Sanjeeva Row Nayudu, J.
1. These seven Criminal Appeals are directed against the judgments of the Judicial First Class Magistrate of Proddatur, before whom prosecutions had been instituted under Section 20 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (Central Act 37 of 1954), (which is hereinafter referred to as the Act) in respect of offences committed under Section 16(1) of the said Act, separately in each case.
2. I shall briefly state only such tacts as are necessary for the disposal of this matter in the view I have taken which is indicated below. The various accused in these prosecutions are dealers in foodgrains and importers of the food commodity known as Agra Toor Dhall. The Sanitary Inspector of the Municipality (who is also designated as Food Inspector by G. O. No. 1621 dated 29-9-1956) purchased two annas worth of dhall in each, split them into three shares, put them in three separate bottles, sealed them, delivered one to the accused in each case, sent one to the Public Analyst for analysis purposes and sent one bottle to the Magistrate's Court.
The Public Analyst who carried out the analysis of the grain came to the conclusion that they contained artificial water soluble yellow colouring matter derived from coal tar and hence branded the sample as 'mis-branded' food within the meaning of the Act. Hence the prosecutions.
3. The learned counsel appearing for the accused (Respondents) in these appeals, Mr. Adavt Rama Rao, raised a preliminary objection that the prosecutioas in these cases had not been instituted by the competent authority i.e., the authority empowered to institute the proceedings under Section 20 of the Act. Section 20 of the Act is as follows :
'(1) No prosecution for an offence under this Act shall be instituted except by, or with the written consent of, the State Government or a local authority or a person authorised in this behalf by the State Government or a local authority :
Provided that a prosecution for an offence under this Act may be instituted by a purchaser referred to in Section 12, if he produces in court a copy of the report of the Public analyst along with the complaint.
(2) No Court inferior to that of a Presidency Magistrate or a magistrate of the first class shall try any offence under this Act.'
4. It may be seen from this section that only the following persons or authorities can institute prosecution under the Act : (1) The State Government, (2) a person with the written consent of the State Government, (3) a local authority, (4) a person with the written consent of the local authority, (5) a person authorised in this behalf by the State Government, (6) a person authorised in this behalf by a local authority, and (7) by a purchaser referred to in Section 12 of the Act provided he is armed with a copy of the report of the Public Analyst and files it along with the complaint.
5. In all the present cases, the prosecutions had been instituted by complaints in writing by the Commissioner of the Proddatur Municipality submitting complaints in writing to the Judicial First Class Magistrate's Court, Proddatur, wherein he described himself as the complainant and he had also appended his signature at the end of the complaint on page 2 thereof. A reading of the complaints leaves no room for doubt, in my mind, that the complainant is the Commissioner of the Proddatur Municipality and that it was he that had instituted the prosecutions in these cases.
It is unfortunate that an old form which was in vogue under the Madras Prevention of Adulteration Act (III of 1918) had been adopted carrying out carelessly, amendments mutatis mutandis to suit the requirements of the provisions of the Central Act 37 of 1954 e.g., the whole of page 2 of the complaint which is headed 'Consent of the Local Executive Officer' which would have been relevant under Section 18 of the old Madras Act is completely out of place and irrelevant in a complaint under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (Central Act) in which there is no place for the local Executive Officer giving his consent to a prosecution.
6. It is true that at the bottom of page 2, besides the principal signature of the Commissioner above the printed matter 'Signature of Commissioner' in the place provided for the purpose, there are also the signatures of the Sanitary Inspector, Mr. Y. L. Kantha Rao who figures as P.W. 1 in these cases and also that of the Municipal Health Officer. It is contended by the learned Public Prosecutor that the fact that the Sanitary Inspector had subscribed his signature although he had not described himself as the Food Inspector, who alone is authorised under the G. O. quoted above, to institute prosecutions under the Act and the fact that the signature of the Municipal Health Officer who is the authority authorised under G. O. Ms. No. 313 (Health) dated 23-2-1956 to be a Food Inspector for the purpose of the Act and as this is a Municipality which has got a Municipal Health Officer, the person designated as the Food Inspector is the Municipal Health Officer and not the Commissioner, the prosecutions must be deemed to have been validly instituted. In this connection, the relevant exlract of the G. O. Is set out below :
x x xNotification No. II
'In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 9 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (Central Act XXXVII of 1954) the Governor of Andhra, hereby
(1) appoints the persons specified in column (1) of the Schedule below to be food inspectors for the purposes of the said Act, and
(2) directs that the persons aforesaid shall exercise powers within the local areas specified In tho corresponding entries in column (2) of the said Schedule.
