Thursday, 30 June 2022

Nathulal v. State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 1966 SC 43

 Nathulal v. State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 1966 SC 43


CITATION AIR 1966 SC 43

COURT Supreme Court of India

JUDGES/CORAM Justice K.S. Shah and Justice R.


Bachawat


DATE OF

JUDGEMENT 22.03.1965


Facts:

The facts of the case are as follows: The appellant was a

dealer in a food grains at Dhar in Madhya Pradesh

prosecuted in the Court of Additional District Magistrate

for possessing in stock maunds and 21/4 seers of wheat

for the purpose of sale without license. Subsequently

appellant was charged for committing an offence

under section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

Thereafter the appellant pleaded there was no intention to

contravene any provisions of the law and the grains were

stored upon filing an application for license and upon

believe that it will be issued to him. The appellant further

stated that he continued to submit returns on the food

grains stored and purchased to the respected authority.

Thus, the appellant was acquitted in the Court of

Additional District Magistrate on the ground that the


appellant is not found to be of a guilty mind.  On appeal a

division bench of High Court of Madhya Pradesh set

aside the order of acquittal and convicted Nathulal on

basis that in a case arising under the act the idea of guilty

mind was different from that arising in the case like theft;

and that he contravened the provision of the act and the

order made thereunder.

Thereafter based on the findings the appellant was

sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one year and to a

fine of Rs. 2000/- and in its default further imprisonment

of 6 months. Eventually, this appeal was filed before the

Supreme Court by Nathulal.

Issues:

The main issues in the case were:

1. Whether a factual non-compliance of the provision of

the Essential Commodities Act, 1955; precisely

section 7 amounts to an offence there under even

when there is no mens rea on the part of the

offender?

2. Whether the act of the appellant can be interpreted as

intentional contravention of the specified provision of

the Act?

Judgment:

The appeal was allowed, the order of the High Court

convicting the appellant was set aside, and ‘‘the appellant

is acquitted of the offence with which he was charged.


The bail bond is discharged. If any fine has been paid, it

shall be returned.

The Court affirmed that the appellant had contravened

Section 3 of the Order with the knowledge that he did not

hold a license. But there can be no doubt that the State

authorities acted negligently: They did not give the

appellant a hearing before rejecting his application for a

license, and did not even inform him about its rejection.

They continued to accept the returns submitted by him

from time to time, and there is no reason to disbelieve the

statement of the appellant that the Inspector had given

him assurances from time to time that a license would be

issued to him. The Court, therefore, of the view that no

serious view of the contravention of the provisions of the

Madhya Pradesh Foodgrains Dealers Licensing Order,

1958, may be taken, and a fine of Rs. 50 would meet the

ends of justice. The order forfeiting the stocks of food

grains must be set aside.

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