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The Warangal Chamber of Commerce Vs. Director of Marketing, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. No. 1827 of 1972
Reported inAIR1975AP245
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Andhra Pradesh (Agricultural Produce and Livestock) Markets Act, 1966 - Sections 33(2) and 34(1); Andhra Pradesh (Agricultural Produce and Livestock) Markets Rules, 1969 - Rules 45 and 73
AppellantThe Warangal Chamber of Commerce
RespondentDirector of Marketing, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad and ors.
Appellant AdvocateA. Raghuvir, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateGovt. Pleader for ;Transport and ;D.V. Reddi Pantulu, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
(i) constitution - locus standi - article 226 of constitution of india - writ of mandamus sought against refusal to increase the commission - corporate body filing petition representing its members - whether entitled to file petition - held, petitioner had real and sufficient interest in disputed matter and thus entitled to file petition. (ii) civil - appropriate authority - section 33 (2) (25) and proviso to section 34 (1) and byelaws 35 of andhra pradesh (agricultural produce and livestock) markets act, 1966 and rules 45 and 73 of andhra pradesh (agricultural produce and livestock) market rules, 1969 - rate of commission proposed to be increased - approved by the market committee and director of marketing - resolution set aside by government - whether valid - government appropriate..........filed by the secretary, agricultural market committee, warangal, an objection is taken as to the locus standi of the petitioner which is a corporate body to file a writ petition on behalf of its several members. it is submitted that each individual member should file a separate writ petition and a single writ petition on behalf of all the members is liable to be dismissed.5. the question of locus standi under article 226 is not res integra. it has been considered in several decisions of the 'supreme court and of this court. to begin with, let us see the view expressed in the earliest decision of the supreme court with, reference to art 226 of the constitution.6. in state of orissa v. madangopal rungte. : [1952]1scr28 kania,c. j. speaking for the court observed:--'the language of the.....

Chennakesav Reddy, J.

1. The problem that stands pre-eminently to the fore in this writ petition is whether the petitioner -- The Warrangal Chamber of Commerce, a corporate body, can maintain a writ of Mandamus on behalf of its members, under Article 226 of the Constitution. When the case came on for hearing before our learned brother, Obul Reddi, J. his Lordship referred the matter to a Division Bench in view of the importance of the issue involved in the case and the conflicting course of judicial authority obscuring the principles governing the same.

2. Before we proceed to set outour answer, the essential facts may be shortly stated. The petitioner is a corporate body registered as a non-trading company under the Andhra Pradesh Non-Trading Companies Act. 1962 (Act II of 1962). Several licensed commission agents, dealing in agricultural produce and livestock, are its members. The objects of the petitioner-Chamber of Commerce are: to promote, encourage, aid and protect trade, commerce and industries in Warangal District in general and within the municipal limits of Warangal town in particular in the State of Andhra Pradesh.

3. Under the Andhra Pradesh (Agricultural Produce and Livestock) Markets Act, 1966 (Act 16 of 1966), hereinafter referred to as the Act, Market Committees have been constituted by the Government for every notified area. Every Market Committee establishes such number of markets in the notified area as the Government may direct from time to time and declare the limits of several markets, for the purchase and sale of any agricultural produce, livestock or products of livestock. It is not necessary for the purpose of this writ petition to notice in detail the provisions of the Act relating to the constitution of Market Committees and establishment of markets. Under Section 32 of the Act the Government have the power to regulate or prohibit the Commission Agents operating in the markets by a notification in that behalf until such time the Market Committee may issue licences to the Commission Agents. Under Section 33, the Government may make rules in any notified area or areas' for carrying out the purposes of the Act. Under the proviso to Section 34, the .Director of Marketing may make bye-laws in respect of a notified area for which a Market Committee is constituted (or the regulation of the business and the condition of trading therein, if the Market Committee itself fails to make byelaws within two months from the date of its constitution. Under bye-law No. 35 of the Bye-laws so framed, a commission of 1-25% is prescribed as the commission for the Commission Agents towards their fees. It is the grievance of the Chamber of Commerce that the said fee prescribed is absolutely low and not commensurate with the service rendered by its members who are licensed Commission Agents. The Commission Agents, it is the submission of the petitioner, not only represent the interests of the vendor within the market area but also help the vendors in the matter of insurance and preservation of the produce in case the vendors decide not to sell the commodity immediately. The petitioner made representations on behalf of the members to the concerned authorities to enhance the commission charges to 2.50%. It appears that when the Director of Marketing enhanced the rate to 2.50% in similar cases, the Government issued a notification in the matter nullifying the said enhancement on the ground that the Director of Marketing had no power. Since it is not possible in the circumstances to get any relief from the Director of Marketing and have the bye-law amended for the enhancement of the rate of commission to the Commission Agents, the petitioner has filed this writ petition seeking a writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate Writ, order or direction declaring that the Director of Marketing has jurisdiction to amend the bye-laws effecting changes in the rates of commission to be paid to the Commission Agents in the Market area of the petitioner-Chamber of Commerce and also directing the Director of Marketing to fix the rate of commission to be paid to the Commission Agents at 2.50% in respect of agricultural produce. This, in brief, is the genesis of this writ petition.

