1. In my opinion, the orders of conviction and the sentences passed on the accused must be set aside. The accused were originally tried under various charges. Finally the charges were reduced to one namely a contravention of Rule 18 (2), All India Cloth Control and Yarn Control Order of 1945. The accused are said to have been in possession of cloth in excess of their 'normal requirements.' Rule 18 (2) of the aforesaid Order reads thus:
No dealer or other person not being a manufacturer shall save with the permission of the Textile Cossimouer at any time hold stock of cloth or yarn in excess of his normal requirements.
The three appellants used to live together. Their house was searched and from their boxes, almirahs and trunks 391 yards of cloth were discovered and on this ground only the three appellants have been convicted of violating the foresaid rule and fined Rs. 400 each. The only relevant evidence given is that the accused persons had 15 ration cards and that 391 yards of cloth were found in the premises occupied by them. No evidence was given as to whether the cloth was held by the three accused jointly or whether each accused held any specific portion of the cloth. Witness 1 for the prosecution says that each person is entitled to five yards of cloth as his normal requirements. What authority he has for saying this is not disclosed. The learned advocate appearing for the Crown is not able to show me anything which supports the statement. What is meant by 'normal requirements' is not mentioned in the rules so far as I am aware and in spite of my enquiries I have not been informed as to what is meant by the terms 'normal requirements.' To say that any one in possession of more than five yards of cloth is liable to prosecution seems to me on the face of it to be absurd. It may be that a person is not entitled to get more than five yards of cloth for a particular period, but I am not aware of any rule, or order or ordinance or any other kind of law which says that a person cannot accumulate cloth which he purchased over a long period of time or that he cannot receive as presents cloth legitimately purchased by his friends or relations. The evidence given in this case is absolutely worthless and it does not disclose any criminal offence. The learned Magistrate's judgment is also not illuminating. It says that the case has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt without at all explaining in the judgment what the offence committed by the accused consists of. All be does is to repeat the evidence of prosecution witness 1 that the accused persons had 15 ration cards and that each person was entitled to five yards of cloth as his normal requirements. Where the learned Magistrate gets this from I am unable to find. That being so, I must set aside the orders, of conviction and the sentences and acquit the accused. The fines, if paid, shall be refunded.