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State of Madras, Represented by the Collector of Thanjavur Vs. T.R. Agoram Iyer - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCommercial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1975)1MLJ364
AppellantState of Madras, Represented by the Collector of Thanjavur
RespondentT.R. Agoram Iyer
Excerpt:
- .....licensed dealer and every licensed miller shall sell to the purchase officer at the controlled price at the commencement of the order, if he is functioning in the district of thanjavur, twenty per cent of the quantity of rice equivalent of twenty per cent of the quantity of paddy held in stock by him at such commencement. since we are concerned only with a licensed dealer or licensed miller in the district of thanjavur, it is not necessary to refer to the other sub-clauses of this clause. 'controlled price' has been defined in clause 2 (a) of this order as meaning the maximum price fixed for that variety in an order made under section 3 of the essential commodities act, 1955, and for the time being in force. sub-clause (3) of clause 3 also provided that the rice required to be sold.....
Judgment:

M.M. Ismail, J.

1. The defendant in O.S. No. 56 of 1967 on the file of the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Mayuram is the appellant herein. The matter lies within a very narrow compass. The Government of India promulgated an order under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, on 7th January, 1964 called the Madras Rice Procurement (Levy) Order, 1964, (hereinafter referred to as the Levy Order). Clause 3 of this Order provided that every licensed dealer and every licensed miller shall sell to the Purchase Officer at the controlled price at the commencement of the Order, if he is functioning in the district of Thanjavur, twenty per cent of the quantity of rice equivalent of twenty per cent of the quantity of paddy held in stock by him at such commencement. Since we are concerned only with a licensed dealer or licensed miller in the district of Thanjavur, it is not necessary to refer to the other sub-clauses of this clause. 'Controlled price' has been defined in Clause 2 (a) of this Order as meaning the maximum price fixed for that variety in an order made under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and for the time being in force. Sub-clause (3) of Clause 3 also provided that the rice required to be sold to the State Government under Sub-clause (1) shall be delivered by the licensed dealer or the licensed miller to the Purchase Officer or to such other person as may be authorised by him to take delivery on his behalf. Having regard to the definition of the term ' controlled price ' in Clause 2 (a), the Government of India simultaneously promulgated on 7th January, 1964 itself another Order under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, called the Rice (Madras) Price Control Order, 1964 (hereinafter referred to as the Price Control Order). In the schedule of this Order the maximum price of different varieties of rice had been fixed. We are concerned in this case with kattai samba rice and that has been mentioned in serial No. 5 in the said schedule, according to which the price per quintal was Rs. 46.22. Therefore, a combined reading of Clause 3 (1) of the Levy Order and Clause 2 read with the Schedule of the Price Control Order will lead to the conclusion that, as on the date, namely, 7th January, 1964, every licensed dealer and every licensed miller was under an obligation to sell twenty per cent of the stock he had on the date of the commencement of the Orders at the rate prescribed in the schedule to the Price Control Order] 1964. This Price Control Order dated 7th January, 1964 was amended by the Government of India by the Amendment Order, dated 23rd March, 1964. By this Amendment Order the maximum prices fixed in the schedule were altered and a new schedule was substituted in the place of the old schedule contained in the Order dated 7th January, 1964. As per the new schedule, the price of kattai samba was given as Rs. 51-58 per quintal as against the price of Rs. 46-22 per quintal orginally mentioned in the schedule thereby providing for an increase of the price of Rs. 536 per quintal. The respondent in this case admittedly supplied a total quantity of 2,386-82 quintals of kattai samba rice between 23rd March, 1964 and 23rd June, 1964. With reference to this supply he claimed the price at the rate prescribed in the Amended Order which came into force on 23rd March, 1964. On the other hand, the appellant herein, namely, the State of Tamil Nadu, paid him at the rate prescribed in the original Order only. It is to recover the difference between the two the present suit was instituted. It may be mentioned here that the respondent himself billed the rice only at the old rate, and he contended that the officers insisted upon his preparing the bill only at the old rate and that, therefore, he prepared the bill at the old rate without prejudice to his right to claim according to law at the new rate. This gave rise to an issue in the suit, namely, one of estoppel. But we are not concerned with that issue in the present case since it was not argued before me. The learned Subordinate Judge of Mayuram, by judgment dated 31st July, 1969, upheld the contention of the respondent and held that he was entitled to the price of the rice at the new rate prescribed in the Amendment Order, because the supplies themselves were effected after the amendment came into force and, therefore, decreed the suit of the respondent as prayed for. It is against this judgment and decree the present appeal has been preferred by the defendant, namely, the State of Tamil Nadu.

2. The only point that was argued before me was as to the rate at which the respondent was entitled to be paid as price for the rice supplied by him. The argument that was put forward on behalf of the appellant herein before the trial Court was that the effect of Clause 3(1) of the Levy Order was to make the twenty per cent of the rice referred to above as the property of the Government on the date of the Levy Order itself irrespective of the actual purchase that might have been made subsequently, and that, therefore, the controlled price prevalent on 7th January, 1964 alone was liable to be paid to the respondent herein. As against this case of the appellant, the respondent contended that Clause 3 (1) of the Levy Order merely imposed an obligation on the respondent to sell twenty per cent of his stock to the Government and that the price to which he was entitled would be the controlled price in force on the date of the sale and not on the date when the Order itself was promulgated. It is this contention of the respondent which was accepted by the trial Court, in my opinion rightly. I have already referred to the language of Clause 3 (1) of the Levy Order. That clause merely imposed an obligation on the licensed dealer and miller to set apart twenty per cent of the stock which he had on that date to be sold to the Government if and when the Government chose to purchase the same and when the Government purchased the same he was entitled to be paid the con-trolled price as defined in Clause 2 (a). Clause 3 (1) of the Levy Order did not have the effect of transferring ownership] in the twenty per cent of the price to the Government by the operation of the very clause itself without the Government or the Purchase Officer taking any steps or the purpose of purchasing the rice and taking delivery of the same from the respondent herein. I am of the opinion that the language of Clause 3 (1) of the Levy Order is incapable of lending itself to the construction that on the date when the Levy Order was promulgated owner-ship or property in the twenty per cent of the stock which the respondent had on that date got automatically transferred to and vested in the Government. As a matter of fact, there is no provision in the clause apportioning or ascertaining that twenty per cent on that date itself It is an unascertained and unidentified twenty per cent that is referred to in Clause 3 (1) of the Levy Order and that becomes ascertained and identified only when the Purchase Officer takes delivery of the same from the respondent herein and until that quantity is ascertained and identified and delivered to the Purchase Officer, it does not become the property of the Government. Therefore, the respondent herein was entitled to the controlled price in force on the date the stock was purchased and taken delivery of from him by the Purchase Officer. In this case, as I pointed out already the stock Was purchased and taken delivery of from the respondent between 23rd March, 1964 and 23rd June, 1964 and on 23rd March, 1964 itself the amended Price Control Order came into force and therefore the new controlled price had come into force. Consequently, the respondent , was rightly held to be entitled to the price as per the amended schedule to the Price Control Order, which came into force on 23rd March, 1964. Therefore, I am clearly of the opinion that there is no substance in the appeal, and hence it fails and it is dismissed with costs of the respondent.


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