The object of this rule was to prevent the public or the purchaser being deceived or misled as to the character, quality or quantity of the article.
[Case Brief] Dwarka Nath & Anr. vs Municipal Corporation Of Delhi
Case name: Dwarka Nath & Anr. vs Municipal Corporation Of Delhi
Case number: Criminal Appeal No. 264 of 1968
Court: The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India
Bench: VAIDYIALINGAM, C.A.
SIKRI, S.M. (CJ)
Decided on: 23 April 1971
Relevant Act/Sections: The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (37 of 1954), s. 23(1) (c), (d), and (g), and Rules made thereunder r. 32 (b) and (e)
Ø Brief Facts and Procedural History:
1. The appellants were carrying on business in ghee. On the labels of the tins of ghee the name of the business premises of the appellants and the postal division were given but the number of premises and the locality where the premises was situated were not given. On the ground that the label did not conform to the packing and labeling rules as required under r. 32(b) and (e) of the rules made under s. 23(1) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, the appellants were prosecuted and were convicted, and a token fine of Re. 1 was imposed on them. The judgment of the High Court emphasised upon the violation of r. 32(e).
Rule 32(e) provides that:
a. Every label should specify the batch number or code number either in Hindi or English numerical or alphabets or in combination, and r. 32(b) requires the name and address of the manufacturer or importer or vendor or packer to be given on every label.
2. Therefore, this Appeal by special leave from the judgment and order dated November 7, 1967 of the Delhi High Court in Criminal Revision. No. 371-D of 1965.
Ø Issue before the Court:
1. Whether Rule 32(b) and (e) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955 is ultra vires as being beyond the rule making power under S. 23 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
Ø Ratio of the Court:
1. Dr. V. A. Syed Mohammad, appearing for the learned Attorney General, contended that the impugned rule could be sustained under clauses (c), (d) and (g) of Section 23( (1). In particular he supported in full the reasons given by the High Court that the impugned rule is within the ambit of the rule making power under Section 23 (1) (d).Also, Mr. B. P. Maheshwari, learned counsel for the respondent, urged that apart from the clauses referred to on behalf of the Attorney-General, the rule could be sustained even under Section 23(1)(f).
2. In order to appreciate the contentions urged before us, the Court further examined the material part of Section 23 as well as the relevant rules. Admittedly there is no definition of the expressions "Batch number" or "Code number" either in the Act or in the Rules. Nor has any affidavit been filed on behalf of the respondent or by the Attorney General of any expert whether these expressions have any technical meaning in the trade and if so what that is. it is clear that there is no specific meaning attached to these two expressions either in the Act or in the Rules and even the Food Inspectors are not very clear as to what those expressions mean.
3. We are not able to find anything in Clauses (c), (f) and (g) of Section 23 (1) of the Act, which will give power to the Central Government to frame rules requiring the name and business address of manufacturer or vendor being given ; or for Batch Number or Code number being given on the labels.
4. The object of this rule was to prevent the public or the purchaser being deceived or misled as to the character, quality or quantity of the article. We have already pointed out that in this case the label contained the words "pure ghee" and on analysis of the, sample it has been found to conform to the standard. It is difficult for us to appreciate how the giving of the batch number or the code number alone without giving any further particulars such as date of manufacture of the article of food and the period within which the said article has to be utilised, used or consumed and the quantity of the article in a container, will prevent the public or the purchaser being deceived or misled as to the character, quality or quantity of the article. No attempt has been made by the respondent to establish any relation between the giving of the batch number or the code number with the public or the purchaser being prevented from being deceived or misled in respect of the matters referred to in Clause (d). We are not able to find any rational or even a remote connection between the batch or code number artificially given by a packer and the public or the purchaser being prevented from being deceived or misled as to the character, quality or quantity of the article, contained in a sealed tin.
5. Although, It is well known that in many cases in business, the name and address of a manufacturer, or importer, or vendor or packer has become associated with the character, quality or quantity of the article and as such we are of the opinion that Clause (b) of Rule 32 is a valid rule but Clause (e) of Rule 32 is invalid as previously held.
Ø Decision Held:
1. In the circumstances of this case, we are of the view, that the appellants could not be convicted for a technical breach of Rule 32(b) alone.
2. Therefore, the conviction of the appellants for offences, under Rule 32(b) and (e) as well as the fine imposed in the sum of Rs. 1 for the said offence, are both set aside.
3. In the result, the appeal is accordingly allowed and the judgment and order of the Delhi High Court in Criminal Revision No. 371-D of 1965 are set aside. The fine, if collected, will be refunded.