1. This is a reference made by the learned Additional First Class Magistrate of Rollachi in C. C. Nos. 199, 200 and 201 of 1956. The respondents in this reference are cotton merchants of Coimbatore. They had to take a licence under the Cotton Control Order, 1950 for the purchase, ginning, storing and sale of raw cotton. In fact, these respondents had taken out licenses which expired on 31-8-1954.
If these persons had contravened the provisions of the Cotton Control Order, 1950 then they could be proceeded with under the powers and penalties prescribed under the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946, viz., Section 3 Of that Act,
2. This Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946, expired by efflux of time on 26-1-1955, and naturally the prosecutions launched under the Cotton Control Order of 1950 got also terminated thereby; in other words, there could not be prosecutions launched under the Act after its expiry.
3. The Government passed the Essential Commodities Ordinance No. 1 of 1955. It will be remembered that the previous Act, viz., the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, XXIV of 1946, expired on 26-1-1955. This Ordinance came into force on 26-1-1955; in other words, the ordinance was passed so that there might not be a gap. But it is important to note that this Ordinance did not mention raw cotton. Then this Ordinance was repealed by the Essential Commodities Act X of 1955, which included in its scope as an essential commodity raw cotton, whether ginned or unginned. Under that Act, the Cotton Control Order, 1955, was made on 13-7-1955.
Clause 1 (d) of the first Cotton Control Order of 1955, stated 'The Cotton Control Order of 1950, is hereby repealed' showing thereby that the Cotton Control Order, 1950 was in force till 13-7-1955, although it had expired by 26-1-1955 with reference to clause 16 of Ordinance I of 1955 as stated above. In fact, the repeal of the Cotton Control Order of 1950 by Clause 1 (d) of the Cotton Control Order on the 13th July, 1955, seems to be unnecessary and its implication that the Cotton Control Order, 1950 was in force till 13-7-1955 seems to be also wrong.
4. These respondents have applied for licenses in November and December 1954. The licenses are issued to them, though at a later date, on the analogous principle of non pro tune, as and from the date of the application, since no man should be put to unnecessary trouble by the delay in an office and be made to face an unmerited prosecution. These licences have been granted to them subsequently.
5. In these circumstances, these merchants have been prosecuted for buying, ginning, storing and selling raw cotton in the months of November and December 1954, and charge-sheets were laid in July 1956.
6. It will thus be seen that the prosecutions were all launched with reference to transactions naturally and under the provisions of the Cotton Control Order of 1950 promulgated by virtue of the powers taken under the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, XXIV of 1946 Can this be done?
7. The learned Additional First Class Magistrate, Poliachi, carefully analysed the matter and came to the conclusion that these prosecutions could not be valid because the subsequent Essential Commodities Act of 1955, Act X of 1955, did not repeal and save the provisions of the previous Cotton Control Order of 1950 under the time expired Act XXIV of 1946.
8. Therefore he has made this reference to this Court for decision on the two points involved, viz.,
1. Whether the Cotton Control Order, 1950, made under the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946, ceased to have operation after 26-1-1955, on which date the Act expired or whether it' was saved by the Essential Commodities Ordinance, 1955, as Clause 1 (d) of the Cotton Control Order, dated 13-7-1955, appears to indicate?
2. Even if the Cotton Control Order, 1950 was riot saved by the Ordinance, whether the liabilities incurred under the order should b* deemed to be alive subsequent to 26-1-1955, under Section 6 of the General Clauses Act and not destroyed by the Essential Commodities Ordinance, 1955?
9. It is now well-settled law that when a statute is repealed or comes to an automatic end by efflux of time, no prosecution for acts done during the continuance of the repealed or expired Act, can be commenced after the date of its repeal or expiry; because that would amount to the enforcement of a repealed or dead Act. In cases of repeal of statutes, this rule stands modified by Section 6 of the General Clauses Act. An expiring Act, however, is not governed by the rule enunciated in that section. These principles have been laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Jagamandar Das : AIR1954SC683 .
In view of the Supreme Court decision, It is necessary to refer to the decisions on the same lines of the Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court in Bansgopal v. Emperor : AIR1933All669 and of the Calcutta High Court in Ramprasad v. Chief Secretary to Government of West Bengal : AIR1955Cal374 .
10. Therefore, the propositions enunciatedby the Additional First Class Magistrate can beanswered as follows :
I. That the Cotton Control Order, 1950 made under the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act of 1946, ceased to have operation after 26-1-1955, and that it was not saved by the Essential Commodities Ordinance of 1955; and (2) that Section 6 of the General Clauses Act has no application to this case, when the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act of 1946 expired by efflux of time and was not repealed.
11. The reference is accepted and the papers are returned to the Additional First Class Magistrate Pollachi, for further disposal according to law.