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Yashwant Sahakari Sakhar Karkhane Ltd. Vs. Union of India (Uoi) and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectExcise;Constitution
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petition Nos. 3667 and 4127 of 1981 and 264, 518, 1256, 1728 and 2032 of 1982
Judge
Reported in1986(7)ECC31; 1991LC147(Bombay); 1986(26)ELT904(Bom)
ActsCentral Excise Act, 1944 - Sections 35; General Clauses Act; Constitution of India - Articles 226 and 227; Central Excise Rules, 1944 - Rules 8(1), 10, 10(1), 10A, 53 and 173G
AppellantYashwant Sahakari Sakhar Karkhane Ltd.
RespondentUnion of India (Uoi) and ors.
Appellant AdvocateT.R. Andhyarujina and ;P. Gandhi, Advs., i/b., Mulla and Mulla, ; ;Craigie Blunt, ;Caroe, C.J. Sawant and ;A.V. Phadnis, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateR.V. Desai, ;K.C. Sidhwa, ;V.N. Lokur, ;V.P. Tipnis, ;D.Y. Lovekar and ;S.G. Shah, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....limitation--recovery of excess sugar incentive rebate already granted and paid not governed by rule 10a; rule 10(1) will apply being a case of erroneous refund. alternative remedy--where the central government issues instructions, statutory remedy ceases to be a remedy. notfns. 203/72-ce, 189/73-ce. - code of criminal procedure, 1973 [c.a. no. 2/1974]. section 41: [ swatanter kumar, cj, smt ranjana desai & d.b. bhosale, jj] arrest of accused - held, a police officer or a person empowered to arrest may arrest a person without intervention of the court subject to the limitations specified under the provisions of the code. the provisions of section 41 of the code provides for arrest by a police officer without an order from a magistrate and without a warrant. a distinct and different..........of excise1 2 3------------------------------------------------------------------------------1. sugar produced in a factory during the period rupeescommencing from the 1st day of october, 1972 forty per and ending with the 30th day of november, 1972 quintal which' is in excess of the quantity of sugar produced during the corresponding periodin 1971.2. sugar produced in a factory during the period rupeescommencing with the 30th day of april, 1973 twenty which is in excess of 115% of the quantity of persugar produced during the period commencing quintal from the 1st day of december, 1971 and ending with the 30th day of april, 1972.3. sugar produced in a factory during the period rupeescommencing from the 1st day of may, 1973 and thirty ending with the 30th day of june, 1973 which is.....
Judgment:

Dharamadhikari, J.

1. As all these writ 'petitions involve common questions of law and fact they were heard together and are being disposed of by this common judgment.

2. It is an admitted position that the petitioners are manufacturers of sugar. Initially under the notifications issued by the Government in exercise of powers conferred upon it by Sub-rule (1) of Rule 8 of the Central Excise Rules, 1944, an exemption or rebate was granted to them in terms of Notifications No. 203 of 1972 dated 28th September, 1972 and No. 189 of 1973 dated 4th October, 1973. Since the argument before us is based solely on these notifications, it would be worthwhile if the said notifications are reproduced in extenso:

Notification No. 203/72 dated 28th September, 1972.'Government of India Ministry of Finance(Department of Revenue and Insurance)New Delhi, dated the 28th September, 1972NotificationCentral ExcisesG.S.R. In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-rule (1) of Rule 8 of the Central Excise Rules, 1944, the Central Government hereby exempts' sugar, described in column (2) of the Table below and falling under sub-item (1) of item No. 1 of the 'First Schedule to the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 (1 of 1944), from so much of the duty of excise leviable thereon as is specified in the corresponding entry in column (3) of the said Table. TABLESl.No. Description of sugar Duty of Excise1 2 3------------------------------------------------------------------------------1. Sugar produced in a factory during the period Rupeescommencing from the 1st day of October, 1972 forty per and ending with the 30th day of November, 1972 quintal which' is in excess of the quantity of sugar produced during the corresponding periodin 1971.2. Sugar produced in a factory during the period Rupeescommencing with the 30th day of April, 1973 twenty which is in excess of 115% of the quantity of persugar produced during the period commencing quintal from the 1st day of December, 1971 and ending with the 30th day of April, 1972.3. Sugar produced in a factory during the period Rupeescommencing from the 1st day of May, 1973 and thirty ending with the 30th day of June, 1973 which is perin excess of the quantity of sugar produced quintal during the corresponding period in 1972.4. Sugar produced in a factory during the period Rupeescommencing from the 1st day of July, 1973 and twenty ending with the 30th day of September,1973 per which is in excess of the quantity of sugar quintal produced during the corresponding periodin 1972.------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Provided that the exemption under this notification shall not be admissible to a factory, -

(a) which did not work during the base period or;

(b) which had only a trial run in the base period; or

(c) which commences production for the first time on or after the first day of October, 1972:

Provided further that in computing the production of sugar during the period mentioned in column (2) of the said Table, -

(a) the data, as furnished in form R.G.I, prescribed in Appendix I to the Central Excise Rules, 1944 or in such other records as the Collector may prescribe under Rule 173G of the said Rules, shall be adopted;

(b) any sugar obtained from reprocessing of sugar house products left over in process at the end of the base period or earlier shall be taken into account; and

(c) any sugar obtained by refining gur or khandsari sugar, or any sugar obtained by reprocessing of defective or damaged sugar or brown sugar, if the same has already been included in the quantity of sugar produced, shall not be taken into account.

Explanation I : A factory shall be deemed to have made a 'trial run during the base period only if, on first going into production the period during which actual crushing was done during the period was less than 40 per cent of the average production duration of the season in the State in which the factory is situated.

Explanation II : In this notification, the expression, 'base period' means the period commencing from the 1st day of October, 1971 and ending with the 30th day of September, 1972.

sd/-

S.R. Narayanan

Under Secretary to Govt. of India.

Notification No. 189/73 dated 4th October, 1973.

'Exemption to Sugar on Excess Production from 1st October, 1973 to 30th September, 1974. - In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-rule (1) of Rule 8 of the Central Excise Rules, 1944, the Central Government hereby exempts sugar, described in Column (2) of the Table below and falling under sub-item (1) of item No. 1 of the First Schedule to the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 (1 of 1944), from so much of the duty of excise leviable thereon as is specified in the corresponding entry in Column (3) of the said Table.

TABLESl.No. Description of sugar Rate of Excise1 2 3------------------------------------------------------------------------------1. Sugar, produced in a factory during the period Forty commencing from the 1st day of October, 1973 Rupees and ending with the 30th day of November, 1973 per which is in excess of the quantity of sugar pro- quintal duced during the corresponding period in 1972.2. Sugar produced in a factory during the period Twenty commencing from the 1st day of December, 1973 Rupees and ending with the 31st day of March, 1974 per which is in excess of 110 %of the quantity of quintalsugar produced during the period commencing from the 1st day of December, 1972 and ending with the 31st day of March, 1973.2A. Sugar produced in a factory during the month Twenty April,1974,which is in excess of 110% and not Rupeesin excess of 180% of the quantity of sugar pro- perduced during the month of April, 1973. quintal2B. Sugar produced in a factory during the month of ThirtyApril, 1974 which is in excess of 18096 of the Rupeesquantity of sugar produced during the month of perApril, 1973. quintal3. Sugar produced in a factory during the period Thirty commencing from 1st day of May, 1974 and Rupees ending with the 30th day of June,1974 which is perin excess of 110% and not in excess of 180% of quintal the quantity of sugar produced during the corresponding period in 1973.3A. Sugar produced in a factory during the period Fortycommencing from the 1st day of May, 1974 and Rupeesending with the 30th day of June, 1974 which is perin excess of 180% of the quantity of sugar pro- quintal duced during the corresponding period in 1973.4. Sugar produced in a factory during the period Fortycommencing from the 1st day of July, 1974 and Rupees ending with the 30th day of September,1974 per which is in excess of the quantity of sugar pro- quintal duced during the corresponding, period in 1973.5. Sugar produced during the period commencing Thirty from the 1st day of October,1973 and ending Rupees with the 30th day of September,1974 by pera factory which commenced production on quintal or after the 1stday of October,1972 whichis in excess of ten thousand metric tonnes.6. Sugar produced during the period commencing Thirty from the 1st day of October,1973 and ending Rupees with the 30th day of September, 1974 by pera factory which commenced production for quintal the first time on or after the first day of October, 1973 which is in excess of five thousand metric tonnes.------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Provided that the exemption mentioned against serial numbers 1 to 4 of the said Table shall not be admissible to a factory which did not work during the base period.

