Supreme Court Quashes FIR For Cheating By Selling Chemical Mixture As Petrol Since No Expert Opinion Or Chemical Analysis Report Was Produced With Chargesheet
The Supreme Court quashed an FIR against the MP Bombay Auto Service Petrol Diesel Pump and associated individuals under Sections 420 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3 and 6 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (EC Act) for mixing hydrocarbons through machines to create a substance resembling petrol and diesel for the reason that not expert opinion or chemical analysis report was produced with the chargesheet.
The Police had intercepted a truck, at the MP Bombay Auto Service Petrol Diesel Pump (Pump), and an FIR was registered after collecting samples for testing. A show cause notice for the non-production of an invoice authorizing transportation through the tanker under Section 6(b) of the EC Act was also issued resulting in a fine.
The Court noted that despite multiple orders from the Court the State Authorities failed to produce a report.
The Bench comprising Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal observed, “Along with the charge sheet, the respondent did not produce an expert's report regarding the precise nature of the liquid in the tanker..... Now, it is too late for the State to file a report after a gap of more than two years. The respondent was put to notice by this Court by the order dated 27th March 2023 about the failure to produce the report. However, the respondent has not attempted to get the report during the last seven months. Even an adverse inference can be drawn against the respondent. Hence, the continuation of the prosecution will be an abuse of the process of law”.
Advocate Vinam Gupta appeared for the Appellants and Advocate Pashupathi Nath Razdan appeared for the Respondents.
BPCL issued invoices for the sale and transportation of fuel to Pump. The fuel was allegedly transferred to another tanker due to a valve failure. The police intercepted the truck and seized it, along with the liquid inside. Samples were collected and sent to laboratories for testing. An FIR was registered. The Appellants claimed that the samples met the required specifications, but a show cause notice was issued under Section 6(b) of the EC Act for non-production of an invoice authorizing transportation through the tanker in question, resulting in a fine. The charge sheet was filed. The Appellants sought to quash the FIR, but the High Court dismissed their petition. The Appellants then appealed to the Supreme Court challenging the order of the High Court.
The Court noted that the chargesheet alleged that the Second Appellant was engaged in mixing hydrocarbons through machines to create a substance resembling petrol and diesel. The mixture was said to have the same appearance and smell as genuine fuel. The police sent liquid samples from the tanker to various laboratories, including the Forensic State Laboratory in Sagar and BPCL in Indore, seeking opinions on the nature of the liquid. However, the Bench noted that as of the previous court order, the analysis report from the BPCL laboratory has not been received.
Furthermore, the Court noted that the Respondent failed to produce an expert report on the nature of the liquid in the tanker, although samples were sent to laboratories over two years ago. As a result, the Bench observed that there was no evidence to support the allegation that the liquid in the tanker was not petrol or diesel. The Court also noted that the Respondent's failure to produce an expert report after being informed of the issue constitutes an abuse of the process of law.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the Appeal and set aside the FIR.
Cause Title: Suresh & Ors. v State of Madhya Pradesh (2023 INSC 1021)