Chandrakant Saha & Ors Vs. Union of
India & Ors  INSC 174 (14 September 1978)
FAZALALI, SYED MURTAZA FAZALALI, SYED MURTAZA
CHANDRACHUD, Y.V. ((CJ) BHAGWATI, P.N.
CITATION: 1979 AIR 314 1979 SCR (1) 751 1979
SCC (1) 285
Rice Milling Industry (Regulation) Act, 1958,
as amended by the Amending Act 29 of 1968-Section 3(d)(i) and (ii), whether to
be read conjunctively in the light of Sec.
3A, 3(gg) of the Act-Interpretation of
Sections 3(d), 3(gg), 3A, 5 and 6 - Whether classification as Rice Miller &
Rice Huller discriminatory offending Art.14 of the Constitution-Whether the
provisions of the Act which insist on the rice-hullers to take licences is an
unreasonable restriction on their right to carry on the business and violative
of Articles 19 and 301 of the Constitution.
The Rice Milling Industry (Regulation) Act
was passed in 1958, the object and reasons of which were to preserve and
protect the indigenous and hand pounding industry of rice growers so as to
provide sufficient employment to rural population and to ensure the
modernisation of conventional type of rice mills with a view to producing more
rice of better quality and nutritive value. Since the original Act did not
include the rice hullers, by the Amendment Act 29 of 1968, Sec. 3(d) was
substituted viz. "Milling rice, with it grammatical variation, means (i)
recovering rice or any produce thereof from paddy; (ii) polishing rice with the
aid of power". Under Section 5 read with Section 3A, the petitioners were
required to take licences for operating their husking mills. The petitioner,
therefore, assailed (a) that the requirement of taking licences for operating
their mills amounted to complete destruction of their fundamental rights to
carry on business and (b) that the provisions of the Act further contain
unguided and uncanalised powers so as to violate the provisions of Art. 14.
Dismissing the petitions, the Court
HELD: (1) An analysis of the provisions of
Sections 3(d), 3A, 5, 6 and 7 indicates that the provisions contained
sufficient guidelines and do not amount to exercise of an arbitrary power.
[759B] (2) Having regard to the setting in which Sec. 3(d) is placed and the
dominant object of the Amending Act 29 of 1968, the intention of the Legislature
was to widen the purpose and scope of the definition of milling rice. If Clause
(i) and (ii) are read conjunctively then, it will defeat the very purpose of
the Act and would in fact become meaningless because clause (i) which means
recovering rice or any product thereof from paddy could include products like
chura etc. which do not require polishing and yet if the two clauses are read
conjunctively chura will have to be polished within the meaning of Section
3(d), which could not have been contemplated by the legislature. Furthermore,
polishing rice under Section 3(gg) includes the process of removal of bran from
the kernel of rice with the aid of power and that is what the rice hullers do.
Thus on a true interpretation of Sec. 3(d) clauses (i) and (ii) and (gg) there
can be absolutely no doubt that the section includes the 14-549 SCI/78 752
operation carried out by the rice hullers. Though it was not necessary for the
legislature to have added Sec. 3(A), it was done in order to put the matter beyond
doubt or controversy. [760B-D, E, 761D-E] (3) Rice-millers and rice hullers
constitute a separate class having regard to the nature of their functions the
classification is reasonable, because (1) it to the objects, sought to be
achieved by the Act namely, the protection of the domestic hand-pounding
industry and improvement of the quality of the rice domestic hand-pounding
industry and improvement of the quality of the rice and ensuring its easy and
quick distribution. The contention that the Act by bringing the rice hullers
and rice millers within the same fold seems to treat unequals as equals,
because rice hullers cannot be equated with rice-millers is not correct.
[762B-C] (4) Sections 5 and 6 of the Rice Milling Industry (Regulation) Act,
1958 do not amount to unreasonable restrictions on the right of the petitioners
to carry on their trade and business. In the first place, the licensing
provisions is in public interest and is meant to carry out the purpose of the
Act. Secondly, sections 5 and 6 are purely regulatory in character and do not
amount to unreasonable restriction. [762C-D, 763C] Narendra Kumar & Ors. v.
