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Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs. Rattan Lal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Food Adulteration
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revision Appeal No. 219 of 1968
Judge
Reported in1971CriLJ1485; ILR1971Delhi285
ActsProbation of Offenders Act, 1958 - Sections 4 and 18; Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 - Sections 16; Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 - Sections 5(2)
AppellantMunicipal Corporation of Delhi
RespondentRattan Lal
Advocates: B. Dayal,; F. Anthony and; Ghanshyam Das, Advs
Cases ReferredKaur v. Stale
Excerpt:
.....(xx of 1958) - section 4--applicability of--accused convicted under section 16 of prevention of food adulteration act can invoke the provisions of section 4 of probation of offenders act in appropriate cases. ; the probation of offenders act has been enacted with the object of giving to an accused a chance of reformation which he would lose in case he is incarcerated in prison and associates with hardened criminals. the aforesaid act is a milestone in the progress of the modern liberal trend of reform in the field of penology. it is the result of the recognition of the doctrine that the object: of criminal law is more to reform the individual offender than to punish him. broadly stated, the act distinguishes offenders below 21 years of age and those above that age, and offenders who..........can be invoked by an accused convicted under section 7 read with section 16 cf the prevention of food adulteration act, 1954 (37 of 1954) is the main question which arises for determination in this revision. in view of f the importance of the matter it was directed by one of us (v. 1). misra, j.) that it should be heard by a larger bench. the question has arisen in the following circumstances :- (2) rattan lal respondent had stored for sale 'asian banbury cream biscuits', alleged to be prepared with maida, sugar, vegetable oil and permitted chemicals at his shop no. 353-a, rani bagh. shakur basti, delhi. on september 29, 1966, a sample of the biscuits was taken by food inspector udey singh and was duly sent to the public analyst. the report of the public analyst showed that the sample.....
Judgment:

H.R. Khanna, C.J.

(1) Whether the provisions of Section 4 of the Probation of offenders Act, 1958 (Act Xx of 1958) can be invoked by an accused convicted under Section 7 read with Section 16 cf the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (37 of 1954) is the main question which arises for determination in this revision. In view of F the importance of the matter it was directed by one of us (V. 1). Misra, J.) that it should be heard by a larger Bench. The question has arisen in the following circumstances :-

(2) Rattan Lal respondent had stored for sale 'Asian Banbury Cream Biscuits', alleged to be prepared with Maida, sugar, vegetable oil and permitted Chemicals at his shop No. 353-A, Rani Bagh. Shakur Basti, Delhi. On September 29, 1966, a sample of the biscuits was taken by Food Inspector Udey Singh and was duly sent to the Public Analyst. The report of the Public Analyst showed that the sample was adulterated because of the presence of unpermitted colour. A complaint under Section 7 read with Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act was filed on behalf of Municipal Corporation of Delhi on January 9, 1967. The trial magistrate found the respondent guilty and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of six months and to pay a fine of Rs. 1.000 or in default to undergo simple imprisonment for a term of four months. On appeal by the respondent learned Additional Sessions Judge maintained the conviction of the respondent but in view of certain extenuating circumstances reduced the sentence of imprisonment to the period already undergone. The sentence of fine was, however, maintained. The Municipal Corporation thereafter filed the present revision for enhancement of the sentence of the respondent. When the revision came up for hearing, it was urged on behalf of the respondent that in view of the extenuating circumstances the respondent should be given the benefit of Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act .The above stand was controverter by the learned counsel for the petitioner and it was argued that as Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act provided minimum sentence of six months and a fine of Rs. l,0'00.00, the provisions of Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act could not be applied in such a case. The matter was thereupon, as stated earlier, referred to a larger Bench.

(3) We have heard Mr. Bishambar Dayal on behalf of the petitioner and Mr. Frank Anthony on behalf of the respondent and are of the view that there is no legal bar to the applicability of the provisions of Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act in the case of a person convicted under Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. Sub-section (1) of Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration, with which we are concerned in the present case, prescribes that a person convicted under that provision of law '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 six years, and with fine which shall not be less than one thousand rupees.' There follows a proviso but we are not concerned with that as it is the common case of the parties that the aforesaid proviso is not applicable to the facts of this case. Sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act gives power to a Court to release certain offenders on probation of good conduct and reads as under :

(1)When any person is found guilty of having committed an offence not punishable with death or imprisonment for life and the Court by which the person is found guilty is of opinion that, having regard to the circumstances of the case including the nature of the offence and the character of the offender, it is expedient to release him on probation of good conduct, then not withstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, the Court may, instead of sentencing him atonce to any punishment, direct that he be released on his entering into a bond, with or without sureties, to appear and receive sentence when called upon during such period, not exceeding three years, as the Court may direct, and in the meantime to keep the peace and be of good behavior.