2. In computing the production of sugar during the periods mentioned in column (2) of the said. Table -

(a) in respect of a factory mentioned in the said Table -

(i) the date, as furnished in form R.G.I, prescribed in Appendix I to the Central Excise Rules, 1944, or in such other record as the Collector may prescribe under Rule 53 or Rule 173G of the said Rules, shall be adopted, and

(ii) any sugar obtained by refining gur or khandsari sugar shall not be taken into account;

(b) in respect of a factory mentioned in serial numbers 1 to 4 of the said table

(i) any sugar obtained by reprocessing of sugar house products left over in process at the end of the base period or earlier shall be taken into account; and

(ii) any sugar obtained by or processing of defective or damaged sugar or brown sugar, if the same has already been included in the quantity of sugar produced, shall not be taken into account.

Explanation : In this connection, the 'base period' means the period commencing from the 1st day of October, 1972 and ending with the 30th day of September, 1973.

(Notification No. 189/73-CE dated 4th October, 1973 as amended by Notification No. 78/74-CE dated 20th April, 1974 and No. 107/74-CE dated 20th June, 1974).'

3. In accordance with and in pursuance of the said notifications the petitioners filed their claims for rebate in excise duty which were duly granted to them in the shape of credit. However, after a lapse of about 3 years or so, the excise authorities issued show cause notices to the petitioners calling upon them to refund the amount alleged to have been erroneously refunded or adjusted. These notices were issued under Rule 10A of the Central Excise Rules, 1944. The petitioners submitted their replies to the said show cause notices and contended that the rebate has been claimed within the four corners of the said notifications. By adjudication orders, the Assistant Collector for Central Excise, rejected the explanation given by the petitioners and passed orders for recovery of the amount. It is not necessary to make a detailed reference to the various show cause notices or the ultimate orders passed therein or the reasons given in the orders of the competent authority, since it is an admitted position that the reasons given in the adjudication orders are one and the same. The adjudicating authority came to the conclusion that since for the corresponding period in the previous year the production of the petitioners' factories was nil, they are not entitled to the benefit of these notifications, as it cannot be said that in the next year the sugar produced in their factories was in excess of the quantity of sugar produced during the corresponding period in 1972. According to the adjudicating authority, for getting the benefit of the said notifications petitioners must have produced something during the corresponding period in the previous year. It is this interpretation of the adjudicating authority and the ultimate orders passed therein, which are challenged in these writ petitions.

4. Shri C.J. Sawant and Shri Andhyarujina, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioners, contended before us that the object of the notifications was to provide incentive to the manufacturers of sugar so as to induce them to produce greater quantity of sugar and particularly during the lean period every year. It was also the object of the notifications that instead of producing sugar in the last part of the season, the manufacturers should start production of sugar early even during such a lean period. Therefore the benefit of the notifications was available even to a factory which did not produce any sugar at all during the corresponding period in the previous year since in the next year it started early production and also produced excess quantity of sugar within the contemplation of the notifications. The learned counsel also submitted that the contentions that the provisions relating to the rebate will apply to those factories only which did produce something in the corresponding period of the previous year is wholly incorrect and also run counter to the very object of the notifications. It is then contended by the learned counsel that the demands made are also beyond time since the demands are clearly covered by Rule 10 and not under Rule 10A of the Rules. In the demand notices a claim is made only on the ground that the relevant notifications were misconstrued when the rebate amounts were sanctioned and allowed to be credited in the personal ledger accounts of the petitioners. Therefore these demand notices squarely fall within the ambit of Rule 10 and not under Rule 10A of the said Rules which rule relates to the residuary powers for the recovery of the sums due to the Government. Therefore this is either a case of short levy or refund of levy which is not covered by the residuary provisions. In Writ Petition No. 4127 of 1981 an additional contention was raised that the notice of demand issued after the repeal of Rule 10A of the Rules, was wholly without jurisdiction. Rule 10A came to be repealed without any saving clause and it being piece of subordinate legislation and the provisions of the General Clauses Act, were not applicable, and therefore, after the repeal of Rule 10A it was not open to the authorities concerned to claim the amount by taking recourse to the repealed provisions, i.e., Rule 10A. Admittedly the demands made were beyond limitation if it is referrable to Rule 10 of the Rules. Therefore on that count also the demands made are wholly unsustainable. It was also contended by the learned counsel that applying the principles s of promissory estoppel the respondents cannot be allowed to go back on their representations made in the letters of confirmation issued in response to the letters written by the Indian Sugar Mills Association. In support of this contention the counsel for the petitioners have placed strong reliance upon the decisions of the various High Courts in 1979 ELT 533-Etikoppaka Coop. Agricultural Society Ltd. represented by K.L.N. Raju and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors., 1982 ELT 19-Batala Coop. Sugar Mills Ltd. v. Assistant Collector, Central Excise, Jullunder, 1983 ELT 205-L.H. Sugar Factories Ltd. v. Union of India and Ors., 1983 ELT 484-Sakthi Sugars Ltd., Coimbatore v. Union of India and Ors. and 1984 ELT 87-Kampli Cooperative Sugar Factory Ltd. v. Union of India and Ors..

5. On the other hand it is contended by Shri Desai and Shri Lokur, the learned counsel for the respondents, that the words 'excess of the quantity produced' used in the notifications clearly indicate that in the corresponding year there should be some production. Zero or nil production cannot be termed as the quantity produced because it is not production at all. This is further clear from the subsequent entries. Nos. 2A and 2B where a reference is made to the percentage. Therefore, if these notifications are properly construed in their context, it is quite clear that if in the corresponding period in the previous year the factories had not produced anything, then they are not entitled to the rebate or exemption contemplated by these notifications. It is then contended' by the learned counsel for the respondents that the demands made in these case are clearly covered by Rule 10A. These are the cases of granting credit and not levying a duty. Credit is also not granted as a result of any assessment. In such cases there is no question of short levy and/or refund of money. Further the credit is not granted under any statute but merely under the administrative orders, and the said credit has no connection with the assessment and/or refund of tax or duty and, therefore, it is not correct to say that the said demand notices are clearly covered by Rule 10. In support of these contentions the learned counsel for the respondents have placed strong reliance upon the decisions of the Supreme Court in : 1978(2)ELT416(SC) -Assistant Collector of Central Excise, Calcutta v. National. Tobacco Co. of India Ltd., : [1980]121ITR535(SC) - Commissioner of Income-tax, Central Calcutta v. National Taj Traders, and : 1985(20)ELT212(SC) -D.R. Kohli and Ors. v. Atul Products Ltd. A preliminary objection was also raised by the respondents that the petitioners had an alternate and efficacious remedy of filing an appeal or revision under the provisions of the Act and the Rules and since they have not availed of the said remedy, these writ petitions under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution are not maintainable. In support of this preliminary point the respondents have placed strong reliance upon the decision of the Supreme Court in : [1983]142ITR663(SC) -Titaghur Paper Mills Co. Ltd. and Anr. v. State of Orissa and Anr.. As already observed the decision in these writ petitions will solely rest upon the interpretation of the above two notifications.

6. From the material placed before us it is quite clear that these notifications were issued with twin objects in the mind : (one) that the manufacturing of sugar must start as early as possible and (two) that there should be increase in the production of sugar. As contended by the petitioners in Writ Petition No. 4127 of 1981, it is a well known and admitted position that as far as the cane recovery is concerned it is uneconomical for sugar factories to start their crushing of sugar-cane early since the recovery is very low. Thus most of the factories in India were compelled to start their sugar season late. This however results in decrease, of sugar production. Therefore, with a view to induce sugar factories to commence their season early, the respondents have issued the notifications seeking to provide incentive to the factories by way of concession of excise duty so as to enable them to maximise their production of sugar. If these notifications are read in their context and as a whole, in our view it will not be correct to say that if in the corresponding period of the previous year the production of the factory was zero and in the subsequent year the factory was able to produce something, then it cannot be termed to be excess quantity of sugar produced. Mathematically, nil production is also relevant for finding out the excess quantity of sugar produced during the corresponding period next year. It is not necessary to consider this aspect of the matter in. detail since we generally agree with the view taken by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Etikoppaka Coop. Agricultural Society Ltd.'s case 1979 ELT 533. Chinnappa Reddy, J. (as he then was), had also an occasion to consider the said notifications. While repelling similar contentions raised before him, this is what the learned Judge has observed in Paras 6 and 7 of the said judgment :-

'6. The first submission of the learned counsel for the petitioners was that the interpretation placed by the Government of India in the trade notice dated 28-7-1976 was wrong and that the earlier interpretation of the Government of India was correct. I am inclined to agree' with this submission. The object of the notification was to provide an incentive to manufacturers of sugar so as to induce them to produce greater quantities of sugar, particularly during certain lean periods every year. Therefore, it was said if the sugar produced during the certain period in the 'sugar year' 1-10-1973 to 30-9-1974 was in excess of the sugar produced during the corresponding periods in the previous year called the base period, that is, 1-10-1972 to 30-9-1973, the manufacturer was to be entitled to, certain rebate of excise duty on the excess sugar produced. Therefore if the manufacturer had not produced any sugar during the relevant period in the base year 1-10-1972 to 30-9-1973, he would be entitled to rebate of excise duty on the whole of the sugar produced during the relevant period in the year 1-10-1973 to 30-9-1974. The argument of the counsel for the Central Government was that in order to entitle the manufacturer to the rebate of excise duty he must have produced, 'some' sugar during the relevant period in the base year. According to him, it was only when some sugar was produced during the relevant period in the year 1972-73, sugar produced during the relevant period in the 1973-74 could be said to have exceeded the sugar produced during the corresponding period in 1972-73. He drew my attention to the fact that the notification referred to 'quantity' of sugar produced during the corresponding period in 1972-73. If no sugar was produced during the corresponding period in the year 1972-73, his argument was that the notification was inapplicable. This interpretation appears to me to be prima facie unreasonable. If no sugar was produced during the relevant period in the year 1972-73 it must be said that the production of sugar during the relevant period was nil and the excess sugar produced in the year 1973-74 should be calculated on that basis. The interpretation of the Central Government counsel would lead to absurd results. It would mean that if a manufacturer produced even one ounce of sugar during the relevant period in 1972-73 he would be entitled to rebate but not if he produced 'nil' sugar. The proviso to the notification in my opinion makes matters clear. It says that the exemption mentioned against serial Nos. 1 to 4 shall not be admissible to a factory which did not work during the base period. In other words it was only, when a factory did not work at all during 'base period' defined in the explanation to the notification as the period (from 1st October, 1972 to 30th September, 1973) that the exemption would not be admissible. The proviso did not make exemptions inadmissible if the factory did not work during the relevant periods mentioned against S.Nos. 1 to 4. If the object of the notification was not to grant any exemption in respect of the sugar produced during any one of the four periods mentioned against S.Nos. 1 to 4 if no sugar was produced during the corresponding period in the base year, the proviso to the notification would have been worded differently. In the face of the proviso, I find it difficult to accept the arguments of the learned counsel for the Central Government.

7. The submission of the learned counsel for the Central Government is, however, supported by the decision of the Patna High Court in Civil Writ Jurisdiction case No. 865 of 1966. According to the learned Judges, the interpretation placed by the manufacturers on the notification would lead to absurdity. They said :

'For example, if a factory produces 1,000 quintals of sugar between 1st January, 1964 and 30th. June, 1964, but produces only 900 quintals of sugar during the period 1st January, 1965 to 30th June, 1965, the factory will not be entitled to any rebate under the general provisions and a factory which has no production during the period 1st January, 1964 to 30th June, 1964, but produces only 900 quintals of sugar during the relevant period, that is, 1st January, 1965 to 30th June, 1965 will be entitled to rebate over the entire quantity at the scale as indicated above. Such a result would be against the terms and spirit of the notification.'

