Any order which substantially affects the rights of the accused, or decides certain rights of the parties cannot be said to be an interlocutory order so as to bar a revision to the High Court against that order.
In the present matter under Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (Act), an application was moved for recalling of summons and dropping of proceedings under Sections 7 and 16 of the Act. Some packets of Tiger Brand tea bearing label of manufacturer namely “Brooke Bond Lipton India Limited” were seized and pursuant to test report the sample of tea was found to be adulterated because of presence of fungus on the tea leaves. A criminal case under the provisions of Act was registered both against the vendor and the manufacturer Brooke Bond Lipton India Ltd, Calcutta.
Plea of recalling of summoning order and dropping of criminal proceedings was raised on the ground that the manufacturer can be held liable under the Act only in case the vendor proves that he has purchased the alleged adulterated articles of food from the manufacturer, with a written warranty in a prescribed form which was not so in the instant case. It was specifically prayed that in the absence of bill/warranty given to the vendor from the manufacturer to show its any nexus with the vendor or with the offence complained of or in other words in absence of brevity of contract between them the proceedings were liable to be quashed. Besides, it was also contended that the sampled packets were not manufactured by the Company and infact were spurious.
The plea was opposed by prosecution on the ground that since the order of the magistrate denying manufacturer relief was an interlocutory order and cannot be questioned by way of present proceedings.
It was observed that the legal position as settled clearly says that the term ‘interlocutory order’ in S. 397 (2) of the 1973 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Code) has been used in a restricted and not in any broad or artistic sense, merely denoting orders of a purely interim or temporary nature which do not decide or touch the important rights or the liabilities of the parties. Any order which substantially affects the rights of the accused, or decides certain rights of the parties cannot be said to be an interlocutory order so as to bar a revision to the High Court against that order.
Accordingly the petition was held to be maintainable when as apparent from the facts the lower court did not pay attention various facts while passing the impugned order in a mechanical way and also that the procedure as provided under the Act was not properly followed by the Food Inspector.
The report of Food Analyst showed that fungus was found on the tea leaves, which can grow on any article due to various reasons, the most common of which is humidity damp weather and moisture due to rainy season. The Food Inspector had purchased the packets during heavy rainy season and also the sample was collected from a small retail shop situated in a village which could not be expected to have equipped with proper moisture proof storage system. Further, while taking the sample for sending it to Food Analyst the Food Inspector did not mention anything about its date of manufacturing.
Thus there was all likelihood possibility of tea might have been expired and because of damp weather and improper storage, the fungus had grown on the tea leaves. Therefore, manufacturer’s liability was held as not proved.
[Brooke Bond Lipton India Ltd. v State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr.]
(Allahabad HC, 12.08.2014)