Skip to content


The State of Maharashtra Vs. Baijnath Shah Mathura Shah - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1976CriLJ908
AppellantThe State of Maharashtra
RespondentBaijnath Shah Mathura Shah
Excerpt:
.....the necessary sanction for the prosecution of the accused from the competent authority, the food inspector filed complaint before the magistrate charging him with an offence punishable under section 16(1)(a) read with section 7(i) read with rule a. to the food inspector as well as the receipt (ex. besides, the receipts received from the public analyst about the receipt of the sample as well as the receipt of the copy of the memorandum with specimen of the impression of seal sent separately, were also produced at exhibit 'e'.7. the learned magistrate acquitted the respondent accused holding that the prosecution has failed to prove that the provisions of section 10(7) of the prevention of food adulteration act, 1954 were duly complied with by the food inspector (pw-2), inasmuch as..........opposite shreeram mills on the jail road at worli, bombay.2. manohar ratan sawant (pw-2) is the food inspector in the employ of the bombay municipal corporation duly appointed as such under the provisions of section 9 of the prevention of food adulteration act. on the morning of november 11, 1972 at about 7.45 a. m. he visited the shop of the respondent-accused with a view to purchase milk for analysis. he called anaji narayan govalkar (pw-1) and in his presence purchased 700 millilitres of cow's boiled milk from the accused on payment of its price of rs. 2.10 and at the same time he gave notice to the accused that he was purchasing this quantity of milk for purposes of analysis and he also obtained a receipt from the accused. he then added 19 drops of liquid formalin, a preservative,.....
Judgment:

Apte, J.

1. The respondent-accused Baijnath Shah Mathura Shah Bania in this appeal, conducts a sweetmeat shop in which milk is also sold. This shop is housed in a sort of a shed which is situate opposite Shreeram Mills on the jail road at Worli, Bombay.

2. Manohar Ratan Sawant (PW-2) is the Food Inspector in the employ of the Bombay Municipal Corporation duly appointed as such under the provisions of Section 9 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. On the morning of November 11, 1972 at about 7.45 a. m. he visited the shop of the respondent-accused with a view to purchase milk for analysis. He called Anaji Narayan Govalkar (PW-1) and in his presence purchased 700 millilitres of cow's boiled milk from the accused on payment of its price of Rs. 2.10 and at the same time he gave notice to the accused that he was purchasing this quantity of milk for purposes of analysis and he also obtained a receipt from the accused. He then added 19 drops of liquid formalin, a preservative, and then divided this quantity in three equal parts and after putting each part in a separate clean and dry bottle packed, labelled and sealed each bottle duly. One of the bottles of sample was handed over to the accused on obtaining his receipt and one was sent to the Public Analyst and the third was produced in Court as Exhibit 'B'. It may be noted that each of the three bottles was also affixed with label bearing the signature of witness Anaji Narayan, who was present at the time, and that of the accused.

3. The Public Analyst received these bottles on the same day and after examining the sample, forwarded his report on 28-1-1972. The Public Analyst certified that the sample contained fat 3.3 per cent, solid nonfat 6.1 per cent and extraneous water 28.2 per cent According to Rule A.11.01.11 in Appendix 'B' of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, the standard of purity prescribed for cow's milk is that it should contain minimum of 3.5 per cent of milk fat, and 8.5 per cent of milk solid non-fat.

4. As the milk purchased from the accused was found to be deficient in milk fat as well as in milk solid non-fat, it was found to be sub-standard, and therefore, adulterated within the meaning of Section 2(i)(1). Consequently after obtaining the necessary sanction for the prosecution of the accused from the competent authority, the Food Inspector filed complaint before the Magistrate charging him with an offence punishable under Section 16(1)(a) read with Section 7(i) read with rule A. 11.01.11 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules.

