Skip to content


Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs. Ram Prakash - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Food Adulteration
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 117D of 1964
Judge
Reported inILR1970Delhi86
ActsPrevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955 - Rule 32
AppellantMunicipal Corporation of Delhi
RespondentRam Prakash
Advocates: B. Dayal and; K.K. Luthra, Advs
Cases ReferredGanpat Shantaram More v. Gingappa Balappa Gattade and Another
Excerpt:
.....pure ghee put up for sale must be labelled. but before rule 32 can be said to be infringed, there should be a provision like rule 42, which has already been noticed, specifically requires the vendor to affix a label. apart from that the label affixed gave the name of the firm but nto the detailed address and merely stated 'new delhi-5'.the postal circles are well-known and area which fall there under are also well-known......seized, that by itself constitute an offence. we have already held that compliance of rule 32 would be necessary only if there was a statutory requirement to affix labels and subrule (b) and (e) would be infringed only if there was such a requirement. since there was no statutory requirement to affix a label the lable as affixed cannto be regarded as infringing one. apart from that the label affixed gave the name of the firm but nto the detailed address and merely stated 'new delhi-5'. the postal circles are well-known and area which fall there under are also well-known. so, it cannto be said that merely because the name of the street or premises number was nto specifically mentioned it amounted to an infringement of the rule. (12) in this view of the matter, though for a different.....
Judgment:

Prakash Narain, J.

(1) This judgment will dispose of Criminal Appeals Nos. 117-D of 1964 and 118-D of 1964.

(2) On 29th December, 1962, at about 3 -25 P.M. Food Inspectors went to the shop of M/s Kahan Ghee laboratories situated at premises No. 2774, Gali No. 14, Beedanpura, Karol Bagh, New Delhi and took separate samples of pure ghee from the respondent Ram Parkash, who was sitting at the sale counter of the above shop. These samples were taken from sealed tins purporting to contain pure ghee after complying with all the formalities required by the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 and the rules framed there under. The tins from which the samples were taken were also taken into custody. Thereafter these samples were sent to the Public Analyst who reported that the samples fulfillled the standards laid down for pure ghee and were unadulterated. Ram Parkash was, however, prosecuted in respect of the tins which were seized for infringing rule 32(b) and (e) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955. The prosecution case was that the lables on the tins of ghee seized by the Food Inspectors did nto conform to the packing and labelling rules under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act in as much as the name and business addresss of the manufacturer or packer or vendor and the batch number or Code number had nto been specified on the label as required under the said rule 32(b) and (e) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955.

(3) The grounds for the acquittal given by the learned Additional Sessions Judge are that. .... .'the words Batch number and Code number are nto defined in the Act or the Rules and it was nto clear what useful purpose would have been served by giving any fictitious or unintelligible markings on the tins and how these markings were intended to secure the character, quality or purity of the food stuffs packed in the tins or how the public could have been made wiser by these marks so as to prevent their being deceived or misled about the quality etc. of the food stuffs that they were buying.' It has been further held that it did nto appear to have been the intention of the legislature or the framers of the rules that such Code numbers or Batch numbers were to be given in all cases irrespective of the nature of the commodity to be marketted. The learned Additional Sessions Judge also held that, in any case, it appeared to be a very technical breach of the rules and there was no clear breach of the spirit of law and that the accused had no guilty intention in failing to give the Code number and Batch number and thus deserved to be acquitted. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi has appealed against these orders of acquittal by special leave. Rule 32 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules. 1955, may, at this stage, be read . It lays down as under :-

'32.Contents of the label.-Unless otherwise provided in these rules there shall be specified on every label. (a) the name, trade name or description of food contained in the package. (b) the name and business address of the manufacturer or importer or vendor or packer, 88 (c) where any permitted class Ii preservative and/or permitted coloring agent and/or permitted antioxidant and/or vitamin is added, a statement to the effect that it contains permitted class Ii preservatives and/or permitted coloring agents and/or permitted antiozidants and/or vitamins, (d) the net weight or number of measure or volume of contents as the circumstances may require excpet in the case of biscuits, (break) confectionary and sweets where the weight may be expressed in terms of either average net weight and/or minimum net weight, (c) a batch number or code number either in Hindi or ' English numericals or alphabets or in combination.

(4) Provided that in the case of food package weighing nto more than 60 grams particulars including the statement under any clause need nto be specified. Provided further that in the case of :-

(A)(carbonated) water containers, and (b) a package containing more than 60 grams but nto more than 120 grams of biscuits confectionary and sweets, 'particulars under clauses (d) and (w) need nto be specified. (Provided further that in the case of a package containing bread, particulars under cluase {e) need nto be specified). Explanationn.-The term 'label' means a display of written, printed, perforated, stencilled, embossed or stamped matter upon the container cover lid and/or crown cork of any food package.)

