1. The prosecuion in this ease was under Section 15(a) of the Indian Petroleum Act, VIII of 1899, which says, whoever, in contravention of this Act or any of the rules thereunder, imports, possesses, or transports any petroleum' shall be liable to certain penalties. Section 11 of the Act says, 'no quantity of petroleum exceeding five hundred gallons shall be kept by any one person or on the same premises or shall be transported, except under, and in accordance with the conditions of, a license granted under this Act.'
2. The accused is the agent of the Asiatic Petroleum Company at Bellary and he received a consignment of 800 tins, each tin consisting of 4 gallons, from his principal company. The consignment arrived on the 12th December 1915 and the accused's clerk presented the railway receipt on the 14th and an entry to that effect was duly made according to the usual mode of business in the books of the Railway Company. Then he began sending the tins to different customers, to most of whom he had already sold or entered into a contract of sale. There is also evidence that he actually sold a number of tins to customers who had not booked their orders with him beforehand. The Deputy Magistrate found that this was a case of possession within the meaning of Section 15(a) of the Petroleum Act, whereas the Additional Sessions Judge was of opinion that it was not only tease of possession but also of transportation. So far as the latter offence is concerned, the learned Public Prosecutor did not press the point, Apparently, transportation was by the Asiatic Petroleum Company which had license to transport an unlimited quantity within British India, and in receiving the consignment the accused was acting merely as the agent of the company. But the Sessions Judge, in arriving at his conclusion that the accused was in possession, within the meaning of the law, of more than 500 gallons, seems to have proceeded on a wrong basis. He appears to be of opinion that the time taken in removing the goods from the Railway Station was not an element to be taken into consideration, and with reference to the argument that was advanced before him, he dealt mainly with the question whether the accused could be said to have acted as agent for each customer at Bellary in importing a specific quantity of oil, which would be covered by his license. (His license covered 500 gallons.) The meaning of the word possession' as used in Section 15(a) must, in our opinion, be understood with reference to the terms of Section 11, which defines what is the quantity of petroleum in excess of which the keeping' by one person or on the same premises would be an offence. The 'possession', therefore, must be such as to amount to 'keeping' within the meaning of Section 11, and that certainly suggests that a person could not be said to keep' petroleum if the petroleum was delivered to him by the Railway Company on the railway premises and within a reasonable time, in the ordinary course of business, distributed to persons for whom it was intended, What has to be found in this case is whether upon the facts the accused could be said to have kept more than 500 gallons of petroleum on the premises of the Railway Company, or whether the Railway Company allowed them to remain there for such reasonable time as would be occupied in the ordinary course of business in removing the tins for the purpose of delivering them to the different customers of the agent or of the company. There is some evidence, and it was accepted by the Deputy Magistrate, that as a matter of fact the accused, who has no godown Or storehouse of his own for storing petroleum, uses the railway premises for the purpose of selling some tins. That, if true, would be evidence which would require consideration in arriving at the conclusion whether the accused kept the consignment or a portion of it exceeding 500 gallons at the station for purposes of sale. We do not mean to suggest that even if the entire quantity had been sold beforehand by the agent to the different customers at Bellary and he had induced the Railway authorities to allow him to keep the consignment exceeding 500 gallons on the premises for a length of time which would not be required in the ordinary course of business for purposes of distribution, it would not be 'keeping' or possession' within the meaning of Sections 11 and 15(a) of the Act. The Additional Sessions Judge, however, as we have pointed out, has proceeded on a wrong view of the law. It has to be found whether upon the evidence as produced at the trial, there was possession' or 'keeping, within the meaning of Sections 11 and 15(a) on the part of the accused, of more than 500 gallons of petroleum, oh the railway premises.
3. We must set aside the judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge and remit the appeal to the Sessions Judge for disposal in accordance with the above observations.