This analysis is written by Ishika Gupta pursuing BBA L.LB from Gitarattan International Business School. This analysis aims to provide all the necessary details about the case in brief.
In this case, the two appeals having the same question of the law were disposed of in one and the respondents have transported fertiliser without any official permit with them and hence committing an offence under Section 511 IPC.
Appeal(Criminal) 49 & 24 of 1978.
1989 AIR 1789, 1989 SCR (3) 549
Hon’ble Justice S. Natrajan., Hon’ble Justice A.M. Ahmadi
25th July, 1989
Relevant Act/ Action
Essential Commodities Act, 1955- Section 3,7
Fertilizer (Movement Control) Order, 1973
Indian Penal Code,1860- Section 511
Facts of Case
In both criminal appeals No. 49 and 24 of 1978, a common question of law is involved. The facts of the case are that in both the cases two lorry drivers, two cleaners and a coolie were prosecuted for exporting fertilizers without a permit from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra in contravention of Fertilizers (Movement Control Order), 1973 and Section 3 & 7 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955. In both the cases, the trial court and High Court held that the accused were only preparing to export fertilizers and not making attempt to export the fertilizers and therefore acquitted them. In Crl. Appeal No. 49 of 1978, a truck carrying 200 bags of fertilizers was proceeding from Indore to Maharashtra and was intercepted. The lorry driver did not have the permit issued under the Fertilizers (Movement Control Order), 1973. In Crl. Appeal No. 24 of 1978, the truck was carrying 170 bags of fertilizers and it also does not have the permit issued under the Fertilizers (Movement Control Order), 1973. It was the defence of the accused that they do not have the knowledge of the contents of the documents seized from them. The trial court and High Court acquitted the accused persons on basis that evidence fell short of the proving that the accused were attempting to export the fertilizers from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra in contravention of the Fertilizers (Movement Control Order), 1973.
Issues Before the Court
1) Whether the respondent/accused have only made preparation to export fertilizers from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra?
2) Whether they were guilty of attempting to commit offence of exporting fertilizers in contravention of the Fertilizers (Movement Control Order), 1973 and Section 3 & 7 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955.?
3) Whether the findings of trial court and High Court are erroneous and unsustainable in law?
4) Whether the prosecution must prove mens rea on part of accused in exporting fertilizer bags without valid permit?
5) Whether the commission of offence includes unintentional contravention of the Fertilizers (Movement Control Order), 1973 and Section 3 & 7 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955 by the accused?
The Supreme Court in its judgment held that the case was not of mere preparation viz. the respondents were trying to procure fertilizer bags from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra. The trucks have entered in the Maharashtra border and the respondents were taking the trucks with fertilizers for dispatch from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra. This was clear case of attempted unlawful export of fertilizers. High Court was wrong in declining to grant leave to State. If any person whether knowingly, intentionally or otherwise contravenes any order under Fertilizers (Movement Control Order), 1973 and Section 3 & 7 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955, he shall be punishable under law. However, Supreme Court did not convict the respondent for the offence of exporting the fertilizer bags from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra in contravention of the Fertilizers (Movement Control Order), 1973 and Section 3 & 7 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955, as 15-years have since been passed after the acquittal of the accused. Supreme Court relied upon case “Swastik Oil Ltd. vs. State” (19) GLR 117. Therefore, without awarding any punishment to the respondents, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal.
Ratio of the Case
Ratio decidendi of a case is whether the facts the judge has determined to be material facts of the case, plus the judge’s decision based on those facts of the material facts that the judge creates law.
Thus, Ratio Decidendi = Material Facts + Decision
In this case, the Supreme Court kept in mind the material facts that
1) The accused persons have attempted to export fertilizers from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra in contravention of the Fertilizers (Movement Control Order), 1973 and Section 3 & 7 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
2) The prosecution did not prove mens rea on part of the accused in export of the fertilizers from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra without permit.
3) The Supreme Court keeping in mind all the material facts and equivalent judgment on the subject, allowed the appeal in favour of the State but did not punished the accused persons as they were acquitted 15-years back.
Decision of Court
The Supreme Court allowed the appeal without punishing the respondents as the case 15 years old and accused were acquitted 15-years back.
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