Skip to content


R. Sarangapani and anr. Vs. the Port Trust of Madras - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. Nos. 1224 of 1959 and 4 of 1960
Judge
Reported inAIR1961Mad234; (1961)1MLJ57
ActsMadras Port Trust Act, 1905 - Sections 39, 39(1) and 95(4); Constitution of India - Articles 12, 13(3), 19(1), 19(6) and 367; General Clauses Act, 1897 - Sections 3(31); Sea Customs Act, 1878
AppellantR. Sarangapani and anr.
RespondentThe Port Trust of Madras
Appellant AdvocateR. Gopalaswami Aiyangar and ;K.N. Balasubramaniam, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateAdv. General and ;V.V. Raghavan, Adv.
DispositionPetitions dismissed
Cases ReferredPadmanabhan v. State of Madras
Excerpt:
constitution - forbearance of resolution - sections 39, 39 (1) and 95 (4) of madras port trust act, 1905, articles 12, 13 (3), 19 (1), 19 (6) and 367 of constitution of india and section 3 (31) of general clauses act, 1897 - petition under article 226 so as to forbear board of trustees giving effect to resolution passed - action of board impeached on several grounds - contention that port trust had no jurisdiction to exercise monopoly in matter of rendering their services in handling of export cargo and that impugned resolution violated article 19 (g) unduly restricting rights of shipping agents - board has power to undertake services being performed by forwarding agents so far as operations within premises of port are concerned - within port premises board has every power to undertake.....rajamannar, c.j. 1. these two petitions filed under article 226 of the constitution were heard together, as they raise common questions of law. they originally, came on before one of us, jagadisan j., who directed them to he posted before a division bench, having regard to the importance of the questions raised. the prayer in both the petitions is for the issue of a writ of mandamus or such other writ as this court may think fit to the board of trustees of the port trust, madras, calling upon them to forbear giving effect to a resolution passed by the board on 29-5-1959. the resolution runs thus : 'resolved that the trust take over export cargoother than ores, vegetable oils, molasses and anyother cargo in bulk and do the handling on share from a date to be fixed by the chairman, mr. a......
Judgment:

Rajamannar, C.J.

1. These two petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution were heard together, as they raise common questions of law. They originally, came on before one of us, Jagadisan J., who directed them to he posted before a Division Bench, having regard to the importance of the questions raised. The prayer in both the petitions is for the issue of a writ of mandamus or such other writ as this court may think fit to the Board of Trustees of the Port Trust, Madras, calling upon them to forbear giving effect to a resolution passed by the Board on 29-5-1959. The resolution runs thus :

'Resolved that the Trust take over export cargoother than ores, vegetable oils, molasses and anyother cargo in bulk and do the handling on share from a date to be fixed by the Chairman, Mr. A. R. Liddiard, and Sarvashri A. M. Kothandarama Reddi, J. R. Nayak, C. K. Duraivelan and B. Ramalinga Reddi dissented.

Resolved also that Mr. A. R. Liddiard, Shri Jasjit Singh or his nominee and Sri U. S. A. Ghaffoor, Officiating Traffic Manager, to reexamine item (ii) in paragraph 1 above and report early what modifications are required.'

The petitioner in W. P. No. 1224 of 1959 is a clearing and shipping agent, carrying on business in Madras and holding a licence for acting as such rom the Collector of Customs at Madras. He is also the secretary of the Madras Clearing and Shipping Agents' Association at Madras. The petitioner in W. P. No. 4 of 1960 is a merchant and exporter of hides and skins, carrying on business in Madras. To understand the contentions of the parties, it is necessary at the outset to mention the facts and circumstances which led up to the passing of the. above resolution.

2. The Madras Harbour was constructed in or about 1886. In that year, an Act known as the Harbour Trust Act was passed, because it wasconsidered necessary that there should be in existence a body of persons welt acquainted with the affairs of the Harbour, in whom may be vested all powers to maintain and administer all matters relating to the Harbour, and inter alia, to levy tolls, to execute works and make contracts. In 1905, the Madras Port Trust Act replaced the Harbour Trust Act, which was repealed.

One of the main reasons for the passing of thisAct was that the Harbour Trust Board should beconstituted a Port Trust Board. Another object ofthe Act was to invest the Trust Board with additionalpowers and privileges in respect of the lending andshipping of goods, pilotage and towing of vessels*provision of pilot boats and tugs, use of docks andpiers and other like matters. The preamble to theAct is as follows:

'Whereas it is expedient to amend and consolidate the law relating to the regulation, conservancy and improvement of the Port of Madras........'