5. The accused pleaded not guilty to the charge. While admitting that he was conducting a sweetmeat shop and that the Food Inspector had visited it on the morning of November 11, 1972, he denied that Anaji Narayan Govalkar (PW-1) was in his company or that he had visited his shop. Further, he denied to have sold to the Food Inspector cow's boiled milk, but stated that what he sold was buffalo's cold unboiled milk. Further, he denied that the quantity of milk purchased by the Food Inspector from him was divided by the Food Inspector into there equal parts, and each part was put In a separate bottle and those bottles were packed leveled and sealed. He even denied to have received any price for the milk.

6. The prosecution in support of the charge examined the Food Inspector Sawant and Anaji Narayan Govalkar. According to the prosecution, Anaji Narayan Govalkar was kept present throughout the operation. In addition, the prosecution also produced on record the receipt (Ex. 'A') obtained from the accused for his having sold cow's boiled milk 700 millilitres in quantity for Rs. 2.10 ps. to the Food Inspector as well as the receipt (Ex. 'B') acknowledging the notice given by the Food Inspector that he had purchased the cow's boiled milk for the purposes of sending it for analysis. Besides, the receipts received from the Public Analyst about the receipt of the sample as well as the receipt of the copy of the memorandum with specimen of the impression of seal sent separately, were also produced at Exhibit 'E'.

7. The learned Magistrate acquitted the respondent accused holding that the prosecution has failed to prove that the provisions of Section 10(7) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 were duly complied with by the Food Inspector (PW-2), inasmuch as in the view of the learned Magistrate it was not satisfactorily proved that Anaji Nara-yam Govalkar was present at all the stages Mentioned in Section 10(7) of the Act. The State has, therefore, preferred this appeal-

8. The first point argued on behalf of the appellant was that the view taken by the learned Magistrate that Anaji Govalkar was but proved to have been present throughout the operation at all stages is not correct. It is submitted that although Govalkar turned hostile and did not support the prosecution, the evidence of Food Inspector clearly established that in fact Govalkar was kept present from the- beginning to the end and that all the formalities prescribed under the law while obtaining sample for analysis were observed by the Food Inspector. After going through the evidence of these witnesses, in my view, the Food Inspector's evidence clearly establishes that Govalkar was present from the beginning to the end, and that all the requisite formalities were duly complied with as prescribed by law by the Food Inspector while taking the sample. The Food Inspector has stated on oath that he visited the shop of the accused in the morning of February 11, 1972 and this fact is also not denied by the accused. Further the Food Inspector Sawant stated that along with him was Anaji Narayan (PW-1) and after going to the shop of the accused he disclosed his identity to the accused who was present in the shop and also told him that he wanted to take sample of cow's boiled milk for analysis. Thereupon the accused sold to him 700 millilitres of cow's boiled milk out of the quantity which was kept there for sale and received its price Rs. 2.10 ps. Exhibit 'A' is the receipt which bears the signature of the accused as well as that of Anaji Govalkar. The receipt state that a sum of Rs. 2.10 as cost of 700 millilitres of cow's boiled milk purchased as sample by the Food Inspector was received by the accused. It also notes down the date and the time and the number of sample 441. On (he hock side of this receipt the accused has also acknowledged under his signature the receipt of one sample sealed bottle containing His sample of cow's boiled milk which was purchased from him by the Food Inspector and this acknowledgement is also signed by Aaaji Narayan Govalkar.

9. Then proceeding further the evidence of the Food Inspector is that after purchasing the sample, he also gave the notice im from No. VI to the accused as obtained his signature behind it That notice is produced at Exhibit 'G'. He obtained the signature of the accused on the back of copy of it, as also the signature of Anaji Govalkar. That acknowledgement is produced at Exhibit 'C'

10. The Food Inspector Savant has also stated that he divided the said milk into three equal parts and put in three separate clean and dry bottles in the presence of both the accused and Anaji Govalkar, PW-1, and packed, labelled and sealed those bottles separately after adding formalin by way of preservative in each of these bottles and even the lables on each of them bore the signatures of the accused as also of Anaji Govalkar, and gave one of those sample bottles to accused and obtained his receipt on the reverse of Ex. 'A'.

