both  on  sound reason and common sense. This  finds support in the following  passage from  Craies on Statute Law, 7th  Edn., at pp. 388­89: 

A retrospective statute is different from an ex post facto statute. “Every  ex post facto law….” said  Chase, J., in the American case of Calder v. Bull  “must necessarily be retrospective,  but every retrospective law  is not an ex  post facto law. Every law that takes away or impairs rights vested agreeably  to   existing   laws   is   retrospective,   and   is   generally   unjust   and   may   be  oppressive; it is a good general  rule that a law should  have  no retrospect, but  in cases in which the laws may justly and for the benefit of the community  and also of individuals relate to a time antecedent to their commencement:  as statutes of oblivion  or of pardon. They are certainly retrospective, and  literally   both   concerning   and   after   the   facts   committed.   But   I   do   not  consider   any   law   ex   post   facto   within   the   prohibition   that   mollifies   the  rigour of the criminal law, but only those that create or aggravate the crime,  or increase the punishment  or change the rules of evidence for the purpose  of conviction…. There is a great  and apparent difference  between  making an  unlawful   act   lawful   and   the   making   an   innocent   action   criminal   and  punishing it as a crime.” 

From the facts of the present case,  we have no doubt in mind that the aforesaid  judgment squarely applies thereon. This appeal is, therefore, partly allowed and  the sentence imposed  upon the appellant is modified by imposing fine of Rs.  50,000/­ which shall be deposited within two months with the trial court……”

5.5  Thus, the Hon’ble Supreme Court modified the minimum  sentence   of   (rigorous)   imprisonment   of   six   months   and   fine   of  Rs.10,000/­   awarded   by   the   Ld.   Trial   Court   to   only   fine   of  Rs.50,000/­. It would also not be out of place to mention here that the  Hon’ble Supreme Court had reduced the sentence on the submissions  of   the   Ld.   Counsel   for   the   appellant   that   the   PFA   Act   has   been  amended by Central Amendment Act of 34 of 1976. Whereas, actually  PFA Act had been repealed and new FSS Act, had come into being.  Accordingly, the aforesaid   order dated 10.03.2016 was modified by  the   Hon’ble   Supreme   Court   vide   order   dated   17.03.2016   noting   as  under:

  “…….Upon being mentioned by Mr. Sunil Kumar Jain, learned senior counsel for the  appellant, the 8th line of page No.2 of order dated March 10,2016, passed in the  aforementioned criminal appeal, i.e. “He has, in this behalf, argued that there has   been an amendment in the Act by the Central Amendment Act 34 of 1976 hereby   Section   16A   was   added   and   under   the   said   section,only   a   fine   is   leviable”,  is  substituted by the following:

“He   has   in   this   behalf,   argued   that   under   Section   51   and   52   of   the   Food   and   Standards Act, 2006, the maximum penalty is only fine for sub­standard food or   misbranding.”

5.6  It would also be pertinent to mention here that following  the above dictum of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in  Nemi Chand’s  case,   Hon’ble   Gujarat   High   Court   in   its   recent   judgment   dated  22.09.2017   in  Kasnabhai   Kadvabhai   Gari   vs   State   of   Gujarat,  Criminal Revision Application (Against Conviction­Food Adulteration  Act)   No.662   of   2013,   where   the   accused   was   guilty   of   only   sub  standardization of goods, modified the sentence from one year simple  imprisonment and fine of Rs.2,000/­ to only fine of Rs.40,000/­. The  Hon’ble Gujarat High Court in the said case observed as under:­ “2.  It is not in dispute that  charge  against the petitioner­   accused was  only of sub  standardization of the goods. 

3. Mr. Hemant Makwana, learned advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioner has  submitted that though accused has some case even on merits, he would be giving up  the plea on merits and  his only submission is about sentence imposed by the courts  below.  He has requested to consider the  subsequent amendment in the Act  by the  Central Amendment Act whereby  Sections 51 and 52 have  been added  and under the  said sections, only fine is to be imposed……..

4. In support of his above submissions …… has heavily relied upon the decision of the  Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Nemi Chand vs. State of Rajasthan dated  17/03/2016 passed in Criminal Appeal No.214 of 2016. 

5. ……………………

6. Having heard Mr. Makwana, learned advocate appearing for the petitioner and Ms.  C.   M.   Shah,   learned   Additional   Public   Prosecutor   and   considering   the   facts   and  circumstances of the case more particularly  when the charge against the petitioner  is only of sub standardization of the goods and that original accused was convicted  for the offence punishable under for the offences punishable under  Sections 2(i­a)(a)

(m),   7(1)(3)(5)   and  Section   16(1)(a)(1)  of   the   Act   and   Rule   50   of   the   Rules,  considering the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Nemichand  (supra) and amendment  in the Act by Central Amendment Act 34 of 1976  whereby  Sections 51  and  52  have been added and under  said sections only fine is laviable,  decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Nemichand (supra) squarely  applies. 

7. ……………..

8. Under the circumstances, present Revision Application is partly allowed. Conviction  of the accused for the offences alleged against him is hereby maintained.  However,  sentence   is   modified   by  imposing  fine   of   Rs.40,000/­   (Rupees   Forty   Thousand  only)  which shall be deposited before the trial court within a period of four weeks  from today…………”

5.7 It would also be pertinent to mention here that Hon’ble  Delhi   High   Court   recently   in  Amar   Singh’s   case   (supra),   which  involved mis­branding, upheld the punishment of TRC, i.e. less than  the minimum prescribed under FSA Act,  considering inter alia that the  said offence is now punishable with fine only under the new Act i.e.  FSSA.

5.8   Let me now refer to  Balraj Sharma’s case (supra)  as  relied   upon   by   Ld.   Addl.   PP.    The   facts   in   that   case   were   very  different.       Said case involved adulteration.   Further, in that case, a  fresh factual plea was raised  by the appellant at appellate stage.   In  those   circumstances,   the   Hon’ble   Court   observed   that   it   cannot  interfere with the minimum sentence awarded by the Ld. Trial Court.  The   Hon’ble   Court   was   not   dealing   with   the   issue   whether   the  sentence can be reduced to less than minimum, as was directly dealt  with   in  Nemi   Chand’s  case   (supra).   In   view   of   the   same,   said  judgment is of no assistance to the appellant.  

6.0  In view of the  above facts and circumstances and the  case   law   as   discussed   above,   the   imprisonment   ­   TRC   is   not  interfered   with.     Mentioning   of   vegetarian   symbol     is   of   great  significance.   Thus, considering the facts in entirety and that the  sample did not bear vegetarian symbol, the fine imposed upon the  respondent is enhanced from Rs.20,000/­ to Rs.30,000/­ (Rs. Thirty  Thousand only) which shall be deposited with the Ld. Trial Court  within a period of two weeks from today.

