30 Jun 2023 6:30 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court recently quashed a criminal case against Raymond Group Chairman and Managing Director Gautam Singhania arising out of a cardboard package of Raymond fabric at a Reliance Trends store in Nagpur not having requisite declarations.Justice GA Sanap of the Nagpur bench held that without specific statements in the complaint regarding Singhania’s role in the offence,...
The Bombay High Court recently quashed a criminal case against Raymond Group Chairman and Managing Director Gautam Singhania arising out of a cardboard package of Raymond fabric at a Reliance Trends store in Nagpur not having requisite declarations.
Justice GA Sanap of the Nagpur bench held that without specific statements in the complaint regarding Singhania’s role in the offence, the magistrate could not have issued process to fasten vicarious liability on the managing director under the Legal Metrology Act, 2009.
“Until and unless a specific averment is made in the complaint that Managing Director or Director was in-charge of and was responsible to the company for the conduct of the business of the company, the learned Magistrate should not have taken cognizance against the applicant and other Directors…the necessary averments are required to be made in the complaint to fasten the vicarious liability on the Directors”, the court held.
The court quashed the order of process dated May 19, 2014 passed by the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Nagpur to the extent of the case against Gautam Singhania.
During his visit to Reliance Trends in Nagpur the Inspector of Legal Metrology, Nagpur Division, found a cardboard package containing Raymond fabric which did not have a declaration about the name of the commodity, name and particulars of manufacturer, packer, number of pieces etc. He seized the package and issued compounding notice to Raymond. The company disputed the charges.
The inspector filed a complaint before JMFC, Nagpur against Raymond Ltd., its CMD Singhania, as well as the other directors. The JMFC issued process for offences under Sections 18(1) (declarations on prepackaged commodities), 49 (offences by companies) and 36 (1) (penalty for selling, etc., non-standard packages) of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 read with Rule 18(1) and 24 of Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011. Hence, Singhania filed the present application challenging the process order.
A co-ordinate bench has earlier quashed proceedings against eight directors of the company accused in the same case.
Section 49(1) of the Legal Metrology Act provides that when a company commits an offence under the Act, it shall be deemed to be guilty along with the person nominated to be responsible for the company’s conduct. If no person is nominated, every person who was responsible for the company’s conduct at the time of the offence is liable.
The court noted that the complaint did not contain specific statements regarding the vicarious liability of Singhania and other directors. Further, no role has been attributed to Singhania in the commission of the crime, the court said.
The court said that the company is alleged to have committed the offence and is arrayed as an accused. There is no application to quash the case against the company, the court noted.
The complaint stated that Singhania is either owner or partner or director of the company. The court opined that the averments in the complaint are “as vague as vagueness could be”.
“…it has been pleaded in generalized form that the accused is either owner or partner or director of the company. It is seen that no specific averments have been made to attribute any role in any capacity to the applicant and as such, fasten the liability for prosecution on the accused”, the court observed.
The court further observed that as per section 49, the magistrate had to record this prima facie satisfaction about Singhania’s role in the offence before issuing process. The court held that the order of process cannot be sustained as the magistrate mechanically passed the order.
Case no. – Criminal Application (APL) No. 223 of 2023
Case Title – Gautam Hari Singhania v. State of Maharashtra
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment