31 March 1970
Supreme Court


Case number: Writ Petition (Civil) 468 of 1969






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 31/03/1970


CITATION:  1971 AIR 2346            1971 SCR  (1) 166  1970 SCC  (2)  71

ACT: Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (37 of 1954), ss. 7,  10 and 19--Constitutional validity of.

HEADNOTE: The  petitioners are traders in foodgrains, edible oils  and other  articles  of food.  In a petition under  Art.32  they challenged  the  validity  of  ss.  7,  10  and  19  of  the Prevention  of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.  They  contended that: (1) ss. 7 and 10 of the Act are violative of Arts.  14 and  19(1)(g) because, (a) s. 16(1)(a) of the Act read  with s.  19(1) imposes an absolute liability on dealers; (b)  the standards  of quality and limits of variability  Of  quality prescribed  by  the  Act are  unreasonable  and  that  small dealers would not be in a position to ascertain whether  the goods purchased by them or in their possession are according to those standards as required by s. 7 of the Act; (c)  even when an article is purchased not as an article of food,  but for  other  use, the vendor would be deemed  guilty  if  the article did not conform to the prescribed standards; (d)  if a retail seller opens a container of branded article of food he  loses even the limited protection provided by s.  19(2); and  (e)  that the penalties which may be imposed  under  s. 16(1) (a) are unduly severe; and (2) the non-availability to the   vendor   of  the  plea  of  his  ignorance   and   the conclusiveness of the certificate of the Director of Central Food  Laboratory  under  s. 13(5) of the  Act,  violate  the guarantee under Art. 20(3). HELD  : (a) The Act does not make mens rea an ingredient  of the offence.  Ordinarily, for the protection of the  liberty of  a citizen, in the definition of  offences,  blame-worthy mental condition is made an ingredient: but in Acts  enacted to  deal  with a grave social evil or  for  ensuring  public welfare  especially in offences against health, it is  often found necessary in the larger public interest to provide for imposition of liability without proof of a guilty mind.   If from  the scheme of an Act, it appears that compliance  with the regulatory provisions will be promoted by imposing  such absolute   liability  and  that  it  cannot   otherwise   be reasonably  ensured, the court will be justified in  holding



that  the restriction on the right of the trader is  in  the interest of the general public. [172 H-173 C] Adulteration  and misbranding of food is a rampant  evil  in our  country.   The channels of supply and the  movement  of goods  from  trader  to  trader,  and  fertile  sources   of adulteration and misbranding, make it extremely difficult in a  large majority of cases to establish  affirmatively  that storage or sale of adulterated or misbranded food-stuffs was with  a  guilty mind.  Therefore, a  statute  calculated  to control  that evil is in the interest of the general  public and  merely  because it makes a departure  from  the  normal structure  of statutes enunciating offences and  prescribing punishments, the restrictions on traders will not be  deemed unreasonable.  The defences set out in s. 19(2) are open  to the vendor and the act does not dispense with proof that the article of food is adulterated, misbranded or that its  sale is  prohibited  :  it  only enacts  that  a  vendor  selling adulterated  and misbranded articles of food  cannot  merely plead that he was ignorant of the nature and quality of  the goods. [171 G-H; 173 C-D] 167 (b)  The schedule to the Act uses technical  expressions  in relation  to  standards of quality and  an  ordinary  retail dealer may not be familiar, with them.  But the rules,  made under  s.  23(1)(b)  prescribe  clearly  the  standards   of quality.   The standards are arrived at after  consultation. with  the  Committee for Food Standards which.  consists  of experts  in the field of food technology and  food  analysis and  representatives of the Central and  State  Governments. Hence  the standards cannot be, challenged as  arbitrary  or unreasonable. [175, C] (c)  What  is  penalised by s.  16(1)  is  the  importation, manufacture for sale or storage, sale or distribution of any article  of food.  It is always open to a person selling  an article capable of being used as an article of food as  well as  for  other  purpose, to inform the  purchaser  by  clear notice that the article sold or supplied was not intended to be used as an article of food and in such cases s. 16 would, not apply. [174 G] (d) Under s. 19(2) if the vendor has obtained the article of food from a licensed manufacturer, distributor or dealer  or from a manufacturer, distributor or dealer With a  warranty, he  is  protected,  provided he.  has  properly  stored  the article  and sold it in the same state as he  purchased  it, even  if it turns out to be adulterated or  misbranded.   By merely  opening the container the article of food  does  not cease to be in the same state in which the vendor  purchased it.   Therefore, the vendor will not lose the protection  of the sub-section merely because he opens the container.. [173 G-H] (e)  The severity of the penalty is not so  disproportionate to  the  gravity  of  the offence  that  it  may  be  deemed unreasonable,  because,  the  penalties  are  imposed  as  a deterrent to prevent malpractices by traders in articles  of food and to ensure the purity of articles of food. [174 C] The Act deals with the regulation of a class of traders  and in  view  of the widespread malpractices and  the  practical difficulties  of  controlling  the  malpractices,  stringent provisions have been made in the Act.  The classification is founded  on an intelligible differentia and has  a  rational relation to the object sought to be achieved. [176 C] (2)  Article  20(3) provides that no person accused  of  any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against  himself. By providing that a plea of ignorance of the vendor wilt not be  a  defence and that the certificate of the  Director  of



