(1) This is a petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India to call for the records and to issue a Writ of Certiorari quashing the Order of the Government of Andhra in G. O. R. No. 421 dated 12-8-1954.
(2) The facts which have given rise to this writ petition and which are either admitted or proved may be set out in their chronological sequence.
(3) The four petitioners in this Writ Petition and one B. M. Rao (3rd respondent) have been partners and lessees of a cinema theatre called Sri Kesari Picture. Eluru, under a registered lease deed, dated 9-11-1947, executed in their favour by the owner. The lease provides for a rent of Rs.550. per month and is to subsist for a period of ten years. The petitioners, B. M. Rao, (3rd respondent) and the owner of the theatre filed O. S. No. 2 of 1948 on the file of the District Court of West Godavari, for possession of the cinema theatre. There was a decree in their favour, which was confirmed by the High Court of Madras in A. S. No. 549 of 1948 Mad (A), on its file on 20-4-1949. In pursuance of that decree, possession was taken by all the partners. It is common ground that the licence under the Cinematograph Act and the licence under the Cinematograph Act and the licence under the Places of Public Resort Act were previously granted in thename of 3rd respondent. In or about February 1953, there were certain differences between the petitioners and 3rd respondent.
On an application filed by the petitioners, the licence under the Places of Public Resort Act as granted to the petitioners jointly with 3rd respondent. The licence under the Cinematograph Act issued in the name of 3rd respondent was to expire on 31-5-1953. Here it may be stated that a licence is granted for one year at a time and is renewable form year to year. The 3rd respondent did not apply for the renewal of the licence. the petitioners, however, applied on 29-5-1953 for the issue of a licence in the names of all the 5 partners, that is, the petitioners and 3rd respondent. To the petitioners' application for licence, 3rd respondent filed objections on 26-6-1953, wherein he stated that the licence should not be granted in the names of the five partners and prayed that the application for licence may be dismissed. The 2nd respondent in this petition is the District Magistrate of West godavari, who is the licensing authority under the Cinematograph Act. He gave notice to the parties and heard their counsel. He passed asn Order on 3-8-1953, which is as follows:
'The petitioners four in number and the respondent are the joint lessees of Sri Kesari Picture Palace, Eluru. The licence is in the name of the respondent who is the managing proprietor while the petitioners are actually running the cinema. Now that differences arose between the respondent and the petitioners, the petitioners request tht their names also be included in the licence for the smooth running of the cinema. Their names have already been included in the Places of Public Resort Act licence issued by the Municipality. Since the petitioners are the joint lessees along with the respondent and since there are differences between them and the respondent regarding the management, it is desirable that the licence be issued in the names of all the partners in the interest of the smooth running of the cinema. There is nothing in the Act and the rules framed thereunder, that licence should not be issued in the name of a body of individuals. The licence will, therefore, be granted in the name of all the five joint lessees.'
(4) Pursuant to this Order a licence was granted jointly in the names of the four petitioners and 3rd respondent.
(5) The 3rd respondent filked a petition, dated 9-1-1954 before the government of Andhra (law Department) praying that the Order of the District Magistrate may be cnacelled and that the 'status quo ante' may be restored in respect of the licence. The four petitioners filed petitions on 18-3-1954, 2-3-1954, and 1-4-1954 requesting the Government to dismiss the appeal petition filed by 3rd respondent. On 2-4-1954, the Government issued a memorandum that was parties would be heard in the presence of one another and the Collector of West Godavari was directed to issue notices to the parties to appear before the Law Secretary on 15-4-1954 at 11 A.M. On that day there was an attempt at an amicable settlement which eventually proved abortive.
(6) On 12-7-1954, the Government issued G. O. Ms. No. 734, which runs thus:
GOVERNMENT OF ANDHRA.
LAW (COURTS III) DEPARTMENT
G. O. MS. No. 734 dated 12th July 1954.
(Cinematograph Act -- Issue of licences to Cinema Theatres--instructions--issued):