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Jagan Nath Shiv Ram Vs. the Punjab State - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Writ No. 65 of 1951
Judge
Reported inAIR1952P& H124
ActsPreventive Detention Act, 1950 - Sections 3 and 3(1); Supply and Prices of Goods Act, 1950; Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946
AppellantJagan Nath Shiv Ram
RespondentThe Punjab State
Appellant Advocate Dwarka Nath Aggarwal, Adv.
Respondent Advocate S. Kartar Singh, A.A.G.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredRamananda Agarwalla v. State
Excerpt:
.....be detained. aggarwal took advantage of this and argued that the passing of this act by which the essential supplies, (temporary powers) act had been amended showed that the legislature realized fully well the distinction between essential commodities and the control of prices. it seems to me that this distinction is quite well marked. so is the comparison of one law with other laws made by the same legislature, or upon the same subject, or relating expressly to the same point, enjoined for the same reason, and attended with a like advantage. ' in the 31st volume of halsbury's laws of england (2nd edition) it is stated in paragraph 611: it is difficult to define with precision what constitutes being in 'pari materia1, but series of statutes dealing with a particular subject, such as the..........bicycles, bicycle parts and accessories.3. cycle tyres and tubes.4. electric bulbs.5. caustic soda.6. soda ash.7. tanning materials (wattle bark, wattle extract quebracho).8. raw rubber.9. casein.10. infants' food (glaxo, horlicks, cow and gate milk and ostermilk).6. mr. chawla's contention is that the central government by passing this act intended to declare the goods mentioned in the schedule to the act as essential goods because the supply of these goods and the prices at which they should be sold etc., could be regulated under the provisions of the act by government. his argument is that the reason why these goods were mentioned in the act is that the maintenance of the supply of these goods is essential to the community and that therefore their price is to be regulated and.....
Judgment:

Soni, J.

1. This is an application made by one Jagan Nath praying for a writ of habeas corpus for his release on the ground that he was being illegally detained by an order of the District Magistrate, Hoshiarpur.

2. The facts relating to the case are that the District Magistrate, Hoshiarpur, passed an order under Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act, 1950, ordering Jagan Nath to be detained on the ground that his activities were prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and' services essential to the community and the public at large. The detenue was arrested on the 18th of July 1951 and the grounds of his detention were supplied to him the next day, i.e. the 19th July. The grounds stated;

'(a) that he sold soda ash to (1), Diwan Chand, Committee Bazaar, Hoshiarpur, (2) Dharam Pall of Bahadurpur, and' (3) Muni Lal of Bahadurpur, several times during the last three or four months at Re. 1/- per seer whereas its controlled rate was annas nine per seer;

(b) that he had been selling soda ash to Gulzara Singh of Bahadurpur several times at above the controlled rate; and

(c) that he sold soda ash to (1) Ram Par-shad, Committee Bazaar, Hoshiarpur, and (2) Parduman Singh Lambardar of Bahadurpur, twice during the last month at Re. 1/- per seer whereas its-controlled rate was annas nine per seer.'

3. Mr. D.N. Aggarwal on behalf of the detenu argued that the grounds were vague and that in any case the detention was not justified by the language of the Preventive Detention Act.

4. So far as the first point is concerned I do not think it can be said that the grounds are vague and that they do not give the detenu sufficient particulars in order to make a representation to the proper authority. I therefore think there is no substance in the first point of Mr. D.N. Agganval.

5. The second point which Mr. D. N. Aggarwal urged that the detention of the detenu was illegal is based on the language of the Preventive Detention Act. Action has been taken against the detenu under Sub-clause (iii) of Clause (a) of Section 3(1) of the Act. It is stated therein that the Central Government or the State Government may, if satisfied with respect to any person that with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community, it is necessary so to do, make an order directing such person to be detained. Under Clause (2) of Section 3 the District Magistrate can exercise these powers. In exercise of these powers the District Magistrate of Hoshiarpur passed the order. Mr. Aggarwal's contention is that according to the grounds supplied to the Detenu the detenu had been engaged in activities relating to the sale of soda ash at a price higher than its controlled price. His argument is that soda ash is not a commodity the maintenance of the supply of which is essential to the community. Mr. Aggarwal bases argument on the fact that the Indian Legislature passed an Act called the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946, and in Section 2 of that Act 'essential commodity' has been defined thus:

'Essential commodity' means any of the following classes of commodities: -

(i) foodstuffs,

(ii) cotton and woollen textiles, (iii) paper,

(iv) petroleum and petroleum products,

(v) spare parts of mechanically propelled vehicles,

(vi) Coal,

(vii) iron and steel,

(viii) mica.'

