H.N. Seth, J.
1. By this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, petitioner Jai Pal Singh questions the validity of his detention under the provisions of Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act. authorities, (authorised?) by District Magistrate, Moradabad vide his order dated 15th of July, 1981.
2. The grounds for his detention which were served upon the petitioner on the same day on which he was directed to be detained, recited that he was on 7th of July, 1981 employed as a salesman at the fair price Levy Sugar Distribution Shop belonging to Sadhan Sahkari Samiti Moothapande located at Darabara Khas. On 7th of July, 198l Sri Laik Ahmad, District Supply Officer, inspected the said shop in the presence of Other officials and witnesses Abdul Waris, Masood Ahmad and Ihtjar Husain with a view to check the distribution of Levy Sugar. The inspection carried out by Sri Laiq Ahmad led to recovery of 2 quintals and 18 kg. sugar of the said shop from a neighbouring house. At the time of inspection the petitioner admitted that in the sales-register he had shown distribution of 2 quintals and 13 kg. sugar after entering the same in the names of various persons of Darbara Khas. He also admitted that from out of the sugar received by him for distribution from the said shop he had sold 2 quintals sugar to Abdul Waris son of Abdul Kadir resident of Darbara Khaa, Ration Card No. 461103 standing in the name of one Aizaz Ahmad son of Sri Anwas resident of Darbara Khas which was for one unit and was available at the shop showed that the petitioner had made an endorsement thereon that there was no sugar in the stock. An examination of 43 ration cards that were available showed that in the month of June no sugar had been issued to the holders of those cards. In this way the petitioner had instead of selling sugar to genuine ration-card holders, sold it in the black market. Such objectionable action was not expected from a salesman and that in this connection a case Under Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act had been registered at Police Moothapande.
3. The grounds went on to recite that a further checking made with a view to confirm the aforesaid suspicion revealed that from out of the sugar shown to have been sold by the petitioner to residents of Darbara Khas the petitioner had shown distribution of sugar to 58 such ration-card holders who were not the residents of Darbara Khas, Moreover, the ration-cards on (he basis of which such sugar had been shown by the petitioner to have been sold were not available. In this way 53 kg. sugar had been fictitiously shown in the sales-register to have been distributed and the petitioner had, instead of distributing the same to public sold it in the black-market with a view to make illegal gain. He had thus contravened the U. P. Sugar (Control) Order and had committed an offence punishable Under Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act.
4. According to the detaining authority aforementioned facts went to show that the petitioner had disposed of the sugar given to him by the State Government in his capacity as salesman for distribution to ration-card holders, in black market and had thus, deprived of the public from obtaining essential commodity at a fair price. The petitioner had accordingly done an act which was prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies of articles essential to the community. The detaining authority was, on the basis of aforementioned material, further satisfied that it was necessary to detain the petitioner with a view to prevent him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies of commodities essential to the community.
5. After receiving the grounds for his detention, the petitioner made a representation to the State Government (Annexure-V) to the petition wherein he mentioned that the case against him had been fabricated in conspiracy with Abdul Waris who had in the past earned a lot of money by committing irregularities in distribution of sugar. This Abdul Waris had a large number of forged ration-cards in his possession and he had been, on the strength of illegally acquired money, wielding influence on government officials as well. The' petitioner claimed that he had till 4.00 p.m. on 6th of July, 1981 distributed sugar in a regular manner. His pending stock of sugar on that date was 2.05 quintals from out of which he distributed sugar weighing 2 quintals and 5 kg. sugar was wasted. He did not give sugar to any persons without a ration-card. Abdul Waris who had been trying his best to obtain the said shop for sugar distribution was inimical to the petitioner and as such no question of the petitioner selling any sugar to him in an unauthorised manner could possibly arise. The petitioner never kept any sugar in the house of Talib. He kept all his sugar stock in his own shop. In case any sugar was found from the house of Talib it was because of conspiracy against the petitioner between Abdul Waris and his friends. So far as the distribution of sugar on basis of ration-cards mentioned in the list was concerned, the petitioner sold sugar only to such ration-card holders who personally appeared to purchase the same. He claimed that it was worth noticing that a large number of fictitious ration-cards were in circulation in the village which possibly could not be detected by him in a short period of three months. He denied hav- ing admitted before the District Supply Officer that he had illegally sold 2 quintals sugar to Abdul Waris, and asserted that it was very easy for the District Supply Officer to have obtained the signatures of a low paid employee like the petitioner on any papers.
