calcutta high court

Calcutta High Court: In an appeal against the judgment of Special Judge convicting the appellant based on the charge of possessing more rice than allowed under the West Bengal Rice & Paddy (Licensing & Control Order), 1967, and West Bengal Rice & Paddy (Storage by Consumers) Order, 1967, a single-judge bench comprising of Subhendu Samanta,* J., held that Special Judge misread the prosecution’s case and failed to appreciate the requirement of proving the charge beyond reasonable doubt. The Court set aside the order of conviction and sentence.

Brief Facts

In an appeal preferred against an order of conviction dated 24-06-1988, by the Special Judge under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 where the appellant was convicted for violating the West Bengal Rice & Paddy (Licensing & Control Order), 1967, and West Bengal Rice & Paddy (Storage by Consumers) Order, 1967. The charges stemmed from an anti-smuggling raid at Panskura Railway Station on 22-10-1986, where the appellant was allegedly found in possession of 2.80 quintals of rice without proper documentation.

The police officers, led by Prosecution Witness (P.W.) 1, conducted the raid and apprehended the appellant at the railway station. The appellant was charged under Section 7(1)(a)(ii) of the Essential Commodities Act. The trial proceeded, and the Special Judge convicted the appellant based on the prosecution’s evidence.

Parties’ Contentions

The appellant contended that there were major discrepancies in the prosecution’s case. It was claimed that the seizure did not align with the First Information Report (FIR) and that the appellant, a passenger on a local train, was wrongly implicated. It was asserted that the police targeted the appellant due to their failure to apprehend the original culprit. Additionally, the appellant contested the adequacy and reliability of the evidence presented.

The State argued that the Special Judge properly considered the evidence on record, and the appellant failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for the charges during trial. The State contended that the judgment was well-founded, and there was no unjustifiable entanglement of the appellant by the police.

Court’s Assessment

Upon review, the Court found discrepancies in the place of seizure between the FIR and the seizure list. The Court noted that the prosecution failed to adequately explain this deviation. The Court emphasized that the appellant was convicted for possessing only slightly more rice than the permissible limit, and the prosecution did not sufficiently prove the weight of the seized rice. Consequently, the Court ruled that the prosecution failed to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore, that the order of conviction and sentence was baseless and illegal.

Court’s Decision

The Court allowed the appeal, and the order of conviction and sentence against the appellant was set aside. The appellant was acquitted from the case, and any previous order of stay was vacated. The appellant was ordered to be released immediately, along with his sureties.

[Lakshmi Kanta Kuila v. State of W.B., 2023 SCC OnLine Cal 4661, order dated 22-11-2023]

*Judgment by Justice Subhendu Samanta

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Apalak Basu, Ms. Pritha Bhaumik Basu, Counsel for the Appellant

Mr. Narayan Prasad Agarwala, Mr. Pratick Bose, Counsel for the Respondent/State

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.