‘Misbranding of food is a rampant evil in India’
A local court here on Wednesday convicted two traders for misbranding saffron and sentenced each of them to two years’ imprisonment with Rs 5000 fine.
Court of judicial magistrate first class Pampore Fozia Paul convicted Ghulam Hassan Dar son of Nabir Dar and Shabir Ahmad Dar son of Mohammad Maqbool of Bafina Pampore.
The court in its judgment said, Pampore town has been known for its cultivation of finest saffron, which is a very costly spice. “The accused have misbranded the saffron with the result (they) have put the authenticity of pure saffron at stake. The intention of the accused was to fraudulently sell the misbranded saffron to people particularly the visitors coming to Kashmir at exorbitant rates.”
On 14-01-2010 police station Pampore had received a written report regarding the adulteration of saffron and accordingly many residential houses were searched by the police. During the search operation, according to the police, it had recovered yellow colour sack (Troda) from the house of one of the accused.
“Some fibres of flowers of saffron and maize plant in a semi-dry state were found along by the police with semi-dry snuff and white colour satchel,” the court order reads.
It said, “From the house of another accused the police recovered some powders and fibres in semi-dry form.”
Accordingly a case FIR for commission of offences u/s 16 PFA Act, 3/7 E.C Act, 420, 272, 274, 276 of RPC was lodged against accused and investigation had been taken up.
The recovered material was sent to FSL Srinagar, site plan was prepared and statements of witnesses were recorded, police had told the court.
During the investigation from different corners and a report from FSL Srinagar, it was testified that accused were involved in making duplicate saffron, the court order reads.
While concluding trial, the court found the accused guilty of the commission of offence under section 16 of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (1954). “Both the accused are sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of two years and are imposed a fine of Rs 5000 each under section 16 of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.
“In case of default in payment of fine they shall undergo further imprisonment of a period of six months,” the court directed.
The court said, “The adulteration and misbranding of food is a rampant evil in India. This act is enacted to deal with a grave social evil and for ensuring public welfare, especially in offences against public health.
“It is often found necessary in the larger public interest to provide for imposition of liability without proof of a guilty mind.
“Misbranding of foodstuffs is a rampant evil and a statute calculated to control that evil is indisputably in the interest of general public.
“Ignorance of law cannot be accepted. Therefore benefit of section 562 of Cr. P. C cannot be given to the accused,” the court said.
The court finally directed both the accused present in the court to be taken into custody and be sent to central jail Srinagar for the imprisonment.