Skip to main content

State of MP vs Narayan Singh

 State of MP v. Narayan Singh


 There were two separate cases but having identical facts in which a common question of law was invoked. In both cases, the respondents admit that the trucks in question were intercepted at States tax barrier situate at a distance of 8 miles from the border of Maharashtra carrying 200 bags and 170 bags of fertilisers respectively. The documents seized from the drivers contained the invoices and other records but they did not include a permit issued under the Fertilisers (Movement Control) Order, 1973. Consequently the drivers and cleaners of both the vehicles were prosecuted under the FMC Order read with Section 3 and 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 for exporting fertilizers from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra without a valid permit. In both the cases, the accused did not deny the factum of the transport of fertiliser bags in their respective lorries or the interception of the lories and the seizure of the fertiliser bags or about the fertiliser bags not being covered by a permit issued under the FMC Order. The defence however was that they were not aware of the contents of the documents seized from them and that they were not engaged in exporting the fertiliser bags from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra in conscious violation of the provisions of the FMC Order

Legal Issues

 (1) Whether the prosecution must prove mens rea on the part of the accused in exporting the fertiliser bags without a valid permit for securing their conviction? 

(2) Whether the evidence on record established only preparation by the accused for effecting export of fertiliser bags from one State to another without a permit therefore and not an attempt to export fertiliser bags?.

Trial Court and High Court's Decision:

 Both the courts have taken the view that in the absence of the evidence of the employee of the transport company there was no material in the cases to hold that the fertiliser bags were being exported to Maharashtra from Madhya Pradesh. The trial Magistrate and the High Court refused to attach any s1gnificance or importance to the invoices recovered from the lorry drivers because the drivers had said they had no knowledge of the contents of the documents seized from them. The trial Magistrate and the High Court have further opined that the materials on record would, at best, make out only  a case of preparation by the accused to commit the offence and the evidence fell short of establishing that the accused were attempting to export the fertilizer bags from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra in contravention of the FMC Order.

Supreme Court's Observations (Justice Natrajan)

The trial Court and the High Court have failed to comprehend and construe Section 7(1) of the Act in its full perspective. The words used in Section 7(1) are if any person contravenes whether  any order made under Section 3". The Section is comprehensively worded so that it takes within its fold not only contraventions done knowingly or intentionally but even otherwise i.e. done unintentionally. The element of mens rea in export of fertilizer bags without a valid permit is therefore not a necessary ingredient for Convicting a person for contravention of an order made under Section 3 if the 1actum of export or attempt to export is established by the evidence on record.

Swastik Oil Industries v. State , the Gujarat High Curt observed: "The plain reading of the Section made it clear that the legislature needed to impose strict liability for contravention of any order made under Section of the Act. By the use of the express words the element of mens rea as an essential condition of the offence was excluded so that every contravention whether intentional or otherwise was made an offence under Section 7 of the Act. It is manifest that the crucial words "whether knowingly, intentionally or otherwise" were inserted in Section 7 in order to prevent persons committing offences under the Act escaping punishment on the plea that the offences were not committed deliberately."

As regards the second issue, the Supreme Court observed that in the commission of an offence there are four stages viz. intention, preparation, attempt and execution. The first two stages would not attract culpability but the third and fourth stages would certainly attract culpability. The respondents in each case were actually caught in the act of exporting fertilizer bags without a permit therefore from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra. The trucks were coming from Indore and were proceeding towards Maharashtra. The interception had taken place at sales tax barrier which is only 8 miles from the border of Maharashtra State. It the interception had not taken place, the export would have become a completed act and the fertiliser bags would have been successfully taken to Maharashtra State in contravention of the FMC Order. It was not therefore a case of mere preparation  vIz. the respondents trying to procure fertiliser bags from someone or trying to engage a lorry for taking those bags to Maharashtra.

These were cases where the bags had been procured and were being taken in the lorries under cover of sales invoices for being delivered to the consignees and the lorries would have entered the Maharashtra border but for their interception at the sales tax barrier. Surely, no one can say that the respondents were taking the lorries with the fertiliser bags in them for innocuous purposes or for more thrill or amusement and that they would have stopped well ahead of the border and taken back the lorries and the fertilizer bags to the initial place of dispatch or to some other place in Madhya Pradesh State itself. They were therefore clearly cases of attempted unlawful export of the fertilizer bags and not cases of mere preparation alone.


The trial Magistrate and the High Court were in error in taking the view that the respondents were not liable for conviction for contravention of the FMC Order read with Sections 3 and 7 of the EC Act since the prosecution had failed to prove mens rea on their part in transporting fertiliser bags. Both the courts have again committed an error in taking the view that the respondents can at best be said to have only made preparations to export fertiliser bags and they cannot be found guilty of having attempted to export the fertiliser bags. The judgements of the trial Magistrate and the High Court under appeal should be declared erroneous and held unsustainable. Accordingly, the respondents were convicted.


Popular posts from this blog

INCOME TAX SECTION 32AD - Investment in new plant or machinery in notified backward areas in certain States

 Description (1) Where an assessee, sets up an undertaking or enterprise for manufacture or production of any article or thing, on or after the 1st day of April, 2015 in any backward area notified by the Central Government in this behalf, in the State of Andhra Pradesh or in the State of Bihar or in the State of Telangana or in the State of West Bengal, and acquires and installs any new asset for the purposes of the said undertaking or enterprise during the period beginning on the 1st day of April, 2015 and ending before the 1st day of April, 2020 in the said backward area, then, there shall be allowed a deduction of a sum equal to fifteen per cent of the actual cost of such new asset for the assessment year relevant to the previous year in which such new asset is installed. (2) If any new asset acquired and installed by the assessee is sold or otherwise transferred, except in connection with the amalgamation or demerger or re-organisation of business referred to in clause (xiii)or cla

60 Minute Marriage Counselling Session On Phone

Description A 60 minute phone call with an expert Marriage\Relationship Counselor to discuss your marriage\relationship related issues. Counselling aims to resolve issues and improve communication in a relationship. Couples’ counselling works with both people in the relationship, however sessions can start with one individual, working towards the involvement of the other partner. What's Included a) 60 minute phone call with the counselor where you can discuss all your issues and seek guidance. What's Not Included a) Counselling session via meeting

Send Legal Notice for Divorce

 India being a secular country derives a large part of its laws from various religious practices. One such area of law is Divorce law of India. A divorce case in India can be initiated by either party based on the procedure relevant as per the law applicable to the parties. However, the procedure for divorce always starts with sending a legal notice.   Either party can send a legal notice to the other spouse intimating his/her intent to initiate legal proceedings for divorce. Sending a legal notice acts as a formal way of communication by one party to the other acting as a warning and at the same time creating chances for a last attempt for conciliation, if possible. Connect with an expert lawyer for your legal issue   What is a legal notice for divorce? A legal notice refers to a formal communication to a person or the opposite party in a case, informing him/her about one’s intention to undertake legal proceedings against him/her. Therefore, a legal notice for divorce is a formal inti