ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES ACT

THE HON'BLE MR JUSTICE B. CHANDRA KUMAR
Crl.R.C.No.1016 of 2010
27-05-2010
Utukuri Nagabraham
The State of A.P., rep. by its Public Prosecutor, High Court of A.P., and another
Counsel for petitioner: Sri G. Narasimha Rao
Counsel for Respondents: Public Prosecutor
:ORDER:
This revision has been filed challenging the order
dated 31.03.2010 passed by the learned Sessions Judge, Krishna Division, Machilipatnam in E.C.Appeal No.49 of 2010, whereby and whereunder the appellate authority dismissed the appeal confirming the order dated 06.11.2009 passed by the Joint Collector, Krishna District at Machilipatnam in E.C.P.No.140 of 2009.
2. Heard.
3. The facts, in brief, are as follows:
On credible information that BPT/preferred varieties of paddy had been stored in huge quantities unauthorizedly in State Warehousing Corporation, Jaggaiahpet, by the traders on benami names and that such illegal storage has resulted in abnormal increase in the prices of rice of BPT/preferred varieties and thereby, public in general were not in a position to purchase the rice, the Assistant Grain Purchasing Officer, Vijayawada, accompanied by the Regional Vigilance and Enforcement Officials and Civil Supplies Officials constituting a team, surprised the State Warehousing Corporation, Jaggaiahpet, at about 11.30 AM on 03.06.2009. As far as the petitioner/appellant is concerned, he had stored 49 quintals of paddy of BPT variety vide deposit No.11853. The respondent filed a complaint under Section 6-A of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (for short 'the Act') and the seized quantity was handed over to the In-charge Manager, State Warehousing Corporation, Jaggaiahpet, for safe custody under proper acknowledgment. A show cause notice was issued under Section 6-B of the Act framing two charges. The Joint Collector, Krishna Division, Machilipatnam, having considered the facts and circumstances of the case, ordered confiscation of 50% of the seized paddy in favour of the Government. Aggrieved by the same, the petitioner preferred an appeal before the District and Sessions Court, Krishna Division, Machilipatnam, who in turn dismissed the same by the impugned order.
4. The only contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the petitioner is an agriculturist and that he has produced the paddy and stored the same at the State Warehousing Corporation, Jaggaiahpet, as a farmer and not as a trader and therefore, the order of confiscation is not tenable.
5. Admittedly, the petitioner herein did not whisper how much extent he owned and whether he had raised crops with the water source in wetland. The learned Joint Collector having perused the pahanies for Faslies 1417 and 1418 issued by the Village Revenue Officer, Tatigummi, Veerulapadu Mandal, concerning Sy.No.72/6 belonging to the mother of the petitioner and also pahani for the same year concerning Ac.1.67 cents of land, described as 'metta' land, in which it is shown that Mirchi crop was raised. It clearly indicates that the petitioner herein has not produced any evidence to show that he is an agriculturist and that he owned any wetland and produced the paddy in his own land. The petitioner claimed that he is the owner of Sy.No.72/6 measuring Ac.1.67 cents. The record shows that mirchi crop was raised in that land. Moreover, a part of the land was leased out to M. Lakshma Reddy, who has raised cotton crop.
6. In view of the above facts, it is clear that the petitioner cannot be treated as an agriculturist, who produced the paddy by his personal cultivation or for seed purpose. In the absence of any material and in view of the categorical finding of the Joint Collector and the learned Sessions Judge that there is no evidence to show that the petitioner produced paddy crop, he cannot be treated as an agriculturist within the meaning of Clause 2(4) of Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Commodities Dealers (Licensing, Storage and Regulation) Order, 2008 (for short 'the Order, 2008'), which defines 'Dealer' as under: "Dealer in relation to foodgrains' means a person engaged in the business of purchase, sale or storage but excluding importers for sale of any one of the food grains in the schedule-I in quantity exceeding twenty quintals at any one time, or in quantity of exceeding fifty quintals of all food grains taken together, but does not include a farmer/agriculturist/ryot, who stores foodgrains produced by his for personal cultivation or for seed purpose".
Thus, it is clear that except a farmer /agriculturist/ryot, who stores foodgrains produced by his personal cultivation or for seed purpose, any other person, who engaged in the business of purchase, sale or storage but excluding importers for sale of any one of the foodgrains in the Schedule-I in quantity exceeding twenty quintals at any one time, or in quantity of exceeding fifty quintals of all foodgrains taken together, has to be treated as a 'Dealer' within the meaning of Clause 2(4) of the Order, 2008.
7. Both the Courts below have considered the material placed by the petitioner in detail and had categorically given a finding that the petitioner did not produce any document to show that he has produced the paddy crop.
8. Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, I deem it appropriate to modify the order dated 06.11.2009 passed by the Joint Collector, Krishna District at Machilipatnam to the effect that 25% of the seized paddy shall be confiscated to the Government.
9. With the above modification, the Criminal Revision Case is disposed of, at the stage of admission.

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