Exercise of Article 142 and Section 433 of CrPC
In a recent judgment delivered by the Supreme Court, the Court held that Article 142 of the Indian Constitution cannot be invoked in an order to pass the order that will be totally contrary to law. In this case, a sample of milk as collected from the accused by the Food Inspector and upon inspection; it was found that the proportion of Milk Solid Non-fat (MSNF) in the sample was 7.7% as against the prescribed standard of 8.5%.
However, the contentions were raised that there was only a marginal difference between the sample and the prescribed standard. Another contention that was taken up by the accused was that the appellant was not given the opportunity to send a second sample to the Central Food Laboratory (CFL,) as is provided for under Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.
However, rejecting the contentions the Court said that the standards set under the legislation need to be followed. Whether any substance is adulterated or not will be decided only on the basis of the standards prescribed under the Act. If those are not up to the mark, even the slightest deviation will not be ignored and it will be treated as the adulterated substance.
The appellant prayed for the commutation of the sentence under Article 142 of the Constitution less than the punishment prescribed by the law. The Court while rejecting this prayer stated that the Court cannot nullify the minimum punishment which is prescribed by the law. The Bench stated that today if less punishment is awarded than that, is prescribed by the legislation in the food adulteration case than tomorrow the people will ask for the same redressal in the matters of rape and murder too.
The appellant also sought remedy under Section 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1872.
Section 433 reads as under:
Power to commute sentence: The appropriate Government may, without the consent of the person sentenced, commute-
(a) a sentence of death, for any other punishment provided by the Indian Penal Code
(b) a sentence of imprisonment for life, for imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years or for fine;
(c) a sentence of rigorous imprisonment, for simple imprisonment for any term to which that person might have been sentenced, or for fine;
(d) a sentence of simple imprisonment, for fine.
As per the stated Section, the appropriate Government has the authority to commute the sentences without the permission of the person sentenced. In this regard, the Court said that only the appropriate State Government has the authority to commute the sentences, the concerned Court or any other Court does not have the power to do so. At best, the Court can recommend the appropriate Government that such power can be exercised but the final decision is in the hands of the Government only. Therefore, this power is beyond the jurisdiction of the Court.
Keeping in mind all the facts, contentions raised and the remedies that are prayed for the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.