1. The same question arises for consideration in both these petitions. The petitioner was the village munsif of Pakalapadu. He was certainly not granted any licence; nor was he registered as a retail dealer of kerosene within the meaning of Rule 12 of the Madras Kerosene Control Order, 1945. C.W. 1 was the registered dealer for the supply of kerosene to the residents of the village of which the petitioner was the village munsif. The facts proved were that it was the practice in the villages to which C.W. 1 was expected to supply kerosene, for C.W. 1 to issue kerosene to the village munsifs ; and the village munsifs paid for the kerosene they took from C.W. 1. The village munsifs then distributed the kerosene to the individual villagers. On 18th December, 1946, C.W. 1 handed over to the petitioner seven tins of white kerosene and one tin of yellow kerosene. Under the orders promulgated by the District Magistrate, originally under Section 81(2) of the Defence of India Rules, he fixed the retail price of a bottle of kerosene at 2 annas 9 pies for superior kerosene and 2 annas six pies for inferior kerosene. On 31st January, 1947, the petitioner sold kerosene at 4 annas a bottle.
2. The charge against the petitioner was that he sold kerosene in retail without a retail dealer's licence in contravention of Rule 12 of the Madras Kerosene Control Order and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 7 of the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act (XXIV of 1946). The other charge was that he sold kerosene at rates in excess of those prescribed by the Collector in his notification issued under the Defence of India Rules, Rule 81(2). The petitioner was convicted of these charges.
3. In the definition of' essential commodity' in Section 2 of Act XXIV of 1946 kerosene as such was not included but petroleum and petroleum products were included. One of the contentions of the learned advocate for the petitioner was that kerosene could not be included within petroleum and petroleum products specified in Section 2 of the Act. Kerosene itself has not been defined nor mentioned in the Act, and in the absence of any statutory definition its ordinary meaning in English language will have to be taken. The Concise Oxford Dictionary gives the meaning of kerosene 'lamp-oil obtained by distillation of petroleum and from coal and bituminous shale, paraffin'. Even apart from that, it should be obvious that kerosene is a petroleum product, and so it comes within the scope of the definition of' essential commodity' in Section 2 of Act XXIV of 1946.
4. The main controversy centered on the question whether the petitioner was a retail dealer. The Madras Kerosene Control Order, 1945, denned 'dealer' to mean 'a person dealing in the purchase, sale or distribution of kerosene'. 'Retail dealer' was defined to mean 'a dealer who sells kerosene to consumers '. The contention of the learned advocate for the petitioner was that at the worst a village munsif who helped C.W. 1, the registered retail dealer, to distribute kerosene to the villagers in accordance with the quota fixed for the villages would be an agent, but in no case would the petitioner be a retail dealer within the meaning of the Madras Kerosene Control Order. C.W. 1 deposed:
Till January, 1947, the accused who is the village munsif of the village, used to take the village quota of kerosene for distribution in his village. In February, 1947 and March, 1947, I sold kerosene myself in Pakalapadu village. I cannot say what the accused used to do with the kerosene he was taking. Exhibit C is the account of sales of my shop.
Then C.W. 1 referred to the entry, Exhibit C-1 and stated:
On 18th December, 1946, the accused took 7 white and 1 yellow kerosene tins and in token of receipt he signed in my account.
When cross-examined by the accused C.W. 1 stated:
The village munsifs used to pay their cost. So also the accused paid me.
The learned advocate for the petitioner contended that there was no real evidence in this case that the transaction which resulted in the transference of kerosene tins from C.W. 1 to the petitioner was a sale. The evidence of C.W. 1 gives all the necessary ingredients to prove that each time there was a delivery of tins with payment of price therefor there was a transfer, and that transfer constituted a sale. It was in the account of sales, Exhibit G, that these transactions were entered. There was nothing in the evidence to show that apart from the cost of the kerosene C.W. 1 was entitled to any more. Though there was no specific evidence when exactly the cost of the tins was paid by the village munsif to C.W. 1, there was still nothing in the evidence to indicate that after parting with the tins G.W. 1 retained any dominion over them. But it seems to me even without proof that the transference of the tins to the village munsif by C.W. 1 constituted a sale, a sale to consumers by the village munsif would still make him a retail dealer within the meaning of the Madras Kerosene Control Order. A dealer means a person dealing in the sale or distribution of kerosene. Quite obviously the distribution to villagers by the village munsif was for a price. It was certainly a sale. A retail dealer only means a dealer who sells kerosene to consumers.
5. One of the contentions of the learned advocate for the petitioner was that it was not the regular business of the village munsif and that from the evidence on record it could not be said that he carried on business as a retail dealer within the meaning of Rule 12(a) of the Madras Kerosene Control Order. In re Narayanaswami Mudali : (1947)1MLJ364 , on which the learned advocate for the petitioner relied can have no application to the facts of this case. It was not an instance of a single transaction. Exhibit G showed that the petitioner normally and on several occasions obtained tins of kerosene; and, as I have already pointed out, each transaction was a sale by C.W. 1 to the petitioner, who sold kerosene in retail to the villagers. On the evidence on record it can certainly be found that the accused carried on business as a retail dealer; and he was not registered. The conviction under Section 7 for contravention of an order under Rule 12(a) of the Madras Kerosene Control Order was right and is confirmed.
6. That the petitioner sold in contravention of the orders of the Collector cannot be denied. Rules 1 and 2 prohibit the sale by any person: even assuming that the expression 'person' as used in Rules 1 and 2 of the notification of the Collector must be interpreted as ' dealer ' which was the expression used in Rule 3, in view of my finding that the petitioner was a retail dealer within the meaning of the Madras Kerosene Control Order, the contravention of the rules promulgated by the Collector was fully proved. The conviction on that count also was right.
7. The petitions are dismissed.