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Municipal Board, Lucknow Vs. Ram Autar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Food Adulteration
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 513 of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1960All119
ActsPrevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 - Sections 2 and 20; Uttar Pradesh Pure Food Act, 1950 - Sections 2; General Clauses Act, 1897 - Sections 7; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908
AppellantMunicipal Board, Lucknow
RespondentRam Autar
Appellant AdvocateB.L. Kaul, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateM.A. Wasey, Adv.
Excerpt:
criminal - interpretation of statutes - sections 20 and 2 (vii) and (viii) of prevention of food adulteration act ,1954 - definitions of 'local area' and 'local authority' must be interpreted together to give effect to the real meaning - municipality competent to prosecute. - cantonments act[c.a. no. 41/2006]. section 346 & cantonment fund (servants rules, 1937, rules 13, 14 & 15: [h.l. gokhale, ag. cj, p.v. hardas, naresh h. patil, r.m. borde & r.m. savant, jj] jurisdiction of school tribunal constituted under maharashtra employees of private schools (conditions of service) regulations act, (3 of 1978) held, school run by the cantonment board is a primary school and it is not a school recognised by any such board comparable to the divisional board or the state board. the school..........lucknow, acquitting the opposite party who was convicted under section 7/16 of the prevention of food adulteration act (act 37 of 1954), by a magistrate.2. briefly stated the facts of the case are as follows: ram autar, opposite party, was prosecuted by the municipal board, lucknow, through its medical officer of health for selling adulterated alsi oil on 10-10-1955, to the food inspector sri o. p.mehrotra. the trial court found the charge proved against the opposite party and convicted him under section 7 of the prevention of food adulteration act of 1954 and sentenced him to pay a fine of rs. 600/- in default to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of three months. the opposite party went up in appeal and the learned additional sessions judge came to the conclusion that there was.....
Judgment:

A.N. Mulla, J.

1. This is an appeal filed under Section 417(3) Cr. P. C. against an order of acquittal passed by Sri A. C. Bansal, Additional Sessions Judge Lucknow, acquitting the opposite party who was convicted under Section 7/16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (Act 37 of 1954), by a Magistrate.

2. Briefly stated the facts of the case are as follows: Ram Autar, opposite party, was prosecuted by the Municipal Board, Lucknow, through its Medical Officer of Health for selling adulterated Alsi oil on 10-10-1955, to the Food Inspector Sri O. P.Mehrotra. The trial court found the charge proved against the opposite party and convicted him under Section 7 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954 and sentenced him to pay a fine of Rs. 600/- in default to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of three months. The opposite party went up in appeal and the learned Additional Sessions judge came to the conclusion that there was no proper prosecution within the meaning of Section 20 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, and so the trial court had no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint against the opposite party.

He came to this conclusion because the State Government had not issued any notification appointing Sri O. P. Mehrotra as the Food Inspector or the Public Analyst, who had examined the sample, as the Public Analyst after the repeal of the U. P. Pure Food Act, 1950. He was of the opinion that the Food Inspectors and the Public Analysts appointed under the rules framed under the U. P. Pure Food Act, 1950, could not be deemed to be Food Inspectors and Public Analyst for the purposes of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. He also came to the conclusion that the adulterated linseed oil did not come under the definition of 'food' as defined in the Act of 1954, He, therefore, set aside the order of conviction passed against the opposite party and acquitted him.

3. The Municipal Board feeling aggrieved by this order of acquittal presented this appeal and it was placed before a Bench of this Court.

4. When the case was argued before us, the two points on the basis of which the order of conviction was set aside were not pressed before us by the counsel for the opposite party. In an earlier case decided by a Bench of this Court (Municipal Board, Lucknow v. Shyam Behari--Criminal Appeal No. 321 of 1956: (AIR 1960 All 117) it was held that in view of Section 25 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, the appointments made under the old Act would be valid until fresh appointments were made. Reference was also made to the provisions of Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897, which supported this interpretation. It was perhaps in view of this decision that the counsel for the opposite party conceded that Sri O. P. Mehrotra was competent to function as a Food Inspector and the Public Analyst, who examined the sample, was competent to give an opinion.

5. As regards the second point whether linseed oil is food or not within the definition of food given in the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, the relevant rules and notifications were seen and it was conceded that linseed oil was food. It is, therefore, clear that both the grounds taken up by the Additional Sessions Judge for selling aside the order of conviction were not maintainable and the order of acquittal could not be upheld.

6. A fresh argument was, however advanced by the counsel for the opposite party on the basis of Section 20 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. Section 20 runs as follows:

'20(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 anthorizod in this behalf by the State Government or Local authority.'

