A lawyer, arguing for the bail of his clients in a food adulteration case, was left befuddled on Tuesday when the Supreme Court asked him if he was willing to have his family eat what his clients were selling.
The bench of justices Indira Banerjee and MR Shah took a grim view of the alleged offences against the two accused, who were before the top court seeking pre-arrest bail in a case registered last year in Madhya Pradesh.
Prawar Goyal and Vineet Goyal were made accused in a first information report (FIR) registered at Neemuch district on the allegations that they were selling wheat after polishing the grains using non-edible golden offset colour. Bags of several thousand kilograms of polished wheat were confiscated from their premises after a raid on December 3, 2020, and the duo was charged under the Indian Penal Code for food adulteration and selling noxious food items.
Advocate Puneet Jain, representing the accused, pressed for the anticipatory bail on the ground that most of the charges pertaining to food adulteration were bailable in nature and therefore, it will not serve any purpose for his clients to be taken into custody first.
Jain added that only the charge of cheating was non-bailable for which his clients were required to secure bail from a trial court but no such offence was made out as per the FIR.
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While the lawyer was emphatic that the facts of the case warranted release of his clients on bail, the bench had just one poser for Jain: “Will you or your family eat this food? We will consider allowing the bail if your answer is a yes.”
As the lawyer took a moment to reflect, the court asked Jain why it should be difficult him asking for bail in these cases to answer such a basic question. “Or is it that let other people die? Why should we bother?” it grilled Jain.
As the bench said that it was not inclined to give anticipatory bail in a case like this, Jain chose to withdraw his petition from the court.
Last week, another bench in the top court had refused to grant anticipatory bail to an accused in a food adulteration case, observing that these offences were against the entire society.
“You are trying to kill not just one person but the entire society by selling spurious food. Such offences cannot be taken lightly,” the bench of justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari had commented while refusing bail to one Dibyalochan Behera.
Behera’s lawyer argued on June 4 that ghee was not meant for eating since it was being supplied only to the temples for lighting lamps.
Amused by the submission, the bench had retorted: “This is just so good. And what was your chilli sauce for? Was it for decorating the deity or for abhisheka (consecration) of the idols? Not a single product of yours is unadulterated.”