(1) The petitioner who is carrying on a small-scale electro-plating industry has filed this petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution to quash the order of the Government of Madras passed in G.O. Ms. No. 3825, Department of Industries, Labour and Co-operation, dated 16-7-1965 directing the petitioner to place the portion of the premises No. 304-A, Thiruvottiyur High Road, Madras, occupied by it at the disposal of the Chingleput District Co-operative. Supply and Marketing Society Ltd., within three months of the date of the order. The impugned order has been passed by the Government, the first respondent herein, in exercise of their powers conferred by sub-section (1) of S. 29 of the Defence of India Act as they were of opinion that it was necessary to requisition the said premises for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community, namely, for the improvement of the consumer activities by the said society, the second respondent herein.
(2) The Chingleput District Co-operative Supply and Marketing Society, Ltd., is registered as a Co-operative Society under Madras Act 6 of 1932. The objects of the Society, among other things, are to purchase the necessaries of life for distribution among the affiliated stores and societies, to open depots or branches for wholesale stocking and distribution, to rent or own godowns within its jurisdiction and elsewhere, if necessary to facilitate the storage and sale of agricultural and other produce belonging to it, its members and the members of its affiliated societies, to act as agent of those members which are affiliated societies in the matter of receiving for sale custody the produce pledged with such societies by their individual members, and to act as agent of Government for procurement, supply and distribution of agricultural and other produce or other goods.
(3) The Registrar of Co-operative Societies, Madras, by his letter dated 16-6-1962, addressed to the second respondent-society, informed the Society that provision had been made in the Third Five-Year Plan for State contribution in the share capital of District Co-operative Supply and Marketing Societies for the establishment of rice mills, and that for the year 1962-63, it was proposed to provide assistance to the second respondent society, among others. The Society was asked to send proposals with plans and estimates. The second respondent. Society who wanted to implement the scheme of marketing of agricultural produce, under which the Society purchased heavy stock of paddy, converted them into rice and sold the rice in the City and who was in search of a suitable godown, came across the property in question, and took up the matter with the Registrar of Co-operative Societies. The Registrar of Co-operative Societies permitted the Society to purchase the building and land in 304-A. Thiruvottiyur High Road, for the purpose. The Society purchased the property on 23-6-1963 for Rs. 2,75,000 from one Remasami Mudaliar. At the time when the second respondent purchased the property, various tenants were occupying portions of the property, and the petitioner was one among them. The petitioner was carrying on business in the premises for the last 20 years paying a rent of Rs. 250 per month. Premises No. 304-A. Thiruvottiyur High Road, comprises about 50 grounds whereof 14 grounds are roofed sheds and the remaining are open spaces with a well. The second respondent-Society occupied a portion of the premises and began to take proceedings for the eviction of the tenants, in order to enable them to stock rice and other food-grains and fertilisers under the scheme for the stabilisation of prices. Some of the tenants vacated the premises, but the petitioner insisted upon continuing in the premises, as it had invested huge sums of money in acquiring and installing machinery, for the purpose of carrying on its business, It is stated in the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition that the expenses of removing and installing the said machinery would amount to above Rs. 25,000, that it would be impossible to find suitable location elsewhere, and that the reputation and custom acquired by the present location would thereby be irretrievably lost. It is also alleged in the affidavit that in order to coerce the petitioner to quit the premises. The second respondent took proceedings under the Rent Control Act for eviction of the petitioner from the portion occupied by it, on the ground that the Society required that portion for its bona fide occupation. The petitioner resisted that application contending that there were several rooms in the premises which the Society could make use of for its work and business. The petition under the Rent Control Act was filed in February 1964. The counter to the petition was filed in April 1964. It appears that during this period a communication was received by the State Government from the Government of India that the Consumers' Co-operative Stores were experiencing great difficulties in getting suitable accommodation and that with a view to solve the difficulty, action could be taken under the Defence of India Act, to requisition premises for providing accommodation, if and when persuasive methods failed. Naturally, taking advantage of this communication, the second respondent-Society corresponded with the State Government, the first respondent herein, which eventually ended in the passing of the order, which is impugned in this petition. It is alleged in the petition that the first respondent to maliciously invoke the extraordinary provisions under the Defence of India Act, and the rules made thereunder, which could be exercised only to meet special and temporary emergencies. It is further alleged that the resort to these powers by the respondents constitutes abuse of such a power vested in the first respondent.
(4) It is contended for the second respondent, that the said power was exercised by the first respondent in the interests of the public, to secure proper and equitable distribution of essential commodities by a Central agency, and that the order of the Government has been issued after satisfying itself about the dire necessity and urgency, and having regard to the acute food problem existing in the country.
(5) On behalf of the Government, it is contended that the Government passed the impugned order only after careful consideration of all the materials before it. It is stated that the exercise of the power under the Defence of India Act is bona fide, besides the fact that it is a fit and proper case warranting the exercise of the power, in view of the gravity of the food problem and the public purpose that is sought to be served, viz., the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community.
(6) It is contended on behalf of the petitioner that the rent control petition was finally withdrawn by the second respondent. According to the petitioner, this conduct of the second respondent, taken along with the action of the first respondent in issuing the impugned order would go to show that the first respondent-Government of Madras was influenced by the second respondent-Society and this ultimately ended in invoking maliciously the extraordinary powers vested in the Government under the Defence of India Act.
(7) The question, therefore, for consideration in this writ petition is whether, in the circumstances of the case, the resort to the special powers under the Defence of India Act by the first respondent would amount to a mala fide use of such a power or abuse of such a power. Learned counsel for the petitioner contends that the requisitioning is not for the State Government but for the land-owner, i.e., the Society, which has not been able to get possession of the building in the normal course. Having filed a petition under the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, invoking the provisions of that Act for getting the portion occupied by the petitioner for the society's additional occupation, the Society should have pursued the proceeding. Instead, the Society made the Government exploit the provisions of the Defence of India Act, in order to enable the society to get possession of the portion of the premises for its purpose.
(8) No doubt, the contention advanced on behalf of the tenant-petitioner appears to be impressive. Still, we have to consider whether the State can requisition the building for the Society under the provisions of the Defence of India Act, for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community. The Society owns the building. The Society is a statutory body. It is not a private institution or person. The main object of the Society is to purchase paddy, mill it into rice and store it in its godown, in order to maintain regular supply of rice to consumer and other societies, and to act as agent of Government for procurement, supply and distribution of agricultural and other produce. The State Government in the best interests of the public, is devising various ways and means of maintaining a continuous supply of foodgrains to the societies who cater to the needs of the public. The second respondent is one such society. It is the duty of the Government to come forward and help the Society in getting their own building under their full control. Under the circumstances, the petitioner cannot complain that the requisitioning is not for the State but for the Society.
(9) In Satpal v. State of Punjab, , the question for consideration was whether the requisition of house for residence of the wife of a serving Military officer was within the ambit of S. 29 of the Defence of India Act, 1962. The wife of the Military officer approached the Government stating that, since her marriage, her husband had been posted on field duties at non-family stations and overseas, that she had no place to stay as her husband's house was occupied by the tenant, and accordingly prayed that the house might be got vacated for her residence. Her husband had also sent a similar petition. When the tenant failed to vacate it, the District Magistrate requisitioned the house in the interest of affording bare essential amenities to the wife of a serving Military officer. When the tenant questioned the act of the State in a writ proceeding, it was observed at p. 237:
'......... if the wife of an officer serving on the field or overseas, is without living accommodation, this fact is bound to distract his attention and weigh over his mind, as a result of which, human nature being what it is, he would not be able to discharge his duties as efficiently as he would if such a distraction and weight over his mind were not there.............. To put it in other words, in order to bring the best out of a member of the Defence services, it is essential that he should be in proper frame of mind which would hardly be the case if he is conscious of the fact that his wife is stranded for want of living accommodation.
In case an order is made with a view to afford that essential amenity to the wife of the serving officer, it is bound to bring him solace and peace of mind and this fact must, as such, be conducive to greater efficiency on the part of the officer............ In the circumstances the impugned order for requisition of the house in question falls within the ambit of S. 29 of The Defence of India Act.................'
Following that reasoning, it can be said here that in order to enable the Society to discharge its obligations and responsibilities to its affiliated societies and the State, the State can requisition the building belonging to the Society invoking the provisions of the Defence of India act.
(10) But learned counsel for the petitioner would contend that, even assuming that the State Government can invoke the provisions of the Defence of India Act for requisitioning the building in question, still the authority acting in pursuance of the act should interfere with the ordinary avocations of life and the enjoyment of property as little as may be consonant with the purpose of ensuring the public safety and interest and the defence of the country. In Tan Bug Taim v. Collector of Bombay, : AIR1946Bom216 , requisitioning of immovable property was made under rule 75-A of the Defence of India Act, 1939, which is analogous to the present Sec. 29 of the 1962 Act. It was contended by the tenant that R. 75-A was ultra vires the powers of the Central Legislature. It was further contended that even if R. 75-A was not ultra vires, the order of requisition is illegal, void and inoperative in law as interfering with ordinary avocations of life and enjoyment of property. The learned Judge of the Bombay High Court held that the enactment of S. 2(2)(xxiv) of the Defence of India Act, 1939 and Rule 75-A is ultra vires in the absence of a public notification under S. 104 of the Government of India Act. It was also held that the requisition order which directed eviction forthwith was illegal, void and inoperative in law as contravening the provisions of S. 15 of the said Act (analogous to S. 44 of the 1962 Act) which directs that the authority shall interfere with ordinary avocations of life and the enjoyment of property as little as may be consonant with the purpose of ensuring the public safety and interest and defence of the country. But in the present case the impugned order has given three months' time to the petitioner to vacate the premises. As observed in the above case, the petitioner here too may apply for compensation, if he is so advised. Further, even if the petitioner is compelled to remove the machinery and deliver possession of the premises under his occupation under the provisions of the Defence of India Act, still he would be entitled to maintain the relationship of landlord and tenant. The petitioner is merely asked to place the portion occupied by it at the disposal of the second respondent Society. In Tarabai Jivanlal v. Padamchand, : AIR1950Bom89 , it is observed that an order under Rule 75(a) of the Defence of India Rules, 1939, requisitioning a flat is essentially of a temporary nature and does not create in the Government any vested interest in the tenancy that it does not affect the relationship of landlord and tenant or extinguish the vested tenancy in the tenant and that it does not also operate as surrender so as to terminate the tenancy. Applying the principle noted above, it can be said here too that even though the tenant has been asked to place the premises at the disposal of the Society, still it can work out its rights after the termination of the emergency.
(11) Another contention put forward by the petitioner is that the order is actuated with mala fide intention, that the order is made at the instance of the Society and that the Society has influenced the Government to issue the order it did. From the correspondence that passed between the Government and the Society, it is seen that the Society moved the Government to act under the Defence of India Act to requisition premises, for providing accommodation to Consumer Co-operative Stores. The Society, therefore, in its anxiety to get possession of their building, wanted the State Government to invoke their powers under the Defence of India Act. Under these circumstances, I do not see any mala fides on the part of the Government, in invoking the said powers and issuing the order impugned in this writ proceeding, for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community. It is observed in Jute and Gunny Brokers, ltd. v. Union of India, : 3SCR820 , that in the absence of mala fides, the opinion of the Government is final and the purpose indicated by it in the orders for making requisitions is one of the purposes for which an order of requisition can be made. Therefore, once it is found that the impugned order is not vitiated by male fides, then it is not open to the Court to go into the matter of the correctness of the opinion formed and expressed by competent authority.
(12) For the reasons above mentioned, the writ petition is dismissed. There will be no order as to cost.
(13) The petitioner has been carrying on business in the premises for the last 20 years. Further, the petitioner has installed heavy machinery in the premises. It is stated that it would be impossible to find suitable accommodation elsewhere and that the reputation and custom acquired by the present location would also be lost if it is asked to place the premises at the disposal of the Society. Under these circumstances, it is but proper that some reasonable time should be given to the petitioner to shift from that portion. I, therefore, direct the petitioner to place the portion occupied by it at the disposal of the second respondent-Society within three months from the date of this judgment.
(15) Petition dismissed.