Central  Food  Laboratory, who is a disinterested  and  high placed  official as conclusive, Art. 20(3) is not  violated. [176 D-C]

JUDGMENT: ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Writ Petitions Nos. 468, 469 489, and 490 of 1969. Petitions  Under  Art. 32 of the Constitution of  India  for enforcement of fundamental rights. S. V. Gupte, D. Sudhakara Rao and B. Parthasarathy, for  the petitioners (in W. P. No. 468 of 1969). B.ParthasarathY, for the petitioners (in W. P. Nos. 469, 489 and 490 of 1969). Niren  De- Attorney-General, B. D. Sharma and S.  P.  Nayar, for respondent NO. 1 (in all the appeals). 168 P.  Ram Reddy and G. S. Rama Rao, for respondent No.  2  (in all the petitions). The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Shah,  J.  The  petitioners who are  traders  in  foodgrains edible  oils,  and  other articles of  food,  challenge  the validity  of S. 7 read with s. 2 (v) and 2 (ix), and S.  19, S.  2  (i) and s. 1 0 read with S. 13 of the  Prevention  of Food  Adult  Iteration Act 37 of 1954 and the  rules  framed thereunder.   They claim that by the Act and the  rules  the fundamental rights guaranteed under Arts. 14, 19 (1) (g) and 20(3) of the Constitution are infringed. The Parliament, with a view to control adulteration and mis- branding of articles of food, enacted the Prevention of Food Adulteration  Act, 1954.  The petitioners concede that  they do  not  claim a fundamental right to carry on  business  in adulterated or misbranded foodstuffs : they claim that ,they are  honest traders, and do not resort to  any  malpractice, still in carrying on their business in foodstuffs they  are, by  the  Act,  subjected  to  restrictions  which  are   not reasonable.  They contend that the Act presumes every trader charged  with an offence under S. 1 6 (1) (a) to  be  guilty and  imposes upon him the burden of proving that he  is  not guilty  of the offence charged, by establishing facts  which are not within his knowledge, or which without great expense wholly  incommensurate  with  his  means  and  the  facility available to him, he cannot establish.  They also claim that by the Act they are denied the equal protection of the  laws and  the  guarantee  of Art. 20(3) of  the  Constitution  is infringed. The  relevant  provisions of the Act may first  be  noticed. Section 7 of the Act provides               No  person shall himself or by any  person  on               his behalf manufacture for sale,or store, sell               or distribute-               (i)   any adulterated food;               (ii)  any misbranded food;               (iii)  any  article of food for  the  sale  of               which a               licence  is prescribed, except  in  accordance               with the conditions of the licence;               (iv)  any  article of food for  the   sale  of               which is for the time being prohibited by  the               Food  (Health)  Authority in the  interest  of               public health; or               (V)  any article of food in  contravention  of               any  other’  provision of this Act or  of  any               rule made thereunder."