6. In due course the representation made by the petitioner was considered by the State Government and the Advisory Board. Eventually the State Government, after obtaining the opinion of the Advisory Board passed an order dt. 8th of Sept., 1981 confirming petitioner's detention for a period of six months.
7. learned Counsel for the petitioner pointed out that the grounds for detention served upon the petitioner indicate that the District Magistrate felt satisfied that the petitioner was likely to act in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies essential to the community, because he thought that the petitioner, who was a salesman of the fair price shop belonging to Sadhan Sahkari Samiti, had sold levy sugar given to him for distribution in black market and thus he had contravened the provisions of Sugar Control Order, 1966 and had committed an offence punishable Under Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act. He contended that the allegation that sugar had been sold by the petitioner in black necessarily implied selling of such sugar at a price higher than that fixed for the purpose by the relevant authority. Clause 3 (b) of the U. P. Sugar (Control) Order, 1966 which would be relevant in this connection runs thus :-
(b) No authorised dealer or authorised retailer shall within their respective areas, sell levy sugar at a price higher than that specified by the District Magistrate for sale by wholesale or retail, as the case may be.
Under this clause the responsibility for its contravention can be fastened only on an authorised dealer or authorised retail and on none else. In the instant case it was the Sadhan Sahkari Samiti which had been appointed as authorised retailer by the District Magistrate for purchasing, selling .and .distributing levy sugar at Darbwa Khas, the petitioner, who was merely an employee pf the Sadhan Sahkari Samiti and was working as its salesman, could not be said to be an authorised dealer or authorised retailer within the meaning of Clause 3 (b) of the U. P, Sugar (Control) Order. In the circumstances no question of contravention by him of the provisions of cl. 3 (b) of U. P, Sugar (Control) Order, 1966 could possibly arise. According to the learned Counsel the order for petitioner's detention based on such legal misconception cannot be sustained.
8. In our opinion, aforesaid submission made by learned Counsel for the petitioner is devoid of merit. While it is true that from the wording of cl. 3 (b) of U. P. Sugar (Control) Order, 1966 the responsibility for its contravention can be fastened only on an authorised dealer or an authorised retailer Section 10 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (the Act Under Section 3 where of the U. P. Sugar (Control) Order, 1966 has been promulgated) provides thus:-
10. (1) If the person contravening an order made Under Section 3 is a company, every person who, at the time of the contravention was committed, was in charge and was responsible to the company for the contract of the business of the company as well as the company shall be deemed to be guilty of the contravention and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly, provided....
Explanation:- For the purpose of this section -
(a) 'Company' means any body corporate, and includes a firm or other association of individuals and,
According to this section in a case where a 'Company' which expression would, in view of Expln. to Section 10 of the Essential Commodities Act, include within Us ambit a co-operative society as well contravenes any order promulgated Under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, the Company as well as any person, who at the time of contravention was incharge of the business of the company, would be responsible for such contravention. In the instant case if the allegation that levy sugar entrusted to Sadhan Sahkari Samiti for distribution to various ' ration-card holders, had been sold by its employee in black he correct, there can be no doubt that the Samiti which was the authorised retailer would be guilty of contravention of the provisions contained in Cl. 3 (b) of the U. P. Sugar (Control) Order. As the petitioner was at the time of such contravention working as the salesman of the society and was in charge of its business, he would also be, in view of the provisions contained in Section 10 of the Essential Commodities Act, equally responsible for such contravention and he can be accused of committing an offence punishable Under Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act. Merely because the detaining authority did not while stating in the grounds that the petitioner appeared to have committed an offence punishable Under Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act make a reference to the provisions of Section 10 of the Essential Commodities Act which made him liable for such offence is, in our opinion, of no consequence.
9. learned Counsel for the petitioner next argued that in this case there was absolutely no material whatsoever on the record that the petitioner had sold sugar to any one at a price higher than that specified by the District Magistrate. As the satisfaction of the detaining authority that the petitioner had sold sugar in black market is based on no material, it stands vitiated. It is true that the recitals made in the grounds for petitioner's detention do not indicate that there was any material before the detaining authority to indicate that the petitioner had at any time sold sugar to any particular person at a price higher than that fixed by the District Magistrate. However, in our opinion Section 3 of the Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Ant nowhere required that the satisfaction of the detaining authority that a person was indulging in black marketing must necessarily be based on some such material which specifically connects such person with a specific transaction of sale of sugar to any person at a price higher than that fixed for the purpose. There may be cases where the material available to the detaining authority is such that on its basis the detaining authority may feel satisfied that the detenu had been indulging in the activity of selling sugar at a price higher than that fixed fo'1 the purpose even though it may not connect him with any specific transac- tion of such sale. In our opinion even such a material can be taken into consideration by the detaining authority in recording its satisfaction that it was necessary to detain the detenu with a view to prevent him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies of commodities essential to the community.
10. Now coming to the facts of the present case, we find that the recitals made in the grounds for petitioner's detention indicate that there was material before the detaining authority to show the following:-
1. Petitioner was salesman of the Darabara Khas Fair Price/Levy Sugar Distribution Shop and on 7th of July, 1981 his shop was inspected by the District Supply Officer.
2. At the time of inspection sugar of the said shop weighing 2 quintals 18 kg. was found in a neighbouring premises.
3. 2 quintals and 13 kg. sugar had been shown in the sales register of 5th of July, 1981 as having been sold and distributed to various consumers of Darabara Khas.
4. Petitioner made a statement before the Dist. Supply Officer admitting that he had from out of the quota received by him for distribution to public, sold sugar weighing 2 quintals to Abdul Waris.
5. At the time of inspection made by the District Supply Officer one ration-card No. 46103 which was for one unit in the name of Aizaz Ahmad was found at the spot containing an endorsement by the petitioner that there was no sugar in the stock.
6. An examination of 43 ration-cards revealed that no sugar was supplied to their respective holders for the month of June.
7. Further scrutiny of sugar stock purported to have been distributed to residents of Darabara Khas revealed that 153 kg. sugar had been shown in,the sales register as having been sold to 58 such persons who were not the residents of Darabara Khas and that those entries were fictitious.
In such circumstances (if the factual allegations contained in the grounds of petitioner's detention be correct) any reasonable person could, subject to a proper explanation from the petitioner, feel satisfied that aforementioned ac- tions of the petitioner were directed towards making illegal gain by selling sugar to unauthorised, persons at a price higher than that fixed for the purpose and also that the stock that had been so disposed must have been disposed of after making illegal gain. The petitioner denied either storing l quintal 18 kg sugar in a neighbouring house or having made a statement to the District Supply Officer that he had sold 2 quintals sugar to Abdul Waris. Apart from alleging that a large number of forged ration-cards were in existence in the area and that it was impossible for him to check their genuineness, he did not offer any explanation for showing in the sales register sugar sold to persons of an area other than to those who reside in Darabara Khas, However, the explanation offered by the petitioner did not appeal to the respondents. We are accordingly of opinion that in- the instant case the submission made by the petitioner that there was no material before the detaining authority to show that the petitioner had sold sugar in black market and order of his detention stands vitiated for that reason cannot be accepted,
11. learned Counsel then submitted that one of the facts taken into consideration by the detaining authority for coming to the conclusion that he had been indulging in selling sugar in black market was that on as many as 43 ration-cards found at the shop no sugar for the months of June had been issued, There was absolutely no material on the record either to show that the concerned ration-card holders ever approached the petitioner for obtaining any sugar in the month of June or that the petitioner refused to supply sugar to them even though at that time it was available in the stock. Mere fact that the ration-cards showed that no sugar was issued on them in a particular month could not constitute material for concluding that petitioner had disposed of the sugar relating to those ration-cards in blackmarket. As this reason stated in the grounds for petitioner's detention is unsustainable, the entire detention order would fall.
