State of Uttar Pradesh Vs. Ramagya
Sharma Vaidya  INSC 47 (24 February 1965)
24/02/1965 SIKRI, S.M.
CITATION: 1966 AIR 78 1965 SCR (3) 161
Iron and Steel (Control) Order, 1956, cl.
7--Obtaining permit to purchase iron goods for specified purpose--Not using it
for any purpose, whether constitutes contravention cl. 7.
The respondent obtained permits under the
Iron and Steel (Control) Order, 1956 on the representation that he wanted to
purchase iron goods for the purpose of building a temple and a dharamshala. The
permits were obtained from the authorities of District Deoria in U.P. At the
back of the permit a condition was printed tematerials required against the
permit will be used only that "h.q for the purpose for which it was asked
for and has been given". The respondent was tried for the contravention of
cl. ? of the aforesaid order on the allegation that he had not used the goods
purchased under the permits for the purpose for which ,they were issued. The
trial Magistrate found him guilty. In appeal, however, the Sessions Judge
acquitted him on the ground that the possibility of his retaining the iron at
some other place was not entirely excluded. The High Court in appeal by the
State confirmed the acquittal holding that it had not been proved that the
respondent had "used" the iron which he had obtained on the basis of
the permit. The High court further held that it was not possible to look into
the application in order to see for what purpose the applicant took the permit
and no condition actually printed at the back of the permit had been broken. By
special leave the State appealed to the Supreme Court, On behalf of the
appellant it was urged: (1) the word "use" in cl. 7 of the order includes
"kept for eventual use for another purpose." (2) The High Court erred
in holding that the application cannot be referred to for the purpose of
construing the conditions appearing in the permit.
HELD: The respondent could not be held guilty
of a contravention of cl. 7 of the order.
(i) No doubt the legislative intent of the
Iron & Steel (Control) Order is that this essential commodity should be
utilised in accordance with the conditions contained in the permit, but no
clause in the Control Order in question evinces a legislative intent that a
mere non-user is also prohibited and made punishable. [165 H] The word 'use'
must take its colour from the context in which is used. In cl. ? the expression
"use...in accordance with the conditions contained" suggests
something done positively e.g. utilisation or disposal. Mere
"non-use" is not included in the word "use". 165 D] (ii)
The High Court was wrong in holding that it is not permissible to look at the
application to determine the purpose for which permit is obtained. However in
the present case the applications did not disclose that the respondent wanted
to build a temple or dharamshala at any particular place. From the mere fact
that the applications were made to the authorities in Deoria District, or the
fact that in the applications it was mentioned that the goods were not
available in Deoria District, it did not necessarily follow that the goods were
intended to be used in that District.
[166 H] 162
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 60 of 1963.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated August 24, 1962 of the Allahabad High Court in Government Appeal
No. 1379 of 1962.
B.C. Misra and O.P. Rana, for the appellant.
1. P. Goyal, for the respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Sikri, J. This appeal by special leave is directed against the judgment of the
Allahabad High Court dismissing the appeal of the State against the judgment of
the Sessions Judge allowing the appeal of the respondent and acquitting him.
The respondent obtained permits under the
Iron and Steel (Control) Order, 1956--hereinafter referred to as the Control
Order for about 28 tons of iron, including 6 tons of rods, 151/2 tons of joints
and 2 tons of G.C. Sheets. He is alleged to have purchased these articles on
the basis of the above permits between July 1957 and March 1958. The permits
were obtained on three applications made by the respondent. Only two
applications are in the printed record. The first application is dated May 23,
1957, and is addressed to the Provincial Iron and Steel Controller, Kanpur,
through the District Magistrate, Deoria. In this application the respondent
stated that he was a political sufferer and he was constructing a public temple
for which he required five tons of M.S. Round and eight tons of Girder. He
further stated that the requirements were nor available at Deoria and as such
the application should be considered and forwarded to the Controller for
consideration and orders. It appears that this application was forwarded, duly
recommended, by the District Supply Officer. Deoria, and ultimately a permit
was given to him by the Controller.
He made another application dated September
7, 1957. In this application he again stated that he was a political sufferer and
he was constructing a public temple and dharamshala for which he required
certain quantities of iron. He further stated that the requirements were not
available at Deoria and as such the application should be forwarded to the
Controller. This application was also recommended and forwarded and ultimately
a permit was given to him. On January 2, 1958, the accused made another
application (Ex. Ka 9--not available in the printed record) and a permit was
given to him by the District Supply Officer himself. We may mention that the
original permits are not printed in the record, and, therefore, we have not
been able to see for ourselves as to what are the exact conditions contained in
It is the case of the prosecution that the
respondent after obtaining the materials sanctioned to him under the permits
did not construct any temple or dharamshala building at Barhaj Bazar or at any
other place. We may mention that Barhaj Bazar is the place where he lives and
the applications which are in the record also mention this address.
