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The State of Maharashtra and Ors. Vs. Sayyed Hassan Sayyed Subhan and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (20 Sep 2018)

No bar to a trial or conviction of an offender under two different enactments, but bar is only to punishment of offender twice for offence



In present matter, First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered for transportation and sale of Gutka/Pan Masala for offences punishable Under Sections 26 and 30 of the Food and Safety Standards Act, 2006 ('FSS Act') and Sections 188, 272, 273 and 328 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 ('IPC'). The Respondents in the above appeals filed Criminal Writ Petitions and Criminal Applications in the High Court of Bombay for quashing the FIRs. The High Court quashed the criminal proceedings against the Respondents and declared that the Food Safety Officers can proceed against the Respondents under the provisions of Chapter X of the FSS Act. Aggrieved thereby, the State of Maharashtra has filed present appeal.

There is no dispute that, Section 55 of the FSS Act provides for penalty to be imposed for non compliance of the requirements of the Act, Rules or Regulations or orders issued thereunder by the Food Safety Officer. The High Court is clearly wrong in holding that, action can be initiated against defaulters only under Section 55 of FSS Act or proceedings under Section 68 for adjudication have to be taken. A further error was committed by the High Court in interpreting the scope of Section 188 of the IPC. Section 188 of the IPC does not only cover breach of law and order, the disobedience of which is punishable. Section 188 is attracted even in cases where the act complained of causes or tends to cause danger to human life, health or safety as well.

There is no bar to a trial or conviction of an offender under two different enactments, but the bar is only to the punishment of the offender twice for the offence. Where an act or an omission constitutes an offence under two enactments, the offender may be prosecuted and punished under either or both enactments but shall not be liable to be punished twice for the same offence. The same set of facts, in conceivable cases, can constitute offences under two different laws. An act or an omission can amount to and constitute an offence under the Indian Penal Code and at the same time, an offence under any other law.

In Hat Singh's case this Court discussed the doctrine of double jeopardy and Section 26 of the General Clauses Act, 1987 to observe that prosecution under two different Acts is permissible if the ingredients of the provisions are satisfied on the same facts. A perusal of the provisions of the FSS Act would make it clear that, there is no bar for prosecution under the IPC merely because the provisions in the FSS Act prescribe penalties. Therefore, the findings of the High Court are set aside.

The matters remanded to the High Court to consider the Criminal Writ Petitions and Criminal Applications afresh in respect of the point framed i.e. whether offences under Section 188, 272, 273 and 328 of the IPC are made out in the FIRs which are the subject matter of the cases.

Relevant : State of Rajasthan v. Hat Singh MANU/SC/0006/2003 : (2003) 2 SCC 152


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