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Delhi Administration Vs. Puran Lal Ahuja - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 64 of 1984
Judge
Reported in28(1985)DLT392
ActsDrugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 - Sections 18 and 27
AppellantDelhi Administration
RespondentPuran Lal Ahuja
Advocates: P.K. Jain,; D.C. Mathur and; P.K. Mathur, Advs
Cases ReferredPushpinder Kumar v. State of Punjab
Excerpt:
criminal - appeal against acquittal - sections 18 and 27 of drugs and cosmetics act, 1940 - large stock of drugs found in shop of accused - said drugs stored for purpose of sale - order of acquittal passed by magistrate vitiated - order of acquittal set aside - appeal allowed. - - on search of the godown a number of drugs along with other articles like implements, labels and packing materials were found there and nine samples out of the drugs namely, chloramphenicol capsules, acistrap capsules tetracycline capsules. injections morphia, sulphadiazine tablets and bismuth carbonate (which are well known names of medicines) were taken. gulati, has stated that on inspection of the premises large number of medicines and even articles like implements, labels and packing material were found..........that the godown did not belong to him. this plea of the respondent has been disbelieved. the learned magistrate has referred to the evidence of witnesses pws 1, 2 and 3 and has come to the conclusion that it was the accused who pointed out his godown at kuchha chandni chowk and also open end the same with the key which he had produced. he thus found that the drugs mentioned in recovery memo ex. pc were recovered from the said godown. (2) we have gone through the evidence and we agree with the learned magistrate that it has been conclusively proved that the godown from which the goods were recovered was in possession of the respondent. the recovery, thereforee, must be attributed to be from the possession of the respondent. notwithstanding this finding the learned magistrate has.....
Judgment:
Rajinder Sachar, C.J.

(1) This is an appeal against the order of the learned Magistrate acquitting the respondent accused. The prosecution case was that on February 22, 1969 the shop of M/s Light and Sound Corner at Stall No. 10, Bhagirath Palace, Delhi was inspected and certain, drugs were recovered. On disclosure by the respondent P.L. Ahuja, that he had kept certain goods at Godown No. 4981, he was taken there and on his pointing out the godown it was opened with a key he produced. On search of the godown a number of drugs along with other articles like implements, labels and packing materials were found there and nine samples out of the drugs namely, Chloramphenicol capsules, Acistrap capsules Tetracycline capsules. Injections Pethidine Hydrochloride I.P., Neurobion Merck ampoules. Injections Morphia, Sulphadiazine tablets and Bismuth Carbonate (which are well known names of medicines) were taken. The said samples were sent for analysis. The report was that the samples were declared as of not standard quality. They were misbranded and were thus adulterated. The respondent was sent up for trial under section 27 read with section 18 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. The respondent took up the plea that the goods were not recovered; that the godown did not belong to him. This plea of the respondent has been disbelieved. The learned Magistrate has referred to the evidence of witnesses PWs 1, 2 and 3 and has come to the conclusion that it was the accused who pointed out his godown at Kuchha Chandni Chowk and also open end the same with the key which he had produced. He thus found that the drugs mentioned in Recovery Memo Ex. Pc were recovered from the said godown.

