M.S. Nesargi, J.
1. This petition is directed against the Order passed by the District and Sessions Judge, North Kanara, Karwar, Under Section 6-C of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (to be hereinafter referred to as the 'Act'), as judicial authority appointed by the State Govt. by its Notification S. O. No. 5886 dated 13-12-1966.
2. Certain commodities had been seized by the police from the respondents on the ground that one or the other Food Control Orders had been violated by them. Proposals were put up to the Deputy Commissioner North Kanara, Under Section 6-A of the Act for confiscating the said commodities. The Deputy Commissioner passed an order confiscating the commodities to the Government and as against that, an appeal was preferred to the judicial authority Under Section 6-C of the Act. The judicial authority set aside the order of confiscation passed by the Deputy Commissioner and, hence the State, aggrieved by the said order, has challenged the same in this petition.
3. Sri Suresh S. Joshi, the learned Counsel for the respondents, raised a preliminary objection and contended that the revision petition is not maintainable because the judicial authority is not an inferior criminal court as mentioned in Sections 435 and 439 of the Criminal P.C. He urged that the District and Sessions Judge, North Kanara, Karwar, has not entertained the appeal Under Section 6-C of the Act as the Sessions Judge of the court of Sessions, North Kanara, but as a judicial authority appointed by the State Government under the notification mentioned above, empowering him to entertain and dispose of such appeals Under Section 6-C of the Act. Section 6-C (1) of the Act reads as follows:
Any person aggrieved by an order of confiscation Under Section 6-A may, within one month from the date of the communication to him of such order, appeal to any judicial authority appointed by the State Government concerned and the judicial authority shall, after giving an opportunity to the appellant to be heard, pass such order as it may think fit, modifying or annulling the order appealed against.
A plain reading of the above section makes it manifest that it is not laid down that the appeal lies to a court of Session. The appeal is made to lie to any judicial authority appointed by the State Government concerned. The State Government has, by the above-mentioned notification, in exercise of the powers conferred on it by Section 6-C of the Act, appointed the District and Sessions Judge, North Kanara, Karwar, as the Judicial authority for the area comprising North Kanara District. It is to Toe noted that the court of Session, North Kanara, is not appointed the judicial authority. The scheme of the Act makes it abundantly clear that Sections 6-A, 6-C and 6-D of the Act deal with confiscation of the Commodities.
In regard to prosecutions for violation of different Food Control Orders passed by virtue of the powers conferred on the State Governments by Section 3 of the Act, a different procedure is provided in the Act. Certain provisions of the Criminal P.C. are made applicable so far as they relate to trial of cases, and appeals and revisions against convictions in the said trials. In regard to the provisions of confiscation, a different procedure is provided and a different right of appeal is conferred. That part of the scheme of the Act has been kept separate and it is not provided that it has anything to do with ordinary criminal Courts. Prosecutions for the breach of the provisions of the various Food Control Orders, are made to lie in ordinary criminal courts. Section 7 of the Act, dealing with penalties has laid down that such penalties are to be awarded by courts. It is, hence, apparent that a distinction is made in the Act itself, between a judicial authority and a court.
4. Sections 435 and 439 of the Cr.PC provide as far as the High Court is concerned, that it may call for and examine the record of any proceeding before any inferior criminal court and in its discretion exercise any of the powers conferred on a court of appeal by Sections 433, 426, 427 and 428 or on a court by Section 338, and ............... 'Inferior criminal Courts' is defined is Section 17-B of the Criminal P.C., as follows:
Courts of Session and Courts of Magistrates shall be criminal courts inferior to the High Court and the Courts of Magistrates shall be criminal courts inferior to the Court of Session.
It is hence, to my mind, clear that the Judicial authority appointed by the State Government in exercise of the powers vested in it by Section 6-C of the Act cannot be construed as an inferior criminal court. Merely because a District and Sessions Judge is appointed a judicial authority, it cannot be said that the order in question passed by such judicial authority is an order passed by an inferior criminal court subject to the exercise of revisional powers by the High Court Under Sections 435 and 439 of the Criminal P.C.
5. The foregoing reasons show that the preliminary objection raised by the learned Counsel for the respondents, is sound and acceptable, and hence, it is held that this petition is not maintainable and, therefore, the petition is rejected.