7.0 The appeal is accordingly disposed of.


8.0 Trial court record be sent back alongwith copy of this judgment.


9.0 File be consigned to Record Room.


Announced in the open court                 
(POONAM A.BAMBA)

on  this 21st Day of March 2018.           District & Sessions Judge                    New Delhi 

Snacks outlet told to pay Rs.50,000 to movie-goer who was charged ₹10 more

Consumer forum finds shop at Sangam theatre guilty of unfair trade practice

The Chennai (North) District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed a snacks outlet functioning inside the Sangam theatre on Poonamallee High Road to pay compensation of ₹50,000 to a moviegoer who was charged ₹10 more for using his credit card to pay for popcorn and chicken tikka purchased by him on August 31, 2014.

Allowing a complaint preferred by Karthik Manickam of Koyambedu, the forum, comprising its president K. Jayabalan and member M. Uyirroli Kannan., held that Sona Foods, represented by its partner Ramanathan, was liable to compensate the complainant for the mental agony caused to him due to “unfair trade practice.” They also ordered the refund of ₹10.

The forum ordered that the compensation should be paid within six weeks, failing which it would carry interest at the rate of 9% till the date of payment.

In his complaint, Mr. Manickam said he visited the theatre to watch a movie and purchased snacks worth ₹140 during the break. However, the outlet swiped his card for ₹150.

Unauthorised charges

Later, he was reportedly told that the additional amount was charged towards tele connectivity required for the swiping machine, bank transaction and service charges.

The complainant approached the forum after his bank informed him that merchant establishments were not supposed to claim such charges from customers.

 

PFA – Delhi District Court – Food Inspector/Food Safety Officer … vs Sh. Suresh Chand Goyal on 21 March, 2018

     IN THE COURT OF MS.POONAM A. BAMBA:DISTRICT & 
               SESSIONS JUDGE: NEW DELHI

Crl. Appeal No. 8468/16

             Food Inspector/Food Safety Officer
             Department of PFA/FS
             Govt. of NCT of Delhi
             A­20 Lawrence Road
             Indl. Area,New Delhi­110035.             ....Appellant
                                   Versus
             Sh. Suresh Chand Goyal
             S/o Late Sh. Badri Prasad
             M/s Tip Top Food Tech India
             Sales Office 
             D­120B Veena Enclave, Near Railway Station
             Nangloi, Delhi­110041.
             Manufacturing Unit :
             D­313, Tagore Garden
             New Delhi­110 027.
             R/o 1st Floor, D­313
             Tagore Garden, New Delhi­110027.
                                                      ....Respondent

APPEAL UNDER SECTIONS 377 CODE OF  CRIMINAL   PROCEDURE   AGAINST   THE  ORDER DATED 24.09.2012 OF LD. ACMM – II, NEW DELHI.

 Date of Institution of Appeal   :  11.12.2012    

Arguments concluded on         :  21.03.2018   

 Judgment announced on          : 21.03.2018

Present :  Sh. A.K. Mishra & Sh. Anil, Ld. Addl. Public Prosecutors for State  Sh. R.D. Goel, Ld. Counsel for the respondent

J U D G M E N T

1.0  Vide this appeal, the appellant has challenged the order  on sentence dated 24.09.2012, whereby the Ld. ACMM­II, sentenced  the respondent for an offence punishable under Section 16(1)(a) r/w  Section 7 of the  Prevention  of Food  Adulteration  Act,  1954 (“PFA  Act”   in  short)   for  a  period  of one  day i.e.  till  rising of  the  court  (“TRC”  in  short) and  to pay a  fine  of Rs.  20,000/­.    In default  of  payment of fine, SI for 30 days.  It is pleaded that Section 16(1)(a) of  the  PFA  Act  prescribes minimum  imprisonment  of six months and  fine. Ld. Trial Court could not have awarded  imprisonment  of TRC i.e.  less than the minimum prescribed. In support, Ld. Addl. PP placed  reliance   upon   the   judgment   of   Hon’ble   Supreme   Court   in  Balraj  Sharma V. State (UT Chandigarh), 2016(1) FAC 16).

2.0  On   the   other   hand,  Ld.   Counsel   for   the   respondent  sought   dismissal   of   this   appeal   pleading   that   it  is   barred   by   time.  Dismissal is sought even on merits.  It is submitted that it was only a  case of misbranding and  not of adulteration.  Considering the same, the  Ld. Trial Court has rightly sentenced the appellant with TRC and fine  of Rs.20,000/­.

3.0  I have heard Sh. A.K.Mishra  and Sh. Anil,  Ld.  Addl.  Public Prosecutors for State and Sh. R.D. Goel, Ld. Counsel  for the   respondent and have carefully perused the record.

4.0  Let me first deal with the plea of limitation raised by the  respondent.     The   respondent     has   pleaded   that   the   appeal   is   time  barred.   

4.1  It   is   seen   that   the   impugned   oder   of   sentence   under  challenge in this appeal was passed on 24.09.2012.   The appeal was  filed on 11.12.2012 i.e. after 77 days.   For criminal appeals against  order of sentence,   Article 115(b) of Limitation Act, 1963,  prescribes  limitation period of 30 days from the date of order of sentence. Thus,  there is a delay of 47 days. 

4.2  The appellant has submitted that after receipt of certified  copy of  the  judgment/impugned order,  Ld.   Addl.   Public   Prosecutor  prepared   his   report   on   03.10.2012.     Thereafter,   the   Chief   Public  Prosecutor submitted his report  to the PFA department on 04.10.2012.  The file thereafter remained under consideration in PFA department.  After getting the approval of Commissioner, Food Safety, the file was  received back in the prosecution branch  on 30.12.2012.  Thereafter, the  appeal was prepared and was sent to PFA Department for signatures  by the concerned  FI/FSO.   On receiving the appeal after signatures it  was immediately presented in the court  without any  further delay.   The  delay   was   caused   due   to   the   procedural   formalities   and   was  unintentional.   It is further submitted  that the appellant has a good case on merits.  If the delay is not condoned, the appellant shall suffer  irreparable loss.

4.3  In rebuttal, the Ld. Counsel for the respondent submitted  that each day’s delay needs to be  explained but  the  appellant  has failed  to do so.  Therefore, this appeal is liable to be dismissed.