(2) We have gone through the evidence and we agree with the learned Magistrate that it has been conclusively proved that the godown from which the goods were recovered was in possession of the respondent. The recovery, thereforee, must be attributed to be from the possession of the respondent. Notwithstanding this finding the learned Magistrate has chosen to acquit the respondent. This he has done on the ground that even though goods may have been recovered from the godown belonging to the respondent it has not been shown that the goods were stocked for sale. According to the learned Magistrate section 27 makes penal stocking of drugs only if they are meant for sale and mere stocking of drugs is not an offence under section 27 of the Act. Speaking in an abstract way it may be correct to say that stocking by itself of drugs may not be penal. Thus if say half a dozen of vials of drugs are found at a residence of a person, he cannot be prosecuted under section 27 of the Act on the ground that he has stocked drugs if the same have been kept for bids personal use. This finding however of the learned Magistrate is, according to us, perverse from both on the facts proved on record and also on question of law. Public Witness .V.P. Gulati, has stated that on inspection of the premises large number of medicines and even articles like implements, labels and packing material were found from the godown. The medicines bore the usual names like Chloramphenicol, Tetracycline, Injections of Pethidine etc. Exhibit Pg is the Recovery Memo prepared of the goods found in Godown No. 4981. Ex. Pg showed recovery of 9800 capsules of Acistrep, 18300 capsule of Tetracycline, 9000 capsules of Chloramphenicol of 250 mg. each, 14300 capsules of Chloramphenicol of 0.250 grams each of Pharmakon Laboratories. Malad, Bombay, another 12000 tablets embossed with the words 'SDZ' stated to be Sulphadiazine, 75 ampoules of injection Pethidine, 92 ampoules of 3 mil. injection Neurobion, one trunk and two wooden cases containing various drugs, hundreds of labels and also various vials showing the injections of various types. It is apparent that the recovery was of such a large quantity that it is impossible to contend that these goods were merely stocked just for fun of it. We can understand if half a dozen of bottles or a half dozen of medicines strips are kept by a person for his personal use so that he does not have to go to the market as and when necessary either because he needs them every day or he has a large family. But the learned Magistrate would have it that unless there was an actual witness who could say that he had purchased the spurious drugs from the respondent it cannot be said that this large stock was being kept for sale. This conclusion is wholly unacceptable. I he observation of the learned Magistrate that manufacturing or stocking of drugs by itself is not an offence may, in abstract, be correct but this has to be determined on the facts of the case which in the present case are that very large stocks of drugs and labels were found in the godown which was in the possession of respondent accused. Such a large quantity of drugs leaves no doubt that the stock had been kept for sale. It was nobody's case that he was holding this huge stock on behalf of some recognised dealer who was a licensee, not can it be legitimately urged, as indeed it was not, that this stock was meant for his personal use. The only inevitable conclusion is, as was drawn in Sk. Amir v. State of Maharashtra, , that all this stocking was meant for sale. The Supreme Court has made it clear in that case that no person shall keep for sale a misbranded drug or a drug in respect of which he does not have a valid license. Admittedly no license was produced by the respondent. thereforee, this case squarely fell under section 27 of the Act.

(3) The learned Magistrate has relied on Mohd. Shabir v. State of Maharashtra, (1979) Sc Cas 568 That case is clearly distinguishable. In that case it was found that the drug inspector had caught the accused at the railway station with. 17 plastic containers containing white coloured tablets. The accused had pleaded guilty. The goods were recovered from him when he was traveling in a strain. The Court held that the accused had no shop, nor was he a distributing agent and there was no evidence to show that he was selling the tablets or had stocked them or exhibited them for sale. In that view of the matter it was found there that section 27 did not apply and the accused was acquitted of the charge under section 27(a) of the Act. The present case is obviously a distinguishable one because here large quantity of drugs has been recovered from a. godown in which the goods were kept by the respondent along with labels for manufacturing them. No other conclusion could be drawn as pointed out in Sk. Amir (supra) excepting that these drugs were meant for sale. It would be a great travesty of justice, if even when such large quantity of drugs are found and the accused is not in a position to explain as to. why such large quantity of goods have been. kept it should still be held by the Court that it has not been shown that the goods were stored or stocked for sale. Courts must take note of the natural course of events. People do not act normally in a completely whimsical manner as to stock goods worth thousands or rupees and still claim that they were not stocked for sale.

