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Rayavarapu Koteswararao and ors. Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1975CriLJ754
AppellantRayavarapu Koteswararao and ors.
RespondentState of Andhra Pradesh and ors.
Excerpt:
- maximssections 2(xv) & 3(1) & (3): [v.v.s. rao, n.v. ramana & p.s. narayana, jj] ghee as a live stock product held, [per v.v.s. rao & n.v. ramana, jj - majority] since ages, milk is preserved by souring with aid of lactic cultures. the first of such resultant products developed is curd or yogurt (dahi) obtained by fermenting milk. dahi when subjected to churning yields butter (makkhan) and buttermilk as by product. the shelf life of dahi is two days whereas that of butter is a week. by simmering unsalted butter in a pot until all water is boiled, ghee is obtained which has shelf life of more than a year in controlled conditions. ghee at least as of now is most synthesized, ghee is a natural product derived ultimately from milk. so to say, milk is converted to dahi, then butter......sambasiva rao, j.1. by g.o. ms. no. 782, g.a (general-a) department dated 27-12-1968, the governor of andhra pradesh proclaimed, in exercise-of the powers conferred on him by sub section (1) of section 15 of the police act, 1861, (hereinafter called the act), that the area comprised within rompicherlaa village in narasaraopet taluk, guntur district had been found to be in a disturbed state and that it was expedient to increase the number of police in that area. the proclamation was directed to be in force for a period of one year. the governor also sanctioned under section 15(2) the quartering of additional police force in the area. by g. o, ms, no. 270, dated 22nd of april, 1969, the government of andhra pradesh directed that the cost of the additional police force shall be borne out by.....
Judgment:

Sambasiva Rao, J.

1. By G.O. Ms. No. 782, G.A (General-A) Department dated 27-12-1968, the Governor of Andhra Pradesh proclaimed, in exercise-of the powers conferred on him by Sub section (1) of Section 15 of the Police Act, 1861, (hereinafter called the Act), that the area comprised within Rompicherlaa village in Narasaraopet Taluk, Guntur District had been found to be in a disturbed state and that it was expedient to increase the number of police in that area. The proclamation was directed to be in force for a period of one year. The Governor also sanctioned under Section 15(2) the quartering of Additional Police Force in the area. By G. O, Ms, No. 270, dated 22nd of April, 1969, the Government of Andhra Pradesh directed that the cost of the additional Police Force shall be borne out by the inhabitants of the area whose names were given in the annexure to the order or their families in accordance with apportionment made by the Magistrate under Sub-section (4) of Section 15. The amount of punitive tax imposed is Rs. 70,954-28 Ps. Purporting to exercise his powers Under Sub-section (5) of Section 15 the Governor exempted all the inhabitants of the area, other than those mentioned in the annexure, from liability to bear any portion of the cost of the additional police force employed. In the annexure eighty two persons were named. The stationing of the Police Force was extended upto 1-9-70. Seventy out of the eighty two persons, against whom the punitive tax has been levied, challenged the imposition in W. P. No. 4917 of 1971. Our learned brother, Obul Reddi, J. (as he then was) dismissed the petition by his order dated 19-3-1973, This writ appeal is against the learned Judge's order.

