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.
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.
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
2. Whether the act of the appellant can be interpreted as
intentional contravention of the specified provision of
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.