If a copy of the report of the Public Analyst is not delivered to the accused, his right under sub-section (2) of Section 13 of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act will be defeated: Supreme Court

Apart from the right of the accused to contend that the report is not correct, he has right to exercise an option of sending the sample to Central Food Laboratory for analysis by making an application to the Court within ten days from the date of receipt of the report as upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court through the learned bench led by Justice Abhay S. in the case of Narayana Prasad Sahu v. The State of Madhya Pradesh (CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1312 OF 2021) [Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No. 5991 of 2018]

The brief facts of the case are that the appellant has been convicted for the offence punishable under Section (16)(1)(a)(i)(ii) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 .The allegation against the appellant was of violation of clauses (i) and (v) of Section 7 of the said Act of 1954. The case of the prosecution is that on 16th January 2002 the appellant was selling chana daal in weekly market in Kagpur when the Food Inspector came there and called upon the appellant to show 2 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 divided into three parts and was sent for examination to Public Analyst. The report of Public Analyst showed that the chana daal was adulterated. Judgment and Order of conviction was rendered by the Judicial Magistrate First Class on 12th October 2007. 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 dated 3rd May 2018.

The Hon’ble Court held, “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. 9. Accordingly, the appeal is allowed. The impugned Judgment and Order of the High Court dated 3 rd May 2018 in CRR No. 303/2008 is hereby set aside and by allowing the Revision Petition, the conviction of the appellant is hereby set aside.

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Judgment reviewed by Vandana Ragwani

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