The contention was that on the date when the prosecution was launched the Municipal board, Lucknow, was not a local authority within the meaning of Section 20 cited above and, therefore, no prosecution could be instituted by the Municipal Board. The complaint was filed by the Medical Officer of Health, Lucknow Municipal Board, on the 31st of October 1955 and the offence was committed on the 10th ofOctober, 1955. If was argued that the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, received the assent of the President on the 29th of September, 1954, and it was published as Act No. 37 of 1954 in the Gazette on the 30th of September, 1954. The U. P. Pure Food Act, 1950 was repealed by this Act and so it bad ceased to be a law in force.

The State Government did not issue the necessary notifications for demarcating local areas and appointing local authorities up till the 9th of February, 1956, and so at the time when the opposite party was prosecuted, the Municipal Board, Lucknow, was not appointed a local authority within the meaning of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, nor was the Lucknow Municipality declared a local area. According to this contention the Municipal Board, Lucknow could not prosecute any person under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, before the 9th of February 1956. In support of this contention reliance was placed upon the definitions of 'local area' and 'local authority' given in Section 2 of 'the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, A decision given by a Single Judge of this Court in Vishnu Shanker v. State, Criminal Revn, No. 164 of 1956 was cited.

7. As against this contention, the counsel for the Municipal Board cited another decision given by a Single Judge of this Court in Hari Singh v. State Criminal Revn. No. 152 of 1957. He also relied upon certain sections of the General Clauses Act 1897 and further contended that the definition of 'local authority' given in the Act of 1954 clearly indicated that the Lucknow Municipal Board was the local authority and the Lucknow Municipality as a local area at the time when the prosecution was instituted.

8. In view of the conflict of decision on the point, we have examined the question carefully and we have come no the conclusion that the contention advanced by the opposite party is not maintainable and the Lucknow Municipal Board was competent to institute this prosecution at the time when it was instituted. We now proceed to give our reasons.

9. We will first mention the definition of 'local area and local authority' given in the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. These definitions are as follows:

''local area' means any area, whether urban or rural, declared by the State Government, by notification in the official Gazette, to be local area for the purposes of this Act; 'local authority' means in the case of--(1) a local area which is-

(a) a municipality, the municipal board or municipal corporation;

(b) a cantonment, the cantonment authority;

(c) a notified area, the notified area committee;

(2) any other local area, such authority as may be prescribed by the State Government under this Act.'

We think it would be useful to give the definitions of these two terms given in the U. P. Pure Food Act, 1950. These definitions are as follows:

' 'local area' means the area within the jurisdiction of a local authority; 'Local authority' means in the case of-

(i) a municipality, the Municipal Board,

(ii) a notified area, the notified Area Committee

(iii) a railway, as defined in Sub-section (4) of Section 3 of the Indian Railways Act, (IX of 1890) the person designated by the State Government and

(iv) any other local area, the authority as may be prescribed'.

At this stage we would only like to point out that the definition of 'local authority' so far as 'the municipal Board was concerned was reiterated and reaffirmed in the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act,1954. We will come to this point again after we have discussed certain other aspects which in our opinion must be considered before interpreting the statute.

10. The dominant purpose in construing a statute is to ascertain the intent of the legislature. This intent is very clear. Before the passing of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, by the Central Government, some similar Acts were in force in the various States and the provisions of these Acts in the various States were not uniform. Our country is a big country and there were perhaps still areas where the offence of food adulteration could be committed without being prosecuted. It was to attain a uniformity as well as to make food adulteration an offence throughout the country that it was considered desirable that instead of the States passing their own provincial Acts, a comprehensive Act should be enacted by the Central legislature.

In order to attain this uniformity, it was absolutely necessary that the existing Acts in the various States should be repealed, for they were passed at different times without mutual consultations between the States. If could not possibly have been the intention of the legislature to undo all the work that was done so far and start from a clean state again. It is obvious that when an old Act is repealed by a new Act, there is always a period of changing over and almost invariably a savings clause is added in the new statute in order to ensure a smooth change over. It would be preposterous to believe that the legislature wanted a break in the continuity of the enforcement of procedural steps and laws against food adulteration. In a Welfare State the crime of food adulteration is a major crime and the wrongdoers cannot be given a vacation and Hold that for a period howsoever brief it might be they could adulterate food and they could not be prosecuted.

The legislature, therefore, accepted some of the units which were already functioning and made a provision for the appointment of fresh units. It never intended that the existing units should cease to function and should be thrown in the melting pot. There can, therefore, be no doubt that the legislature intended a continuity and, therefore, that interpretation which is against this continuity is repugnant to the intention of the legislature. It is in this background that we should interpret the provisions of the statute.