Provided that the Court shall not direct such release of an offender unless it is satisfied that the offender or his surety, if any, had a fixed place or abode or regular occupation in the place over which the Court exercises jurisdiction or in which the offender is likely to live during the ' period for which he enters into the bond.'

PLAIN perusal of' sub-section (1) of Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act makes it clear that if a person is found guilty of the various offences mentioned in that sub-section, he shall. except in cases covered by the proviso to that sub-section with which we are not concerned, be sentenced to undergo imprisonment which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to six years and to pay a fine which shall not be less than Rs. l,000.00. The sub-section thus prescribes the minimum punishment and in case a Court convicts an accused under that provision the sentence of imprisonment cannot be less than six months and that of fine not less ' than Rs. 1.000-'

(4) The question with which we are concerned is whether the Court can. after finding an accused guilty under sub-section (1) of Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. instead of sentencing him atonce to punishment, direct that he be released on (J probation as provided by Section 4 of the Probation of offenders Act. In this respect we find that sub-section ( I ) of Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act contains the words 'notwithstanding anything contained in law for the time 'being in force'. The above non-obstante clause would point to the conclusion that the provision of Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act would have an overriding effect and shall prevail if the other conditions prescribed are fulfillled. Those conditions arc ( I ) the accused is found guilty of having committed an offence not punishable with death or imprisonment for life, (2) the Court finding him guilty is of the opinion that. having regard to the circumstances of the case including the nature of the offence and the character of the offender, it is expedient to release him on probation of good conduct and (3) the accused in such an event enters into a bond. with or without sureties, to appear and receive sentence when called upon during such period, not exceeding three years, as the Court may direct, and in the meantime to keep the peace and be of good behavior. The Probation of offenders Act has been enacted with the object of giving to an accused ii chance of reformation which he would lose in case he is incarcerated in prison and associates with hardened criminals. The aforesaid Act is a milestone in the progress of the modern liberal trend of reform in the field of penology, It is the result of the recognition of the doctrine that the object to criminal law is more to reform the individual offender than to punish him. Broadly stated, the Act distinguishes offenders below 21 years of age and those above that age, and offenders who are guilty of having committed an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life and those who are guilty of lesser offence. While in the case of offenders who are above the age of 21 years absolute discretion is given to the court to release them after admonition or on probation of good conduct, subject to the conditions laid down in the appropriate provisions of the Act. in the case of offenders below the age of 21 years an injunction is issued to the court not to sentence them to Imprisonment unless it is satisfied that. having regard to the circumstances of the case. including the nature of the offence and the character of the offender, it is not desirable to deal with them under Sections 3 and 4 of the Act. See in the connection Raifal Lal v. The Suite of Punjab : 1965CriLJ360 . In the matter of the constriction of the criminal statutes. Maxwell in his book 'On Interpretation of Statutes' VIth Edition at pages 2/4-275, has (observed :

'THEtendency of. modern decisions, upon the whole, is to narrow materially the difference between what is called a strict and a beneficial construction. All statutes are now construed with a more attentive regard to the language, and criminal statutes with a more rational regard to the aim and intention of the legislature, than formerly. It is unquestionably right that the distinction should not altogether be erased from the judicial mind, for it is required by the spirit of our tree institutions that the interpretation of all statutes should be favorable to personal liberty, and this tendency is still evinced in a certain reluctance to supply the defects of language or to eke out the meaning of an obscure passage by strained or doubtful influences. The effect of the rule of strict construction might almost be summed up in the remark that, where an equivocal word or ambiguous sentence leaves a reasonable doubt of its meaning which the canone of interpretation fail to solve, the benefit of the doubt should be given to the subject and against the legislature which has failed to explain itself. But it yields to the paramount rule that every statute is to be expounded according to its expressed or manifest intention and that all cases within the mischiefs aimed at are, if the language permits, to be held to fall within its remedial influence.'

The above observations were relied upon by Subba Rao J., (as he then was) speaking for the majority in Rattan Lal's case.(1) (supra), and it was held that the appellate court as well as the High Court in revision could make an order under section 6(1) of the Probation of Offenders Act. The dictum laid down in that case, in our opinion, holds equally good for the purpose of making an order under section 4 of the above-mentioned Act.

(5) According to Section 18 of the Probation of Offenders Act, the aforesaid Act shall not affect the provisions of sub-section (2) of the Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (II of 1947).

