CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 562 OF 2020
Rule 32 (e) of the Prevention of Food and Adulteration Rules 1955 Section 5, 7, 16(1)(a) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 Section 19(2) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act Section 23(l)(c) of PFA Act
Appellant is one of the directors of a beverage company which imports drinks from foreign manufacturers duly cleared by the Customs Department. The Food Inspector purchased sealed samples of Juice Drink of the concerned beverage company for analysis. Facts, as alleged in the complaint are, that on 03.05.2011, food authorities including Food Inspector and Field Assistant under the supposed management of the Local Health Authority (LHA)/SDM came to at premises of M/s Barista Coffee Company Ltd., Connaught Place, New Delhi and lifted example of 6 containers of a supposed misbranded item which were put away available to be purchased in fixed glass jugs of 473 ml each. One partner of the example was stored with the Public Analyst (PA), and the remaining two partners were kept with SDM/LHA. Vide report dated 30.05.2011, the PA announced that the supposed article was adjusting to guidelines. Yet, the example was discovered misbranded as disregarding Rule 32 (e) of the Prevention of Food and Adulteration Rules 1955, as revised, because there was no bunch number/code number referenced on the mark. Rule 32(e) peruses as, "Parcel/Code/Batch Identification - Batch number Or Code number or Lot number which is a sign of distinguishing proof by which the food can be followed in the assembling and recognized in the conveyance, will be given on the name". Nonetheless, in the wake of acquiring due approval of the Director, PFA, the objection came to be recorded against nine blamed, including applicants for supposed infringement of Section 2 (ix)(k) read with Rule 32 (e) of the Prevention of Food and Adulteration Rules 1955, as altered, guilty under Section 5, 7, 16(1)(a) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. Segment 2(ix)(k) characterizes a food article to be "misbranded" if it isn't named as per the necessities of this Act or Rules.
Ms Geeta Luthra, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of petitioners submitted that the sample of "snapple'' juice drink is not misbranded under Section 32(e) since the barcode/ Julian code mentioned on the packaging of the sample sufficiently complies with the requirement of batch/code/lot number, that is, a combination which can be used to find the batch of product the sample is a part of. She further submitted that a public servant and petitioners filing the complaint were summoned vide order dated 05.05.2012. Other accused, that is, 1 to 6 were given the benefit of warranty under Section 19(2) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and were ordered to be discharged. Subsequently, the court ordered notice to be framed against the petitioners, V & V Beverages & Deepak Kumarie. However, Ld. The Trial Court has failed to observe that the allegation made against petitioners herein is without specifically prescribing any role against them. Thus, there is insufficient material available against which the cognizance should have been taken against petitioners. The only allegation against petitioners is "as such both the above said directors are in-charge of and responsible for day to day conducting charge business". The above-said allegation in the complaint made by respondent no.2 does not constitute a sufficient cause of action to prosecute and move further with the complaint. To strengthen her arguments, learned senior counsel has relied upon the case of Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Ram Krishan Rohtagi.
She also submitted that bar code is a globally recognized standard of labelling and instituted to make the entire system of supply and to bill quick and efficient and easily readable through Bar Code Scanning Facilities. Thus, it is clear that the purpose of the statute is that the manufacturer of the product can be traced in case of any violation of any of the provisions of the Act. That whole batch of the product can be traced before it is distributed to the mass or identified if it has already been distributed.
On the other hand, the case of the respondent is that as per the complaint, on 03.05.2011, food authorities including Food Inspector and Field Assistant under the management of Local Health Authority (LHA)/SDM arrived at the premises of M/s. Barista Coffee Company LtdShop No. 9, Regal Building, Connaught Place, New Delhi, and lifted an example of 6 jugs of "Snapple Juice Drink" which were put away available to be purchased in fixed glass jugs of 473 ml each. The test was lifted according to the technique recommended under the PFA Act and Rules, and important reports were set up at the spot. One partner of the example was saved with the Public Analyst (PA) and staying two partners were stored with SDM/LHA. Vide report dated 30.05.2011, the PA announced that the article was adjusting to the principles. Yet, the example was discovered misbranded being infringing upon Rule 32(e) because there was no bunch number/code number referenced on the mark. In light of the report of PA, the examination was completed by the Food Inspector according to the directions of the SDM/LHA. In the wake of getting due assent of the Director, PFA, present grievance came to be documented against nine blamed people for infringement for the part 2(ix)(k) read with Rule 32(e), as Punishable under Section 5/7/16(l)(a) of PFA Act. Denounced no. 3 was the merchant organization, of which blamed no. 1 was the supervisor and denounced no.2 was the entire time chief. Charged no. 6 was the merchant firm of which blamed nos. 4 and 5 were expressed to be the accomplices. Blamed no. 9 is expressed to be the merchant and provider organization, of which blamed no.7 and 8 are the directors liable for its business issues
The counsel for respondents submitted that there is no stage of "discharge" contemplated in Cr.P.C. Moreover, the Trial Court is not required to go into minute details of the matters and has to make out a prima facie view based on the material placed on record by the complainant. The present case is not like a warrant triable complaint case where the evidence has to be sufficient to convict an accused if considered unrebutted. Accordingly, the learned Trial Court has observed that the present case is only a case of misbranding as per the labelling standards in violation of Section 2(ix)(k) of the PFA Act. In the complaint, it is alleged that accused no. 7 to 9 have imported such misbranded food in violation of section 5 and supplied them in violation of section 7of PFA Act, as punishable under section 16(l)(a) of PFA Act. As far as Rule 32(e) is concerned, the petitioners have relied upon the judgment titled as Dwarka Nath v. MCD wherein Hon'ble Supreme Court of India had struck down said provision being beyond the rulemaking power under section 23(1) of the PFA Act. After going through the said judgment as well as the applicable rules, learned Trial Court observed that there was no definition of the expression "batch number" or "code number" in the Act or the Rules. No affidavit had been filed on behalf of the respondent to show whether any technical meaning in the trade was given to these expressions, and the matter was based only on the evidence of the Food Inspector. Moreover, no notification issued by the Central Government had been brought to the notice of the court concerning the food article in question showing the applicability of Section 23(l)(c) of PFA Act. As per Rule 32(e) [as it existed at that time (the said judgement was passed on 23.04.1971)], "batch number or code number", had to be mentioned in Hindi or English or numerals or alphabets or combination, on every label.
Whether barcode containing all the relevant information constitutes a necessary declaration for Rule 32(e)?
The Supreme Court answered the question in the affirmative. It said that barcode available on the sample constitutes a necessary declaration of relevant information for Rule 32(e) as the barcode reader could decode the same and no illegality or perversity was found in the impugned order passed by Ld. ACMM,-II, New Delhi, Patiala House Courts.
Article 19(1) (a), Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India
Section 34 and 37 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996