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Case Summary : NATHULAL VS. STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH

CITATION- AIR 1966 SC 43

BENCH- K. SUBBARAO, J.C. SHAH, R.S. BACHAWAT JJ.

FACTS INVOLVED –  

  • Appellant was dealer in food grains at Dhar in Madhya Pradesh. He was prosecuted in the court of ADM, Dhar for having stock of 885 Maunds & 21/4 seers of wheat for sale without a proper licence for the same.
  • He was charged U/S. 7 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
  • Additional District Magistrate acquitted him on the ground that he didn’t had any kind of guilty mind, he deposited the required fee & stored the grains only after applying for license & in anticipation of  that it would be issued.
  •  The case went for appeal, Division Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court set aside ADMs order of acquittal, convicted him on the ground of theft & sentenced appellant for one year along with fine of 2, ooo.
  • Case thereafter, went to Supreme Court.

ISSUES INVOLVED-

  • Whether the act of appellant violated Madhya Pradesh Food grains Dealers Licensing Order, 1958.
  • Role of mens rea in the case

JUDGMENT-

  • Supreme Court held that the fact that licensing authority didn’t communicated to him rejection of his application confirmed accuser’s innocence & he didn’t intentionally contravened the provisions of Section 7, Essential Commodities Act,1955.
  • Shah J. quoted,” definitions of diverse offences under IPC state with precision that a particular act or omission to be an offence must be done maliciously, dishonestly, fraudulently, intentionally, negligently or knowingly………… the general rule is that a crime is not committed unless the contravener has mens rea……”
  • It was held though appellant had contravened the provisions without mens rea but it was state authorities that acted negligently. They didn’t allow him a hearing before rejecting his application for license & didn’t even inform him about its rejection.
  • Supreme Court set aside conviction of appellant by High Court & he was acquitted of the offence. The order forfeiting the stocks of food grains was also set aside. It was also held that there was no contravention of Madhya Pradesh Food grains Dealers Licensing Order, 1958.

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