163 Before the Magistrate who tried the case
the respondent was put the following question:
"It is alleged that the iron obtained
under the permits mentioned in questions 2, 3 and 4 was not utilised for the
purpose for which it was taken. What have you to say in this respect?" The
respondent's reply was:
"No. Whatever iron 1 got, I used it in
the temple situate in mauza Tinbari, P.S. Madhubam district Azamgarh, which is
my place of residence as well." Before the Magistrate the accused had
admitted to have purchased about 17 tons of iron. The Magistrate held it proved
that the accused had atleast purchased one ton more from one Mishri Lal, P.W.
7. Thus, he came to the conclusion that the accused had purchased at least 18
tons of iron. He further held that on the evidence it was clear that only 3/4
ton of rods had been utilised in the building constructed at Tinhari, but as
the building had been constructed between 1943--52, no portion of the iron
obtained by the accused had been utilised for the purpose for which it was
procured. He further held that the accused had disposed of the iron wrongfully
at Kanpur and did not even bring the same to Barhaj Bazar or Tinhar.
Accordingly he held that the respondent had contravened the provisions of cl. 7
of the Control Order.
The respondent filed an appeal before the
Sessions Judge. The Sessions Judge held that barring a very small quantity of
iron, the remaining quantity that was received by the respondent had not been
utilised in the temple or dharmashala at Tinhari. Differing from the
Magistrate, he held that it was not proved by any evidence that the respondent
had actually sold the excess quantity at Kanpur.
He then observed that "in the absence of
any such evidence the possibility of the appellant retaining the iron at some
other place is not completely excluded." Then construing d.
7 of the Control Order, he observed that
"in the aforesaid section there is no mention that the iron purchased
should be utilised at any particular place or within a particular period. The
condition in the various permits granted to the appellant was simply this that
he should utilise the iron in creecting a temple or dharamshala in the town of
Barhai. It may be noted that the main purpose was the construction of a temple
and dharamshala; the place where it was to be constructed does not appear to
have much significance.
Further no time-limit is given during which
the entire quantity of iron should be utilised." Accordingly he held that
there had been no contravention of cl. 7 of the Control Order.
The State appealed to the High Court.
dismissed the appeal holding that there had
been no contravention of cl. 7 of the Control Order. According to him, two
essentials are necessary before there can be contravention of el. 7. "In
the 164 first place the iron and steel should be 'used'; secondly it should be
used otherwise than in accordance with the conditions contained or incorporated
in the document which was the authority for the acquisition." He held that
the first condition had not been fulfilled because it had not been proved that
the respondent had used the iron which he had obtained on the basis of the
permit. It appears that the findings of the learned Sessions Judge, as well as
the Magistrate, that he had not used or utilised the remaining portions of the
iron and steel at all were not questioned before him. According to him, if the
remaining quantity of iron was still unutilised or unused, then the respondent
could not be said to have done anything contrary to cl. 7.
He further held that the second condition had
also not been fulfilled because the permit itself contained only one condition
printed on its back. This condition was "that the materials required
against the permit will be used only for the purpose for which it was asked for
and has been given." According to him, it is not permissible to refer to
the application made for the permit because the only document that can be
looked at is the permit. He was, however, prepared to concede that "it is
also open to the officer to mention in the permit that it is being granted for
the purpose mentioned in the application. That may be a short- cut for avoiding
the trouble of entering in the permit the details of the purpose. In that case
it may be permissible to refer to the application." In spite of this
concession, he concluded that "when even that is not done in fact no
condition is mentioned in the permit at all about the manner in which the iron
or steel is to be utilised it cannot be said that a condition of the permit has
been broken because the assurance given in the application has not been carried
out." Mr. B.C. Misra, learned counsel for the appellant. has urged before
us that on the facts found by the learned Sessions Judge. cl. 7 of the Control
Order has been contravened. He says that the word "use" in el. 7
includes "kept for eventual use for another purpose." He says that if
one stores iron and steel. one uses it and the word "use" does not
imply consumption only. Relying on Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes,
Eleventh Edition, p. 266. he says that we should give a wide construction to
the word' "use" in cl. 7.
Clause 5 and the relevant portion of cl. 7 of
the Control Order are as follows:
No person, who acquires iron or steel under
clause 4. or no producer shall dispose of or agree to dispose of or export or
agree to export from any place to which this Order extends any iron or steel,
except in accordance with the conditions contained or incorporated in a special
or general written order of the Controller.