2. The principal allegations in the writ petition are: The principal communities in the village are, Reddis, Kammas and Bhatta Rajus, the majority community being Reddis with about 200 houses and the Kammas constituted a minority community with only about 40. houses. The Reddi community belongs to , ruling congress party while the Kamma community belongs to Swat-antra party. The village was in the constituency of the then Chief Minister. Because of its political affiliation the Reddi Community was backed up with political executive and police force. Being thus situated, the Reddi community took law into their hands and had been committing several acts of violence resulting in number of criminal cases. One of them came up to this Court in Crl. A. Nos. 26 and 27 of 1969 wherein the High Court noticed in its judgment the existence of virulent factions. By G.O. Ms. No. 194 dated 21-2-1966 punitive Police Force was stationed in the village from 11-3-1966 to 10-9-1966 and its cost was imposed on both the parties. A number of security proceedings instituted are also referred to in the petition. The .general elections to the Parliament and legislative assembly in 1967 made the factious spirit worse. Several cottiplaints made by the petitioners belonging to the minority community to the Police and the political authorities were ignored. A number of atrocities alleged to have been committed by the majority community are then stated. While the various complaints given by the petitioners were brushed aside, the Sub-Inspector of Police at the instance of the Congress Party filed security proceedings in M.C. No. 33 of 1967 against seventy two persons of the petitioners group. In all the criminal cases mentioned in, the security proceedings the accused were either discharged or acquitted. At the time of tha filing of the writ petition, i.e. 17-11-1971, two security proceedings were pending against the majority group, which is. claimed to demonstrate the violent activities of that group. Once again additional Police Force was stationed in the village, from 2-1-1969 to 1-9-70, But, the punitive tax this time has been imposed only against the group of the petitioners which consists of Kammas and some Reddies. No notice of the proceedings was given to them and the petitioners came to know of the imposition only when the Sub-Inspector of Police demanded from them this huge amount. The tax has been imposed exclusively on one group and the entire opposition group was excluded, though they have always been the aggressors. Some persons against whom the tax was imposed were dead and some were never the residents of the village. The imposition of the tax exclusively on one group is highly discriminative and arbitrary. In the absence of notifications under Section 15(3) and (5) no levy could be made on the petitioners exclusively. No enquiry was conducted as to the means of the petitioners and their guilt, and the imposition and apportionment of the tax are arbitrary. The petitioners, therefore sought an appropriate writ declaring the proceedings of the District Collector, Guntur in R. C. No. 2845/70 dated 28-2-1971, as unconstitutional illegal and void. The impugned proceeding of the District Collector is the one addressed to the Superintendent of Police directing collection of punitive tax of Rs. 70,954-28 Ps., from the petitioners and others.

3. The State of Andhra Pradesh, The Collector and District Magistrate. Guntur, the Superintendent of Police, Guntur and the Sub-Inspector of Police, Nakerkal are the four respondents to the writ petition. They have filed the counter-affidavit with the following averments. The amount of tax was apportioned among the factionists with reference to the property owned by them as per the proceedings of the District Collector, dated 28-12-1971. It is false that the Policy was sheltering the Reddi community. It is true that punitive force was stationed in the year 1966 and Jhe punitive tax then imposed was collected from both the factions as both of them were responsible for the disturbed state of the area. The Government in their G. Q. No. 270 dated 22-4-1969 had ordered that the cost of the additional Police Force should be borne, by the inhabitants whose' names were given in the annexufe to the order. The total cost was apportioned among 82 factionists mentioned in .the' G.O. As per proposals of the Superintendent of Police, Guntur in his proceedings dated 21-9-1968 for quartering punitive Police Force and the report of the Sub-Dvisional Magistrate, Narasaraopet dated 11-11-1968, it is clearly established that the petitioners were responsible for establishing the Police Force. So, they alone are liable to pay the punitive tax. The Government have power to exempt any person from paving the tax if he is not responsible for the trouble. It is not necessary that all the inhabitants of the village should be taxed. Since the eighty-two persons shown in the annexure were found to be responsible for the disturbed state of the village, the total cost was apportioned among them. The apportionment was made on the basis of the properties owned by the factionist. The Sub-Divl. Magistrate Narasaraopet, made a report dated 11-11-1968 about the property, particulars of the persons amongst whom the amount was apportioned. The reports of the Superintendent of Police and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Narasaraopet clearly establish that the petitioners and the other 12 factionists were responsible for the disturbed state of the village and they were squarely responsible for stationing punitive force to maintain law and order, which is the primary responsibility of the State. The apportionment was made on the basis of the property owned by them. So, there' was no arbitrariness about the imposition.

4. It appears that the principal contention . urged before the learned. single Judge is that there was a denial of equal opportunity and equal protection of laws to the petitioners and, there was no reason to exempt the members of the opposite faction from payment of the tax. The learned Judge pointed out that the reports of the Superintendent of police and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate showed that the, petitioners and other members of the party were responsible for the violent activities and not the other group. The District Magistrate is the competent person to make enquiries and the petitioners did not appear to have made any representations to him. The Government had powers to exempt any person from paying the tax, if he was not responsible for violent activities. The Act does not contemplate that all the inhabitants should be made liable to pay the punitive tax. Since the enquiry disclosed that eighty-two persons were responsible for the disturbed conditions in the village, the expenditure incurred was apportioned among them. Apportionment was made after due enquiry as per the report of the Superintendent of Police and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. In this view the writ petition was dismissed.