4. In the counter-affidavit filed by the Secretary, Agricultural Market Committee, Warangal, an objection is taken as to the locus standi of the petitioner which is a corporate body to file a writ petition on behalf of its several members. It is submitted that each individual member should file a separate writ petition and a single writ petition on behalf of all the members is liable to be dismissed.

5. The question of locus standi under Article 226 is not res Integra. It has been considered in several decisions of the 'Supreme Court and of this Court. To begin with, let us see the view expressed in the earliest decision of the Supreme Court with, reference to Art 226 of the Constitution.

6. In State of Orissa v. MadanGopal Rungte. : [1952]1SCR28 Kania,C. J. speaking for the court observed:--

'The language of the article shows that the issuing of writs or directions by the Court is founded only on its decision that a right of the aggrieved party under Part III of the Constitution (Fundamental Rights) had been infringed. It can also issue writs or give similar directions for any purpose. The concluding words of Article 226 have to be read in the context of what precedes the same. Therefore, the existence of the right is the foundation of the exercise of jurisdiction of the court under this article.'

Thus the basis for relief under Article 226 is the existence of a legal right.

7. In Calcutta Gas Co. (Proprietary) Ltd. v. State of West- Bengal, : AIR1962SC1044 , Subba Rao, J. (as he then was) observed :

'Article 226 confers a very wide power on the High Court to issue directions and writs of the nature mentioned therein for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III or for any other purpose. It is, therefore, clear that persons other than those claiming fundamental rights can also approach the court seeking a relief thereunder.'

The same learned Judge again in Goode Venkateswara Rao v. Government of Andhra Pradesh. : [1966]2SCR172 observed:

'A personal right need not be in respect of a proprietary interest: it can also relate to an interest of a trustee. That apart, in exceptional cases, as the expression 'ordinarily' indicates, a person who has been prejudicially affected by an act or omission of an authority can file a writ even though he has no proprietary or even fiduciary interest in the subject-matter thereof.'

8. It can immediately be seen that this decision widens the scope of judicial review. The question of locus standi again prominently came up before the Supreme Court in State of Orissa v. R. C. Indrakumar, : AIR1972SC2112 . Mitter. J., speaking for the Court, held that, unless the infringement of the legal right is established, the High Court exercising writ jurisdiction cannot grant any relief to the party, approaching the Court.

9. The Supreme Court once again had occasion to consider the question in Dr. Satya Narayana Sinha v. S. Lal and Co. (P.) Ltd.. : [1974]1SCR615 . Jaganmohau Reddy, J., speaking for the Court, after a review of the several earlier decisions, observed at page 2723 as follows:--

'In respect of persons who are strangers and who seek to invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court or of this Court, difficulty sometimes arises because of the nature and extent of the right or interest which is said to have been infringed and whether the infringement in some way affects such persons. On this aspect there is no clear enunciation of principles on which the Court will exercise its jurisdiction.

In England also the Courts have taken the view that when the application is made by a party or by a person aggrieved the Court will intervene ex debito iustitiae in justice to the applicant, and when it is made by a stranger the Court considers whether the public interest demands its intervention. In either case it is a matter which rests ultimately in the discretion of the Court.'

10. A Division Bench of this Court in T. Narayana Reddy v. The Government of Andhra Pradesh, ILR (1972) Andh Pra 955 had considered the problem of locus standi at length, Ekbote, J. (as he. then was) expressed the law lucidly and incisively as follows:--

'Now, the law relating to locus standi does not really lend itself to neat generalisations. Locus standi is understood to mean legal capacity to challenge an act or decision of an authority. The state of law on this subject is still fluid and it is difficult to lay down any law precisely which would apply to all the cases and in all the circumstances. Decisions on this topic in India as well as in England and America of late have shown a marked shift. There has been a blurring of some of the sharp technical distinctions which appeared to be well established, say ten years before. The rules governing locus standi to initiate proceedings for different remedies not only are different but they in themselves have undergone in some respects some change. It is, however, clear that the recent decisions reflect the judicial liberality in connection with standing to seek judicial review.'

11. The learned Judge proceeded further to observe that Article 226 of the Constitution confers wide power on High Courts to issue certain Writs, directions, or orders but does not in terms descrbe the class of persons to whom the right to relief thereunder should be confined. Summarising the principles governing locus standi to seek certiorari, the learned Judge held at page 961:

'Now certiorari is a discretionary remedy and the discretion of the court as seen above extends to permitting an application made by any member of the public.

