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Municipal Board, Kanpur Vs. Janki Prasad and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Food Adulteration
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 2187 of 1960
Judge
Reported inAIR1963All433; 1963CriLJ244
ActsPrevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 - Sections 2 and 23; Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules - Rule 5
AppellantMunicipal Board, Kanpur
RespondentJanki Prasad and anr.
Appellant AdvocateB.S. Darbari, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateShripati Sahai Srivastava, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
.....1954 - linseed - ordinarily an article enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food even by some people usually and not an exception - deemed to be food - linseed oil is used for making varnishes and paints - article is used both for purpose of food and industry then unless at the time of purchasing an indication is given that the article is required for the purpose of food - held, there can be no prosecution under the act. - - 1. one of the parts which like other parts was also sealed by the food inspector, was sent to the public analyst to u. the report of the public analyst clearly shows that the same was adulterated. not singular, or exceptional. ' in our opinion it is in the sense of non-exceptional or usual that the word 'ordinarily' has been used in..........that the same was adulterated. therefore if linseed oil can be covered by the definition of the word 'food' in the act the order of acquittal passed in favour of the respondents would not be justified. the act is an all-india act. before the act was passed the various provinces or states had their separate statutes to prevent the adulteration of food. in uttar pradesh originally the u. p. prevention of food adulteration act, 1912 (act vi of 1912) was in force but it was replaced by the u. p. pure food act, 1950 (act no. xxxii of 1950). similarly other states had their own special laws. by means of section 25 of the act all the state laws relating to adulteration of food stood repealed with the result that there came into existence a uniform law for the entire country. the necessity.....
Judgment:

Jagdish Sahai, J.

1. This appeal is directed against an order of acquittal passed on 1-6-1960 by a Magistrate First Class of Kanpur. The respondent No. 1 holds a licence, for selling edible oils and runs his shop at Kanpur while respondent No. 2 is a salesman thereat. On the 21st of July, 1959, at 10-30 a. m. the Food Inspector, Kanpur, went to the shop and found respondent No. 1 Janki Prasad working there. In the shop was stored linseed oil also. The Food Inspector took 7 chs. of that oil as sample after paying 47 nP. to respondent No. 1 as the price of the sample demanded by that respondent. The Food Inspector gave a notice in writing to respondent No. 1 that the sample had been taken for analysis and in the presence of the said respondent divided the linseed oil purchased by him into three parts delivering one of it to respondent No. 1. One of the parts which like other parts was also sealed by the Food Inspector, was sent to the Public Analyst to U. P. Government for examination who found it to be highly adulterated. The respondent No. 2 admitted to be the owner of the shop and respondent No. 1 to be the salesman thereat. The respondent No. 1 also admitted that he also sells articles at the shop. The respondents were therefore prosecuted under Section 7/16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, (No. XXXVII of 1954) (hereinafter referred to as the Act).

The learned Magistrate following the decision of this Court in State of U. P. v. Brij Mohan, 1960 All LJ 94 acquitted the respondents on the ground that linseed oil cannot be comprehended in the definition of 'food' given in the Act. The State has filed this appear against the order ofacquittal under Section 417 Cr. P. C. The matter came up before our brother Mathur who taking the view that the decision in 1960 All LJ 94 required reconsideration, referred the whole case to a larger Bench. Thereupon the case was heard by a Division Bench consisting of our brothers Uniyal and Asthana. The Bench took the view that it was proper that the case should be heard by a Full Bench and consequently it has now come before us.

