1. In both the above writ petitions, the petitioner's C form licence issued under Tamil Nadu Cinema (Regulation) Act, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act') has been suspended by the Licensing Authority for 10 days and 15 days respectively for certain alleged violations and the said penalty was subsequently, on appeal reduced to 3 days and 5 days respectively.
2. Learned Counsel for the petitioner contends that the Licensing Authority has not conducted any enquiry pursuant to the show cause notice and failure to conduct such an enquiry amounts to refusal of giving reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the proposed punishment which is not only permissible under Section 7(2) of the Act, but also violates the principles of natural justice.
3. Learned Government Advocate appearing for the respondent produced relevant files relating to the above writ petitions and contends that section 7(2) of the Act does not contemplate any personal hearing much less an enquiry and therefore, it is suffice to give a show cause notice calling forexplanation against the proposed punishment for passing orders or punishmentafter receiving explanation.
4. I have carefully considered the submissions of both sides.
5. In this regard I am obliged to refer section 7(2) of the Act which reads as follows:-
7(2) No order shall be issued under sub-section (1) until the person concerned has been given a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the order proposed to be issued in regard to him:
Provided that this sub-section shall not apply where the Government or the District Collector proposing to issue the order are or is satisfied that, owing to any emergency or for some other reason, to be recorded by them or him in writing, it is not reasonably practicable to give to that person an opportunity of showing cause.
Provided further that a copy of the reasons recorded by the Government or the District Collector for issuing the order shall be communicated to the person concerned as soon as it becomes reasonably practicable to communicate the reasons to him.
6. Section 7(2) of the Act, without any doubt statutorily requires the Licensing Authority to give a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the order proposed in the case if any alleged violations or provisions of the Act or Rules, as the case may be. It is not the case of the respondents that owing to any emergency such reasonable opportunity of showing cause is dispensed with as exempted under the first proviso to section 7(2) of the Act.
7. Therefore, I am not able to appreciate the contentions as stated by the learned government Advocate that no enquiry is contemplated before passing the order of proposed punishment. Under section 7(2) of the Act a show cause notice is sufficient and thereafter the Licensing Authority is only expected to pass orders after receiving the explanation without conducting any enquiry.
8. In my considered opinion that cannot be the intention of the legislature as section 7(2) of the Act clearly requires the Licensing Authority to give reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the proposed order of punishment which can be dispensed with only in the case of emergency under the first proviso to section 7(2) of the Act. but not in all other cases.
9. Hence finding it difficult to sustain the original orders of licensing authority dated 17.7.97, for want of enquiry in the respective matters, the impugned orders are set aside and the writ petitions are allowed. No costs. Consequently, WMP.Nos.755 and 2607 of 2000 are closed.