Gopalan Nambiyak, C.J.
1. The learned Judge against whose judgment this appeal has been preferred, allowed O.P. No. 1965 of 1973 quashed Exts. P2, P4 & P8 orders and directed a grant of the licence under the Gold Control Order to the writ petitioner, the 1st respondent in this appeal. We regret our inability to concur with the learned Judge either in his reasoning or the conclusion arrived at. The 1st respondent applied for a licence under the Gold Control Order for the year 1969. By Ext. P2 order, the Licensing Authority rejected the application on the ground that having regard to the number of licenced dealers in Pathanamthitta, their transactions and the demand for gold ornaments likely to arise from that area, it was not considered necessary to issue a licence as a gold dealer to the petitioner at Ranni, a place close to Pathanamthitta. On appeal, the appellate authority confirmed the order saying that it saw no reason to interfere with the order of the Licensing Authority. There was a further revision to the Government of India which rejected the same by Ext. P8 order. It recorded that from the records of the case as to the turnover of the existing dealers in the District of Quilon in which the village of Ranni is situated, for the three years preceding the application it was found that no case for the grant of an additional licence in favour of the writ petitioner was made out
2. The learned Judge was of the view that there has been a misconception by the licensing authority and the appellate authority in regard to the statutory provision for the grant of the licence, that there was a violation of the principles of natural justice on the part of the revisional authority in dealing with the revision petition, and a non-advertence to the relevant materials in the light of which the eligibility of the petitioner for a licence had to be considered and decided. In the light of these, the learned Judge set aside the impugned orders and directed the grant of the licence to the petitioner. We would immediately note that the eligibility of the petitioner for the grant of the licence for the year 1969, was being decided on the 8th Feb. 1974; and it was on this date that the learned Judge issued a writ of mandamus directing the 1st respondent to the writ petition to grant forthwith the gold dealers licence on the writ petitioner's application. Giving careful thought to the matter, we have no hesitation to come to the conclusion that this part of the judgment of the learned Judge directing the grant of the licence to the writ petitioner for the year 1969 in the year 1974 was unjustified and cannot be supported. That part of the judgment of the learned Judge has, in any event, to be vacated.
3. Even on the merits, we are unable to endorse the reasoning or the conclusion of the learned Judge in regard the rest of the judgment. Rule 2 (f) of the Gold Control Licensing Dealers Rules 1969 is the relevant rule which deals with the consideration of an application for a licence. The same in so far as it is material provides:
'2. Matters to which regard shall be had before issuing a licence.-- On receipt of an application for the issue of a licence to commence or carry on business as a dealer, the Administrator shall have regard to the following matters, namely:--
(a) to (e): x x x x
(f) the need to increase the number of licensed dealers in the city or town in which the dealer intends to carry on business or where the applicant intends to carry on businessin a village, the need to increase the number of licensed dealers in the district within such village is situated, having regard to--
(i) the number of licensed dealers existing in such city, town or district, as the case may be, and
(ii) the demand for ornaments which is likely to arise in such city, town or district. such demand being estimated on the basis of the turnover of the licensed dealers, existing therein. for a period of three years preceding the year in which such application for the issue of licence has been made and such turnover shall be determined on the basis of the accounts and returns submitted under the law for the time in force in relation to gold:
(rest of the rule omitted as unnecessary.)
4. From the above rule it is seen that the relevant criterion to be applied is, in the case of applications of dealers in a city or town, whether there was need to increase the number of licenced dealers in the said city or town, and where the application is from dealers in a village. whether there was similar need to increase the number of dealers in the district within which the village is situated. This requirement was to be adjudged on a comparative assessment of the turnover of the licenced dealers for a period of three years preceding that in which the application for the issue of licence was made. Ext. P2 will show that the licensing authority addressed itself to the question as to whether the local area of Ranni required to be served by an additional dealer in the gold trade and came to the conclusion that there was no such need, as the neighbouring area of Pathanamthitta was well served. The Appellate Authority merely endorsed this reasoning of the licensing authority. On revision, (Ext. P5 shows the grounds of revision), the writ petitioner filed Ext. P6 a resolution from the Panchayat to show that Ranni was a fast developing area, and stood in need of further additions to the existing quota of the licensed gold dealers. The writ petitioner also produced Ext. P7 statement before the revisional authority to show that a number of cases of contravention of the regulations under the Gold Control Act, had been detected by the Excise party, and one on re-thinking, the Assistant Collector had given a licence to a native of Chengannur, a place nearly twentyfive miles away from Ranni, during the pendency of the revision application. It will be noticed that both Exts. P6 and P7 were emphasising the regional or the local aspect involved in the grant of the licence and not concentrating attention on the requirements of the district, so that the confusion of thought in the mind of the licensing and the appellate authority, was as much present in the mind of the writ petitioner as well; and indeed, he had made his contribution to the development of the confusion. But the revisional authority set the train of thought on correct rails and dealt with the matter properly in the light of the requirements postulated by the statutory rule; namely, whether the requirements of the district as a whole required or warranted an addition to the existing quota of licensed gold dealers. It found that there was no ground, having regard to the turnover disclosed for the past three years preceding the application and on this ground it rejected the petitioner's application for a licence.
5. Despite the technical mistake or non-advertence to the relevant aspect of the rule committed by the licensing authority and the appellate authority, we should have thought that there was little scope for interference under Article 226 of the Constitution with the impugned orders; especially, when the revisional authority had assessed the position from the correct standpoint. We are of the opinion that the interests of justice did not warrant interference, and the learned Judge exceeded the limits of his jurisdiction in interfering with the orders impugned. The learned Judge noticed that it had been brought to the notice of the re-visional authority that two persons had been granted a licence as gold dealers while the writ petitioner's application had been rejected. One of them, the 4th respondent was granted a licence as a gold dealer inRanni by order dated 17-2-1972. We may observe that the case of this respondent affords no comparable basis with that of the petitioner. His application was in 1972 and the three years for which the turnover and the requirement as to the volume of the trade had to be assessed, were different from the relevant period in respect of the petitioner's application. It was submitted that it had beet brought to the notice of the revisional authority that one Sankaran Achari from Punalur had been granted a gold dealers' licence in 1969 and one Prabhakaran from the Quilon district had been granted the licence in 1970. Both these are within the Quilon district to which the writ petitioner also belongs. But it will be noticed that both Sankarar Achari and Prabhakaran were applicants from a town and not from a village; and the criteria specified for disposal of their applications are different from those in regard to the applications from a village. For that reason, these cases again do not afford any comparable basis with that of the petitioner.
6. The learned Judge took the view that there was violation of the principles of natural justice as the revisional authority had not put the figures of turnover of the existing dealers in which Quilon District for three years preceding 1969 before the writ petitioner. With respect, we are unable to agree with the learned Judge. The requirement of turnover in the area had been referred to by the licensing authority and the appellate authority. The revisional authority concentrated attention on this aspect from the correct point of view as laid down by the statutory rule. The petitioner himself should have known that the volume of the trade and the extent of the turnover for the three years immediately preceding the application was the relevant criterion in the light of which the application for licence should have to be decided. As ruled by the Supreme Court, and by this Court in regard to Rice Milling Dealers Licence, we think the petitioner was entitled to the observance of the statutory regulations and no more. And we are not prepared, on the facts and10 Ker. [Prs. 1-2] Southern Fisheriescircumstances to hold that there was such non-observance of the statutory rules as to warrant interference under Article 226 of the Constitution.
7. Giving the matter our careful attention we are of the opinion that the learned Judge was wrong in interfering under Article 226 with the impugned orders Exts. P2, P4 and PS, and in directing by a mandamus the grant of licence to the writ petitioner for the year 1969. We allow this appeal, set aside the order of the learned Judge and direct that O.P. No. 1965 of 1973 will stand dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.