85-yr-old files plea in SC against 6-month jail in 1981 milk adulteration case

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The plea also raises a question of law, i.e., whether it would serve the interest of society to keep the man incarcerated any further with little chance of him committing the same offence again.

An 85-year-old man has filed a plea in the Supreme Court against the Allahabad High Court's order sentencing him to six months in jail for adulterating buffalo milk in 1981.

In his special leave petition, Virendra Singh, a resident of Bulandshahr, stated that as he has already undergone two months of jail with remission and paid the fine of Rs 2,000, he should be released in view of his deteriorating health conditions.

A counsel on his behalf mentioned the matter before a vacation bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Rajesh Bindal, which agreed to consider his plea for suspension of sentence on Thursday.

The petitioner, who has been on bail throughout, surrendered on April 20, 2023.

In his plea, he said the sentence of remaining period out of six month deserves to be substituted by fine of the reasonable amount, looking to the facts and circumstances of the present case specially the facts that 42 years have elapsed from the incident and the petitioner while being in his age of late eighties and suffering with chronic disease of lungs, kidney and asthma and lying on the hospital bed of jail since custody, has already undergone one third (two months) of the sentence.

His plea also raised a question of law, among others, whether it would serve the interest of society to keep him incarcerated any further with little chance of him committing the same offence again.

The case related to selling of adulterated buffalo milk on October 7,1981 by the petitioner. 

His milk was checked by the Food Inspector and its sample was sent to the public analyst. As per report, the milk was found adulterated as the alleged fatty solids were 28% less than standard and non fatty solids were 12% less than the standard.

A court of Judicial Magistrate, Khurja by its judgement and order of September 29, 1984 found the petitioner guilty of offence punishable under section 7/16 of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. He was sentenced him to one year rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 2000 under section 16(1)(a)(i) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act,1954 without compliance of section 13(2) of the PFA Act.

On appeal, Sessions Judge, Bulandshahar had on July 14, 1987 affirmed the conviction and sentence awarded by the Judicial Magistrate, Khurja.

On January 30, 2013, the High Court, while dismissing the criminal revision, reduced the sentence to six months imprisonment with fine of Rs 2000 without considering the law laid down in Laskari Ram vs State of HP, (2001) passed by the Supreme Court. The top court had then held that minimum sentence, which the Act provides for the offence when the food article is primary food, is imprisonment for three months and a fine of Rs 500, his plea contended.