The Supreme Court has set aside sentence and conviction of a shopkeeper for alleged food adulteration, saying the accused has the right to send the sample to the Central Food Laboratory for analysis.
A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S Oka said it is mandatory under section 13 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 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.
The Supreme Court said mandate of sub-section (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 10 days from the date of receipt of the copy of the report to get the sample analyzed by the 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 the right to exercise an option of sending the sample to the Central Food Laboratory for analysis by making an application to the court within 10 days from the date of receipt of the report,” the bench said.
The Supreme Court said 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 bench said.
The Supreme Court was hearing an appeal filed by Narayana Prasad Sahu challenging the order of the Madhya Pradesh high court, which dismissed his revision application.
The case of the prosecution is that on January 16, 2002 Narayana Prasad Sahu was selling ‘chana daal’ in weekly market in Kagpur when a food inspector came there and called upon him to show license, which he failed.
The Food Inspector purchased 750 g of chana daal from him and the said quantity was divided into three parts and was sent for examination to the public analyst.
The report of the public analyst showed that the ‘chana daal’ was adulterated. The judicial magistrate ordered his conviction and he was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months and to pay a fine of Rs 1,000.
In an appeal preferred by the appellant, the Sessions Court confirmed the conviction and sentence.
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