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P.L. Agrawal Vs. the State of Madhya Pradesh - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1975CriLJ1533
AppellantP.L. Agrawal
RespondentThe State of Madhya Pradesh
Cases Referred(Madh Pra) State v. Chainkarah. The
Excerpt:
- - we see no good ground to take a different view......(dalda).the further charge was that he sold a packet of 5 erasmic blades for 90 paise, while the price fixed is 80 paise. the charge is that this is in contravention of the m. p. commodities price display order. 1971, read with rule 114 (2) of the defence of india rules and also in contravention of m. p. essential articles (exhibition of price and distribution) order, 1966 and article 6 of the m. p. food stuffs (exhibition of prices and distribution) order, 1966, issued under section 3 of the essential commodities act, 1955, punishable under section 7 of the essential commodities act, 1955, and separately punishable under rule 114 (11) of the defence of india rules.2. the accused is aggrieved by the charge and this revision has been filed from that interlocutory order asking this court.....
Judgment:

Shiv Dayal, J.

1. The Magistrate First Class, Raipur, has framed a charge against the revision-petitioner that he on or about December 14, 1971, at Raipur, was found selling and exhibiting for sale at his shop, without displaying the price list, the following articles:

(1) Razor blades of different varieties, viz. Erasmic, Swiss, Kohinoor. Ashok, Panama, Prince, Ribert, etc

(2) Soaps of different varieties, viz., Mayo, Peers, Gold, Tata Special, Synthal, Jai, etc

(3) Baby Food.

(4) Torch cells of different varieties, viz., Ever Ready, Estrella. etc.,

(5) Matches.

(6) Hydrogenerated oil (Dalda).

The further charge was that he sold a packet of 5 erasmic blades for 90 Paise, while the price fixed is 80 Paise. The charge is that this is in contravention of the M. P. Commodities Price Display Order. 1971, read with Rule 114 (2) of the Defence of India Rules and also in contravention of M. P. Essential Articles (Exhibition of Price and Distribution) Order, 1966 and Article 6 of the M. P. Food Stuffs (Exhibition of Prices and Distribution) Order, 1966, issued under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, punishable under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and separately punishable under Rule 114 (11) of the Defence of India Rules.

2. The accused is aggrieved by the charge and this revision has been filed from that interlocutory order asking this Court to quash the charge.

3. It is first contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the M. P. Commodities Price Display Order, 1971, was not in force, as no date had been fixed in it for its commencement. That question was decided in Criminal Appeal No. 670 of 1972, decided on January 19, 1974 : (reported in 1974 Cri LJ 1113 (Madh Pra)) State v. Abdul Khalil. We see no good ground to take a different view. The first contention is rejected.

4. The second contention is that razor blades are not essential commodity within the meaning of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. This contention must be rejected as razor blades have been declared to be essential commodity by the Central Government, vide Clause 2 (a) (xi) of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

5. The third contention is that non-displaying of price list was no offence inasmuch as there is no provision requiring a dealer to fix a price. The M. P. Commodities Price Display Order, 1971, provides as follows:

Clause 3. Every dealer shall, in respect of any commodities display conspicuously a list of prices in Dev Nagri script in the form prescribed in the Second Schedule during the hours of business at a place as near to the entrance of his business as possible.

4. Every dealer shall, in respect of any commodity also display the price of each unit of the items of a commodity, either by getting it printed on the container or by affixing a rubber stamp or by sticking a label on it.

5. No dealer shall-

(a) sell to any person any commodity at a price higher than the price specified in respect of such commodity in the list of prices, or

(b) refuse to sell such commodity to any person at the price so displayed.

It is abundantly clear from these provisions that the law requires a dealer to display conspicuously a list of prices; that the dealer must not sell any commodity at a price higher than the price specified by him in the list of prices; and that the dealer cannot refuse to sell a commodity at the price so displayed. It is true that there are no express words directing a dealer to fix a price, but the very fact that he has to display a price list before he can sell the goods, necessarily follows that a dealer has got to fix prices of goods which he wants to sell. Every commodity, which a dealer wants to sell, must find a mention in the price list, which he must display. It is implicit that in the absence of any price fixed by any competent authority, the dealer has himself to fix a price in his own discretion. He may fix it at Rupee one or Rs. 100/-. But once he fixes a price, he cannot refuse to sell it at that price, nor can he charge a price higher than so fixed and displayed by him. This was also the view taken by us in Criminal Appeal No. 536 of 1972 decided on January 19, 1974 : reported in 1974 Cri LJ 1110 (Madh Pra) State v. Chainkarah. The third contention is, therefore, rejected.

6. The fourth contention is founded on the third contention. It is urged that since it is a mandatory obligation of a dealer to fix a price, he cannot be punished for selling at a higher price. For what we have already said, this contention must be rejected.

7. It is then contended that Clause 4 (b) of the M. P. Essential Articles (Exhibition of Prices and Distribution) Order, 1966. is ultra vires, the law Inasmuch as there can be no sub-delegation. The argument is that the powers are first given to the Central Government, which the Central Government can delegate to the State Government; the State Government being a delegatee, cannot further sub-delegate that power to the manufacturer. Clause 4 of the 1966 Order reads as follows:

4. Charging of Prices. - A dealer shall not charge in respect of a sale of any essential article a price in excess of that calculated.-

(a) at the price, if any, fixed by the Central or State Government;

(b) when there is no controlled price as mentioned in Sub-clause (a) and when the rate in respect of sale by such dealers is fixed by the manufacturers or producers or their distributors at the rates so fixed.

In our opinion, Sub-clause (b) of Clause 4 does not vest in the State Government the power to sub-delegate its function. All that the clause says is that a dealer cannot charge a price in excess of that which was (a) fixed by the Central Government, or (b) fixed by the State Government, or (c) fixed by the manufacturers or producers (in those cases only where price has not been fixed either by the Central Government or the State Government). There is nothing in this clause or in any other clauses providing for sub-delegation of power of the State Government. Sub-clause (b) of Clause 4 does not speak of the rate fixed by the manufacturer or producer under any sub-delegated power.

8. In our opinion, this is not a fit case for quashing the charge. The revision is dismissed.


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