I am unable to see how such a result would be against the terms and spirit of the notification. The object of the notification was to give an incentive to manufacturers to increase their production. If a manufacturer who was unable to produce any sugar during a certain period is induced to produce a large quantity of sugar during the corresponding period next year, it, certainly, is a notable achievement, which will deserve the incentive. On the other hand, if a manufacturer producing 1,000 quintals during a certain period in one year produces less during the corresponding period next year, he cannot claim to be entitled to any incentive as he has actually produced less than what he used to produce before. The learned Judges of the Patna High Court also observed, 'The rebate being for excess production it postulates production for the base period also.' That is correct with this qualification that under the present notification the base period is the year 1st October, 1972 to 30th September, 1973 and not the smaller periods mentioned against serial Nos. 1 to 4 in the notification. I am not inclined to agree with the view of the Patna High Court.'

7. It is pertinent to note that in this judgment the learned Judge has taken a note of the contrary view taken by the Patna High Court in Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No. 865 of 1966 and has not followed the said decision by giving good reasons. The view taken by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the aforesaid decision was in terms subsequently followed by the division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Batala Co-op. Sugar Mills Ltd.s' case, by Allahabad High Court in L.H. Sugar Factory Ltd. v. Union of India, by Varadarajan, J., (as he then was) of the Madras High Court in Sakthi Sugars Ltd., Coimbatore's case, by Puttaswamy, J., of the Karnataka High Court in Kampli Co-operative Sugar Factory Ltd.'s case. In our view this was the only view possible of the notifications. The contrary view taken by the Patna High Court referred to in the judgment of Chinnappa Reddy, J., (as he then was) was rightly not followed by all these High Courts. A full text of the judgment of the Patna High Court was also not made available to us. In our view the view taken by various High Court in the aforesaid decisions is also in tune with the observation of the Supreme Court in Gursahai Saigal v. Commissioner of Income-tax, Punjab : [1963]1ITR48(SC) . This is what the Supreme Court has observed in Para. 14 of the said judgment :

'14. With regard to the other question about there being no shortfall between eighty per cent of the amount of tax found payable on the regular assessment and the amount of tax paid in a case where no tax was paid, it seems to us the position is much simpler. If no tax is paid, the amount of such shortfall will naturally be the entire eighty per cent. We also think that the case before us is very near to Allen's case, (1938) 22 Tax Cas 15.'

Therefore only because reference is made to percentage in entries Nos. 2A and 2B, it will not make any difference.

8. Therefore, taking any view of the matter, in our opinion it will not be fair to deny the petitioners the benefit of the incentive rebate if they had improved their production in the next year and had started production in lean period, which is the object of these notifications. In this view of the matter we entirely agree with the view taken by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Allahabad High Court, the Madras and the Karnataka High' Courts and hold that the petitioners are entitled to the benefits of these notifications. So far as the other contentions based on the interpretation of Rules 10 and 10-A of the Rules are concerned, once it is held that the interpretation put forward by the adjudicating authority is wholly wrong, then it is not necessary to decide any other contentions raised and, argued before us. However, it is pertinent to note that the Andhra Pradesh and the Madras High Courts have in terms taken a view that the demands made in this behalf clearly fall under Rule 10(1) of the Rules, and therefore, Rule 10-A was not applicable.

9. Before parting with this judgment note will have to be taken of the preliminary objection raised by the respondents though at a very late stage, that is, after the arguments of the petitioners were over. In our view this preliminary objection is also without any substance. In this context we cannot do better than to make a reference to- the observations of Chinnappa Reddy, 3., (as he then was) in Etikoppaka Co-op. Agricultural Society Ltd.'s case, which reads as under :

'In the counters filed in the several writ petitions a point was raised that the petitioners had an alternate remedy by way of an appeal under Section 35, of the Central Excises Act, and revision to the Central Government under Section 35. 'In my view, the pursuit of the remedy provided by the Act, in the circumstances of the case, having regard to the instructions issued by the Central Government, the highest authority under the Act, would only be an exercise in futility. The highest authority constituted under the Act having already pre-determined the question and directed all the subordinate tribunals constituted under the Act to interpret the notifications in a particular manner the statutory remedy has ceased to be a remedy. There can, therefore, be no bar to the maintainability of these writ petitions.'

10. We entirely agree with the view taken by the learned Judge.

11. In the result, therefore, rule is made absolute in all these writ petitions with costs in one set. As a necessary consequence of this decision, if the amounts were deducted or recovered from the petitioners, the respondents are directed to refund the same within a period of two weeks.

12. At this stage an oral request is made for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. We do not find that this is a fit case for grant of such leave. Hence leave refused.


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