storage of excess paddy
THE HON'BLE MR JUSTICE B. CHANDRA KUMAR
Crl.R.C.No.1015 of 2010
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
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.50 of 2010, whereby and whereunder the appellate authority dismissed the appeal confirming the order dated 27.11.2009 passed by the Joint Collector, Krishna District at Machilipatnam in E.C.P.No.142 of 2009.
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, she had stored 56 quintals of paddy of BPT variety vide deposit No.11812. 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 dated 20.07.2009 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 having Ac.2.00 of agricultural land in Sy.No.72/6 of Thotagumma, Veerulpadu Mandal and therefore, he cannot be treated as a Dealer and therefore, the order of confiscation is not tenable.
5. Admittedly, the petitioner herein has stored 56 quintals of paddy in State Warehousing Corporation, Jaggaiahpet. The entries in the pattadar pass book show that the appellant owns Ac.2.00 of land in R.S.No.72/6 of Thotagumma, Veerulpadu Mandal and it is shown as 'metta' indicating dry land. The petitioner has not produced the Adangal for the relevant year to show that he has cultivated paddy. 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 purchased 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.
6. Both the Courts below have considered the material placed by the petitioner in detail and categorically given a finding that the petitioner did not produce any document to show that she has produced the paddy crop.
7. Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, I deem it appropriate to modify the order dated 27.11.2009 passed by the Joint Collector, Krishna District at Machilipatnam to the effect that 25% of the seized paddy shall be confiscated to the Government.
8. With the above modification, the Criminal Revision Case is disposed of, at the stage of admission.