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Salim and Co. and ors. Vs. Municipal Corporation of Delhi and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1978CriLJ240
AppellantSalim and Co. and ors.
RespondentMunicipal Corporation of Delhi and anr.
Cases ReferredChander Veil v. Municipal Committee
Excerpt:
.....for sending the sample bottle preserved by the food inspector to the director of central food laboratory, calcutta for analysis, as the accused were not satisfied with the examination conducted by the public analyst. its seals are intact and is well fastened. i am satisfied that the bottle is fit to be sent to the director cfl. anyway, he was fully satisfied with the condition of the .sample bottle. he recorded in his order that the seals of the bottle were intact and well-fastened and that he was satisfied that the bottle was fit to be sent to the director of central food laboratory. thus the sample bottle stood the test of the court as well as that of the director. the statute has clearly provided as to what value should be attached to the report of the director of central..........for sending the sample bottle preserved by the food inspector to the director of central food laboratory, calcutta for analysis, as the accused were not satisfied with the examination conducted by the public analyst. on 5th july, 1975, the following order was passed by the learned magistrate for sending the sample bottle to the director mentioned above:i have seen the sample bottle produced by the food inspector. accused has no objection against the bottle. i, thereforee, order that the sample bottle produced by the food inspector be sent at the request of the accused zehuruddin as seals of the sample are intact though fastening is loose. case shall come up for orders on 7-8-1975.there was a change in the office of the presiding officer. shri j, d. kapur, who took over from the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

F.S. Gill, J.

1. This petition has been filed by the petitioners Under Section 482 of the Cr.' P. C. and under Article 227 of the Constitution of India for quashing the order of Shri J. D. Kapur, Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi dated 6th March, 1976 directing the framing of charges against the petitioners.

2. On 20th July, 1974, Food Inspector S.K. Uppal went to the premises of Salim & Company at 562, Zerfasil Road and G.B. Road, Delhi and purchased 450 grams of 'Dhania' powder from Zehurud-din, petitioner No. 2, in the form of a sample. It was put. in three bottles, which were duly sealed after putting the necessary wrappers. One bottle was given to Zehuruddin petitioner, one was sent to the Public Analyst for examination and the third was retained by the Food Inspector. The Public Analyst reported that the sample was adulterated. A complaint Under Section 7 read with Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, was filed against Salim and Company, Zehuruddin, from whom the sample was taken and also against Salim Ahmed, Washim Ahmed and Mst. Zubeda Begum, being partners of the firm (petitioner No. 1).

3. During the course of the trial, the accused made an application to the learned trial Magistrate for sending the sample bottle preserved by the Food Inspector to the Director of Central Food Laboratory, Calcutta for analysis, as the accused were not satisfied with the examination conducted by the Public Analyst. On 5th July, 1975, the following order was passed by the learned Magistrate for sending the sample bottle to the Director mentioned above:

I have seen the sample bottle produced by the Food Inspector. Accused has no objection against the bottle. I, thereforee, order that the sample bottle produced by the Food Inspector be sent at the request of the accused Zehuruddin as seals of the sample are intact though fastening is loose. Case shall come up for orders on 7-8-1975.

There was a change in the office of the Presiding Officer. Shri J, D. Kapur, who took over from the previous Magistrate, 1978 Cri. L. J./16 II made the following order on 22nd October 1975:

All the accused except Zubeda Begum who is exempted through M. K. Gupta, Advocate. The accused persons had made an application for sending the part of the sample with the Food Inspector to the Director, Central Food Laboratory. The bottle is in the Court. I have seen the bottle. Its seals are intact and is well fastened. I am satisfied that the bottle is fit to be sent to the Director CFL. The same be sent today as the accused had already deposited the fee. To come up on 13-11-75. On that day evidence of the prosecution will also be recorded.

4. The certificate of the Director was received by the trial Court and the Director had opined that the sample of 'Dha-nia' powder was not adulterated.

5. The learned Magistrate did not act on the certificate of the Director of Central Food Laboratory by treating the same as final and conclusive but summoned the Public Analyst, Shri P. P Bhatnagar, as a Court witness. Shri Bhat nagar saw the certificate of the Director of Central Food Laboratory and stated that according to his view, the sample was not representative in character. Thereafter the learned trial Magistrate considered the statement of the Public Analyst made before him and also the report of the Director, Central Food Laboratory, and ordered the framing of two charges against the petitioners Under Section 7 read with Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The first charge was that the sample, on analysis1 by the Public Analyst, had been found to be adulterated; whereas the second charge, was that the petitioners were selling 'Dhania' without a license.

6. The petitioners have felt aggrieved from the order of the learned Magistrate dated 6th March, 1976 with regard to the framing of the charges and have filed the present petition for quashing the proceedings as already stated in para 1 ibid.

7. The cardinal point which converges for consideration is: whether, in view of the certificate of the Director of Central Food Laboratory, the first charge against the petitioners is groundless. Section 11 of the Act prescribes the procedure to be followed by a Food Inspector while taking a sample of an article of food for analysis. According to this section, the Food Inspector is enjoined to give notice in writing then and there of his intention to have the sample of food analysed to the person from whom he has taken the sample. Then he is required to put the food article in three separate bottles and mark and seal the same. One of the samples, he is required to give to the person from whom the article has been purchased; one is required to be sent to the Public Analyst for analysis and the third he has to retain 'for production in case any legal proceedings are taken or for analysis by the Director of the Central Food Laboratory under Sub-section (2) of Section 13, as the case may be.' Under the said provision, the sample retained by the Food Inspector can be sent to the Director of the Central Food Laboratory for analysis. If it is sent to the said Director, he is required to send a certificate to the Court in the prescribed form within one month from the date of receipt of the sample specifying the result of his analysis.

Sub-section (3) of Section 13 of the Act provides that:

The certificate issued by the Director of the Central Food Laboratory under Sub-section (2) shall supersede the report given by the public analyst under Sub-section (1)'. Sub-section (5) of Section 13- further embodies that:

Any document purporting to be a report signed by a public analyst unless it has been superseded under Sub-section (3), or any document purporting to be a certificate signed by the Director of the Central Food Laboratory, may be used as evidence of the facts stated therein in any proceeding under this Act or Under Sections 272 to 276 of the Indian Penal Code.Provided that any document purporting to be a certificate signed by the Director of the Central Food Laboratory shall be final and conclusive evidence of the facts stated therein.

8. The learned counsel for the petitioners has submitted that in view of the statutory provisions contained in Sub-section (3) of Section 13 of the Act, the certificate of the Director of the Central Food Laboratory shall supersede the report given by the Public Analyst and secondly in view of the proviso appended to Sub-section (5) of Section 13, the certificate duly signed by the Director, Central Food Laboratory shall be final and conclusive evidence of the facts stated therein. The learned counsel submits that the said statutory provisions make the certificate issued by the Director final and conclusive evidence of facts stated therein and secondly it supersedes the report of the Public Analyst. In such a situation Shri Mathur contends that the proceedings before the learned Magistrate should have ended and the petitioners should have been discharged. To reinforce his argument, the learned counsel for the petitioners has relied on a Division Bench judgment of this Court reported as Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Zahiruddin 1972 F. A. C. 134, wherein it has been held that Under Section 13 (5) of the Act, the certificate issued by the Director has to be final and conclusive evidence of the facts stated therein, although no such presumption attaches to the report of the Public Analyst. There is another Division Bench judgment of this Court: Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Jai Chand 1672 F. A. C. 651, where the following observations have been made:

Held that wherein the Certificate of the Director differs from the report to the Public Analyst the legislature has provided that the Certificate of the Director shall supersede the report of the Public Analyst. The Director has issued the certificate that the milk in question was adulterated and it was nowhere indicated by him that the milk was not fit for analysis. According to Sub-section (5) of Section 13 of the Act a certificate signed by the Director shall be final and conclusive in evidence of the facts stated therein.

9. The scope of Sub-section (5) of Section 13 o the Act was also considered in a Full Bench case of this Court. Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Bishan Sarup 1972, F. A. C. 273, in the following terms:

Held that once the Director of Central Food Laboratory has examined the sample and has delivered his certificate, under proviso to Sub-section (5) of Section 13 oi the Act, the certificate is the final and conclusive evidence of the facts stated therein. The presumption attaching to the certificate again is only in regard to what is stated in it as to the contents of the sample actually examined by the Director and nothing more. Even after this certificate it is open to the accused to show that in the facts of a given case and on the concrete objective grounds that he may prove on the record the sample sent for analysis to the Director could not be taken to be a representative sample of the article of food from which it was taken and if this contention is found to be correct, conviction based on the certificate will not be sustainable.

10. In the present case, the Director of the Central Food Laboratory nowhere Indicated that the sample of the Food article was not fit for analysis. He had actually carried out the various tests and had given the certificate. It is contended by the learned counsel for the petitioners that the final and conclusive nature of the certificate of the Director cannot be called in question. I find force in this contention,

11. He has further submitted that in this case the sample sent to the Director came from the possession of the Food Inspector who was preserving the same as a part of his statutory duty enjoined by Clause (iii) of Sub-section (1) of Section 11 of the Act. It is specifically provided therein that during the course of criminal proceedings, the sample retained by the Food Inspector can be sent to the Director of the Central Food Laboratory for analysis on the application of a party made to the Court under Sub-section (2) of Section 13 of the Act. It is submitted that the petitioners had exercised their right and had requested the Court to send the sample bottle kept by the Food Inspector to the Director of the Central Food Laboratory for analysis. The application was allowed and the sealed bottle was produced before the Court. The order of the learned Magistrate dated 5th July, 1975 shows that the bottle was produced by the Food Inspector and the accused had raised no objection in respect thereof. It was also observed by the learned Magistrate that the seals of the sample were intact though fastening was loose. Anyway, he was fully satisfied with the condition of the .sample bottle. Then there was a change in the office of the Presiding Officer Shri J. D. Kapur was the new Metropolitan Magistrate. The matter came up before htm on 22-HM975. He recorded in his order that the seals of the bottle were intact and well-fastened and that he was satisfied that the bottle was fit to be sent to the Director of Central Food Laboratory.

12. It will thus be seen that the sample bottle had stood the scrutiny and visual test of the two Presiding Officers. No objection about tampering of the said bottle had been made by the Prosecutor on any occasion. The matter does not end there. The sample bottle was sent to the Director by the Court under its own seal. In his certificate, the Director has explicitly stated that the seals of the packet received were intact. Thus the sample bottle stood the test of the Court as well as that of the Director.

13. The learned counsel for the Corporation has next contended that the report of the Public Analyst has such a wide variation with the certificate of the Director of Central Food Laboratory that it would be difficult to accept the authenticity of the certificate. It is contended that there had been tampering of the sample either by the Food Inspector or by someone in the Laboratory of the Director at Calcutta. It is further argued that seeing such a variation in the two reports, the learned Magistrate had called the Public Analyst as a Court witness and that the said Analyst had stated that the sample sent to the Director of Central Food Laboratory was not representative in character.

14. There is no doubt that the Public Analyst had reported that the sample contained 75% foreign extraneous matter which constituted adulteration. On the other hand, there was the candid opinion of the Director of the Central Food Laboratory that the sample of 'Dhania' powder was not adulterated. It is correct that there is wide variation in the two reports, but according to Sub-section (3) of Section 13 of the Act, the report of the Director of Central Food Laboratory supersedes the report of the Public Analyst. The Statute has clearly provided as to what value should be attached to the report of the Director of Central Food Laboratory qua that of the Public Analyst. Thus the report of the Public Analyst loses all its value after supersession by the certificate of the Director.

15. It is the superseded report in: which the learned trial Magistrate has tried to put life. For that matter, he called the Public Analyst and examined him as a Court witness. This procedure is not warranted by law. Instead of reviving the report of the Analyst, he should have discarded the same. The reason is obvious. Finality and conclusiveness is attached to the certificate of the Director of Central Food Laboratory and the facts stated therein constitute evidence of those facts. When the Public Analyst appeared as a Court witness, he naturally tried to stick to his own report. In doing so, he tried to cast a doubt about the authenticity of the certificate of the Director by stating that it was not representative in character. He had no data in making such a statement. All was conjectural.

16. I think it was a futile exercise to call the Public Analyst turn collecting material to attack the certificate issued by the Director of the Central Food Laboratory. It appears that, to support his own report, the Public Analyst has tried to show that the sample bottle sent to the Director was not representative in nature. The learned trial Magistrate has not treated the certificate of the Director as final and conclusive evidence of the facts stated therein. Instead he has suo motu embarked upon an inquiry about the genuineness or otherwise of the sample bottle,

17. Present Is not a case where there had been any decomposition of the contents. In Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Ghisa Ram (1975) 1 F. A. C. 186 : : 1967CriLJ939 , relied on by the learned counsel for the Corporation, the sample sent to the Director was found to be decomposed and, thereforee, no examination was held. The result was that no certificate was issued by the Director of the Central Food Laboratory. In such a situation, reliance was naturally placed on the report of the Public Analyst, as that was the only evidence available. Thus Ghisa Ram's ease is clearly distinguishable and has no application, even remotely, to the facts of the present case,

