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Jethabhai Valohbai Sanghada Vs. State of Gujarat [1993] INSC 405 (6 October 1993)




ORDER ORDER 1. Leave granted.

2.The appellant has been found guilty under Sections 3 and 7 of the Essential Commodities Act. The appellant was running a fair price shop. According to the prosecution, the appellant purchased 192 kgs of Palmolive oil on May 10, 1983 out of which 93 kgs should have been there at the time of the inspection. However, only 32 kgs oil was found and, therefore, he is alleged to have contravened Condition No. 9 of the Gujarat Essential Articles (Licensing, Control and Stock Declaration) Order, 1981. He was sentenced to three months' rigorous imprisonment by the trial court and to further a fine of Rs 500, in default to undergo one month's RI. The conviction and sentence have been confirmed by the High Court.

+ Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 460 of 1993 531

3. The plea of the appellant has been that there was proper stock but as the cardholders were of sizeable number, it was not possible for him to prepare the bills and, therefore, he sold the stock of Palmolive oil without preparing the bills.

He has, however, maintained a list showing the details about the customers who purchased the Palmolive oil. In view of this, it can be seen that it was a technical violation.

However, the ingredients of Sections 3 and 7 of the Essential Commodities Act are attracted and conviction cannot be interfered with. Now coming to the sentence, according to the prosecution, the appellant violated the conditions of Gujarat Essential Articles (Licensing, Control and Stock Declaration) Order, 1981. A perusal of the conditions of that order including Condition No. 9 would show that it is purported to have been one made with reference to clause (h)(i) of Section 3(2) of the Essential Commodities Act. Section 7(1)(a) of the Essential Commodities Act lays down that if any person contravenes any order made under Section 3, he shall be punishable in the case of an order made with reference to clause (h) or clause (i) of sub-section (2) of that section, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and shall also be liable to fine. Section 7(1)(a)(ii) prescribes a minimum sentence in respect of violation of any other order. In the instant case, the case of the prosecution is that the appellant did not maintain bill books, stock books and purchase register for inspection. Now in view of the explanation given by the appellant, it only amounts to violation of the order which is made under clause (h) of Section 3(2) for which the minimum sentence is not prescribed. The offence is said to have been committed in the year 1983 and the appellant has been in jail for about six weeks. In the result, the conviction is confirmed but the sentence is reduced to a period already undergone. The sentence of fine with default clause is, however, confirmed.

The appellant who is in jail shall be released forthwith.

Subject to the modification of the sentence, the appeal is dismissed.


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