And It is noted there that foodstuffs shall include edible oil-seeds and oils, and that paper shall include newsprint. Mr. Aggarwal submitted that these were the commodities which the legislature had thought fit to call essential commodities, and when the Preventive Detention Act, 1950, in Section 3 (1) (a) (iii) refers to maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community the reference would only be to the supplies of such commodities which the 'Legislature had thought fit to include as essential commodities. As the Legislature had not, in the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946, thought fit to include soda ash as one of the essential commodities this could not be regarded as an essential commodity and the order of the District Magistrate therefore would not fall within the purview of Section 3(1) (a) (iii) of the Preventive Detention Act and was therefore 'ultra vires' and the detention was therefore illegal. Mr. Kartar Singh Chawla, Assistant to the Advocate-General, on behalf of the State drew our attention to another Act of our Parliament which has been passed on the 23rd of December 1950, called The Supply and Prices of Goods Act 1950, (Act LXX (70) of 1950). This Act purports to fix maximum prices and maximum quantities which could be held and sold by or to any person, and imposed restrictions on possession and sale by dealers and producers where maximum is fixed. It also dealt with general limitation of quantity which may be possessed at any one time, and made various other provisions regarding the holding of stocks and conferred power on Government to regulate production and distribution of goods and dealt with various other kindred matters. The goods to which the Act applied were mentioned in Section 3 of the Act as follows:

'Subject to the other provisions contained herein, this Act applies to the goods specified in the Schedule and to such other goods as the Central Government may, by notified order, specify in this behalf.'

The Schedule which forms part of the Act contains the following items;

1. Non-ferrous metals, including brass (un-wrought and semi-manufactured).

2. Bicycles, bicycle parts and accessories.

3. Cycle tyres and tubes.

4. Electric bulbs.

5. Caustic Soda.

6. Soda ash.

7. Tanning materials (wattle bark, wattle extract quebracho).

8. Raw rubber.

9. Casein.

10. Infants' food (Glaxo, Horlicks, Cow and Gate Milk and Ostermilk).

6. Mr. Chawla's contention is that the Central Government by passing this Act intended to declare the goods mentioned in the Schedule to the Act as essential goods because the supply of these goods and the prices at which they should be sold etc., could be regulated under the provisions of the Act by Government. His argument is that the reason why these goods were mentioned in the Act is that the maintenance of the supply of these goods is essential to the community and that therefore their price is to be regulated and they are to be otherwise controlled as provided for in the Act. Proceeding further Mr. Chawla urged that because the Government thought that they were important articles they have been mentioned in the Schedule, and the fact that such an Act has been passed and soda ash amongst other articles has been mentioned in the schedule makes soda ash an essential commodity, and that therefore the District Magistrate was not going beyond the limits of the power conferred on him by Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act, 1950, in coming to the conclusion that if a person sold these goods at prices higher than the controlled prices he was acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of the supply of an essential commodity and therefore an order of his detention was not beyond the scope of the Act. Mr. Aggarwal on the other hand argued that the control of price of goods was one thing and calling a commodity an essential commodity was quite a different thing. He said that the Indian Parliament in the exercise of its powers can regulate trade and commerce with regard to any goods and can control the prices of those goods, but the fact that Parliament has that power and exercises that power does not imply that those goods become goods, the maintenance of whoso supply is essential for the life of the community. Our attention had been drawn by Mr. Chawla to Act LII (52) of 1950 which has been passed by Parliament on the 16th of August 1950. Section 4 of that Act amended Section 2 of the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946, and placed cattle fodder including therein oil-cakes and other concentrates amongst the commodities which were called essential commmodities under the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946. Mr. Aggarwal took advantage of this and argued that the passing of this Act by which the Essential Supplies, (Temporary Powers) Act had been amended showed that the legislature realized fully well the distinction between essential commodities and the control of prices. His argument was that if soda ash was to be regarded as an essential commodity, Parliament would have been asked by Government to include soda ash as it had included cattle fodder amongst essential commodities. Therefore he argued that this made out a clear distinction between 'the two things one which was an essential commodity and the other which was merely the regulating of prices of certain goods which Parliament in its wisdom thought fit to regulate. It seems to me that this distinction is quite well marked. Mr. K.S. Chawla argued that the Supply and Prices of Goods Act was in 'pari materia' with the Essential Supplies Act and the two supplemented each other and should be read together and that the articles mentioned in both of them should be regarded as goods the supply of which is essential to the community. Mr. D.N. Aggarwal, on the other hand, submitted that for the purposes of preventive detention in respect of supplies essential to the community, the only Act to which reference should be made was as its name applies, the Essential Supplies Act. He submitted that the Supply and Prices of Goods Act was not in 'pari- materia' with the Essential Supplies Act. As both learned counsel had contended on the principle of construction of statutes in 'pari materia', let us see what the text-hook writers have said on this subject. In section 5202 of his book 'Statutory Construction', Sutherland says as follows:

