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Prevention of Food Adulteration Act- Mere Dispatch Of Public Analyst's Report To Accused Not A Sufficient Compliance Of Mandatory Requirement To Serve It On Him: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
31 Oct 2021 12:54 PM GMT
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act- Mere Dispatch Of Public Analysts Report To Accused Not A Sufficient Compliance Of Mandatory Requirement To Serve It On Him: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that mere dispatch of the report of public analyst to the accused is not a sufficient compliance with the requirement of subsection (2) of Section 13 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, to serve the report on him/her.Apart from the right of the accused to contend that the report is not correct, he has the right to exercise an option of sending the...

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The Supreme Court observed that mere dispatch of the report of public analyst to the accused is not a sufficient compliance with the requirement of subsection (2) of Section 13 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, to serve the report on him/her.

Apart from the right of the accused to contend that the report is not correct, he has the 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, the bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka observed.

The court observed thus while allowing the appeal filed by a person convicted for the offence punishable under Section (16)(1)(a)(i)(ii) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. He had contended that the  a copy of report of Public Analyst was not supplied to him, as a result of which his valuable right to get the samples analysed by Central Food Laboratory has been defeated. The State had opposed his appeal, contending that under Rule 9B of Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955,  the prosecution adopted one of the two permissible modes of sending the report by registered post to the accused. That the Postman unsuccessfully attempted to serve the report to the appellant on six occasions and only thereafter, returned the envelope and thus a presumption of service of the report was rightly drawn.

Referring to the judgment in Vijendra v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2020) 15 SCC 763, the bench observed that mere dispatch of the report to the accused is not a sufficient compliance with the requirement of subsection (2) of Section 13 and the report must be served on the accused.

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 report is required to be forwarded after institution of prosecution against the person from whom the sample of the article of food was taken. 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. 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 praying for sending the sample to the Central Food Laboratory will be defeated. Consequently, his right to challenge the report will be defeated. His right to defend himself will be adversely affected. 

The court noted that though the prosecution relied upon the remarks made by the Postman on the postal envelope, the Postman who has allegedly made the said remarks was admittedly not examined by the prosecution.

"More than one mode was prescribed by Rule 9B for serving the report of Public Analyst on the accused. In the present case, after the postal packet was returned, not even an attempt was made to personally serve the report on the appellant. 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"

Allowing the appeal, the court held that the conviction and sentence of the appellant cannot be sustained.

Case name and Citation: Narayana Prasad Sahu vs State of MP LL 2021 SC 616

Case no. and Date: CrA 1312 OF 2021 | 29 October 2021

Coram: Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka 


Click here to Read/Download Judgment



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