Kuppuswami Aiyar, J.
1. The petitioner was prosecuted for having committed an offence under Section 3(1) of the Madras Essential Articles Restricted Acquisition Order, 1943. This order came into force in the Kumbakonam municipality on 14th March, 1944. When the Rationing Officer tried to get a statement from the accused as to how much of paddy he had in his house for his use, he learnt that certain paddy had been brought from Perambur in Tanjore taluk. The paddy was brought from Perambur to Kumbakonam on 2nd April, 1944, after the date on which this order came into force in Kumbakonam. The petitioner admitted these-facts and he was accordingly convicted. What is urged is that it is only an acquisition subsequent to the date on which the order came into force that would amount to an offence and that no such acquisition had been made by the petitioner.
2. On the facts there is no dispute. There is evidence to show that the petitioner purchased the paddy at Perambur early in March, and kept it in his son-in-law's house and there was delay in transporting it to Kumbakonam as he could not find facilities for such transportation. Under Section 3(1) 'no person shall, except under the authority of a licence granted by an officer authorised by the Provincial Government in this behalf, acquire any essential article if by so doing the quantity thereof in his possession or under his control will exceed the normal quantity required by him.' There is absolutely no evidence to show that this additional paddy was acquired by him after the date on which the order came into force in Kumbakonam. If by acquisition is meant getting possession of the goods or proprietary right over goods, then it was done earlier than the date on which the order came into force as the acquisition was early in March itself. What is urged by the prosecution is that the word ' acquired ' should be taken to mean 'removing', the property to Kumbakonam. I do not think the word ' acquired ' can be taken to mean ' transported'. The word ' acquire ' is not denned in the order; according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, it means ' gain by oneself and for oneself; come into possession of'. The petitioner came into possession of the property early in March itself when he purchased the paddy. Therefore there was no acquisition subsequent to the date on which the order came into force in Kumbakonam. There are other provisions of law under which such transport is prevented, but he is not prosecuted for any such offence. He has been prosecuted only for an improper acquisition of the property subsequent to particular date. The acquisition was prior to that date.' Therefore the conviction has to be set aside.
3. The conviction and sentence are set aside--the petitioner is acquitted. The fines, if already paid, will be refunded.