Union of India & Ors.,  2 SCR 375; Daruka & Co. v. Union of
India,  1 SCR 570;
Glass Chatons Importers & Users'
Association v. Union of India,  1 SCR 862 referred to.
(5) In view of the language of section 6 with
which the rice hullers are concerned, the question of uncanalised powers being
conferred on the licensing authority does not arise. Under Section 6(3) once an
application is received by the licensing officer he shall grant a licence or
such condition as he may impose. The statute does not have any discretion in
the licensing officer to grant or to refuse to grant licence. He has a
mandatory duty to perform, and, therefore, there is no question of the
licensing officer having been conferred or uncanalised powers under the Act.
[763D-E] (6) Sub-section (4) of Sec. 5
columns as many as six guidelines for the grant of permit. The power is to be
exercised by such a high authority as the Central Govt.
Furthermore under S. 12 an appeal lies
against a decision of the licensing officer under Sec. 6 or Sec. 7 to an
appellate officer nominated by the Central Government. [763F-G]
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION : Writ Petitions Nos.
1135-1155, 1544-1758, 1759-1949, 1952-1991, 1993-2199, 2216-2220, 2274- 2325 of
1977, 592-607, 849-862 and 1898-1908/78 and 1577- 1605/78.
And Writ Petitions Nos. 955 and 966/77.
And Writ Petitions Nos. 1222/77 and 4-176 and
2359/78 753 And Writ Petitions Nos. 967, 1128/77, 314-591, 901-950,
1870-1887,2240-2294, 2367, 2390/78, 3063-3081/78, 1223-1526/ 77, 177-313,
871-900, 2319, 2358 & 2326-2430/77, 1807-1869, 1239-1312, 1584-1592,
1737-1749, 2296-2311, 2312-2318, 2392- 2472, 2937-2951, 3380-3464/78,- 609-821,
979-1237, 1543- 1583, 1956-2111, 2810-2936/78, 2986-2998/78, 2953-2968/78 &
2472A-2472B of 1978.
And Writ Petitions Nos.
823,3514-3574,824-826,975, 1617- 1627, 1628-1725, 1915-1942/78, 2366, 2610,
3088, 3576, 1313- 1542, 2112-2203, 3131-3340, 1760-1806/78, 2231-2234, 2235-
2236, 2237-2238, 2475, 2476, 2975-2985 of 1978, 3465. 3466- 3513/78,
3622-3641/78,3766, 3801 & 3786-3788/78 A. K. Ganguli for the Petitioners in
W.P. Nos. 1135- 1155, 1544-1758, 2274-2325 & 966/77, 3622-3641/78, 1898-
1908/78, 967-1128/77, 314-591, 901-950, 2240-2294, 2367- 2398, 3063-3081/78.
N. R. Choudhury for the Petitioners in W.P.
Nos. 2216- 2220, 592-607, 312-318, 2472A, 2472B/78, 849-862/78, 1239- 1312.
1584-1592, 1737-1759, 1870-1887, 2296-2318, 2392-2472, 2937- 2951, 3380-3464/78.
A. K. Sen (In W.P. 1759-1949), D. P.
Mukherjee (in all W.Ps.), R. P. Roy and A. K. Ganguli (In 1759-1949) for the
Petitioners in W.P. Nos. 1759-1949 and 955/77.
Mrs. Veena Devi Khanna for the Petitioners in
W.P. Nos. 1952- 1991/77, 1313-1542, 2112-2203, 3131-3340/ 78 M. M. Kshatriya
for the Petitioners in W.P. Nos. 1993- 2199/77.
S. S. Ray (In 1597-1606 and 1760-1806) Dr.
Debi Pal (In 1759, 2125-2128/78).
S. R. Agarwal, A. T. Patra, Praveen Kumar (In
all Writ Petitions except 2125-2128) for the Petitioners in W.P. Nos.
1597-1606/78. 1760-1806 and
Applicant/Intervener in W.P. Nos. 1759-1949/77 and in W.P. Nos. 1222/77 and
Y. S. Chitle (In 1223-1526, 1222) and Prodyot
Kumar Chakravarty, for the Petitioners in W.P. Nos.1222/77 and 4/78,1223-1526,
754 P.K. Mukherjee for the Petitioner in W.P.
P. K. Gupta for the Petitioners in W.P. Nos.
2326- 2430/77 and 1807-1869 of 1978 D. P. Mukherjee for the Petitioners in W.P.
Nos. 609- 821, 979-1237, 1543-1583, 1956-2111, 2810-2936, 2953-2968,
Majumdar and Mrs . Laxmi Arvind for the
Petitioners in W.P. Nos. 823, 3514-3574, 824, 826, 975, 1617-1627, 1628- 1723,
1915-1942, 2366, 2610, 3088, 3576/78 and 3766/78.
Amlan Ghosh and Ravinder Bahl for the
Petitioners in W.P. Nos.2231-2234, 2235-2236, 2237-2238, 2475 & 2476, 2975-
2985/78, 3744-3768, 3801 and 3840/78.
Rathin Das for the Petitioner in W.P.
J. M. Khanna for the Petitioners in W.P. Nos.
S. K. Bisaria, for the Petitioners in W.Ps.
S. N. Kacker, Sol. Genl. (In W.P. 1135, 1759,
1943, and 2216/77 ) R. N. Sachthey and Miss A. Subhashini for Respondents in
W.Ps. 1898-1908, 177-313, 1584-1592,1313- 1542/78 and for Respondents No. 1 in
Rest of the W.P.
excepting in W.P. Nos. 1222 and 2359/ 78.
A P. Chatterjee and G. S. Chatterjee for
other appearing respondents in all W.P. Nos. excepting 2359/78.
Somnath Chatterjee (In W.P. 2359), S. S.
Reyin (In 2216), Samir Kumar Ghosh (In 2359 and 2216), Shib Kumar Shahu and P.
Keshava Pillai, for Respondent No. 5 in W.P.
2359/78 and Applicant intervener in 1759/77,
1949/77 and 2216.
P. Chatterjee (In W.P. 955), D. Mookerjee (In
1759) and Sukumar Ghosh for the applicant/Intervener in W.P. Nos.
1759-1949 and 955/77.
ORDER we discharge the rule in all of these
Writ Petitions and dismiss the same with costs in one set. We vacate the Stay
orders in all the Petitions. We will give our reasons for this Order later.
755 The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
FAZAL ALI, J.-A large batch of writ petitions has been filed in this Court
challenging the constitutional validity of the Rice-Milling Industry
(Regulation) Act, 1958 as amended in 1968, on the ground that some of the
provisions of the aforesaid Act are clearly violative of Articles 14 19 and 301
of the Constitution of India. Serious objection appears to have been taken to
those provisions of the Act which require the petitioners who are owners of
Rice Husking Mills or Rice Hullers to take out a licence for husking rice.
We propose to take up the writ petitions of
Bijoy Kumar Majhi & Ors. (Writ Petitions No. 1759-1949 of 1977). The main
contention of the petitioners has been that there are as many as 18,000 husking
mills owned and operated by various persons in the State of West Bengal and
each mill employs 4 or 5 persons. The provisions of the Act which require the
petitioners to take licences for operating the mills amount to a complete
destruction of the fundamental right of the petitioners to carry on business
and the provisions further contain unguided and uncanalised powers so as to
violate the provisions of Article 14. In all the other writ petitions the
arguments put forward by the petitioners in the aforesaid petitions have been
Writ Petitions No. 1135 to 1155 of 1977 have
been filed by Chandra Kanta Saha & Ors. where the petitioners have merely
challenged the validity of Ordinance No. 14 of 1977 dated 9-8-1977 which has
repealed portions of Rice Milling Industry (Regulation) West Bengal Second
Amendment Act of 1974 and deleted section 6A of that Act.
In order to appreciate the contentions raised
by counsel for the parties, it may be necessary to give a brief history of the
legislation on the subject. It appears that as far back as 1958 Parliament
after a declaration as required by the Constitution passed the Rice Milling
Industry (Regulation) Act, 1958 (hereinafter referred to as the 1958 Act). The
Act was passed on 18th May, 1958. It would appear from the object and reasons
of the Act that the main purpose for passing the Act was to preserve and
protect the indigenous and hand- pounding industry of rice growers so as to
provide sufficient employment to rural population.
