The Chief Commissioner, Ajmer Vs. Brij
Niwas Das  INSC 150 (17 April 1962)
17/04/1962 AIYYAR, T.L. VENKATARAMA AIYYAR,
T.L. VENKATARAMA SINHA, BHUVNESHWAR P.(CJ) GAJENDRAGADKAR, P.B.
AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA
CITATION: 1963 AIR 408 1963 SCR (2) 145
films--Cultural films-Exhibition of--Condition of license--Notification--Vires
of--Cinematograph Act, 1952 (Act. 37 of 1952), s. 12(4).
The respondent was an exhibitor of films in a
public cinema theatre. Under the powers conferred by s. 12(4) of the
Cinematograph Act a notification was issued which among other things provided
that a certain Percentage of "approved film" should be shown at every
performance and ,that films produced in, India and certified by the Central 146
Government as Cultural films will be deemed to be "approved films".
In condition No. 22 of the license, issued to the respondent the above terms of
the notification were substantially reproduced. On the failure of the respondent
to pay a certain amount to the Ministry of Information for the supply of
"approved films" the Ministry threatened to stop further supply of
"approved films" to the respondent. There upon he filed a writ in the
High Court by which he challenged the vires of s. 12(4`), the notification and
the conditions in the license. The main contention was that s. 12(4) comprised
two categories of films, namely, "cultural films" and
"indigenous films" and that the two categories were alternative.
Therefore it was urged that since condition No. 22 required that cultural films
also should be produced in India the condition was bad. The High Court upheld
the validity of the section but struck down the conditions. The appellant
appealed to this court on a certificate of fitness granted by the High Court.
The sole question before the Supreme Court
was whether the notification and condition No. 22 were valid within the terms
of s. 12(4).
Held, that the words "indigenous
films" are general and unqualified in their contents and must include in
their ordinary and accepted sense cultural as well as other films.
To read the words "indigenous
films" as meaning "indigenous films" other than cultural films
would be to cut down the plain and ordinary sense of the words and to import
into the enactment words which are not there. The court would proceed on the
basis that the Legislature meant precisely what it said. The words 'produced in
India' in the impugned notification and condition No. 22 are not to be read as
qualification annexed to the first category of films but referable to the
second category and would be perfectly intra vires under s. 12(4).
The notification in so far as it requires
that cultural films should have been produced in India is within s. 12(4) and
condition No. 22 which has been framed in accordance therewith is valid.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal
No. 310 of 1961.
Appeal from the judgment and order dated May
14, 1958, of the Rajasthan High Court (Jaipur 147 Bench) at Jaipur Writ
Application No. 237 of 1956.
S. N. Sanyal, Additional Solicitor-General of
India, S. K. Kapur and P. D. Menon, for the appellents and Interveners.
The respondent did not appear.
1962. April 17. The Judgment of the Court was
delivered by VENKATARAMA AIYAR, J.-This is an appeal against the Judgment of
the High Court of Rajasthan, on a Certificate granted by that Court under Art.
133 (1) of the Constitution. The respondent carries on the business of
exhibiting films in premises called the Royal Talkies at Beawar under licences
granted by the appropriate authorities under the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (37 of
1952) hereinafter referred to me the Act'. 'Acting in exercise of the powers
conferred by s. 12 (4) of the Act, the Chief Commissioner of Ajmer issued on
November 23, 1954, a notification which, omitting what is not material, is as
follows "(1) The licensee shall so regulate the exhibition of
Cinematograph films that at every performances open to the public, approved
films are exhibited, the approved films to be exhibited in relation to other
films at every such performance being in the same proportion as one is to five
or the Dearest lower or higher approximation thereto.
Only such films produced in India as are
certified by the Central Government with the previous approval of the Film
Advisory Board, Bombay to be scientific films intended for education purposes,
films dealing with news, cut-rent events or documentary 148 films shall be
deemed to be approved films for the purposes of these directions." This notification
came into force on December 1, 1954. On November 24, 1955 the District
Magistrate of Ajmer being the licensing authority under the Act sent to the
respondent a statement of conditions of licence revised in accordance with the
above notification. We are concerned in this appeal with two of them,
conditions Nos. 15 and 22. They are, so far as they are material as follows :"15.
The licensee shall, when and so often as the Chief Commissioner may require,
exhibit free of charge or on such terms as regards remuneration as the Chief
Commissioner may determine, films and lantern slides provided by the Chief
Provided that the licensee shall not be
required to exhibit at one entertainment films or lantern slides the exhibition
of which will take more than fifteen minutes in all or to exhibit film or
slides unless they are delivered to him at least twenty four hours before the
entertainment at which they are to.
be shown is due to being".
