Raveendran. K & Anr v. Excise Inspector, Vadakara & Anr

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CASE: Raveendran. K & Anr v. Excise Inspector, Vadakara & Anr

BENCH: Arijit Pasayat, P. Sathasivam, Aftab Alam


FACTS:

This was a case of appeal challenging the judgment given by the high court on revision petition convicting the petitioners with the rigorous imprisonment of one year with the fine of 10,000/- punishable under section 57A of Abkari act, 1967. Lakshmanan, one of the petitioners in the revision petition of the high court, was a licensee of the arrack shops in the Vadakara range. Preventive Officer(PW1) of the Vadakara branch along with the excise guards inspected the godowns of the arrack shops and collected the samples for chemical examination. The officer collected a total of three samples, one out of which was given to the licensee on proper acknowledgment. The chemical examination of the collected sample revealed the presence of a noxious substance called Methyl alcohol, consumption of which is injurious to health. On the same day at another godown sample was collected where appellant Mohanan was the manager. During the pendency of the appeals before this Court, the licensee died.


CONTENTIONS:

The accused persons contended that they procured the alcohol from Chittore Co-operative sugar mill(Chiccopse) and said that the role of Chiccopse in selling illicit alcohol cannot be struck down. In support of the statements, the learned counsel of accused persons submitted the FIR lodged against the Chiccopse according to the board revenue’s letter.

On the other hand, the learned counsel of the state said that the burden of proof according to section 57 (1)or (2) of section 57A[1] lies under the licensee to prove that he has not mixed or permitted or allowed to be mixed any noxious material or as the case may be omitted to take reasonable care to prevent the mixture of such type of substance in the alcohol or any drug.

57 (A) says that for adulteration of liquor or intoxicating drug with noxious substances, etc:-

(1) Whoever mixes or permits to be mixed any noxious substance or any substance which is likely to endanger human life or to cause grievous hurt to human beings, with any liquor or intoxicating drug shall, on conviction, be punishable.[2]

(2) Whoever omits to take reasonable precautions to prevent the mixing of any noxious substance or any substance which is likely to endanger human life or to cause grievous hurt to human beings, with any liquor or intoxicating drug shall, on conviction, be punishable.[3]

(3) Whoever possesses any liquor or intoxicating drug in which any substance referred to in sub-section (1) is mixed, knowing that such substance is mixed with such liquor or intoxicating drug shall, on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to ten years, and with fine which may extend to twenty- five thousand rupees.[4]

5) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872)-

where a person is prosecuted for an offense under subsection (3) for being in possession of any liquor or intoxicating drug in which any substance refers to in subsection (1) is mixed, the burden of proving that he did not know that such substance was mixed with such liquor or intoxicating drug shall be on him.


HELD:

The court held that as said by the learned counsel of the state, according to subsection 5 of section 57 A, the burden of proof lies on the appellants. Even though it is accepted that they procured alcohol from the Chiccopse, this does imply that the appellants are not responsible for the adulteration according to the act. The court noted that while the appellants were selling the liquor in the bottle they got it from Chiccopse admittedly in barrels. Therefore the stand of the appellants that the liquor was sold in the same form is not correct.

The court in view of the factual position and arguments mentioned above, the appeal so far as the appellant No. 1 in each case is concerned, stands dismissed, while the appeal stands abated so far as the appellant No. 2 i.e. the licensee in each case because of his death. In any case, the appellant No. 1 who has been released on bail shall immediately return to custody to complete the remainder of the sentence.