1. This is an appeal by the Superintendent and Remembrancer of Legal Affairs, Bengal, in a case in which three accused, Multan Chand, Kalurani and Abdul Jabbar were convicted by the trial Court for contravention of Clause 3(1) of the Foodgrains Control Order, 1942, and sentenced Under Rule 81(4) of the Defence of India Rules each to pay fine of Rs. 500, in default to suffer rigorous imprisonment for five months. The Court also directed that the gram in respect of which the offence had been committed or the price thereof be forfeited to His Majesty. On appeal the learned. Sessions Judge of Faridpur acquitted the accused.
2. The prosecution case is that on the 16th May 1945, Mr. B.E. Bhattacharjee (P.W. 1), a Sub-Deputy Magistrate went to the godown of the accused Multan Chand in Ambicapur near Faridpur town and found 2895 maunds of gram. The accused Kaluram is said to be the manager of Multan Ghand's firm. In the course of the enquiry the accused Adbul Jabbar produced his license No. 674 and alleged that he was in partnership with the others and that the license covered the possession of the gram in question. The trial Court found that the story of partnership was not true and accordingly convicted the accused. On appeal the learned Sessions Judge has found as a fact that there was a partnership between the three accused entered into before the date the gram in question was found, and he has also held that the possession of the gram was therefore covered by Abdul Jabbar's license No. 674.
3. In the appeal the finding of fact is challenged as also the learned Judge's conclusion as to the law applicable. We have seen the evidence; we do not consider it necessary to discuss it. We see no reason to differ from the finding of the learned Judge that it has been, proved that there was a partnership between the accused before the 16th May 1945.
4. In our opinion the defence have themselves established by their defence and by having proved that there was a partnership made themselves liable under the Foodgrains Control Order for possession of the gram in question without a license. The simple reason is that obviously the license No. 674 granted a long time previously to Abdul Jabbar could not cover the undertaking engaged in by the three accused as a partnership. Mr. Santosh Kumar Basu endeavoured to show that the correct interpretation of Clause 3(1) of the Foodgrains Control Order 1942, was that the undertaking is licensed and not the person, but in our opinion it is quite impossible to place this interpretation on the Clause. It is quite clear from the Order that it is the person who is licensed with reference to the undertaking and the licensee, being the person licensed, is enjoined to do various things and made liable if he does not do them. The whole meaning of the Order would vanish if it could be held that the undertaking is licensed as apart from the person engaged in the undertaking.
5. The result is that we find the three accused guilty for a breach of Clause 8(1) of the Foodgrains Control Order, 1942, for engaging in their undertaking as a result of which they possessed the gram in question without having obtained the license. It is of course clear that 'person' as used in the Foodgrains Control Order is to be interpreted as defined in the General Clauses Act (Act 10 x of 1897) and includes any body of individuals whether incorporated or not.
6. The result is that we find the three accused guilty of a contravention of the Foodgrains Control Order made under the Defence of India Rules and liable therefore Under Rule 81(4) of those Rules. In view however to the finding of fact and that the substantial offence of the accused was in omitting to take out a separate license for the partnership when the partnership was formed to take over the undertaking, we do not think any severe punishment is called for. We sentence each of the accused to pay a fine of Rs.100 in default to suffer one month's rigorous imprisonment. In the circumstances we do not consider that there should be an order of forfeiture. The order of the learned Sessions Judge therefore directing that the sale proceeds of the gram be refunded to the accused will stand.
7. I agree.