4.4   No doubt, there is a delay of 47 days.  The appellant has  explained that the delay took place due  to administrative  reasons as  detailed above. It is a settled position of law that the court has to take a  pragmatic view while considering  such a prayer for condonation of  delay particularly when the appeal is filed by the State, in view of the  time taken  in decision making at various levels in the Government.  It  would   also   be   pertinent   to   refer   here   to   the   judgment   of   Hon’ble  Supreme Court in  Land Acquisiton, Kerala   versus K.V. Ayisumma AIR  1996 SC 2750, Special Tehsildar,  wherein it was observed that :­­ “It is now settled law that when the delay was occasioned at the  behest of the Government,  it would be very difficult to explain  the day to day delay.   The transaction of the business of the  Government   being   done   leisurely   by   officers   who   had   no   or  evince no personal interest  at different levels…… Nonetheless adoption of strict  standard  of proof leads to grave  miscarriage of public justice, it would result in public mischief  by   skilful   management   of   delay   in   the   process   of   filing   the  appeal. The approach of the Court would be pragmatic but not  pedandic.   Under   those   circumstances,   the   Subordinate   Judge  had   rightly   adopted   correct   approach   and   has   condoned   the  delay   without   insisting   upon   explaining   every   days   delay   in  filing the review application in the light  of the  law  laid  down by this Court.  The High Court was not right in setting aside the order.  Delay was rightly condoned.”       

4.5  In   view   of   above   facts   and   circumstances,   settled  position of law and in the interest of justice,  the delay in filing  the  present appeal is condoned.

5.0  Let   me   now   examine   the   appeal   on   merits.     Briefly  stating, the factual background of the present appeal is  that  a sample  of “Kuttu Atta” was lifted from the vendor/respondent’s premises i.e.  Store Operations of LM 365  (a unit of M/s Lal Mahal Retail Ltd), J­ 8/77   H,   Nehru   Market,   Rajouri   Garden,   New   Delhi,   by   the   Food  Inspector on 08.04.2011.   One part of sample was sent for analysis.  The Public Analyst vide his  report dated 13.04.2011  reported the same  to be misbranded, as there was violation of rules 42 (zzz) 17 and 36  (2) (a)   of the  Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955  (“PFA  Rules”   in   short).    The   sample   however   was   not   found   to   be  adulterated.     A   complaint   against   the   respondent   herein   was   filed  alleging   violation   of   Section   7/16   PFA   Act.  The   respondent   was  charged with violation of Section 2 (ix)(k) of the PFA Act read with  rules 42 (zzz) (17)  and 36 (2)(a) of the PFA Rules, which is punishable  under Section 16(1)(a) read with Section 7 of the PFA Act.  

5.1 During   the   pendency   of   those   proceedings,   on  24.09.2012,   the   respondent   pleaded   guilty   to   the   offences   alleged   against him and prayed that a lenient view may be taken against him.  In view of the same, the Ld. Trial Court passed the impugned order,  which reads as under:

“24.09.2012 Present:     Shri Masood Ahmad, Ld. SPP for the complainant.

All accused (except accused no.4) are present with  their respective counsel Case file perused.  Perusal of the case file reveals that an application  U/s 294 Cr.P.C., r/w S. 19(2) of the Act of 1954 (filed on behalf of accused nos.1 to 6) is pending  for  disposal.   Today reply to this application has been filed by accused no.7. Arguments heard.

Statement of the accused no.7 namely Suresh Chand Goel has been recorded separately (being the Proprietor of manufacturing ­cum­ supplier firm i.e. M/s Tip Top Food Tech India),  whereby he has  admitted  that he had sold the sample commodity i.e. Kuttu Atta to accused no.6  vide Bill Ex.CW1/A  and has further prayed that he has no objection if the benefit of Warranty U/s 19(2) of the PFA Act is given to  the accused nos.1 to 6. After going through the record as well as the statement of the accused no.7,  the accused nos.1 to 6 are hereby given the benefit of Warranty U/s 19(2) of the Act of 1954  and accordingly  they are discharged.

Notice U/s 251 Cr.P.C. for the violation of Provisions of S.2(i­x) (k) of PFA Act, 1954 alongwith Rule 42(ZZZ)(17) & Rules 36 (2) (a) of PFA Rules 1955; punishable U/s 16(1)(a) r/w S.7 of the PFA Act 1954  has been framed upon the aforesaid accused to which he has pleaded guilty and prayed for mercy.             At this stage, Ld. Counsel  for   accused  no.7 has submitted that   this is  not a case of  adulteration  and the accused is charged only with the offence of misbranded only and a  lenient view is prayed.  On  the other hand  Ld.SPP  has argued  that  the  offences  under  the PFA Act 1954  are  socio­economic offences and should be dealt severely.

Keeping   into   consideration   the   submissions   as   summarized   herein  above,this   court   is   of   the   considered   opinion   that   the   ends   of   justice   shall   be  reasonably and suitably met if the accused no.7 is sentenced to S.I. for the period  of one day i.e. till rising of the court and to pay a fine of Rs.20,000/­(Rs. Twenty  Thousand only). In default of payment of fine, one month S.I. Fine paid.

         File be consigned to Records after due compliance.

(Mohinder Virat)              ACMM­II/PHC/ND/24.09.2012″

5.2  The appellant has pleaded that the minimum sentence for  misbranding   as   prescribed   under   Section   16(1)(a)   PFA   Act,   is  imprisonment for a term of not less than six months; and therefore, the  Ld. MM could not have awarded the sentence of TRC i.e. less than the  minimum   prescribed   period   of   six   months.   Ld.   counsel   for   the  respondent   on   the   other   hand,   argued   that   it   was   only   a   case   of  misbranding  and not adulteration. The PFA Act now stands repealed  and   has   been   replaced   by   the   Food   Safety   &   Standards   Act,   2006  (“FSS Act” in short). Under FSS Act, misbranding is punishable only  with fine and punishment  of  imprisonment  has been done away with.  In view of these facts, there is no infirmity in the sentence awarded by  the  Ld. Trial Court.  In support, Ld. Counsel placed reliance upon the  judgment   of   Hon’ble   Supreme   Court   Of   India   in  Nemi   Chand   V.  State of Rajasthan 2016 (1) FAC 561 and that of Hon’ble Delhi High  Court  in   State V. Amar Singh 2016 (1) FAC 363; 2016 Cr.LJ 583.

5.3 No   doubt,   minimum   sentence   for   the   offences   under  Section  2 (i­x)(k)  of the   PFA  Act   read with  rule  42  (zzz) (17)  PF  Rules, with which the respondent was charged, as prescribed under  Section 7  read with  Section 16(1) (a) PFA Act, is six months.  Thus,  the   Ld.   Trial   Court   awarded   less   than   the   minimum   prescribed  sentence.   