18. It is admitted by the learned counsel for the Municipal Corporation that at the time the sample bottles are sealed, they are wrapped in a wrapper, ribbon is tied round and then the seals of the Food Inspector are put. The wrapper is signed by the accused, apart from the Supervisor, who supervises the raid, being conducted by the Food Inspector. The ribbon tied to a bottle also bears the initials of a Health Officer. It is contended on behalf of the Corporation that the Food Inspector had colluded with the accused and that in order to favor him he had tampered with or mutilated the wrapper. It is difficult to accept such a contention. The Food Inspector alone does not matter here. There are also the Supervisor and Health Officer, whose signatures and initials appear on the wrapper and the ribbon tied there. Tampering is quite a remote and grave allegation which is obviously beyond comprehension. As already pointed out no objection was taken by the prosecutor when the sample bottle was presented in the Court. I am further fortified by reading the certificate of the Director, who has, in unequivocal terms, stated that the seals of the sample bottle were found intact.

19. The trial Court had sent the sample to the Director. It had observed that the seals were intact. So was the report of the Director. After the certificate had been received from the Director, the parties and the Court had simply to see the consequential effect of this documentary evidence. According to the proviso to Sub-section (5) of Section 13 of the Act, such a certificate is final and conclusive evidence of the facts stated therein. The fact that the sample bottle, when received by the Director, had its seals intact, is mentioned in the certificate. This part has also to be considered final and conclusive evidence. It cannot be now called in question by the Court by trying to collect evidence of the possibility of tampering with the sample bottle.

20. It is contended by the learned counsel for the Municipal Corporation that an adverse inference has to be drawn against the petitioner? as the sample given to petitioner No, 2 had not been produced when so demanded by the Court. It is submitted that if the same had been produced, it could have been sent to the Director of the Central Food Laboratory and thereafter concrete and definite result would have been received. This contention is devoid of any substance as the provisions of the Act do not envisage the examination of the same sample twice. The reason being that Sub-section (5) of Section 13 provides that 'the certificate received from the Director constitutes final and conclusive evidence of the facts stated therein.' It also supersedes the report of the Public Analyst. The words used in the Sub-section have to be given ordinary, natural and grammatical meanings. They are not susceptible to any hypothetical construction.

21. Clearly, only one certificate can be issued by the Director after the analysis of the sample has been carried out. This view has also been taken by a Division Bench of the Punjab & Haryana High Court in Municipal Committee, Amritsar v. Shadi Lai (1975) 2, F. A. C. 411 : . Same was the view of a Single Bench of the same High Court in Chander Veil v. Municipal Committee, Amritsar 1973 F. A. C. 383 .

22. If the second sample bottle is sent to the Director of Central Food Laboratory and that shows a different result, an anomalous situation is created, because it will take the final and conclusive evidence to the domain of uncertainty. obviously that was not the intention of the Legislature. Supposing two samples are sent to the Director and two different results are received, none will constitute final and conclusive evidence. The accused is bound to get the benefit as the report of the Public Analyst once superseded cannot be revived on account of the error or indiscretion on the part of the Court or that of a party offering to send the second sample to the Director of the Central Food Laboratory.

23. Thus the learned Magistrate was not justified in reopening the final and conclusive evidence found in the certificate, of the Director. Only the consequential effect on the prosecution has to be gauged. Each and every word in the certificate is meaningful and has to be given full effect.

24. The learned Magistrate will be lurking in the dark for conducting a roving enquiry against the Food Inspector or the staff of the Director of the Central Food Laboratory at Calcutta on the allegation of tampering of the sample. If there are any loopholes, that is for the department concerned to plug. In the instant case the sample bottle was produced by the Food Inspector on the application of the accused and two Presiding Officers had found the seals to be intact, Similar was the report of the Director.

25. I find force in the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners that it is an abuse of the process of the Court to discard the certificate of the Director of the Central Food Laboratory and embark on an enquiry and give credence to the superseded report of the Public Analyst.

26. Thus the part of the order of the learned Magistrate dated 6th March, 1976 pertaining to the framing of the charge by branding the sample of 'Dhania' powder as adulterated cannot be sustained. Consequently the first charge in respect thereof is quashed.

27. The part of the order with regard to the second charge about selling 'Dhania' without license has not been challenged at this stage by the learned counsel for the petitioners. The petitioners would, thereforee, be tried of this charge.

28. I accordingly partly accept this petition and quash the first charge with regard to the alleged adulteration of 'Dhania' powder. The second charge for selling 'Dhania' powder without license shall, however, be tried. Ordered accordingly.


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