2. It is not in dispute that linseed oil was recovered from the possession of the respondents who had stored it for sale. The report of the Public Analyst clearly shows that the same was adulterated. Therefore if linseed oil can be covered by the definition of the word 'food' in the Act the order of acquittal passed in favour of the respondents would not be justified. The Act is an all-India Act. Before the Act was passed the various provinces or States had their separate statutes to prevent the adulteration of food. In Uttar Pradesh originally the U. P. Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1912 (Act VI of 1912) was in force but it was replaced by the U. P. Pure Food Act, 1950 (Act No. XXXII of 1950). Similarly other States had their own special laws. By means of Section 25 of the Act all the State laws relating to adulteration of food stood repealed with the result that there came into existence a uniform law for the entire country. The necessity for a central legislation and a uniform law for the entire country had been felt ever since 1937 but the opportunity for enacting a central legislation was provided after the passing of the Constitution which made adulteration of food stuffs and other goods a subject for concurrent legislation. Section 2(v) of the Act reads as follows:

'2 (v) 'Food' means any article, used as food or drink for human consumption other than drugs and water and includes -

(a) any article which ordinarily enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food, and

(b) any flavouring matter or condiments.'

Therefore in order to be 'food' an article must be one which is used as food or is an article which ordinarily enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food or one which is a flavouring matter or is a condiment. So far as our country is concerned linseed oil as such is not used for food but it cannot be gainsaid that it is used as a cooking medium in several parts of the country. In those parts it can be said to be used in the composition or preparation of human food. On behalf of the State our attention was invited to Volume XIV Encyclopadia Britannica XI edition, where the following is given:

'Linseed formed an article of food among Greeks and Romans, and it is said that the Abyssinians at the present day eat it roasted. The oil is to same extent used for food in Russia and in parts of Poland and Hungary.'

Nothing is said about India therein and it has not been seriously contended that so far as our country is concerned, linseed or linseed oil as such is used as food. Linseed oil cannot therefore be comprehended in the main clause of Section 2(v). The question which still requires consideration iswhether it can be said to be an article which would be comprehended by Sub-clause (a) of Section 2(v) of the Act. In other words, whether it is an article which ordinarily enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food. That it is used for such purposes in some parts of the country is not disputed.

It is, however, contended that it is not so used in Uttar Pradesh and in major parts of the country. That it is not so used in Uttar Pradesh is immaterial because the Act is, as we have already said above, an all-India Act, and if linseed oil can be considered to be food in areas where it is used as a cooking medium or for other food purposes it would be deemed to be 'food' in Uttar Pradesh also. It cannot be readily assumed that though the word 'food' is comprehensive enough to include linseed oil in its ambit in some of the southern States it cannot so include it in Uttar Pradesh. The same word in a statute cannot have two different and diametrically opposite meanings in two different local areas governed by the same statute.

The next question requiring investigation and determination is as to what does the word 'ordinarily' mean because in order to be 'food' within the meaning of Sub-clause (a) of Section 2(v) of the Act the Article must be one which 'ordinarily' enters into or is used in the preparation of human food. In Shorter Oxford Dictionary amongst the meanings given to the word 'ordinary' is also included :

'of the usual kind; not singular, or exceptional.'

The meanings given to the word 'ordinarily' in that dictionary, inter alia, are :

'as a matter of regular occurrence, in mostcases, usually.'

In our opinion it is in the sense of non-exceptional or usual that the word 'ordinarily' has been used in Section 2(v) of the Act. The word 'ordinarily' does not mean 'primarily' nor does it mean 'universally'. It does not also mean 'generally'. By the use of the word 'ordinarily' the legislature intended to provide that if an article enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food even by some people usually and not as exception it would be deemed to be 'food'.

3. It has been contended that the word 'ordinarily' qualifies the words 'enters into'' and not 'is used' occurring in Sub-clause (a) of Section 2(v) of the Act. In our judgment the submission is not correct. The word 'ordinarily' qualifies both 'enters into' as also 'is used'. If the legislature intended to confine the applicability of the word 'ordinarily' only to 'enters into' the clause would have read like this :

'Any article which ordinarily enters into or which is used in the composition or preparation of human food.'

In other words if the idea was to make the word 'ordinarily' qualify only 'enters into' the words 'is used' would have been preceded by the word 'which'. On a grammatical construction of the provision it is not possible to hold that the word 'ordinarily' only qualifies 'enters into' and not 'is used'. Inasmuch as linseed oil is usedin some parts of the country in the preparation. of human food would be 'food' within the meaning of Section 2(v) of the Act. In our opinion, however, the question whether the word 'ordinarily' only qualifies the words 'enters into' and not the words 'is used' is not material because the use of linseed oil as a cooking medium will be fully covered even by the expression 'any article which ordinarily enters into preparations of human food'. For these reasons there is no difficulty in holding that linseed oil is comprehended by the definition of 'food' given in Section 2(v) of the Act.

4. It was contended that the main use to which linseed oil is put is the preparation of paints and varnishes. An article may have more than one use and it may ordinarily be used for more than one purpose. The mere fact that linseed oil is also used for making varnishes and paints would not make it any the less an article of food as defined in Section 2(v) of the Act.

5. It is also worthy of notice that Rule 5 of the Rules which have been framed under Section 23 of the Act provides for standards of quality of various articles of food specified in appendix 'B' to the Rules. At serial No. A 17 of appendix 'B' linseed oil is mentioned in the category of edible oils and defined as meaning oil obtained by the process of expression clean and sound linseed (Linum unsitatissimum). These rules though framed by the Central Government were placed before both the Houses of Parliament under Section 23 of the Act and would thus be deemed to have been approved by the Parliament. The fact that linseed oil has been treated as an item of food under the Rules also lends support to our conclusion that it is food within the meaning of Section 2(v)(a) of the Act.

6. Learned counsel for the respondents placed before us the decision of a Division Bench of this Court in 1960 All LJ 94 on which reliance had also been placed by the learned Magistrate. With great respect to our brothers Oak and Bishambhar Dayal, who were parties to that decision, we disagree with them. The learned Judges have come to the conclusion that linseed oil is not an article of food by following the decision in Kamla Kant v. State, AIR 1951 All 595. In that case Harish Chandra. J. had not to deal with a case under any of the statutes pertaining to adulteration of food nor had he any provision similar to Section 2(v)(a) of the Act to interpret, The question that he had to determine was whether linseed oil seeds could be included in the definition of 'essential commodity' as given in Section 2 of Act XXIV of 1946. Clause (a) of Section 2 of Act XXIV of 1946 provided that essential commodity means any of the classes of commodities mentioned in that clause which included food stuffs. Harish Chandra, J. therefore had to find out whether linseed oil could be food because it is used as a cooking medium and thus enters into or is used in the preparation of food. That decision cannot in any case be relevant for deciding the scope of Sub-clause (a) of Section 2(v) of the Act. Besides in the concluding portion of his judgment Harish Chandra, J. observed as follows :

'In this view of the matter I do not see why linseed oil seeds should not be regarded as edible oil seeds'.

We may respectfully point out that in their judgment our learned brothers Oak and Bishambhar Dayal have not at all considered the provisions of Sub-clause (a) Section 2(v) of the Act and their entire observations are confined to the main clause in that section, i. e., as to whether or not linseed oil is an article used as food or drink for human consumption.

7. On behalf of the State reliance was placed on State v. Balmukund, 1953 All LJ 499 : (AIR 1954 All 97) where a Bench of this Court consisting of Malik, C. J. and M. L. Chaturvedi, J. while interpreting the provisions of Section 2 of Act VI of 1912 came to the conclusion on the basis of the decision in AIR 1951 All 595 (supra) that linseed oil was a food stuff within the meaning of that provision. It was contended that Section 2(v) of the Act was to all intents and purposes in pari materia with Section 2 of Act VI of 1912, It is really not necessary for us to derive support for our conclusion from this authority because the decision is on a different statute and as we have already said above on the plain meanings of the words occurring in Section 2(v) of the Act it is not possible to hold otherwise than that linseed oil is included in the definition of 'food' for the purpose of the Act. The term 'food' was defined in Act VI of the 1912 as follows :

'Food includes every article used for food or drink by man other than drinks or water and all material used or admixed in the composition or preparation of such articles and shall also include flavouring matters and condiments''.

