The report of the Public Analyst dated 30.05.2011, held that the sample confirmed to standards but was misbranded being in violation of Rule 32(e), lacking in necessary declaration of lot/batch numbers. – When the necessary information as required under Rule 32(e) was available in the barcode which could all be revealed by a barcode scanner – it can not be said the accused committed an offence .
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 562 OF 2020
(Arising out of S.L.P.(Crl.) No. 2942 of 2020)
RAGHAV GUPTA …APPELLANT(S)
STATE (NCT OF DELHI) AND ANOTHER …RESPONDENT(S)
NAVIN SINHA, J.
- The appellant questions his prosecution under Rule 32(e) of
the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955 (hereinafter
called as “the Rules”) framed under the Prevention of Food
Adulteration Act, 1954 (in short “the Act”).
- We have heard learned counsel for the parties at length.
Though several grounds have been urged to challenge the
prosecution, we are satisfied that the appeal can be disposed of
on a single undisputed ground. The facts shall therefore be
stated with brevity only to the extent necessary for purposes of
the present order.
- The Food Inspector purchased sealed samples of Snapple
Juice Drink on 03.05.2011 for analysis. The report of the Public
Analyst dated 30.05.2011, held that the sample confirmed to
standards but was misbranded being in violation of Rule 32(e),
lacking in necessary declaration of lot/batch numbers. The
appellant was stated to be one of the Directors of M/s. V & V
Beverages Pvt. Ltd. which imported the drink from foreign
manufacturer Schweppes International Rye Brook duly cleared
by the Customs department.
- A complaint case no. 4 of 2012 was lodged by the Food
Inspector on basis of the report dated 30.05.2011. Notices were
issued to the appellant under Section 251 of the Criminal
Procedure Code (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Code’). The
appellant preferred an application for discharge under Section
294 of the Code read with Section 192 of the Act inter alia on the
ground that the product had the necessary barcode on it and
which contained all the relevant information as required by Rule
32(e) such as batch no./code no./lot no. The application having
been rejected, the appellant raised the same ground before the
High Court which also failed to consider the same.
- Ms. Geeta Luthra, learned senior counsel appearing for the
appellant, submitted before us and which could not be countered
by Shri Jayant K. Sud, learned Addl. Solicitor General appearing
for the respondent, that the necessary information as required
under Rule 32(e) was available in the barcode which could all be
revealed by a barcode scanner.
- That the barcode was available on the sample is not in
dispute. In view of the fact that the relevant information under
Rule 32(e) with regard to the lot/code/batch identification to
facilitate it being traced to the manufacturer are available in the
barcode and which can be decoded by a barcode scanner, we are
of the considered opinion that no useful purpose is going to be
served by allowing the present prosecution to continue and it will
be an abuse of the process of law, causing sheer waste of time,
causing unnecessary harassment to the appellant, if the
prosecution is allowed to continue.
- We therefore allow the appeal and quash the prosecution of
the appellant in CC No. 04 of 2012 pending before the ACMM2,
Patiala House Court, New Delhi. The appeal is allowed.
SEPTEMBER 04, 2020