(4) We were then referred to Sanat Kumar v. State of West Bengal, 1984 Crl. L.J. 931 In that case the accused was found going on the street carrying a brief case and on search of that various items of medicines were found. No Explanationn could be given by the accused for possession of the same. Though a search was made at the house of the accused but nothing incriminating was found. The learned Judges of Calcutta High Court accepted that a large quantity of medicines was found from the possession of the accused. They referred to the cases of the Supreme Court in Sk. Amir and Mohd. Shabir (supra) and took the view that in view of the latter decision of the Supreme Court (Mohd. Shabir's case) they were not justified in making such a presumption in the absence of affirmative evidence that the goods were for sale. In our view the Calcutta High Court was deciding a case on its own facts and could not be laying down the lay against the view given in Sk. Amir (supra) that recovery of a very large quantity of goods from a person could be reasonably taken to be a proof of the fact that the goods were stored for sale. In the present case there could be no doubt about it. The goods were not found on the person of the accused. They were found in a godown which was kept under lock and the key of which was produced by the respondent. Evidence was given by Public Witness 10, Inderjit Singh Kohli, that the accused had approached him for supply of drugs. Though the learned Magistrate did not disbelieve this part of the evidence yet he thought that it was not enough to prove that the stocking was meant for sale. In our view the learned Magistrate grievously misconstrued the evidence because the evidence of large scale possession of drugs was beyond any doubt capable of no other Explanationn excepting that the drugs had been stocked for purposes of sale.

(5) Another judgment relied upon by the Magistrate is State of Punjab v. H.S. Dhillon, 1982(1) Clr 728 In that case in the accused's shop insecticide was found and proceedings were taken for having stocked insecticides for sale. The Magistrate discharged him as he held that there was no prima facie proof of stocking insecticides for sale and this view was upheld by B.S. Yadav, J. of Punjab and Haryana High Court. In that case reliance no doubt is placed on the case of Mohd. Sahbbir (supra) to uphold the order of discharge. It is unnecessary for us to comment on the facts of that case but we do wish to record our dissent if the learned judge meant to hold that large scale of insecticides which was kept in a thousand and two thousand containers in a shop belonging to the accused could not lead to the presumption that the storing was for sale even when there was total absence of any Explanationn from the accused as to why so much stock of insecticides was found at the shop. In our view it would make a mockery of the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 or similar other provisions if large scale stock of prohibited drugs or other articles which were kept without any valid license and yet the accused are allowed to go scot free on the fallacious assumption that the stock found from the shop was not meant for sale. If that view was accepted as correct it would become impossible to proceed against any one. In such a case wherever a raid takes place when shop is closed the accused will always be able to get away because it would be said that the stock was not meant for sale. After all people do not for fun of it keep scores of bags or vials full of drugs or goods for which a valid license is required. Interpretation of law must be attune to the general and natural conduct of an individual.

(6) Reference was then made to Pushpinder Kumar v. State of Punjab, 3983 (2) Clr 46 In that case upon checking the shop some injections were found in the rear room. It was pleaded by the accused and it was accepted by the learned single judge that these boxes bore a lable 'not for sale'. It was, to that context, held that it could not be said that the storing of medicines at is shop with their dates having expired was meant for sale. That case was decided on its own facts and is of not much assistance to the counsel in the presence case.

(7) In the present case we have no manner of doubt that the large stock of drugs which was found in the shop of the accused was stored for the purposes of sale. The order of acquittal passed by the learned Magistrate is, thereforee, vitiated. The appeal is, thereforee, allowed and the order of acquittal is set aside. Section 27 of the Act, as it then stood, provides for a term of imprisonment which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine. Here large amount of spurious and adulterated drugs have been found which the respondent had stored for sale. Many of the drugs are life saving drugs and could make all the difference between life and death if given to a patient at the critical time. Spurious and adulterated medicines which were recovered from the respondent if allowed to be used by patients who need them rather critically and who will be damaged by the use of it is a horrible thing to contemplate and the respondent who is guilty of indulging In it can hardly call for any sympathy. As a matter of fact the legislature has been finding means to curb this evil by making the penalties more and more stringent. That is why by 1982 Amendment it has been incorporated that any person found guilty of stocking for sale adulterated goods shall be awarded a minimum sentence of one year. We would have in the normal course given a higher sentence but considering that the incident is of 1969, we would content ourselves by giving him one year imprisonment S.I. The respondent will also be liable to pay a fine of Rs, 5.000.00 or in default six months S, 1. The respondent will now be arrested to undergo the sentence of imprisonment imposed by us.

(8) The appeal stands disposed of.


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