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State of Raj. Vs. Asharam and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.B. Criminal Appeal No. 627 of 1970
Judge
Reported in1971WLN343
AppellantState of Raj.
RespondentAsharam and anr.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredManipur Administration v. Nila Chandrasingh
Excerpt:
.....in the nature of penal clause. therefore it is necessary that it must be strictly construed. the price list of the articles is to be displayed so that no dealer can sell to any person any article mentioned in the schedule at a price higher than that specified in respect of such article in the list of prices in accordance with clause 6.;rajasthan (display of prices of essential commodities) order, 1966 - clauses 2(c), 3 & 5--dealer--respondent stocks blades to give to shopkeepers as per instructions of company--whether he is dealer.;it was not for the respondents to offer blades for money. the function of the respondents was to stock the blades on behalf of the company and to give the same to the shop keepers in accordance with the instructions of the company. therefore, the..........provision under clause 3 of the order and under that law no exemption has been given to a whole-sale dealer. learned counsel further submits that non exhibition of the price list contravenes the provisions of clause 3 of the above order and, therefore, penal consequences automatically follow. counsel for the respondents supported the judgment of the court below.4. clause 3 of the order reads as under:3. display of list of prices. - not later than fifteen days from the commencement of this order every dealer shall during the hours of his business display conspicuously in form 'a' a list of prices of articles he deals in at a place as near to the entrance of his business premises as possible:provided that numerals to be used in the list of prices shall be either in the devangari form of.....
Judgment:

L.S. Mehta, J.

1. The short question of law which arises in this appeal relates to the construction of Clause 3 of the Rajasthan (Display of Prices of Essential Commodities) Order, 1966, (hereinafter referred to as the Order). The question arises in this manner.

2. The respondents Asharam and Prahled were charged for having committed an offence punishable under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. The respondents were found storing 1400 Erasmic blades in their shop, known as Asharam Dani, for the purpose of sale, at Pali, without displaying their price in the price-list in form No. A at a place as near to the entrance of the business premises as possible. The case against the respondents is that on June 9, 1967, at about 6.30 p.m. their shop was searched by Dalip Singh, Y District Supply Officer, Pali, in the presence of P.W. 2 Ramesh Chandra (Motbir) and 1400 Erasmic blades were found stored therein. This fact has not been denied by the respondents, though they pleaded that the blades were meant for distribution amongst the retail dealers on behalf of the company, and not for sale in their firm. The learned Additional District Magistrate, Pali, who tried the case, relied upon the plea taken by the respondents and held that the respondents were distributors of blades and not their dealers He, therefore, acquitted the accused of the offence under Section 3, read with Section 7, Essential Commodities Act, 1055, by his judgment, dated February 11, 1970.

3. Against the above verdict, the State has preferred this appeal. Learned Counsel for the State submits that the exhibition of the price list is a mandatory provision under Clause 3 of the Order and under that law no exemption has been given to a whole-sale dealer. Learned Counsel further submits that non exhibition of the price list contravenes the provisions of Clause 3 of the above Order and, therefore, penal consequences automatically follow. Counsel for the respondents supported the judgment of the court below.

4. Clause 3 of the Order reads as under:

3. Display of list of Prices. - Not later than fifteen days from the commencement of this Order every dealer shall during the hours of his business display conspicuously in Form 'A' a list of prices of articles he deals in at a place as near to the entrance of his business premises as possible:

Provided that numerals to be used in the list of prices shall be either in the Devangari form of numerals or any international form of Indian numerals:

Provided further that in the case of an article which is added to the Schedule at any time after the commencement of this Order, the period of fifteen days shall be counted from the date on which such article is added to the Schedule.

Clause 5 of the Order is in the terms Following:

5. Sale of articles according to list of price. - No dealer shall-

(i) sell to any person any article mentioned in the schedule at a price higher than that specified in respect of such article in the list of prices;

(ii) refuse to sell such article' to any person at the price so specified or marked;

(ii) sell any article to any person without issuing a cash memo or bill:

Provided that it shall not be necessary to issue any such cash memo (giving particulars of the purchaser i.e., address etc.) or bill or to keep any such duplicate copy in respect of sale of any article costing not more than Rs. 7/- unless demanded by the purchaser.

The word 'dealer' as given in Clause 3 has thus been defined in Clause 2(c) of the Order:

'Dealer' means a person who deals in the sale or storage for sale of any of the articles mentioned in the Schedule.

Clause 3 imposes a penalty upon the offender and as such it is in the nature of penal clause. Therefore, it is necessary that it must be strictly construed. The price list of the articles is to be displaced so that no dealer can sell to any person any article mentioned in the Schedule at a price higher than that specified in respect of such article in the list of prices in accordance with Clause 5.

5. In the present case it is in the evidence of Dilip Singh, District Supply Officer, Pali that the respondents were simply distributors and that he could not say whether they sold the blades to the retailers or not. It is also plain from the 3 documents, Exs. D, 3, 4 and 5 that the respondents were the distributors of Erasmic blades and not the sellers In Ex. D.3 which is a letter issued by Sharpedge Limited. 24 Okhla Industrial Estate, New Delhi 20, it is mentioned in the clearest term that the Erasmic blades should be kept in stock, for distribution in the market by the Company s sales man. Further it is, mentioned in Ex. D.4 dated May 4, 1967, that the blades were sent to Asharam Dani for the purpose of distribution among the retailers. Similarly in Ex. D.5, dated April 1, 1967 it is given that the blade cases should be kept intact and that the same would be distributed by the sales mm of the Okhla Industrial Estate when he would visit Pali. From the statement of Asharam DW 3 it is further manifest that the firm Asharam Dani received the packets of the Erasmic blades for the purpose of distributing them among the retailers. From this evidence it is apparent that the respondents are not the dealers of Erasmic blades in accordance with the definition of the word 'dealer' given in Clause 2(c) of the Order Learned Counsel for the State submits that the respondents stored the blades for the purpose of sale and, therefore the breach would be covered by the definition of the term 'dealer'. I do not agree with this submission The word 'sale' means the 'exchange of anything for money' or the state of being offered to buyers as given in the 20th Century Chambers Dictionary Under our law as under the English and Roman laws, a sale may be defined as a contract in which one person promises to deliver a thing to another who on his part promises to pay a certain price. Mr. Justice Blackburn in his treatise on the contract of sale at page 177, writes thus:

In general a contract of sale is considered to have become perfect so soon as the parties are agreed upon the price for which the thing is to be sold.

In Hutton v. Lippert (1883) 8 S.C. 309 (P.C.) it was observed that where the real effect of the transaction is to transfer to a person all the rights of an owner of property in return for a price, the transaction will be deemed to be a sale. In the present case it was not for the respondents to offer blades for money or to buyers in exchange of money. The function of the respondents was to stock the blades on behalf of the Company and to give the same to the shop-keepers in accordance with the instructions of the Company. Therefore, the respondents could not strictly be held to be the dealers in blades and if they are not dealers, their case would not be covered by Clause 3 of the Order.

6. That apart, from the evidence on the record is manifest that the respondents got the stock of blades only once. From this fact it cannot be said with certainty that the respondents were dealers in blades. Reference in this connection is made to Manipur Administration v. Nila Chandrasingh : 1964CriLJ465 . In that case it has been observed by His Lordship Gajendragadkar J (as he then was) that before a person can be said to be a dealer, it trust be shown that he carries on business of purchase or sale or storage for sale of any of the commodities (specified in the Schedule. The requirement is hot that the person should merely sell, purchase or store the goods in question, but that he must be carrying on the business of such purchase sale or storage; and the concept of business in the context must necessarily postulate continuity of transaction His Lordship has further made it clear that it is not a single, casual or solitary transaction of sale, purchase or storage that would make a person dealer If this element of continuity is ignored, it would be rendering the use of the word 'business.' redundant and meaningless. In the case in band the respondents get the Erasmic blades only once, that means it was a single, casual or solitary transaction and that cannot postulate continuity of transaction. In this context also the respondents cannot be said to be dealers in blades.

7. For the aforesaid reasons, the verdict of acquittal given by the learned Additional District Magistrate. Pali, appears to be correct. This appeal accordingly fails and is dismissed.


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