11. It is a well known rule of interpretation that if a particular meaning leads to consequences which are manifestly inconvenient and unjust, this meaning should be avoided it it is possible to do so without doing violence to She spirit of the language used in the statute. It is only where the language used is unambiguous and imperative that the court can accept such a meaning. No doubt if the words are not capable of any other meaning, they must be interpreted in that manner even if they lead to a manifest absurdity. But as observed in Salmon v. Duncombe, (1886) 11 AC 627 at p. 634 where the main object and intention of a statute are clear from the title, preamble, or otherwise, it should not be reduced to a nullity by a literal following of language, which may be due to want of skill or knowledge or the part of a draftsman, unless such language is intractable. To the same effect are the observations of Lord Esher in Re-Brockelbank, (1889) 23 QBD 461 at p. 462. Lord Esher observed :

'In this proviso the legislature have used language of the widest kind--'in all cases' so wide that, if its full grammatical meaning be given to it, the proviso will produce injustice so enormous that the mind of any reasonable man must revolt from it. When the language of the legislature construed literally involves such consequences, the Court has over and over again acted upon the view that the legislature could not have intended to produce a result which would be palpably unjust, and would revolt the mind of any reasonable man, unless they have manifested that intention by express words.'

One of us while functioning as a single Judge also made observations in keeping with the extracts' quoted above. It was observed in Tribeni Kurmi v. M. Ram Dulari, AIR 1958 All 168 at p. 169, 'Surely the way to interpret a section is not to interpret it in such a way that inconveniences and lawlessness may be-caused unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.'

12. We have already observed above that the intention and purpose of the legislature cannot be doubted for a moment. This should also be remembered that the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, was a Central Act and it; was repealing, the Acts passed by the Provincial States. It was impossible to reach such a synchronization that the moment the Act was repealed the necessary notifications demarcating local areas and appointing local authorities could have been passed by the provincial States. There was bound to be an interval of time howsoever short it might be and as a long list of local areas and local authorities was to be prepared, this interval could not have been very short.

No doubt it was open to the Central legislature-to frame the savings clause in such a manner so as to keep the old Act in force till the demarcation of the local areas and the appointment of the local authorities, but as observed above the faults of draftsmanship cannot be permitted to reduce the provisions of an Act to an absurdity. It is quite inconceivable that there was a period after the repeal of the old Acts and before the appointment of the local authorities in which every one could commit-food adulteration with immunity. Such an interpretation can only be accepted if the words used in the statute are incapable of any other meaning. In Halsbury's Laws of England, (Second Edition, Volume-31, Lord Hailsham), the following sentence occurs at page 481:

'The literal construction of a statute should not be adhered to where the context of the word or phrase to be interpreted renders it plain that such a construction is inappropriate.'

We have, therefore, to interpret the word 'local area' and local authority in this background keeping in mind the definitions of the two terms given in the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.

13. We have carefully considered these two definitions and we have come to the conclusion that in order to reach a correct meaning these two definitions should be read together and not singly. If we read only the definition of 'local area' it would appear that a notification by the State Government in the official Gazette is a condition precedent for declaring any area, whether urban or rural as local area, but if the definition of 'local authority' is also read along with the definition of 'local area', it would appear that certain existing areas were accepted as local areas by the legislature when it enacted the statute. The definitions of 'local area' and 'local' authority' supplement each other and we are of the opinion that a Municipality, a Cantonment and a Notified Area were accepted as a local area by the legislature when it; passed this statute. There are two rules of interpretation laid down in Halsbury's Laws of England, (Second Edition, Volume 31, Lord Hailsham) and they are embodied in Articles 603: and 604 at pages 483 and 484. These rules are:

'603. Notwithstanding that each section of a statute is to be regarded as a substantive enactment, the statute must be read and construed as a whole, regard being had to its scheme so that the languageof the statute as a whole may be read as consistent, though one section may bear a wider, another a more limited meaning.

.....

604. Where two co-ordinate sections are apparently inconsistent an effort must be made to reconcile them. If this is impossible, the latter will generally override the earlier; but a particular enactment, wherever found must be construed strictly as against a general provision.'

14. The legislature when it defined 'local area'and 'local authority' has created such a conflict. It is the duty of the Court to see whether this conflict! can be resolved, keeping in mind the intention and object of the legislature. We think that this conflict can be resolved and according to the rules of interpretation, the meaning which resolves this conflict should be given to the words used in the two definitions. In our opinion the legislature made it clear that any area could be declared a 'local area' by a notification in the official Gazette. This definition did not mean that certain areas which were already existing as 'local area' were not to be considered as local areas after the passing of this Act.

