Jayanta Kr. Das Vs. State of Assam

Mauli Bisen

This case revolves around a businessman and his attempts of getting a pre-arrest bail which was previously rejected 3 times. The case brings on a debate regarding Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act which comprises religion of an individual depending upon a neighbourhood that has seen several amendments.
The case study is predicated on judgments given by the Supreme Court of Gauhati that bring forth, an offense committed under Section 7(1) of essential commodities Act 1955 which may be a bailable offence.
In the supreme court of Gauhati
CASE NAME: JAYANTA KR. DAS V. STATE OF ASSAM
CITATIONS: A.B. NO. 1205 OF 2017
YEAR OF THE CASE: 27TH OCTOBER 2017
APPELLANT: SHRI JAYANTA KUMAR DAS
RESPONDENT: STATE OF ASSAM
BENCH: MR. JUSTICE UJJAL BHUYAN MR. JUSTICE PARAN KUMAR PHUKAN
IMPORTANT PROVISIONS: SECTION 7(1) OF THE ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES ACT, 1955, SECTION 10A WITHIN THE ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES ACT, 1955

Introduction
How mistakes and amendments led to delay during a person’s bail plea is what's illustrated within this case study. Jayanta Kumar Das, whose plea for pre-arrest bail was denied three-times, finally was captured on in his fourth attempt. His two trucks filled with rice were caught on the highway and it had been alleged that the rice was predestined for public distribution and he has bought it on a subsidized rate and was going to sell it for his gain.
Several cases were taken under consideration before taking the judgement on this particular case. The landmark cases taken into consideration were- Prithviraj Chandrakant Shinde Vs State of Maharashtra, Kailash Kumar Agarwalla Vs State of Assam, Usha Sinha Case and Hekm Ali Vs State of Assam.
In all the above cases, the court held that offences under the given Section are bailable.

Background of the Case
Petitioner had approached the Court for the pre-arrest bail on three occasions earlier. However, the anticipatory bail applications were rejected all the three times. Then the fourth anticipatory bail application was filed by the petitioner. At this point it was specifically pleaded that offences under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (briefly “the EC Act” hereinafter) are bailable.

Facts of the Case
1. The petitioner claims to be a businessman of Barpeta. The primary evidence was lodged before the Officer from CID police headquarters, Assam by Shri Nirmal Baishya, APS, Additional Superintendent of Police, CID, Assam on 07-12-2012 saying that on the plan of particular source details, two trucks were seized (grabbed) on NH 37 at Amingaon, Guwahati on 07-12-2012 at about 7 AM.
2. When the search was conducted of the 2 trucks, 60 bags of rice of fifty kg each were retrieved. It had been alleged that the rice was predestined for public distribution.
3. On command, the 2 drivers, Md. Rafiqul Islam and Md. Miahsan Ali, showed two road challans viewing 17 quintals of Ijong rice in each challan within the name of M/S Das & Singha Wholesalers of Barpeta.
4. On further inspection of the drivers, it brings to light that the delivery was owned by the petitioner and was stocked at Patbausi, Barpeta, as per the direction of the petitioner for conveyance to a warehouse at Khanapara possessed by Shri Kamal Bhatera.
5. It had been specified that petitioner, Shri Kamal Bhatera and other persons want to gather rice intended for public distribution at Government-subsidized rate and sell an equivalent within the open marketplace for wrongful gains, thereby stinging eligible consumers from availing subsidized rice under the general public distribution system (PDS).
6. The primary data was treated as FIR and supported the same; CID PS Case No. 96/2012 beneath Section 7(1) of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 was set down.
Issues Involved
Under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (EC Act), offences are bailable or not?

Related Provisions
- Section 7(1) of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955: Any package, covering or receptacle during which the property is found and any animal, vehicle, vessel or other conveyance utilized in carrying the commodity shall, if the court so orders, be forfeited to the government.

- Section 10A within the EC Act, 1955: Offences to be cognizable nevertheless anything contained in [the CrPC, 1973 (2 of 1974)] states that every offence is punishable under this Act. and shall be cognizable.

Arguments Advanced
In this case, it had been contended that within the case of Hekm at Ali Vs State of Assam: An interlocutory application was filed by the petitioner which was contending that the word “not” appearing within the order dated 02-02-2016 was due to an inadvertent typographical error; and in actuality, the order was that the offence under Section 7 of the EC Act was a bailable one. Thus, another order dated 05-02-2016, in which the word “not” was appearing within the order dated 02-02-2016 was deleted and it had been ordered that an offence under Section 7 of the EC Act was a bailable one which was directed to be read as a part of the order dated 02-02-2016.
A Single Bench of this Court in Kailash Kumar Agarwalla Vs State of Assam, 2004 mentioned the case of Parm asiva Pandian and held that Section 7 of the EC Act is bailable. This decision was rendered on 31-05-2004. Since then this Court had proceeded on the idea that offences under the EC Act are bailable. The only Bench in Hekm at Ali followed this precedent by reiterating that offence under Section 7 of the EC Act may be bailable ones.
Therefore, according to the order dated 02-02-2016 passed in Hekm at Ali Vs State of Assam, which was further clarified by order dated 05-02-2016, an offence may be bailable under Section 7 of the EC Act.
In the case of Prithviraj Chandrakant Shinde Vs State of Maharashtra, the Bombay Supreme Court said that in 1981, Section 10 A of the EC Act was revised and an offence under Section 7 was made non-bailable. This amendment came into effect from 01-09-1982. Initially, it had been for a period of 5 years; thereafter it had been extended for an additional 5 years and again for an extra period of 5 years, which is total of 15 years. However, there was no extension of the amended provision after 15 years and thus the amendment was deleted. This thus means that the position which existed before 1981 stood revived. Now, consequently, Section 10 A would need to be read as “offences under the EC Act are cognizable “. It had been held that merely because the words “non-bailable” stood deleted, it might not mean that each one the offences under the EC Act would be bailable. Under the EC Act by applying the provisions of CrPC, 1973, an offence can be non-bailable or bailable as per the quantum of punishment provided. A similar view has been taken by the Orissa Supreme Court within the case of Usha Sinha Vs State of Orissa.
Judgement
The Court observed that they have the well-thought-out opinion stating that the view taken by the Court in Kailash Kumar Agarwalla and followed subsequently within the case of Hekm at Ali is of the correct clarification of the legal position vis- à-vis Sections 7 and 10 A of the EC Act.
Considering the above two mentioned cases and stating the explanations, the court didn’t believe and sufficed them to the opinions press out by the Bombay Supreme Court within the case of Prithviraj Chandrakant Shinde and by the Orissa Supreme Court in Usha Sinha Vs State of Orissa.

Thus, the court said that Section 10A of the EC Act, because its stance reinstated, assembles an offence under Section 7 of the EC Act bailable.

Highlighted Concept
From this case, it is often inferred that the offences under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 are bailable.
References
https://indiankanoon.org/doc/8216218/
https://www.lawyerservices.in/Jayanta-Kumar-Das-Versus-State-of-Assam-2017-10-27
https://www.casemine.com/search/in/FACTS%20OF%20jayanta%20kumar%20das%20v(DOT)%20state%20of%20assam%202017
https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/nsel-case-ed-rejects-bail-of-kailash-agarwal-116102100595_1.html#:~:text=The%20special%20ED%20(Enforcement%20Directorate,Imports%20defaulting%20payment%20of%20NSEL.
https://indiankanoon.org/doc/774360/