5.4  What is to be seen is, whether the Ld. ACMM could have  awarded a punishment less than the prescribed minimum.     It    is a  matter of record that that PFA Act stands repealed vide Notification  F.No.P­15025/41/2011­DFQC,   dated   4th   August,   2011  w.e.f.  05.08.2011 and now FSS Act has come into being. Under Section 52  FSS Act, misbranding is now  punishable only with penalty which may  extend to Rs.Three Lacs. The punishment of imprisonment has been  done away with. It would be pertinent to mention here that the similar  issue as involved in the  instant case, that is,  of awarding of sentence  less than the minimum prescribed under the old Act (PFA Act) came  up   for   consideration   before   the   Hon’ble   Supreme   Court   in  Nemi  Chand’s   case   (supra).     In   that   case,   the   appellant   was   tried   and  convicted for offence under Section 7/16 of the PFA Act by the trial  court and was inter alia,  sentenced to undergo  six months’  Rigorous  Imprisonment as well as fine of Rs.1,000/­.  The same was challenged  by way of appeal before  the sessions court  and on not succeeding, the  appellant filed revision petition before the Hon’ble High Court which  was also dismissed. The appellant then preferred an appeal before the  Hon’ble Supreme Court. Hon’ble Supreme Court  vide its order dated  10.03.2016,  had  modified/reduced   the   sentence   awarded  to   the  appellant therein  to fine of  Rs.50,000/­ for the offence under Section  7/16 of the PFA Act.

5.4.1 Hon’ble Supreme Court in above case, observed as under:

“……..It is not in dispute that the charge against the appellant was only of sub­ standardization of goods.  Mr. Sushil Kumar Jain, learned senior counsel appearing  for the appellant, submits that though the appellant  has  some prima facie case even on  merits, he would be giving up the plea on merits  and his only submission  is about  the sentence which has been imposed by the courts below. He has, in this behalf,  argued that  there has been an amendment in the Act by the Central Amendment  Act 34 of 1976 whereby Section 16A  was added and under the said section, only a  fine is leviable. He has drawn our attention to  the judgment  of this Court in ‘T. Barai  v. Henry Ah Hoe and Another‘ [1983 (1) SCC 177] wherein this Court held that  since the amendment was beneficial to the accused persons, it can be applied   even with respect to earlier  cases as well  which are pending in the Court. In the  said judgment, the Court held as under: 

“22. It is only retroactive criminal legislation that is prohibited under Article  20(1). The prohibition contained  in Article 20(1)  is that no person shall be  convicted of any offence except for violation  of a law in force  at the  time of the  commission of the act charged as an offence prohibits nor shall he be subjected  to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in  force at the time of the  commission of the offence. It is quite clear that in so far  as the Central Amendment Act  creates new offences or enhances punishment  for a particular type of offence  no person can be convicted  by such ex post facto  law   nor   can   the   enhanced   punishment   prescribed   by   the   amendment   be  applicable.  But   in   so   far   as   the   Central   Amendment   Act   reduces   the  punishment for an  offence punishable under Section 16(1)(a) of the Act,  there is no reason why  the accused should not  have the  benefit of such  reduced punishment. The rule of beneficial construction requires that even  ex post facto law of such a type should be applied to mitigate the rigour of  the law. The principle is based both  on sound reason and common sense. This  finds support in the following passage  from Craies on Statute Law,  7th  Edn., at pp. 388­89: 

A retrospective statute is different from an ex post facto statute. “Every  ex post facto law….” said Chase, J.,  in the American  case of Calder v. Bull  “must necessarily be retrospective,  but every retrospective law  is not an ex  post facto law. Every law that takes away or impairs rights vested agreeably  to   existing   laws   is   retrospective,   and   is   generally   unjust   and   may   be  oppressive; it is a good general rule  that a law should  have no retrospect, but  in cases in which the laws may justly and for the benefit of the community  and also of individuals relate to a time antecedent to their commencement:  as statutes of oblivion or of pardon. They are certainly retrospective, and  literally   both   concerning   and   after   the   facts   committed.   But   I   do   not  consider   any   law   ex   post   facto   within   the   prohibition   that   mollifies   the  rigour of the criminal law, but only those that create or aggravate the crime,  or increase the  punishment or change the rules of evidence for the purpose  of conviction…. There is a great and apparent  difference between making an  unlawful   act   lawful   and   the   making   an   innocent   action   criminal   and  punishing it as a crime.” 

From the facts of the present case,  we have no doubt in mind that the aforesaid  judgment squarely  applies thereon. This appeal is, therefore, partly allowed and  the sentence imposed upon the  appellant  is modified by imposing fine of Rs.  50,000/­ which shall be deposited  within two months  with the trial court……”

5.5  Thus, the Hon’ble Supreme Court modified the minimum  sentence   of   (rigorous)   imprisonment   of   six   months   and   fine   of  Rs.10,000/­   awarded   by   the   Ld.   Trial   Court   to   only   fine   of  Rs.50,000/­. It would also not  be out of place to mention here that the  Hon’ble Supreme Court had reduced the sentence on the submissions  Counsel   for  the   appellant   that   the   PFA   Act   has   been  amended by Central Amendment Act of 34 of 1976. Whereas, actually  PFA Act had been repealed and new FSS Act, had come into being.  Accordingly, the aforesaid   order dated 10.03.2016  was modified by  the   Hon’ble   Supreme   Court   vide   order   dated   17.03.2016   noting   as  under:

  “…….Upon being mentioned by Mr. Sunil Kumar Jain, learned senior counsel for the  appellant, the 8th line of page No.2 of order dated March 10,2016, passed in the  aforementioned criminal appeal, i.e. “He has, in this behalf, argued that there has   been an amendment in the Act by the Central Amendment Act 34 of 1976 hereby   Section   16A   was   added   and   under   the   said   section,only   a   fine   is   leviable”,  is  substituted by the following:

“He   has   in   this   behalf,   argued   that   under   Section   51   and   52   of   the   Food   and   Standards Act, 2006, the maximum penalty is only fine for sub­standard food or   misbranding.”

5.6  It would also be pertinent to mention here that following  the above dictum of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in  Nemi Chand’s  case,   Hon’ble   Gujarat   High   Court   in   its   recent   judgment   dated  22.09.2017   in  Kasnabhai   Kadvabhai   Gari   vs   State   of   Gujarat,  Criminal Revision Application (Against Conviction­Food Adulteration  Act)   No.662   of   2013,   where   the   accused   was   guilty   of   only   sub  standardization of goods,  modified the sentence from one year simple  imprisonment and fine of Rs.2,000/­ to only fine of Rs.40,000/­. The  Hon’ble Gujarat High Court in the said case observed as under:­ “2.  It is not in dispute that  charge  against the petitioner­   accused was  only of sub  standardization of the goods. 

3. Mr. Hemant Makwana, learned advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioner has  submitted that though  accused has  some case even on merits, he would be giving up  the plea on merits and his  only submission is about  sentence  imposed by the courts  below.  He has requested to consider the  subsequent amendment in the Act  by the  Central Amendment Act whereby Sections 51 and 52 have been added and under the  said sections, only fine is to be imposed…… 

4. In support of his above submissions …… has heavily relied upon the decision of the  Hon’ble Supreme Court  in the case of Nemi Chand vs. State of Rajasthan dated  17/03/2016 passed in Criminal Appeal No.214 of 2016. 