7. Use of Iron and Steel to conform to
conditions governing acquisition.
A person acquiring iron or steel in
accordance with the provisions of el. 4 shall not use the iron or steel
otherwise than in accordance with any conditions contained or incorporated in
the document which was the authority for the acquisition ...... " We are
unable to accede to the above contentions. There is no provision in the Control
Order requiring that iron or steel acquired under the Control Order should be
utilised within a specified time. If it had been the intention to include
keeping or storing within the word 'use' there would have been some provision
regarding the period during which it would be permissible to keep or store the
iron, for it is common knowledge that building operations take some
considerable time and are sometimes held up for shortage of material or other
reasons. Further the word 'use' must take its colour from the context in which
it is used. In cl. 7 the expression "use...in accordance with the
conditions contained" suggests something done positively, e.g.
utilisation or disposal. Mere 'non-use', in
our opinion, is not included in the word 'use'. The passage relied on by the
learned counsel in Maxwell is as follows:
"Wide Sense given to words:
The rule of strict construction, however,
whenever invoked, comes attended with qualifications and other rules no less
important, and it is by the light which each contributes that the meaning must
be determined. Among them is the rule that the sense of the words is to be
adopted which best harmonises with the context and promotes in the fullest
manner the policy and object of the legislature. The paramount object, in
construing penal as well as other statutes, is to ascertain the legislative
intent, and the rule of strict construction is not violated by permitting the
words to have their full meaning, or the more extensive of two meanings, when
best effectuating the intention. They are, indeed, frequently taken in the widest
sense, sometimes even in a sense more wide than etymological belongs or is
popularly attached to them, in order to carry out effectually the legislative
intent, or, to use Sir Edward Coke's words, to suppress the mischief and
advance the remedy." But this passage does not warrant the giving of a
meaning to a word apart from the context in which it is used. There is no doubt
that the legislative intent of the Control Order is that this essential
commodity should be utilised in accordance with the conditions contained in the
permit, but no clause in this Control Order evinces a legislative intent that a
mere non-user is also prohibited and made punishable.
166 The learned counsel referred to London
County Council v.
Wood(1), but we do not derive any assistance
from that case.
The head-note brings out the point decided in
that case as follows:
"The Highways and Locomotives Act, 1878,
provides by s. 32 that "A country authority may...make...by-laws for
granting annual licences to locomotives used within their country." And by
a by-law made by the London County Council under that section it was provided
that "No locomotive shall be used on any highway within the county of
London until an annual licence for the use of the same shall have been obtained
from the council by the owner thereof":-- Held, that a steam-roller which
was not at the time being employed in road-making, but was merely passing
through the county to a destination outside was being "used within the
country" within the meaning of the section and the by-law." In the
context, the word "used" was, with respect, properly construed.
Collins, J., held that "the object of the Act was evidently to protect the
highways, and the effect of a steam-roller upon the highways may be just the
same whether it be engaged in mending the roads or not".
In conclusion we hold that it has not been
established that the respondent had used the iron acquired by him in
contravention of cl. 7 of the Control Order.
The learned council further urges that the
High Court erred in holding that the application cannot be referred to for the
purpose of construing the conditions appearing in the permit, the condition
being that "the materials acquired against a permit will be used only for
the purpose for which it was asked for and has been given." He says that
the expression "the purpose for which it was asked for" refers back
to the application, and the expression "has been given" refers back
to the Order. There is some force in what he urges. We are unable to sustain
the finding of the High Court that it is not permissible to refer to the
application and the order to find out the purpose for which the iron was
obtained. But even if we look at the applications, which are in the printed
record, the purpose mentioned is only construction of a temple, in the
application dated May 23, 1957, and temple and dharamshala in the application
dated September 7, 1957. These applications do not disclose that the respondent
wanted to construct the temple and dharamshala at any particular place. It is
urged that the sentence which occurs in both the applications, namely that the
requirements are not available at Deoria, shows that the purpose for which the
iron and steel was required was for construction (1) 2 QB 482.
167 of a temple and dharamshala in the
district of Deoria. This argument is sought to be reinforced by asserting that
a District Magistrate was not empowered to recommend applications for iron
required for works to be constructed outside the District, and therefore it
must be held that the purpose was construction of a temple and dharamshala in
the district of Deoria. However, no orders showing the jurisdiction of the
District Magistrate in respect of this matter has been shown to us, and we are
unable to conclude from the applications that the purpose was construction of a
temple and dharamshala in the district of Deoria alone.
Accordingly we hold that the respondent has
not contravened cl. 7 of the Control Order. The appeal accordingly fails and is
dismissed Appeal dismissed.