169 By  s.10 a food inspector appointed under s. 9 ( 1 ) of  the Act  is authorised to take samples of any articles  of  food from any person selling such article, or from any person who is  in the course of conveying, delivering or  preparing  to deliver such article to a purchaser or consignee, or from  a consignee after delivery of any such article to him, and  to send  such sample for analysis to, the public  analyst,  and with  the  previous approval of the  health  officer  having jurisdiction  in the local area concerned, or with the  pre- vious  approval of the Food (Health) Authority  to  prohibit the  sale of any article of food in the interest  of  public health.  Sub-section (5) of s. 13 provides               "Any document purporting to be a report signed               by  a  public  analyst,  unless  it  has  been               superseded  under  sub-section  (3),  or   any               document purporting to be a certificate signed               by  the  Director of the  Central  Food  Labo-               ratory,  may be used as evidence of the  facts                             stated therein in any proceeding under  this Act               or  under  sections 272 to 276 of  the  Indian               Penal Code               Provided that any document purporting to be  a               certificate  signed  by the  Director  of  the               Central  Food  Laboratory shall be  final  and               conclusive   evidence  of  the  facts   stated               therein." Section  16(1)  prescribes the penalties : cls.  (a)  &  (f) which are relevant provide               "(1) If any person-               (a) whether by himself or by any other  person               on   his   behalf  imports   into   India   or               manufactures  for  sale, or stores,  sells  or               distributes any article of food-               (i) which is adulterated or misbranded or  the               sale  of  which  is  prohibited  by  the  Food               (Health)  authority in the interest of  public               health;               (ii)other  than an article of food  referred               to  in subclause (i), in contravention of  any               of  the provisions of this Act or of any  rule               made thereunder; or               (f) whether by himself or by any other  person               on  his  behalf gives to the  vendor  a  false               warranty in writing in respect of any  article               of food sold by him,               he  shall in addition to the penalty to  which               he  may  be  liable under  the  provisions  of               section  6, be punish-able  with  imprisonment               for a term which shall not be less than               L11Sup.Cl/70 12               170               six months but which may extend to six  years,               and with fine which shall not be less than one               thousand rupees: Provided that-                ................................. Section 19 deals with the defences which may, and which  may not, be allowed in prosecutions under the Act.  It provides               "(1)  It shall be no defence in a  prosecution               for  an offence pertaining to the sale of  any               adulterated  or misbranded article of food  to               allege merely that the vendor was ignorant  of               the  nature, substance or quality of the  food               sold  by  him  or that  the  purchaser  having



