1. The petitioner is Kancheepuram Municipality, represented by its Commissioner, The petitioner municipality applied for the grant of a 'No objection certificate, for conversion of an already existing building Arignar Anna Kalai Arangam into a permanent cinema theatre in Kancheepuram town. The said application was made to the third respondent. Two dates are mentioned in the order of the third respondent with reference to the making of the application. One is 4-7-1978 and the other is 16-12-1978. The notice required under R. 35A of the Tamil Nadu Cinemas (Regulation) Rules 1957, hereinafter referred to as the Rules, with reference to the first application was published on the notice board of the Collectorate on 25-7-1978 and on the notice board of the petitioner municipality on 26-7-1978. With reference to the second application records disclose that the publication of the notice were effected on 28-121978. The Superintendent of police, Chengalpattu (West), did not have any objection to the request of the petitioner municipality. Equally so, there was no objection from any other quarter except from the 4th respondent who was himself the chairman of the petitioner municipality at the relevant point of time when the decision was taken to convert Arignar Anna Kalai Arangarn into a permanent cinema theatre. The objection of the 4th respondent was not made before the licensing authority. viz, the third respondent. but there was a representation dated 9-3-1979 to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu which, however, got forwarded to the 3rd respondent for consideration. According to this objection of the 4th respondent, the existing auditoriun is being utilised for Public performance like dramas and music performances and it is not desirable to convert the same into a Permanent cinema theatre on the only ground that the source of revenue from the existing auditorium to the petitioner municipality is meagre, considering the investment in putting up the same. This objection of the 4th respondent has been considered and sustained by the 3rd respondent and the 3rd respondent rejected the application of the petitioner municipality on 3-5-1979 under Sec. 5(1)(a) of the Tamil Nadu Cinemas (Regulation) Act IX of 1955, hereinafter referred to as the Act. As against the order of the 3rd respondent, the petitioner municipality preferred an appeal to the second respondent and the second respondent chose to concur with the order of the 3rd respondent and dismissed the appeal on 20-8-1979. The petitioner municipality further agitated the matter by wav of a revision to the first respondent and the first respondent by order dated 20-5-1980 rejected the revision. The petitioner municipality challenges the orders of respondents 1 to 3 in the present writ petition.
2. Mr. K. Alagiriswami, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner municipality, urges two grounds seeking interference in writ jurisdiction. The first ground is that the objection of the 4th respondent having not been made to the licensing authority, viz., the 3rd respondent. With in 15 days from the date of publication of the notices as enjoined by R. 35-A of the Rules, the authorities ought not to have considered the said objection and negatived the application of the petitioner municipality for the grant of the 'No obiection certificate, Learned counsel further submits that the objection of the 4th respondent was not with regard to the non-compliance by the petitioner Municipality of the provisions of any of the Rules and on this ground also the said objection' ought not to have been countenanced. To appreciate this contention, it becomes necessary to extract R. 35-A of the Rules-
'35-A. On receipt of the application, the licensing authority shall cause a notice to be published in the notice board of the office of the licensing authority and the Panchayat Union concerned, of the fact of receipt of the application, with such details as may be considered necessary and calling for objections, if any, from the public in regard to the non-compliance by the applicant of the provisions of any of these rules. All objections shall be filed in writing before the licensing authority within 15 days from the date of publication of the the Rules. This submission ed counsel requires cause I find that the notice. Any objection filed after this period, shall be liable to be summarily rejected.'
The publication of the notices with reference to the first application of the petitioner municipality dated 4-7-1978, was made on 25-7-1978 and 26-7-1978 as stated above. The publication of the notice with reference to the later application of the petitioner municipality dated 16-12-1978 was made on 28-121978. Computing the 15 days time from any of these dates, definitely the objection presented by the 4th respondent on 9-3-1979, and that too, not to the licensing authority, the 3rd respondent, but to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, cannot be stated to be an objection within the meaning of R. 35A of the Rules.
3. An objection from a member of the public, if not made within the time prescribed by R. 35-A of the rules, has got to be summarily rejected, is stipulated in the said rule itself. Such an objector has no audience at all before the licensing authority and even if the order goes against him and in favour of the applicant, the objector has no locus standi to agitate the matter, further by way of an appeal, is a well settled proposition because such an objector cannot be deemed to be an aggrieved person. The failure to make objection within the time stipulated under R. 35-A, of the rules by any member of the public can only lead to the conclusion that no member of the public has any grievance against the grant as such. When the rule is explicit, stipulating summary rejection of such belated objections, it is not proper on the part of the authorities concerned to take note of and countenance such objections and reject the application of the petitioner Municipality on that basis. A view, similar to the one which I have taken has also been expressed by Mohan J. in Subramania K. S. P v. Commr. of Land Revenue and Commercial-taxes, (1981) 94 Mad LW 380 : AIR 1981 Mad 346 :-
4. The further complaint of the learned counsel for the petitioner municipality is that the objection of the 4th respondent is not with regard to the non-compliance by the petitioner municipality of the provisions of any of the rules as contemplated under R. 35-A of the Rules and any other objection has no sanctity for consideration unless the application was got to be rejected on other tenable grounds under the Act or the rules. This submission of the learned course required acceptance because I find that the objection of the 4th respondent is not with regard to the non-compliance by the petitioner municipality of the provisions of any of the rules, but on some other ground. Hence, such an objection by itself could not be Put against the petitioner municipality with regard to the grant of the 'no objection certificate, sought for unless the! licensing authority has found any other ground for rejection of the application 1 either under the Act or under the Rules. The legal Position being clear as above, in my view, the authorities committed an error and acted in breach of the' rules when they took note of considered~ and countenanced the objection of the 4th respondent for negativing the application of the petitioner municipality.
5. The second ground of attack Put forth by the learned counsel for the petitioner municipality is that even otherwise the reasoning advanced by the licensing authority, the 3rd respondent, and the appellate authority, the 2nd respondent, for negativing the application of the petitioner municipality under See. 5 (1) (a) of the Act cannot be sustained, because they have not considered the interest of the cinema going public. which alone is relevant under See. 5(1)(a) of the Act. Section 5(1)(a) of the Act reads as follows:-
5. Restrictions on owers of licensing authority
(1) The licensing authority shall, in deciding whether to grant or refuse a licence, have regard to the following matters. namely - (a) the interest of the public generally;' It is now well settled that the expression 'interest of the public generally,' occurring in Sec. 5(1)(a) of the Act can mean only the interest of the cinema going public, Kailasam J. as he then was, after referring to the preceding case law, held so in Abdul Malick v. Collector of Dharmapuri : (1968)1MLJ9 . The reasoning of the licensing authority, the 3rd respondent, is found in para graph 5 of the order and it is as follows:- '5- The objection of the ex-chairmau and the replies of the Municipality were examined in detail. Facilitv in shape Of Anna Kalai Arangam was created for public performances. It serves as city auditorium. If it is converted into a Permanent cinema theatre, the facility which has been created will be lost to public of Kancheepuram. Moreover once it is converted into theatre for other activities. Municipal Commissioner will have to get specific permission and the proceeds will have to go to religious, charitable. purposes and not for municipality's use. In view of the above circumstances I consider that the request of the Municipality is not desirable and the application is therefore rejected under S. 5(a) of the Tamil Nadu Cinemw (Regulation) Act 1955.'
6. Practically, the same reasoning has been repeated by the appellate authority, the 2nd respondent in paragraph6 of its order and the relevant portion runs as follows-
'6. The Board has carefully considered the arguments of the learned counsel for the applicant and that of the respondent. A careful scrutiny of the records received from the Collector indicates that tne Collector has gone into the objections raised by the respondent carefully and has correctly come to the conclusion that the existing amenitV for the benefit of the general public of Kancheepuram Municipal town would be denied by the proposed conversion of the building into a permanent theatre ... '
7. The first respondent, as a revisional authority, has not discussed any aspect, but has summarily rejected the revision stating that they do not see any ground to interfere on behalf of the revision applicant. The reasoning of respondents 3 and 2 is more with reference to the existing auditorium being an amenity for the general public. They have not spelled out all y other ground, either under the Act or under the rules, for rejecting the application of the petitioner Municipality. They have not considered the application of the petitioner Municipality from the aspect as to how far the conversion of the existing auditorium into a permanent cinema theatre will serve the interest of the cinema going public generally. May be, the existing auditorium served the general public of Kancheepuram Municipal town, providing then, with certain amenities for public performances like dramas and music performances. But, for the purpose of S. 9(1)(a) of the Act, the consideration must be as to how far the cinema going public will be benefited by such conversion. Equally so, such a consideration will be for purpose of finding out a to whether the interest of the cinema going public will in any way be affected by the conversion. Obviously, such a factor could not be put, aganist. the petitioner Municipality. Otherwise, it would have been stated so. The loss of the existing auditorium to the general public by the conversion of it into a permanent cinema theatre cannot be a factor which could fit in within S. 3(1)(a) of the Act. Equally so, the advantage or disadvantage to [he petitioner Municipality by the conversion of the existing auditorium into a permanent cinema theatre is a wholly etxraneous factor and cannot come within the ambit of S. 5(1)(a) of the Act. As such, the reasoning advanced by respondents 3 and 2 cannot fit within S. 5(1)(a) of the Act and the rejection of the application by the 3rd respondent under the said section and the confirmation of the said order both by the second respondent and the first respondent cannot be sustained in law. The above factors vitiate the orders passed by respondents 1 to 3 and this compels me to interfere in writ proceedings. Accordingly, the writ petition is allowed and the application of the petitioner municipality will stand remitted back to the third respondent for him to consider the same afresh and grant the 'no objection certificate' if there is no other factor which stands in the way of such grant within the Act and the rules. The 3rd respondent will do well to dispose of the matter as expeditiously as possible. There will be no order as to costs in this writ petition.
8. Petition allowed.