5. Sri Vedanta Rao urges several points before us in support of the appeal. He first argues that the notification under Section 15(1) of the Act is conclusive and it is not open to the authorities to add to it by allotting or apportioning the responsibility for the disturbed state among some persons. There was no reserved power in the Government to issue further notifications adding to the original notification. This argument is with reference to G.O. Ms. No. 782 dated 27-12-1968 in not enumerating the persons, who are found to be responsible for the disturbed state of the village and amongst whom the punitive tax should be apportioned.

6. We have already given a brief re sume' of that notification. It proclaimed that Rompiccherla village was in a disturbed state and that from the conduct of the inhabitants it was found expedient to increase the number of Police in that area. The same notification sanctioned under Sub-section (2) the quartering of additional Police Force for one year. It may be noted here that b& G O. Ms. No 510 dated 17-6-1970 the retention 6f the additional Police Forte was further extended and it was finally withdrawn by the memorandum dated 29-8-1970 from the afternoon of 1-9-1970. It is only by G.O. Ms, No. 270 dated 22nd of April, 1969 the Government directed that the cost of the Additional Force shall be borne by the inhabitants of the area whose names were given in the annexure and the other inhabitants were exempted in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (5). It is thus seen that, there are two notifications, the first one being under Sub-sections (1) and (21 and . the other under Sub-sections (3) and (5) of Section 15. Section 15 or any other provision of the Act does not require that all the steps contemplated by Sub-sections (1), (2), (3) and (5) should be proclaimed in one notification. There is nothing in the section which forbids or prevents the State Government from issuing more than one notification. There is no justification for the contention that the power of the State Government was exhausted with issuing a notification under Sub-sections (1) and (2). If the requirements of the other sub-sections are complied with, the Government can issue another notification thereunder. This contention is, therefore', devoid of any merit.

7. It is raid that the imposition of the tax is politically motivated. Excepting the allegation made in the petition, there is no material placed before us in support of this allegation. So, this argument merits no consideration at all.

8. Reliance is placed on the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Rajasthan v. Pratap Singh : [1961]1SCR222 to put forth the argument that imposition of tax or exemption therefrom only on the basis of caste or religion is unconstitutional. If the basis in this case is of that nature, there is no doubt that it would be unconstitutional. But it is not possible to find from the material placed before us that either the imposition of the punitive tax or the exemption therefrom is based only on caste. It is important to note that there are at least some persons belonging to the Reddi community amongst eighty two on whom the puitive tax was imposed. So, it is futile to argue that imposition has been made only on the basis of caste. Since alj the other inhabitants have been exempted, it is also equally impossible to hold that exemption was based on considerations of caste. By no stretch of imagination it could be said that all the other inhabitants belong to a single caste. The petition itself refers to the existence of Reddi, Kamma and Bhattaraiu castes. It is manifest that the others who have been exempted belong to more than one caste. So, this argument is unwarranted on the face of it.

9. It is then argued that there should have been a regular enquiry aftei serving notice on the persons concerned, before the State Government makes a proclamation under Sub-section (1) of Section 15 that any area has been found to be in a disturbed or dangerous state. In this case no such enquiry has been made after giving notice to the concerned persons. There is no doubt that the Government issued the proclamation dated 27-12-1968 under Sub-section (I) after reading the lettex dated 2nd December, 1968 from the Inspector General oi Police. That letter of the Inspector General of Police states that the letter of the Collector and the District Magistrate of Guntur, dated 22-11-1968 and that of the Superintendent of Police, dated 21-1-1968 were forwarded to the Government, It is seen from these letters that those, officers were of the opinion that the village was in a disturbed state and the feelings were becoming acute day by ,. day. They recommended the stationing of additional Police Force in the village. These communications demonstrate that there was enquiry and investigation made by the officers before the proclamation iwas made. But. what is objected to by /the learned counsel is that no notice of the enquiry or investigation was given to the inhabitants of the village. Subsection (1) does not contemplate giving any such notice. It should always be borne in mind that maintenance of law and order and public order as well, are the primary functions and duties of the State. The State can function only through its officers. When the Officers are of the _ opinion that the law and order situation in the village was grave and more stringent steps should be taken to maintain peace in the area, the State Government is certainly empowered to issue the notification. It is preposterous, in our view, to say that the concerned officers should hold an enquiry after giving an opportunity to all the inhabitants before it could come to the conclusion that there was a grave threat to the law and order situation in. any particular area. To say that would be to defeat the very purpose and spirit of Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 15. We are not consequently impressed by this argument at all.

10. The principal argument pressed before us by Sri Vedanta Rao is that the imposition of the tax only on members of one group, excluding the other party from its liability, is highly discriminatory and arbitrary and repugnant to Article 14. He points out that the very idea of factions necessarily implies the exis-, tence of more than one faction. If on account of factions there was disturbed state of affairs, it should necessarily mean that both or all the factions were responsible for it. If one faction is innocent and passive, there is no possibility for the other faction to be aggressive and violent. Apart from this probability, he refers to the history of the factions in the village. There have been innumerable incident wherein both the groups were involved. Criminal cases were filed against both. In 1966 additional Police Force was stationed and the cost therefor was collected from both the parties. Again in 1970 there were security proceedings against the other faction. This Court noticed in Criminal Appeals Nos. 26 and 27 of 1969 (Judgment dated 27-7-1970) the existence of two virulent factions. When even in 1970 the authorities thought it necessary to institute two security proceedings against the opposite group it is- nothing but discriminatory and arbitrary to impose the tax exclusively on the group of the petitioners for the stationing of the additional force from 2-1-1969 to 1-9-70. The learned Government Pleader, on the other hand, urges that the reports of the Superintendent of Police and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate show that the group of the petitioners alone was responsible for the disturbed state of affairs at that time and so the tax was imposed on them alone. When it was found that a specific number of persons forming one group were responsible for the disturbance and the others not. there is no discrimination or arbitrariness in imposing the tax on those persons responsible for the trouble and exempting others who were not. It is this point which, requites serious consideration.

11. There is no doubt that in this village there have been two factions strongly opposed to each other. There have been several violent incidents wherein both groups were involved. In 11966 the situation became so serious that the Government thought it necessary to post additional force in the area and to collect its cost from both the groups. This Court by its judgment dated 27-7-1970 rendered in Crl. Appeals Nos, 26 , and 27 of 1969 pointed, out that constant ' friction between the parties was resulting in criminal cases being filed and security proceedings being taken. The Pan-chayat elections aggravated the group spirit. One member belonging to the petitioners group was murdered. Nine persons belonging to the opposite group were tried for that murder. On account of the disturbed conditions, the Police had taken proceedings under Section 107 Cr. P.VC. against both the parties. It is further clearly alleged in ihe writ petition that by the time the writ petition was filed on 17-1,1-1971 there were security proceedings pending against the group opposed to the petitioners' group. That is not denied in the counter affidavit. These circumstances show that the flames Of factious spirit were continuing unabated throughout right up to time of the filing of the writ petition. It is, however, said ithat the cause for stationing additional (force in 1969 January and continuing it till September, 1970 was due to the violent activities of the petitioners . group alone and the other group was not at all responsible for it. It is not impossible that though factious rivalries were raging on for years, for some time one group might be the aggressor and initiator of troubles, That possibility cannot be altogether excluded. But, in the circumstances of the case above stated, could it be said that ihere could be such respite in the violent activities of the opposite group and that the faction of the petitioners alone was exclusively responsible for creating the disturbed state? If that were not the case and if. both groups were contributing to the disturbance, then there could be no doubt that the imposition of the punitive tax against one group, exempting the other, is discriminatory and arbitrary. We may here note that excepting the objection taken regarding the absence of notice for enquiry the need for stationing additional force in the village is not disputed before us. The principal objection is to the imposition of the tax exclusively on one group exempting the other.

12 We have already referred to the stand taken by the respondents in the counter affidavit. It is said that the reports of the Superintendent of Police and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate' had disclosed that it was the petitioners' group that was- responsibly for the disturbance at that time and hot the other group. The Government merely accepted these reports and imposed the tax on the petitioners and a few pthers belonging to their group. The learned Judge upheld this contention of the respondents while dismissing the writ j petition. We will have to, therefore, see to what extent these reports would justify the conclusion of,the Government that the petitioners and their group alone were exclusively responsible for the disturbed state of the village at that time. '

13. We may here read Sub-sections (1), (3), (5) of Section 15 which are material for consideration of this 'aspect. They are: '

(1) It shall be lawful ;for the State Government by proclamation to be notified in the Official Gazette; and in such other manner as the State Government shall direct, to declare that any area subject to its authority has been found to be in a disturbed or dangerous state, or that, from the conduct of the inhabitants of such area, or of any class or section of them, it is expedient td increase the number of police.

XX XX XX(3) Subject to the provisions of subsection (5) of this Section, the cost of such additional Police Force shall be borne by the inhabitants of such area described in the proclamation. ;

XX XX XX(5) It shall be lawful for the State Government by order to exempt any person or class or section of such inhabitants from liability to bear any portion of such cost.

Sub-section (1) empowers the State Government to declare any area to be in a disturbed or dangerous state or from the conduct of the inhabitants of such area or of any class or section i of-them it is expedient to increase the number of police. Sub-section (3) lays down that the cost of such additional force shall be borne by the inhabitants of such areas described in the proclamation. Sub-section (5) empowers the State Government to exempt by order any person or class or section of such inhabitants from liability to bear any portion of such cost. The Government are therefore^ expected to reach satisfaction or conclusion that it was expedient to increase [the number of Police. It has the power to exempt any- person or class or section of the inhabitants from liability to be,ar any portion of the cost of the additional force. Otherwise, as per Sub-section (3) the cost of auch additional force shall be borne by the inhabitants of the area. What is the Ibasis in this case for the State Government to have come to the conclusion that It was expedient to increase the number of Police and to impose the cost of such forcer on eightytwo persons belonging to one group and exempt all Others from its liability? Only the reports of the Superintendent of Police and fthe Sub-Divisional Magistrate afford the casis for such conclusion as stated in the counter affidavit. It is beyond doubt Chat when the Government exercises this uower of imposing the cost of additional force on some of the inhabitants and exempts all others, it should have some material before it to come to the conclusion that only those against whom the tax was imposed were responsible for the disturbed state and not others. It should be a material on the basis of rorhich a reasonable mind could arrive at such a conclusion. Is the material purported to have been relief on by the Government, while exercising the powers under Sub-sections (3) and (5), of such mature?

14. While issuing G.O. Ms. INo. 782 dated 27-12-1968 the Government read only the letters of Inspector iGeneral.of Police dated 21-12-1968 and iwhile Issuing G.O. Ms. No. 270 dated 22-4-1969 issued under Sub-sections (3) and (5) only the earlier G.O. was read, jNo other material has been referred to to either, G.O. The letter of the Ins-liector General dated 2-12-1968 addressed fo the Chief Secretary mentioned in G.O. Ms. No. 782 referred to the station-fag of additional police force in the village in 1966, The Inspector General for-iwarded the letter of the District Collector dated 22-11-1968 and that of the Superintendent of Police, Guntur dated Bl-9-1968 recommending the posting of tmnitive force in the village for a period of one year. The Inspector General agreed with the Superintendent of Police and the District Collector in the recommendation that the quartering of punitive police force was 'absolutely essential for maintaining law and order in the village' as 'the village is in a disturbed state and the feelings are becoming acute day by day.' He, therefore, recommended the posting of additional police force in the village. Nowhere in his letter he expressed any opinion that the group of the petitioners alone was responsible for the then state of affairs. 0n the other hand, his statement that the Village was in a disturbed state and the ieelings were becoming acute day by day {would suggest that both groups were in- volved in the dangerous game of violent party faction. Then, the learned Gov-ernment Pleader has placed before us-typed copies of not only the aforesaid letter of Inspector General of Police but also of the letter of the District Collector, Guntur dated 22-11-1968. the report of the Revenue Divisional Officer, Nara-saraopet. dated 11-11-1968 and the letter of the Superintendent of Police to the Collector dated 21-9-1968. We have carefully read through these communications. The District Collector in his letter to the Deputy Secretary to the Government dated 22-11-1968 merely invited the attention of the Government to the proposal sent by the Superintendent of Police, a copy of which he enclosed for quartering punitive police force for a period of one year. He recommended: that proposal and requested for very early orders in the matter. Beyond this the District Collector did not say anything and did not place the blame for the disturbed state at the door of any particular group.

15. Then there is the communication of the Superintendent of Police to the District Collector dated 21-9-1968. This has been very much stressed before us by the learned Government Pleader as indicative of the fact that the group of the petitioners alone was responsible for the disturbance then prevailed in the village. Let us therefore, scrutinise this communication to the Collector by the Superintendent of Police in some detail. In the first paragraph, the officer gave previous history resulting in stationing Additional Police Force in the village upto 10th September, 1966. In the next paragraph he referred to the circumstances that the Bhattaraju community turned towards the Reddies in the 1967 General Elections and some Reddies join-ed the Kammas, Bearing grudge towards Bhattaraju community, the Kammas were indulging in acts of lawlessness and violence, but the Reddi community could not come out and support Bhattarajus since they became passive. This statement appears to be inherently improbable and it is difficult to believe that the-other group whose numbers had been reinforced by joining forces with Bhattara-jus, kept passive and were helpless. We are not, however, concerned with the probabilities. We can only examine the incidents referred to by the Superintendent which formed the basis of this conclusion and which, we are told, have led: to the satisfaction of the Government that the petitioner's group alone was responsible. The first incident relates to 'crime No. 27 of 1967 under Section 395 . I. P, C. against the petitioners' group, buft the case ended in acquittal on 30th of April, 1968. The second incident relate to an event of August, 1967 as the first incident and according to it the group of the petitioners raided the house of one of the Bhattarajus and stole away tobacco etc. A crime was registered under Sec-(tion 3801. P. C. but was later referred to as U, N. for want of sufficient evidence. Armed reserve party was stationed in the village later. In the third incident it is stated that despite the stationing of armed reserve the petitioners' group did not etop their activities. In August, 1967 the petitioners group committed theft of one babul log belonging to Sarikonda Venkat-appalaraiu. A crime under Section 379, I.P.C. was registered but ended in acquittal on 30th April, 1968. The fifth incident alleged against the petitioners is that in November, 1967 the tobacco and brinjal crop of one Bhattaraju were destroyed, Though this incident was registered under Sections 447 and 427, I.P.C. it ended in acquittal on 19-7-1968. The next incident occurred in May, 1968 and that related to the right of way of Bhattarajus accross the fields of the petitioners. Though a crime was registered, the dispute was settled through the intervention of the Revenue Divisional Officer, Narasaraopet. The next occurrence happened in July, 1968 when one Subba Reddi at the instigation of the petitioners' group constructed a wall across the path-way to prevent a Bhat-raiu from proceeding from his house to his second portion of the house. That incident was under investigation.

16. As against this, it was noted that in July, 1968 the Bhattarajus removed the wall and it demonstrates that they were not quite helpless. But, the petitioners' group'beat one Bhattaraju indiscriminately with sticks. That Bhat-raju succumbed to his injuries. A crime under Section 302, I.P.C. was registered and is pending trial. Since the Bhattaraju community was being harassed, Sec, 107, Cr.P.C. proceedings were initiated against the Khammas and they were successfully bound over by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Narasaraopet M.C. No. 33/67 in Crime No. 34 of 1967. In August, 1967 the petitioners group gave a report of destruction of their chilly crop by Reddies and Bhattarajus 36 in number. A crime was registered under Sees. 447 and 427, I.P.C. but the investigation revealed that it was a false one. Again on 28-11-1967, the petitioners Rwtup laid another complaint of theft of tobacco, However, the Tolice refused investigation. On the basis of these incidents, the Superintendent of Police reported to the Collector that the village was in a disturbed state and the feelings we.re becoming acute day by day. He, therefore, recommended that additional Police Force should be stationed there at the cost of all the factionists to the petitioners belonging group as, they were always aggressive.

17. Learned counsel for the petitioners calls this as a wholly one sided and inspired report. We are, however concerned with the question whether the incidents mentioned in this report fornfc any reasonable basis for coming to the-conclusion that the group of the petitioners alone was responsible for' the-disturbances. Most of the incidents referred to were of the year 1967 while the report of the Superintendent of Police' was dated 21st of September, 1968, So ifc is difficult to believe that the incidents' of 1967 could lead to any reasonable inference in September, 1968 that the petitioners were creating all the trouble-which required stationing of additional; Police Force, That apart, seven rncidente-were alleged against the petitioners' group. Most of them either ended in acquittal or were rejected for want of sufficient evidence or were amicably settled. The dispute relating to a wall across the-pathway was only under investigation. The crime registered under Section 302 I.P.C. was pending trial and was sub- ludice. On the other hand, the petitioners, also filed two complaints against thw other group in August and November, 1967. In the first one, Investigation revealed that it was false and curiotisly int. the second one investigation itself was refused under Section 157(l)(b). Thus. it is seen that there were complaints an counter complaints by both the jyrowps and they ended either in acquittal or 'to the Police finding no justification for launching prosecution. In the light of these incidents and as to what had happened to them, it is difficult for ws. Uphold that any reasonable mind could!: have been satisfied that only one group was responsible for these incidents. It to-true, that in M.C. No. 33 of 1967 some of the persons belonging to the petitioners' group were bound over. But, what is astonishing is that out of the eighty two , persons against whom the present imposition of punitive tax was-made, ten were not involved in Section 17, Cr.P.C. proceedings. We fail to see how these Section 107, Cr.P.C.' proceeding in the background that has been stated and events that later occurred could leads to the conclusion that the petitioners' group alone was responsible. In any case, ' inclusion of persons, who are not involve-ed in those proceedings, in the list of' factionists who should share the pmnitiw-tax shows that the imposition is discriminatory and arbitrary. We have also noted that by the time the writ petition was filed similar proceedings under Section 107, Cr, P. C., two in number, were pending against the other group. So, we have no hesitation to hold that this report of the Superintendent of Police does not afford any reasonable ground for putting the blame on the faction of the petitioners alone. This is further reinforced by the fact stated in incident No. 9 that the Bhattarajus removed the wall on 22-7-1968 and this triggered off the disturbances that occurred on 23rd of July, 1968. It is quite plain that the other group also were fanning the flames of factious fury.

18. Then there is the report of the Revenue Divisional Officer, Narasa-raopet sent to the District Collector and Magistrate, Guntur on 11-11-68. Since the Revenue Divisional Officer happened to be an executive magistrate, his report is particularly stressed in the counter affidavit, But, either from the G, Os. or from the communications of the Inspector General of Police, of the District Collector and of the Superintendent of Police, it is not possible to know that this report was placed before the Government before It issued the G. Os. If this report was really taken into consideration, at least the District Collector and Magistrate would have referred to it in his communication to the Government. But, that did not happen. So, it is reasonable to conclude that the report of the Revenue Divisional Officer, who is an executive Magistrate, was not before the Government when it laid the blame exclusively on the group of the petitioners. Further, the report does not render much help to the Government even in its contents, excepting that it mentioned that Section 107, Cr.P.C. proceedings were instituted against the factionists in M.C. No. 33/67 and that a murder case was pending aRainst them. The Revenue Divisional Officer referred to the fact that the group of the petitioners was the richest single group dominating the minorities and were capable of Wanton harassment. At the same time he mentioned the fact that he had compromised the dispute between the two groups relating to the passage of carts. If groups were amenable to compromise, one' would fail to see how one particular group could be held responsible for the disturbances.

19. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the material placed before the Government when it imposed the punitive tax exclusively on the petitioners' group cannot lead to a reasonable conclusion or satisfy a reasonable mind that their group alone was responsible for the disturbances at that time and that the other group was silen^ and passive and so not responsible. On the other hand, the report of the Superintendent of Police discloses some incidents where the other group were complained of causing harassment of the group of the petitioners. We are, therefore, constrain-ied to hold that the imposition of the tax on the petitioners' group alone is discri-[ minatory and violative of Article 14 of trie Ii Constitution.

20. We may here usefully refer to the view expressed by a Division Bench of this Court in B. Aswartha v. The State : AIR1966AP204 , There also, as it happened in the present case, the persons-specified in the notification were alone-made liable to bear the cost of additional: Police Force exempting the members of the opposite faction living in the same area and the imposition was held to be-discriminatory and offending Article 14 of' the Constitution. The learned Judges took; note of the fact that there were cases; pending against the other faction also-Consequently, the Division Bench held) that imposing the tax exclusively, on one-group was discriminatory. In our reading, the circumstances of- the present case are' analogous to those in the matter before the Division Bench. Consequently the-view we have expressed above is supported by the aforesaid decision.

21. Learned Government Pleader,, however, relies on two other decisions; of this Court viz., A. Santhiraju v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1969) 2 Andh WK: 290 and M Narayanamurthi v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1971) 2 Andh WR 389' : (1972 Cri LJ 532). It is worthy of note: even at the outset that in these two cases; both the warring groups were made-liable to bear the burden of punitive tax. in the manner apportioned by the District Magistrate. That is a material distinction between the present case andS the two cases cited by the learned Government Pleader. The first of them is; bv Gopalarao Ekbote J. (as he then was) sitting single and the second is by a Division Bench consisting of Obul Reddi J, (as he then was) and Venkateswara Rao, J.. Gopal Rao Ekbote J. (as he then was) in the first case and Obul Reddi J. (as he-then was) speaking for the Division Bench in the later case laid down the: principle that the object of stationing: additional Police Force is to bring back the area to normalcy and therefore, it. was found expedient in the interests of law and order to make such of those persons responsible for the disturbed conditions in the area to bear the costs of the additional Police Force quartered in, the area. A class of persons or a section of inhabitants can. be mentioned ir& the proclamation issued under Sub-section (1) and the cost of additional force can be imposed on that class or section of inhabitants. Gooal Rao Ekbote J. observed that 'there is nothing wrong in the proclamation when it mentioned that the two factionists described in the proclamation shall bear the cost of Additional Police Force.' The further question as to the apportionment under Section 15(4) amongst the named persons was also raised. But, as far as this question is concerned that aspect of the matter is mot relevant, While respectfully agreeing with the observations made by the two learned Judges in the cases, we find that the facts and circumstances in those itwo rulings are different from those of the writ appeal before us. So, they do mot render any help to the respondents in their contention that the burden should be borne entirely by the petitioners' group.

22. Learned counsel for the appellants has also raised another contention that since there was no valid enquiry after giving notice to the concerned persons for apportionment of the tax as jper Section 15(4) the actual apportionanent is opposed to the principles of .natural justice and must be struck down. Reliance was placed before us on Masa-lappa Reddy v. State of Aridhra Pradesh 41968) 1 Andh WR 86 : 1969 Lab IC 712 and A. K. Kraipak v. Union of India : [1970]1SCR457 . On the other hand, learned Government Pleader relies on a recent decision of Gopal Rao Ek-bote, Section 4 and A, V. Krishna Rao, J. dated 20th March, 1974 in Writ, Appeal No. 207 of 1973 (Andh Pra) to contend for the position that the District Magistrate could conduct such enquiry as he deemed necessary for apportionment under Section 15(4). We do not however, propose to express any opinion on this point as we are striking down the very imposition of the tax on the petitioners' group alone as being arbitrary.

23. In. the result, we allow the writ appeal and declare G. O, Ms, No. 270 dated 22nd of April, 1969 and the proceedings of the District Collector Gun-tur in R. C. No. 2845/70 dated 28-2-1971 as arbitrary and void. It will, however, foe open to the Government to again consider the matter under Clauses (4) and 45) of Section 15 of the Act and reappor-tion the cost of Additional Police Force amongst all the persons responsible for the quartering of force in the area. The appellants will have their costs of the appeal from the respondents. Advocate's See Rs. 100/-.


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