The Karnataka high court upheld the order passed by the trial court wherein he was sentenced to six months simple imprisonment with a Rs 1,000 fine, after holding him guilty under the provisions of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, for selling adulterated as well as misbranded coffee powder.
On June 20, 2008, a food inspector and his staff visited M/s Select Coffee Works on Azad Road, Sakleshpur, and inspected the coffee seeds and its powder meant for sale.
The team noticed that Syed Ahmed was selling adulterated coffee powder and had misbranded the product too.
The team purchased 600 grams of coffee powder and tested it. The report confirmed that the coffee was adulterated and misbranded as it was found that the caffeine content in it was 0.4% (as against the standard of not less than 0.6 %) and aqueous extract was 55 % (as against not more than 50%) and that the batch number and ‘best before’ was not printed.
A complaint was registered and on June 20, 2016, after trial, the magistrate court held Syed Ahmed guilty. It was challenged before the sessions court at Hassan and on March 14, 2018, the order passed by the trial court was confirmed.
Challenging these orders, Syed Ahmed argued that the analyst’s report doesn’t say that the commodity/article was injurious to health. Another argument was that there was no misbranding since it was a small shop where he was only a retailer in coffee seeds and powder.
The HC government pleader argued that not mentioning batch number and ‘best before’ on the packet itself is misbranding.
“Admittedly, the food article sold was not labelled in accordance with requirement of the Act and the rules made there under, by mentioning its batch number, ‘best before’ and ‘veg’ or ‘non-veg’ symbol, which is clearly an offence under Section 7(i) and 7(ii) punishable under Section 16(1)(a) of the Act” Justice HB Prabhakara Sastry has noted in his order .
The judge noted that petitioner Syed Ahmed also failed to convince the court that the coffee powder was a primary food as defined under Section 2(xiia) of the Act. Citing the facts and circumstances of the case, the HC said that the sentence ordered by the trial was proportionate to the gravity of the proven guilt against the accused. “I do not find any perversity, illegality or error in the impugned judgments warranting any interference at the hands of this court,” Justice Prabhakara Sastry ruled.