1. This is a petition under Article. 226 of the Constitution by Gurbachan Singh attaching the cancellation by the Rationing Controller of Ludhiana, by his order dated 5-11-1951 of the petitioner's authorisation to run a ration-depot at Ludhiana. It is not in dispute that when the ration-depot run by the petitioner No. 4 in Northern Ward of Ludhiana, was visited by Jhangi Ram, an officer of the Rationing Department on 29-5-1951, the petitioner's stocks were checked against his registers and his stock of wheat atta was found to be 9 seers and 9 chha-taks in excess of the amount which ought to have been present according to the entries in his registers. Such a state of affairs is naturally regarded as an indication that customers have been given short weight. In his petition Gurbachan Singh has put forward an explanation of this discrepancy to the effect that a transaction with a customer which would satisfactorily account for the discrepancy had actually taken place, but the transaction had not been entered in the register because in the money tendered by the customer as the purchase price of the wheat and other commodities bought by him one counterfeit rupee was found, and the transaction stood in abeyance for the time being while the customer had gone home to fetch another rupee. He further alleged that the cancellation of his depot holder's authorisation was 'mala fide: and that the Rationing Controller, himself a Hindu, was favouring Hindu depot holders as against Sikh depot holders. It was finally pleaded that even in the absence of 'mala fides' the cancellation of the authorisation was illegal on the ground that the petitioner had not been given any opportunity to show cause against it and no proper enquiry as contemplated by Rule 3(b), East Punjab Rationing Order 1948, had been held.
2. I do not propose to discuss at all the allegation of any communal bias on the part of the officers concerned in the Rationing Department which I regard as wholly unnecessary, and merely introduced into the petition for scandalous res-sons and with a view to throwing a cloak over the misdeeds of the petitioner. His allegations on this point merely amount to asserting that Other ration depot-holders who have been guilty of misdeeds have been more lightly punished for them.
3. The order which is attacked reads as follows: --
'Whereas it has been reported by Ward Rationing Officer, Northern Ward, Ludhiana, that during the inspection of depot No. 4, held by Gurbachan Singh, in Ludhiana rationed town by Jhangi Ram, Secretariat officers, (Rationing), Civil Supplies Department on the 29th May 1951, wheat atta stocks were found in excess by 9 seers and 9 chhataks as compared with the balance showing in the stock register and whereas the explanation furnished by the depot-holder for this discrepancy was not satisfactory; now therefore I, Manohar Lal, B.A.L.L.B., Rationing Controller, Ludhiana, in exercise of the powers conferred upon me under clause 3(b) of the East Punjab Rationing Order, 1948, do hereby cancel the authorisation issued to Gurbachan Singh under clause 3 (a) of the said Order. Gurbachan Singh shall continue the distribution work till his substitute is appointed.'
Rule 3(b) reads:--
'The Rationing Controller may at any time, whether at the request of the person whom an authorisation has been issued or after making such enquiry as may be deemed necessary add to, amend, vary or rescind the authorization issued under Sub-clause (a).'
In the written statement filed by Mr. Manohar Lal, the District Organiser of Civil Supplies and Rationing, Ludhiana, which is supported by an affidavit, it is admitted that an explanation on the lines of that now put forward in the petition of the discrepancy between the stocks and the amounts entered in the register was in fact put forward by the petitioner to the Department at a very much later stage, and that the order cancelling the petitioner's authorisation was only Issued after the matter had been considered by the various officers in the Department and' referred to the Director General and Additional . Secretary to Government Punjab, Civil Supplies Department.
I can only say that I myself should have felt no hesitation in rejecting this allegation if I had been one of the officers who had had to consider the matter with a view to take action under B. 3(b). It is clear that the Rule in question does not provide for any particular form of enquiry, and I 'should have no hesitation in holding that the enquiry held in the present case was sufficient to comply with the requirements of the Rule. The case is in fact very similar to the case which went from Ceylon before their Lordships of the Privy Council, 'Nakkuda All v. M.P.De S. Jaya-ratne', 54 Cal WN 883 (PC) (A), which referred to the cancellation by a Controller of Textiles of the licence of a textile dealer. It may be mentioned in the present case that on two previous occasions the security deposit of Rs. 200/- of the petitioner had been forfeited for offences of a similar nature to his offence on the present occasion, but even in the absence of these previous punishments I should not be inclined to interfere in the matter, and I would accordingly dismiss the petition with costs which I would assess at Rs. 100/-.
4. I agree.