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Anil Kumar Samanta and anr. Vs. the State - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revn. No. 100 of 1953
Judge
Reported inAIR1953Cal476,57CWN375
ActsEssential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946 - Section 7(2); ;West Bengal Foodgrains Control Order, 1951; ;General Clauses Act, 1897 - Section 3(39)
AppellantAnil Kumar Samanta and anr.
RespondentThe State
Appellant AdvocateS.S. Mukherjee and ;Sukumar Mitra, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateN.C. Sen, Adv.
Excerpt:
- .....order by moving the paddy across the river and one for possession of paddy in excess of the maximum quantity prescribed by the west bengal foodgrains control order, 1951, the maximum quantity prescribed thereunder being 10 mds. of paddy or rice. under the proviso to section 7 (2) (b), essential supplies act, where a person contravening the order prescribing the maximum quantity of any foodgrains that may be lawfully possessed by any person or class of persons, is found in possession of food-grain exceeding twice the maximum quantity so prescribed, the punishment shall extend upto seven years and, therefore, the offence is one triable by a court of session. accordingly, the learned magistrate committed both the petitioners, anil kumar samanta and sunil kumar samanta, to the court.....
Judgment:

Sen, J.

1. This revision application is directed against an order of the Sub-divisional Magistrate, ' Arambagh, committing the petitioners Anil Kumar Samanta and another to the Court of Session in respect of two charges under Section 7(2), Essential Supplies Act, 1946.

2. The prosecution case briefly was that in the afternoon of 26-6-1952, Anil Kumar Samanta and his brother Sunil Kumar Samanta moved 30 mds. of paddy in 20 bags from the western bank of river Mundeswari to its eastern bank, and later on the same day, 14 bags containing 21 1/2 mds. of paddy were taken by them to Dehibatpur Hat-tola. Accordingly, there were two charges against the petitioners -- one for violation of the Govt. of West Bengal Cordoning Order by moving the paddy across the river and one for possession of paddy in excess of the maximum quantity prescribed by the West Bengal Foodgrains Control Order, 1951, the maximum quantity prescribed thereunder being 10 mds. of paddy or rice. Under the proviso to Section 7 (2) (b), Essential Supplies Act, where a person contravening the order prescribing the maximum quantity of any foodgrains that may be lawfully possessed by any person or class of persons, is found in possession of food-grain exceeding twice the maximum quantity so prescribed, the punishment shall extend upto seven years and, therefore, the offence is one triable by a Court of Session. Accordingly, the learned Magistrate committed both the petitioners, Anil Kumar Samanta and Sunil Kumar Samanta, to the Court of Session.

3. In this revisional application for quashing the commitment two points have been urged. The first point urged is that in view of the explanation added to Section 7 (2), Essential Supplies Act, the person in possession of excess foodgrain will get a grace of 5 mds., and therefore, he will become punishable under the proviso to Section 7 (2) (b), only when the maximum quantity found in his possession exceeds 25 mds. This contention cannot, in our view, be accepted because the explanation is in the following terms:

'Explanation.-- A person in possession of foodgrain which does not exceed by more than five maunds the maximum quantity so prescribed shall not be deemed to be guilty of an offence punishable under the proviso to this Sub-section.'

4. It appears that the explanation provides a special case only for those persons in whose possession the excess amount is not more than five maunds. The explanation does not say that the excess amount may exceed twice the maximum quantity prescribed, which is mentioned in the proviso to Section 7 (2) (b), but it mentions only 'the maximum quantity so prescribed',that is, the maximum quantity, prescribed by the Foodgrains Control Order, 1951. Accordingly, this explanation cannot be read as providing a grace of, five maunds above twice the maximum quantity prescribed as mentioned in the proviso to Section 7(2)(b). It must mean a grace of five maunds above the maximum quantity prescribed by the Order. Mr. Mukherjee on behalf of the petitioners has argued that, in that case, the explanation would become redundant, because the maximum quantity prescribed by the Foodgrains Control Order being ten maunds, when a person is -found in possession of a quantity exceeding twice the maximum, the quantity in his possession will always exceed the maximum quantity prescribed by the Order by more than five maunds. For this reason, he would urge that the explanation must be read as providing a grace of five maunds in excess of twice the maximum quantity prescribed by the Order, and not merely in excess of the maximum quantity prescribed by the Order. But, clearly the words 'twice the maximum quantity prescribed by the Order' cannot be substituted for the words occurring in the explanation, viz., ''the maximum, quantity prescribed by the Order.'

It is to be remembered that the Essential Supplies Act, 1946 is an all India Act, and it provides for all States in the Indian Union. If any State prescribes the maximum quantity Which may be lawfully possessed by any person as less than five maunds, this explanation to Section 7(2) will come into operation and control the proviso to Section 7(2) (b). For instance, if the maximum quantity prescribed were three maunds in any State, then taking the proviso to Section 7(2) (b) by itself, a person might be liable to seven years punishment if he were in possession of foodgrain exceeding six maunds. In view of the explanation, he will be liable to punishment of seven years only when the maximum quantity in his possession exceeds three plus five or eight maunds. Thus, it cannot be said that the explanation is altogether redundant. It has become redundant in West Bengal because the West Bengal Foodgrains Control Order provides the maximum quantity which may be lawfully possessed by any person as ten maunds. We, therefore, cannot accept the first contention raised by Mr. Mukherjee.

5. The second point urged is that two brother Anil Kumar Sarnanta and Sunil Kumar Samanta have jointly been charged ir respect of the offence under Section 7 (2), Essential Supplies Act for possession of a quantity of paddy exceeding twice the maximum quantity prescribed, that is, for possession of 21 1/2 maunds of paddy; and it is urged that under the West Bengal Foodgrains Control Order, each persor may possess upto ten maunds, and, therefore the two petitioners could lawfully possess uptc twenty maunds, and, therefore, 21 1/2 maunds which they possessed do not exceed twice the maximum quantity which they could possess Paragraph 10, West Bengal Foodgrains Control Order, 1951 provides that no person other than a person holding a licence issued or deemec to be issued under this Order or a producer shall have in his possession or under his control a quantity of rice or paddy exceeding ten maunds. But the words 'a person' must be taken to include a group of persons who an in joint possession. In this connection, refer ence may be made to the definition of the won 'person' in the General Clauses Act, 1897.

' 'Person' shall include any company or association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not.'

Thus a body of persons in general is included within the definition of 'person', and if two persons are in joint possession over twice the maximum quantity prescribed, they become liable for contravention of the Order; and they cannot set up the fiction of being in separate possession of half the quantity each.

Mr. Mukherjee has drawn our attention to the explanation to para. 10, West Bengal Food-grains Control Order, which provides that any stock of rice or paddy in the possession or under the control of the members of a household shall be deemed to be in the possession or under the control of the head of the household. This only limits the liability in the case of the members of a household to the head of the household, and makes other members not liable. If it is established in the course of the trial that Anil Kumar Samanta and Sunil Kumar Samanta belong to the same household, then only the petitioner who is the head of the household will be liable in view of the explanation. But if they do not belong to the same household, then both would be jointly liable in view of the definition of 'person' as contained in the General Clauses Act, 1897. That is a question that will have to be decided at the trial; but the contention raised by Mr. Mukherjee cannot be accepted in this Court.

6. This Rule, is therefore, discharged.

Hitter, J.

7. I agree.


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