For the purpose of locus standi the decisions divide the members of public broadly speaking into three categories. Firstly the Attorney General or the Advocate-General is empowered to initiate remedies to prevent or cancel any administrative action or decision of an authority; secondly persons whose legal rights or interests are adversely affected; and thirdly, the persons whose legal rights or interests have not been directly or indirectly affected, nevertheless have been conferred with the status of 'person aggrieved' by Statute.'

12. Jaganmohan Reddy, J., (as he then was) of this court in Tobacco Merchants' Association v. Krishna Market Committee, Vijayawada, (1957)) 2 Andh WR 250, while dealing with the question of locus standi of the associations to maintain writ petitions held:--

'The Associations (by whom the writ petitions have been filed) have as such not been affected in any way and in so far as the associations which are unregistered (amongst them) are concerned, the individual applying for the writ is not authorised to take any action on behalf of the members. Even where the Society is registered, it is not the Society which is affected and therefore it cannot ask for any writ or order seeking relief in a representative capacity on behalf of its members. The individuals concerned can file the petitions. Even though the writ petitions on behalf of the Associations were signed by persons who are members of the association, that does not make them parties as such. Hence the writ petitions cannot be considered as petitions by the persons who signed on behalf of the associations.'

In that view, the learned Judge dismissed the Writ Petition as not maintainable.

13. From the aforesaid decisions it can be seen that judicial opinion teetered on the problem of standing or locus standi to seek relief under Article 226. The movement in the current of judicial decisions has been unsteady. One, however, can dimly discern from these decisions that the terrain over which judicial review is based has enlarged in recent years and not eroded.

14. The class of persons to whom locus standi should be confined to invoke the jurisdiction under Article 226 is not enshrined in the Article itself. Hence, Courts have to determine whether the applicant is entitled to legal protection from the infringement of his legal injury (right?) by any administrative act or decision. That becomes a matter of judicial expedience and public policy.

15. Rules governing locus standi to claim relief under Article 226 vary according to the nature of the remedy sought. Each remedy has its own technicalities. In this case, we are concerned with Mandamus. To successfully maintain an application for the issue of a writ of mandamus. Courts have mainly laid down three tests (1) the applicant must have a legal right, (2) the applicant must show that the duty which is sought to be enforced is owed to him, (3) the applicant must be able to establish an interest, the invasion of which has given rise to the action. Doubt or difficulty often arises in the application of the third test.

16. What then is the kind of interest that the applicant must establish to give him locus standi to impugn the administrative action? The view of Courts on locus standi must be dominantly ameliorative and not merely apocalyptic, and should serve the philosophy and purpose underlying Article 226.

17. A developing country involving itself in a large demanding and commanding effort to move forward in its economic and social developments has of necessity to take a number of legislative and administrative actions intensely affecting the interests of so many citizens. In a society in which there is massive State intervention the danger towards bureaucratic rule is posed. Problems will arise for which there are no precedents. There is thus an increasing necessity for Courts to see that popular action does not trespass upon right and justice as recognised in our constitution and natural law and that necessity should serve to swell rather than contract the scope of standing. Restrictive rules about locus standi are in general inimical to a fair and healthy system of administration. That does not mean that Courts should trespass on the work and fast development of the Government to bring large-scale social and economic changes. The passivity in the general run of men is waning -- indeed a good trend. Where there was resignation and acquiescence before fate now there is a growing activity and aspiration for a full development of a better society. Therefore, Courts should view with liberality the question of standing to maintain a writ petition. Even a member of the public who has sufficient interest in the fit matter should be accorded locus standi to approach the Court for relief. No more restriction should be placed on what constitutes sufficient interest to see that administrative authorities act in accordance with law and natural justice. It is not possible to discover and formulate any hard and fast rules for this problem of locus standi. It ultimately resolves itself to one of discretion to be exercised in each case on the facts and circumstances of that case. The discretion of the Judge must be guided by what Newman called the 'illative sense'. It is not a cosmic vision that makes him spin out answers. He must rely more on instinct cultivated by long experience in a close corporation of minds rather than follow a logical argument with inexorable severity inviting to absurdity.

18. The well-known authors on Administrative Law M/s. Bernard Sche-Wautz and H. W. R. Wade, Q. C. in their book 'Legal Control of Government' dealing with the topic 'standing to sue: United States' at page 287 observed as follows:--

'In considering the subject of standing, one should bear in mind that, as the Supreme Court tells us, 'the trend is toward enlargement of the class of people who may protest administrative action. Standing exists when plaintiff alleges that he has suffered harms as a result of the challenged agency action that it has caused him iniury, economic or otherwise. Under the recent cases (we shall see) standing may stem from non-economic values as well as from economic injury.

