Y.V. Chandrachud, J.
1. Under the power conferred by Section 3 of the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946, the Central Government issued an Order called 'The Cotton Textiles (Control) Order, 1948'. Clause 20 of the Order, as amended, reads thus :
20.(1) The textile Commissioner may from time to time issue directions in writing to any manufacturer or class of manufacturers or the manufacturers generally regarding the classes or specifications of cloth or yarn, and the maximum or the minimum quantities there of, which they shall or shall not produce during such periods as may be specified in the directions, and they shall comply with such directions.
(2) In the exercise of the powers conferred conferred upon him by Sub-clause (1) the Textile Commissioner that I have regard to the capacity of the producer to produce cloth and yarn of different descriptions or specifications and to the needs of the general public.
The question for our determination in these appeals is whether if the Textile Commissioner decides to issue appropriate directions to any manufacturer or class of manufacturers, it is obligatory upon him to specify therein the period for which the directions will remain in operation.
2. As held by this Court in State of U.P. v. Jogendra Singh (1), it is well settled that the word 'may' is capable of meaning 'must' or 'shall' in the light of the context and that where a discretion is conferred upon a public authority coupled with an obligation, the word 'may' which denotes discretion should be construed to mean a command. Considering the purpose of the relevant empowerment and its impact on those who are likely to be affected by the exercise of the power, we are clear that the power conferred on the Textile Commissioner to issue directions is coupled with the duty to specify the particular period for which the directions shall be operative. Directions of the kind envisaged by Clause 20 are influenced and justified by exigencies which render it imperative that the directions be reviewed from time to time. That becomes feasible only if the directions are limited expressly to a determinate period of time at the end of which a fresh review of facts and circumstances becomes obligatory. There is a far that a direction not limited in point of time may continue to operate even after it has outlived its utility for the reason merely that the need to review it is not clearly perceived. Besides, the manufacturers must know, in order that they may organize their business in their own interest as well as in the interest of the community at large, as to how long any particular embargo is going to be operative.
3. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the High Court though on the ground only that the impugned Notification in so far as it prohibits the printing of any border or heading on sarees etc. far an indefinite period is ultra vires. Clause 20 of the Cotton Textiles (Control) Order, 1948, since the afore said Clause casts an obligation or a duty upon the Textile Commissioner to specify the period during which the prohibition shall remain in force, We express no opinion on the other points, including Point 6 urged before the High Court for its consideration.
4. The appeals are accordingly dismissed. The appellants will pay one set of costs of these appeals to the respondents.