1. The respondent was prosecuted before the Judicial Magistrate, Barabanki,for offences under cls. (i) and (iii) of s. 7 of the Prevention of FoodAdulteration Act, 1954, for selling adulterated milk and for selling milkwithout a licence. The learned Magistrate found that the offences had beenproved and further that, the respondent had committed the offences for thethird time. Under clause (a)(iii) of sub-section (i) of s. 16 of the Act, inthe absence of special and adequate reasons to the contrary, for a thirdoffence the imprisonment to be awarded cannot be for less than two years andthe fine to be imposed not less than three thousand rupees. Section 32 of theCriminal Procedure Code however provides that a Magistrate of the first classshall not have power to impose a sentence of fine exceeding rupees twothousand. Under the impression that his power as a Magistrate of the first classto impose sentence was limited by s. 32 of the Code the learned JudicialMagistrate committed the respondent to stand his trial before the Court ofSession, presumably acting under s. 347 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
2. The respondent was thereupon tried by a learned Sessions Judge ofBarabanki who found him guilty of the offences with which he had been charged.The learned Sessions Judge however came to the conclusion that the offences hadbeen committed by the respondent for the second time and not the third. Heobserved that the learned Judicial Magistrate was competent to award theminimum punishment prescribed by the Act for a second offence and should nothave committed the case to the Court of Session at all. He however convictedthe respondent and awarded the minimum sentence prescribed by the Act for asecond offence, namely, rigorous imprisonment for one year and a fine of rupeestwo thousand and, in default, rigorous imprisonment for a further period of sixmonths for each of the offences and directed the sentences of imprisonment torun concurrently.
3. The respondent then appealed to the High Court at Allahabad. Mulla, J.,who heard the appeal pointed out that the learned Judicial Magistrate hadoverlooked the provisions of s. 21 of the Act which provides thatnotwithstanding anything contained in s. 32 of the Code it shall be lawful fora Magistrate of the first class to pass any sentence authorised by the Act inexcess of his powers under s. 32 of the Code. The learned Judge observed thatthe learned Magistrate was therefore quite competent to award all punishmentsthat the law required and had no reason to commit the respondent to a Court ofSession. He took the view that a Court of Session could try only those caseswhich were legally and properly committed to it by a Magistrate and that s. 21of the Act was not only an enabling provision but also a disabling one. He heldthat s. 21 of the Act prevented a commitment to the Court of Session by aMagistrate of the first class. He observed, 'Where a special Act has madea special provision for punishment to be awarded by a Magistrate irrespectiveof the limitations placed upon his powers under the Criminal Procedure Code, itamounts to an abrogation of the general law and the provisions of s. 347 of theCriminal Procedure Code cannot be applied to such a case.' In this view ofthe matter he held that the learned Judicial Magistrate had no power to committhe respondent to the Court of Session for trial and the learned Sessions Judgehad no jurisdiction to try the case. He thereupon set aside the order ofconviction and the sentence passed against the respondent and remanded the caseto the District Magistrate of Barabanki to be transferred by him to the Courtof a competent Magistrate for trial and disposal. The State has appealed tothis Court against the judgment of Mulla, J.
4. We are unable to agree with the view of Mulla, J., that the learnedSessions Judge had no jurisdiction to try the case. We do not think that s. 21of the Act is a disabling provision. All that it does is to authorise aMagistrate of the first class to award a sentence beyond the limits prescribedfor him under s. 32 of the Code. It does not affect the provisions of Sections 207and 347 of the Code, nor has it anything to do with the jurisdiction of a Courtof Session. The section does not make commitment by a Magistrate competent toaward the full sentence prescribed by the Act, a nullity; nor does the sectioninterfere with the jurisdiction of a Court of Session to deal with a mattercommitted to it in spite of its provisions.
5. The jurisdiction of a Court of Session depends upon the Code. It hasjurisdiction to try any case which is committed to it. The case against therespondent had been committed to a Court of Session by a Magistrate havingpower to commit. Further, the Magistrate did not lack territorial jurisdictionto commit. It may be that the Magistrate was competent to try the case andaward all punishments prescribed by law. It is also true that the Magistratewas not compelled to commit the case to a Court of Session. We are unable tosubscribe to the view that a commitment in such circumstances is itself void.Neither do we understand Mulla, J., to take the view that apart from s. 21 ofthe Act, the commitment was void because the learned Magistrate could himselfhave awarded the maximum sentence provided. We have said that s. 21 does nottake away the power of the Magistrate if he has such power, to commit, noraffect the jurisdiction of a Court of Session to try a case committed to it bya Magistrate empowered to do so. Therefore it seems to us that the learnedSessions Judge had full jurisdiction to try the case against the respondent.
6. In the result we allow the appeal and set aside the order of the HighCourt. The case will now go back to the High Court to be heard on merits.
7. Appeal allowed.