5. ……………………

6. Having heard Mr. Makwana, learned advocate appearing for the petitioner and Ms.  C.   M.   Shah,   learned   Additional   Public   Prosecutor   and   considering   the   facts   and  circumstances of the case more particularly  when the charge against the petitioner  is only of sub standardization of the goods and that original accused was convicted  for the offence punishable under for the offences punishable under  Sections 2(i­a)(a)(m),   7(1)(3)(5}    and  Section   16(1)(a)(1)  of   the   Act   and   Rule   50   of   the   Rules,  considering the decision  of the Hon’ble Supreme Court    in the case of Nemichand   (supra) and amendment in the Act by Central Amendment Act 34 of 1976  whereby  Sections 51  and  52  have been added and under said sections only fine is laviable,  decision of the  Hon’ble Supreme Court  in the case of Nemichand (supra) squarely  applies. 

7. ……………..

8. Under the circumstances, present Revision Application is partly allowed. Conviction  of the accused for the offences  alleged against him is hereby maintained.  However,  sentence   is   modified   by  imposing  fine   of   Rs.40,000/­   (Rupees   Forty   Thousand  only)  which shall be deposited before the trial court within a period of four weeks  from today…………”

5.7 It would also be pertinent to mention here that Hon’ble  Delhi   High   Court   recently   in  Amar   Singh’s   case   (supra),   which  involved mis­branding, upheld the punishment of TRC, i.e. less than  the minimum prescribed under FSA Act,  considering inter alia that the  said offence is now punishable with fine only under the new Act i.e.  FSSA.

5.8   Let me now refer to  Balraj Sharma’s case (supra)  as  relied   upon   by   Ld.   Addl.   PP.    The   facts   in   that   case   were   very  different.       Said case involved adulteration.   Further, in that case, a  fresh factual plea was raised  by the appellant at appellate stage.   In  those   circumstances,   the   Hon’ble   Court   observed   that   it   cannot  interfere with the minimum sentence awarded by the Ld. Trial Court.  The   Hon’ble   Court   was   not   dealing   with   the   issue   whether   the  sentence can be reduced to less than minimum, as was directly dealt  with   in  Nemi   Chand’s  case   (supra).   In   view   of   the   same,   said  judgment is of no assistance to the appellant.  

6.0  In view of the  above facts and circumstances and the  case   law   as   discussed   above,   the   imprisonment   ­   TRC   is   not  interfered   with.     Mentioning   of   vegetarian   symbol     is   of   great  significance.   Thus, considering the facts in entirety and that the  sample did not bear vegetarian symbol, the fine imposed upon the  respondent is enhanced from Rs.20,000/­ to Rs.30,000/­ (Rs. Thirty  Thousand only) which shall be deposited with the Ld. Trial Court  within a period of two weeks from today.

7.0 The appeal is accordingly disposed of.


8.0 Trial court record be sent back along with copy of this judgment.


9.0 File be consigned to Record Room.


Announced in the open court                 

(POONAM A.BAMBA)

on  this 21st Day of March 2018.          

 District & Sessions Judge 

New Delhi 

PFA – Delhi Court – Crl.appeal – Food Inspector Vs Sanjay Sangwan – Orion Choco Pie – Gelatin with Animal origin case – March 6th-2018

IN THE COURT OF MS. POONAM A. BAMBA :DISTRICT & 
             SESSIONS JUDGE: NEW DELHI

Crl. Appeal No. 8511/16

Food Inspector/Food Safety Officer
Department of PFA/FS
Govt. of NCT of Delhi
A­20 Lawrence Road
Indl. Area,New Delhi­110035.                                                                                               ....Appellant
                           Versus
Sh. Sanjay Sangwan
S/o Sh.Ram Kalan
M/s Ram Lakshay Impex
WZ­20, Chunnamal Park
East Punjabi Bagh
New Delhi­110026.
R/o House No.7, Gali No.10
Madan Park, East Punjabi Bagh
Delhi­110026.                                                                                                              ....Respondent

APPEAL UNDER SECTIONS 377 CODE OF  CRIMINAL   PROCEDURE   AGAINST   THE  ORDER DATED 14.02.2013 OF LD.ACMM­ II, NEW DELHI.

 Date of Institution of Appeal   :  06.08.2013    

 Arguments concluded on         :  06.03.2018    

 Judgment announced on          : 06.03.2018   

J U D G M E N T

1.0  Vide this appeal, the appellant has challenged the order  on   sentence   dated   14.02.2013,  whereby   the   Ld.   ACMM­II,   New  Crl. Appeal No. 8511/16                                                            Delhi sentenced the respondent for an offence punishable under  Section   16(1)(a)   r/w   Section   7   of   the   Prevention   of  Food  Adulteration Act, 1954 (“PFA Act” in short)  for a period of one  day i.e. till rising of the court (“TRC” in short)  and to pay a fine  of Rs. 45,000/­.  In default of payment of fine, SI for one month.  It   is   pleaded   that   Section   16(1)(a)   of  the   PFA   Act   prescribes  minimum   imprisonment   of   six   months   and   fine.   Ld.   Trial   Court  could   not   have   awarded   imprisonment   of   TRC   i.e.   less   than   the  minimum prescribed. In support, Ld. Addl. PP  placed reliance  upon   the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Balraj Sharma V. State  (UT Chandigarh), 2016(1) FAC 16).

2.0  On   the   other   hand,  Ld.   Counsel   for   the   respondent  sought   dismissal   of  this  appeal   pleading  that  it  lacks  merit.  It  is  submitted that as per Public Analyst’s report, the sample of “Orion  Choco Pie”  was reported to  be  misbranded for want of declaration  “Gelatin Animal Origin and used vegetarian symbol although beef  Gelatin   used   under   ingredients   in   non   vegetarian”   and   thus,   the  same   was   in   violation   of   rule   32   (e)   of   the   Prevention   of   Food  Adulteration Rules, 1955 (“PF Rules” in short).  It was not a case of  adulteration. Considering the same, the Ld.  Trial Court  has rightly  sentenced the appellant with TRC and fine of Rs.45,000/­.

3.0 I have heard Sh. A.K.Mishra, Ld. Addl. PP for the state  Crl. Appeal No. 8511/16      and Sh.Rakesh Malhotra, Ld.  Counsel for the respondent and have  carefully perused the record.

4.0  Briefly stating, the factual background of the appeal is  that a sample of “Orion Choco Pie” was lifted from the vendor­cum­ Proprietor/respondent’s premises at M/s Ram Lakshay Impex, WZ­ 20, Chunnamal Park,  East Punjabi Bagh,  New Delhi,  by the Food  Inspector on 04.10.2005.  One part of sample was sent for analysis.  Public Analyst vide his report dated 11.10.2005 reported the sample  to be misbranded because  it did not declare   “Gelatin Animal Origin  and   used   vegetarian   symbol   although   beef   Gelatin   used   under  ingredients in  non vegetarian” and that there was violation of rule  32(e) of PFA Rules. A complaint against the respondent herein was  filed   alleging   violation   of   Section   7/16   PFA   Act.  The  respondent/accused   was   charged   with   violation   of   provisions   of  Section 2 (ix)(e)(g)&(k) of the PFA Act and rules 32 (b)&(e), 37 and  42 (ZZZ) PF Rules,  which is  punishable under Section 16(1)(a) r/w  section 7 of the PF Act.

4.1 On   14.02.2013,   the   respondent   pleaded   guilty   to   the  offences alleged against him and prayed that a lenient view may be  taken against him. In view of the same, the Ld. Trial Court passed  the impugned order, which reads as under:

“14.02.2013 Present:     Shri Masood Ahmad, Ld. SPP for the complainant.Crl. Appeal No. 8511/16              Accused alongwith Counsel, Shri M.C.Sanghi.

 

   Today case is listed for consideration on application under section 311Cr.P.C. filed on behalf of the accused.

 At this stage,Ld. Counsel  for  the  accused  submits that  since the offence complained of against the accused  is of misbranding only and there is no adulteration, the accused is ready and willing to plead guilty.

Statement of the accused to this effect has been recorded separately whereby he has pleaded guilty  for the offence(s)  complained of against him and prayed for lenient view to be taken. Ld. Counsel for the accused submitted that the accused is 40 years of age, have wife, two small school going children of age about 13 ,­14 years.  He further submitted that at present the accused has no business and is sole bread  earner of his family  and therefore,  a lenient view may be taken.

On  the other hand Ld.SPP  has argued  that  the  offences  under  the PFA Act ,1954 are  socio  ­economic offences  and should be dealt with severely and accused be awarded appropriate sentence.

Keeping   into   consideration   the   submissions   as   summarized   herein  above,  this   court   is   of   the   considered   opinion   that   the   ends   of   justice   shall   be  reasonably and suitably met if the accused is sentenced to  S.I. for the period of one  day  i.e.   till   rising   of   the   court  and   to   pay   a   fine   of   Rs.45,000/­(Rs.Forty   Five  Thousand only). In default of payment of fine, one month S.I. to the accused.Fine  paid. Endorsement  on security  document of the surety, if any, be cancelled as per  rules.

         File be consigned to Records after due compliance.

(Mohinder Virat)              ACMM­II/PHC/ND/14.02.2013″

4.2  The appellant has pleaded that the minimum sentence  for misbranding as prescribed under Section 16(1)(a) PFA Act, is  imprisonment for a term of not less than six months; and therefore,  the Ld. MM could not have awarded  the sentence  of TRC i.e. less  than the minimum prescribed period of six months. Ld. counsel for  the respondent on the other hand,  argued that it was only a case of  misbranding and not adulteration. The PFA Act now stands repealed  and has been  replaced by the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006  (“FSS Act” in short). Under FSS Act, misbranding is punishable  only with fine and punishment of imprisonment has been done away  Crl. Appeal No. 8511/16    with.   In view of these facts, there is no infirmity in the sentence  awarded by the Ld. Trial Court.   In support, Ld. Counsel placed  reliance upon the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court Of India in Nemi Chand V. State of Rajasthan 2016 (1) FAC 561.

4.3 No   doubt,   minimum   sentence   for   the   offences   under  Section 2 (ix)(e)(g)&(k) of the PFA Act and rules 32 (b)&(e), 37  and 42 (ZZZ) PF Rules, with which the respondent was charged, as  prescribed under Section 16(1) (a) PFA Act,  is six months.   Thus,  the   Ld.   Trial   Court   awarded   less   than   the   minimum   prescribed  sentence.   

4.4  What is to be seen is, whether the Ld. ACMM could have  awarded a punishment less than the prescribed minimum.    It    is a  matter of record that that PFA Act stands repealed vide Notification  F.No.P­15025/41/2011­DFQC,   dated   4th   August,   2011  w.e.f.  05.08.2011 and now FSS Act has come into being. Under Section 52  FSS Act, misbranding is  now punishable only with penalty which  may extend to Rs.Three Lacs. The punishment of imprisonment has  been done away with. It would be pertinent to mention here that the  similar issue as involved  in the instant  case, that is,  of awarding of  sentence less than the minimum prescribed under the old Act (PFA  Act) came up for consideration  before  the Hon’ble Supreme Court in  Nemi Chand vs State of Rajasthan, Criminal Appeals No.214 of  Crl. Appeal No. 8511/16      016 & 215 of 2016, decided vide judgment dated 10.03.2016.  In  that case, the appellant was tried and  convicted for offence  under  Section 7/16 of the PFA Act by the trial court and was inter alia,  sentenced to undergo  six months’  Rigorous Imprisonment   as well as  fine of Rs.1,000/­. The same was challenged by way of appeal before  the sessions court  and  on not succeeding, the appellant filed revision  petition before the Hon’ble High Court which was also dismissed.  The appellant then preferred an appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme  Court. Hon’ble Supreme Court vide its order  dated 10.03.2016, had  modified/reduced the sentence awarded to the appellant therein to  fine of Rs.50,000/­ for the offence under Section 7/16 of the PFA  Act.

4.4.1 Hon’ble Supreme Court in above case, observed as under:

“……..It is not in dispute that the charge against the appellant was only of sub­ standardization of goods.  Mr. Sushil Kumar Jain, learned senior counsel appearing  for the appellant, submits that though the appellant  has some prima facie case even on  merits, he would be giving up the plea on merits and his  only submission  is about  the sentence which has been imposed by the courts below. He has, in this behalf,  argued that there  has been an amendment in the Act by the Central Amendment  Act 34 of 1976 whereby  Section 16A was added  and under the said section, only a  fine is leviable. He has drawn our  attention to the judgment of this Court  in ‘T. Barai  v. Henry Ah Hoe and Another‘ [1983 (1) SCC 177] wherein this Court held that  since the amendment  was beneficial to the accused persons, it can be applied  even with respect to earlier  cases as well which  are  pending   in the Court. In the  said judgment, the Court held as under: 

“22. It is only retroactive criminal legislation that is prohibited under Article  20(1). The prohibition  contained  in  Article 20(1)  is that no person shall be  convicted of any offence except  for violation of a law in force at  the time of the  commission of the act charged as an offence prohibits nor shall he be subjected  to a penalty  greater  than that which might have been inflicted under the law in  force at the time of the  commission of the  offence.   It is quite clear that in so far  as the Central Amendment Act  creates new offences  or enhances punishment    for a particular type of offence no person can be convicted by such ex post facto  law   nor   can   the   enhanced   punishment   prescribed   by   the   amendment   be  Crl. Appeal No. 8511/16      applicable.  But   in   so   far   as   the   Central   Amendment   Act   reduces   the  punishment for an offence  punishable under Section 16(1)(a) of the Act,  there is no reason why the  accused should not have the  benefit  of such   reduced punishment. The rule of beneficial construction requires that even  ex post facto law  of such  a type  should be applied to mitigate the rigour of  the law. The principle is based both  on sound reason  and common sense.  This  finds support in the following passage from Craies on Statute Law, 7th  Edn., at pp. 388­89: 