"22. (a) The licensee shall so regulate
the exhibition of cinematograph films that at every performance open to the
public, approved films are exhibited, the approved films to be exhibited in
relation to other films at every such performance being in the same proportion
as one is to five or the nearest lower or higher approximation thereto.
(b) Only such films produced in India as are
certified by the Central Government with the provious approval of the Films
Advisory Board, Bombay to be scientific films, films 149 intended for education
purposes, films dealing with news, current events or documentary films shall be
deemed to be approved films for the purposes of these directions.
On July 25, 1956 the Films Division,
Ministry. of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, made a demand
on the respondent for a sum of Rs. 274/1/on account of supplies of approved
films made to him during the Period March 3, 1956 to August 5, 1956 and further
informed him that if the above demand was not complied with, further supplies
of approved films would be stopped. The respondent disputed his liability to
pay the amount on the ground that the supply was made not in pursuance of any
contract entered into by him but voluntarily by the Government. A
correspondence then followed and eventually the respondent was told that if the
amount was not paid as demanded, further supplies of approved films would be
stopped and the licence cancelled. Thereupon he filed the .Writ Petition under
Art. 226 of the Constitution,' out of which this present appeal arises, in the
Court of the' Judicial Commissioner, Ajmer, challenging the vires of s. 12 (4)
of the Act, the notification dated November 23, 1954 issued thereunder and
conditions Nos. 15 and 22 inserted in the licence in accordance therewith. The
petition was heard by a Bench of the High Court of Rajasthan to which it stood
transferred under the provisions of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, and by
their Judgment dated May 14, 1958 the learned Judges sustained the validity of
s. 12 (4) but struck down the impugned conditions Nos. 15 and 22 as not
authorised by s. 12 (4) of the Act. It is against this Judgment that the
present appeal, on certificate, has been preferred by the Government.
Before us the learned Additional Solicitor
General who appeared for the appellant did not 150 contest the correctness of
the decision of the High Court insofar as it held that condition No. 15 was not
valid, but he contended that the learned Judges were not right in holding that
condition No. 22 was not authorised by s. 12 (4) of the Act. The sole point for
determination in this appeal is therefore whether the notification dated
November 23, 1954 is within the terms of s. 12 (4). If it is, then condition
No. 22 which gives effect to it is valid. If not, both the notification and the
condition must be ,struck down as ultra vires.
Section 12 (4) of the Act runs as follows
"The Central Government may, from time to time, issue directions to
licensees generally or to any licensee in particular for the purpose of
regulating the exhibition of any film or class of films, so that scientific
films, films intended for educational purposes, .films dealing with news and
current events, documentary films or indigenous films secure an adequate
opportunity of being exhibited, and where any such directions have been issued
those directions shall be deemed to be additional conditions and restrictions
subject to which the licence has been granted." It will be seen that the
enactment comprises two categories of films, one consisting of scientific
films, films intended for educational purposes, films dealing with news and
current events and documentary films or what for conciseness may be called
'cultural films', and the other, of 'indigenous films. The learned Judges of
the High Court were of the opinion that these two categories were alternative
as indicated by the disjunctive "'or" and consequently the provision
that cultural films should have been produced in India was to introduce a
restriction in category No. 1 which is not authorised by the statute, and that
in consequence the words 151 "reproduced in India" in condition No.
22 were unauthorised and ultra vires.
This view does not commend itself to us. It
is true that the enactment classifies films into two categories but we do not
read them as mutually exclusive. The words "indigenous films" are
general and unqualified in their contents, and must include in their ordinary
and accepted sense cultural as well as other films. If the two categories of
films are to be construed as mutually exclusive, then we must read the words
"'indigenous films" as meaning "indigenous films other than
cultural 'films". That would be to cut down the plain and ordinary sense
of the words, and to import into the enactment words which are not there. Such
a construction' must, if that is possible, be avoided. We must proceed on the
basis that the legislature meant precisely what it said.
This conclusion is further reinforced when
regard is had to the policy underlying the enactment, which is to encourage
exhibition of two classes of films (1) cultural and (2) indigenous, and so far
as indigenous films are concerned they may be cultural films or they may not
be. In this view the words "produced in India" in the impugned
notification, and condition No. 22 are not to be read as a qualification
annexed to the first category of films, but as referable to the second
category, and would be perfectly intra vires under s. 1.2 (4). We must
accordingly hold that the notification dated November 23, 1954 insofar as it
requires that cultural films should have been produced in India is within a. 12
(4) and condition No. 22 which has been framed in accordance therewith is valid.
The order of the Court below will be modified to this extent. As the respondent
does not appear, there will be no order as to costs in this Court.