The other object was to ensure the
modernisation of conventional type of rice mills with a view to producing more
rice of better quality and nutritive value. Section 2 of the Act contains a
declaration which may be extracted thus:
"Declaration as to expediency of control
by the Union:
It is hereby declared that it is expedient in
the public 756 interest that the Union should take under its control the rice
milling industry." This declaration was obviously made as required by
Entry 52 List I Schedule VII of the Constitution. In other words, Parliament
declared that it was in public interest to regulate the working of the Rice
Milling Industry and accordingly it purported to legislate under the power
contained in Schedule VII List I Entry 52 read with Entry 24 of List II. In
these circumstances, there cannot be any question of the incompetency of
Parliament to legislate on the subject matter of the Act nor was any such
question raised before us.
The Act of 1958 before its amendment did not
include the rice hullers and was completely innocuous so far the writ
petitioners are concerned. It was after the amendment of 1968 that the rice
hullers or the owners of the rice husking mills have come forward to this Court
with the grievance that the Act is constitutionally invalid. The rice millers
have not filed any petition assailing any provisions of the Act of 1968.
Section 3(a) of the Act of 1958 defines a 'defunct rice mill, and section 3(b)
defines an "existing rice mill". The present Section 3(d) was substituted
by the Amendment Act 29 of 1968 and reads as follows:- "Milling rice"
with its grammatical variation, means- (i) recovering rice or any produce
thereof from paddy.
(ii) polishing rice, with the aid of
The question is whether this definition
applies to the petitioners and takes within its fold not only the rice millers
but also the rice hullers. Section 3(A) which may be extracted is a provision
which applies expressly to rice hullers attached to or maintained by any flour,
oil, dal or other mills or pumping sets as they apply to rice mills mutatis
"3A-The provisions of this Act shall
apply to rice hullers attached to, or maintained with, any flour, oil dal or
other mill, or pumping set as they apply to rice mills subject to the
modification that any reference to the commencement of this Act in those
provisions shall, in their application to such rice-hullers, be construed as a
reference to the commencement of the Rice-Milling Industry (Regulation)
Amendment Act, 1968"- Section 5 requires permits to be taken for a new or
defunct rice mill and sub-sections (4) and (5) which run thus:
757 "(4) Before granting any permit
under sub-section (3) the Central Government shall cause a full and complete
investigation to be made in the prescribed manner in respect of the application
and shall have due regard to- (a) the number of rice mills operating in the
(b) the availability of paddy in the
(c) the availability of power and water
supply for the rice mill in respect of which a permit is applied for;
(d) whether the rice mill in respect of which
a permit is applied for will be of the huller type, sheller type or combined
(e) whether the functioning of the rice mill
in respect of which a permit is applied for would cause substantial
unemployment in the locality;
(f) such other particulars as may be
(5) (a) In granting a permit under this
section (whether for the establishment of a new rice mill or for re-commencing
rice-milling operation in a defunct rice mill), the Central Government shall
give preference- (i) to a Government company or a corporation owned or
controlled by the Government over every other applicant;
(ii) to a farmers' co-operative society over
every other applicant, not being a Government Company or a corporation owned or
controlled by the Government, Notwithstanding that such other applicant has
applied for the grant of a permit for re-commencing rice-milling operation in a
defunct rice mill.
(b) Subject to the provisions of clause (a)
in granting a permit under this section, the Central Government shall give
preference to a defunct rice mill over a new rice mill".
lay down the various factors and conditions
which the licensing authority has to consider before granting permit.
Sub-section (6) provides that a permit shall
be valid for the periods specified therein or for such period as the Central
Government may extend. The relevant portion of section 6 runs thus:- 758
"6(1) Any owner of an existing rice mill or of a rice mill in respect of
which a permit granted under section 5 is effective may make an application to
the licensing officer for the grant of a licence for carrying on rice-milling
operation in the rice mill.
(2) Every application under sub-section (1) shall
be made in the prescribed form and shall contain the particulars regarding the
location of the rice mill, the size and type thereof and such other particulars
as may be prescribed.
