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Proceedings cannot be Quashed Merely on Grounds of Delay in Conclusion: High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh at Jammu

Where the allegations are serious in nature and are concerned with the safety and health of the common people, as such, the proceedings cannot be quashed merely on account of delay, as was highlighted in a judgement by the HIGH COURT OF JAMMU & KASHMIR AND LADAKH AT JAMMU, before a bench consisting of Hon’ble Justice Mr. Rajnesh Oswal, in the M/s Narain Dass Bhagwan Dass and Anr. vs. State of Jammu & Kashmir [CRMC No. 325/2011 (O&M)], on 31.01.22.

The present petition has been filed by the petitioners for quashing the complaint filed by the respondent, pending before the court of learned Sub Judge (Special Municipal Magistrate) Jammu. The brief facts necessary for disposal of the present petition are that the Drug Inspector lifted sample of Prchloroperazine tablets I.P. 5 mg, manufactured by M/S Associated Pharma, 8/29 Kirti Nagar Industrial Area, New Delhi from the stores of Government Hospital Gandhi Nagar along with other drug samples on 23.10.1998. The sample was divided into 4 portions of 50 tablets each and sealed in presence of Medical Officer In-charge Government Hospital Gandhi Nagar. As provided under the Act, one portion of the sample was sent to Government Analyst CFDL, Jammu vide letter dated 24.10.1998 for analyses, who vide its report dated 28.10.1999 declared the drug in question to be not of standard quality due to the reasons that the sample failed in description, uniformity of rates of tablets and contents of Prchloroperazine tablet. Thereafter, Medical Superintendent Government Hospital Gandhi Nagar vide its letter dated 12.11.1999 stated that the drug has been purchased from M/S Narayan Das Bhagwan Das, wholesale Druggist behind State Bank of India, Bhagirath Palace Chandni Chowk Delhi i.e. the petitioner No. 1 herein, vide invoice dated 23.10.1997.

The petitioner No. 1 herein vide letter dated 22.11.1999 submitted that they had purchased the drug from M/s. Medicine Traders Pharmaceutical Distributor Bhagirath Palace Chandni Chowk Delhi vide invoice dated 18.10.1997 and from M/s. Associated Pharma, Bhagirath Palace Chandni Chowk Delhi vide invoice dated 08.03.1997. After the completion of requisite formalities, Deputy Controller Drugs and Food, Jammu conveyed the approval of the Controlling Authority for launching prosecution against the parties concerned and accordingly the complaint was filed against all accused including the petitioner No. 1. The said complaint was filed on 10.02.2000 and the learned trial Court vide order dated 24.02.00 issued the process against the accused including the petitioner No. 1 herein.

The Learned Counsel for the Petitioners, vehemently argued that there is violation of section 34 (2) of the Act, as such, the proceedings are required to be quashed. It was further submitted that petitioner No. 1 has not been arrayed as accused through someone and further that the petitioners are facing rial for the last 12 years and still some of the accused have not been served till date. He laid much stress that the main accused from whom the sample was lifted, has not been arrayed as an accused, as such, the proceedings are required to be quashed.

The Learned Counsel for the Respondents argued that section 34 of the Act has no applicability in the instant case and further merely on account of delay, the proceedings cannot be quashed. He also argued that the mere non-arraying of the person as an accused from whom the sample was lifted, cannot result in quashing of the criminal proceedings against the petitioners.

The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh at Jammu, upon a thorough perusal of the facts, evidences presented, arguments put forth, and precedents relied upon, noted that it is evident that the drugs have been supplied by the petitioner No. 1 to the Government Hospital Gandhi Nagar Jammu. It was noted that Section 34 of the Act deals with the offences by the companies and it provides that where an offence under the Act has been committed by a company, every person who, at the time the offence was committed, was in-charge and was responsible to the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. In the instant case, it was noted that no partner of the petitioner No. 1 has been arrayed as an accused and this Court does not find that section 34 (2) of the Act has any application, as such, this contention is rejected. It was also cognised that the explanation appended to section 34 of the Act provides that for the purposes of this section, company means a body corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals. As already observed, the company can be proceeded alone or along with any other person, who at the time was In-charge of and responsible to the business of the company. It was asserted that petitioner No. 2 has been representing the petitioner No. 1 ever since 03.03.2004, as such, this contention too becomes irrelevant. It was finally held that the allegations are serious in nature and are concerned with the safety and health of the common people, as such, the proceedings cannot be quashed merely on account of delay. Thus, the Court deemed it proper to dispose of the present petition with direction to the learned trial court to conclude the trial within the period of 6 months from the date of receipt of order.

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Judgement reviewed by Bhargavi

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