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S.P. Mohammad Vs. the Commissioner of Land Revenue, Board of Revenue (Land Revenue) and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1971)1MLJ26
AppellantS.P. Mohammad
RespondentThe Commissioner of Land Revenue, Board of Revenue (Land Revenue) and anr.
Cases ReferredNarasimha Reddy v. District Magistrate
Excerpt:
- - there is man force of 200 strong employed in the said factory. i am, therefore, satisfied that the first contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that the licensing authority has failed to do its statutory duty is well-founded and the order of the 2nd respondent which was the subject-matter of the appeal before the first respondent cannot be sustained......handicap to the petitioner, because the licensing authority did not give any reason for refusal to grant a licence, except stating that the grounds mentioned by the petitioner for possessing a revolver are insufficient. but it is surprising that the board of revenue which is the statutorily constituted appellate authority converted itself into an original authority, went into the matter deeply and found that the petitioner was not entitled to a licence. it is in this context that the learned counsel for the petitioner says that only the appellate authority has given reasons and not the original authority and, as the statutory prescription, has not been borne in mind in the conduct of the proceedings by the 2nd respondent or ultimately by the appellate authority, the order has to be.....
Judgment:
ORDER

T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. The petitioner who is a citizen of India, applied for the grant of a licence to possess a revolver and made the prescribed statements therefor to the licensing authority, namely, the 2nd respondent, under the provisions of the Arms Act of 1959 and Rules made thereunder. It is not disputed that the application contained the necessary particulars to be furnished under the Act and Rules. The petitioner's requirement of the arm was based on personal reasons and grounds. He is a resident of George Town, Madras. His factory is at Thiruvottiyur village within Chingleput District. There is man force of 200 strong employed in the said factory. The petitioner carries daily a sum of Rs. 2,000 in cash for the purpose of his business. As he was apprehensive of his personal safety and safety of money, he made the necessary application for licence for keeping a fire Arm. The 2nd Respondent, by his order dated 30th June, 1969, made a laconic order to the effect:

The application of Thiru S.P. Mohammed of Thiruvottiyur Nagaram, Saidai Taluk, Chingleput District for the grant of new revolver licence (Kai Thupakki) was examined and rejected.

2. The petitioner, under the provisions of law, demanded the reasons for refusal to grant a new revolver licence. On 28th August, 1969, the 2nd respondent once again wrote to the petitioner as follows:

Petitioner, in accordance with his request in the afore-mentioned reference is informed that his application has been rejected, as the grounds set out by him for possessing a revolver licence are insufficient.

3. This order is equally laconic. But, being obliged in law to file an appeal against the order of the 2nd respondent, the petitioner filed an appeal under Section 18 of the Act to the Board of Revenue. The Board of Revenue, for the first time dealt with the subject-matter and considered the entire issue as if it was the original Authority. Ultimately, the Board of Revenue came to the conclusion that the right to hold arms is not an absolute right and there are reasonable grounds for rejection of the application for the grant of a licence. It is against the said order that the present writ petition has been filed.

4. The main contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that there was an initial handicap to the petitioner, because the licensing authority did not give any reason for refusal to grant a licence, except stating that the grounds mentioned by the petitioner for possessing a revolver are insufficient. But it is surprising that the Board of Revenue which is the statutorily constituted appellate authority converted itself into an original authority, went into the matter deeply and found that the petitioner was not entitled to a licence. It is in this context that the learned Counsel for the petitioner says that only the appellate authority has given reasons and not the original authority and, as the statutory prescription, has not been borne in mind in the conduct of the proceedings by the 2nd respondent or ultimately by the appellate authority, the order has to be quashed.

5. Undoubtely it is clear that the original authority did not give any reason for refusal to grant a licence. Under Section 14 Clause (3) of the Act, where the licensing authority refuses to grant a licence to any person, it shall record in writing the reasons for such refusal. The learned Assistant Government Pleader has fairly placed all the records before me and I do not find in the records any reason for refusal to grant a licence to the petitioner. The bare statement that the grounds mentioned in the application of the petitioner are insufficient for the grant of a licence to him, is no reason at all, because it reflects the position that the licensing authority did not apply its mind to the facts stated by the petitioner and ultimately refuse to grant a licence to the petitioner after adducing its own reasons for such refusal. If a litigant approaches a quasi-judicial Tribunal for relief or for the grant of a licence in accordance with the provisions of an enactment, then such a Tribunal is obliged in law to deal with the subject-matter, bring to bear its mind on it and give reasons one way or other for the grant or refusal to grant a licence. If this is not done, then the statutory authority which is exercising quasi-judicial function should be deemed to have not exercised its jurisdiction in accordance with the principles of law and fair play. A fortiori in this case, there is a statutory mandate in Section 14(3) which calls upon the licensing authority to record reasons in writing if it refuses to grant a licence. No such attempt had been made by the licensing authority except stating that the application of the petitioner does not disclose proper grounds for the grant of a licence to him. As pointed out by Subba Rao, J., (as he then was) in Narasimha Reddy v. District Magistrate, Cuddapah (1953) 1 M.L.J., the order in question is of an arbitrary character, though under the Rules it should be made in exercise of a judicial discretion. The necessary safeguard against an arbitrary refusal, that is, giving reasons for refusal, is ignored. I am, therefore, satisfied that the first contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the licensing authority has failed to do its statutory duty is well-founded and the order of the 2nd respondent which was the subject-matter of the appeal before the first respondent cannot be sustained. This is sufficient for the disposal of this writ petition.

6. As already stated, the Board of Revenue which is the appellate authority and which has to scrutinise and adjudicate upon the propriety or legality of the order of the licensing authority, assumed for itself the functions of such an original authority, probed into the material on record, adduced reasons for not granting a licence and attempted to sustain the order of the original authority. If only the original authority has given reasons it would be possible for the appellate authority either to agree or disagree with reasons given by the licensing authority. But, in the absence of such reasons recorded in writing by the original authority, it would be unfair for the appellate authority to take the record, construe the particulars therein, interpret the material available and come to a conclusion. This obviously results in the denial of fair play and fair hearing. In my view, the procedure adopted by the first respondent is in utter disregard of the elementary principles of natural justice. The petitioner before the appellate authority did not have the material to argue, whereas the appellate authority had all the records before it. There is, therefore, a gulf between the litigant and the appellate authority in this matter. It is impossible to conceive of a position where a litigant is not in possession of the material which the appellate Court is likely to come across and use the same against the litigant and to his prejudice. Though the statute provides that the licensing authority should furnish to the aggrieved person on demand a brief statement of the reasons recorded in writing for refusal to grant a licence, no such statement was furnished to the petitioner. The appellate authority ought to have given a full opportunity to the petitioner. The petitioner has suffered by reason of such a lack of opportunity. As the petitioner has been prejudiced by the conduct of the proceedings which was not in consonance with the statutory prescription, I, in the exercise of my discretion, make the rule nisi absolute and allow the writ petition. The result of this is that the petitioner would be entitled to a re-hearing by the licensing authority in accordance with law. There will be no order as to costs in the writ petition.


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