S. Acharya, J.
1. The petitioner stands convicted under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act') for contravening the provisions of Clause 3 of the Orissa Rice and Paddy Control Order, 1965 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Order'), and he has been sentenced thereunder to Rule 1 for 3 months.
2. The prosecution case against the petitioner in short is that he on 1-1-1972 had stored 24 bags of rice, each weighing 101 Kgs., in the truck No. ORK 1803, and was transporting the same without having any authority or licence for the same. P. W. 1, the Inspector of Supplies, checked the truck when it was found standing at the Brahmanigan check gate facing towards Orkel village in Koraput district.
3. The petitioner in his defence contended that the stock of rice in the truck did not belong to him. According to him he and some other persons were transporting 5 bags of rice each in thai truck and he alone was travelling in the said truck as the driver did not allow the other owners of the other rice bags to travel in that truck on that occasion.
4. The trial Court arrived at the finding that was the accused (petitioner) who had stored the said 24 bags ol rice in the above-mentioned truck without any authority for the same and so he contravened the provisions of Clause 3 ol the Order and hence he was guilty of the offence under Section 7(1)(a)(i) of the Act.
5. The appellate Court merely holds that the accused was in possession of the said stock of rice without any authority and so he was rightly convicted of the aforesaid offence. That court has not taken pains to examine whether on mere possession of the said stock the offence of which the petitioner is convicted ia made out or not.
6. Mr. Mohanty, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, contends that the conviction of the petitioner for the aforesaid offence is illegal as, on the facts found in this case, it cannot be said that the petitioner had 'stored' the said stok of rice on the aforesaid truck and that by his said act he was acting as a 'dealer' as denned in Clause 2 (b) of the Order requiring compliance of the provisions of Clause 3 thereof.
7. The charge framed against the petitioner is as follows :
That you on or about the 1st day of January, 1972 at or near Brahamanigan check gate were found to have stored 24 bags of rice, each bag containing 101 Kgs. of rice without having any licence or valid authority.
8. The word 'dealer' has been defined in clause 2 (b) to mean :
Any person who purchases, sells or stores in wholesale quantity rice or paddy, or rice and paddy taken together.
Clause 3 provides that:
3. Licensing of persons :
(1) No person shall act as a dealer except under and in accordance with a licence issued in that behalf by the licensing authority;
(Proviso not relevant)
(2) For the purpose of this clause any person who stores rice or paddy or rice and paddy taken together in quantity exceeding ten quintals inside the State of Orissa excluding the border area and exceeding two quintals inside the border area shall, unless the contrary is proved, be deemed to act as a dealer.' Therefore, no person can purchase, sell, or store in wholesale quantity as stated above, rice or paddy or rice and paddy taken together without a valid licence in that behalf.
9. It is not alleged against the petitioner that he was purchasing or selling any quantity of rice at the relevant time, So it is to be seen whether on the facts proved in this case it can be said that the petitioner was 'storing' the said stock of rice. The facts found against the petitioner are that he was in possession of the aforesaid 24 bags of rice loaded on a truck and the said truck was found standing near the check gate mentioned above. It is the common case of both the sides that the said stock of rice was being transported to some other place on the said truck. Therefore it is to be considered whether possession of the said stock of rice or transportation of the same in a vehicle would amount to 'storing of the said stock' so as to come within the purview of the word 'stores' in clauses 2 (b) and 3 (2) of the Order. The word 'stores' has nowhere been defined. In the ordinary parlance it may bring within its scope an element of possession of the stock with the idea of keeping it at a particular place for some time. Possessing 10 quintals or more of rice or paddy on a truck and/or transporting the same to some other place would certainly not amount to storing the said stock even for the time being. Using the word 'stores' or its derivatives in that context would amount to outstretching the scope, meaning and the ambit of that word beyond their limits, and there is nothing in the said Order warranting or permitting such an unrealistic implication. That word and Its derivatives have to be given the meaning which they imply in the ordinary parlance.
10. In an identical case (Hariram Agarwala v. State of Orissa, 45 Cut LT 51: 1978 Cri LJ 681 Mohanti, J. in para 9 of that decision has held that:.The Order does not make mere possession of paddy without licence an offence, but storage of paddy has been made an offence. I do not think that this case can be considered as a case of storage. The act of carrying paddy in the truck does not, in my opinion, amount to 'storing' as that word is generally understood. It is well settled that a penal clause must be strictly construed. The act of the petitioner may bo taken to be an act preparatory to storing. But the presumption mentioned in Sub-clause (2) of clause 3 can arise only when there is storage. No such presumption arises out of an act preparatory to storage.
In the case of Prem Bahadur v. State of Orissa 44 Cut LT -629 : 1978 Cri LJ 683, which also was a case of the same nature, Misra, J. has held that (at p, G85 of Cri LJ):
Transhipment in a moving vehicle would not amount to storage within the meaning of the Orissa Order, I am inclined to agree with Mr. Mohanty for the petitioner that the prescription being 'storage' possessing the stock of rice within a moving truck would not satisfy the element which is an offence.
I agree with the above-quoted observations in the aforesaid decisions.
On the above considerations I hold that on the facts found in this case the offence of which the petitioner has been charged is not established and that on the said facts he cannot be convicted for the offence alleged against him. So the petitioner is entitled to be acquitted of the said offence.
11. In the result, the criminal revision is allowed. The conviction of the petitioner and the sentence passed against him in this case are set aside and he is acquitted of the offence charged against him. The rice and the truck which had been seized in this case or the price thereof if already sold, be handed over to the petitioner forthwith, if of course there be no legal objection or bar for the implementation of this order.