The Supreme Court has reiterated that in absence of any authority and power with the officer to take any action as per the order, the proceedings initiated by such an officer would be totally unauthorized and would have to be struck down.

The Bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal observed that “It is a settled law that where a power is given to do a certain thing in a certain way, the thing must be done in that way or not at all. Other methods are necessarily forbidden.”

Advocate Shalu Sharma appeared for the appellant and Advocate Karan Sharma appeared for the respondent- State.

In this case, the appellants were alleged to have been involved in selling gas cylinders in black. The appellants had assailed the judgment of the Punjab & Haryana High Court whereby the appellants were convicted under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and were sentenced to six months of imprisonment for unauthorized possession of gas cylinders.

Clause 7 of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Regulation of Supply and Distribution) Order, 1988 provides that “an officer or the Department of Food and Civil Supplies of the Government, not below the rank of an Inspector authorised by such Government and notified by Central Government or any officer not below the rank of a Sales Officer of an Oil Company, or a person authorized by the Central Government or a State Government and notified by the Central Government may, with a view to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Order, for the purpose of satisfying himself that this order or any order made thereunder has been complied with, was authorised to carry out such exercise/seizure.”

The Court noted that clause 7 of the Order provided that in addition to the specified officers, the persons authorised by the Central or State Government may act under the Order. But nothing was placed on record to show that the Sub-Inspector of the Police was authorised to act under the aforesaid Order.

Therefore, the conviction of the appellants was set aside under Section 7 of the Act as the Sub-Inspector had no authority to search and seize and the appeal was allowed by the Court.

Cause Title- Avtar Singh & Anr. V. State of Punjab

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