1. The main question that arises for consideration in this matter is whether under the Drugs Act 23 of 1940, an aggrieved party has a right to prefer a civil miscellaneous appeal in the High Court against an order of the Drugs Controller of India cancelling the import licence granted to him.
2. Rule 29 of the Drugs Rules, 1945, framed under Section 12 of the Drugs Act (Central Act 23 of 1940) empowers the licensing authority to suspend or cancel in certain cases the import licence granted, provided that the person aggrieved by such cancellation or suspension may within three months from the date of the order appeal to the District Judge of the District in which the right of appeal accrues or if there is no District Judge of the District such judicial officer as the Central Government may appoint in this behalf having jurisdiction and his decision shall be final.
3. The appellant has chosen the High Court as the proper forum for preferring the civil miscellaneous appeal. But as the rule does not expressly provide for an appeal being presented to the High Court under the Act, an objection was raised by the office as to how the civil miscellaneous appeal can be maintained. The advocate for the appellant submits in reply that the High Court is a District Court within the meaning of the Drugs Rules and that Section 3(15) of the General Clauses Act amply justifies his position.
4. Section 3(15), General Clauses Act defines the 'District Judge' as meaning the Judge of a principal civil Court of original jurisdiction but shall not include a High Court exercising its ordinary or extraordinary original civil jurisdiction. This would mean that the term applies either to the Principal City Civil Judge or the Judge of a High Court not exercising ordinary or extraordinary original civil jurisdiction. The explanation of the term 'District Judge' is elaborately dealt with in a Bench decision of Wallace and Ananthakrishna Ayyar JJ. reported in -- 'Kuppuswami Nayagar, in the matter of, AIR 1930 Mad 779 (A), following -- 'Gandas Narromdas Navivahu v. C, A. Turner', 13 Bom 520 (B) as lending support to the view that the High Court is a District Court when it does not exercise its ordinary or extraordinary civil jurisdiction conferred on it by the amended Clauses 11 to 18, Letters Patent (Madras). In other words, the High Court will be a 'District Court' when it does not exercise its ordinary or extraordinary civil jurisdiction under Clauses 11 to 18, Letters Patent. It is this interpretation of the term 'District Judge' that is sought to be applied to the term 'District Judge' in Rule 29 of the Drug Rules for preferring a civil miscellaneous appeal to the High Court. It is also stated that the appellant has taken alternative steps in the City Civil Court by way of abundant caution though he has expressed a doubt whether such proceedings under the Drugs Rules can be maintained in the City Civil Court,
5. I need not point out that the City Civil Court does not exercise any appellate jurisdiction unlike a District Judge.
6. In these circumstances I direct that the S. R. be entertained as civil miscellaneous appeal under Rule 29 of the Drug Rules, 1945, stamped with a fixed fee of Rs. 2.