11. Then he has stated that he sent one of the bottles to the Public Analyst for analysis along with memo in Form VII and also separately sent a copy of the memorandum and the specimen impression of seal affixed to the samples and he produced the report of the Public Analyst (Exhibit 'F') which was received by him.

12. Anaji Govalkar was kept present by the Food Inspector at the time of this operation. He however denied that he was called by the Food Inspector at the shop of the accused on that morning, but according to him, when he was standing on the footpath, the Municipal Food Inspector obtained his signature on some documents. He admitted his signatures on documents such as Exhibit 'A' as also on the paper-slip affixed to the sample bottle Ex. 'B'. Since the witness disclosed a tendency not to state truth, he was declared hostile by the prosecution and was cross-examined with the permission of the Court- But in cross-examination he again denied that the Food Inspector purchased cow's boiled milk in his presence. The suggestion that he was giving false evidence was also denied by him although he admitted to have given signatures to the Food Inspector of some papers.

13. Now, on behalf of the defence in support of the argument that independent person Govalkar was not present, reliance was placed on some statement made by the Food Inspector in his cross-examination. In the examination-in-chief, as already noted the Food Inspector stated that he visited the accused shop situated opposite Shreeram Mills, along with Anaji Narayan Govalkar (PW- 1). When questioned in the cross-examination, he, however, denied that it was not true that he had not take Fanck Govalkar to the shop of the accused. In reply to a further question he stated that Govalkar (PW-1) was already present in the shop of the accused when he went to that shop, and that he called him as a witness in the shop only. Relying on this statement it has been submitted on behalf of the accused that if Anaji Govalkar was already present in the accused's shop there was no necessity to call him. Therefore, it is submitted that the version of the Food Inspector that Anaji Govalkar was called cannot be believed. But it is not possible to accept this contention. When the Food Inspector stated that he called him as a witness in the shop, what he meant to say was that he requested the witness Anaji to witness what would transpire there. Apparently, no doubt, there is some discrepancy in the statement of the Food Inspector in the examination-in-chief that he took the panch witness Anaji Govalkar along with him and his statement in the cross-examination that the witness was already present in the shop. But this discrepancy is not such as would discredit his entire testimony. The discrepancy does not go to show that an independent witness was not present at all. Whether the witness was taken along with him by the Food Inspector while actually entering the shop or the witness was already present in the shop and he was requested to witness what would happen thereafter, is not very material. In my opinion, the evidence of the Food Inspector is more trustworthy than that of Anaji Govalkar (PW-1). The reason why Anaji Govalkar has not supported the prosecution case is not far to seek. On his own admission it appears that he is working in the Shreeram Mills which is situated just opposite the shop of the accused. It is, therefore, natural that he must be coming into contact with the accused very often. That appears to be the reason why he was not ready to give out the truth.

14. On considering the evidence of the Food Inspector, therefore, I am satisfied that Govalkar (PW-1) was present from the beginning to end when the Food Inspector went to the shop of the accused, disclosed his identity and purchased the sample of cow's boiled milk from the accused on payment of the price of the milk and that he was also present when this sample was divided into three equal parts and put in three separate bottles which were dry and clean.

15. My attention was invited, of behalf of the accused to the decision in B.A. Sawant v. State of Maharashtra, 70 Bom LR 794 : : AIR1969Bom353 , in which the Hon'ble Judge who decided that case opined that offences under Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1854, aw grave ones and before an accused person can be convicted the Court must be satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused sold the adulterated article of food, and that breaches in the performance of his duties by the Food-Inspector under Section 10(7) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, and Rule 14 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, may not necessarily result in vitiating the trial but they will affect his credibility, and further that a Food Inspector who does not care to follow strictly the mandatory provisions of the Act and the Rules cannot be assumed to have much regard for truth. It has been further observed that even though he may be truthful, the rule of prudence requires the Court to insist on some corroboration to his evidence. Wherever his evidence is challenged or is liable to be challenged, it is desirable that the witness who accompanied the Food Inspector should b examined, so that the evidence of the witness will lend assurance and corroboration to the evidence given by the Food Inspector.

16. There can be no quarrel about the proposition laid down in this case. However on facts that case is quite dusting trustable from the facts of the present case. In that case, the other persons who accompanied the complainant Food Inspector were also Food Inspectors and they were examined on behalf of the defence and they had not supported the prosecution in its entirety. Gopinath, the Food Inspector who was examined on behalf of the defence, nowhere stated that the bottles in which samples were put were clean and dry. In the present case, however, the Food Inspector Samant who has given evidence has made a categorical statement the he put the three separate parts of sample in three clean and dry bottles after adding formalin to them. That statement has not been effectively controverted in the cross-examination at all. Besides, in the case relied upon on behalf of the accused it appears that Gopinath had not witnessed the filling of the bottles of the sample and putting of labels thereon and what is more important, in that case the Food Inspector who was the complainant in the case had himself not cared to state in his evidence that the bottles which he used for putting samples were clean and dry bottles. Thus, on facts, this ruling is not at all helpful to the defence to support the argument advanced on behalf of the accused.

17. Now, it is well established by the decision of the Supreme Court in Babul Hargovinddas v. State of Gujarat : 1971CriLJ1075 , that solitary testimony of the Food Inspector if found to be reliable can be accepted and conviction can be based on it alone, while observing that the provisions of Section 10(7) being salutary should be complied with by the Food Inspector. This, however, does not mean that the evidence of the Food Inspector who is not an accomplice, that he had complied with the requirements of law by calling a panch witness and taking his signature cannot be accepted without corroboration especially when the panch has admitted his signature.

18. In the present case, as I have already stated the panch witness has admitted his signature on all the relevant documents. It is true that these documents are in English language, which, he stated, is not understood by the witness as well as by the accused. But the suggestion that the signatures of these persons were obtained by the Food Inspector on those documents without letting them know the contents of those papers has been denied by lie Food Inspector which goes to show that the contents of those documents were duly explained to the persons before their signatures were obtained.

19. In Manka Hari v. State of Gujarat : AIR1968Guj88 , it was held that if a food inspector takes action according to the terms of Sub-section (7) (presumably of Section 10 of the Act), even if later the person kept present does not corroborate the food inspector, the question that would arise only is whether the food inspector's story that he kept the person present at the time when the action was taken and took his signature is to be accepted. The acceptance of that story is not by the Act or the Rules made dependent on the person concerned supporting that story in a court of law. The court must decide that point on the facts placed before it and if on those facts the court comes to the conclusion that the food inspector did keep the panch present at the time action was taken as contemplated by Sub-section (7) of Section 10 and did take his signature, that sub-section must be held to have been complied with. In that case, it appears that the panch witness refused to oblige the prosecution by stating the truth. However, he admitted that he signed or attested the receipt

20. Some argument was addressed on the question of value to be attached to the witness declared hostile. But, in my opinion, that question does not fall for consideration in the present case, inasmuch as between the two I have found that the evidence of the Food Inspector is thoroughly reliable and that of the hostile witness is wholly unreliable.

21. Lastly, on behalf of the respondent-accused it was contended that this being an appeal, appeal from acquittal, this Court should be slow to interfere with the order of acquittal. My attention in this respect was invited to the decision of the Supreme Court in Shivaji Sahebrao Bobade v. State of Maharashtra, : 1973CriLJ1783 ; Mohandas Lalwani v. State of Madhya Pradesh : 1973CriLJ1812 ; and Sitaram Durga Prasad v- State of Madhya Pradesh : AIR1975SC77 . All these rulings lay down one and the same principle; viz. that the High Court in appeal under Section 417 has full power to review at large the evidence on which the order of acquittal was founded and to roach the conclusion that upon the evidence the order of acquittal should be reversed. No limitation should be placed upon that power unless it be found expressly stated in the Code but, in exercising this power and before reaching its conclusion upon fact, the High Court should give proper weight and consideration to such matters as (1) the views of the trial Judge as to the credibility of the witnesses; (2) the presumption of innocence in favour of the accused, a presumption certainly not weakened by the fact that he had been acquitted at his trial; (3) the right of the accused to the benefit of any doubt, and (4) the slowness of an appellate Court in disturbing a finding of fact arrived at by a Judge who had the advantage of seeing the witnesses.

