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Madurai City Co-operative Milk Supply, Through Its Present Secretary, Ramayya Pillai and anr. Vs. Food Inspector, Madurai Municipality - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFood Adultration
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1962)2MLJ104
AppellantMadurai City Co-operative Milk Supply, Through Its Present Secretary, Ramayya Pillai and anr.
RespondentFood Inspector, Madurai Municipality
Cases ReferredCity Corporation of Trivandrum v. Arunachalam
Excerpt:
- .....said act to institute prosecutions for offences under the act.section 9 of the act authorises the state government to appoint, by notification, persons having the prescribed qualifications to be food inspectors for the purposes of the act, and they shall exercise their powers within such local areas as that government may assign to them. it is not disputed that the food inspector had been duly appointed as such. but the argument is that the government notification above extracted being a general authorisation of all food inspectors without reference to a particular prosecution it is not in consonance with the requirements of section 20 of the act. it is contended that what the section contemplates is a specific authorisation in respect of a particular prosecution and not an omnibus.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Veeraswami, J.

1. This Revision is directed against the order of the learned Sessions Judge, Madurai, dismissing the appeal against the conviction of the petitioners-of an offence under Section 7 read with Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. This being a third offence of the kind committed by the first petitioner, Madurai City Co-operative Milk Supply Union, it was sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 3,000, the minimum prescribed by the Proviso to Sub-section (1) (a) (iii) of Section 16. The second petitioner, who was the Secretary of the first petitioner, was directed to pay a fine of Rs. 30. Both the Courts below have found that the sample cow's milk boiled and cooled purchased from the first petitioner, through its salesman Uthaman, on the morning of February, 2, 1959, from the quantity in a sealed can, and meant for the Maternity Home, maintained by the Municipality, was adultered with added water of 11 per cent. The Public Analyst for Madurai Municipality certified the adulteration to be 14 per cent.; but the Director, Central Food Laboratory at Calcutta reported that the milk was adultered with 11 per cent. of added water. Sub-section (3) of Section 13 provides that the certificate of the Director of the Central Food Laboratory shall supersede the report given by the Public Analyst under Sub-section (1); and by Sub-section (5) the certificate is final and conclusive evidence of the facts stated therein.

2. The main attack against the conviction is that the Food Inspector who laid the complaint, had no valid authority or consent required by Section 20 as a condition to the institution of the prosecution. The Food Inspector in his evidence stated that he was authorised to institute the complaint by a notification in G.O. Ms. No. 1861, Health, dated June 6, 1956, published in the Fort St. George Gazette, Part I-A, page 350, dated 20th June, 1956. This notification reads:

In exercise of the power conferred by Sub-section (1) of Section 20 of the Prevention of Food.. Adulteration Act, 1954 (Central Act XXXVII of 1954) the Governor of Madras hereby authorises the Food Inspectors appointed under the said Act to institute prosecutions for offences under the Act.

Section 9 of the Act authorises the State Government to appoint, by notification, persons having the prescribed qualifications to be Food Inspectors for the purposes of the Act, and they shall exercise their powers within such local areas as that Government may assign to them. It is not disputed that the Food Inspector had been duly appointed as such. But the argument is that the Government notification above extracted being a general authorisation of all Food Inspectors without reference to a particular prosecution it is not in consonance with the requirements of Section 20 of the Act. It is contended that what the section contemplates is a specific authorisation in respect of a particular prosecution and not an omnibus delegation. Section 20 (1) reads:

No prosecution for an offence under this Act shall be instituted except by, or with the written consent of, the State Government or a local authority or a person authorised in this behalf by the State-Government or a local authority.

