1. In these petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution, the sole question for decision is, whether the Karnataka Automobile Tyres and Tubes (Control) Order, 1971, is ultra vires and void as contended for the petitioners.
2. The said order was made by the State Government in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (Central Act 10 of 1955) (hereinafter called 'the Act'), read with S. O. No. 1844, dated the 18th of June, 1966 issued by the Government of India. It was made on 13th December, 1971, and published in the Karnataka Gazette dated 14th of December, 1971. It extends to the whole of the State of Karnataka. It provides, among others, for regulating the sale of tyres and tubes of all varieties, issuing of licence and prosecution for contravening the conditions of the licence.
3. The petitioners are dealers in tyres and tubes. Their common contention is that the State Government have had no power validly delegated by the Central Government under Section 5 of the Act, to provide for the matters in relation to the automobile tyres and tubes.
4. In order to examine the contention, it is necessary to have a close look at the relevant provisions of the Act. The Act was intended to provide in the interest of the general public, power to control production, supply and distribution of, and trade and commerce in certain commodities. 'Essential commodity' was defined under Section 2(a), as inclusive of various articles, like cattle fodder, coal, component parts and accessories of automobiles, cotton and woollen textiles, etc. By Section 2(a)(xi) authority was conferred upon the Central Government to declare by notification, any other commodity as an essential commodity for the purposes of the Act; that is, in addition to the commodities already defined under the Act. By Section 3(1), authority was conferred upon the Central Government so far as it appeared to be necessary or expedient for maintaining or increasing supplies of any essential commodity or securing their equitable distribution and availability at fair prices, to provide for regulating or prohibiting the production, supply and distribution thereof, and trade and commerce. It may be relevant to state that these powers are in the nature of delegated legislative powers. Section 4 provides that an order made under Section 3 may confer powers and impose duties upon the Central Government or the State Government or their officers or authorities and may contain directions as to the exercise of any such cowers or the discharge of any such duties. Section 5 provides for delegation of powers, It reads:
'5. Delegation of Powers:-- The Central Government may, by notified order direct that 'the power to make orders or issue notifications under Section 3' shall, in relation to such matters and subject to such conditions, if any, as may be specified, in the direction, be exercised also by
(a) such officer or authority subordinate to the Central Government, or
(b) such State Government or such Officer or authority subordinate to a State Government, as may be specified in the direction.'
On 18th June, 1966, the Central Government acting under Section 5, made an Order which reads as follows:
'GOVERNMENT OF INDIA,MINISTRY OF COMMERCE.