(6) The last mentioned provision, namely sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act provides a minimum penalty and if the object of the legislature was that the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act should not apply to all cases where a minimum sentence of imprisonment is provided by the statute there was no reason to specify sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act in Section 18 of the Probation of Offenders Act. The fact that out of the various offences for which minimum sentence is prescribed, only the offence under sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been mentioned in Section 38 of the Probation Offenders Act and not the other offences for which a minimum sentence is prescribed, shows that in the case of such other offences the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act can be invoked. There is a string of authorities which show that Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act can be invoked in such like cases. In Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Saleem Aimed and Mohd. Shared (Criminal Revision No. 94 of 1967 decides on August 4, 1969(-') Ansari J. observed:

THE learned Additional Sessions Judge has however, recommended that the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act should be invoked in favor of the second respondent. The complainant opposes this recommendation. The learned counsel for the complainant contends that for the benefit of the society at large and the minimum punishment provided under Section 16 of the said Act was also provided in order to act as a deterrent against food adulteration and that, thereforee, these must be taken as special circumstances which should deprive the second respondent from the benefit of section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act. I am unable to a.ccept this contention. It is not section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act alone which prescribes a minimum sentence of imprisonment; there are various other enactments containing, a similar provision; and there are offences under the Indian P'enal Code itself which are punishable with a minimum sentence of imprisonment. It cannot be said that in all such cases the provision of Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act becomes inapplicable. The learned Sessions Judge has referred to the special circumstances which, in his opinion, require the application of section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act in the case of the second respondent. I agree that these circumstances do justify the application of Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act to the second respondent.'

(7) In R. K. Verma v. State and another, Criminal Reference No. 153 of 1967) ('') decided on July 25, 1969, a Division Bench (Mathur and Hamid Hussain, JJ.) of Allahabad High Court observed :

'IN our opinion, the provisions of Section 4 of the U.P. First Offenders' Probation Act are applicable to an offence U/S 16(1) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, and the City Magistrate had jurisdiction to release opposite party No. 2 on probation.'

(8) In re. Salient Govindappa Chatty, : AIR1970AP293 ; the accused was found guilty under Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act for using coal-tar-dye as coloring matter. Anantanarayana Ayyar, J., in view of the special circumstances of the case, directed that the accused be released under Section 4(1) of the Probation of Offenders Act.

(9) Rule 126-P of the defense of India Rules prescribed for a person found guilty of the contravention of that rule a punishment of imprisonment for a term of not less than six months and fine. Question arose in the case of Aravinda Mohan Sinha, v. Prehlad Chandro Samanta : AIR1970Cal437 , whether the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act could be invoked in such a case. A Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court (A. K. Das and K. K. Mitra. JJ.) answered the above question in the affirmative and observed that the fixation of minimum sentence is not in conflict with the Probation of Offenders Act where the Magistrate deems it expedient to make an order under that Act in lieu of sentence.

(10) Section 61(l)(c) of the Punjab Excise Act prescribes a minimum punishment of rigorous imprisonment for a period of six months and of fine in case an accused is found guilty of indulging in distillation of illicit liquor. One of us (V. D. Misra, J.) applied Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act in such a case vide Achhu Ram and another v. State, (Criminal Revision No. 171-D of 1966, decided on January 21, 1970) ('). Reliance was placed on an earlier decision in Ana-if Kaur v. Stale, (Criminal Revision No. 3-D of 1964, decided on May 14, 1964)(7).

(11) Reference has been made by Mr. Bishambar .Dayal to the case of Municipal Corporation of Delhi and another v. Chela Ram, (Criminal Revision No. 51 of 1968('), decided by Jagjit Singh, J, on March 16, 1970). In the aforesaid revision, the learned Judge held that it was not a fit case for proceeding under Section 4 of the Probation to offenders Act. The aforesaid decision, in our opinion, is not an authority for the proposition that there is a legal bar to the applicability of the provisions of Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act in the case of an accused found guilty of an offence under Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.

(12) We would, thereforee, hold that the provisions of Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act can in appropriate cases be invoked by an accused found guilty of an offence under Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. In view however, of the general scheme of the P'revention of Food Adulteration Act and the intention of the legislature as revealed by the prescription of the minimum sentence for those found guilty of the various offences under the Act the Court should not lightly resort to the Probation of Offenders Act in case of persons found guilty of food adulteration. The provisions of the

(13) Probation of Offenders Act should be invoked only if a case falls squarely within the purview of those provisions, and once this is so. the Court should not deprive an accused person of the advantage of that beneficient measure which reflects and incorporates the modern approach and latest trend in penology. The case shall now be placed before the learned Single Judge for disposal in accordance with law.


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