(5) The contention of Mr. Bishamber Dayal, learned Counsel for the appellant is that under section 7(v) of the Act read with rule 32, the offence has been committed and it was nto for the learned Additional Sessions Judge to say that since there was only a technical breach of the rules the accused was to be acquitted. It is also argued that the purpose which an enactment or a rule will serve or object for framing thereof are wholly irrelevant considerations. So long as there is a valid rule or statute infringement thereof is punishable. There is no doubt that this contention must be upheld. It is nto for the Courts to dilate upon the. necessity or advisibility of lgeislation. The Courts are to administer the law as framed, subject, however, to there being a valid law. The wisdom of the legislature or the rule making authority is nto required to be commented upon by the Courts. So, whether the breach or infringement is technical or not, so long as there is a breach or infringement the violation of law must be punished. Even otherwise the object for which the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and the rules there under have been framed is a laudable object. As is clear the object and purpose of this legislation is to prevent adulteration of food, an evil which is so widely rampant and has caused a serious hazard to the citizens. It is to check the anti-social element in society that this measure has been enacted and in the context, thereforee, both the Act and the Rules require a liberal interpretation. The validity of Rule 32 of the said Rules has already been upheld by my Lord the Chief Justice in Dworka Nath v. Municipal Corporation Delhi (1) decided on 7-11-67. Their is, thus, no doubt that if the respondent has violated a rule which he was bound to comply with, he must be punished in terms of section 7(v) of the said Act.

(6) This brings us to a consideration of the Rules of 1955 themselves. Part-J of the Rules deals with preliminary matters like title and definitions Part-11 of the Rules deals with the Central Food Laboratory. Part-111 lays down that the standards of quality of the various articles of food would be as given in the appendix to the Rules. Part-IV deals with the qualifications and duties of Public Analyst and Food Inspectors to be appointed under the Act. Part-V deals with sealing fastening and dispatch of samples and the manner in which all this is to be done. Part Vi eals with the use of coloring matter in various edibles. Part Vii deals with packing and labelling of foods. It is this set of that we are concerned. We have already set out rule 32 hereinabove. Rule 33 lays down the language in which the particulars or declarations have to be given on the lables affixed to the containers of food stuff. Rules 34 to 36 deal with the manner in which label is to be made out Rule 37 prohibits any false or misleading statements being made while Rules 38 to 40 set out certain other requirements in the manner in which a label is to be drawn out. Rule 41 places a prohibition on any imitation of food stuff to be marked as pure. Rule 42 must be read in extenso. It states as under:-

'42.Form of Labels.-(A) Coffee Chicory Mixture.- (i) Every package containing a mixture of coffee and chiccry shall have affixed to it a label wihich shall be printed the following declarations :- (B) Condensed milk or Desicated (Dried) Milk.- (i) Every package containing condensed milk or desicated (dried) milk shall bear a label upon which is printed such one of the following declarations as may be applicable or such other declaration substantially to the like effect as may be allowed by the State Government......... (ii) The declaration shall in each case be completed by inserting at (x) the appropriate number in word and in figures, for example, 'one and half (1')', any fraction being expressed as eighth quarters or a half, as the case may be. For the purpose of deciding the equivalent of (litres of milk) or skimmed milk under these rules, milk means milk which contains nto less than 1 -24 per cent. of total milk (including net less than 1 -24 per cent of milk fat) and 'skimmed milk' means milk which contains nto less than 9 per cent of milk solids other than milk fat. (iii) There shall nto be placed on any package containing condensed milk or desicated (dried) milk any comment on, Explanationn on, or reference to either the statement of equivalent, contained in the prescribed declaration or on the words 'machine skimmed' 'skimmed' or unsuitable for babies' except instructions as to dilution as follows:- 'To make fluid nto below the composition of fresh milk or skimmed milk (as the case may be) with the contents of this package add (here insert the number of parts) of water by volume to one part by volume of this condensed milk or desicated (dried) milk.' (iv) Wherever the word 'milk' appears on the label of a package of condensed skimmed milk or of desicated (dried) skimmed milk as the description or part of the description of the contents, it shall be immediately preceded or followed by the word 'machine skimmed' or 'partly skimmed' as the case may be. (c) ICE-CREAM.-Every dealer in ice-cream who, in the street or other place of public resort sells or offers or exposes for sale, ice-cream or icecandy from a stall or from a cart, barrow or other vehicle, or from a basket, phial, tray or other container used without a staff or a vehicle, shall have his name and address along with the name and address of the manufacturer, if any, legibly and conspicuously displayed on the saff, vehicle or container, as the case may be.'

(7) Rule 43 requires that every advertisement or label etc. shall put the purchaser on notice of any additional admixture or deficiency in the food sought to be sold. We are nto concerned with remaining parts of the Rules of 1955.

(8) On a reading of the above Rules it is apparent that there is no statutory requirement that a container containing a pure article of food requires to be labelled at all. If there is no statutory requirement that a label must be affixed, it cannto be understood how Rule 32 would be attracted in such cases.

