Ranganatha Reddiar Vs. The State of
Kerala  INSC 184 (14 August 1969)
14/08/1969 SIKRI, S.M.
REDDY, P. JAGANMOHAN
CITATION: 1970 AIR 520 1970 SCR (1) 864 1969
SCC (2) 457
CITATOR INFO :
D 1980 SC 360 (18)
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, s.
14--The Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1954 R. 12-A, proviso--Scope
of---Cash memo-covering food item found adulterated-Containing wording
"quality upto the mark"--If sufficient warranty in terms of proviso.
It was alleged in a complaint against the
appellant, who held a wholesaler's license, that he had stored and sold
compounded asafoetida which was found to have been adulterated. It was the
appellant's case that he had purchased the asafoetida from a distributor in
enclosed packets and that the cash memo furnished to him by the distributor
stated inter alia that "quality is upto the mark". It was therefore
contended on his behalf that the case fell within the proviso to Rule 12-A of
the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, framed under Act 37 of 1954 in
that no warranty in a prescribed form was necessary as the cash memo contained
a warranty that the food contained in the package was the same in nature,
substance and quality as demanded by the appellant.
Although the Trial Court upheld the
appellant's contention, the High Court on appeal held to the contrary.
In the appeal to this Court it was
respondent's contention that the warranty must state expressly that the food
mentioned in the cash memo was the same in nature, substance and quality as
demanded by the vendor and if these words did not exist in the cash memo, the
proviso would not apply.
HELD: Allowing the appeal:
The words "quality is upto the
mark" in the cash memo meant that the quality of the article was upto the
standard required by the Act and the vendee. Quality in this context would
include nature and substance because the name of the article was given in the
cash memo. The cash memo was the document using the language of a tradesman.
Any tradesman who was assured that the quality of the article was upto the mark
would 'readily conclude that he was being assured the article was not
adulterated. [867 H] When the proviso to Rule 12-A expressly says that no
warranty in the prescribed form shall be necessary in certain eventualities, it
would be rewriting the rule to hold that nevertheless the same things must
exist in the label or the cash memo. If the words used in the warranty can
reasonably be interpreted to have the same effect as certifying "the
nature, substance and quality" of an article of food, the warranty wilt
fail within the proviso. [867 D]
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 141 of 1967.
Appeal from the judgment and order dated July
21, 1967 of the Kerala High Court in Criminal Appeal No. 109 of 1966.
865 A.S.R. Chari, A. S. Nambiar and K.R.
Nambiar, for the appellant.
V.K. Krishna Menon and' M.R.K. Pillar, for
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Sikri, J. In this appeal by certificate the only point that arises is whether
the cash memo, Ex. D1, issued by the seller to the appellant contains a
warranty within r. 12A of the rules framed under the Prevention of Food
Adulteration Act, 1954 (Act 37 of 1954), hereinafter referred to as the Act.
The Magistrate, who tried the complaint, held that Ex. D1 was a proper warranty
and it fell within the proviso to r. 12A. The High Court on appeal held to the
The relevant facts are these. The appellant
is a Rice & General Merchant and holds a wholesaler's licence. It was
alleged in the complaint that the appellant had stored and exposed for sale and
sold compounded asafoetida which was found' to have been adulterated by wheat
starch and tapioca starch and that non-permitted orange coaltar dye was
present. The report of the Public Analyst to Government, Trivandrum, was relied
on. in this connection.
The appellant appeared as a witness and he
stated that he purchased asafoetida from L.T. Alakesan and Brothers, received
it in enclosed packets in bags and sold it in bags.
He received invoice which reads as follows:
"Lt. T. Alhakesan & Brothers,
Asafoetida Merchants, Veliamadom Sri K. Ranganatha Reddier, Kottarakara Rate:
6.00 Particulars: C.S.T. Rs. 2. One case of Asafoetida Misky bag 30 Rs. 180/
The quality is up to the mark. C.S.T. Rs. 3.60 -------------- Rs. 183.60 Rupees
one hundred and eighty three and N.P. sixty only.
One case (1d) (Id) 1/4/64 (Sd.) 147542
18/5/64" He further stated that "it is written on the packet as
"Extra Superior" in English and as "Compounded misky full of
quality and flavour" in Tamil." The relevant statutory provisions
866 The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act,
1954 "S. 14. Manufacturers, distributors and dealers to give warranty.--
No manufacturer, distributor or dealer of any article food shall sell such
article to any vendor unless he also gives a warranty in writing in the
prescribed form about the nature and quality of such article to the
vendor." "S. 19(2). A vendor shah not be deemed to have committed an
offence pertaining to the sale of any adulterated or misbranded article of food
if he proved--- (a) that he purchased the article of food-- (i) in a case where
a license is prescribed for the sale thereof, from a duly licensed
manufacturer, distributor or dealer, (ii) in any other case, from any
manufacturer, distributor or dealer, with a written warranty in the prescribed
form; and (b) that the article of food while in his possession was properly
stored and that he sold it in the same state as he purchased it." The
Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955 "Rule 12-A. Warranty--Every trader
selling an article of food to a vendor shall, if the vendor so requires,
deliver to the vendor a warranty in Form VI-A:
Provided that no warranty in such form shall
be necessary if the label on the article of food or the cash memo delivered by
the trader to the vendor in respect of that article contains a warranty
certifying that the food contained in the package or container or mentioned in
the cash memo is the same in nature, substance and quality as demanded by the
Explanation.--The term "trader' shall
mean an importer, manufacturer, wholesale dealer or an authorised agent of such
importer, manufacturer or wholesale dealer." We are not concerned with the
question whether rule 12A is contrary to the provisions of the Act. We take it
that it is valid and if the appellant's case falls within the proviso he is
entitled 'to acquittal.
867 It was contended before us on behalf of
the respondent that the warranty must state expressly that the food mentioned
in the cash memo was the same in nature, substance and quality as demanded by
the vendor, and if these words did not exist in the cash memo, the proviso
would not apply. We are unable to accede to this contention. It may be that if
the warranty is not contained in a label or cash memo the warranty must be in
Form VI-A, which uses these words:
"We hereby certify that the food/foods
mentioned in this invoice is/are warranted to be the same in nature, substance
and quality as that demanded by the vendor." But we do not decide this as
it is not necessary to do so.
In our view when the proviso expressly says
that no warranty in such form shall be necessary in certain eventualities it
would be rewriting the rule to hold that nevertheless the same things must
exist in the label or the cash memo. It seems to us that if the words in the
warranty can reasonably be interpreted to have the s nine effect as certifying
"the nature, substance and quality" of an article of food, the
warranty will fall within the proviso. The Act is of wide application and
millions of small traders have to comply with the provisions of the Act and the
Rules. The learned counsel for the State says that if they are not able to
comply with the provisions they should stop carrying on their trade. But if the
object underlying the Act can be achieved, without dis-organising the trade, by
giving a reasonable interpretation to Rule 12A, it is our duty to do so.
A number of English cases were referred to
us, but we do not find it necessary to refer to them as they interpret the Sale
of Food & Drugs Act, 1875, and the later Food & Drugs Act, 1955. The
language of the relevant sections dealing with defences is different and
warranties employing different words have been interpreted. But they do at
least show this that trade can be carried on and the object of the Act is not
defeated even if traders use ordinary language of the trade or popular language
Coming now to the language used in the cash
memo it seems to us that the words "quality is up to the mark" mean
that the quality of the article is up to the standard required by the Act and
the vendee. Quality in this context would include nature and substance because
the name of the article is given in the cash memo. It must be remembered that
it is not a document drafted by a solicitor;
it is a document using the language of a
tradesman. Any tradesman, when he is assured that the quality of the article is
up to the mark will readily conclude that he is being assured 868 that the
article is not adulterated. The offence, if any, has been committed by the
seller and not the appellant.
There was some argument before as to the
difference in the meaning of the words "nature, substance and
It was pointed out that s. 14 only uses two
words "nature and quality" and not substance. But it is not necessary
to express our views on this point. Reference was made to the case of Baburally
v. Corporation of Calcutta(1). This Court held that the words on the label and
the so called cash memo in that case did not contain the requisite warranty.
But we are unable to see how that case assists either the appellant or the
In the result the appeal is allowed, judgment
of the High Court set aside and that of the Magistrate restored.
The appellant's bail bond shall be treated as
R.K.P.S. Appeal allowed.
(1)  2 S.C.R. 815.