22. I have already discussed above the entire evidence and have showed as to how the evidence of the Food Inspector is reliable and trustworthy and that of the Panch witness Govalkar is unreliable and I have also constantly kept in mind the afore-said principles which have been enunciated by their Lordships of the Supreme Court and after fully considering the evidence in the case, I have come to the conclusion that the evidence of the Food Inspector which is absolutely free from any blemish and is reliable, clearly establishes that the accused did sell to the Food Inspector cow's boiled milk which was found to be adulterated as it did not conform to the prescribed standards. The trial Court in coming to the conclusion that the prosecution had failed to establish that the mandatory provisions of Section 10(7) were complied with, has solely relied upon the hostile witness. But to my mind, the lower Court has fallen into error in relying on the untruthful witness.

23. In the result, on a careful consideration of the entire evidence on record, 1 am satisfied that the offence charged against the accused appellant has been satisfactorily proved by the prosecution, and therefore, the order of acquittal is incorrect and deserves to be set aside.

24. Lastly, on the question of sentence, it was urged on behalf of the accused that the accused being an aged person of about 60 years of age, he should be dealt with leniently and imposition of fine would meet the ends of justice. I am, however, not inclined to be weighed with this consideration, especially in the case of anti-social offences, such as the present one. In these days adulteration of' food articles has become so common that it is hardly possible to get any unadulterated article in the market and the traders resort to this practice only for the love of lucre at the cost of the health of the Public. In this connection, it may be useful to refer to the observations made by Krishna Iyer J. in: Pyarali K. Tejani v. Mahadeo Ramchandra Dange : 1974CriLJ313 . That was also a case of an offence under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. What was adulterated was Supari. Before the Supreme Court the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, appear to have been invoked to persuade the Court to release the accused on probation. Krishna Iyer J. observed:

The rehabilatory purpose of the Probation of Offenders Act 1958, is pervasive enough technically to take within its wings an offence even under the P. F. Adulteration Act. ' The kindly application of the probation principle to offences under P. F. Adulteration Act, however, is negatived by the imperatives of social defence and the improbabilities of moral proselytisation. No chances can be taken by y society with a man whose anti-social operations, disguised as a respectable trade, imperil numerous innocents. Secondly, these economic offences committed by white collar criminals are unlikely to be dissuaded by the gentle probationary process. Neither casual provocation nor motive against particular persons but planned profit-making from numbers of consumers furnishes the incentive-not easily humanised by the therapeutic probationary measure. It is not without significance that the recent report (47 report) of the Law Commission of India has recommended the exclusion of the Act to social and economic offences by suitable amendments.

25. In view of the wide-spread evil of adulteration therefore, it appears to me that in order to eradicate the evil to an appreciable extent, deterrent sentence is the only way. Mere imposition of fine is preposterous, inasmuch as the offender can easily afford to part with part of the gains made out j of such malpractices for days together. It is: only a sentence of imprisonment that can deter such persons and make them think twice before indulging in such anti-social malpractices. In view of all-out efforts that is presently being made to put down all anti-social and economic offences, I think it is the imperative duty of the Courts also to do their utmost to help in the eradication of such an evil which is widely prevalent in the society and has at present reached its climax. I am, therefore, of the view that in the present case a sentence of rigorous imprisonment cannot be dispensed with.

26. Having regard to the old age of the accused however, I do not want the accused to suffer a long term imprisonment, but-only the minimum that is prescribed by law.

27. In the end, therefore, the appeal is allowed. The order of acquittal is set aside and the accused is convicted of the offence punishable under Sections 16(1)(a) read with Section 7(1) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, and is sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 6 months and to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000/-, in default of payment of fine, the accused to further undergo rigorous imprisonment for two months. Tie accused to surrender to his bail


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //