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State of Gujarat Vs. Maharaja Book Depot - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1977)18GLR810
AppellantState of Gujarat
RespondentMaharaja Book Depot
Excerpt:
- .....act to the sessions court at broach which was registered as criminal appeal no. 39 of 1975. the learned sessions judge of broach by his judgment and order dated october 16, 1976 allowed the appeal and set aside the order of confiscation on the ground that the act and the regulation order did not apply to exercise books as they did not fall within the description of clause (vii) of section 2(a) of the act and entry 13 of the regulation order which is in the following terms:paper, including newsprint, paperboard and straw board:the state has thereupon invoked the jurisdiction of this court under article 227 of the constitution of india and has challenged the legality and validity of the impugned order passed by the learned sessions judge of broach in exercise of appellate powers under.....
Judgment:

M.P. Thakkar, J.

1. The central question in the present petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India instituted by the State Government challenging an order passed by the Sessions Judge of Broach in exercise of appellate powers setting aside an order of confiscation of certain articles under Section 6A of the Essential Commodities Act of 1955 hereinafter to be referred to as 'the Act', is as to whether exercise books are covered by the expression 'paper' contained in Section 2(a)(vii) of the Act and under Entry No. 13 of Schedule I of the Gujarat Essential Articles Dealers' (Regulation) Order, 1971. The premises of the respondent, a partnership firm doing business in Rajpipla, were inspected and searched by the Mamlatdarof Rajpipla on July 4, 1975, In the course of search 78 gross of exercise books for which the sale-price was controlled and 97 gross of exercise books for which the sale-price was not controlled were seized in view of the fact that a breach of Clauses 2, 9 and 11 of Gujarat Essential Articles Dealers' (Regulation) Order 1971, hereinafter referred to as the 'Regulation Order', was found to have been committed. After issuing a show cause notice and taking into account the explanation offered by the respondent, the Collector of Broach by his order dated September 17, 1975 came to the conclusion that the respondent firm was guilty of the breaches of the aforesaid provisions and that the stock of exercise books seized at the time of the search be confiscated to the State Government as enjoined by Section 64 of the Act. The respondent-firm preferred an appeal under Section 60(1) of the Act to the Sessions Court at Broach which was registered as Criminal Appeal No. 39 of 1975. The learned Sessions Judge of Broach by his judgment and order dated October 16, 1976 allowed the appeal and set aside the order of confiscation on the ground that the Act and the Regulation Order did not apply to exercise books as they did not fall within the description of Clause (vii) of Section 2(a) of the Act and Entry 13 of the Regulation Order which is in the following terms:

Paper, including newsprint, paperboard and straw board:

The State has thereupon invoked the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India and has challenged the legality and validity of the impugned order passed by the learned Sessions Judge of Broach in exercise of appellate powers under Section 6(1)(C) of the Act.

2. The expression 'paper' is of wide import and it must be interpreted in the context of the concept in the Act and the Regulation Order in the perspective of the aforesaid legislation. The preamble of the Act reads thus:

An Act to provide, in the interests of the general public, for the control of the prosecution, supply and distribution of, and trade and commerce in certain commodities.

It is, therefore, obvious that the purpose of the legislation is to control, the production, supply and distribution in certain commodities which are essential for the society at large. The manifest purpose is to ensure that the common man gets the supply of the essential commodities without let or hindrance on the part of the trade. If this purpose is borne in mind, the definition of Section 2(a) of the Act and the Entries in Schedule I to the Regulation Order will have to be construed in a broad commonsense manner so that the legislation becomes effective and serves the purpose for which it was enacted. In view of this background the provisions contained in Section 2(a) and the Entries cannot be read in a narrow truncated manner which would defeat the purpose of protecting the society in respect of commodities essential for its day-to-day needs. Now Clause (vii) of Section 2(a) provides that 'paper' 'including newsprint, paperboard and straw board will fall within the definition of 'essential commodity'. The Parliament wanted to protect the consumers and the general public in regard to the supply and distribution of this commodity and the State Government in furtherance of that intention has issued the Essential Articles Dealers' (Regulation) Order. The question is what exactly is the content of the expression 'paper'. The dictionary meaning of paper inter alia is: 'a substance used for writing, printing, drawing etc. made of interlaced fibers of rags, straw, wood, etc.'

3. In substance therefore paper is a material on which writing, printing, drawing etc. can be made. Now, a paper may be a lined paper or a blank paper. All the same it will retain its identity as a paper. That paper will not lose its identity as a paper merely because it is stitched by a piece of string or pinned with pins of stapler. An exercise book, as every one knows, is a collection of papers stitched together. What does one do with an exercise book? One writes on the sheets in it. It is not used for any other purpose. Is it then not a substance used for writing? If a commonsense and practical approach with a view to make the provisions contained in the Act and the Regulation Order (which is a benevolent piece of legislation) is made, there is no escape from the conclusion that the expression 'paper' is wide enough to cover an exercise book which is nothing but a collection of papers stitched together. 'Paper' does not cease to be 'paper' because it is collected and stitched. It is abundantly clear and therefore unnecessary to demonstrate further that the view taken by the learned Sessions Judge is absolutelyxintenable and unreasonable and cannot, therefore, be sustained.

4. The petition must, therefore, be allowed. The impugned order passed by the learned Sessions Judge must be set aside. However, I will not proceed to straightaway pass an order confirming the order passed by the Collector for confiscation of the goods. The respondent has a right of appeal against the order passed by the Collector and that right includes the right to urge that not the entire stock but only a part of it can or need be confiscated. That is a question which the appellate authority has to decide in exercise of its appellate powers. The learned Sessions Judge has not considered this aspect because he upheld the contention of the respondent that the Act and the Regulation Order did not apply to exercise book as exercise book did not fall within the orbit of the expression 'paper.' I am setting aside the order of the learned Sessions Judge on this ground alone. The matter now must be remanded to the learned Sessions Judge for deciding the question as to confiscation on merits. The learned Sessions Judge will afford an opportunity to both the sides to make their submissions on the question of confiscation and will proceed to pass such order as may be warranted by the relevant provisions of law after taking into account all the relevant circumstances.

5. The petition is allowed. The impugned order passed by the learned Sessions Judge on 16th October 1976 is quashed and set aside. The matter will now go back to the learned Sessions Judge for passing an appropriate order in regard to the question as to whether the entire stock or part of it should be confiscated in exercise s of powers under the Essential Commodities Act. Rule is made absolute to the aforesaid extent. There will be no order regarding costs.


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