The definition there was not exhaustive and for the decision of a case under that Act in order to determine as to what was food, one would have to read the dictionary meanings of the word 'food' along with the definition. In the Act the definition is differently worded. Here the definition is exhaustive because the words used are 'Food means any article'. Our brothers Oak and Bishambhar Dayal considered the decision in 1953 All LJ 499 : (AIR 1954 All 97) to be distinguishable on the ground that the use of the word 'man' in 'U. P. Act No. VI of 1912' gave a very wide scope of the definition of the term 'food'. With great respect to our brothers that would not, in our opinion, make any difference. In the definition in the Act the words used are 'as food or drink for human consumption'. There is thus no difference in the two provisions on that point. Our brothers while distinguishing the case of Balmukand, 1953 All LJ 499 : (AIR 1954 All 97) were also influenced by the fact that linseed oil is not commonly used in U. P. for purposes of food. This is apparent from the following observations in their judgment :

'Harish Chandra, J. pointed out in Kamla Kant's case AIR 1951 All 595 the linseed oil is not a common article of food in the country at least in Uttar Pradesh'.

We have already said above that the Act being an all-India Act, the mere fact that linseed oil is not used in U. P. as a cooking medium would not make it any the less food within the meaning of Section 2(v) of the Act if it is so used in other parts of the country. After having carefully perused the definition given in the two Acts,we have come to the conclusion that there is no material difference in the definition of the word 'food' given in Act VI of 1912 and the one given in Section 2 of the Act. Consequently, we do not consider the case of 1953 All LJ 499 : (AIR 1954 All 97) to be distinguishable but in as much as there is no ambiguity in the language of Section 2(v) of the Act and we are satisfied that the word 'food' comprehends linseed oil also, it is not necessary to rely upon the decision in 1953 All LJ 499 : (AIR 1954 All 97) which after all is a case under a different statute.

8. For the reasons given above, we are of opinion that there is force in this Government Appeal. We, therefore, allow it and setting aside the order of acquittal passed by the learned Magistrate dated 1st June, 1960, convict the respondents under Section 7/16 of the Act and sentence them to pay a fine of Rs. 100/- each, in default of payment of fine to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of three months each.

I.D. Sharma, J.

9. I have had the advantage of reading the judgment of my brother Jagdish Sahai, J., and I regret that I do not find myself in agreement with it.

10. The facts have been set out in the judgment of my learned brother, and it is not necessary for me to repeat them.

11. Section 2(v) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) defines 'food' as:

' 'Food' means any article used as food or drink for human consumption other than drugs and water and includes -

(a) any article which ordinarily enters into, or is used in the composition or preparation of human food, and

(b) any flavoring matter or condiments.'

An article used as a cooking medium will be an article of 'food'' under Section 2(v)(a) of the Act as it is used in the composition or preparation of human food. There can be no doubt that linseed oil is not used as 'food' or 'drink' for human consumption in any part of India. It is also not used as a cooking medium in northern India but is so used in some States in the South. It is also not denied that linseed oil is commonly used in the preparation of paints and varnishes, and even in the Southern States where it is used as a cooking medium by some people it is also used in the preparation of paints and varnishes. The question is whether in these circumstances linseed oil can be said to be an article which ordinarily enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food under Section 2(v)(a) of the Act as only then can it be 'food'.

12. My learned brother has observed in his judgment:

'By the use of the word 'ordinarily' the legislature intended to provide that if an article enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food by some people usually and not as an exception it would be deemed to be 'food'.'

The observation is based upon the meanings of the word 'ordinarily' as given in Shorter Oxford Dictionary which are:

'as a matter of regular occurrence, in most cases, usually'.

I am in respectful agreement with my learned brother that it is in the sense of non-exceptional or usual that the word 'ordinarily' has been used in Section 2(v)(a) of the Act, and that it does not mean universally. But even taking the dictionary meanings of the word 'ordinarily'' it is difficult to hold that it does not indicate 'primarily' or 'generally' or ''commonly''. The meanings of the word 'common'' as given in Webster's International Dictionary, inter alia, are 'that which is common, general or usual'.

It will appear that 'common', 'general' and 'usual' are used as synonymous words. Again, the meanings of the word 'general' given in the same dictionary are :

'Pertaining to, affecting or applicable to many or the greatest number of persons, cases or occasions; prevalent; usual; extensive''.

In Murray's New English Dictionary the word 'usual' has among others the meanings:

'That is in ordinary use or observance, having general currency, validity or force;'Commonly observed or practised; current; prevelent; ordinarily used; in common use; ordinary; customary.'

In the same dictionary the word 'ordinarily' has amongst others the meanings:

'As a matter of regular practice or occurrence; in ordinary degree; to the usual extent'.

Taking the dictionary meanings of the word 'ordinarily' as 'common, general or usual' I am unable to hold that linseed oil ordinarily enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food. The majority of the Indian people do not use linseed oil as a cooking medium. It is largely used throughout the currency in the preparation of paints and varnishes. The position would have been different if linseed oil were used only as a cooking medium and not in the preparation of paints and varnishes. In that case whatever the number of the people using linseed oil as a cooking medium, it could certainly be said to be ordinarily used in the composition or preparation of human food. Whether or not an article ordinarily enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food will depend either on its inherent quality as an article entering into or being used solely in the composition or preparation of human food or on the extent of its use as such and for any other purposes. Evidently linseed oil is not used solely for purposes of food but has industrial uses like the preparation of paints and varnishes. Therefore the extent to which it enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food will determine whether it is ordinarily so used. In view of the fact that linseed oil is largely used in the preparation of paints and varnishes throughout the country and is used as a cooking medium by some people in the South it cannot be said that it ordinarily enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food within the meaning of Section 2(v)(a) of the Act.

13. Edible oils mentioned at No. A-17 in Appendix B to the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules no doubt include linseed oil which, means that the Government classified linseed oil also as an edible oil. The rules, are framed under Section 23 of the Act, Sub-section (1) (b) which empowers the Central Government to define the standards of quality for, and fix limits of variability permissible in respect of any article of food. If an article is not 'food' as defined in Section a (v) of the Act, then any rule framed by the Government regarding it will be void. Linseed oil not being an article of food the Government could not under its rule-making power classify it as an edible oil.

14. It has been further observed in the judgment of my learned brother that the Act being for the whole of India the same word in the Act cannot have two different and diametrically opposite meanings in two different local areas as it will lead to the anomaly that the same article will be 'food'' in one part of the county and not in the other. I am in perfect agreement with the observation, if I may say so respectfully. But no anomaly can possibly arise if linseed oil is not held to be an article of food under the Act. In that case it will not be an article of food in any part of the country. Similarly there will be no anomaly if linseed oil is held to be an article of food, but it will in the case be an article of food in those parts of the country also where it is not. The Act is a penal Act and it should not be so interpreted as to make a large section of the innocent people liable to penalties. It may be that some dealers in linseed oil in some States in the South selling linseed oil as a cooking medium will escape the penalties laid down in the Act, but that can be no justification for imposing the penalties on a larger section of the people who do not deal in linseed oil as an article of food.

Therefore the rule of consistency to which very rightly importance is attached in the judgment of my learned brother requires that Section 2(v)(a) of the Act is not so interpreted as to include linseed oil in the definition of 'food''. The difficulty can be obviated, by framing a rule requiring a dealer in linseed oil to display prominently at his shop whether he is selling linseed oil as an article of food or as an article for industrial purposes.

35. I am further of the opinion that if an article is used both for purposes of food and industry then unless at the time of purchasing an indication is given that the article is required for the purpose of food there can be no prosecution under the Act. A purchase by a Food Inspector may in certain circumstances be supposed to give such an indication but under Section 12 of the Act even a purchaser of an article of food other than a Food Inspector is entitled to have such an article analysed by the Public Analyst on payment of such fee as may be prescribed, and if the article is adulterated then there can be a prosecution under the provisions of the Act.

16. In my view linseed oil is not 'food' as defined in Section 2(v)(a) of the Act, and the appeal should be dismissed.

BY THE COURT

17. In accordance with the view of the majority, this appeal is allowed and the order of acquittal passed by the learned Magistrate dated 1st of June, 1960, is set aside and the respondents are convicted under Section 7/16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 100/- each, in default of payment of fine they shall undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of three months each.


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