A retrospective statute is different from an ex post facto statute. “Every  ex post facto law….” said Chase, J.,  in the American case of Calder v. Bull  “must necessarily be retrospective, but every retrospective law is not an ex  post facto law. Every law that takes away or impairs rights vested agreeably  to   existing   laws   is   retrospective,  and   is   generally   unjust   and   may   be  oppressive;  it is a good general rule  that a law should  have no  retrospect, but  in cases in which  the laws may justly  and for the benefit of the community  and also of individuals relate to a time antecedent to their commencement:  as statutes of oblivion  or of pardon.  They are certainly retrospective, and  literally   both   concerning   and   after   the   facts   committed.   But   I   do  not  consider   any   law   ex   post   facto   within   the   prohibition   that   mollifies   the  rigour of the  criminal law,  but only those that create or aggravate the crime,  or increase the punishment or change  the rules  of evidence for the purpose  of conviction…. There is a great and apparent difference between making an  unlawful   act   lawful   and   the   making   an   innocent   action   criminal   and  punishing it as a crime.” 

From the facts of the present case,  we have no doubt in mind that the aforesaid  judgment squarely  applies  thereon. This appeal is, therefore, partly allowed and  the sentence imposed  upon the appellant is  modified by imposing fine of Rs.  50,000/­ which shall be deposited within two months with the trial court……”

4.5  Thus, the Hon’ble Supreme Court modified the minimum  sentence   of   (rigorous)   imprisonment   of   six   months   and   fine   of  Rs.10,000/­   awarded   by   the   Ld.   Trial   Court   to   only   fine   of  Rs.50,000/­. 

     4.6 It would also be pertinent to mention here that following  the above dictum of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in  Nemi Chand’s  case,   Hon’ble   Gujarat   High   Court   in   its   recent   judgment   dated  22.09.2017   in  Kasnabhai   Kadvabhai   Gari   vs   State   of   Gujarat,  Crl. Appeal No. 8511/16       Criminal Revision Application (Against Conviction­Food Adulteration  Act)   No.662   of   2013,   where   the   accused   was   guilty   of   only   sub  standardization  of goods, modified the sentence from one year simple  imprisonment and fine of Rs.2,000/­ to only fine of Rs.40,000/­. 

4.7 Hon’ble High Court Of Delhi in  State V Amar Singh  2016 Cr.LJ 583, which involved mis­branding upheld  the punishment  of   TRC,   i.e.   less   than   the   minimum   prescribed   under   FSA   Act,  considering inter alia  that the said offence is now punishable with fine  only under the new Act i.e. FSSA.  

4.8   A passing reference may also be made  to letter dated  03.10.2017 of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.   Vide said  letter, the said Authority, in the light of judgment of Hon’ble Supreme  Court   in  Nemi   Chand’s   case   (supra),   issued   an   advisory   to   the  Commissioners of Food Safety/Officers­ in­charge of Food Safety to  dispose   of   the   long   pending   court   cases   filed   under   old   PFA   Act  mainly concerning sub­standard and mis­branding by imposing fine  only. 

4.9  Let me now refer to  Balraj Sharma’s case  (supra)  as  relied   upon   by   Ld.   Addl.   PP.    The   facts   in   that   case   were   very  different. Said case involved adulteration.  Further, in that case, a fresh  factual plea was raised by the appellant at appellate stage.   In those  Crl. Appeal No. 8511/16       circumstances,  the Hon’ble Court   observed that it cannot interfere with  the minimum sentence awarded  by the Ld. Trial Court.  The Hon’ble  Court   was  not   dealing  with  the   issue   whether  the   sentence   can  be  reduced to less than minimum,  as was directly dealt  with in  Nemi  Chand’s  case (supra). In view of the same, said judgment is of no  assistance to the appellant.

5.0  In view of the  above   facts   and   circumstances   and   the  case   law   as   discussed   above,  the   imprisonment   of   TRC   is   not  interfered  with.  However,  it  is  noted that  the  sample  did not  bear  batch   number;   and   statement   /   symbol   on   the   label   was   false   and  misleading. Label bore vegetarian symbol whereas on the label under  the ingredients at one place, it mentioned that the product contained  “Gelatin”   and   at   other   place,   it     declared   “beef   Gelatin”   without  specifying that the Gelatin was of animal origin, which is a serious  matter.  Considering these facts and keeping in mind the spirit of  the   FSA   Act,   the   penalty   imposed   upon   the   respondent   is  enhanced to Rs.70,000/­ (Rs. Seventy Thousand only) which shall  be deposited with the  Ld. Trial Court  within a period of two weeks  from today.

6.0.The appeal is accordingly disposed of.
Crl. Appeal No. 8511/16                                                

7.0  Trial court record be sent back along with copy of this  judgment.

8.0  File be consigned to Record Room.

Announced in the open court               

(POONAM A.BAMBA) on this 06th Day of March, 2018.        

District & Sessions Judge  , New Delhi 

FSSA – Delhi District Court – Sachin Juneja Vs Food Safety Officer -Fine imposed by AO – Appeal – March 1-2018

              IN THE COURT OF MS.POONAM A. BAMBA 
                DISTRICT & SESSIONS JUDGE
                        NEW DELHI
                     FSAT No. 42/16

Sachin Juneja
S/o Sh. Harbans Lal Juneja
M/s india Masala Co.
540, 1st Floor, Naya Bazar,
New Delhi - 110006.

R/o B­119, Derawal Nagar
Delhi - 110009.                                                                                                                  ....Appellant

    Versus

1.)               Food Safety Officer
                  Department of Food Safety
                  Govt. of NCT of Delhi
                  A­20, Lawrence Road Indl. Area,
                  Delhi - 110015.

2.)               Food Safety Commissioner
                  8th Floor, Mayur Bhawan
                  Shankar Road, Connaught Place
                  New Delhi.                                                                                                 ....Respondents

APPEAL   AGAINST   THE   ORDER   DATED  13.04.2016   OF   LD.AO/ADM(CENTRAL),  GOVT. OF NCT OF DELHI.

               Date of Institution of Appeal   :  05.07.2016    

               Arguments concluded on         :  01.03.2018    

              Judgment announced on          : 01.03.2018  

 J U D G M E N T                                                                                                                     

1.0  Vide this appeal, the appellant has challenged the order  dated 13.04.2016,  whereby the  Ld. Adjudicating Officer/ Additional  District   Magistrate(Central)(“AO”/   “ADM”   in   short),   Govt.   of  NCT of Delhi imposed a penalty of Rs.70,000/­ under  the provision  Rule 3.1.2(1) of  Food Safety and Standards Rules,  2011(“FSSR” in  short).  It is pleaded that on assurance of leniency and imposition of  a small amount of penalty,  the appellant had pleaded guilty before  Ld.AO/ADM.   But   subsequently   the   Ld.AO/ADM   imposed   the  penalty  of Rs.70,000/­.