(9) Mr. Bisharnber Dayal is that it is correct that there is no requirement that a label should be affixed but if a label is affixed, then it must company with the provisions of Rule 32. He relies on certain observations of my lord the Chief Justice in Criminal Revision No. 371-D of 1965. His lordship observed asunder:

'THEquestion as to how the display of the name and business-address of the manufacturer or improter or vendor or packer and of the batch number or code-number would subserve or advance the prevention of the public or the purchaser being deceived or misled as to the character, quality or quantity of the article has nto to be dealt with by this Court, as if it is sitting on appeal from the draftsman's decision to include clauses (b) and (e) in Rule 32. It is nto for this Court to substitute its wisdom for that of the Legislature or of its delegate, provided in the latter case, the delegation is within the permissible bounds of law. The words 'character, quality or quantity of the article', contained in section 23(1)(d), appear to me to be wide and comprehensive enough to take within its fold a manufacturer, importer, vendor or packer for the purpose of inspiring confidence in the public or the purchaser that they are getting the precise 'article desired. Similarly. the display of batch-number or code-number would seem to me to be a relevant factor for assuring the public or the purchaser that they are getting from the market the article which is fresh enough to suit their purpose and requirement. ........'

'INthe present case, the article of food is ghee and it is idle to contend that the batch-number and the code- number or the name and business-address of the manufacturer, importer, vendor or packer are wholly irrelevant and foreign to the purpose of preventing the public or the purchaser from being deceived or misled as to the character, quality or quantity of the ghee purchased. Certain manufacturers, importers or vendors of ghee have a more re-assuring reputation in regard to the purity of the stuff they deal in and of their honest dealing than some other of their co-traders. Similarly, the batch-number and the code-number would serve to provide a re-assuring factor to the purchaser in as much as it would indicate to some extent the time when the commodity was manufactured or packed. Whether the extent or degree or reassurance which these Rules may succeed in affording to the public or the purchaser, would be sufficiently effective, being a matter of degree, is nto a question which would affect the virus of this provision, and if there is some rational connection between the rule and the object which underlies section 23(1)(d), construed in the background of the statutory aim and purpose, then its validity must inevitably be upheld by this Court.'

(10) The question, as being considered by us, was nto before his lordship. He was really considering the virus of Rule 32 (b) and (e) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955. All the same, with respect, we feel that though the Rule is valid it would only be attracted in a case like the present only if there was any statutory requirement that the tins containing pure ghee put up for sale must be labelled. Mr. Bishamber Dayal has nto been able to point out any provision in the Act or in the Rules that respondent was bound to affix a label at all. It is nto the case of the prosecution that there was a misrepresentation by the respondent of the article that was sought to be marketed. If that was so, no doubt, Rule 37 would be attracted. But before Rule 32 can be said to be infringed, there should be a provision like Rule 42, which has already been noticed, specifically requires the vendor to affix a label. As we see it, there is no requirement of affixation of label on containers of foods which are sold absolutely pure because any impurity in such food stuffs is punishable by itself. We do nto also find it possible to agree with the contention of Mr. Bishamber Dayal that a label need nto be affixed at all but if it is affixed, it must comply with the provisions of Rule 32. If the affixation of the label that must be a statutory obligation. If that is missing, the contents of the label or mark affixed on a container would nto be punishable. A reading of Rule 32 (c) would make this aspect quite clear. It appears to us that the policy of the Act and the Rules is that certain data is necessary in case of Articles of food where there is admixture or addition or deficiency in the food stuff sought to be marketed. Our attention was invited to a decision of the Bombay High Court in Ganpat Shantaram More v. Gingappa Balappa Gattade and Another (2) where it has been held that Rule 43 did nto apply in case of articles which are pure in themselves and which are required by the Act or the Rules to be sold in pure condition. Since the purity of the article when sold in pure condition by itself is the standard and any deviation from that standard is culpable, the rawers of the Rules and the legislature had rightly nto provided that a label must be affixed to a container selling such pure edible articles of food. In other cases, it was nto only necessary but imperative that the purchaser should be put on notice about the contents of a container which he was buying.

(11) There is one other aspect which we may advert. It has been argued that since the name and business address of the manufacturer or importer or vendor or packer was nto given fully on the tins that were seized, that by itself constitute an offence. We have already held that Compliance of Rule 32 would be necessary only if there was a statutory requirement to affix labels and subrule (b) and (e) would be infringed only if there was such a requirement. Since there was no statutory requirement to affix a label the lable as affixed cannto be regarded as infringing one. Apart from that the label affixed gave the name of the firm but nto the detailed address and merely stated 'New Delhi-5'. The postal circles are well-known and area which fall there under are also well-known. So, it cannto be said that merely because the name of the street or premises number was nto specifically mentioned it amounted to an infringement of the rule.

(12) In this view of the matter, though for a different reason, we uphold the acquittal of the respondent and dismiss these appeals.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //