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B.N. Chowdappa Chettiar, Proprietor of Sri Lakshminarayana Rice Mills Vs. Executive Officer, Kariamangalam Panchayat Board - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCommercial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1957)2MLJ630
AppellantB.N. Chowdappa Chettiar, Proprietor of Sri Lakshminarayana Rice Mills
RespondentExecutive Officer, Kariamangalam Panchayat Board
Excerpt:
- .....in 1947. things continued in this state, that is, the rice mill was being operated by two electric motors of 25 horse-power each, when the village panchayat act, 1950, effected a change in the local administration which now got to be governed by the provisions of this later enactment.3. in 1952 consequent on the drought and lack of water to generate hydro-electric power there was a cut imposed on the consumption of electricity. in order to make up for the deficiency in this source, the petitioner applied to the executive officer of the panchayat for permission to install an oil engine to be used as a stand-by when the electric motors could not be run. this was recommended by the district health officer and the executive officer of the panchayat accordingly granted to the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Rajagopala Ayyangar, J.

1. These are petitions for the issue of writs of certiorari seeking cancellation of orders passed by the Executive Officer, Panchayat Board, Kariamangalam in Salem District relating to the issue of licences for the continuance of an electric motor and oil engine to work the petitioner's rice mill within the limits of the Pan-chayat.

2. Chowdappa Chettiar, the petitioner, is carrying on business as a rice miller at Kariamangalam under the name of Sri Lakshminarayana Rice Mills. In or about 1942 when the Panchayat of the Kariamangalam was governed by the provisions of the Madras Local Boards Act the petitioner started the mill and obtained licences for working it with power. Though the resolution of the local authority permitted the petitioner to install both an oil engine as well as an electric motor to run his mill he originally installed only an oil engine. In or about 1943 an ele-tric motor of 25 horse-power was installed in addition and between the years 1942 and 1945 the mill was operated with the aid of both these pieces of machinery. In 1945 the oil engine was removed having been sold by the petitioner. In the place of the oil engine an additional electric motor was installed in 1947. Things continued in this state, that is, the rice mill was being operated by two electric motors of 25 horse-power each, when the Village Panchayat Act, 1950, effected a change in the local administration which now got to be governed by the provisions of this later enactment.

3. In 1952 consequent on the drought and lack of water to generate hydro-electric power there was a cut imposed on the consumption of electricity. In order to make up for the deficiency in this source, the petitioner applied to the Executive Officer of the Panchayat for permission to install an oil engine to be used as a stand-by when the electric motors could not be run. This was recommended by the District Health Officer and the Executive Officer of the Panchayat accordingly granted to the petitioner a licence to install and maintain the two electric motors of 25 horse-power each which he had been having from 1947 onwards as well as a 34 horse-power oil engine. For the year 1952-1953 the licence for the two electric motors was issued on 17th April, 1952, while that for the oil engine on 16th March, 1953. In relation to the oil engine the petitioner was informed by the Executive Officer that the oil engine was to be used only for the duration of the cut in electric power. The exact terms of this order which was dated 27th June, 1952 ran:

In pursuance of the Government Order (which permitted the installation of oil engines as a stand-by for electric motors during the period when there was cut in electricity) and the recommendation of the District Health Officer, Salem...permission is hereby granted to Sri B.N.Chowdappa Chettiar, Kariamangalam to install a 34 H.P. oil engine in his mill premises in the place of (not in addition to) the 50 H.P. electric motor for the duration of cut in electric power for 1952-53.

Soon after the installation is over he may apply for licence .

4. In pursuance of this last sentence the petitioner applied for and obtained the licence on 16th March, 1953, to which I have already referred. The petitioner worked the oil engine and the electric motors during 1952-1953 in the manner indicated in the licence.

5. The petitioner applied for the renewal of licences during the next year 1953-1954 and these two licences were renewed by separate licences for the year 1953-1954, both being issued on the same date 21st April, 1953. The licence in regard to the electric motors contained no condition restricting its use in any manner while that in relation to the oil engine contained this condition:

Both the oil engine and the electric motor installed in the mill should not work at the same time.

6. These two licences were also renewed for the year 1954-1955 the fresh licences being, dated 10th May, 1954. As in the previous year the licence in regard to the electric motors contained no restrictive condition while in relation to the oil engine there was a condition which ran:

The oil engine is permitted to work only in the place of 50 H.P. electric motor only when there is cut in electric power. The oil engine should not work in addition to the electric motor failing which licence will be cancelled.

7. At a time when there was no electricity-cut in May, 1954, the Executive Officer of the Panchayat paid a surprise visit to the petitioner's mill premises on 17th May,1954 and found that the petitioner was working both the oil engine as well as the two electric motors. This was treated as a violation of the conditions of the licence and the petitioner was directed to show cause within three days why his licence should not be cancelled. The petitioner did not dispute that at the time of the inspection both the oil engine and the electric motors were simultaneously working but the defence that he offered was based 'on the construction which he put on a Government Order of October, 1953, to which I shall advert a little later. The Executive Officer of the Panchayat held that the petitioner had violated the conditions of the licence and as a result cancelled both the licences in regard to the oil engine and the electric motors. The petitioner thereupon applied to this Court for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the Executive Officer cancelling his licences and this in W.P. No. 521 of 1954. This Court issued a rule nisi and also an interim order of stay pending the disposal of the writ petition.

8. In pursuance of the orders of this Court the petitioner continued the installation working both the oil engine and the electric motors during the rest of the year 1954-1955 and he applied for a renewal of these licences for the next year 1955-1956. The Executive Officer refused this renewal by his order, dated 4th March,1955 and the validity of this order is challenged in W.P. No. 211 of 1955.

9. I shall first take up for consideration W.P. No. 521 of 1954. The main points urged by learned Counsel for the petitioner were two : (1) that on the terms of the Government Order, dated October, 1953, the petitioner could not be treated as having contravened any condition of his licence by running both the oil engine as well as the electric motors at the same time. When the petitioner applied in 1952 to install an oil engine in addition to the two electric motors, the grant of his request by the order of the Executive Officer of the Panchayat, dated 27th June, 1952, was expressly stated as being based on G.O. No. 1434 (Health), dated and May, 1952. The argument therefore was that the condition endorsed on his licence in relation to the oil engine should be understood in the terms of that Government Order. This Government Order of May, 1952, was the subject of a clarification by the Government on 20th October, 1953. In this 'clarification' the Government had stated:

So long as G.O. No. 1434, Health, dated 2nd May, 1952, remains uncalled, the local authorities, may continue to grant permission for installation of oil engines in factories and workshops situated in non-residential areas after satisfying themselves whether any power cut is in operation or not at this time. The permission granted by the local authorities may be considered as 'permanent'. It is not obligatory that oil engine should cease to work as soon as the cut in the supply of electric current is removed.

10. The contention urged by learned Counsel for the petitioner was that the withdrawal of the cut did not automatically effect a cancellation of permission to use the oil engine, and that the oil engine could therefore be used along with the electric motors and that the conditions endorsed on the petitioner's licence should be understood as enabling this to be done. I am wholly unable to agree in this construction of the Government Order. On no interpretation can the Government Order be held to permit the simultaneous operation of the oil engine and the electric motors. Nor can the terms of this clarification be utilised to interpret the clear words of the conditions endorsed on the licence which it was competent for the Panchayat to enforce. In these circumstances, I have no hesitation in rejecting this contention urged on behalf of the petitioner.

11. The second point which learned Counsel for the petitioner raised has more substance in it. Two licences were issued by the Executive Officer, one for the installation of electric motors and another for the installation and working of an oil engine. Two separate fees were collected from the petitioner for these two licences. The licence or permission in relation to the electric motors was unconditional while it was the licence in relation to the oil engine alone that was subject to the condition that the oil engine should not be worked simultaneously with the electric motors. If there was a breach of the condition, by reason of the simultaneous working of the two pieces of machinery, it was a breach of a condition in relation to the oil engine and not in relation to the licence granted to install and work the electric motors. He therefore urged that for breach of the condition in relation to the oil engine, the licence in relation to it might be cancelled but not that in relation to the electric motors as the latter was governed by a separate licence and no term or condition of that licence was contravened by the petitioner. I have already set out the terms of the two licences and in their context I do not see any answer to this contention on behalf of the petitioner. The Executive Officer's attempted answer to this contention is to be found at the end of paragraph 11 of the counter-affidavit. The Executive Officer there said:

