Vs. Seed Inspector, Coimbatore & Another  Insc 632 (29 September 2006)
Sinha & Dalveer Bhandari
(Appellant in Criminal Appeal No. 1522/2005)
(Appellant in Criminal Appeal No. 1521/2005) Appellants Versus Seed Inspector, Coimbatore & Another ... Respondents Dalveer
criminal appeals emanate from the judgment of the High Court of Judicature of
Madras dated 3.12.2004 by which the learned Single Judge of the High Court has
upheld the judgment of the Special Judge (E.C./N.D.P.S. Act), Coimbatore dated
9.9.1997 for violation of clauses 3(1), 8(a) and (b) and 18(1) of Seeds
(Control) Order, 1983 with reference to clauses (a), (h) and (i) of sub-section
2 of the Section 3 punishable under Section 7(1)(a)(ii) of the Essential
Commodities Act, 1955.
Special Judge sentenced the appellants/accused to undergo three months simple
imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.1000/- each on three counts.
facts which are imperative to dispose of these appeals are recapitulated as
under:- The Seed Inspector, Coimbatore,
PW1, went for inspection of the shop of appellant no. 1 on 15.5.1996.
to him, the shop was open but there was no responsible person available in the
shop, therefore, the Seed Inspector could not conduct the inspection on that
day though he waited there for about an hour.
Seed Inspector, on 25.10.1996 again had gone to the shop of appellant no. 1, S. Chinnasamy, but appellantno.1 was not there
and appellant no. 2, R. Soundarajan, his agent, was running the business of the
shop at that time. According to the statement of PW 1, the appellants were
transacting business in pesticides, fertilizers and seeds. The Seed Inspector
on inspection found 2
relevant part of the complaint reads as under:- "The complainant is a
notified Seed Inspector, appointed under Section 12 and empowered to act as per
section 13 of the Seeds (Control) Order, 1983. His jurisdiction extends over
the entire Revenue Taluks of Coimbatore North and Coimbatore South. He is a
Public Servant by virtue of Notification No. S. O. 763 (e) DT. 27.9.87 issued
by the Govt. of India and is empowered to institute prosecution.
accused (1) is a dealer of seeds doing seed business at the address mentioned
above, which comes under the jurisdiction of this Court. The accused (2) is an
authorized sales person of the accused (1).
Seed Inspector, Coimbatore on receipt of reliable information
visited the premises of the accused on 25.10.1996. At that time, the accused
(2) was present on the spot. He was looking after the business at the time of
the course of inspection, the following offences were noticed.
had been carried out without obtaining a valid license.
Stock / price
list not maintained.
above defects have not been rectified even after repeated instructions and
reminders since 15.5.96. The explanations offered by the accused are not
above acts of the accused contravene section 3, section (8) (a), section (9)
and Section 18(1) of the Seeds (Control) Order, 1983. Hence the accused is
punishable under Section 7(1)(a)(ii) of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
it is prayed that this Honorable Court must be pleased to take up this case on
file, summon them and render justice.
Seed Inspector Coimbatore" According to the prosecution, the incriminating
circumstances appearing in the evidence against the appellants were unfolded to
them in the form of a questionnaire for the purpose of enabling them to
personally explain the same. Appellant no.1 had stated that he was dealing only
in cement and not in seeds. He further stated that the officials took him to
the office, threatened him and obtained his signature. Appellant no. 2, on his
part, stated that he had nothing to do with the shop in question and did not
work in the shop of appellant no.1. The point for determination framed by the
trial court was whether the prosecution had proved beyond all reasonable doubt
the charges framed against the accused.
substantiate the charges against the appellants, in the trial Court, PW 1, Thiru
John Thadeus who was working as the Seed Inspector and P.W. 2 Thiru Isac Jesudas
who was working as the Seed Inspection Assistant Director were examined.
Exhibits P-1 to P-6 were produced. The appellants were questioned under Section
313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Seed Inspector, PW 1, in his statement had clearly stated that "I
prohibited the sale of the seeds in the shop and put them in a bag and sealed
them and handed over to the person (means appellant no. 2) in the shop and
obtained his signature. Thereafter, I prepared an inspection memo Exhibit
P-1". According to him, the Seed Inspection Assistant Director, PW2 gave
him permission to file the case against the accused.
relevant portion of the statement given by PW 1 in his cross-examination
regarding the fact that the agricultural land belonged to appellant no. 1 and
his father-in-law, reads as under:
cannot deny that he has properties at Thadagam and Kothagiri which are the
properties of his father in law. It is common that the land owners used to buy
the seeds and keep it for their own use." It may be pertinent to mention
that the sale of seeds to the public has not been proved by examining any of
trial court (The Presiding Officer, Essential Commodities & NDPS Act Cases,
Coimbatore) arrived at a definite finding that
evidence on record established that Seed Inspector PW 1 had visited the shop of
appellant no. 1 and found that the seeds were being sold by appellant no. 2 as
an agent of appellant no. 1 without any valid license. According to the trial
court, on the basis of evidence and documents on record, it could be concluded
that the appellants had violated Clauses 3(1), 8(a) and (b) and 18(1) of the
Seeds (Control) Order, 1983 issued under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities
Act punishable under Section 7(1)(a)(ii) of the said Act.
3(1), 8(a) & (b) and 18(1) of the Seeds (Control) Order, 1983 read as
No person shall
carry on the business of selling, exporting or importing seeds at any place
except under and in accordance with the terms and conditions of licence granted
to him under this order."
display stock and price list.- Every dealer of seeds shall display in his place
the opening and
closing stocks, on daily basis, of different seeds held by him;
indicating prices or rates of different seeds."
of records and submission of returns, etc.
shall maintain such books, accounts and records relating to his business as may
be directed by the State Government." The Special Court found the appellants guilty of the aforesaid clauses of the
Seeds (Control) Order, 1983 and convicted them thereunder and sentenced each of
the appellants to undergo three months simple imprisonment on three counts and
to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/- each on three counts, in default to undergo one
month of simple imprisonment on each count. The court also directed that the
sentence on each accused except the default sentence shall run concurrently.
appellants, aggrieved by the said order of the Special Judge for Essential
Commodities / NDPS Act, preferred a criminal appeal under Section 374 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure to set aside the conviction and sentence.
been submitted on behalf of appellant no. 1 that he was transacting business
only in cement and not in seeds and the seeds of cotton and tomato which were
kept in his shop were meant for personal use and not for sale to the public.
This defence of appellant no. 1 has been discarded by the courts below because
appellant no. 1 had failed to produce any document showing the survey number or
the extent of land owned by him or his father in law. According to the impugned
judgment, the defence of appellant no. 1 is further falsified by Exb. P-6, Bill
Book, which revealed the sale of seeds to various customers for a long time.
appellants submitted that this was perhaps the first case in the State of Tamil Nadu in which conviction under the Seeds
(Control) Order, 1983 had been recorded, therefore, some leniency and
indulgence should be shown to them, particularly when a very small quantity of
the seeds meant for personal use was recovered from the shop of appellant no.
to the High Court, acceptance of this contention would set a wrong precedent.
The High Court observed that with the definite purpose of bringing out quality
production, the Seeds (Control) Order, 1983 was brought into force. Reporting
of violation cannot be viewed lightly, lest it would have serious repercussions
on the quality of the yield, affecting the public at large.
also mentioned in the impugned judgment that the huge quantity of seeds had
repeatedly been sold to the public for more than 1= years without license.
to the conclusion arrived at in the impugned judgment of the High Court, the
reasoning and findings of the Special Judge were in conformity with the
evidence and material on record.
High Court, after consideration of the entire evidence and documents on record,
affirmed the findings of the trial court. The appellants, aggrieved by the
impugned judgment of the High Court, have preferred these appeals before this
Court. The appellants have highlighted serious procedural lapses in conducting
the entire case. According to the appellants, the respondents in their anxiety
to convict the appellants, (because this was the first case registered in the State
of Tamil Nadu for violation under the Seeds
(Control) Order), had given a total go-bye to the established procedure. The
appellants also pointed out that, admittedly, Seed Inspector, PW1, clearly
stated in his statement that he had taken the seeds from the shop of appellant
no. 1, put them in a bag and sealed them and handed over the sealed bag to
appellant no. 2. The procedure which was followed by the Seed Inspector is
quite contrary to sub- clause (3) of Clause 13. Clause 13(3) reads as under:
"Where any seed
is seized by an Inspector under this clause, he shall forthwith report the fact
of such seizure to a Magistrate whereupon the provisions of Sections 457 and 458
of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) shall, so far as may be,
apply to the custody and disposal of such seed." According to sub-clause (3) of
Clause 13, after seizure, the Seed Inspector was under an obligation to report
the fact of the seizure to a Magistrate, whereupon the provisions of Sections
457 and 458 of the Code of Criminal Procedure shall apply to the custody and
disposal of such seeds. This was admittedly not done by the Seed Inspector. The
established procedure has been flouted, therefore, any conviction based on such
prosecution evidence is unsustainable.
appellant no. 1, the proprietor of the shop, was not there when the inspection
was carried out.
Seed Inspector ought not to have carried out the inspection in the absence of
also submitted that the respondents have failed to show any evidence that the
appellants had ever sold seeds in the market. No purchaser of the seeds was
produced. This fact also seriously affects the credibility of the entire
prosecution version. It was submitted that appellant no. 2 was not an agent of
appellant no. 1, as stated by the prosecution witnesses. Appellant no. 2 was in
fact an uneducated daily wage earner of about 17 years of age. He did not know
the implication and seriousness of the signature appended by him on the
inspection report. The appellants submitted that it was the first case
registered in the State of Tamil Nadu for
violation under the Seeds (Control) Order, 1983 and the sentence imposed by the
courts below is disproportionate, excessive and harsh.
appellants submitted that, including the period of remission, they had
undergone imprisonment of about one month. According to them, the ends of
justice would be met if their sentence is reduced to the period already
learned counsel appearing for the State fairly submitted that the State will
have no objection in case while maintaining the conviction, the sentence of the
appellants is reduced to the period already undergone.
learned counsel for the State submitted that this concession is made while
keeping the following factors in view:
no.2 was a young boy of 17 years of age at the time of the commission of the
a small quantity
of seeds was seized; and (iii) this was the first case recorded in the State of Tamil Nadu for violation under the Seeds
(Control) Order, 1983.
view of this submission of the learned counsel for the State, we do not deem it
appropriate to adjudicate and give our findings on the various issues raised by
the counsel for the parties.
have carefully perused the entire evidence and documents on record and heard
the learned counsel for the parties at length. On consideration of the totality
of the facts and circumstances of this case, particularly in view of the
statement made by the learned counsel for the State, in our considered view,
the ends of justice would be met, if the sentence of the appellants is reduced
to the period already undergone by them. The appellants were released by this
Court during the pendency of these appeals and they are now not required to
surrender. The fine as imposed by the trial court, if not already paid, would
be paid within four weeks from the date of this judgment.
appeals are partly allowed and disposed of accordingly.