D.S. Tewatia, J.
1. Sample at patasas, out of 750 grams of patasaa purchased by Dr. Sukhjit Singh Aujla, Government Food Inspector, from Naresh Kumar petitoner out of ten kilograms of patasas kept for sale by him at his shop near Bus Stand at Tanda, on an analysis by the Public Analyst, were found to be coated with soap-stone. On the basis of report Exhibit P. D. to this effect, the petitioner was charged under Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, hereinafter referred to as the Act.
2. The trial Court, on a finding that the sample of patasas purchased by the Food Inspector was not of the nature or quality which it was purported to be, the soap-stone being a material foreign to the Patasas was not expected to be coated on the patasas, and that the soap-stone coating had certainly rendered the patasas of inferior quality and, therefore, the patasas were adulterated, as denned under Section 2(ia) of the Act, held the accused-petitioner guilty of the charge and sentenced him to one year's rigorous imprisonment and to a fine of Rs. 2,000/-, in default to further six months' rigorous imprisonment.
3. On an appeal at the instance of the accused-petitoner, the Additional Sessions Judge, Hoshiarpur, endorsed the observations of the trial Court already noted and dismissed the appeal. Hence, the present petition, which was referred to be decided by a larger Bench and that is how it is before us for decision.
4. The short, though significant, tion that has been posed for decision by the petitioner is as to whether the petitioner could be convicted of an offence under Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act, when admittedly, neither under the Act, nor under the Rules frattled thereunder' or otherwise, the standard of quality or purity of patasas had been prescribed nor soap-stone was declared to be injurious to health or declared to become injurious to health when coated upon patasas.
5. Admittedly, no standard of quality or purity of patasas has been prescribed by the Act or the Rules framed thereunder. Nor soap-stone has been declared to be injurious to health or that it becomes injurious to health when coated upon patasas. The question, therefore, arises whether the mere presence of soap-stone by way of coating over patasas or its presence otherwise in patasas would render patasas adulterated so as to invite a charge under Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act.
6. However, before noticing the kind of adulteration, which is made punishable under Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act, it is first necessary to notice the definition of the word 'adulterated'. Section 2 of the Act, which defines a substance to be 'adulterated' reads:
2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires:
* * * *(ia) 'adulterated' an article of food shall be deemed to be adulterated
(a) if the article sold by a vendor is not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser and is to his prejudice, or is not of the nature, substance or quality which it purports or is represented to be:
(b) if the article contains any other substance which affects, or if the article is so processed, as to affect injuriously the nature, substance or quality thereof;
(c) if any inferior or cheaper substance has been substituted wholly' or in part for the article so as to affect injuriously the nature, substance or quality thereof;
(d) if any constituent of the article has been wholly or in part abstracted so as to affect injuriously the nature, substance or quality thereof;
(e) if the article had been prepared, packed or kept under insanitary conditions whereby it has become contaminated or injurious to health;
(f) if the article consists wholly or in part of any filthy, putrid, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance or is insect-infested or Is otherwise unfit for human consumption
(g) if the article is obtained from a diseased animal;
(h) if the article contains any poisonous or other ingredient which renders it injurious to health;
(i) if the container of the article is composed, whether wholly or in part, of any poisonous or deleterious substance which renders its contents injurious to health;
(j) if any colouring matter other than that prescribed in respect thereof is present in the article, or if the amounts of the presecribed colouring matter which is present in the article are not Within the prescribed limits of variability;
(k) if the article contains any prohibited preservative or permitted preservative in excess of the prescribed limit.
(l) if the quality or purity of the article falls below the prescribed standard or its constituents are present in quantities not within the prescribed limits of variability, which renders it injurious to health;
(m) if the quality or purity of the article falls below the prescribed standard or its constituents are present in quantities not within the prescribed limits of variability but which does not render it injurious to health;
* * * *(ix) 'misbranded' an article of food shall be deemed to be misbranded
(a) if it is an imitation of, or is a substitute for, or resembles in a manner likely to deceive, another article of food under the name of which it is sold, and is not plainly and conspicuously labelled so as to indicate its true character:
(b) if it is falsely stated to be the product of any place or country;
(c) if it is sold by a name which belongs to another article of food;
(d) if it is so coloured, flavoured or coated, powdered or polished that the fact that the article is damaged, is concealed or if the article is made to appear better or of greater value than it really is;
(e) if false claims are made for it upon the label or otherwise;
(f) if, when gold in packages which have been sealed or prepared by or at the instance of the manufacturer or producer and,, which bear his name and address, the contents of each package are not conspicuously and correctly stated on the -outside thereof within the limits of variability prescribed under this Act;
(g) if the package containing it, or the label on the package bears any statement, design or device regarding the ingredients or the substances contained therein, which is false or misleading in any material praticular; 'or if the package is otherwise deceptive with respect to its contents;
(h) if the package containing it or Vat label on the package bears the name of a fictitious individual or company as the manufacturer or producer of the article;
(i) if it purports to be, or is represented as being, for special dietary uses, unless its label bears such information as may be prescribed concerning its vitamin, mineral or other dietary properties in order to sufficiently inform its purchaser as to its value for such uses;
(j) if it contains any artificial flavouring, artificial colouring or chemical preservative, without a declaratory label stating that fact, or in contravention of the requirements of this Act or rules made thereunder;
(k) if it is not labelled in accordance with the requirements of this Act or rules made thereunder;* * * *
7. The provisions of Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act are in the following terms:
16. (1) Subject to the provisions of Sub-section (ia), if any person
(a) whether by himself or by any other person on his behalf, imports into India or manufactures for sale, or stores, sells or distributes any article of food
(i) which is adulterated within the meaning of Sub-clause (m) of Clause (ia) of Section 2 or misbranded within the meaning of Clause (ix) of that section or the sale of which is prohibited under any provision of this Act or any rule made thereunder or by an order of the Food (Health) Authority: ...the shall, in addition to the penalty to which he may be liable under the provisions of Section 6, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to three years, and with fine which shall not be less than one thousand rupees:...
A perusal of Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act, reproduced above, would reveal that it makes a person punishable only for such 'adulterated' food as is mentioned in Sub-clause (m) of Clause (ia) of Section 2 of the Act and for such misbranding as mentioned in Clause (ix) of Section 2.
8. Patasas, standard of which regarding quality or purity or the proportion of various constituents that go in its making having not been prescribed by the Act or the rules framed thereunder, when coated with soap-s'tone, a substance which has not. been declared to be injurious to health, cannot be considered to be adulterated in terms of any of the Sub-clauses (e) to (i) or (m) of Clause (ia) of Section 2.
9. The matter is not res integra. As far back as in the year 1966, their Lordships of the Supreme Court, in M. V. Krishnan Nambissan v. State of Kerala : 1966CriLJ1347 , enunciated that where for a given food standard of quality was not prescribed, the accused could not be convicted foi an offence under Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act. That was a case in which buttermilk was found to contain 11 per cent water. It was held that no standard of quality or purity of buttermilk having been prescribed under the rules, the accused did not commit the offence with which he was charged.
10. A single Judge of this Court, following the ratio of M. V. Krishnan Nambissan's case (supra), in Shanti Bassi v. State of Punjab 1976 Chand LR (Cri) (Funj & Har) 34, quashed proceedings in which the petitioners Shanti Bassi and Anr. were prosecuted under Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act for mixing adulterated rape-seed oil in Vanaspati Ghee, of which the said oil was one of the constituents on a finding that no standard was prescribed under the Act in regard to the quality of rape-seed.
11. Another single Judge of this Court in a judgment reported in Har-bhajan Singh v. State of Punjab 1978 Chand LR fPunj & Har) 12. came to the same conclusion in regard to carbonated water, which contained saccharin, as no standard of purity or quality of carbonated water had been prescribed under the Act.
12. this Court again in Harish Kumar v. State of Punjab (1979) 2 FAC 105, in regard to imported palmoil, of which no standard regarding quality or purity had been prescribed under the Act or the rules framed thereunder, held that the case did not come within the mischief of Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act.
13. Sandhawalia, C. J. in Lekh Raj v, The State, 1980 Chand LR (Punj & Har) 148, while dealing with a case to which fruit-cream was said to be adulterated, following M. V. Krishnan Nambissan's case 1966 Cri LJ 1347 (SC) (supra) and Hari Shankar v. Corporation of Calcutta 1973 Cri LJ 1264; and Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Kan-shi Ram 1972 FAC 41, held that fruit-cream not being ice-cream and no standard for fruit-cream having been prescribed, no yard-stick was available by which to judge the purity or otherwise of the product taken from the petitioner therein and in the absence of a prescribed standard, no conviction was possible, both on principle or on precedent.
14. Mr. Daljit Singh Keer, learned Counsel for the respondent-State, referred us to Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Sat Pal Kapoor ; Smt. Manibai v. State of Maharashtra 1973 FAC 349 : 1974 Cri LJ 451 (SC); Sharif Ahmed v. State of U. P. 82 Pun LR 352; Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Raj Kumar 1980 () FAC 353 (Delhi); and Rakam Singh v. State (1980) 2 FAC 11 : 1980 Cri LJ 586 (All).
15. We do not propose to examine the ratio of the authorities cited by Mr. Keer, for there is no dispute with the proposition laid down therein. What, however, deserves pointing out is that not even remotely the ratio of the, aforesaid decisions is relevant to the proposition under consideration and these decisions are of no help whatever to the respondent-State.
16. On facts, it may be noticed that the record is absolutely bereft in regard to the substances that go in the making of patasas. No one has said that soap-stone is injurious to health or is a substance which is not edible in any form.
17. In view of the above, we unhesitatingly hold that the petitioner is not guilty of the offence under Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act. We, therefore, allow this revision petition and quash his con-viction and sentence.
S.S. Sandhawalia, C.J.
18. I agree.