(3) On receipt of any such application for
the grant of licence, the licensing officer shall grant the licence on such
conditions including such conditions as to improvements to existing machinery,
replacement of existing machinery and use of improved methods of rice- milling
as may be necessary to eliminate waste, obtain maximum production and improve
quality and conditions relating to the polishing of rice, on payment of such
fees and on the deposit of such sum, if any, as security for the due
performance of the conditions as may be prescribed".
This section therefore requires every owner
of an existing rice mill to make an application for obtaining a licence. The
application is to be made to a licensing officer. It may be pertinent to note
here that once an application is filed by an owner of a rice-mill the licensing
officer has no discretion in the matter but has a mandatory duty to grant a
licence as will appear from the word "shall" which follows licensing
officer. Sub-section (4) again lays down the period of licence etc. Section 7
provides the ground on which the licensing officer can revoke or suspend the
licence after giving the licencee an opportunity of showing cause against the
action proposed to be taken. This section runs thus:- "7(1) If the
licensing officer is satisfied, either on a reference made to him in this
behalf or otherwise, that,- (a) a licence granted under section 6 has been
obtained by misrepresentation as to an essential fact, or (b) the holder of
licence has, without reasonable cause, failed to comply with the conditions
subject to which the licence has been granted or has contravened any of the pro
visions of this Act or the rules made thereunder.
then without prejudice to any other penalty
to which the holder of licence may be liable under this Act, the licensing 759
officer may, after giving the holder of the licence an opportunity of showing
cause, revoke or suspend the licence or forfeit the sum, if any, or any portion
thereof deposited as security for the due performance of the conditions subject
to which the licence has been granted".
Thus the provisions contain sufficient
guidelines and do not amount to exercise of an arbitrary power.
As the Amending Act 29 of 1968 had made vital
and substantial changes in the Act of 1958 by bringing the rice hullers also
within the domain of the Act. We might like to consider some of the amended
provisions whose constitutional validity has been challenged on various
grounds. To begin with, the relevant part of the object and reasons of the
Amending Act runs thus:- "First, several difficulties have been experienced
with regard to the control over small hullers. These hullers are scattered all
over the country-side far away from important markets and, in many cases, are
run along with other power driven plants like flour, oil and dal mills or
pumping sets etc. without obtaining requisite permits or licences under the
Act. These hullers sometimes operate clandestinely at night making it difficult
to check their activities. it is, therefore, proposed to make it clear that the
attachment of hullers with other power-driven units mentioned above would
amount to establishment of rice- mill and to tighten at the same time the penal
provisions in respect of running of unlicensed hullers.
Secondly, it is possible under the Act for
existing or new rice mills to stop rice-milling operations for a considerable
period and thereby affect the supply position. It is, therefore, proposed to
provide that if any mill ceases to operate for a continuous period of exceeding
one year, it would become a defunct rice-mill and would require a fresh permit
for recommencing rice- milling operations ........... Moreover, removal of bran
popularly known as polishing of rice after its recovery from paddy is also pro-
posed to be covered by the term 'milling rice' which at present covers recovery
of rice from paddy. This will check unauthorised milling which is done in the
name of polishing of rice".
It would thus appear that the rice hullers
were practically performing the same functions as rice millers but without any
control having been exercised on them, as a result of which the poor rice
growers were 760 exploited and the hand-pounding industry suffered. Sometimes
the supply position of the rice also suffered.
Coming now to the merits of the amendments of
1968. it was argued in the first place that the introduction of section 3A
unmistakably shows that the definition in section 3(d) & (gg) did not
include the rice hullers. It was also argued that clauses (i) and (ii) of
section 3(d) must be read conjunctively and not disjunctively are however
unable to agree with these arguments. Having regard to the setting in which
section 3(d) is placed and the dominant object of the Amendment Act the
intention of the Legislature was to Widen the purport and scope of the
definition of milling rice. If clauses (i) and(ii) are read conjunctively then
it will defeat the very purpose of the Act and would in fact become meaningless
because clause (i) which means recovering rice or any product thereof from
paddy would include products like chura etc. which do not require polishing and
yet if we have to read the two clauses conjunctively chura will have to be
polished to fall within the meaning of section 3(d) which, in our opinion,
could not have been contemplated by the Legislature. Furthermore the definition
of polishing in section 3(gg) runs thus:- " 'polishing' in relation to
rice means the removal of bran from the kernel of rice.