Under Section 6 of this Act, the duty of carrying out the provisions of the Act is vested in a Board called 'The Trustees of the Port of Madras' which is a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal. From and after the coming into force of the Act, the immoveable properties Specified in schedule It and all moveable property held by or in trust for the previous Board of Trustees of tie Harbour of Madras shall vest in the Board, subject to all charges and liabilities affecting the same (Section 31).

Schedule II comprises what may be called compendiously 'the Madras Harbour', including land; buildings, structures and appliances thereon, and the sea space occupied by and enclosed in the north and south groynes of the Harbour together with the moorings therein laid down. The Board is given power for the purpose of the Act to acquire and hold immoveable or moveable property, whether within or without the limits of the Port, and to lease or sell any immoveable or moveable property which may have become vested in or acquired by it with the consent of the Central Government.

The Board may execute such works and provide such appliances as the Board may determine to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the port (Section 35). Section 38 enumerates generally such works and appliances, though the list is not intended to be exhaustive. Section 39 is the section most material for the disposal of these petitions. It is in the following terms :

'39 (1) The Board shall, according to its powers, provide all reasonable facilities for and shall have power to undertake the following services:

(a) landing, shipping or transshipping passengers and goods between vessels in the port and the wharves, piers, quays or docks in possession of the Board;

(b) receiving, removing, shifting, transporting, storing or delivering goods brought within the Board's premises;

(c) carrying passengers by rail, tramway or otherwise within the limits of the port, subject to such restrictions and conditions as the. Central Government may see fit to impose; and

(d) receiving and delivering, transporting and booking and dispatching goods originating in the vessels in the port and intended for carriage by the neighboring railways, or vice versa, as a railway company or administration under the Indian Railways Act, 1890;

(2) The Board shall, if so required by any owner, perform in respect of goods all or any of the services mentioned in Clauses (a), (b) and (d) of sub-section (1), provided that the Board shall not be bound to perform any service which it has relinquished under the provisions of Clause (a) of subsection (1) of Section 41-A

(3) The Board shall, if required, take charge of the goods for the purpose of performing the service and shall give a receipt in the form and to the effect prescribed from time to time by the Central Government.

After any goods, have been taken charge of and a receipt given for them under this section, no liability for any loss or damage which may occur to them shall attach to any person to whom a receipt shall have been given or to the master or the owner of the vessel from which the goods have been landed or transshipped.

3. Section 40 defines the responsibility of the Board for the loss, destruction or deterioration of goods, of which it has taken charge. Section 41-A provides for the relinquishment by the Board, subject to the sanction of the Central Government and to such conditions as the Central Government may prescribe, of the performance of any of the services specified) in Clauses (a) and (b) of Sub-section 1 of Section 39 to an approved person. Such person, however, shall not charge or recover for such service any sum in excess of the amount leviable according to the scale framed under Section 42, Section 43 or Section 43-A, If such service were formed by the Board.

Notwithstanding such relinquishment, the Board may charge dues according to the scales laid down in the aforesaid sections for the use of its works or appliances or for other services connected with that which has been relinquished. Section 41 enjoins on the person to whom any, or all of the services under Clauses (a) and (b) of Sub-section. 1 of Section 39 has or have been relinquished under Section 41-A the duty to perform, if so required by the owner, any of the services so relinquished, and, for that purpose, take charge of the goods and give a receipt in the prescribed form.

Chapter VI (Section 42 etc.) provides for imposition and recovery of rates and Other miscellaneous matters. Section 25 confers on the Board the power to make by-laws not inconsistent with the provisions of the Act or of the Indian Ports Act, 1908, inter alia 'for the reception, porterage, storage and removal of goods brought within the premises of the Board and for the exclusive conduct of these operations by the Board or persons employed by the Board.' No by-law shall have effect until the same is approved by the Central Government

4. Before the passing of the impugned resolution, the arrangement relating to the handling of the cargo was as follows. Landing from the ship to the quayside and leading from the quayside to the ship is done by stevedores under arrangements with shipowners. Import cargo is taken charge of by the Port Trust at the quayside and shifted to the storage point and deliveries are effected by the Port Trust to the consignee. For the import cargo taken charge of at the quayside, the Port Trust issues receipts and undertakes responsibility for storing the goods and delivering them to the consignee.

To carry out this work, the Port Trust maintains a large labour force. With reference to the export cargo, till now, the Port Trust has not handled it. The shippers engage forwarding agents, that is, clearing and shipping agents, who are licensed by the Collector of Customs. One of the functions of these agents is to attend to customs formalities. It cannot be denied that the resolution of the Board, which is the subject matter of these petitions, prevents the clearing and forwarding agents from handling the cargo.

5. The action of the Board was impeached on several grounds. But the main grounds were (i) that the Port Trust had no jurisdiction, to exercise a monopoly in the matter of rendering their services in the handling of export cargo, which they have no right to do under the provisions of the statute, and (ii) that the resolution of the Board violates the provisions of Article 19(g) of the Constitution of India as it unduly restricts the rights of the shipping agents to carry on their business and the rights of the owners to carry on their trade.

6. We are unable to appreciate the contention of Mr. R. Gopalaswami Aiyangar, learned) counsel for the petitioner, that the Board of Trustees had no power under the statute to decide on the course indicated in the impugned resolution. Section 96 (4) of the Madras Port Trust Act expressly confers power on the Board to make by-laws for the exclusive conduct of the operations of reception, porterage, storage and removal of goods brought within the premises of the Board.

If we understood learned counsel aright, his argument was that this provision enabling the Board to exclusively conduct these operations went beyond the substantive provisions of the Act. The material section is undoubtedly Section 39. The language of that section makes it clear that the Board shall have power to undertake certain services, and one class, of service is described in Clause (b), namely, receiving, removing, shifting, transporting, storing, or delivering goods brought within the Board's premises.

Clause (a) refers to the services necessary for landing, shipping, or transhipping goods between. vessels to the Port and the wharves, piers, quays or docks in possession of the Board. After conferring power on the Board to undertake the said services, Sub-section 2 of Section 39 enjoins on the Board the duty to perform in respect of goods all or any of the services mentioned inter alia in Clauses (a) and (b) of Sub-section (1). The only circumstance which relieves the Board of such duty is when it has relinquished any service under the provisions of Clause (a) of Sub-section 1 of Section 41-A, to which reference has been made earlier in this judgment.

To enable the Board to perform the aforesaid' services, the Board shall take charge of the goods for the purpose of performing the service and shall give a receipt for the goods. Once the goon's have been taken charge of and a receipt given for them, no liability for any loss or damage which may occur to them shall attach to any person, to whom A receipt shall have been given or to the master or owner of the vessel, from which the goods have been landed or transhipped.

In the face of these specific provisions, it is impossible to hold that the Board has no power to undertake the services which are being performed by the forwarding and clearing agents, so far as the operations within the premises of the Port are concerned. Of course, these provisions will not confer power on the Board to insist on the owners bringing their goods to the harbour in vehicles owned or employed by them. The Board will not have the power to insist that the Board alone should carry out the customs formalities for such remuneration as they may fix. But within the Port's premises, the Board, in our opinion, has every power to undertake the services mentioned in Clauses (a) to (d) of Section 39(1) of the Act

7. The next question is whether the Board, besides undertaking the aforesaid services, can also exclude other persons or bodies from performing these services. It will, of course, be in the discretion of the Board to permit other persons also to carry on these operations, or, as it has done by the impugned resolution, undertake the conduct of these Operations only in respect of certain goods. We see nothing in Section 95(4) which is inconsistent or in conflict with any of the other provisions of the Act, including Section 39.

8. The real question arising in this case appears to be whether any person or body other man the Board can claim as of right to undertake the above mentioned services. If they can, then, the Port Trust Board will have no power to affect their rights adversely; if they cannot, then, the impugned resolution will be perfectly valid. Mr. Gopal swami Aiyangar relied on two decisions of the English Courts in support of his contention that the Board cannot have, as it were, a monopoly of undertaking the aforesaid services.

One is the decision of the House of Lords in London and North Eastern Rly. Co. v. British Trawlers Federation Ltd., 1934 A.C. 279 in which the material facts were; Under and by virtue of various Statutes, one of which incorporated the Harbours Docks, and Piers Clauses Act, 1847, a railway company became the owners of a harbour, docks, and quays, a statutory market for fish and a railway in connection therewith. Section 33 of that Act ran as follows :

'Upon payment of the rates made payable by this and the special Act, and subject to the other provisions thereof, the Harbour, dock, and pier shall be open, to all persons for the shipping and unshipping of goods, and the embarking and landing of passengers.'

Section 83 of that Act ran thus :

'The undertakers may from time to time make such by-laws as they shall think fit for all or any of the following purposes : (that is to say), for regulating the shipping and unshipping, landing, warehousing, slowing, depositing and removing of all goods within the limits of the harbour, dock, or pier, and the premises of the undertakers.'

Formerly, the Company's railway answered all the requirements of fish merchants and owners of trawlers; but, latterly, the merchants brought to the market motor vehicles which carried fish to far distant places, formerly served by the railway, to the serious loss of the company's undertaking.

The company thereupon refused to admit to their dock premises any vehicle for the conveyance of fish without a licence which provided inter alia that the vehicle should not be used for the transport of fish beyond the boundaries of the company's fish docks except for fish consigned for transit by railway or for sale and consumption within a radius of twelve miles from the docks, and that no fish transported by the vehicle should be transferred directly or indirectly to or from any other road vehicle for conveyance to any other place beyond a radius of twelve miles from the fish docks.

It was held by the House of Lords that the company were not entitled to impose those conditions upon the removal of fish from their premises, for, the marketing of fish, when landed, must be regarded as part of the process of shipping and unshipping within the meaning of Section 33 of the Act and that access to the docks must include access with such a vehicle as the party seeking access deems necessary, subject to the power of the company under Section 83 to regulate such access by means of a valid and operative by-law.

From the speeches of the noble Lords, it is abundantly clear that their decision turned almost entirely on the provisions of Section 33 of the Act. The decision is valuable only for this, namely, that, in their opinion, the words 'shipping and unshipping' in Section 33 of the Act should not be confined to the narrow operation of lifting goods from the quay to the ship or from the ship to the quay, and that the access, under that section, cannot be limited to access in person without any vehicle. Lord Macmillan summed up the position in the followingwords:

'The answer is that the right of access conferred by Section 33 of the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act includes, by virtue of the definition, in Section 2 access to the authorised works connected with the harbour, and the fish markets are among the harbour works which Parliament has authorised.'

This construction of Section 33 of the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act, 1847, was followed by Sellers J. in Pigotl and Son v. Docks and Inland. Waterways Executive 1953 1 All ER. 22. This case related to Immingham Dock, Grimsby, which was vested in Docks and Inland Waterways Executive. The plaintiffs were tug owners. The waterways executive threatened to exclude the plaintiff's tugs from providing tug services for vessels entering and leaving the dock and to restrict the necessary towage services to tugs belonging to, or hired by, them.

The plaintiffs sought and obtained a declaration to establish their rights to continue to provide tug services in the dock. The learned Judge held that, under Section 33 of the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act, 1847, the tug owner, like the carrier who brought the goods to, the dock for shipment or removed them when they had been unshipped, or the owner of the ship which carried the goods, performed services without which goods could not be shipped or unshipped by vessels using the port, and by the proviso to Section 70 of the Act of 1901, in pursuance of which the dock had' been constructed, the defendants were expressly prohibited from compelling ships to use their tugs, and, therefore, there was 110 power by virtue of which the defendants were entitled to exclude the plaintiffs from providing, towage services to vessels shipping or unshipping goods in the dock.

Being a statutory body, their power was such as was limited by the Act of 1901, and they would be precluded from exercising the more extensive rights which they might have by virtue of the ownership of property. The discussion in respect of the power of the defendants to exclude the plaintiffs' tugs centred round the proviso to Section 70 of the Act of 1901, which was as follows:

'Provided always that nothing in this Act contained shall be deemed or construed to authorise the company to require any owner, agent, master, consignee Or other person having charge of any vessel lighter or river craft to employ hire or use any such steamer tug lighter or other, ship or boat.'

In both the decisions, the earlier decision of the House of Lords in Perth General Station Committee v. Ross, 1897 A.C. 479 was distinguished. There, it was held that a railway company have the right of excluding from their stations all persons except those using or desirous of using the railway and may impose upon the rest of the public any terms which they think proper as the condition of admittance.

