1. This petition has been filed by the petitioner challenging the order passed by the State Government dated 9-10-1973 refusing to exempt the petitioner from the operation of the Levy Order.
2. According to the petitioner Levy Order does not apply to the petitioner as he does not grow wheat (food stuff) but only grows wheat seed which is not fit for human consumption and is not fit for distribution to the general public.
3. According to the petitioner he has a farm in village Ghata Billod where he is engaged in production of seed and he is specially busy in producing wheat-seed. It is also alleged that the petitioner has been recognised as the seed producer and consequently he has represented India as an Indian Delegate in the International Meet. He also alleges that he also associated in Indian Associations including Indian Society of Seed Techonolgy and also Indian Agricultural Research Institute. He has also alleged that he is one of the pioneers in wheat seed of new varieties and has been selling wheat-seed to the agriculturists including the State Government also.
4. That the Government of Madhya Pradesh issued an Order known as M. P. Wheat Procurement (Levy) Order, 1973 dated 20-4-1973' (hereinafter referred to as 'the Levy Order 1973'), imposing a levy with immediate effect on agriculturists as defined therein at the rate of 40 kg. per acre in case of unirrigated and 100 Kg. per acre in the case of irrigated; where the area under wheat is more than 12 acres. This order issued,according to the petitioner, for the purpose of procuring adequate quantities of wheat for public distribution. According to the petitioner this order only applies to those agriculturists who grow wheat for human consumption; but as the petitioner does not grow wheat but still the levy of 13.51 quintals was imposed upon him which according to the petitioner could not be imposed as the petitioner does not produce wheat at all.
5. According to the petitioner he approached the State Government through its officers to get an exemption from the imposition of levy under this order. But ultimately he failed and the Government by its Order (Annexure 'F') refused to exempt the petitioner. According to the petitioner the Director of Agriculture vide his letter dated 18th Sept., 1973 certified that the petitioner is a bona fide seed producer of Indore district and also recommended his case for exemption; but still the State Government did not exempt him, on the contrary passed an order (Annexure 'F') without giving any opportunity to the petitioner of hearing.
6. In the return filed by the State Government it is not disputed that the petitioner is producing seed but what is alleged is that the Levy Order applies to the petitioner as he is an agriculturist within the meaning of the term under S. 2 of the Levy Order 1973. The allegations made by the petitioner about his having been recognised as the wheat-seed producer by the Government of India is denied for want of knowledge. As regards the contention advanced by the petitioner in his petition that the Agriculture Department certified him to be a bona fide seed producer is also admitted by the respondent-State in their return. As regards exemption it is contended in the return that it is not necessary for the State Government to exempt any one. It is also contended that it is not necessary for them to hear any one to grant exemption. Apparently therefore tbe facts alleged in the petition are not in dispute; but the only contention raised in the Return appears to be that the Levy Order 1973 applies to the petitioner as he falls within the definition of the term 'an agriculturist' under S, 2 of the Levy Order 1973,
7. The petitioner who made his own submissions personally contended that wheat and wheat seed are two different thingsand the Levy Order which has been brought into force only pertained to the procurement of wheat which is for human consumption and for distribution to the general public; whereas according to the petitioner wheat seed is not fit for human consumption and is also not meant for distribution to the general public and will not be covered under the Levy Order 1973.
8. It was also contended that the State Government was empowered under the Levy Order 1973 to exempt certain persons from the levy Order and the Government by the impugned order (annexure 'F') dated 9-10-1973 refused to exempt the petitioner without giving him any opportunity of hearing which according to the petitioner the State Government was bound to give to the petitioner. It was also contended that while granting exemption the State Government did not act fairly and the petitioner was discriminated and in support of this contention the petitioner wanted the State Government to produce certain documents about which the State Government has raised a plea of privilege. It was contended by the petitioner that the privilege is only claimed because the production of those documents will disclose that exemption has been granted to some persons not on rational basis but of favouritism and in order to conceal this the Government has claimed privilege and is not producing the documents connected with the exemption.
9. It was also contended by the petitioner that the action taken by the Government in refusing the exemption to the petitioner in spite of a certificate from the Agriculture Department certifying that the petitioner is a bona fide seed producer, was mala fide.
10. It was also contended that the Levy Order, 1973 has been issued by the Government while exercising powers under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act and under this section orders could only be passed pertaining to food stuffs which are meant for human consumption and in order to provide for distribution of those food stuffs to the general pub-He. The Levy Order, 1973 could not be enacted in exercise of powers under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act to cover wheat-seed which is neither food stuff nor is meant for distribution to the general public.
11. Wheat as is commonly known is food-stuff which is used generally andEncyclopaedia Britannica Vol. 23 at p. 558 described wheat as--
'WHEAT. Wheat (Triticum) is the food cereal used more than any other for baking raised bread of prized colour and texture. In that form or as flat breads or alimentary pastes it is a preferred food consumed by most of the world's people. Its several varieties are adapted to production under a wide range of natural and cultural conditions, and about two-fifths of the world's small grain lands are regularly sown to wheat. It gives the largest total weight of easily grown, storable, easily prepared, concentrated and palatable human nutrition. In international trade wheat and its products exceed other items in tonnage, and sometimes it is the leading agricultural product in value.'
Whereas the seed has been described in Encyclopaedia Britannica Vol. 20 at p. 275 as--
'SEED. The seed consists of an embryo enclosed by an integumentary covering, the seed coat or seed coats. In addition, nucellar tissue or endosperm containing reserve foods may be present within the seed coats; but when one or both of these storage tissues are lacking, the food reserves are located in the cotyledons of the embryo. The seed develops from the ovule, the embryo resulting from the union of the megagamete (egg) and miscrogamete (sperm), the act of fertilization. The resultant zygote (fertilized egg) undergoes nuclear and cellular divisions and develops as tha embryo sporophyte. The details of embryogeny and seed development vary with different groups of seed plants (spermatophytes).'
In the Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary the seed has been explained at p. 2708, as under--
'Seed. 1. a. That which is or may be sown (often as cognate obj, to sow v.); the ovules of a plant or plants (chiefly, when in the form of 'grains' or small roundish bodies) esp. as collected for the purpose of being sown. Also in Agriculture and Horticulture applied by extension to other parts of plants (e. g. tubers, bulbs) when preserved for the purpose of propagating a new crop. In plural, kinds of seed. Phr. to run to seed (See RUN v. 69 e); also to grow seed (obs) to be in seed.'
The discussions in these volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica reveal that wheat seed is not meant for consumption as for preservation it is processed by insec-ticide and other chemicals. In fact these allegations of fact are not even disputed by the State Government nor were disputed at the time of hearing by learned counsel appearing for the State. It, there fore, cannot be disputed that wheat-seed cannot be said to be wheat which is cultivated by agriculturists for human consumption. Wheat seed produced by the petitioner is only meant for distribution to the agriculturists for sowing so that they may grow varieties of wheat in greater quantities.
12. The Madhya Pradesh Wheat Procurement (Levy) Order, 1973 in the preamble mentions--
'Whereas the Governor of Madhya Pradesh is of the opinion that for the purposes of procuring adequate quantities of wheat for public distribution, it is necessary, and expedient to make procurement of wheat within the State of Madhya Pradesh.'
Apparently this preamble indicates the purpose for which this order was passed, and it is also clear that this order was passed in exercise of powers conferred under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and that this order was passed after getting concurrence of the Central Government. The purpose indicated in the preamble of this order is the purpose of procuring adequate quantities of wheat for public distribution. It is, therefore, clear that this order was passed for the purpose of procuring wheat for distribution to the public in general. In Section 2 of the Levy Order, 1973 'agriculturist' has been defined as under:
'2. (a) 'Agriculturist' means a person who raises wheat alone or mixed with any other crop on land in his possession which he holds as a tenure-holder or a tenant or a........lessee or amortgagee in possession or in any other capacity or in more than one such capacity.'
