The Supreme Court in the case Suresh v. State of MP observed and has quashed the chargesheet in a case wherein it was alleged that the appellants were cheating thousands of customers by supplying an adulterated mixture instead of petrol or diesel.
The court in the case observed and has emphasized that the prosecution’s reliance on the charge sheet without a supporting expert opinion on the nature of the liquid seized makes the case untenable.
The court in the case observed that the entire foundation of the charge sheet is that there was a hydrocarbon mixture in the seized tanker, which looks precisely like petrol and diesel and smells like petrol and diesel. Thus, the respondent did not produce an expert’s report with regards to the precise nature of the liquid in the tanker and unless there being the material forming part of the chargesheet to show the nature of the liquid, no offense is made out.
The court stated that absence of an expert’s report cast doubt on the entire foundation of the case.
It has also been highlighted by the said court that the prosecution’s negligence, noting that even after a notice from the court, the respondent failed to obtain the crucial report during the last seven months.
Adding to it, the court stated that it is too late for the State for filing the report after a gap of more than two years. The respondent has not attempted to get the report during the last seven months. Thus, even an adverse inference can be drawn against the respondent and that the continuation of the prosecution will be an abuse of the process of law.
The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal in the case observed wherein the court was hearing an appeal moved against a MP High Court judgment which dismissed the petition of the appellant for quashing an FIR as stated under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, CrPC for offenses stated under sections 420, cheating, 120-B, and section 3 and section 7 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
The said case originated in October 2021, wherein it was alleged that a hydrocarbon mixture was found in the seized tanker, which was being sold by the appellants, representing it to be petrol or diesel. The First appellant who being the driver of the tanker, was intercepted by police while unloading it at 3rd appellant’s petrol pump and the 2nd appellant was the manager of Shivam Industries. Meanwhile, the 3rd appellant faced a show-cause notice under Section 6(b) of the Essential Commodities Act, the EC Act. Thus, the subsequent order imposed the fine citing the appellant’s failure to produce an authorized invoice for transportation through the involved tanker and a lack of permission to open its seal and lock.
Therefore, the charge sheet was filed on February 11, 2022.
The court in the case noted that the BPCL laboratory had not submitted the result of the analysis till date. Thus, the appellants relied on the test report dated October 19, 2021 submitted by the Quality Assurance Laboratory, Mangliya Depot, Indore of BPCL which confirmed that the samples conform to the HSD, BSVI specifications.
The court in the case observed and has expressed dissatisfaction with the prosecution after noting that though FIR was registered on October 14, 2021 and the charge sheet was filed on February 11, 2022.
The court while considering the facts and circumstances of the case noted that even as of today, the expert’s report on the nature of the liquid found in the seized tanker was not produced, thus, the court opined that even an adverse inference can be drawn against the respondent.
Accordingly, the court allowed the appeal and has set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court.
The counsel, Adv. Vinam Gupta appeared for the appellant.
The counsel, Adv. Pashupathi Nath Razdan represented the respondent.