K.N. Mudaliyar, J.
1. The two appellants, aggrieved by the order of the Second Presidency Magistrate convicting them for offences under Rule 5 of the Madras Rationing Order, 1965, read with Sections 3 and 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, appeal against their conviction.
2. The Charge against them reads as follows:
First :--That you on or about 12th day of August, 1966, at about 11 : 10 p.m. that you Accused 1 being the lorry driver and that you accused 2 being the cleaner and that you accused 3 being the owner, stored 61 bags of Sooji at No. 173, Anna Pillai Street, Madras, without valid permit required under the Madras Rationing Order, 1965, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Rule 5 of the Madras Rationing Order 1965, read with Sections 3 and 7 of the Essential Commodities Act.
And I hereby direct that you be tried before me on the said charges.
It is apparently seen that the gravamen of the charge is that accused 1 and 2 being the lorry driver and the cleaner stored 61 bags of Sooji at No. 173, Anna Pillai Street, Madras, without valid permit.
3. P.W. 1 says that on 12th August, 1966 at 11 : 10 p.m. when he was checking lorries entering Anna Pillai Street, he saw lorry MDU 5357 entering Anna Pillai Street. He stopped and checked it. Accused 1 was the driver and accused 2, the cleaner. The lorry bore a load of 61 bags of Sooji. P.W. 1 seized the trip sheet Exhibit P-1 which disclosed that the load came from Thiruvothiyur. He seized the documents, produced by accused 1 (Exhibits P-2 to P-4). His further evidence is that Sooji was a rationed article and the accused had no permit to take it into the Rationed area. He seized the load under Mahazar Exhibit P-5.
4. The only other important piece of evidence is that of D.W. 1 who says that the, Sooji belongs to him and he brought it from his godown No. 102, Thiruvothiyur High Road, Washermanpet, within city limits. In the cross-examination, it is elicited that this witness was the licensee under Exhibits D-4 and D-5.
5. Rule 5 of the Madras Rationing Order, 1965, reads as follows:
No person, other than an authorised wholesale distributor shall, on or after the rationing date, import into, or export from, any rationed area, any rationed article except under, and in accordance with, a permit granted under this order:Provided that nothing contained in this clause shall apply to the transport of any rationed article, up to a quantity not exceeding a week's ration at the scale and composition prescribed for rationed areas by a bona fide traveller as part of his personal luggage.
6. Rule 5 mentions the words ' import into or export from any rationed area any rationed article.' In view of the terms of the text of the charge and even accepting the entire testimony of P.W. 1, the prosecution has failed to prove the offence with which the accused is charged. Under Rule 5 the contravention of the said rule must relate to either their importing into or exporting from rationed area any rationed article. On the contrary Exhibit P-1 mentions Thiruvothiyur High Road, the place wherefrom the said lorry has left. A part of Tiruvothiyur High Road is certainly within the City of Madras and under Exhibit D-5 even assuming that this accused was going to store in the place 173, Anna Pillai Street, Madras-1, he has every right to store them in that place subject to his intimating the concerned authorities within 48 hours and producing the licence for making the requisite change by the licensing Authority. This is one of the most frivolous and baseless prosecutions that the State has launched in utter disregard of Rule 5 of the Madras Rationing Order. This is a clear example of the Second Presidency Magistrate who seems to have had no regard for the documents before him on the basis of which he has chosen to frame a charge in the terms in which he has framed. There is absolutely no offence, not even a particle of it, in respect of the storage which is certainly not an offence. Rule 5, as I have observed already mentions only unauthorised 'importing into or exporting out.' The sale proceeds of the 61 bags of Sooji seized by the Authorities are directed to be returned to D.W. 1.
7. The Criminal Appeal is accordingly allowed.