1. This is an appeal against the judgment and order of the learned Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Court No. 1, Solapur, acquitting the accused Under Section 7(5) read with Rule 45(a)(d) and Section 16(1)(a)(i) and (ii) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
2. The facts are stated in detail in the Judgment and for disposing of this appeal, the same are not necessary to reproduce the same. Mr. Solkar for the State pointed out to me the relevant portion of the evidence of the Panch as well as the observations of the learned Judge, dealing with two or three important points of law raised by the accused in the lower Court. The learned Judicial Magistrate has summarised the defence in para 7 of his judgment and has held in favour of the accused on two or three vital points. The learned Magistrate, having discussed the evidence led by the prosecution came to the conclusion that the sanction for prosecution was not valid and Ex. 10 was not a valid document, providing sanction to prosecute the accused. The learned Magistrate further dealing with the contention of the accused that the prosecution was unnecessarily delayed and in matters of food adulteration, there is a right conferred both on the prosecution as well as the accused Under Section 13(2) ; that if one were to challenge the report of the Public Analyst and want to obtain the report of the Central Laboratory, Calcutta, then that opportunity should be given and made available to the accused persons. In this particular case the prosecution wanted to explain away the delay of nine months and the learned Magistrate having carefully considered all the dates from the date 18-11-1972 when the material was purchased or the alleged offence was committed till 3rd August 1973 when the complaint was filed in the Court. One of the excuses given by the prosecution is that the prosecution was not launched because of the pressure of work and the learned Magistrate having considered the authorities on this point, came to the conclusion that this is not an excuse which could be considered as valid excuse in matters dealing with the offence under the said Act, I entirely agree with the finding of the learned Magistrate that such excuses cannot be considered and more so when the legislature wants that criminal matters should be disposed of as quickly as possible and in matters of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and when a specific right is created in favour of the accused and such offence under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act should be detected and the person prosecuted as expeditiously as possible, at least, precaution should be taken so that the right conferred on the accused is not rendered nugatory or of no assistance whatsoever to the accused.
3. The most important point on which the learned Magistrate has found and which is a finding of fact, is whether the taking charge of Masur Dal which was alleged to have been purchased from the shop of the accused was purchased or not ; evidence of three persons was led. Two were the Food Inspectors who were interested in prosecuting the accused, but the third witness was an independent Panch, who was called to give evidence. He has clearly stated that when he was called, by that time the Inspectors had already put the material in the bottle and therefore there was nothing to show that the material was purchased from that shop, which was put in that bottle. The learned Magistrate came to the conclusion that the provisions of Section 10(7) are mandatory and the purchase of the alleged adulterated goods should be made in the presence of independent witnesses. If this provision is not strictly followed, that is likely to lead to injustice to the accused and it is likely to be used by interested persons against the members of the public. On this point, the learned Magistrate has found in favour of the accused and against the prosecution.
4. There was one more point raised by the defence. As far as that point was concerned, it was a question whether the Masur Dal was sold, whether it was sold for human consumption or for animal consumption. It was alleged by the accused that the Masur Dal was only to be sold for animal consumption and, therfore, the adulteration of Masur Dal cannot be said to have resulted into adulteration of a food article for human consumption. The learned Magistrate rightly came to the conclusion that such a defence of the accused is not tenable. If the prosecution says that if the Masur Dal was kept for sale and once it was sold, it cannot be distinguished for human consumption or for animal consumption. Such a sale cannot be testified by the objective fact as to whether the Masur Dal was sold for human consumption or for animal consumption and, therefore, the learned Magistrate has found this fact against the accused. But as observed, on all the three points, the learned Magistrate has come to the conclusion that there was no proper sanction, there was undue delay and there was violation of the provisions of Section 10(7) and therefore, the prosecution was vitiated. According to me, the learned Magistrate was justified in acquitting the accused.
5. I therefore hold that all the points raised by the learned Magistrate are of substance. They are points of law decided by the learned Magistrate and rightly decided following the case law and I do not think I should interfere against the order of the acquittal which doubles the presumption of innocence in favour of the accused and does not render in any way the innocence of the accused less.
6. In the result, the State appeal stands dismissed. Bail Bond of the accused cancelled.