This definition clearly indicates that for the purpose of this order an agriculturist means a person who raises wheat crop alone or with other crops. Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 provides :--
'3. Powers to control production, supply distribution etc. of essential commodities.-- (1) If the Central Government is of opinion that it is necessary or expedient so to do for maintaining or increasing supplies of any essential commodities or for securing their equitable distribution and availability at fair prices, (or for securing any essential com-modity for the defence of India or the efficient conduct of military operations) it may by order, provide for regulating or prohibiting the production, supply and distribution thereof and trade and commerce therein.'
It is, therefore, clear that this empowers the Government to issue an order for securing the equitable distribution of an essential commodity and the essential commodity has been enumerated in Section 2 and Sub-clause (b) of Section 2 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 speaks of food crop including sugar-cane. It is, therefore, clear that under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 the Government could only pass an order for fair and equitable distribution of food crops and in fact the Levy Order, 1973 talks of procurement of wheat for distribution to the general public. As discussed earlier the wheat-seed cannot be said to be wheat which is for distribution to the general public nor it could be said to be a food stuff.
13. In order to provide for regulating the quality of seeds and the sale thereof an Act has been passed which is the Seeds Act 1966 (Act No. 54 of 1966). In this Act 'seed' has been denned in Sub-clause (11) of S, 2 of the Seeds Act, 1966 which is as under:
'(11) 'seeds' means any of the following classes of seeds used for sowing or planting:--
(i) seeds of food crops including edible oil-seeds and seeds of fruits and vegetables;
(ii) cotton seeds,
(iii) seeds of cattle fodder,
(iv) [jute seeds]
and includes seedlings, and tubers, bulbs, rhizomes, roots, cuttings, all types of grafts and other vegetatively propagated material, of food crops or cattle fodder;' This definition also clearly indicates that what is termed as 'seeds' is used for sowing or planting and not for human consumption. Apparently, therefore, this Levy Order, 1973 could only be enforced against the agriculturists who produce wheat which is for human consumption and in order to regulate its fair distribution this order was enacted exercising powers under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act no order could be passed for levy of wheat-seed which is not for public distribution and not a food crop and therefore not essential commodity as defined under theAct. Even the term 'agriculturist' as defined under Section 2 of the Levy Order, 1973 will not apply to the petitioner as the term 'agriculturist' has been defined as a person who raises wheat and therefore, a person who raises no wheat but wheat-seed only will not fall within the ambit of the definition of the 'agriculturist' as defined under Section 2 (a) of the Levy Order, 1973. Apparently therefore the view taken by the State Government that the Levy Order, 1973 is applicable to the petitioner, is not legal and therefore, no levy could be collected from -the petitioner who produces wheat-seed only.
14. In view of this that the Levy Order, 1973 does not apply to the petitioner at all, in our opinion, it is not necessary for the petitioner to seek an exemption under Section 5 of the Levy Order 1973 and therefore it is not necessary for us to go into the question whether the State Government was right in refusing the exemption to the petitioner or not. As the order itself did not apply to the petitioner, he automatically falls outside the purview of this order and an order for exemption under Section 5 of the Levy Order, 1973 was not at all necessary and in that view of the matter we do not think it necessary to go into the question raised by the petitioner with regard to the refusal of the exemption to the petitioner and the manner in which the exemption was refused. It is also therefore, not necessary for us to go into the question of privilege that has been claimed by the State Government with regard to the documents pertaining to the proceedings of exemption under Section 5 of the Levy Order, 1973.
15. As discussed above the Levy Order, 1973 does not apply to the petitioner as he grows not wheat but wheat-seed. Consequently this petition is allowed and the order issued against the petitioner for collection of the wheat levy under the order is quashed. The petitioner is entitled to costs of this petition. The security amount shall be refunded after verification.