As the existence of a local area was a condition precedent which was necessary before the appointment of a local authority, the legislature could not have appointed the Municipal Board or the Notified Area Committee or the Cantonment Authority, without accepting the areas placed under their control as 'Local areas'. The very fact that the Municipal Board of the Municipal Corporation is mentionedas a local authority in the definition of 'local authority' indicates that the legislature accepted a municipality as a local area. This also holds good for a cantonment and a notified area. In other words the legislature accepted these local areas and in order to make a provision for declaring other areas as 'local areas' it directed that for the purposes of this Act such areas could be declared as local areas by the StateGovernment after a notification in the official Gazette.

That a 'municipality' was declared to be a 'Local area' by the Act itself can be safely interred by approaching the question fromanother angle. Was it open to the States not to notify the Municipalities, Cantonments and Notified Areas as 'Local areas'? This question must be answered in the negative and so it is apparent that so far as theseunits were concerned they were declared to be 'Local areas' by the Act itself. This, interpretation seems to us to be in complete harmony with the intention of the legislature. In Interpretation of Statutes by Maxwell, 9th Edition, page 55, the following paragraph occurs:

'the words of a statute, when there is a doubt about their meaning are to be understood in thesense in which they best harmonise with the subjectof the enactment and the object which the legislature Las in view. Their meaning is found not so muchin a strictly grammatical or etymological propriety of language, nor even in its popular use, as in the subject or in the occasion on which they are used, and the object to be attained.'

The Supreme Court in Workmen of Dimakuchi Tea Estate v. Management of Dimakuchi Tea Estate, AIR 1958 SC 353 followed the rule of interpretation mentioned above.

15. We, therefore, feel that when the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, was passed, it did not repeal the definition of 'local authority' as far as it related to the Municipalities, Cantonments and Notified Areas but accepted and confirmed the existence of these local authorities and it also accepted the Municipalities, Cantonments and Notified Areas as local areas within the meaning of Act 37 of1954. The Uttar Pradesh State when it mentionedthe Municipalities, Cantonments and Notified Areas in their list of local areas in the Notification of the 9th of February 1956, merely followed the direction given by the Act and only confirmed what was already enacted. We are of the opinion that a Municipality, a Cantonment and a Notified Area were made a local area by the Act itself and even if the notification dated the 9th of February, 1956, had not been issued the local authorities mentioned in the Act of 1954 were competent to function as local authorities for the local areas which were accepted and mentioned along with them in the definition of 'Local authority' itself.

16. It is a well settled provision of law that repeal of a statute does not repeal such portions of the statute as have been incorporated into another statute. Even if the original Act is repealed, the incorporated section or sections still operate in the latter Act As the definition of 'local authority' so far as it related to a Municipal Board which existed in the U. P. Pure Food Act, 1950, was incorporated in the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, it was not repealed and this incorporated definition was, therefore, operative even after the time that the 1950 U. P. Pure Food Act was repealed. We are, therefore of the opinion that by incorporating the definition of 'local authority' the legislature made it expressly clear that it wanted the Municipality, the Cantonment and the Notified Area to continue as local areas and the authorities mentioned to function as local authorities.

17. We may at this stage quote Section 7 of the General Clauses Act, 1897. It runs as follows:

'7. (1) In any Central Act or Regulation made after the commencement of this Act, it shall be necessary, for the purpose of reviving, either wholly or partially, any enactment wholly or partially repealed, expressly to state that purpose.'

In our view this purpose of reviving the functioning of the Municipality, the Cantonment Authority and the Notified Area Committee as local authorities was clearly expressed and, therefore, this part of the Act was not repealed.

18. For the various reasons given by us above, we find that the prosecution of the opposite party in this case cannot be challenged on the ground that the Lucknow Municipality was not a 'local area' and the Municipal Board, Lucknow, was not a 'local authority' within the meaning of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, on the date when the prosecution was launched.

19. On merits we find that there is nothing to be said in favour of the opposite party. The case against him is fully established by means of reliable evidence. The Counsel for the opposite party did not challenge the case on merits and could offer no valid criticism against the evidence led by the prosecution. We, therefore, hold that the opposite party was rightly convicted by the Magistrate under Section 7/16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 and the order of acquittal cannot be upheld.

20. We, therefore, set aside the order of acquittal, and convict the opposite party under Section 7/16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act,1954. We restore the sentence awarded to him bythe Magistrate. The opposite party is sentenced toa fine of Rs. 600/- in default simple imprisonmentfor three months. The fine should be deposited withina period of one month.


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