SUPREME COURT OF INDIA | R. Banumathi & A.S. Bopanna, JJ. Crl.A. No. 1167 of 2019 31-07-2019
State of Uttar Pradesh
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 – Sections 7 (1) and 16 (1) (a) (i) – Uncorroborated testimony of Food Inspector cannot be relied upon to sustain the conviction.
Whether the guilt can be proved only on the evidence of Food Inspector ?
The Public Analyst had opined that the milk sample was deficient by 12 per cent in milk fat and 27 per cent in nonfatty solids. The said results would become relevant only if it is established that the sample taken for such analysis was also in a proper manner after stirring which would make the fat and non-fat into homogenous mixture. Hence, in that regard appropriate evidence was necessary more particularly, when PW3 who was claimed to be an independent witness has not supported the prosecution. In the facts and circumstances of the present case, in our view, the uncorroborated testimony of PW1 – Food Inspector cannot be relied upon to sustain the conviction. Therefore, in that circumstance even if the other aspects are not adverted to, the very fact that the Analyst’s report being served not being proved and the sample being taken in an appropriate manner not being established, it would be sufficient to hold that the prosecution has not proved the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt and the conviction is not justified. In that view, the judgments dated 02.06.1987, 01.11.1988 and 09.12.2014 passed respectively by the Judicial Magistrate, Hapur, Ghaziabad, the Additional Sessions Judge Ghaziabad and the High Court of Allahabad are set aside and this appeal is allowed. The appellant is acquitted of the charge under Section 7(1)/16(1)(a)(i) of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. [Paras 17 and 18]
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 – Section 13 (2) – Public Analyst Report – No evidence was brought on record to indicate that the report which is claimed to have been despatched was actually served or delivered to the accused. The very purpose of furnishing such report is to enable the accused to seek for reference to the Central Food Laboratory for analysis if the accused is dissatisfied with the report. Such safeguard provided to the accused under Section 13(2) of the Act is a valuable right.
On this aspect of the matter, we take note that while adverting to the provision in Section 13(2) requiring to furnish the report of the Analyst to the accused as contemplated therein the learned Judges of all the three Courts have taken note of the evidence of PW2 Shri Jaipal Singh, the Food Clerk who claimed to have despatched the report by registered post on 07.04.1980. The learned Judges have however failed to take note that no evidence was brought on record to indicate that the report which is claimed to have been despatched was actually served or delivered to the appellant. The very purpose of furnishing such report is to enable the accused to seek for reference to the Central Food Laboratory for analysis if the accused is dissatisfied with the report. Such safeguard provided to the accused under Section 13(2) of the Act is a valuable right. [Para 15]
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 – Section 13 (2) – Public Analyst Report – Despatch of the report is beyond the period of 10 days – Valuable right available to the accused to seek for reference within the period of 10 days stands defeated – When the accused is made to suffer the penal consequences, it will have to be construed strictly.
In that view even if the despatch of the report on 07.04.1980 is taken as substantial compliance though it is beyond the period of 10 days from 18.03.1980 i.e., the date on which the prosecution was lodged, in the absence of there being proof of delivery of the report to the accused; in the instant facts the valuable right available to the accused/appellant to seek for reference within the period of 10 days stands defeated. In that circumstance when the appellant/accused is made to suffer the penal consequences, it will have to be construed strictly. In the facts and circumstances of this case, since as already noticed above the report of the Analyst has not in fact been served on the appellant and the mere despatch of the report as per the statement of PW2 was not sufficient. If that be the position, the entire case of the prosecution which revolves around and is built upon the report of the Analyst cannot be made the basis for holding the appellant/accused guilty in the present case. [Para 15]
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 – Section 10 (7) – Milk Sample – The very requirement of the provision is to collect the sample in the presence of an independent witness – Such independent witness has not supported the case of the prosecution – The manner as to whether the sample was appropriately taken after properly stirring the milk and whether the same was sent for analysis also in such manner has, therefore, not been established – This is more so in the circumstance where milk which is a primary product has fat content and the fat content would also depend on the appropriate manner in which the sample is taken after stirring. [Para 16]
Petitioner’s Advocate : Rohit Singh
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