Mere dispatch of the report to the accused is not a sufficient compliance with the requirement of Section 13(2) of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954: The Supreme Court of India

Under sub-section (2) of Section 13, it is mandatory for the Local (Health) Authority to forward a copy of the report of the Public Analyst to the person from whom the sample of the food has been taken in such a manner as may be prescribed. Further mandate of sub-section 5 (2) of Section 13 is that a person to whom the report is forwarded should be informed that if it is so desired, he can make an application to the Court within a period of ten days from the date of receipt of the copy of the report to get the sample analysed by Central Food Laboratory. The aforesaid has been upheld by the Supreme Court of India while adjudicating the case of Narayana Prasad Sahu v. The State Of Madhya Pradesh [Criminal Appeal No. 1312 of 2021] which was adjudicated upon by a single judge bench comprising Justice Abhay S. Oka on 29th October 2021.

The facts of the case are as follows. The appellant was selling chana daal in weekly market in Kagpur when the Food Inspector came there and called upon the appellant to show licence. However, the appellant failed to show any licence. The Food Inspector purchased 750 gms of chana daal from the appellant. The said quantity was sent for examination to Public Analyst. The report of Public Analyst showed that the chana daal was adulterated. The learned Magistrate convicted the appellant to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months and to pay fine of Rs.1000/-. In default of payment of fine, he was directed to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one month. In appeal preferred by the appellant, the Sessions Court confirmed the conviction and sentence. The appellant preferred a Revision Application before the High Court, which has been dismissed by the impugned Judgment and Order. The submission of the learned counsel appearing for the appellant is that as mandatorily required by sub-section (2) of Section 13 of the said Act of 1954, a copy of report of Public Analyst was not supplied to the appellant, as a result of which his valuable right to get the samples analysed by Central Food Laboratory had been defeated.

The court perused the facts and arguments presented. It was of the opinion that “On the basis of endorsements of the Postman appearing on the postal envelope containing the report, the High Court has recorded a finding of refusal on the part of the appellant to accept the report. The said finding is obvious erroneous as the endorsements on the postal envelope were not proved by examining the Postman. Moreover, the High Court has glossed over the mandatory requirement under subsection (2) of Section 13 of serving a copy of the report on the accused. Evidence adduced by the prosecution was of mere dispatch of the report. Hence, the mandatory requirement of sub-section (2) of Section 13 was not complied with. Therefore, the conviction and sentence of the appellant cannot be sustained.”

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Judgment reviewed by Aryan Bajaj

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