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27 yrs to end adulteration case

Nand Lal, a shopkeeper from Uttarakhand, was just 43 when he was booked for selling 375 gram adulterated edible oil in 1983.

delhi Updated: Apr 09, 2010 00:31 IST
Satya Prakash

Nand Lal, a shopkeeper from Uttarakhand, was just 43 when he was booked for selling 375 gram adulterated edible oil in 1983.

On April 5, when the Supreme Court finally upheld his conviction, he had turned 70. However, taking into consideration his old age, medical condition and the fact that the case dragged on for almost three decades, a bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir reduced his sentence to the period already spent by him in jail.

Nand Lal, who ran a shop in Roorkee in Hardwar district of Uttarakhand (then under Saharanpur of UP), was proceeded against under the prevention of Food Adulteration Act after a food inspector purchased mustard oil from him and got it tested at the Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata. Based on the lab report, he was sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 2,000. He was released on bail later.

Nand Lal appealed at several levels saying the oil was not meant for human consumption and was only for lighting lamps. His appeals were dismissed in 1988, in 2004 and then in 2006, forcing him to move the SC.

Senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi said, “Inordinate delay in deciding cases makes a mockery of the statute. It’s happening in drug adulteration, food adulteration and corruption cases. These laws were meant to deal with the worst social evils but judicial delays have reduced them to paper tigers. The very purpose of these laws is being defeated and it is also breeding social evils,” Tulsi added.