Law of Seeds: Common Disqualifications in the Seed Sample Sent to Seed Analyst By Advocate Ritu Goyal

Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58 per cent of India’s population. This fact showcases the significance of Agriculture Industry in the economy of India. Since Agriculture Industry has its own importance for the economy, it is necessary to regulate the quality of seeds because Seed is the vital input in the crop production. While Seed is not the only decisive factor in the quality and quantity of yield; it is the most important factor for sure. The Seeds Act, 1966 (the Act) provides for provisions and a detailed procedure to keep a check on the quality of Seeds produced and processed for the purpose of agriculture and matters related thereto.
Section 14 of the Act that provides for Powers of the Seed Inspectors appointed under the provisions of the Act, to take samples of any notified kind or variety and send such Sample for analysis to the Seed Analyst (appointed under the Act) for the concerned jurisdiction for analysis and giving report thereon.  This Report becomes the basis for launching prosecution against the Dealer, Producer or Processor of such Seeds. 
While Section 14 and 15 of the Act and Rule 24 to 32 of the Seeds Rules, 1968 (the Rules) prescribe a detailed procedure for taking Sample and sending such sample for analysis, there are some common mistakes committed while sending such Sample for Analysis that renders the Sample unfit for further actions under the Act.
Common Grounds of Disqualifications:
  1. Improper packing of the Sample without sealing and fastening of the Sample as prescribed under the Act;
  1. Insufficient quantity of the Sample that renders it unfit for test;
  1. Sending any material like information slip, Memorandum to Seed Analyst inside the packet of sample i. e. along with the seeds itself, that renders the Seed illegible;
  1. Sending the sample after a lapse of reasonable period that leads to negative impact on the quality of the Seed during such time sample was in the custody of the Seed Inspector;
  1. Sending the sample to the Seed Analyst who doesn’t have the jurisdiction over the area from which concerned sample was taken by Seed Inspector;

  2. Sending the sample for analysis without authorisation from the concerned authority having the powers to give such authorisation;

  1. Sending the sample in the original packet used for selling the Sample that leads to the breach of confidentiality;
  1. Sending the sample without the Information Slip or sending sample with incomplete Memorandum to Seed Analyst;
  1. Sample not accompanying the requisite information and forms prescribed under the Act and Rules made thereunder or any other document prescribed by the concerned State.
A reading of Section 101, 102, 103 and 106 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 makes it abundantly clear that until and unless law creates an exception, the burden of proof lies on the person making any claim or asserting any fact. Furthermore, Section 15 of the Seeds Act and Rules 24, 25 and 26 of the Seeds Rules are mandatory procedures, non-compliance of which would vitiate the entire proceedings. Therefore, when the authenticity of the sample collected is itself in question or when the procedure of sample collection is challenged, admissibility of such Seed Sample as evidence in a criminal trial becomes questionable.
In “Gauri Shankar Vs. State of Rajsthan, S.B. Criminal Special Leave Petition 554 of 2009”, Hon’ble High Court of Rajasthan observed that a perusal of Section 15 of the Seeds Act and Rules 24, 25 and 26 of Seeds Rules clearly discloses that there is mandatory procedure under these Rules regarding the manner in which the samples of seeds are to be packed. All the three rules begin with the word “shall” before the procedure of taking the sample is laid down and as such once there is deviation from the specific mode prescribed for taking the sample then in such case, if any report of seed analyst is received on the basis of such sample taken in violation of such Rules, such report cannot be taken against the person from whom such sample was taken.
As a result of aforesaid discussion/observation of the Hon’ble High Court, prosecution of the Accused is vitiated. Similar view was held by this Court in the case of “Chandra Prakash & Ors. v. State of Raj. MANU/RH/0316/1986 :1986 (2) WLN 710” whilst dealing with the provisions of Fertilizer Control Order, 1957 that the provisions of Clause 14A of the Control Order regarding the manner in which the samples are to be drawn are mandatory and any non-compliance/ non-observance of the manner in which the samples are to be taken, vitiates the proceedings.

  Author: Advocate Ritu Goyal, Senior Partner | Naks & Partners, Advocates & Solicitors.

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