1. Both these appeals, one filed by the Municipal Council, Ajmer and the other by the State of Rajasthan are directed against the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge, Aimer dated 6-9-1967 whereby the respondent Sadulla has been acquitted of the charge under Section 7 read with Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') and it raises an important question about the interpretation and the scope of Section 20 of the said Act.
2. On a complaint filed by the Law Superintendent and Municipal Prosecuting Inspector against respondent Sadulla the trial court recorded a finding that the milk sold, by Sadulla had 53% of water in it, and, therefore, he was guilty of an offence under Section 7 read with Section 16 of the Act and sentenced him to six months' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500/-. The learned Judge on an appeal set aside the conviction of the respondent on the ground that the complaint was filed against the respondent without obtaining proper sanction from the competent authority under Section 20 of the Act. During the course of trial the prosecution did not produce before the Court any order empowering the complainant to file the complaint, and it was at that stage that a resolution of the Municipal Council dated 30th March, 1966 Ex. C. 2 was brought on the record. The resolution reads as follows:
'Resolved that the Law Superintendent or the Municipal Prosecuting Inspector of this Council is hereby authorised to institute prosecutions under the provisions of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (Act XXVII of 1954) as required by Section 20 of the said Act.'
3. The learned Sessions Judge did not consider this resolution sufficient to comply with the requirement of Section 20 of the Act as according to him this resolution was passed on 30-3-1966 and the complaint in this particular case was filed on the 23rd May, 1966 about 2 months after the passing of the said resolution and therefore in his opinion the resolution could not serve as a sanction for prosecuting the respondent under the provisions of the Act. 4. In order to understand the real point in controversy raised before us it will be relevant to reproduce Section 20 around which the controversy revolves. Section 20 of the Act runs as follows:
'Section 20. Cognizance and trial of offences: (1) No prosecution for an offence under this Act shall be instituted except by, or with the written consent of, the Central Government or the State Government or a local authority or a person authorised in this behalf, by general or special order, by the Central Government or the State Government or a local authority.'
The proviso is not necessary to be reproduced as there is no controversy about it.
5. From the perusal of this section it is clear that it provides as to who are those authorities or persons who can launch a prosecution under the provisions of the Act. The plain grammatical meaning of this section is that under its provisions the prosecution can be instituted.
(i) by the Central Government;
(ii) by the State Government;
(iii) by a local authority;
(iv) by a person authorised in that behalf;
by any of the above referred authorities either by general or special order.
6. It so appears that the learned Judge while dealing with this provision of law misdirected himself to a question of according a sanction before the prosecution is actually launched in a Court of law. As a matter of fact this provision of law does not in any manner provide for according a sanction by any authority before filing a complaint in the Court of law for an offence committed under the Act It simply deals with the subject as to who are the persons who can institute prosecution in the Court of law. According to Section 20 the prosecution can be launched either by the Central Government, the State Government, local authority or a person authorised in that behalf either by general order or special order or by any of these three authorities referred to above, or by a person in whose favour the authorities referred to in this section have given a written consent to file the complaint. The language of the section does not in any manner indicate that the legislature by making this provision in the Act intended that before launching a prosecution against a person under this Act any sanction was at all necessary. The only safeguard that has been provided by this provision is that nobody except the authorities mentioned in this section and the persons empowered by the authorities can launch the prosecution. In the present case we find that by a general resolution the Municipal Council, Ajmer had delegated to the Law Superintendent or the Municipal Prosecuting Inspector of the Council to institute the prosecution under the provisions of the Act. This kind of general delegation is permissible under the provisions of Section 20 as it has been mentioned therein that the Central Government or a local authority can authorise a person in that behalf by general or special order. We do not find any flaw in the resolution Ex. C-2 passed by the Municipal Council, Ajmer empowering the Law Superintendent or the Municipal Prosecuting Inspector to prosecute the persons who are considered guilty of an offence under the Act. The learned Judge, in our opinion, acted erroneously to think that such general delegation is not permissible under Section 20 of the Act and that in each case the authorities mentioned in Section 20 including those which are delegated with a power to launch prosecution must apply their mind before a sanction is accorded to prosecute a person.
7. The learned Judge has referred to a Supreme Court decision in Vishwana-than v. Abdul Majid, AIR 1963 SC 1 in his judgment. It bo appears that he did not carefully go through the entire judgment. In that judgment itself we find that the learned Judges of the Supreme Court have upheld the view of the High Court that under this section the prosecution can be instituted,
(i) by the State Government;
(ii) by a local authority;
(iii) by a person authorised in that behalf by the State Government, or
(iv) by a person similarly authorised by a local authority.
By the time when this case came before the Supreme Court Section 20 was not amended and therefore their Lordships did not consider whether the Central Government was also authorised to launch the prosecution under this provision of law.
8. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent-accused urged that the resolution passed by the Municipal Council is violative of the provisions of Section 20 as in this resolution the Municipal Council has empowered two persons (i) Law Superintendent, and (ii) Municipal Council Prosecuting Inspector to institute the prosecution under the provisions of this Act, whereas Section 20 requires that the authorities mentioned in that section can empower only one person because the words used in this section are 'a person'. In this view of the matter he contended that the resolution should be declared as invalid and on the strength of such a resolution the prosecution of the respondent accused should be declared to be invalid. We find no force in this argument of the learned counsel, firstly because we are told by the learned counsel for the Municipal Council, Aimer that the incumbent who is holding the charge of Law Superintendent in the Municipal Council is also working as Municipal Prosecuting Inspector and thus there is only one manwho has been authorised by this resolution to launch the prosecution under the provisions of the Act. Even if there are two persons who have been empowered by this resolution we do not find that Section 20 contains any such prohibition because under Section 13(2) of the General Clauses Act singular will include plural and as such the Municipal Council should authorise more than one person to move the Court to get the offenders prosecuted.
9. It was next urged by the learned counsel for the respondent that the respondent Sadulla was not the person from whom the milk was purchased by the Inspector and he has been prosecuted for some other person of identical name. We cannot accept this contention of the learned counsel for the respondent because we find that the respondent himself when examined under Section 342, Cr. P. C. admitted that it was he who had sold the milk to the Inspector. In these circumstances if there was some difference in the name of the respondent's father, we cannot accept that he was not the person who was selling the milk which was found to be adulterated by the Chemical Analyst.
10. In the end it was prayed that looking to the family conditions of the respondent Sadulla that he has a blind wife and he is the only earning member in the family lenient view may be taken about the sentence. We regret we cannot accept this prayer of the learned counsel because the trial court has awarded the minimum sentence which is prescribed under the law, and we cannot go below the minimum.
11. The result is that both the appeals are allowed, the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge, Ajmer dated 6-9-1967 is set aside and the conviction and sentence awarded to the respondent under Section 7 read with Section 16 of the Act, by the Municipal Magistrate, Ajmer, vide his judgment dated 21st August, 1967 are restored. Instructions may be issued to the District Magistrate, Ajmer to get the respondent arrested forthwith and send him to jail to serve out the sentences which are upheld by this Court.