Polishishing rice therefore includes the
process of removal of bran from the kernel of rice with the aid of power in
what the rice hullers do. In this connection, we might mention that the process
of removing husk from the rice as defined in Encyclopaedia Britannica Col. 19
Page 284 which is as follows:- "Preparation of rice: The kernel of rice as
it leaves the thresher is enclosed by the hull or husk, and is known as paddy
or rough rice. Rough rice is used for seed and feed and livestock, but most of
it is milled for human consumption. Rice is a good energy food, and is consumed
in vast quantities in the orient.
In the western hemisphere, however, rice is
not the staple cereal food, except in certain Caribbean and South Pacific
Islands. A diet limited largely to well milled rice renders eastern people on a
restricted diet liable to beriberi, a deficiency disease caused by a shortage
of essential thiamin (Vitamin B1) and minerals. This disease, however, can be
avoided by adding legumes, fish, fruits and vegetables to the diet. Rough rice
that is preboiled and dried prior to milling retains more thiamin and minerals
than untreated rice. and hence is less apt to cause beriberi. It 761 appears
that in preboiling the thiamin, which is largely in the germ and bran layers of
the kernel, diffuses into and is fixed in the starchy endosperm.
Most of the rice is milled in or near the
areas in which it is produced. In modern mills, special machines are used for
removing the hull from the kernel, for removing the bran layers by attrition,
for polishing, for coating and for grading The object in milling is to remove
the hull and the bran layers of the kernel with as little breakage as possible
for the most valuable product is the whole kernel. Milled rice often is coated
with glucose and talc, or with vegetable oils, to improve its appearance. The
by-products, bran and polish, are used as feed for livestock, the broken rice
for brewing, distilling, and the manufacturing; of starch and rice flour. The
hulls are used for fuel or packing, and the straw is used for feed, for bedding
livestock, for thatching roofs, and for mats, garments, packing and broom
Thus, on a true interpretation of section
3(d) clauses (i) and (ii) and (gg) there can be absolutely no doubt that the
section includes the operation carried out by the rice hullers. In view of this
interpretation it was not necessary for the Legislature to have added section
3(A) but this was done in order to put the matter beyond doubt or Controversy.
Counsel for the petitioners assailed these
provisions of the Act on three grounds, viz., (1) that the Act by bringing the
rice hullers and rice millers within the same fold seems to treat unequals as
equals, because rice hullers cannot be equated with rice millers, (2) that
sections 5 and 6 contained uncanalised and unguided powers so as to be
violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, and (3) that the
provisions compelling the petitioners to take licences is too harsh in nature
and is an unreasonable restriction on the right of the petitioners to carry on
So far as the first contention is concerned,
it is absolutely without any substance. Having regard to the process in which
the rice is milled or dehusked by machine there is not much of a difference
between a rice miller and a rice huller. Both resort to machines driven by
power to effectuate the result. In fact, a husking mill with one huller not
only dehusks paddy but simultaneously polishes it by suitable adjustment of the
blade, a function which is almost similar to that performed by the rice
millers. Having regard to the object contained in the statement and reasons
mentioned above it cannot be said that there is any discrimination between the
rice millers and the rice hullers 762 both of whom are obliged to take licences
before conducting their business. The whole idea is that the indigenous hand
pounding industry may not be wiped out by allowing rice huller to take all the
licences of de-husking so as to render the hand-pounding industry completely
nugatory. Thus, in our opinion, in the first place, rice millers and rice
hullers constitute a separate class and secondly, having regard to the nature
of their functions the classification is reasonable, because (1) it is founded
upon intelligible differentia, (2) the defferentia has rational relation to the
objects sought to be achieved by the Act, namely, the protection of the
domestic hand pounding industry and improvement of the quality of the rice and
ensuring its easy and quick distribution. The first contention raised by the
writ petitioners is, therefore overruled.