2.0  On   the   other   hand,  Ld.   Counsel   for   the   respondent  sought dismissal of this appeal pleading that it  is barred by time.  Dismissal   is   also   sought   on   the   ground   that   once   the   appellant  pleaded guilty,  he cannot challenge the impugned order on merits  and even, the quantum of penalty. More so, as only a small amount  of penalty has been imposed. 

3.0 I have heard Sh. R.D.Goel, Ld. Counsel for the appellant  and Sh. A. K. Mishra, Ld. Addl. PP for the respondent and have  carefully perused the record.

4.0  Let me first deal with the plea of limitation raised by the  respondent.   The   respondent   has   pleaded   that   the   appeal   is   time  barred.  Article 115(b) of Limitation Act, 1963,  (“Limitation Act” in short)  prescribes   limitation  period of 30 days for criminal appeals  against   order   of   sentence.   It   is   seen   that   the   impugned   order   of  sentence under challenge in this appeal was passed on 13.04.2016.  The   appeal   was  preferred   on   05.07.2016  i.e.   after   65   days.  Thus,  there is a delay of 35 days.

4.1  The   appellant   has   submitted   that   although,   the   matter  was decided by Ld.AO/ ADM on 13.04.2016,  the letter was sent by  him on 19.05.2016 and copy of the judgment from the Ld.AO/ADM  was received  by the appellant  on 08.06.2016. Thereafter, the courts  were   closed   on   account   of   summer   vacations   from   11.06.2016   to  30.06.2016. The appeal was filed on 05.07.2016, immediately after  opening   of   the   courts   in   July,   2016.   Hence,   the   delay   if   any,   be  condoned. 

4.2  In   rebuttal,   the   Ld.   Addl.   PP   for   the   respondent  submitted   that   each   day’s   delay   needs   to   be   explained   but   the  appellant has failed to do so. Therefore, this appeal is liable to be  dismissed.

4.3   There   is  a   delay   of  about   35   days.   The   appellant   has  submitted that the copy of the judgment  of  Ld. AO/ ADM (Central)   was received by them only on 08.06.2016. The appellant has placed  on record the original  speed post envelope,  in support. Perusal of the  said envelope shows that it bears the dispatch number same as the  one put on the impugned order meaning thereby, the said envelope  contained   the   impugned   order.   Further,   this   envelope   bears   the  postal department’s stamp of “08.06.2016”. The same supports the  appellant’s averment.  The appellant has further explained that the  courts were closed from 11.06.2016 to 30.06.2016 and that is why the  appeal was filed on 05.07.2016. The appeal has been filed within 30  days   of   receipt   of   the   judgment.   In   view   of   these   facts   and  circumstances,  the  appellant  has explained the  delay in  filing the  present appeal.  Hence, the application for condonation of delay is  allowed.

5.0  Let me now examine the appeal on merits. The appellant  has contended that the Food Ananlyst’s report  was not reliable as it  did not specify whether the sample/container was rectangular, oval  or cylindrical  or of any  other  shape.  Therefore, the Analyst’s report  that   the   sample   violated   regulation   2.3.2.1(a)  Food   Safety   &  Standards(Packaging   &   Labelling)Regulations,2011(“FSS(P&L)  Regulations”   in   short)  is   vague;no   penalty   could   have   been  imposed for violation of the said regulation on the basis of such a  vague report. 

5.1   On the other hand, Ld. Addl.PP submitted that from the  fact   that   the   report   mentions   the   specified   standard   (of   area   of  principal display panel) shall not be   less than 40%, same clearly  indicates   that   it   is   referring   to   the   rectangular   container.   Even  otherwise,   the   appellant   cannot   be   allowed   to   raise   any   such  contentions/challenge the impugned order on merits, having pleaded  guilty before the Ld. AO/ADM. 

5.2   Admittedly, the sample of “Badam Giri” lifted from the  appellant’s shop,  as per the Food Analysts’s Report  was found to be  mis branded, being in violation of Regulation 2.3.2.1(a) FSS(P&L)  Regulations.   It   is   also   not   in   dispute   that   on   receipt   of   the   said  report, the appellant was given an opportunity to prefer an appeal  against   the   said   report;   and   the   appellant   chose   not   to   prefer   an  appeal against the same.  It is further not in dispute  that during the  course of inquiry before the Ld.AO/ADM, the appellant admitted the  violation and pleaded guilty,  requesting for lenient view. In view of  the   same,   the   Ld.AO/ADM   after   considering   the   facts   and  circumstances, imposed a penalty of Rs.70,000/­. 

5.3  In   view   of   the   above,   I   find   force   in   Ld.   Addl.   PP’s  contention that the appellant having pleaded  guilty  cannot  challenge  the impugned order on merits. More over, despite opportunity, the  appellant   had   chosen   not   to   appeal   against   the   Food   Analyst’s  report. Even otherwise, the mention of the specified standard to be  not less that 40% for the area of principal  display panel and the  opinion specifying that sample  is mis branded  because of violation of .2.3.2.1(a)   FSS(P&L)Regulations,   clearly   indicate   that   the   sample  was rectangular.

6.0  Ld. Counsel for the appellant now submits that he does  not press the above contentions and the appellant’s   only  grievance is  that   he   was   given   to   understand   by   the   Ld.   AO/ADM   that   if   he  pleaded guilty,  a lighter fine shall be imposed upon him. However,  subsequently, a fine of Rs.70,000/­ was imposed upon him.

7.0  Let me mention here that for mis branded food,  Section  52 FSS Act provides for a  penalty which may  extend upto  Rs.Three  Lakhs. It reads as under:­ “52. Penalty for misbranded food­ (1)  Any person  who whether  by himself or  by any   other person on his behalf  manufactures for sale or   stores or  sells   or   distributes   or   imports   any   article   of food for  human   consumption   which   is   misbranded,   shall be  liable to a penalty which may extend to  three lakh rupees.”

7.1  It is seen that Ld.AO/ADM after considering the facts  and   circumstances   of   the   case,   has   imposed   only   a   penalty   of  Rs.70,000/­ as against the maximum penalty of Rs.Three lakhs. The  appellant has failed to make out  any case for  reduction of the said  penalty. 

 8.0 In view of the above facts and circumstances, I find  no infirmity in the impugned order. Hence, the  same does not call  for any interference. The appeal is dismissed accordingly.

9.0  Trial court record be sent back along with copy of this  judgment.

10.0 File be consigned to Record Room.

                   (POONAM A.BAMBA)  .