1. This is an appeal by the State against the acquittal of the accused for the sale of adulterated turmeric. P.W. 1, the Food Inspector, Dharapuram Municipality, inspected the shop of the accused in door No. 84, Big Bazaar, Dharapuram on 26-2-1973 at about 2.30 P. M. and purchased from him, for the purpose of analysis, 600 grams, out of a stock of 6 kilo grams of turmeric, at a cost of Rs. 1.80. The usual formality of packing the sample was gone through. One of the samples sent to the analyst was certified to contain 20% of poisonous lead as against permitted limit of 10%. Consequently, the accused was charged under Section 16 (1) (a) (i) read with Sections 7 (1) and 2 (i) (1) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.
2. The learned Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Erode who tried the case acquitted the accused on the ground that turmeric rhizome, to which category the sample belonged, was not an article of food, and secondly, the accused had stored and exhibited for sale turmeric powder separately.
3. For the State, it is contended by the learned Public Prosecutor that the conclusion of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate that the accused had stored and exhibited turmeric powder separately for sale was not correct because there was no evidence to the effect. This contention has to be accepted for nowhere has P.W. 1, the Food Inspector, stated that the accused was having any other stock of turmeric, except the 6 kilograms from which the sample was obtained, for sale to the public as an article of food.
4. The second contention of the learned Public Prosecutor is that the finding of the Court below that turmeric rhizome is not an article of food is contrary to the provisions of the Act. To appreciate this contention, reference has to be made to some of the provisions in the Act.
5. Section 2 (v) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act defines 'food' in the following words:
'food'' means any article used as food or drink for human consumption other than drugs and water and includes - (a) any article which ordinarily enters into, or is used in the composition or preparation of human food, and (b) any flavouring matter or condiments.
Rule 5 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, lays down that the standards of quality of the various articles of food specified in Appendix B to the Rules are as defined in that Appendix, which are as follows:
A. 05.20. Turmeric (Haldi) whole means the dried rhizome or bulbous roots of the plant or Curcuma longa L. It shall be free from lead chromate and other artificial colouring matter. The proportion of extraneous matter shall not exceed 2.0 per cent by weight.
A. 05.20.01 lays down the standards for turmeric powder obtained by grinding the dried rhizomes or bulbous roots of the plant of curcuma longa L, as follows.
A-05.20.01. Turmeric (Haldi) Powder means the powder obtained by grinding the dried rhizomes or bulbous roots of the plant of Curcuma longa L. It shall be free from artificial colouring matter. The powder shall conform to the following standards: Moisture...Not more than 13.0 per cent by weight. Total ash ...... Not more than 9.0 per cent by weight. Ash insoluble in dilute HCL ...... Not more than 1.5 per cent by weight. Test for lead chromate ...... Negative.
Total starch per cent by weight. Not more than 60.0 per cent.
6. A combined reading and harmonious interpretation of provisions of the Act and the rules would clearly show that any article which ordinarily enters into, or used in the composition or preparation of human food would be an article of food as contemplated under the Act. In such circumstances, turmeric rhizome (Haldi) even if it was in the shape of dried rhizome or bulbous roots of the plant of Curcuma longa L. would well amount to an article which could be used as an item of food if it is ground into powder form. As such, the learned Sub-Divisional Magistrate was not correct in taking the view that Turmeric rhizome was not an article of food and therefore, the adulterated stock, which the accused had, would not amount to any contravention of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. The acquittal is, therefore, set aside and the accused found guilty of the offence charged against him.
7. Mr. Sethurathnam, learned Counsel for the accused placed reliance on Public Prosecutor v. Sathyanarayana and contended that turmeric powder sold for the purpose of external use and not for human consumption as an article of food would not fall within the mischief of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. The facts in the case relied on by him were entirely different. There was clear evidence to the effect that the turmeric-powder was sold only for the purpose of external use. Moreover, the shop-keeper was also possessed of a bill which lent credence to his contention. It was in view of the clear evidence in that case, the accused was acquitted of the charge of having sold an adulterated article of' food viz., turmeric powder. In the instant case, there is no evidence to show that the turmeric rhizome was intended for sale only for the purpose of external use. Moreover, it was capable of being ground into powder and made use of for human consumption.
8. Having regard to the fact that 2 or 3 years have elapsed since the chargesheet was laid against the accused, I think, this is a case where instead of sentencing the accused to imprisonment and fine, he could be dealt with under the provisions of the Probation of Offender's Act. A report will, therefore, be called for from the Probation Officer, Dharapuram regarding the character and antecedents etc., of the accused. Send a letter to the Chief Probation Superintendent, Madras to call upon the Probation Officer, Dharapuram to send the report within three weeks. Call on 9-4-1976.