It was next contended that the provisions of
the Act which insist on the rice hullers to take licences is an unreasonable
restriction on their right to carry on the business. In the first place, the
licensing provision is in public interest and is meant to carry out the purpose
of the Act. Secondly, sections 5 and 6 are purely regulatory in character and
do not amount to unreasonable restriction. It has been held by this Court that
canalization of export through selected licences causing elimination of other
traders amounts to a reasonable restriction. In this connection, in the case of
Narendra Kumar and ors. v. Union of India & ors.(1) this Court observed as
follows:- "The first evil sought to be remedied by the law being thus the
rise in price.. The essential subsidiary step therefore was to introduce a
system of permits so that the persons acquiring copper could be known. A system
of permits would also be of great help in ensuring that the raw material would
go to those industries where it was needled most and distributed in such
quantities to several industries in different parts of the country as would
procure the greatest benefit to the general Public".
To the same effect is the decision of this
Court in the case of Daruka & Co. v. Union of India(2) where Ray, C.J.
speaking for the Court observed as follows:-
"This Court in Glass Chatons. case (1962) 1 S.C.R. 862 held that if the
scheme of canalization of imports is in the interest of the general public the
refusal of licence to out- 763 siders would also be in the interest of the
general public. The canalisation of import was held to be per se not an
unreason able restriction in the interest of the general public.
Policies of imports or exports are fashioned
not only with reference to internal or international trade but also on monetary
policy, the development of agriculture and industries and even on the political
policies. If the Government decides an economic policy that import or export
should be by a selected channel or through selected agencies the court would precede
on the assumption that the decision is in the interest of the general public
unless the contrary is shown".
For these reasons, therefore, we are unable
to hold that sections 5 and 6 amount to unreasonable restrictions on the right
of the petitioners to carry on their trade and business.
It was next argued that sections 5 and 6
contain unguided and uncanalised power and suffer from the vice of excessive
delegation or powers. In the first place, in view of the language of section 6
with which the existing rice hullers are concerned, the question of uncanalised
powers being conferred on the licensing authority does not arise.
It would be seen that under section 6(3) once
an application is received by the licensing officer he shall grant a licence on
such conditions as he may impose. The statute does not leave any discretion in
the licensing officer to grant or to refuse to grant a licence. He has a
mandatory duty to perform, and, therefore, there is no question of the
licensing officer having been conferred unrestricted or uncanalised powers
under the Act. It was, however, submitted that although the grant of licence is
mandatory under sub- section (3) of section 6 yet this can be granted only if a
permit has been granted under section 5 sub-section (6).
There is no pleading before this Court that
any of the petitioners was not granted permits at all. Even so, as indicated
above, sub-section (4) of section 5 contains as many as six guidelines for the
grant of permit. The power is to be exercised by such a high authority as the
Central Government. Furthermore, under section 12 an appeal lies against a
decision of the licensing officer under section 6 or section 7 to an appellate
officer nominated by the Central Government.
For the reasons, given above Writ Petitions
No. 1135 to 1155 and 1759 to 1949 of 1977 are dismissed, but in the
circumstances with costs, one set.
764 For the reasons given in Writ Petitions
No. 1135 to 1155 and 1759 to 1949 of 1977, Writ Petitions No. 1544-1758,
1952-1991, 1993-2199, 2216-2220, 2274-2325 of 1977, 592-607, 849-862, 1898
1908/78, 1597-1606/78, 955-956/77, 1222/77, 4- 176 & 2359/78, 967-1128/77,
314-591, 901-950, 1870-1887, 2240-2294, 2367-2390, 3063-3081/78, 1223-1526/77,
177-313, 871-900 2319-2358/78, 2326-2430/77,1807-1869 1239-1312,1584- 1592,
1737-1759, 2296-2311, 2312-2318, 2392-2472, 2937-2951, 3380-3464, 609-821,
979-1237,1543-1583,1956-2111, 2810-2936, 2986-2998,2953-2968/78,
2472A-2472B/78, 823, 3514-3574, 824- 826, 975, 1617-1627, 1628 1725,
1915-1942/78, 2366, 2610, 3088, 3576, 1313-1542, 2112-2203, 3131-3340,
1760-1806/78, 2231-2234, 2235-2236, 2237-2238, 2475, 2476, 2975-2985/78, 3465,
3466-3513/78, 3622-3641/78, 3766,3801 & 3786-3788/78 are dismissed but
without any order as to costs. These are the reasons for our orders pronounced
S.R. Petitions dismissed.