1. By this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, the petitioner seeks issuance of a writ of habeas corpus for the release of his father Gopichand Agarwal, who has been detained by order of the District Magistrate, Hoshangabad, dated 27th Jan. 1983, passed under Section 3 of the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980. The order has been passed with a view to prevent the detenu from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies of commodities essential to the community.
2. The detenu is a dealer in kerosene oil. The grounds of detention supplied to the detenu go to show that on 29th Nov. 1982 a permit for sale of twelve thousand litres of kerosene oil to Hoshangabad Tahsil Sahakari Vipnan Sanstha Maryadit was issued and the detenu, instead of selling the same to this society sold it in black-market. A similar incident of the same quantity of kerosene oil is further alleged. It is said that on 17th Dec. 1982 a permit for sale of twelve thousand litres of kerosene oil was again issued in favour of the society. The detenu Instead of selling it to the society sold the same also in black-market. All the documents including statements etc. which were placed before the District Magistrate before he passed the order of detention, were supplied to the detenu. The detenu represented to the Advisory Board and his representation was rejected. Kerosene oil is an essential commodity under the Essential Commodities Act, 1980. (1955) The detenu was a whole sale dealer under the Madhya Pradesh Kerosene Dealers Licensing Order, 1979. The society in whose favour the permits were issued was the retailer. The price of kerosene is controlled under the Kerosene (Fixation of Ceiling prices) Order, 1970. At the relevant time, the price fixed under this Order was Rs. 1.77 per litre for Itarsi.
3. Learned counsel for the petitioner has contended before us that the conclusion reached by the District Magistrate that the kerosene oil covered by the permits referred to above was not supplied to the society by the detenu was an arbitrary conclusion and no reasonable person could have reached that conclusion on the material placed before the District Magistrate. The detenu's case is that he supplied the kerosene oil to the society in accordance with the permits issued to him by the Additional Tahsil-dar. It is not in dispute that the statement of Satish Chandra who is the Manager of the society was placed before the District Magistrate. Satish Chandra states that the kerosene oil covered by the aforesaid two permits or any bill relating thereto was not received by the society and that there is no entry of receipt of the oil in the books of the society. Satish Chandra has no doubt stated that the society did not apply to the Additional Tahsildar for issuance of permits. But that is neither here nor there, because it is not in dispute that the Additional Tahsildar issued two permits in favour of the society and the detenu's case was that kerosene oil was supplied to the society in accordance with the permits. It is true that the detenu did state and did produce bills in support of the statement that the oil was supplied, but it was for the District Magistrate either to believe the detenu's case or the case of the society. The District Magistrate was satisfied that no oil was supplied to the society, We are not here hearing an appeal against the order of the District Magistrate. We can only see whether there was material before the District Magistrate to reach the satisfaction about the necessity of detention of the detenu. In view of the statement of the Manager of the society, it cannot be said that there was no material before the District Magistrate for reaching the conclusion that oil was not supplied to the society under the aforesaid two permits. Once the conclusion is reached that 24 thousand litres of kerosene oil shown to have been sold to the society under the two permits was not really sold to the society and false entries were made by the detenu, the inference necessarily follows that the oil was diverted and sold in blackmarket.
4. Learned counsel for the petitioner has referred to a decision of this Court in Komal Chand v. District Magistrate, Bilaspur M. P. No. 572 of 1980, decided by us on 16th Oct. 1980). In that case the detenu was detained on the allegation of blackmarketing on a complaint made by certain villagers. It was also said that there was an enquiry. The names of the villagers who made the complaint and the result of the enquiry on the complaint were not disclosed in the grounds of detention. It was therefore, held that the grounds were vague and lacking in particulars. The present case stands entirely on a different footing. It was clearly mentioned in the grounds that permits were issued for 24 thousand litres of kerosene oil in favour of the society but the oil was not sold to the society although false entries were made to that effect and that the oil was really sold in blackmarket. In the circumstances of the present case, these particulars were sufficient to enable the detenu tomake effective representation and it was not necessary to mention the names of persons to whom the detenu may have sold the kerosene oil. The District Magistrate may not have himself known as to who were these persons. The material fact was diversion of the oil by showing false sales to the society. The act of the detenu falls within Explanation (b) to Section 3 of the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, and his detention, in our opinion was justified.
5. Learned counsel for the petitioner has argued that after the detention of the detenu, the oil company has stopped the supply of kerosene oil and that a show cause notice has been issued by the Collector for cancellation of the licence. These facts, according to the learned Counsel, are sufficient to deter the detenu from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supply of kerosene oil in future and, therefore, his detention was not called for. This argument cannot be accepted. These are subsequent events and they were not present on the date when the District Magistrate passed the order of detention. On the date when the order was passed no proceeding had; been taken for cancellation of the licence and supply to the detenu of kerosene oil had not been stopped. It would not, therefore, be said that there was no likelihood that the detenu would indulge in blackmarketing in future when he was detained.
6. The petition fails and is dismissed.