Criminal Appeal No. 1312 of 2021
Date of Judgement:
29 October 2021
Justice Abhay S. Oka
Justice Ajay Rastogi
Appellant – Narayana Prasad Sahu
Respondent – The State of Madhya Pradesh
Under section 13(2) of the Act, the report of the public analyst should not only be dispatched but also should be served on the person from whom the sample is taken for examination.
- Section 7 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 – Prohibitions of manufacture, sale, etc., of certain articles of food.
- Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 - On receipt of the report of the result of the analysis under sub-section (1) to the effect that the article of food is adulterated, the Local (Health) Authority shall, after the institution of prosecution against the persons from whom the sample of the article of food was taken and the person, forward in such manner as may be prescribed, a copy of the report of the result of the analysis to such person or persons, as the case may be, informing such person that if it is so desired, they may 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 of the article of food kept by the Local (Health) Authority analysed by the Central Food Laboratory.
- Rule 9B of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955 - Local (Health) Authority to send report to person concerned.
- The prosecution case was that the appellant was engaged in selling dal chawal in the market. The Food Inspector asked for license and the appellant did not show the same. The Inspector bought certain quantities from the appellant and sent to the Public Analyst for examination.
- The examination revealed that the food was adulterated. The magistrate convicted the appellant for offences under section 16 of the Act. The Sessions Court also confirmed the order. An appeal was preferred by the appellants before the High Court which was dismissed. Hence, this appeal before this court.
- The counsel for the appellant contended that section13(2) mandates that a copy of the examination report provided by the Public Analyst should be served to the appellant. A copy was allegedly sent to the appellant by registered post, but the appellant was not available at that time and the letter was returned by the Postman.
- It was also argued that the High Court has committed a mistake by holding that the appellant had intentionally refused to take delivery of the report and there has been gross violation of section 13(2) of the Act. Hence, the prosecution stands vitiated.
- The counsel for the respondent argued that according to Rule 9B of the rules, the state had taken one of the two approaches for sending the reports. It was also submitted that the appellant failed to take delivery even after intimation. It was further submitted that the Postman had tried to serve the report to the appellant six times but had been unsuccessful. Hence, it can be inferred that there is a presumption of service of the report to the appellant.
- Whether it can be presumed that the order was served upon the accused when several attempts to serve have become unsuccessful even after intimating regarding the same?
- The court after examining Section 13(2) of the Act observed that if the report is served upon the accused person, that person may within 10 days of receipt of the report make an application to the court to send a sample from the Central Food Laboratory.
- Apart from the right of the accused to be heard and defence himself, he also has the right to send the sample to the laboratory. If the copy is not served, this right of the accused is stifled and his defence will be affected.
- The court relying upon Vijendra V. State of Uttar Pradesh (2020), held that mere dispatch of the report is not sufficient, but the report must be served upon such person.
- The court also noted that though the prosecution relied upon the statements of the Postman, he was not examined by the prosecution.
- Rule 9B prescribes more than one mode of serving the report. However, the respondent after failing to serve the report had not taken up other mode as prescribed under the rule.
- This court holding that the order of the High Court as erroneous allowed the appeal and set aside the order and judgement of the High Court.
When the report by the Public Analyst is not served upon the accused persons, he not only loses his right to contend the report but also loses his opportunity to send his sample to the Central Food Laboratory. This will have an immense impact on the defence of the accused person.
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1. Which section under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 deals with prohibition of import of adulterated food?
2. Within how many days after receipt of the report of the Public Analyst should the accused person make an application before the court for sending sample to the Central Food Laboratory?