The easiest cases are those where direct economic injury is alleged. A person who is directly affected in the economic interest by the administrative decision which he challenges does have the required standing, and this has long been recognized by the American Courts.'

The same authors dealing with 'standing to sue in Britain' observed:--

'In Britain it is a thing of shreds and patches, made up of various differing rules which apply to various different remedies and procedures. It is a typical product of the untidy system of remedies, each with its own technicalities, which all British administrative lawyers would like to see reformed. On the other hand, some of these technicalities have beneficial (sic).'

19. In a recent case the law relating to locus standi of a private individual to maintain a writ petition against public authority is lucidly explained by Lord Denning in Attorney General v. Independent Broadcasting Authority, ((1973) 1 All ER 689). In that case the Independent Broadcastins Authority were proposing to broadcast, that very evening, a television film which did not comply with the statutory requirements laid down by Parliament. There was evidence which showed that the television film contained matter which offended against decency and likely to be offensive to oublic feeling. The Attorney General to whose notice the matter was brought by the applicant, McWhirter, declined to take action. Therefore, the applicant himself approached the Court to seek an injunction claiming that he had sufficient interest in the matter as he was himself the owner of a television set and he paid the licence fee. According to him, he was entitled to expect the programme to be in compliance with the statutory requirements when he switched on the set. There were thousands like him sitting and watching and were all entitled to have their privacy respected. The Court granted an injunction. Dealing with the question of locus standi and the role of a private individual to maintain an action Lord Denning observed as follows:--

'In the present case Mr. McWhirter told us that the Attorney General refused to take action ex officio, and that he, Mr. McWhirter, considered the matter was so urgent that he came direct to this court. Was he entitled to come here? Test it by an extreme case. Suppose the Attorney-General refuses to give leave for no good reason or on entirely wrong grounds, mistaking, may be, the interpretation of a statute. Would & private individual be entitled to come to the Court? Such a situation was not in Lord Hals-bury L. C.'s mind in 1902. But it happened in 1910. There was a great case then in which this Court, to quote a learned author, 'struck a blow which is still reverberating fifty years later.'

In such a situation I am of opinion and I state as a matter of principle that the citizen who is aggrieved has a locus standi to come to the courts. He can at least seek a declaration. That is the view expressed in a resourceful book to which the Attorney-General himself referred us, Zamir on 'the Declaratory Judgments.'

Lord Denning ultimately concluded by observing:

'...... I am of opinion that, in thelast resort, if the Attorney-General refuses leave in a proper case, or improperly or unreasonably delays in giving leave, or his machinery works too slowly, then a member of the public, who has a sufficient interest, can himself apply to the Court itself. He can apply for a declaration and, in a proper case, for an injunction joining the Attorney-General if need be as defendant. In these days when Government departments and public authorities have such great powers and influence, this is a most important safeguard for the ordinary citizens of this country; so that they can see that those great powers and influences are exercised in accordance with law. I would not restrict the circumstances in which an individual may be held to have a sufficient interest. Take the recent cases when Mr. Raymond Blackburn applied to the court on the ground that the Commissioner of Police was not doing his duty in regard to gaming and pornography. Mr. Blackburn had a sufficient interest, even though it was shared with thousands of others. I doubt whether the Attorney-General would have given him leave to use his name: See R v. Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Ex Parte Blackburn, (1968) 1 All ER 763 (770). But we heardMr. Blackburn in his own name. His intervention was both timely and useful.'

Thus, it can be seen that both in American and British democracies, the trend is towards the enlargement of the class of persons who may protest against arbitrary administrative actions.

20. Now turning to the facts of this case, the petitioner is a corporate body. The commission agents are all its members. One of the named objects of the petitioner--Chamber of Commerce is to aid and protect trade and commerce. Tt is not disputed that the Commission Agents assist and advise also the vendors in the market area on matters of protection and insurance of agricultural produce and livestock. The Commission Agents demanded an increase in the percentage of commission for the service rendered by them. The existence of the petitioner Chamber of Commerce depends on its members. In our opinion refusal to increase the commission, affects undoubtedly the real interest of the petitioner. We therefore, hold that the petitioner has real and sufficient interest in the matter to maintain the writ petition.

21. That does not however, conclude the matter in favour of the petitioner. There still remains the question whether the Government has the power to set aside the increase in the commission ordered by the Market Committee. We are relieved of the necessity to consider this question in view of the recent Division Bench decision of this Court in M. Kalva Suryanarayana v. The State of Andhra Pradesh, (1972) 2 APLJ 275. In that case, this court ruled that the Government had a right to put an end to the resolution passed by the Market Committee and approved by the Director of Marketing.

22. For the reasons above mentioned, the writ petition is dismissed with costs.

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