Vyas Dev Misra, J.
1. These are twelve applications under Section 378 (4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. 1973, for grant of special leave to appeal against the orders of acquittal passed in twelve separate cases.
2. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi launched prosecutions in these cases under Sections 7 and 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. The courts below in each case found that the Food Inspector had taken for analysis a much shorter quantity than that prescribed by the Rule. The courts, thereforee, held that the Food Inspectors concerned had failed to discharge their duty strictly in accordance with the requirements of the law. Following Rajal Das Pamnani v. State of Maharashtra 1975 FAC 1 : : 1975CriLJ254 the courts acquitted the accused. Now in State of Kerala v. Alassery Mohammed : 1978CriLJ925 decided on February 19, 1978, a larger bench of the Supreme Court has overruled the view taken in Pamnani's case. It is on the ground of this latest pronouncement of the Supreme Court that special leave is sought.
3. In State of Kerala (supra) the Supremo Court laid down the law but refused to set aside the orders of acquittal passed in favor of the respondent. Nor did the court remit cases to the High Court for recording convictions. The Supreme Court said (at p. 932 of Cri LJ):
But taking the totality of the facts and circumstances of each case and specially the fact that Pamnani's case has held the Held for about three years by now, we did not feel that justice required that we should interfere with the orders of acquittal in all these cases and send some cases back to the High Court while deciding others ourselves by recording order of conviction.
4. Till the other day Pamnani's case 1975 pi LJ 254 was the law declared by the Supreme Court. It was binding on all the courts as the law of the land. Then a new Rule 22B, 'clarifying' the law was introduced in December, 1977. The courts were duty bound to apply Pamnani's case and hold that non-compliance of the Rules 'caused not only Infraction of the provisions but also injustice'. This resulted in a large number of acquittals-Many cases were decided on the old view of the law as enunciated in Pamnani's case. It is only after December, 1977, that the law has been 'clarified' both by the introduction of the new Rule and the pronouncement of the Supreme Court. The question is; Will it be just to upset the orders of acquittal and punish the respondents in the few cases that are before us for special leave We think it would mean great harassment, long delay and expense to the respondents if we grant leave and hear the appeal after some time and then remit these cases to the trial Magistrate for deciding them in accordance with the law as laid down in State of Kerala : 1978CriLJ925 (supra).
5. Guided by these very considerations the Supreme Court refused to set aside the orders of acquittal. These are weighty considerations. We think we ought to take a like view.
6. The view in Pamnani's case : 1975CriLJ254 (SC) held the field till yesterday. It is only now that the Supreme Court has placed the law 'beyond any debate or doubt'. We do not think we shall be justified in upsetting acquittals recorded on a view of the law then prevailing as settled by the Supreme Court.
7. True it is that the Supreme Court has now disapproved of the view taken in Pamnani's case. But this does not mean that the court has given 'a charter or a license to the Food Inspectors for violating the Rule. They must remember that even directory rules are meant to be observed and substantially complied with' (State of Kerala's case : 1978CriLJ925 : (at p. 980 of Cri LJ) the warning is repeated: 'But we must hasten to reiterate that what we have said above that, even so, Food Inspectors should take care to see that they comply with the Rule as far as possible'.
8. There is one more reason. Many of the respondents to these applications content with their initial acquittal had 'rested on their oars' and not taken the trouble to challenge the correctness of the Analyst's report: See Bhagwan Dass Jagdish Chander v. Delhi Administration : 1975CriLJ1091 . We are of opinion that to interfere with the orders of acquittal now should lead to injustice.
9. Whenever the highest court of the land unsettles a settled view of the law considerations of hardship and injustice loom large on the judicial horizon- Courts then resort to such doctrines as prospective overruling to avoid difficulties. It is as true of the Constitution as of the Criminal statutes. This attitude or inclination to govern the future and not the past can he seen in State of Kerala : 1978CriLJ925 , Food inspector Calicut Corporation v. Cherukat Gopalan 1972 FAC 9 : : 1971CriLJ1277 and Bhagwan Das Jagdish Chander : 1975CriLJ1091 . We also think, placed as we are in much the same position, that unsettling the settled cases and converting acquittals into convictions will hardly be conducive to justice, much though we would wish to put down the social evil of adulteration with a strong hand.
10. For these reasons we refuse special leave and dismiss the applications.