R.A. Jahagirdar, J.
1. The six appellants before me are the plaintiffs in S.C. Suit No. 6318 of 1283 pending in the City Civil Court at Bombay. They will hereinafter be referred to as 'the plaintiffs'. Respondents Nos. 1 and 2 are defendants Nos. 1 and 2 respectively in the said suit and they will be described accordingly in this judgment. A few facts which are necessary for disposal of this appeal from order may be stated. There was at the relevant time in the name of the first defendant a licence issued under the Bombay Prohibition Act to sell country liquor. That licence was issued in the year 1975. The second defendant is the tenant of the premises in which defendant No. 1 carried on the business of selling the country liquor. Some time in the year 1976, the plaintiffs or some of them, at any rate, entered into an agreement with defendants Nos. 1 and 2 under which, it is stated, the plaintiffs were given the benefit of the liquor licence which was standing in the name of the first defendant.
2. Disputes arose between the parties and the first defendant refused to renew the licence standing in his name. This prompted the plaintiffs to file a suit, being Suit No. 6318 of 1983 in the Bombay City Civil Court praying among other things for a permanent injunction restraining the first defendant from preventing the plaintiffs or the partnership firm from enjoying the benefits of the country liquor licence issued by the Collector of Bombay. The prayer also included the relief of restraining the first defendant from transferring the said liquor licence to the name of any other person or to any other premises other than the one where the partnership was allegedly carrying on the business.
3. In the suit, the plaintiffs took out a Notice of Motion Bearing No. 5667 of 1983 for interim injections in the terms of the prayers included in the plaint. The Notice of Motion came to be dismissed by the learned trial Judge by his judgment and order dated 17th December, 1984. Against that order the plaintiffs have preferred Appeal No. 78 of 1985. The plaintiffs had also applied in the Court below for the appointment of the Receiver by a Notice of Motion bearing No. 1859 of 1984. The prayer for Receiver was made on the ground that the licence which had been obtained in the name of the first defendant should be utilised for the benefit of the partnership firm and that the Receiver himself should also apply for the renewal of the licence, thus ensuring the continued flow of the benefits of the licence which was admittedly standing in the name of the first defendant. The learned trial Judge by his judgment and order dated 1st August, 1984 dismissed this Notice of Motion also that order is the subject-matter of challenge in Appeal No. 635 of 1984 from order.
4. In both these appeals the question is the same, namely, whether the plaintiffs have any legal right or interest in the liquor licence admittedly standing in the name of first defendant. The learned trial Judge in the Notice of Motion No. 1859 of 1984 has given an elaborate judgment examining all the legal aspects of the case including the Rules framed under the Bombay Prohibition Act and has come to the conclusion, and in my opinion rightly, that the partnership agreement between the plaintiffs and the defendants does not invest any of the plaintiffs with any right or interest in the liquor licence held admittedly by the first defendant. The learned trial Judge also noticed that the Rules framed under the Prohibition Act do not permit a liquor licence to be utilised by any person other than the one to whom it is specifically given. Taking this view, the learned trial Judge dismissed both the Notice of Motion on the ground that the plaintiffs were not entitled to any relief in respect of the licence standing in the name of first defendant. It may also be added that the learned trial Judge in the paragraph 6 of his judgment has examined the terms of the partnership deed which show that the first defendant totally effected himself from the scene and has practically handed over the liquor licence to the plaintiffs. This was in effect the transfer of the licence itself which is totally prohibited by the relevant provisions of the Bombay Prohibition Act.
5. Mr. Walawalkar, the learned Advocate appearing in support of these two appeals, has argued that the parties have, with full knowledge and open eyes, entered into an agreement pursuant to which the partnership was entitled to carry on the business of selling country liquor pursuant to the licence standing in the name of the first defendant. The first defendant himself has brought the country liquor licence as an asset of the partnership firm and if it is so, other partner will have necessarily an interest in the same. There is a solemn agreement between the plaintiffs and the defendants that all the partners of the firm including the plaintiffs will be entitled to carry on the business of selling the country liquor pursuant to the licence which undoubtedly stands in the name of the first defendant and if, therefore, any action on the part of first defendant effects the rights enjoyed by the plaintiffs as partners of the firm, then the plaintiffs are entitled to maintain an action and, therefore, they have filed the present suit. This is the sum and substance of the claim made by the plaintiffs in the Court below and before me.
6. It is impossible to accept the case of the plaintiffs or for that matter of any other persons who enter into such partnership deeds that the partners have any right or interest in a licence to sell country or other liquor which stands in the name of a particular person. Rule 7(1) of the Maharashtra Country Liquor Rules of 1973 specifically states that the licensee shall carry on the business of the shop either personally or by agents or servants duly authorised by him in this behalf by written Nokarnama in the prescribed form which is signed by the licensee and countersigned by a Prohibition and Excise Officer not lower in rank than a Sub-Inspector. This clearly show that the licensee is not entitled to part with the licence in order to enable somebody else to carry on the business of selling the country liquor. If there is a partnership agreement between some persons and the licensee under which the licensee permits the partners to carry on the business of selling country liquor, it is crystal clear that such an agreement is illegal because the consideration for such an agreement is unlawful within meaning of section 23 of the Contract Act. It is illegal because such a licence cannot be utilised except in the manner in which it is permitted by the Bombay Prohibition Act and the Rules made thereunder.
7. The rule of which I have already made a reference above clearly prohibits a person other than the licensee to carry on the business of selling the country liquor. Even if an agent is engaged by the licensee to carry on the business on his behalf, that engagement has to be evidenced by a written Nokarnama in the prescribed form and the Nokarnama has to be countersigned by a Prohibition and Excise Officer not lower in rank than a Sub-Inspector. Though in law each partner is said to be the agent of the other, such an agent is not covered by this rule. If a partner has to act as an agent of the holder of the licence, then that agency has to be evidenced by the form prescribed by that rule. A partner of a firm cannot therefore, be said to be an agent referred to in Rule 7(1) mentioned above. If the present partnership envisages that the other partners are entitled to carry on the business of selling country liquor pursuant to the licence held by the first defendant, that agreement must be held to be illegal and void and cannot be enforced.
8. It is true, as Mr. Walawalkar has stated, that the granting of a liquor licence to a partnership is not prohibited under Prohibition Act and the Rules made thereunder. A liquor licence may be granted by the authorities concerned to a partnership firm. But then that will be done subject to certain conditions. One of the conditions is the disclosure by each partner of the fact whether he has in any capacity been holding another licence to sell liquor. The underlying idea is, therefore, that the same person should not under the guise of partnership be interested in several liquor shops selling liquor pursuant to the licences issued to different persons. This is exactly the policy which is sought to be defeated by the plaintiff in the instant case. Admittedly the licence has not been given to the partnership firm despite the fact that the first defendant rightly or foolishly entered into an agreement with the plaintiffs. In the instant case, therefore, it cannot be urged that the plaintiffs as partners of a firm are entitled to carry on the liquor business pursuant to the licence given to the first defendant.
9. Mr. Walawalkar's reliance upon Jer & Co. v. Commissioner of Income-tax, (1971) I.T.R. 546 is misplaced. On the facts before the Supreme Court it was noted that the terms of the licence did not prohibit the transfer of the licence and, therefore, the partnership was entitled to hold the licence and carry on the business pursuant to that licence. That is not the case before us at all. There is no provision which would in the remotest way permit any other person including the partners to enjoy the benefit of the licence standing in the name of a particular person. The whole suit is misconceived. No interim relief can legitimately be claimed in such suit.
10. In the result, both these appeals are dismissed. The order dated 17th December, 1984 passed by the learned trial Judge in Notice of Motion No. 5667 of 1983 and also the order dated 14th August, 1984 passed in Notice of Motion No. 1859 of 1984 both in S.C. Suit No. 6318 of 1983 are confirmed. The appellant shall pay the costs of respondents in both the appeals in one set.