1. The accused has been convicted by the Chief Presidency Magistrate under Section 4 (l) (a), Madras Prohibition Act and sentenced to pay a fine of RS. 50.
2. The accused is a carpenter and in his carpentry shop a jar containing two gallons of varnish was found. This varnish contains denatured spirit and therefore it comes within the definition of liquor in the Act. The lower Court finds that the liquid is not drinkable and is not fit for consumption. The question is whether the accused is guilty of an offence under Section 4 (l) (a) of the Act. The object of the Act as the preamble shows, is to prohibit the consumption of intoxicating liquor. It is not suggested that the varnish is intended for drink or can be used for intoxicating purposes. Being a carpenter, the possession of varnish was for a legitimate use. P. W. 1, the Prohibition Officer, says that if it is varnish he would not have seized it. The finding of the lower Court is that it is varnish. The Government have no doubt not exempted this from the purview of the Act. But the learned Crown Prosecutor, under instructions from Government states that it is not the intention of the Government that there should be a prosecution in a case like this. Applying the principle of de minimus non curat lex, I hold that the petitioner should not have been convicted. I, therefore, set aside the conviction and sentence, and acquit the accused. The fine, if paid, will be refunded.
3. Since it is not the intention of the Government to prosecute carpenters for possession of varnishes, it is better they exempt it by appropriate notification.