9. It will he seen that, in both the cases cited by Mr. Gopalaswami Aiyangar, the decision depended upon the construction of particular provisions of the relevant Acts. These two decisions cannot apply to the present case, because there is no provision in the Madras Port Trust Act, corresponding to Section 33 of the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act, 1847. It follows that no one can claim as of right access to the premises of the harbour or the port to carry on any business,

10. Far from there being anything in the provisions of the Madras Port Trust Act, which confers an absolute right of private persons or bodies to carry on the operations which have till now been carried on by the shipping and forwarding agents within the premises of the Harbour and the port, there are provisions which clearly confer power on the Board to undertake such services, and, if they so choose, to exclude other persons from rendering such services. Under Section 42 of the Act, the Board shall frame a scale of rates at which and a statement of the conditions under which any of the services specified therein shall be performed by itself or by a person to whom any service has been relinquished under Section 41-A or partly by one and partly by the other.

The services include transhipping of goods between vessels in the harbour, landing and shipping of goods from or to such vessels to or from any wharf, quay, pier, dock, land or building in the possession or occupation of the Board or at any place within the limits of the port, cranage or porterage of goods on any such place, wharfage, storage or demurrage of goods on any such place and any other service in respect of goods excepting the services in respect . of vessels for which fees are chargeable under the Indian Ports Act. The specified services are, therefore, contemplated to be performed either by the Board or by a person to whom any service has been relinquished by the Board, but not by any other person or body,

11. A similar provision for excluding private persons from carrying on a particular work within the precincts of a dock can be found in Sections 31 and 32 of the Harbours Docks and Piers Clauses Act. 1847, itself. In Dick v. Badart, (1883) 10 QBD 387 , Cafe J. as he then was, while holding that, having regard to Section 33 of the Act, a by-law that no lumpers shall be allowed to work on board any vessel in the docks or on the wharves or premises of the company, but such as are authorised by the company and that only the servants of the company should be allowed to work within the dock premises, was in excess of the powers conferred upon the dock company, referred to Sections 81 and 82 of the Act, which did confer the power to exclude motors and weighers who were not licensed. The learned Judges said at page 393 thus:

'Again, the clause by which the company are empowered to regulate the conduct of all meters and weighers appointed by them bears out my view. The special Act authorises the company to appoint their own meters and weighers, and by the general Act (Sections 81 and 82), where under the special Act tie undertakers shall have the appointment of meters and weighers, they may licence a sufficient number of persons to be meters and weighers within the limits of the deck, and fix reasonable rates or remuneration to be paid to them, and) none but the licensed meters and weighers are to be employed to weigh goods in the dock. If it had been intended to limit the class of persons who might remove cargo to persons employed by the company only, one would have expected to find similar visions with respect to those persons.'

12. Section 95 (4) of the Madras Port Trust Act, we have seen, expressly empowers the Board) to frame a by-law for the exclusive conduct of the operations of reception, porterage, storage and removal of goods brought within its premises by the Board or persons employed by the Board. That provision is a statutory recognition of the object as-being within the scope of the Act. This rule of interpretation was enunciated by Lord MacDermott in Earl Fitzwilliam's Wentworth Estates Co., v. Minister of Housing and Local Government, 1952 A.C. 362 ,

'The second limb gives an instance of the power conferred by the first, but in terms which amount to a statutory recognition of the purpose described1 in the second limb as being within the scope of the first. Accordingly, if the case comes within the working of the second limb (the word 'so' being read as connoting acquisition by agreement and with the approval of the Minister) there is no need, in order to perfect the power it purports to confer, to trace a connection between the purpose-therein mentioned and the performance of some function of the Board.'

That rule was applied by Rajagopalan J. in Padmanabhan v. State of Madras, I.L.R. (1956) Mad. 1272 : ((S) A.I.R. 1956 Mad 349). In that case, it was contended that rule 160-B of the Motor Vehicles Rules was ultra vires, as it was beyond the rule making power conferred on the Government by Section 68 of the Act. In dealing with this question, the learned Judge adverted to Section 68 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which contains two Sub-sections. The first Sub-section is in general terms, namely a State Government may make rules for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of this Chapter (Ch. IV). Sub-section 2 ran :

'Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, rules under this section may be made with respect to all or any of the following matters, namely,.........'

Then follows a list of items, The contention was that the carriage of mails was not one of the enumerated items in Section 68 (2) of the Act. But the contention was overruled on the ground that Section 68 (2) does not exhaust the scope of Section 68 (1). The effect of a provision like Section 68 (2) enumerating certain Hems is thus described by the learned Judge:

'The effect of Section 68 (2) is that, with reference to tho items included in Sub-clause 2, it is not necessary for the court to examine further whether any of these items comes within the scope of the general provision in Clause 1 of Section 68.'