1.Municipal Health Officer, and Sanitary Inspectors under his control.
Municipality having Municipal Health Officer.
2.Commissioner of Municipality and Sanitary Inspectors under his control.
Municipality not having a Municipal Health Officer.
7. While it can be conceded that the Food Inspector of the area as well as the Municipal Health Officer could have instituted prosecutions in these cases, it is the Commissioner who purports to do so and the mere fact that these two officers viz., the Sanitary Inspector and the Municipal Health Officer had subscribed their signatures to page 2 of the complaint does not, in my opinion, in any way alter the fact that the complainant is the Commissioner of the Municipality himself and not any other authority.
8. The further question that falls to be considered is, granting that it is the Commissioner that bad instituted the prosecutions in these cases, whether the learned Judicial First Class Magistate was competent and correct in taking cognizance of these complaints having regard to the language of Section 20 of the Act, As has been made clear, the Commissioner of the Proddatur Municipality does not fall within any of the seven categories of persons or authorities set out by me supra as authorities under Section 20.
Having regard to the plain language of Section 20, as the complaints in these cases have been instituted by an unauthorised person, the Judicial Firsl Class Magistrate had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of these complaints and take action on the footing thereof. When a statute which creates an offence provides for a procedure to be followed and prescribed the limits and limitations within which the jurisdiction created thereunder could be exercised, it is not open to courts of law to give a go-bye to if and hold that notwithstanding the non-compliance with the conditions provided in the Act, they could nevertheless proceed with the enquiry and the trial into these offences. I have no doubt in my mind that in these Criminal Appeals the prosecutions had not been instituted in compliance with the provisions of the Act and the Judicial First Class Magistrate could not have taken cognizance thereof.
9. The next question to be considered is what is the proper order to be made in the circumstances. The following cases were cited by the learned advocate for the respondents. The State v. Mool Chand, : AIR1957All343 (1) dealt with a case under the present Act wherein it was held that as the power to prosecute under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act was not vested in the Assistant Medical Officer (Health), the prosecution of the respondent is bad in law and so holding they dismissed the appeal by the State summarily.
In the case reported in the Public Prosecutor v. Abboyce Chettiar, 1935 Mad WN 591, while agreeing with the preliminary objection taken that the Special Officer of the Municipal Council at Chidambaram was not competent to institute the proceedings, the appeal by the State was directed to be dismissed. In Public Prosecutor v. Venka-tarayudu, AIR 1936 Mad 471 a similar order was made. These two are cases under the old Madras Act III of 1918. In re, Cannanore Milk Supply Co-operative Society, 1956-2 Mad LJ 465: (1957 Cri LJ 75) which is a case under the Central Act viz., Act No. 37 of 1954, the preliminary objection to the launching of the prosecution taken by the counsel for the accused was upheld and the proceedings were quashed.
As the objection which has been upheld by me relates to the taking of cognizance of (he case itself by the Judicial First Class Magistrate, having regard to the language of Section 20, it is clear that the proceedings in the several cases, from the point of time when the cognizance was taken including the taking cognizance of the complaint, were obviously without jurisdiction. In other words, whatever the Magistrate did viz., taking cognizance of the case and further steps that have followed must in law bo regarded as having been taken without jurisdiction and without competency.
That being the case all the steps must in lawbe regarded as non-existent. In other words, theorder that this Court has now to make is the orderwhich the Judicial First Class Magistrate shouldhave made in the earlier instance namely, the returnof the complaints, as he is unable to take cognizance of them. Hence the entire proceedings takenby the Magistrate in all these cases from the timethe complaints were instituted before him includingiiis taking cognizance thereof are quashed and theJudicial First Class Magistrate is directed to returnthe complaints to the complainant. Order accordingly.