Decided on March 16,1982

UNION OF INDIA Respondents


R. B. Misra, J. - (1.) In exercise of powers conferred by S. 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, Sugar Control Order 1966 was issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture. Cl. 5 of that Order empowered the Central Government to issue directions, inter alia, to recognised dealers regarding production, maintenance of stock, storage, sale, grading, packing making weighment, disposal, delivery and distribution of sugar.
(2.) By Order No. GSR-410-E/Ess. Com-/ Sugar dated the 14th of July, 1980 the Central Government issued the following directions: "In exercise of the powers conferred by Cl. 5 of the Sugar (Control) Order, 1966, and in supersession of the order of the Government of India in the Ministry of Agriculture (Department of Food) No. GSR-60/(E)/Ess. Com./Sugar, dated the 26th February, 1980, the Central Government hereby directs that no recognised dealer shall keep in stock at any time, - (1) vacuum pan sugar, in the places mentioned below, in excess of the quantities mentioned against each,- (i) in Calcutta and extended area- (a) recognised dealers who import sugar from outside West Bengal - 3,500 quintals; (b) other recognised dealers - 250 quintals; (ii) in other places - (a) in cities and towns with a population of one lakh or more - 250 quintals; (b) in other towns with a population of less than one lakh - 100 quintals. (2) Khandsari (open pan sugar) in excess of 250 quintals. Provided that no recognised dealer shall hold any stock of Vacuum pan sugar or khandsari (open pan sugar) for a period exceeding ten days from the date of receipt by him of such stock of sugar or khandsari. Provided further that nothing in this Order shall apply to the holding of stocks of sugar - (i) on Government account; or (ii) by the recognised dealers nominated by a State Government or an officer authorised by it to hold such stock for distribution through fair price shops; or (iii) by the Food Corporation of India. Explanation.- For the purpose of this Order, "Calcutta and extended area" means. the areas specified in the Schedule to the notification of the Government of West Bengal No. 7752 F. S./14-R-92/61, dated the 16th December, 1964."
(3.) The petitioners in this group of petitions, who are dealers in sugar, seek to challenge the constitutional validity of the said order on three grounds. (1) the impugned order is not covered by S. 3 of the Essential Commodities Act and is ultra vires:(2) the impugned order imposes unreasonable restrictions on the right of the petitioners to carry on their trade and so it is violative of Art. 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution; (3) the impugned order is also violative of Art. 14 of the Constitution for two reasons:(a) the petitioners have been singled out for hostile treatment from other dealers of sugar at Calcutta, (b) the impugned order In unreasonable and impracticable.;

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