The sub-section has a proviso which need not be set out for the purpose of this case... The object of Sub-section (1) obviously is to avoid indiscriminate prosecution without scrutiny in each case of particular facts and circumstances justifying penal action under the Act. The section, therefore, requires certain conditions to be complied with before a Court can take cognizance of a prosecution under the Act. It states that a prosecution may be instituted (1) by the State Government, (2) a local authority, (3) a person authorized by the State Government and (4) a person authorized by the local authority. In addition, the section also provides that a prosecution may be instituted with the written consent of any of the four categories of authorities aforesaid. When the section speaks of institution of a prosecution with the written consent of any of those authorities, it plainly means that the consent should be specifically related to a particular offence with reference to which it is intended to institute a prosecution. If the authority that institutes a prosecution is the State Government or a local authority, in that case no written consent is of course required. But the argument is that if the person instituting a prosecution is one authorised by the State Government or a local authority, the authorisation should be specific in relation to a particular case and not in general terms applicable to all prosecutions, as and when they may arise. This construction by Mr. Mohan Kumaramangalam appearing for the petitioners is based on the words ' in this behalf' in Sub-section (1). He contends that these words import an intention that the State Government or a local authority, before it authorises a person, should apply its mind to the facts of the particular prosecution and not leave it to the person authorised to decide whether a particular prosecution should be laid. According to the learned Counsel, ' in this behalf' has reference to 'no prosecution. . . .shall be instituted except. . . .', that is to say, to the particular institution of a certain prosecution in view : It is further contended that this construction is reinforced by the fact that the written consent contemplated by the sub-section is undoubtedly related to each particular prosecution. I am unable to agree with the construction contended for. The words 'in this behalf' do not bear, in the context, the meaning attributed to them. In my view, they mean no more than that the authority vested in the State Government or a local authority is for the purpose of enabling the person to institute a prosecution. The intention appears to be to provide for a delegation by the State Government or a local authority of its power to institute prosecution under the Act. To construe the section in the way the learned Counsel has asked me to do, would defeat the very purpose of this provision for delegation of the power to institute a prosecution. Once authorised to institute a prosecution, the authority so vested in the person is of the same quality and virtue as the power of the State Government or a local authority to institute a prosecution. This is in contrast with a case of a person enabled to institute a prosecution with the written consent of any of the parties enumerated by the sub-section. In my opinion, therefore, the Food Inspector in this case was competent to lay the complaint.

3. Bur Sri Mohan Kumaramangalam called my attention to City Corporation of Trivandrum v. Arunachalam : AIR1960Ker356 as placing a contrary construction upon Sub-section (1) of Section 20. There the complainant, a Food Inspector, was given a general authority by the Commissioner of the Corporation of Trivandrum to prosecute persons found to have committed offences under the Act. The learned Judges in that case held that it had not been satisfactorily proved that the Commissioner of Corporation had been authorised by the State Government or the local authority to issue the necessary sanction for prosecuting offences under the Act and that in the absence of such proof, the sanction to the Food Inspector could not be accepted as a proper and valid authority as required by Section 20. That was sufficient to hold the prosecution to be invalid. But the Court went further and observed:

Even apart from this defect about the sanction evidenced by Exhibit P-4, there is yet another serious defect about Exhibit P-4. The authority purported to be conferred by Exhibit P-4 is couched in vague and general terras. Under Exhibit P-4, the Commissioner has merely stated that the Food Inspector P. W. 1 is authorised to prosecute all offenders under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act before the Corporation First Class Magistrate. The sanction required by Section 20 is not an empty formality. The sanction must show that the authority giving the sanction had applied his mind to the alleged commission of an offence by the accused person and was satisfied that the accused has to be prosecuted for the said offence.

Necessarily it follows that the sanction must be for the prosecution of specified individuals and for specific offences. These conditions are not satisfied by Exhibit P-4 which makes no reference to any specified individuals to be prosecuted or to any specific offence for which the prosecution has to be 'launched. The conferring of an authority or the giving of sanction in such vague and general terms is not that what is required under Section 20.

I do not understand these observations as having been made with regard to authority of a person authorised by a local authority to prosecute or with reference to a question as to whether such authority delegated by a local authority can legally be couched in general terms enabling the institution of not merely a particular prosecution but all prosecutions. The learned Judges were only concerned to point out that the Commissioner who purported to authorise the Food Inspector was not himself proved to have authority to authorise the Food Inspector. Apparently what the Court had in mind was the requirement with reference to the words ' with the written consent of' . If the Court intended to lay down that even in cases of an authority, delegated by a local authority, such delegation can only be in respect of a particular prosecution of specified individuals and for a specific offence, with respect to the learned Judges, I am unable to subscribe to such a construction of Sub-section (1) of Section 20. This provision has been construed by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in State of Bombay v. Parshottam Kanaiyalal : [1961]1SCR458 and they observed:

In the case of these four categories, the authority or person filing the complaint has itself or himself to consider the reasonableness and propriety of the prosecution and be satisfied that the prosecution is not frivolous and is called for.

This observation and the general tenor of the construction placed by the Supreme Court on the provision appear, in my opinion, to support the view I have taken of the scope and the intendment of Sub-section (1) of Section 20.

4. There is one other matter which requires notice before leaving this case. The trial Magistrate seems to have clubbed together the charge for the commission of the offence of selling adulterated milk and the charge that the first accused was liable for enhanced punishment under Section 16 (1) (a) (iii) of the Act. This procedure is quite irregular. In such a case, with respect, I agree with the observations of the learned Judges in City Corporation of Trivandrum v. Arunachalam : AIR1960Ker356 , that the proper procedure would have been to frame charges against the first accused for the main offence in the first instance and then charge him as an old offender after he has been found guilty of the offence of the main offence charged against him. I am, however, not satisfied that in the instant case the defect has in any way prejudiced the first accused at the trial. The convictions and sentences of fine are confirmed and the 'Criminal Revision Case is dismissed.


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