New Delhi, Mar 28 - Adulteration of food is a menace to the society and the perpetrators cannot be let off lightly, the Supreme Court has ruled, upholding a one year imprisonment imposed on a trader accused of unauthorised sale of kerosene.
Citing its earlier observation in the Issar Das v.State of Punjab(1972) case, the apex court said, "adulteration of food is a menace to public health and the statute had been enacted with the aim of eradicating that anti-social evils and for ensuring purity in the articles of food."
A bench of justices B S Chauhan and J S Khehar refused to entertain the plea of the convict Sunil Kumar that he may be let off under the Probationers of Offenders Act, but instead castigated him for abusing the process of law by filing repeated petitions despite his conviction being sustained by the apex court on July 30, 2010.
"Petitioner feels that merely because he is a black-marketeer and succeeded in exploiting the helplessness of the poor people of the society and is capable of engaging lawyers, he has a right to use, abuse and misuse the process of the court and can approach any court any time without any hesitation and without observing any required procedure prescribed by law," Justice Chauhan writing the judgement.
The apex court said that if the Food & Adulteration Act prescribed a minimum punishment of one year, then courts should not interfere with such sentence.
"The Legislature thought it fit to prescribe minimum sentence of imprisonment.
"Therefore, the court should not lightly resort to the provisions of the Act 1958 in case of an accused found guilty of offences under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act," the apex court said.
The bench also imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 on Kumar.
The trial court on October 27, 1999 found Kumar guilty of unauthorised sale of kerosene and awarded sentence of imprisonment for one year along with a fine of Rs. 2,000.
His appeal was dismissed by the High Court. Subsequently he made a fresh plea for letting him off under Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act, which too was turned down by the High Court. Aggrieved he appealed in the apex court. PTI