Food Adulteration; Pepsico India Holdings Pvt. Ltd. Vs. State [Gujarat High Court, 23-09-2016]

Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 –  It is found that there are several disputed questions of facts which are required to be gone into an appropriate stage and in exercise of inherent jurisdiction, the court is not suppose to undertake a mini trial or make any roving inquiry and therefore, extraordinary jurisdiction is not permitting this Court to exercise in the background of these peculiar facts of case. The defence has been projected by the petitioners can well be examined during the course of trial and therefore, in opinion of the Court, this is not a fit case to exercise extraordinary jurisdiction.


IN THE HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT AT AHMEDABAD

CORAM: HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE A.J. SHASTRI

Date : 23 /9 /2016

SPECIAL CRIMINAL APPLICATION NO. 3508 of 2012 With SPECIAL CRIMINAL APPLICATION NO. 3509 of 2012

PEPSICO INDIA HOLDINGS PVT.LTD & 1….Applicant(s) Versus STATE OF GUJARAT & 1….Respondent(s) Appearance: MR. SV RAJU SENIOR ADVOCATE WITH BHADRISH S RAJU, ADVOCATE MRS VD NANAVATI, ADVOCATE for the Respondent(s) No. 2 MR KP RAVAL ADDITIONAL PUBLIC PROSECUTOR for the Respondent(s)

JUDGMENT

1. The petitioners by way of present petitions have approached the Court for quashing the complaint being Criminal Case No. 52 of 2002 pending before the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jamnagar as also the order dated 10.01.2003 whereby upon said complaint, process came to be issued.

2. The background of facts leading to filing of the petition are that original accused no. 1 in the complaint was engaged in the business of selling of clothes and to facilitate the customers, utilized sweetened carbonated water ( Leher – Miranda) 500 ml packed bottles. It was alleged in the complaint that original accused nos. 2 to 4 are the partners of original accused no. 1 whereas accused no. 5 is the seller of the impugned packed bottles of sweetened carbonated water (Leher­ Miranda) 500 ml. The respondent no. 2 had filed the complaint by alleging that the accused persons have utilized sweetened carbonated water ( Leher­Miranda) 500 ml and by selling the said articles being not satisfied with the standard prescribed under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and Rules. On 05.09.2002 for the purpose of analysis under the provisions of

Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954

( for short ‘the Act’) sent to the public analyst and on 30.09.2002, the public analyst reported that sample collected which is examined did not confirm to the standards of the Act and the Rules and on the basis of such report of public analyst, a complaint came to be filed against all the accused persons which complaint is questioned by way of present petition. So far as present petition is concerned, it is brought by the original accused no. 6 Pepsico Indian Holdings Pvt. Ltd. and accused no. 7 being the nominee of the company has questioned the legality of the complaint on the premise mentioned in the petition.

3. Before dealing with the case in detail, a fact is required to be noticed that this very complaint came to be brought before this Court in the form of Special Criminal Application No. 319 of 2003 for seeking quashing of the same and the Hon’ble Court vide order dated 02.12.2012 was pleased to allow the petition with exemplary cost quantified to Rs. 10000/­. The said petition was brought by other co­ accused namely Digjam Retail Show Room Shoppers Paradise. The decision delivered by this Court is annexed to the petition compilation at page 52 as Annexure ‘B’.

4. Now reverting back to the facts of the present case, it is contended by the petitioners that the allegations leveled in the complaint do not disclose any offence much less an offence punishable under Section 7(i) read with Section 16(1) (a)(i) of the Act of 1954. It is further contended in the petition that the complaint is not filed under Section 17 of the Act and there is no charge levelled specific against the petitioner company and its nominee. The learned Magistrate ought to have appreciated that there must be a separate charge against the petitioner company as required under Section 17 of the Act and therefore, on the basis of said complaint against the petitioner it tantamount to be an abuse of process of law. It was also contended that report of public analyst has failed to state that sample is adulterated. It was also contended that the complaint in question is inherently improbable on the basis of which, no prudent person can reach to the conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the petitioners under Section 7(i) read with Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act. It was also contended that the petitioner company is a reputed company is not at all require for commission of crime and the complaint in question is filed with a manifestly malafide, based upon this and other contentions, the petition was brought before this Court seeking quashment of the complaint which was registered before the learned Magistrate as Criminal Case No. 52 of 2002. This Court on 14.12.2012 was pleased to admit the petition and accordingly granted an ad­interim relief in terms of para 7 (b) and later on, the said interim relief is continued all through out and it has now come up for final disposal.

5. It appears from the record that on 22.04.2016, a mention was made by the learned counsel for the petitioner that there some cognate matter in form of Special Criminal Application No. 3509 of 2012 is pending and therefore, this petition is ordered to be heard along with the said cognate matter.

6. Learned counsel for the petitioner has brought attention of the Court and conveyed that the facts are almost similar except the date and criminal case number and therefore, by treating the present Special Criminal Application No. 3508 of 2012 as a lead matter by a common judgement and order, both the petitions are to be dealt with and to be disposed of on the following line.

7. A bare perusal of number of complaints filed by respondent no. 2 indicates that basically the complaint is filed under Section 7(i) and by violating that, it is alleged that offence under Section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Act has been committed and based upon this complaint, the learned Magistrate has issued summons to the petitioners. As stated above, original accused no. 1 to 4 who were joined in the Criminal Case referred to above have approached this Court by way of Special Criminal Application No. 319 of 2003 as stated above wherein after hearing all the parties to the petition, this Hon’ble Court has specifically come to the conclusion that arraigning all the persons as accused who were infact the consumers of Mirinda bottle are unnecessarily dragged in the prosecution and therefore, by examining the complaint from that angle, the petition came to be disposed of and allowed. A reference is required to be made of the relevant paragraph of the said order hereunder: