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Legisetty Ramaiah and anr. Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1972CriLJ1071
AppellantLegisetty Ramaiah and anr.
RespondentState of Andhra Pradesh
Excerpt:
.....of deposit under sub-rule (4) of rule 5 of the rules within seven days of such delivery. in the absence of compliance in so depositing rent and delivering challan in the office of controller, tenant shall be deemed to have committed wilful default. - i am therefore satisfied that there was no illegality in the collector passing the order of confiscation in a proceeding, initiated by the district revenue officer. section 409(2) does not apply to appeal under other statutes like the essential commodities act. i think the better view is that he is a court. now the nature of the jurisdiction in making an order of confiscation is of a criminal nature since the order is to be made only when the authority is satisfied that there is a contravention of the order. the threat of confiscation..........of accounts etc. against the order of the collector an appeal was preferred to the district and sessions judge, kurnool. the learned district and sessions judge registered the appeal as a criminal appeal and thereafter transferred it to the additional sessions judge who confirmed the order of confiscation on the ground that there was a contravention of the andhra pradesh rice procurement, levy and restriction on sale order only. this criminal revision case is directed against the appellate order of the additional sessions judge.2. two points were raised before me by sri ayyapureddy, learned counsel for the petitioners:(1) the notice to show cause against confiscation having been issued by the district revenue officer the collector was incompetent to order the confiscation of the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Chinnappa Reddy, J.

1. On 22-1-1970 the petitioners were granted a licence to carry on business in foodgrains under the Andhra Pradesh Foodgrains Dealer's licensing order. On 27-6-1970 the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vigilance cell Anantapur inspected the Rice-mill of the petitioner and seized a quantity of 714 quintals of rice which was found in the premises of the mill. The District Revenue Officer, Kurnool issued a notice under Section 6B of the Essential Commodities Act to the petitioner to show cause why the quantity of 714 quintals of rice should not be confiscated. The allegations in the notice were that the petitioners had carried on business in paddy and rice from 2-1-1970 to 21-1-1970 without a valid licence and that the petitioners had also contravened the Andhra Pradesh Rice Procurement, Levy and Restriction on sale order by selling certain quantity of rice without delivering the quantity required to be delivered to the agent under the procurement, Levy and Restriction on sale order. After hearing the arguments of the counsel for the petitioners the collector of Kurnool confiscated the rice on the ground that the petitioners had carried on business in rice without a licence and also on the ground that there was a contravention of the Andhra Pradesh Rice Procurement, Levy and Restriction of Sale Order. The Collector also mentioned that there were some other irregularities in the maintenance of accounts etc. Against the order of the Collector an appeal was preferred to the District and Sessions Judge, Kurnool. The learned District and Sessions Judge registered the appeal as a Criminal appeal and thereafter transferred it to the Additional Sessions Judge who confirmed the order of confiscation on the ground that there was a contravention of the Andhra Pradesh Rice Procurement, levy and restriction on sale order only. This criminal revision case is directed against the appellate order of the Additional Sessions Judge.

2. Two points were raised before me by Sri Ayyapureddy, learned Counsel for the petitioners:

(1) The notice to show cause against confiscation having been issued by the District Revenue Officer the Collector was incompetent to order the confiscation of the rice.

(2) The District and Sessions Judge alone was competent and the Additional Sessions Judge had no jurisdiction to hear and dispose of the appeal.

It has now been held by a Division Bench of this Court in Criminal Revision Case No. 319/1970 that by virtue of the notification issued under the Andhra Pradesh District Collectors Powers (Delegation) Act, 1961 a District Revenue Officer is competent to exercise the powers of the Collector under the Essential Commodities Act. Therefore the initiation of proceedings by the District Revenue Officer cannot be questioned. The question is whether the District Revenue Officer having initiated the proceedings the Collector could pass the final order of confiscation. In support of his submission that the proceeding initiated by one officer cannot be disposed of by another officer the learned Counsel relied on the decision of Sharfuddin Ahmed and A.D.V. Reddy, JJ. In A. Suryanarayana in re 1970-2 Andh WR 303. That was a case in which the proceeding was initiated by the collector but the final order of confiscation was made by the District Revenue Officer. The learned Judges held that the action of the District Revenue Officer was in contravention of the second proviso to Section 3 of the Andhra Pradesh District Collectors Powers (Delegation) Act which is in the following terms:

Provided further that where in respect of any case the District Collector exercises his powers the joint collector or other officer authorised under this section shall not exercise his powers in respect of the same Case.

The present case is a converse case. While the Andhra Pradesh District Collectors Powers (Delegation) Act, 1961 prohibits the exercise of the powers of the District Collector by his Subordinate Officers in case where are (the ?) District Collector has seisin of the cases having initiated the proceedings himself there is no similar prohibition preventing the collector from exercising his statutory powers in cases where the proceedings have been initiated by his authorised subordinate officers. The learned Counsel relied on the following observations of the learned Judges as laying down a general principle that the same officer that initiated a proceeding must pass final orders:

It is further necessary that the same person who had exercised his mind with regard to the issuing of the notice should continue the proceedings with regard to the enquiry and passing of the order. The object behind the 2nd proviso to Section 3 of the Andhra Pradesh District Collectors' Powers (Delegation) Act, 1961 is obviously that in a given case there should not be enquiry in part by one and in part by another .... What is contemplated under the proviso itself is that not only there should not be a conflict in the exercise of powers in a single case but when one of the persons either the Collector or the person to whom powers are delegated, initiates the proceedings he must continue it and pass final orders in the matter. It appears to us that it is in the interests of justice also that the person who initiated the proceedings by issuing a notice giving reasons for confiscation after exercising his mind should also further enquire into the matter and dispose it of.

I do not think that the learned Judges meant to lay down any general principle that he who initiates a proceeding must deal with it finally. In fact there is no such general principle. We are familiar with disciplinary enquiries where the enquiry is generally conducted by one officer and the final decision is taken by another authority though of course after giving appropriate notices and opportunity. Further an officer who initiates the proceedings may be transferred in which case he cannot deal with the matter finally himself. I am therefore satisfied that there was no illegality in the Collector passing the order of confiscation in a proceeding, initiated by the District Revenue Officer. It is not suggested that the District Revenue Officer did anything further beyond issuing the show cause notice. The actual enquiry was held by the Collector and the order of confiscation was also passed by him.

3. The next question for consideration is whether the Additional Sessions Judge was competent to hear and dispose of the appeal. Section 6C of the Essential Commodities Act provides that a person aggrieved by an order of confiscation may appeal to any judicial authority appointed by the State Government. The Government of Andhra Pradesh by G. 0. Ms. No. 1863 dated 2-11-1967 has appointed the District and Sessions Judge, of each district as a judicial authority to whom an appeal may be preferred under Section 6-C of the Act. The question is whether the District and Sessions Judge of the District who is appointed as the. judicial authority to whom appeals may be preferred under Section 6C of the Act is bound to deal with the appeal himself or whether he can make over the appeal to the Additional Sessions Judge in exercise of the powers under Section 409(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The appeals which a Sessions Judge may make over to an Additional Sessions Judge or an Assistant Sessions Judge under Section 409(2) are appeals to which the Code of Criminal Procedure applies that is to say appeals under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Section 409(2) does not apply to appeal under other statutes like the Essential Commodities Act. The District and Sessions Judge is therefore incompetent to make over to the Additional Sessions. Judge an appeal preferred to him under Section 6C of the Essential Commodities Act. Consequently an Additional Sessions Judge is incompetent to hear an appeal preferred to the District and Sessions Judge under Section 6C. This is irrespective of the question whether the District and Sessions. Judge acts as a court or as persona designata when he hears appeals under Section 6C of the Essential Commodities Act. Though there is much to be said in favour of the view that he is a persona designate. I think the better view is that he is a court. Various tests have been formulated and applied in different cases.

The determining factor in the pre-sent case is that the District and Sessions Judge is chosen as the appellate-authority expressly because he is a judicial authority. The legislature's mandate to the Government in Section 6C of the Act is that a judicial authority and not any other authority should be chosen as the appellate authority. This provision may be contrasted with provisions in the Rent Restriction and Rent Control Acts in the several States where Government is empowered to appoint any officer or authority as an appellate authority. Such provisions led the various High Courts to hold that District or Subordinate Judges appointed as appellate authority under those Acts functioned as persona designata and not as Courts. Vide Abdul Wahid Sahib v. Abdul Kader AIR 1947 Mad 400. Pitman's Shorthand Academy v. B. Lila Ram & Sons AIR 1950 EP 181 (FB) and S. Mohd. Ali and Sons v. V. Madhavarao : AIR1964AP132 , I think that the distinction between the entrustment of duties to a judicial authority as a judicial authority or otherwise is a vital distinction and that is what distinguishes the case of a judicial authority functioning as a court and a judicial authority functioning as a mere persona designate. The distinction was recognised in Ramaswami Goun-dan v. Srinivasa Goundan 46 Mad 536 : AIR 1923 Mad 192; Parth Sara-thi Naidu v. Koteswara Rao Garu 47 Mad 369 : AIR 1924 Mad 561 Krishna Brahman v. Chenchi Reddy AIR 1959 Madh Pra 129 and : AIR1964AP132 . The jurisdiction under Section 6C is given to the District and Sessions Judge not as mere persona designate but as the judicial authority presiding over a court. He functions as a court when he exercises jurisdiction under Section 6C.

4. The next question for consideration is whether a District and Sessions Judge hearing an appeal under Section 6C of the Essential Commodities Act is an inferior Criminal Court so as to be amenable to the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court under Sections 435 and 439, Criminal P.C. Now the nature of the jurisdiction in making an order of confiscation is of a criminal nature since the order is to be made only when the authority is satisfied that there is a contravention of the order. The order of confiscation may be made whether or not there is a prosecution for the contravention of the order. The threat of confiscation by itself, like the threat of prosecution, is intended to serve as an effective deterrent. Orders imposing penalties in Sales Tax and Income-tax matters have been considered to be a quasi-criminal nature. Vide-Hindustan Steel Ltd. v. State of Orissa : [1972]83ITR26(SC) and Commissioner of Income-tax v. Anwar Ali : [1970]76ITR696(SC) . The jurisdiction exercised in making an order of confiscation under Section 6C may therefore be considered to be of a criminal nature. When a jurisdiction of a criminal nature is exercised by the presiding officer of a Criminal Court functioning as a judicial authority, I think it can safely be held that he functions as an inferior Criminal Court.

5. The result therefore is that the Additional Sessions Judge had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal out of which the revision arises. The order of the Additional Sessions Judge is therefore set aside and the learned Sessions Judge is directed to re-entertain the appeal and dispose it of in accordance with law.


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