             purchased  any  article for analysis  was  not               prejudiced by the sale.               (2)  A  vendor  shall not be  deemed  to  have               committed an offence pertaining to the sale of               any adulterated or misbranded article of  food                             if he proves ’-               (a) that he purchased the article of food-               (i)  in a case where a licence  is  prescribed               for  the  sale thereof, from a  duly  licensed               manufacturer, distributor or dealer;               (ii) in any other case, from any manufacturer,               distributor or dealer               with  a  written warranty  in  the  prescribed               form; and               (b)  that  the article of food  while  in  his               possession  was  properly stored and  that  he               sold it in the same state as he purchased it.               (3)Any  person  by whom a  warranty  as  is               referred  to in section 14 is alleged to  have               been given shall be entitled to appear at  the               hearing and give evidence." "Food" is defined in S. 2(v) as meaning "any article used as food  or  drink for human consumption other than  drugs  and water  and includes-(a) any article which ordinarily  enters into, or is used in the composition or preparation of  human food, and (b) any flavouring matter or condiments". Clauses  (i)  and  (ix)  of  S.  2  define  the  expressions "adulterated" and "misbranded". According to counsel for the petitioners the Act imposes un- reasonable   restrictions,  because  it   creates   absolute liability  by S. 16(1) (a) and imposes severe penalties  for storage  and sale or distribution of articles of food  found to  be adulterated or misbranded, or prohibited by  law;  it prescribes standards which are technical, and absolute,  and for  the slightest departure therefrom the trader is  liable to be prosecuted and punished.  Counsel submitted that it is impossible for an ordinary trader without the 171 assistance of an expert technician to ascertain whether  the articles of food purchased by him comply with the prescribed standards, and that in prescribing the standards of  quality the imperceptible changes which take place in foodstuffs  by passage of time, are not taken into account. In  our judgment, the restrictions imposed upon the  conduct of  business  by  traders in  foodstuffs  cannot  be  deemed unreasonable.   By s. 16(1) provision is made  for  imposing penalties,   among   other  acts,  for  storage,   sale   or distribution  of articles of food which are  adulterated  or misbranded,  or  sale  of which is prohibited  by  the  Food (Health)authority  in the interest of the public health,  or is in contravention of the Act or the rules.  The Act, it is true,  does  not  make some  blame-worthy  mental  condition constituted by knowledge or intention relating to the nature of the article stored, sold or distributed, an ingredient of the offence.  Unless the case falls within sub-s. (2) of  s. 19,  if  sale,  storage  or  distribution  is   established, intention  to sell articles or knowledge that  the  articles are  adulterated,  misbranded,  or prohibited  need  no,  be proved  by  the prosecutor to bring home the  charge.   Sub- section  (1)  of s. 19 provides that it is no defence  in  a charge,  for  an  offence  pertaining to  the  sale  of  any adulterated  or misbranded article of food to allege  merely that  the  vendor was ignorant of the nature,  substance  or quality  of  the  food sold by him, or  that  the  purchaser having purchased any article for analysis was not prejudiced



by  the sale.  By that clause a bare plea of ignorance by  a trader  about the nature, substance or quality of  the  food sold  by  him  is not a defence in  a  prosecution  for  the offence  pertaining to the sale of any adulterated food  nor that the article was, purchased for analysis. But  in considering whether creation of  absolute  liability amounts to imposing unreasonable restrictions, the Court has to strike a balance between the individual right and  public weal.   The Courts will not strike down an Act  as  imposing unreasonable  restrictions  merely  because  it  creates  an absolute  liability  for  infringement  of  the  law   which involves  grave  danger to public health.  The  Courts  will undoubtedly  consider  whether  without  imposing   absolute liability  the  object of the statute  could  be  reasonably secured.   For  that  purpose the Court  will  consider  the object  of  ,the  Act, apprehended  danger  to.  the  public interest, arising out of the activity if not controlled  and the,  possibility of achieving the intended results by  less stringent   provisions.    The  nature  of  the   trade   in foodstuffs, the channels of supply and the movement of goods from  trader to trader and fertile sources  of  adulteration and  misbranding  make  it extremely difficult  in  a  large majority of cases to establish affirmatively that storage or sale  of  adulterated  or misbranded foodstuff  was  with  a guilty  mind.   Provisions  in  the  statute  book  creating absolute liability for sale of adulterated food are 172 fairly  common.  Section 3(1) of the English "Foods &  Drugs Act",  1938, imposes absolute duty on a dealer in  foodstuff regardless of negligence : Lindley v. George W. Horner & Co. Ltd.;(1) and Lamb v. Sunderland and District Creamery Ltd. 2 )  The same provision is repeated in S. 2 of the  "Food  and Drugs  Act", 1955.  In Halsbury’s Laws of England,  Vol.  10 (3rd Edn.) at p.273,     Art. 508, it is stated :-               "A  statutory crime may or may not contain  an               express  definition of the necessary state  of               mind.   A  statute  may  require  a   specific               intention,  malice, knowledge, wilfulness,  or               recklessness.   On the other hand, it  may  be               silent as to any requirement of mens rea,  and               in  such a case in order to determine  whether               or not mens rea is an essential element of the               offence,  it  is  necessary  to  look  at  the               objects  and  terms of the statute.   In  some               cases, the courts have concluded that  despite               the absence of express language the  intention               of  the  legislature was that mens rea  was  a               necessary  ingredient  of  the  offence.    In               others,  the statute has been  interpreted  as               creating  a strict liability  irrespective  of               mens rea.  Instances of this strict  liability                             have arisen on the legislation concern ing  food               and  drugs, liquor licensing, and  many  other               matters". In Mousell Brothers v. London and North Western Rail  Co.(3) Atkin, J., observed :               "......  yet the legislature may  prohibit  an               act  or enforce a duty in such words  to  make               the prohibitions or the duty absolute :.......               To  ascertain  whether  a  particular  Act  of               Parliament has that effect or not, regard must               be had to the object of the statute, the words               used,  the nature of the duty laid  down,  the               person whom it is imposed, the person by  whom



