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The Public Prosecutor Vs. Nagalla Seshagiri Rao - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFood Adulteration;Criminal
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in1949CriLJ198; (1948)2MLJ124
AppellantThe Public Prosecutor
RespondentNagalla Seshagiri Rao
Excerpt:
- - according to him, that would make groundnut oil, as it were, the base with which any other oil like gingelly oil, in this instance, is added. that is evidently because the idea underlying the rule is that gingelly oil is the best and the costliest of the oils mentioned there......in my opinion, the proportion would not matter at all. if in this case the proportion was 75 per cent. gingelly oil and 25 per cent of groundnut oil, it may be in another case the proportion gingelly oil 25 per cent and groundnut oil 75 per cent. it would nevertheless mean, that another oil has been added to gingelly oil which i agree with mr. ramanarasu is treated as the primary oil.5. the accused was charged with the offence of contravening rule 27-a which covers the case of possessing for the purpose of sale a mixture of gingelly oil with groundnut oil. the mixture in question is certainly a mixture of gingelly oil with groundnut oil. to say that it is also a mixture of groundnut oil with gingelly oil may not be incorrect, but on that ground it cannot be denied that it is a mixture.....
Judgment:

Rajamannar, J.

1. In this appeal by the Grown, the decision depends upon the construction of 27-A of the rules made under Section 20(2)(f) of the Madras Prevention of Adulteration Act and its application to the facts of the case, which are not in dispute.

2. The Sanitary Inspector employed by the Guntur Municipality sent his maistri on 30th July, 1946, to the shop of the accused to find out if accused was selling gingelly oil. The result of the inquiry was that the accused said that he had groundnut oil with him. The Inspector took from him a sample of the oil. He sent the oil for analysis and the Government Analyst, Guindy, reported that the sample contained 25 per cent. of groundnut oil and 75 per cent. of gingelly oil. The accused was thereupon prosecuted for an offence of contravening Rule 27-A which is as folows:

No person shall sell or have in his possession for the purpose of sale a mixture of gingelly oil with groundnut oil, safflower oil or any other oil.

The accused in his statement of 22nd October, 1946, in answer to the charge that he had in his possession a mixture of gingelly oil with 25 per cent. of groundnut oil for the purpose of sale in His shop pleaded that the oil which he kept in his possession for the purpose of sale was not gingelly oil, but it was groundnut oil-The Stationary Sub-Magistrate, Guntur, acquitted the accused on the ground that the accused had not contravened Rule 27-A. His reasoning was shortly this. When the sample oil was sold to the Sanitary Inspector it was sold as groundnut oil and Rule 27-A prohibits only the mixture of gingelly oil with groundnut oil which meant that to come within the purview of Rule 27-A, the added substance should be groundnut oil, but here the added substance was gingelly oil. The Magistrate also tried to support his conclusion by making a reference to the relative prices of groundnut oil and gingelly oil. It was in evidence that the price of groundnut oil was Rs. 1-8-0 whereas the price of gingelly oil was Rs. 3 per viss. According to the Magistrate, therefore, it was unnatural and mysterious that the merchant should add 75 per cent. of gingelly oil which costs more and 25 per cent. of groundnut oil which costs less and to sell the mixture as groundnut oil for a loss.

3. The entire basis of the argument of Mr. Ramanarasu who argued the case for the accused with great resourcefulness was that the sample of the oil sold to the Sanitary Inspector was sold as groundnut oil. According to him, that would make groundnut oil, as it were, the base with which any other oil like gingelly oil, in this instance, is added. In my opinion that is not the proper way of construing the rule. The oil as it actually was, at the time it was kept for sale, cannot properly be said to be either groundnut oil or gingelly oil. It was certainly a mixture of both. In this case the Magistrate thought that the added substance was gingelly oil. I am unable to follow why. Even from the point of view of the relative proportion, gingelly oil was 75 per cent whereas groundnut oil was only 25 per cent. The Magistrate thought that the action of the accused in selling this mixture as groundnut oil at a distinct loss was unnatural and mysterious. The mystery is because the one instance of the sale of the sample oil to the Sanitary Inspector as groundnut oil was taken as the criterion. I agree with the Magistrate that it is impossible to believe that any merchant in his senses would make a mixture of gingelly oil and groundnut oil in the proportion found in this case and sell it as groundnut oil which costs less. The obvious inference is that though for reasons which can easily be comprehended the particular sample in question was sold to the officer as groundnut oil, the accused was having this mixture to be sold as gingelly oil which certainly costs more.

4. But I am not deciding this case on that ground. There is some force in the contention of Mr. Ramanarasu that gingelly oil is mentioned as being mixed with groundnut oil, safflower oil and any other oil. That is evidently because the idea underlying the rule is that gingelly oil is the best and the costliest of the oils mentioned there. Mr. Ramanarasu also pressed upon me that the idea of adulteration connotes always a mixture of inferior stuff and a superior article of consumption, but I do not think that this contention really helps him. The fact that a merchant mixes inferior oil with superior oil necessarily, in my opinion, leads to the conclusion that it is the intention of the merchant to sell the mixture as superior oil; otherwise the action of the merchant would be, in the words of the Sub-Magistrate ' unnatural and mysterious.' In the present case we have certainly a mixture of the inferior groundnut oil with gingelly oil. In my opinion, the proportion would not matter at all. If in this case the proportion was 75 per cent. gingelly oil and 25 per cent of groundnut oil, it may be in another case the proportion gingelly oil 25 per cent and groundnut oil 75 per cent. It would nevertheless mean, that another oil has been added to gingelly oil which I agree with Mr. Ramanarasu is treated as the primary oil.

5. The accused was charged with the offence of contravening Rule 27-A which covers the case of possessing for the purpose of sale a mixture of gingelly oil with groundnut oil. The mixture in question is certainly a mixture of gingelly oil with groundnut oil. To say that it is also a mixture of groundnut oil with gingelly oil may not be incorrect, but on that ground it cannot be denied that it is a mixture of gingelly oil with groundnut oil; and the possession of such a mixture is an offence within the meaning of Rule 27-A. I am therefore of opinion that the accused was guilty of the offence with which he was charged and the acquittal was wrong in law. I therefore set aside the order of acquittal passed by the Sub-Magistrate and convict the accused of the offence with which he was charged and I sentence him to pay a fine of Rs. 20; in default to undergo simple imprisonment for one week.


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