'Statutes are considered to be in 'pari materia' to pertain to the same subject-matter when they relate to the same person or thing, or to the same class of persons or things, or have the same purpose or object. They may be independent or amendatory jn form; they may be complete enactments dealing with a single, limited subject-matter or sections of a Code or revision; or they may be a combination of these....

To be in 'pari materia' statutes need not have been enacted simultaneously or refer to one another. However, application of the rule that statutes in 'pari materia should be construed together is most justified in the case of statutes relating to the same subject-matter that were passed at the same session of the Legislature, especially if they were passed or approved or take effect on the same day, and in the case where the later of two or more statutes relating to the same subject-matter refers to the earlier. Jn these situations the probability that Acts relating to the same subject-matter were actuated by the same policy is very high.'

7. In Section 5205 the learned author writes as follows:

'The principle that statutes in 'pari materia' should be construed together is merely an extension of the principle that all parts of a statute should be construed together and its corollary that an amendment and the unchanged portion of the original Act should be construed together.'

Crawford in his book 'Statutory Construction' quotes at pp. 436-437 Dwarris as an eminent authority on statutes in the following words:

'As one part of statute is properly called in to help the construction of another part, and is fitly so expounded, as to support and give-effect, if possible to the whole; so is the comparison of one Law with other Laws made by the same Legislature, or upon the same subject, or relating expressly to the same point, enjoined for the same reason, and attended with a like advantage. In applying the maxim of interpretation, the object is throughout, first, to ascertain by legitimate means; and next to carry into effect; the in-tenlions of the framers. It is to be inferred, that a Code of statutes relating to one subject was governed by one spirit and policy and was intended to be consistent and harmonious in its several parts and provisions. It is therefore an established rule of law, that all acts in 'pari materia' are to be taken together, as if they were one law, and they are directed to be compared in the construction of statutes, because they are considered as framed upon one system and having one object in view.'

In the 31st Volume of Halsbury's laws of England (2nd Edition) it is stated in paragraph 611:

'It is difficult to define with precision what constitutes being in 'pari materia1, but series of statutes dealing with a particular subject, such as the Bankruptcy Acts, the poor laws, the game laws, and so forth, are naturally regarded as making each so many separate systems.'

8. Bearing these considerations in mind it is to be noticed that in the three Acts which we have to construe the thing to be dealt with in the Essential Supplies Act is essential supplies, their prices and their control and other matters being incidental. In the Supply and Prices of Goods Act, the things to be dealt with are the supply and prices of goods of all kinds, whether essential or otherwise. It is also to be noticed that the Essential Supplies Act is as its full name signifies, an 'Act to get temporary powers, while the Supply and Prices of Goods Act' is not such a temporary Act. It is also significant that an Act which amended the Essential Supplies Act is Act LII (52) of 1950, passed by our Parliament on the 16th August 1950. This included cattle fodder amongst the essential commodities. There has been no further addition to the list of essential commodities by any other amending Act though one such Act was passed on 23rd December 1950 being Act LXXII (72) of 1950. The Supply and Prices of Goods Act is Act LXX (70) of 1950 passed in the same year on the same day, the 23rd December 1950. This is not expressed to be amending the Essential Supplies Act, and appears to be actuated by a' different policy altogether. Reference was made to Section 25 of this Act (LXX (70) of 1950). Section 25 reads as follows:

'The provisions of the Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other law for the time being in force regulating the keeping, searching, distribution, disposal or price of goods.'

In my opinion this section brings out the difference in policy with regard to the two Acts. It is goods in general that it deals with and their prices etc. This section does not help us in holding that the goods dealt with are to be regarded as essential commodities. I construe this section to mean that the same considerations should apply to the two Acts in carrying out the general policy of Controls. The Preventive Detention Act 1950 is Act IV (4) of 1950. It no doubt replaced previous legislation on preventive detention. But its objects and policy are quite different. The things it deals with are matters regarding which our Parliament wants to arm the Executive to prevent harm to the country before the harm actually occurs. It does not define matters in Section 3 leaving it to the Executive to take action with respect to those matters relying on -their discretion. It is in aid of the penal law, but its object is preventive and not punitive. It is temporary in duration. All these three Acts relate to different things, are actuated by different policies and have different objects in view. One of them is permanent in nature, another temporary, the third less temporary than the other. The dates of passing of the Essential Supplies Act in 1946 and of the two Acts amending it in 19_50 and the date of passing of Supply and Prices Act in 1950 are as significant as their contents.

9. In 1946 the British Parliament passed an Act called the India (Central Government. & Legislature) Act, 1946 (9 & 10 Geo VI C. 36). Section 2 of this Act enacted as follows:

'Notwithstanding anything in the Government of India Act, 1935, the Indian Legislature shall during the period mentioned in Section 4 of this Act have power to make laws with respect to the following matters:

(a) Trade and commerce (whether or not within a province) in the production, supply and distribution of, cotton and 'woolen textiles, paper (including newsprint) , foodstuffs (including edible oil seeds and oils), petroleum and petroleum products, spare parts of mechanically propelled vehicles, coal, iron, steel and mica; and

(b) .........................'

10. Section 4 enacted as follows:

'The period mentioned in the two last preceding sections is the period of one yearbeginning with the date on which the Proclamation of Emergency in force at the passing of this Act ceases to operate, or if theGovernor-General by public notification sodirects, the period of two years beginningwith that date:

Provided that if and so often as a resolution approving the extension of the said period is passed by both Houses of Parliament, the said period shall be extended for a further period of twelve months from the date on which it would otherwise expire so, however, that it does not in any case continue for more than five years from the date on which the Proclamation of Emergency ceases to operate.'

The Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946 has been continued in force because of appropriate resolutions having been passed. (See the discussion by Harries C. J. in the Full Bench case of 'Ramananda Agarwalla v. State', AIR (38) 1951 Cal 120,

11. It will be noticed that the Essential-Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946, as originally enacted mentions only those articles which were mentioned in Clause (a) of Section 2 of the Act of the British Parliament, the India (Central Government and Legislature) Act, 1946. These goods were essential commodities either because they were intrinsically essential or because of the war they had become essential. The Indian Parliament has under Art. 9 of List I of the Seventh Schedule to' the Constitution power to pass Acts relating to preventive detention for reasons connected with Defence, Foreign Affairs, or the security of India, and persons subjected to such detention. These-are matters which have been dealt with under Section 3 (1) (a) (i) of the Preventive Detention-Act, 1950. The Indian Parliament and the States Legislature have concurrent power under Article 3 of List III of the Seventh Schedule to the-Constitution to pass laws relating to preventive detention for reasons connected with the-security of a State, the maintenance of public order, or the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community, and persons subjected to such detention. This power has been exercised by the Indian Parliament when enacting Section 3(1) (a) (ii) and (iii) of the Preventive Detention Act. Concurrent power is also vested in our Parliament and the States Legislature under Arts. 33 and 34 of List III in the matter of trade and commerce in, and the production supply and distribution of, the products of industries where the control of such industries by the Union is declared by Parliament by law to be expedient in public interest and also in the matter of price control, and in my opinion when our Parliament passed the-Supply and Prices of Goods Act, 1950 (Act LXX (70) of 1950) and perhaps continued previous legislation on this subject, it exercised its power of passing this Act under Arts. 33 and 34 of List III given in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution because of the passing of a resolution under Art. 249 of the Constitution. It is quite possible that the two things may overlap and a thing may be an essential commodity and its supply and price may have to be controlled. But it is also possible that a thing is not an essential commodity and it may still be desirable to control its supply and price. I do not accept the argument of Mr, Aggarwal that the only commodities which can be regarded as essential commodities, are the commodities which have been mentioned in Section 2 of the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946. For instance, it will be conceded that water is an essential commodity. It will probably be conceded that in towns electricity is also an essential commodity. But neither water nor electricity has been mentioned in Section 2 of the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946. A situation may arise in a district when the District Magistrate finds that a set of persons are about to be engaged in cutting off the supply of water or the supply of electricity, and I should Imagine that if a proper case is made out and the District Magistrate is satisfied that such a situation is about to arise he would be properly exercising the powers conferred on him by Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act in passing orders of detention against persons who have been reported against as trying to interfere with the maintenance of the supplies of water or electricity. Jn my opinion therefore the mere fact that certain items are not mentioned in ;Section 2 of the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946, does not lead to the conclusion that the article in question may not be one, the maintenance of whose supply is essential for the community. I have given instances of water and electricity as instances on which there probably would be no controversy, but there may arise cases in which the matter is not clear. 'Horlicks' mentioned in Infants' Foods in the schedule to the. Supply and Prices Act, 1950 is certainly one of those articles in which it is not clear that it is a commodity, the maintenance of whose supply is essential for the community. Mr. Chawla argued that in matters of this nature the District Magistrate's view that a certain article is essential for the community must prevail and that the Courts cannot go into the question whether that article has been rightly held by the District Magistrate to be essential for the community. I do not think that this view can be supported. Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act talks of maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community but the section does not define the commodities whose supply is essential to the community. That depends upon tune and circumstances. During the course of war the maintenance of supplies of certain goods may be essential for the community as without them the war could not be properly prosecuted. During times of peace the same goods may cease to be essential. It may, however, be necessary to control their supply and prices not because that they are essential but because it is otherwise desirable to control their supply and prices. There is a marked distinction between essential goods and the control of supply and prices of goods. As I have said before, these two things are dealt with separately in List III in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution. One is dealt with in Article 3 and the other is dealt with in Articles 33 and 34 of List III. As essential commodities have not been denned, what is regarded by the Executive as an essential commodity must be subject to review by the Courts, though no doubt proper weight would be attached to the views of the Executive if supported by proper materials.

12. In the present case the District Magistrate passed an order of detention against the petitioner on the ground that he had been selling soda ash beyond the controlled rate and was thus interfering with the maintenance of supplies of an essential commodity. In the first volume of Encyclopaedia Britannica published by the University of Chicago the uses of soda ash are given in the following words:

'Almost every manufactured commodity has at some stage of its production made use of soda ash or its derivatives, the yearly world production of which has now reached some three and a half millions of tons. For example, glass of all kinds contains from 10 to 20 per cent by weight of soda and accounts for roughly one quarter of the total consumption. There are indeed certain qualities of glass which do not use soda ash, but these are for special use and do not affect the general statement. All hard soap has been made primarily from animal or vegetable at and caustic soda, the latter being derived directly from soda ash; this accounts for another quarter of the consumption. The textile industry accounts for one-sixth, employed in 'wool-scouring, cotton-scouring, calico printing, flax boiling and so on. The general chemical industry takes about one-tenth, and paper one-twentieth-The remainder is consumed in comparatively small quantities by a number of industries, a full list of which is astonishing in its length and variety.'

Soda ash has been regarded by the District Magistrate as an essential commodity and because of the use the soda ash is put to it would be difficult to say that the District Magistrate is wrong in holding that it is an essential commodity. If it be held an essential commodity then the action of the District Magistrate falls within the purview of Section 3 (1) (a) (iii) of the Preventive. Detention Act and would not be ultra vires. In these circumstances the petition would be dismissed.

Bhandari, J.

13. I concur in the conclusion that petition be dismissed.


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