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Onward Trading Company Vs. the Union of India (Uoi) and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCustoms
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case Number Writ Petition No. 4256 of 1979
Judge
Reported in1985(6)ECC56
AppellantOnward Trading Company
RespondentThe Union of India (Uoi) and anr.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredIn Western Indian Timbers v. The District Forest Officer
Excerpt:
imports and exports control - writs under constitution--issue of licence to petitioner--validity of licence for 24 months at time of issue--subsequent year's policy curtailing validity period--filing of writ petition by petitioner--lapsing of validity period by the time writ petition was heard--court not to pass futile orders--writ petition liable to be dismissed--constitution of india, article 226.;one of the principles that the high court always takes note of in the exercise of discretion under article 226 of the constitution of india is that no writ will issue if it will be a futile and prima facie an unworkable writ. - .....october, 1982), a bench of this court, to which i was a party, dealt with a matter where there was a complaint that the permits issued to cut timber were cancelled without notice to the party and this court took note of the fact that the period of the permits had expired and while declining to grant relief, opined that any writ issued would be a futile one. taking note of all these relevant features, i am not inclined to interfere in writ jurisdiction and accordingly, the writ petition is dismissed. i make no order as to costs. it will, however, be open to the petitioner, if he so chooses, to seek the appropriate reliefs in ordinary civil forum, making out a case therefor,
Judgment:
ORDER

Nainar Sundaram, J.

1. The grievance of the petitioner relates to the curtailment of the tenure of licences issued to him under the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, 1947. We are concerned with four licences. The first licence was dated 8th September, 1977 and the period of the licence was 24 months and it would lapse by or on 8th September, 1979. The date of the second licence was 6th January, 1978 and the duration of the licence was 24 months and it would lapse by or on 6th January, 1980. The (third) licence was for 24 months and it would lapse by or on 20th February, 1980. These three licences were issued taking note of the import policy declared for the year 1977-1978. The fourth licence was dated 29th April, 1978 and the validity period was only up to 31st March, 1979. This fourth licence was issued pursuant to the Import Policy for the year 1978-1979. In the Import Policy for the year 1978-1979, paragraph 202 declared that even the licences issued for the licensing period April, 1977-March, 1978 shall terminate on 31st March, 1979, irrespective of the date of issue of the licences. The respondents are obviously adhering to this declaration and they have declined the request of the petitioner to avail of the period of the licences reserved under the three licences for the period 1977-1978. The fourth licence does not present any problem because that was issued only under the Import Policy for 1978-1979 and the very period reserved was only upto 31st March, 1979 and that also had lapsed by the time the petitioner came to this Court by way of the present writ petition. The petitioner challenges the impugned communication of the first respondent, whereby there was a decline to permit the petitioner to avail of the periods reserved under the first three licences issued for the period 1977-1978. Mr. P.D. Dinakaran, learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner, would submit that the periods under the three licences relatable to the year 1977-1978 having been set out in the licences, such periods cannot be curtailed by subsequent declaration of policy for the year 1978-1979, and in support of this submission, learned Counsel relies on in particular a pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Union of India v. Indo-Afghan Agencies AIR 1968 SC 718. As against this, Mr. G.R. Abdul Kalem, learned Additional Central Government Standing Counsel, would submit that the respondents have got ample power to change the Import Policy retrospectively also and thereby curtail the period reserved under the licences issued earlier. I would have gone into this contention, but I find that the writ to be issued even if the petitioner succeeds would be a futile one on the facts disclosed. The period reserved under the first licence dated 8th September, 1977, as stated above, would lapse by or on 8th September, 1979; the period under the second licence dated 6th January, 1978 would lapse by or on 6th January, 1980 and the period under the third licence dated 20th February, 1978 would lapse by or on 20th February, 1980. The impugned communication is dated 24th April, 1979. The petitioner has chosen to move the writ petition and obtained the rule nisi only in October, 1979 after the lapse of the period under the first licence. We are not concerned with the fourth licence, which was issued after the declaration of the Import Policy for 1978-1979 and the period reserved thereunder being 31st March, 1979 could not be challenged as lacking in powers. As on date, there is practically a lapse of four years and five months after 20th February, 1980 when the period reserved under the third licence dated 20th February, 1978 expired. At this point of time, it would be a futile writ to be issued even if this Court (were to) countenance the contention of the petitioner. Practically the respondents would be asked to countenance the working of the periods reserved under the licences long after their expiry. This would present very many practical difficulties in working out the licences at this point of time, as legitimately urged by the learned Counsel for the respondents. I cannot but take note of this aspect while exercising the highly prerogative and discretionery jurisdiction. One of the principles that this Court always takes note of in the exercise of the discretion under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is that no writ will issue if it will be a futile and prima facie an unworkable writ. In Nand Kishore v. State of Rajasthan : [1965]3SCR173 , the Supreme Court had occasion to consider the award of a contract under the Rajasthan Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959. The complaint was that the Government was bound to accept the highest bid of the appellant before the Supreme Court. This complaint was discountenanced and one consideration that weighed with the Supreme Court for declining to interfere with the contract awarded is expressed in paragraph 9 of the judgment, which runs as follows:

Another consideration which is decisively against the appellants is that the contract for the collection of royalty for the year 1964-65 is shortly to come to an end and it would not be desirable, even if the appellant's contentions were acceptable, to interfere with that contract.

2. In Western Indian Timbers v. The District Forest Officer, Nilgiris (W.A. No. 76 of 1977--Judgment datad 5th October, 1982), a Bench of this Court, to which I was a party, dealt with a matter where there was a complaint that the permits issued to cut timber were cancelled without notice to the party and this Court took note of the fact that the period of the permits had expired and while declining to grant relief, opined that any writ issued would be a futile one. Taking note of all these relevant features, I am not inclined to interfere in writ jurisdiction and accordingly, the writ petition is dismissed. I make no order as to costs. It will, however, be open to the petitioner, if he so chooses, to seek the appropriate reliefs in ordinary civil forum, making out a case therefor,


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