Orissa High Court: S. Muralidhar CJ dismissed the revision petition and set aside the conviction decision of the Trial Court which was later affirmed by the Appellate Court.

The case of the prosecution was that Chittaranjan Das who was the Food Inspector, Bolangir visited Agalpur along with the Food Peon Antabal Majhi. He inspected the Tiffin Stall of the Accused and found that the accused Bhika Sahu (Petitioner 2) had exposed Aluchap, Rasgola, Balesai, Gaja, Tea etc. for sale for human consumption. The persons from the locality were called to witness the inspection. One Laxmikanta Saraf came to witness the inspection. Bhika Sahoo was asked to produce the food licence, but he could not do so. It was found that Petitioner 1 had a food license which was valid up to 31st December 1988 which licence had not been renewed thereafter. Since both accused were selling food articles without license, they were found to have contravened Section 7(iii)(v) of the PFA Act and Rule 50 of the PFA Rules.

The present revision petition is directed against a judgment dated 26-08-2000 passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Balangir dismissing Criminal Appeal whereby the judgment dated 26-11-1997 passed by the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC), Loisingha convicting the Petitioners for the offences under Section 16(I)(a)(ii) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA Act) and sentencing them to undergo rigorous imprisonment (RI) for six months and pay a fine of Rs.500/- each and in default to undergo to R.I. for one month, was modified by reducing the term of imprisonment to three months RI without altering the fine amount.

The local Health Authority-cum-CDMO after examining the documents granted sanction for filing of the prosecution case in the Court of the JMFC. The accused denied owning any Tiffin Stall at Agalpur or the visit of P.Ws.1 and 2 to their shop and claimed that the prosecution case was a false one.

Three witnesses were examined for the prosecution. P.Ws.1 and 2 were the Food Inspector and the Food Peon respectively whereas P.W.3 was a local witness who attended the inspection. The JMFC was satisfied that the prosecution had proved its case and proceeded, by the judgment dated 26th November 1997, to convict the two accused for the offence under Section 16 (I)(a)(ii) of the PFA Act in 2(c)CC No.116/1 of 1994-97 and sentenced them in the manner indicated hereinbefore.

The Court observed that it was concluded by the appellate court that admittedly there was a relationship between the accused as son and father and that the licence in favour of Tengunu was valid only till 31st December, 1988.

The appellate court also discussed the wording of Section 7(iii) of the PFA Act which postulates that any person selling article or food without a licence would be committing an offence which is punishable under Section 16 (I)(a)(ii) of the PFA Act. The crucial part of this entire discussion is regarding the presence of Tengunu at the time of inspection of the shop in question. If indeed Tengunu was not present, the question of his selling any food articles without a licence in the shop in question did not arise at all. Interestingly, in the subsequent period from 02-07-1996 onwards the license for running a shop was issued in favour of another son of Bhika, viz., Indramani Sahoo.

Therefore, the evidence was totally insufficient as far as the role and presence of Tengunu Sahoo at the shop at the time of inspection is concerned. As far as the present revision petition is concerned, it is only Tengunu Sahoo who remains in the fray and the evidence vis-à-vis him appears to be non-existent.

The Court thus held no case is made out for sustaining the conviction and sentence awarded to Tengunu Sahoo by the trial court which was affirmed by the appellate court. [Tengunu Sahoo v. State of Orissa, 2022 SCC OnLine Ori 1394, decided on 13-05-2022]

For Petitioner: Mr. Prabhav Behera

For Opposite Party: Mr. P.K. Muduli

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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