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Janardhana Raja Vs. the Collector of North Arcot District and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMedia and Communication
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1983)2MLJ219
AppellantJanardhana Raja
RespondentThe Collector of North Arcot District and anr.
Cases ReferredAthma Santhi Nilayam v. District Collector
Excerpt:
- .....in k. 162898 2of 1979, dated 14th january, 1980. as the rule then stood, namely 109 (1-a), the licence period was three years. therefore, the, validity of the licence was only up till 15th january, 1983. though the licence period was three years then, presently, by reason of the amendment made in g.o.ms. no. 461, dated 24th february, 1982, it is five years. the licence is to be granted initially for a period of one year and then renewed! each year. this renewal is subject to one of the most important conditions that after inspection as contemplated under rule 113, the licensing authority is satisfied that the site and the building continue to conform to the relevant rules and the building is structurally sound. i should at once state that this rule is peculiar to travelling cinemas1.....
Judgment:
ORDER

S. Mohan, J.

1. The facts leading to the writ petition lie in a narrow compass. The petitioner is the proprietor of Raja Touring Talkies. He was granted a 'C Form licence by an order of the Collector of North Arcot made in K. 162898 2of 1979, dated 14th January, 1980. As the rule then stood, namely 109 (1-A), the licence period was three years. Therefore, the, validity of the licence was only up till 15th January, 1983. Though the licence period was three years then, presently, by reason of the amendment made in G.O.Ms. No. 461, dated 24th February, 1982, it is five years. The licence is to be granted initially for a period of one year and then renewed! each year. This renewal is subject to one of the most important conditions that after inspection as contemplated under Rule 113, the licensing authority is satisfied that the site and the Building continue to conform to the relevant rules and the building is structurally sound. I should at once state that this rule is peculiar to travelling cinemas1 since Part VII of the Tamil Nadu cinema (Regulation) Rules, 1957, deals only with travelling cinemas. The petitioner's cinema is one such. For the take, of completion, it may be added that for permanent cinemas, there is no such periodic renewal after inspection. This constitutes a vital distinction which has to be borne in mind throughout lest one is likely to get confused while dealing with this matter. Be that so. The 2nd respondent is the: managing partner of a permanent theatre (Thiru Murugan Theatre) . Pursuant to a 'no objection' certificate granted earlier, he completed the construction of the theatre and applied for a 'C' Form licence on 3rd December, 1981. After this, on 16th December, 1981, the petitioner applied for renewal of his licence. That became necessary in view of the following contingencies. The licence originally granted which was to expire as per the old rule by 15th January, 1983 (as per the present rule by 15th January, 1985) was not renewed beyond 9th November, 1981, since the roof of the auditorium and other structures were constructed with inflammable materials. The petitioner was required, as per the amended rule, to construct the same with non-inflammable materials. Therefore, the petitioner reconstructed the touring cinema with lite roof material and applied for the renewal of C Form licence on 16th December, 1981, for the remaining period. This renewal was granted on 20th January, 1982. The 2nd Respondent's 'C' Form licence was granted on 31st January, 1982, pursuant to which he commenced exhibition of cinema on 3rd February, 1982. While so, the petitioner applied again for his periodic renewal on 26th November, 1982. The 2nd respondent filed an objection that there is a clear violation of Rule 14(2) since the distance between the 2nd respondent's theatre and the petitioner's touring cinema was only 652 feet while the distance required is 1.609 kilometres under Rule 14(2). The writ petitioner contended that this objection cannot be taken note of because the 'C' Form licence was granted without any objection. Therefore, at the time of renewal, such an objection in relation to distance cannot be put forth. The Collector of North Arcot, by the impugned order made in R.D. is. No. 143943 of 1982, dated 22nd December, 1982, overruled the contention of the petitioner and rejected the renewal as prayed for, however, holding that the 'C' Form licence of the petitioner's touring cinema would not enure beyond 31st December, 1982. It is under these circumstances that the present writ petition for a certiorarified mandamus has come to be preferred to quash the order of the Collector and to consider the application for renewal of licence made on 26th November, 1982.

2. The contention in the writ petition is therefore as follows:

1. At the time of renewal, the prohibition in relation to distance as contained under Rule 14(2) cannot be raised. In support of this submission, reliance is placed on the decision, in H.H. Chitrmnuthu Adlgal, Athma Santhi Nilayam v. District Collector, Ramanathapuram (1982) I M.L.J. 1.

2. Rule 14 is ultra tires because a discrimination is made as between permanent and touring cinemas. With regard to permanent theatres there is no distance prescribed while only with reference to touring cinemas there is a prescription as to the distance. This constitutes discrimination.

3. Even assuming that Rule 14(2) is valid the objection on the ground of prohibited distance can be raised if the permanent cinema has been located; in the instant case, the permanent cinema came into existence only after the renewal granted in favour of the petitioner on 16th December, 1981.

3. Mr. R.D. Indrasenan, learned Counsel for the 2nd respondent, would contend that the law requires conformity with the Rules both with regards to the site and the building at every time when renewal is sought. This is exactly what Rule 109(1-A) states. Therefore, even at the time of renewal, the prohibition in relation to distance can be considered. The very same point was urged in Writ Appeal No. 491 of 1968, which was rejected. The facts of that case and those of the case on hand are identical.

4. The ruling in H.H. Chitramuthu Adigal, Athma Santhi Nilayam v. District Collector, Ranrartathapuram : (1982)1MLJ1 , does not relate to Rule 14 but Rule 103. Therefore, that is easily distinguishable on facts. Besides, that decision does not take note or Rule 109(1-A). Therefore, that has no application to the facts of the present case.

5. The vires of Rule 14(2) has come to be elaborately considered in the writ appeal cited above, namely Writ Appeal No. 491 of 1968, and that being binding on this Court, the petitioner cannot contend to the contrary.

6. Irrespective of what happened at the time of renewal of the petitioner's 'C' Form licence when he sought renewal on 16th December, 1981, which renewal was granted on 20th January, 1982, as far as the present renewal which was sought on 26th November, 1982, is concerned, factually, the 2nd respondent's theatre had commenced exhibition on 3rd February, 1982. Therefore, even on the, very interpretation of the petitioner, Rule 14(2) would apply.

7. I have given my very careful consideration to the above arguments. I am of the view that the petitioner has absolutely no case whatever. I have already referred, in the beginning of my judgment itself, that though the licence for travelling cinemas which is covered by Part VII of the rules is initially granted for a period of five years, by virtue of Rule 109(1-A), there, must be a periodic renewal, because Rule 109(1-A) states as follows:

The licence shall be granted initially for one year and it may be renewed for further period not exceeding one year each, subject, however to the total period of five years prescribed in Sub-rule (1) if after inspection as contemplated in Rule 113, the licencing authority is satisfied that the site and the building continue to conform to the relevant rules and the building is structurally sound.

One such rule which comes into play in a case of this character is Rule 14. That rule lays down the restriction in relation to distance. In the case of a touring cinema, the relevant portion of Sub-rule (2) of Rule 14 states as follows:

A touring cinema in any place, shall not be allowed within a distance of 1.609 km. of the nearest permanent cinema located in the same local area or in the adjacent village, panchayat or town or in the City of Madras.

The sub-rule further proceeds to state that the distance between any two touring cinemas shall be not less than 0.402 km. The next paragraph of the sub-rule is as follows

There shall be no restriction in regard to the distance between one permanent cinema and another permanent cinema.

Where, therefore, the grant of a 'no objection' certificate or 'C' Form licence and equally renewal must conform to this rule, I do not think that it is possible for the petitioner to contend that at the time of renewal this rule need not be complied with. The. decision in H. H. Chiramuthu Adigal, Athma Santhi Nilayam v. District Collector, Ramamthapuram : (1982)1MLJ1 , did not deal with applicability of Rule 14 even at the time of renewal. That case deal with the existence of a place of worship within a distance of 200 metres. That is covered by Rule 103(2)(iii). Therefore, factually it is distinguishable. Strictly speaking, I should say with great respect, the attention of the Bench has not been invited to Rule 109(1-A). Therefore, that case has absolutely no application to the facts of the present case which deals with the prohibiting distance as envisaged under Rule 14(2). As a matter of fact, the very same point came up for consideration before, the Division Bench of this Court in Writ Appeal No. 491 of 1968. There, the Division Bench dealt with a situation which was identical because the touring theatre came into existence on 22ndi Nov: ember, 1967, while the, permanent theatre came into being only on 31st March, 1968. It held, having regard to Rule 109, as follows:

On a reading of the rule, two features emerge, First licence is granted for a travelling cinema, at the most, for a period of one year. There is a provision for renewal of the licence for a further period1 not exceeding one year. But the renewal is subject to the requirement that the site and building continue to conform to the relevant rules. It is contended for the appellant that the requirement here contemplated, having regard to the, reference to Rule 113, is the continued compliance with the rules relating to the place on which cinema apparatus and plant are erected, electric installation, fire-fighting and precautionary measures. Rule 113 provides for the licensing] authority being satisfied, on receipt of the Chief Electrical Inspector's certificate duly renewed, that all the rules are observed before the licence is renewed. Though the proviso refers to an inspection contemplated under Rule 113, the licensing authority has to be satisfied that the site and building continue to conform to the relevant rules. The proviso would become otiose, If the satisfaction referred to therein is the very same satisfaction that is provided under Rule 113. It must be noted that, before the amendment of Rule 102, there was no such proviso in the original rule. Before the amendment, there was prohibition against the grant of licence for a touring cinema for a period longer than one year, and, for a further licence fox the same site an interval of three months had to elapse. Obviously, when the amendment provided for renewal of the licence of a travelling cinema for a further period of one year without! break, the legislative authority envisaged the possibility of the situation altering as regards the suitability of the site. The proviso assumes that, when the licence was originally granted, the rules about the site and building were complied with and requires that the due compliance, should continue. A persusal of the Act and the Rules shows that considerable importance is given to the location of a cinema. Section 3 refers to the licensing of the place. Reference has already been made to Section 5, which prescribes matters to be taken into account by the licensing authority, one of such matters being the suitability of the place. Rule 100 states that a person who intends to build travelling cinema building should follow the procedure in Rule 35 in 'Part II(a) relating to permanent cinema. The rule provides that a person who intends to build a cinema building, should apply giving particulars required in Form A and application shall be accompanied by a plan of the proposed site drawn to scale, indicating cleanly the surrounding roads and buildings which exist upto a distance of 200 metres of the proposed site, schools, hospitals, temples or mosques, churches, or other places of public worship. Among the particulars to be given in Form A is the distance by public road of the proposed site to the nearest permanent cinema, nearest touring cinema, nearest school, nearest hospital and nearest temple or other religious institutions. The requirement as to distance between a permanent cinema and a touring cinema is clearly with reference to Rule 14(2). Rule 106 provides that, after consideration of the application made under Rule 100, with reference to the matters specified in Section 5(1) of the Act and the objections of the local authority or the police, the licensing authority may grant a no-objection; Certificate in Form B. The effect of the no-objection certificatee is to approve the site or location of the building. After completion of the building, the applicant submits his application for licence to the licensing authority, accompanied by a certificate from the Chief Electrical Inspector and certain dedications. Thereafter, the licensing authority, issues what is known as a licence in. Form C, which entitles the applicant to exhibit films. It is manifest from the above, that, before the licence is granted fox exhibition of films, compliance with the rule as to distance is exacted. The distance rule from another cinema, travelling or permanent, is only one of the requirements for proper location. Hospital or school buildings or residential buildings may have been sanctioned or may be under construction when a touring cinema was first granted a no-objection certificate. A permanent cinema may be in the course of construction. There will be no contravention of the Act or the Rules, if pending the construction of such buildings, a touring cinema is permitted to function in the neighbourhood . In the first instance a licence is issued to touring cinema only for a period of one year. The authority may issue the licence for a shorter period. An applicant for touring cinema may himself apply for licence for a shorter period. There will be no contravention of the rule, if the licence of a touring cinema is renewed beyond one year when a permanent cinema owner is not by then entitled to C Form certificate. Clearly, having regard to these features, the proviso to the amended rule requires for the renewal of a licence, that both the site and building of the cinema must conform to the relevant rules. In construing a rule, we must ascertain the intention as expressed by the words used, and for that, enquire the subject-matter with respect to which] the words have been used and object in view. The words in the rule must be understood in the sense in which they harmonise with the rest of the provisions of the Act and Rules. Without violence to the language Rules must be construed in accordance with reason, justice and equity. Thus read, clearly, for renewal of a licence for a further period of one year, the rule as to the location has to be duly complied with. The licensing authority is bound to see that the rule as to distance is not violated by the renewal of a licence.'

Therefore, the first of the arguments has to be rejected.

8. Turning to the constitutional validity of the rule, my task has been lessened because the very ruling of the Division Bench in Writ Appeal No. 491 of 1968, considered this question elaborately and came to the conclusion that the rule was constitutionally valid since the object of the restriction was manifest and was clearly regulatory of the business in the interests of the public from the point of view of public health, safety, convenience, comfort and welfare which the licensing authority must have regard to under Section 5 of the Act. Therefore, this argument is also rejected.

9. Lastly, as rightly contended by Mr. Tndrasenan, learned Counsel for the 2nd respondent, the factual situation with regard to the renewal in question is, whatever might be the position earlier, on 26th November, 1982, the petitioner sought a renewal for the remaining period of the licence. At the time, the 2nd respondent's permanent theatre was very much in existence since it had started exhibition of films even nine months ago on 3rd February, 1982. Therefore, the last of the arguments that the permanent theatre must have been located also fails even on a factual basis.

10. For all these reasons, the writ petition will stand dismissed with costs. Counsel's fee of the 2nd respondent Rs. 300 (Rupees three hundred only).


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