             it   would   in  ordinary   circumstances   be               performed,  and  the  person  upon  whom   the               penalty is imposed." In  Quality Dairies (York) Ltd. v. Pedley 4 ) the  Court  of Appeal  held that Regulation-26(1) of the Mill  and  Dairies Regulation,  1949,  requiring a distributor to  ensure  that every  vessel  used as a container for milk shall  be  in  a state   of   thorough  cleanliness,  imposed   an   absolute liability. It  is  true that for the protection of the liberty  of  the citizen,  in the definition of offences, blameworthy  mental condition  is  ordinarily an ingredient  either  by  express enactment or clear implica- (1)   [1950] 1 All.  E.R. 234. (3)  [1917] 2 K.B. 845. (2)  [1951] All.  E.R. 923. (4)  [1952] 1 All.  E..R. 380. 173 tion : but in Acts enacted to deal with a grave social evil, or  for.  ensuring public welfare,  especially  in  offences against public health, e.g., statutes regulating storage  or sale  of articles of food and drink, sale of drugs, sale  of controlled or scare commodities, it is often found necessary in  the larger public interest to provide for imposition  of liability without proof of a guilty mind. If  from  the scheme of the Act it appears  that  compliance with the regulatory provisions will be promoted by  imposing an  absolute  liability,  and that it  cannot  otherwise  be reasonably  ensured, the Court will be justified in  holding that  the restriction on the right of the trader is  in  the interest   of   the  general   public.    Adulteration   and misbranding  of foodstuffs is a rampant evil and  a  statute calculated  to  control  that evil is  indisputably  in  the interest  of  the  general public  :  The  statute  imposing restrictions  upon traders will not be  deemed  unreasonable merely  because  it  makes  a  departure  from  the   normal structure  of statutes enunciating offences and  prescribing punishments.  By sub-s. (2) of S. 19, even in respect of the absolute  offence, the Parliament has enacted that on  proof of  certain  facts,  criminal liability  will  be  excluded. Thereby a vendor is not deemed to have committed an  offence pertaining  to  the sale of any  adulterated  or  misbranded article of food if he proves that the purchased the  article of  food from a duly licensed manufacturer,  distributor  or dealer in a case where a licence is prescribed for the  sale thereof,  and  in  any other  case  from  any  manufacturer, distributor  of  dealer  with  a  written  warranty  in  the prescribed  form, provided the article of food while in  his possession  was properly stored and that he sold it  in  the same state as the purchased it.  The argument of counsel for the petitioners that the provision that a retail seller  who opens  a container of a branded article of food  loses  even the limited protection under s. 19(2) is without  substance. Clause (b) of sub-s. (2) of s. 19 does not provide, nor does it  imply,  that if the container of a  branded  article  is opened, the article of food ceases to be in them same  state in  which the vendor purchased it.  If the article of  food’ is sold in the same condition in which it was purchased from a  licensed manufacturer or dealer, or was purchased with  a warranty, the vendor will not lose the protection of  sub-s. (2) of S. 19 merely because he opened the container.  If the vendor   has   obtained   the  article   from   a   licensed manufacturer, distributor or dealer or from a  manufacturer, distributor  or  dealer with a warranty,  he  is  protected, provided he has property stored the article and sells it  in



the same state as he purchased the article, even if it turns out that the article was adulterated or misbranded.  The Act does  not  dispense with proof that the article of  food  is adulterated,  misbranded or that its sale is prohibited:  it enacts that a vendor selling articles of food adulterated or misbranded  cannot plead merely that he was ignorant of  the nature, substance or quality 174 of  the goods.  A statute enacted by the Parliament  in  the interest  of  public  health (which  is  generally  made  in similar  statutes  elsewhere)  imposing  liability  for   an offence  without  proof  of a guilty mind does  not  per  se impose restrictions on the, freedom to carry on trade  which are unreasonable. It is true that stringent penalties are provided under S. 16 (1)(a).   A vendor of adulterated, misbranded or  prohibited articles of food is punishable with imprisonment for a  term which  shall  not, in the absence of  adequate  and  special reasons,  be less than six months, and which may  extend  to six  years, and with fine which shall not be less  than  one thousand  rupees.  But for the protection of the  public  by ensuring  the  purity of articles of. food supplied  to  the people  and  preventing  malpractices  by  the  traders   in articles  of  food,  severity of the  penalties  is  not  so disproportionate  to the gravity of the offence that it  may be deemed unreasonable. We  are again unable to accept the argument that  under  the Act  even when an article is purchased not as an article  of food,  but  for  use otherwise, the vendor  will  be  deemed guilty  if the article does not conform to  the  ’prescribed standards,  or  is  as  an article  of  food  adulterate  or misbranded.   Counsel said that coconut oil is used  in  the State of Kerala as a cooking medium, and sale of adulterated coconut oil may in Kerala be an offence under S. 16, but  in other parts of the country where coconut oil is not used  as a  cooking medium and is used as a component of hair oil  or for  other purposes, it amounts to imposing an  unreasonable restriction  to  penalise the vendor who sells  coconut  oil knowing  that the, purchaser is not buying it as  a  cooking medium.   But there are no articles which are used  as  food only in one part, and are not at all used as food in another part of the country.  Even coconut oil is used as a  cooking medium  by certain sections of the people in parts of  India other  than  Kerala.  In any event it is always  open  to  a person  selling  an  article capable of  being  used  as  an article of food as well as for other purpose, to inform  the purchaser by clear notice that the, article sold or supplied is  not intended to be used as an article of food.  What  is penalised  by s. 16(1) is importation manufacture for  sale, or  storage, sale, or distribution Of any article  of  food. If  what  is  imported  manufactured  or  stored,  sold   or distributed  is not an article of food, evidently  S.16  can have no application. The  various items in the Schedule seting out  standards  of quality  use  technical expressions with which  an  ordinary retail  dealer  may  not  be  familiar,  and  also  set  out percentages of components which the dealer with the means at his command 175 cannot  verify.  But by S. 3, the Central Government has  to set  up the Central Committee for Food ’Standards to  advise the Central and the State Governments on matters arising out of the administration of the Act.  The Committee consists of experts and representatives of the Central Government and of the  State  Governments and the Director General  of  Health



Services  is its Chairman.  Under S. 23 (1) (b) the  Central Government makes rules prescribing the standards of  quality and the limits of variability permissible in any article  of food.   The  rules  are made  after  consultation  with  the Committee for Food Standards.  The standards set out in  the Appendix to the Rules are prescribed after consultation with the  Committee  for Food Standards.  It has  not  been  even urged that the standards have been fixed arbitrarily.’ Apart from  a general argument that small retail dealers may  not, be  in  a position to ascertain whether goods  purchased  by them or in their possession are according to the  standards, no  specific argument was advanced that the  standards,  are not  normal,  or that the variations in quality  during  the course of storage are unreasonably restricted. This  Court in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Kartar Singh(1)  in which in dealing with an argument of invalidity of the  rule setting   out  standards  under  the  Prevention   of   Food Adulteration Act observed :               "The   standards  themselves,  it   would   be               noticed,  have been prescribed by the  Central               Government on the advice of a Committee  which               included in its composition persons considered               experts  in the field of food  technology  and               food  analysis.  In the circumstances, if  the               rule  has  to  be  struck  down  as   imposing               unreasonable  or discriminatory standards,  it               could  not  be  done merely on  any  a  priori                             reasoning  but  only as a result  of materials               placed  before the Court by way of  scientific               analysis.  . . . That where a party  seeks  to               impeach  the  validity  of a rule  made  by  a               competent authority . . . . . . the burden  is               on him to plead and prove the infirmity is too               well  established  to need  elaboration.   If,               therefore, the respondent desired to challenge               the validity of the rule on the ground  either               of its unreasonableness or-its  discriminatory               nature,  he had to lay a foundation for it  by               setting  out  the facts necessary  to  sustain               such  a plea and adduce cogent and  convincing               evidence to make out his case, for there is  a               presumption   that  every  factor   which   is               relevant  or  material  has  been  taken  into               account  in formulating the classification  of               the zones and the, prescription of the minimum (1)  [1964] 6 S.C.R. 679. 176               standards  to each zone, and where we  have  a               rule framed with the assistance of a Committee               containing   ex.   perts  such  as   the   one               constituted  under  s.  3  of  the  Act,  that               presumption is strong, if not overwhelming." In  the petitions a plea was raised that by the Act and  the Rules,  the  guarantee  of Art. 14  was  infringed,  but  no argument  was  presented  before  us  independently  of  the argument  relating  to infringement of the  guarantee  under Art.  19(1)(g),  in support of the contention that  the  Act infringed the guarantee of equality before the law or  equal protection  of the laws.  The Act deals with the  regulation of  a  class  of  traders, and in  view  of  the  widespread malpractices, and the practical difficulties of  controlling those  malpractices, stringent provisions have been made  by the  Act.  The classification is founded on an  intelligible differentia  and the differentia has a rational relation  to



the object sought to be achieved.  The provisions of the Act again  do not invest arbitrary authority upon those who  are to administer the Act. nor can it be said that the standards prescribed are arbitrary. The Act does not infringe the guarantee of Art.20(3) of the, Constitution.   By  that  clause no person  accused  of  any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against  himself. But  by enacting that a plea by the vendor in a  prosecution for  an  offence  pertaining  to  sale  of  adulterated   or misbranded  article  of food, that he was  ignorant  of  the nature,  substance  or quality will not be  a  defence,  the guarantee  under  Art. 20(3) is not infringed.   The  vendor when charged with an offence is not thereby compelled to  be a  witness  against  himself.  Nor can it be  said  that  by making the report of the Director of Central Food Laboratory conclusive  evidence of the facts stated therein,  any  such infringement is intended.  The provision has been made  with a view to secure formal evidence of facts without  requiring the  Director  to remain present, and in’  the  interest  of effective administration of the Act, the certificate  signed by the Director of the Central Food Laboratory is made final and  conclusive evidence of the facts stated  therein.   The Director   is  a  highly  placed  official,  an  expert   in determining  the nature, substance and quality of food,  and is  wholly  disinterested in the result of any  case  coming before  the Courts.  It is difficult to appreciate how  con- clusiveness  attributed to the certificate of  the  Director compels the vendor charged with an offence under the Act  to be a witness The  petitions  fail  and are  dismissed  with  costs.   One hearing fee Y.P.             Petition dismissed. 177