K.A. Swami, J.
1. The petitioner is engaged in printing works. It is a partnership concern. It has been in the field of printing for over 3 decades. With a view to import a printing machine known as 'Heidelberg GTO 12 5/8 x 18' (32x46 cm), single colour offset press of 1975, the petitioner sent an application dated 14-2-83 to the 2nd respondent for grant of import licence to import the aforesaid machine. Pursuant to the application, the petitioner was asked by the 2nd respondent to fill up the form and also to comply with certain other requirements. Accordingly, it is not in dispute that the petitioner has complied with all the requirements and the application is in proper order. But the 2nd respondent has rejected the application on 19-7-1983 (Annexure F) on the ground that the machine sought for import is too old to be allowed and it will be difficult to produce/procure spare parts of the machinery if it goes out of order. It is the validity of this order which is challenged in this petition.
2. Sri Shivanna, learned Counsel for the petitioner, contends that as per the import policy of the first respondent, the application could not have been rejected, that as per the certificate (Annexure G) issued by the Chartered Engineer for Graphic Machinery, the machine which the petitioner intends to import is of the year 1975 and its residuary life is more than 10 to 12 years and that its condition is quite satisfactory and they have also tested the machine and have further certified that their test run has shown that the machine is capable of giving satisfactory service having been reconditioned and brought up to Manufacturer's original specification. They have further certified that the spare parts are available. It is further submitted that having regard to the aforesaid certificate, the correctness of it is not challenged by the respondents, the machine which the petitioner intends to import, satisfies all the requirements of the import policy. Therefore it is submitted that the import licence is arbitrarily refused and as such the impugned order be quashed and the 2nd respondent be directed to issue the licence for importing the machine in question.
3. The import policy relating to printing machines as stated by the respondents in their statement of objections, is as follows :
'Import of various types of printing machinery, new and second hand, including four colour off-set printing machines can be made under Open General Licence by eligible Actual Users in terms of Item No. 12 of Appendix 2 of Import-Export Policy Book. However import of secondhand/reconditioned machinery having expected residual life of less than five years and also machinery of more than 10 years old, is not allowed under this provision.'
Item No. 12 of Appendix 2 relates to printing machinery. It is not the case of the respondents that the printing machinery which the petitioner proposes to import is one of the banned items. The certificate issued by the Chartered Engineer for Graphic Machinery, Annexure G, read with the aforesaid import policy of the first respondent makes it clear that the machine which the petitioner intends to import, satisfies all the requirements of the import policy. However, Sri S. Shiva Shankar Bhat, learned Senior Standing Counsel for Central Government, contends that as per the guidelines formulated by the relevant Capital Goods Committee dealing with the applications for import, the import of very old/used/reconditioned single colour off-set machinery is discouraged in order to cope up with the modern technology and the import of very old models would also create problems for spare-parts later on. Therefore, under the existing guidelines, import of single colour off-set machinery, more than five years old, is not ordinarily allowed.
4. No doubt, according to the aforesaid guidelines, the machine which the petitioner intends to import is more than 5 years old, but that is not the import policy formulated by the 1st respondent. This is evident from para 4 of the statement of objections which is reproduced in the preceding paragraph. Therefore, it is not possible to hold that the machine which the petitioner intends to import does not fall within the import policy.
5. As far as the impugned order is concerned, it does not state anything except stating 'that the machine sought for import is too old to be allowed, and it will be difficult to produce/procure spare-parts of the machinery if it goes out of order'. Thus, it is apparent that the 2nd respondent, while rejecting the application of the petitioner has not taken into consideration the certificate, Annexure G which was also produced before him regarding the condition of the machine and the residuary life of the machine. The impugned order is arbitrary. It is not in conformity with the import policy. No doubt there is a discretion vested in the 2nd respondent in the matter of granting import licence. But this discretion is not absolute and unregulated. It is regulated by the norms laid down in the import policy announced by the Central Government. The 2nd respondent is required to exercise his power in conformity with the norms laid down in the import policy while considering the application for grant of licence to import. If the authority exercises the power otherwise than in accordance with the import policy, such exercise of power would be arbitrary and it amounts to abuse of power. Consequently, the order would be vitiated. It is this that has happened in the instant case. Having regard to the import policy referred to above, I do not see any justification to refuse to grant import licence to import the printing machine in question. Thus, the petition is entitled to be allowed.
6. Accordingly, this petition is allowed, the impugned order dated 19-7-1983 Annexure F passed by the 2nd respondent, is qua shed. As a result thereof, the application filed by the petitioner for grant of import licence for importing the printing machine in question stands remitted to the 2nd respondent with a direction to consider and dispose of the same within a period of one month from the date of receipt of this order in accordance with law and in the light of the observations made in this order.
7. However there will be no order as to costs.
8. Communicate the order within 2 weeks.