The licences were granted to run the mill on certain conditions and in a particular place under the Act and if any of the conditions is contravened, the licences issued to work the mill in the particular place stand cancelled. I therefore submit that although the licences were granted for the power to be employed, the licence for the oil engine is one appurtenant to the electric motor under certain contingencies in the same place and on a cancellation of the licence, the petitioner is disabled from running the mill at the said place.

12. Mr. Subramania Pillai, learned Counsel for the respondent, explained this defence thus. Under Section 91 of the Madras Village Panchayats Act, by reason of the notification issued by the Panchayat, no place could be used for the purposes specified, in the rules without a licence issued by the Executive authority and under Section 92 permission was needed to install machinery for running in any factory workshop or workplace. He, therefore, urged that as the licence under Section 91 had reference to the place and related to the use of the place for the purpose specified in the rules, any use of the place in contravention of the conditions of the licence constituted a breach of the licence with the result that the panchayat could stop the use of the place for any of the purposes mentioned in the section. I do not see any substance in this argument. Under the terms of the rules framed under Section 91 which designate the purposes for which the premises might not be used without a licence or permission of a panchayat the present case falls under Sub-rule (t) which runs:

(t) using for any industrial purpose of any fuel or machinery other than such machinery as may by notification be exempted by the Government from time to time.

13. The use of a place for the purpose of a rice mill where it is not worked by mechanical power does not require licensing under this rule. In other words, it is not as an offensive trade or business that the place requires to be licenced, and the requirement being only because mechancial power is used, the case really falls under Section 92 of the Act. The mechanical power that was used by the owner which necessitated the licensing was supplied from two sources namely electric motors and an oil engine. These two sources of power were covered by two distinct licences one of which was unconditional and the other subject to conditions and there was a breach of a condition in relation to one of these sources of power. Learned Counsel for the respondent did not contend that the breach of the terms of one licence enabled the licensing authority to cancel another distinct licence. In view of this I am clearly of the opinion that the cancellation of the licence for running the electric motors was unjustified and illegal and beyond the jurisdiction of the Panchayat and its Executive Officer. The order of the Executive Officer which is impugned in W.P. No. 521 of 1954 is set aside so far as it relates to the cancellation of the licence in regard to the electric motors. I have only to add that though in the counter-affidavit two contentions were raised namely that (1) the area in which the petitioner's mill was situated was a residential one and (2) that the application by the petitioner for the licence was not to the proper authority, they have all been given up by learned Counsel for the respondent and I have not therefore thought it necessary to go into them. Similarly there are allegations on either side of improper inferences having been responsible for the original grant by the licensors or of the cancellation on which learned Counsel on neither side relied as being relevant and these also I have omitted from considering.

14. I shall now deal with W.P. No. 211 of 1955 which relates to the refusal to grant a renewal of the licence for both the oil engine as well as the electric motors for the period 1955-1956. From what I have already said in relation to W.P. No. 521 of 1954 it would follow that the refusal of the licence for the oil engine was proper and that the order in relation thereto cannot be interfered with. In regard to the electric motors, though several objections had been raised in the counter-affidavit of the Executive Officer based upon grounds which learned Counsel for the respondent did not think worth-while to press in relation to W.P. No. 521 of 1954. Mr. Subramania Pillai intimated to me that if the petitioner succeeded in relation to electric motor licence for 1954-1955, it would automatically follow that the petitioner would be entitled to a renewal of that licence for 1955-1956. W.P. No. 211 of 1955 is allowed to this extent namely the order of the Executive Officer refusing to grant the renewal of the licence in regard to the electric motors will be set aside. That portion of the order relating to the oil engine will, stand. As neither party has succeeded in full, there will be no order as to costs in these petitions.


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