12. We are unable to accept this submission, The grounds for petitioner's detention read as a whole shows that all the facts discovered by. the District Supply Officer during the inspection made by him on 15th of July, 1981 created a strong suspicion bordering of satisfaction that the petitioner must have been selling sugar in black market, (The fact that at one time a large number of ration cards were found where on no sugar had been issued in a particular month is certainly relevant for entertaining such suspicion). This led to further scrutiny by the authorities which revealed that the petitioner had in his sales register showed distribution of 153 kg. sugar to such ration-card holders who were not residents of Darabara Khas and on top of it no such cards could be produced. This further scrutiny confirmed the belief of the detaining authority that the petitioner had been selling levy sugar in black-market and that it was satisfied that it-was necessary to detain the petitioner with a view to prevent him from acting in a manner prejudicial to maintenance of supplies of commodities essential to the community. Viewed in this light the recitals in the grounds that at the time of inspection 43 such ration-cards were found whereon no sugar for the month of June had been issued cannot be considered as a separate ground for petitioner's detention. It has to be treated one such fact which in .conjunction with other facts created strong suspicion in the mind of the authorities and permitted them to further scrutinize the matter leading to discovery of certain facts which convinced the detaining Authority about the objectionable activities of the petitioner. In this view it cannot be said that while taking notice of 43 ration-cards the detaining authority took an extraneous material into consideration and that its satisfaction stands vitiated for that reason.
13. learned Counsel for the petitioner next contended that in the instant case while forming the requisite satisfaction one important category of material relied upon by the detaining authority was that consisting (sic) of various ration-cards but the detaining authority did not supply the copies of the sama to the petitioner. Thus it denied an opportunity to the petitioner to make effective representation. In para 16 of the counter-affidavit filed by the District Magistrate it has been stated together that list of all relevant ration- card holders together with the names, ration-card number and number of units in each ration-card had been furnished to the petitioner, In para. 12 of the rejoinder-affidavit filed on behalf of the petitioner the fact alleged in para. 16 of the counter-affidavit seems to be admitted. But then the petitioner has reasserted his Contention that an effective opportunity to mistake a representation has been denied to him as copies of the concerned ration-cards were not supplied to him.
14. A perusal' of the grounds for petitioner's detention indicates that reference to 43 ration-cards, copies at which have not been supplied to the petitioner was made in connection with non-supply of sugar to those ration-card holders in the month of June, 1981. Names of all 43 ration-card holders along with the number of units in their cards as also their ration-card numbers had been supplied to the petitioner. In this connection was the petitioner was required to explain was the fact that in the month of June no sugar had been supplied to such card holders. A perusal of the representation made by the petitioner reveals that in substance petitioner's stand was not that sugar to such card holders had been supplied in the month of June, but that as a very large number of ration-cards had been attached to his shop and the sugar stock made available t him was not sufficient to supply the same to all ration card holders. We fail to understand as to why it was necessary to supply copies of those ration cards to the petitioner with a view to enable him to effectively substantiate the claim made by him. Such a claim made by the petitioner did not depend upon anything contained in the ration-cards, it is them obvious that non-supply of the copies of the ration-cards to the petitioner did not stand in his way in making a representation and it does not have the effect of vitiating the detention order.
15. Beamed counsel for the petitioner next argued that, the petitioner's continued detention stands vitiated as the State Government did not make a report to the Central Government as contemplated by Section 3(b) of the Act. Learned Government Advocate appearing for the respondents produced before us the relevant record which indicated that the State Government did submit the report contemplated by Section 3(b) of the Act to the Central Government within the time stipulated in that section,
16. In the result, we do not find any merit in any of the submissions made by learned Counsel for the petitioner. The petition, therefore, fails and is dismissed.