Certain provisions of the Sea Customs Act were referred to by Mr. Gopalaswami Aiyangar, learned counsel for the petitioners; but they do not appear to have any material bearing on the question that has to be decided, namely, whether the petitioners have a right to insist that private clearing and shipping agents should be allowed to carry on their occupation within the precincts of the Madras Harbour and Port.

The Sea Customs Act is an Act relating to the levy of sea customs duty. The scope of this Act is so entirely different from the scope of theMadras Port Trust Act that the provisions of oneAct cannot be called in aid of the construction ofthe provisions of the other Act. Sections 11, 14, 15and 16 of the Sea Customs Act, which provide forappointment of wharves and warehouses, are intended for affording the customs authority, facilities tocollect customs dues. Section 198 imposes on theowners of goods the expense incidental to compliance with customs-law. Section 202 (1) was particularly relied on by the petitioner's learned Counsel, '

That only lays down that no person shall act as an agent for the transaction of any business relating to the entrance or clearance of any vessel or the import or export of goods or baggage in any customs house, unless such' person holds a licence granted in this behalf in accordance with the rules made under Sub-section (2). These agents, as the marginal note indicates, are merely customs house agents. The impugned resolution does not in any way conflict 'with any of the provisions of the Sea Customs Act. It does not prevent the owners of goods to appoint agents for customs house transactions.

13. Having regard to our conclusion on the first point, the second point really does not arise. It is true that Article 19(1)(g) confers on all citizens the right to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. But, obviously, this right cannot entitle a citizen to carry on his occupation trade or business on the premises of another person or body. A citizen may have a right to carry on the business of selling fruits and vegetables; but ho has no right to carry on his business in the compound of a private person, except, of course, with his leave and consent.

The decision' of this court in W. P. No. 648 of 1951 : : AIR1952Mad834 , in re Nagalingam Servai, furnishes an analogous instance. It was held in that case that no fundamental right was infringed, because certain persons who had been for' a long number of years vending various articles on the platform of the Madura junction with the permission of the South Indian Railway Co., Ltd.| were not allowed to continue to carry on their business.

14. Even assuming that Article 19(1)(g) confers a right on the petitioners, Article 19(6) of the Constitution, as amended by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951, is a complete answer to the contention' based on Article 19(1)(g). That clause inter alia provides that nothing in Sub-clause (g) of Article 19(1) shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it relates to, or prevent the State from making any law relating to, the carrying on by the State or by a Corporation owned or controlled by the State, of any trade, business, industry, or service, whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, of citizens or otherwise.

Article 12 defines the State as including the Government and Parliament of India and the Government under the Legislature of each of the States and all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India. Law includes any by-law, rule, regulation, notification, having the force of law ( Article 13(3)).

There can bo no doubt that the Port Trust will fall within the meaning of the term State in Article 19(6).

It is a Corporation certainly controlled by the State. Even otherwise, the Port Trust would fall within the extended definition of the State under Article 12, because it would be a local authority. Article 367 of the Constitution provides that the General Clauses Act, 1897, shall apply for the interpretation of the Constitution. So, it is permissible to go to that Act for a definition of local authority. In Section 3 (31) Local Authority is thus defined :

'Local authority shall mean a municipal committee, District Board, body or port commissioners or other authority legally entitled to, or entrusted by the Government with, the control or management of a municipal or local fund.'

We are clearly of opinion that the resolution in question cannot be impugned on the basis of any of the provisions of the Constitution of India, This would be so, as regards both the petitioners, that is, the shipping agent as well as the owner of the goods.

15. A minor point was sought to be raised by Mr. Gopalaswami Aiyangar, learned counsel for the petitioners, based on Section 23-A of the Madras Port Trust Act. That section provides that no trustee shall vote on or take part in the discussion of any question coming up for consideration at a meeting of the Board if the question is one in which he has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest by himself or his partner, or in which he is interested professionally on behalf of a client or as agent for any person Other than the Central Government, a local authority or a railway company.

It was said that one Anthony Pillai who was. one of the trustees of the Board was the President of the Port Trust Employees' Union. He was apparently one of the two representatives of Labour chosen by the Central Government under Section 8(1) (h) of the Act. The argument was that, as the President of the Employees' Union, he had pecuniary interest on behalf of the employees of the Port Trust who would be benefited if the Port Trust Board took over the handling of export cargo. The contention was, however, abandoned at a later stage.

16. In view of the above findings, the writ petitions fail and arc dismissed. There will be no. order as to costs.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //