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HC quashes conviction in 19-year-old milk adulteration case

The conviction of a dealer and the nominee of a milk packaging firm for selling adulterated milk has been set aside by the Delhi High Court.

New Delhi: The conviction of a dealer and the nominee of a milk packaging firm for selling adulterated milk has been set aside by the Delhi High Court nearly 19 years after they were booked for the offense.
Justice Manmohan set aside their convictions on the basis of "sharp and substantive variation" in two different reports on tests of the purity of the dairy product.

"Two reports prepared by the Public Analyst and the director, Central Food Laboratory (CFL) show a sharp and substantive variation in both `milk solid not fat` and `milk fat` contents. Consequently, the samples drawn by the respondent (Delhi Government) cannot be said to be representative and no conviction is permissible on the basis of the said reports," Justice Manmohan said.

The high court`s order came on two petitions, filed seven years ago, by milk dealer M/s Raja Ram Seth & Sons and K D Yadav, a nominee of the milk packaging firm M/s. Amrit Foods of Ghaziabad, against the judgements of trial courts.
The accused were convicted by a magisterial court in 2003 under the Food & Adulteration Act for selling adulterated double-toned milk in a store at Kamla Nagar on June 19, 1993.

Their appeals against the conviction were dismissed by a sessions court in 2005. Consequently, revision petitions were filed in the high court against the verdict.
Justice Manmohan took note of differences in the two test reports of the seized milk and set aside the conviction.

A food inspector had collected milk sample from a confectionery store at Kamla Nagar in North Delhi in 1993 and got it tested by a public analyst, who, in his report, said, "There was an adulteration because `milk solid not fat` was 8.4 per cent which was less than the prescribed minimum percentage of 9 per cent."

Later, at the request of the accused, the court got the
milk sample tested again by CFL, which in its report, said, "the `milk solid not fat` was 9.8 per cent which was above the minimum prescribed percentage of 9 per cent.

However, as far as `milk fat` is concerned, the report found the content to be 0.2 per cent which was less than minimum prescribed percentage of 1.5 per cent."

"If the variation in the two reports is substantial enough, the public analyst`s report can certainly be looked into to establish this variation so as to support the contention of the petitioner that the sample was not representative," the high court said.

"We find that the variation, as indicated above, is more than 0.3 per cent. Therefore, on the facts of the present case, it can be said that the variation is beyond the acceptable range and would clearly imply that the samples were not representative.

"In view of this finding and in the background of the law which is well settled, no conviction can be sustained," it said.