Desai, J. -
(1.) Even an innocuous marginally regulatory measure affecting the sugar trade at fringes is sufficient for this powerful industry to invade the courts with. petitions galore almost proclaiming that there should be hands off policy in respect of this trade. The flimsy albeit untenable grievance made in this group of petitions would underscore the truth of what is just stated.
(2.) In exercise of the power conferred by cl. (4) third proviso of the Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966, ('Control Order' for short), the 2nd respondent-State of Uttar Pradesh, with the permission of the 1st respondent, Union of India, issued Notification dated Sept. 3, 1980, which is impugned in these petitions. The impugned. Notification reads as under:
"Sr. No. 398A (Ka) 13-38-16, 56
Government Gazette. U. P.
Part 4, Section (b) (kha)
Lucknow, Wednesday, 3rd Sept., 1980.
P. Aa. - 306
In exercise of the powers conferred by clause 4 proviso 3 of the Sugarcane Control Order, 1966, the Governor, with the permission of the Central Government, allows in Uttar Pradesh in respect of Khandsari units, producing Gur, rab or Khandsari sugar, where sugarcane is brought in bundles and is weighed as such, a rebate in regard to the binding material at 0.650 Kilograms, per quintal.
It was stated that there was a printing error in mentioning the figure '0.650 kg.' and' a corrigendum has been issued to correct it to '0.625 kg.' per quintal in the Notification.
(3.) The allegations in all the petitions are identical and, therefore, we would state a few representative facts from the writ petition filed by M/s. Sukhnandan Saran Dinesh Kumar and another. The petitioner are producers of sugar by open pan process, the product being described as khandsari sugar. This term is to be understood in contradistinction to the marketable commodity called 'sugar' which is produced by vacuum pan process. The raw material for manufacturing sugar or khandsari sugar is sugarcane. The petitioners have set up a factory for manufacturing khandsari sugar by open pan process. The petitioners buy sugarcane from the sugarcane growers. In order to extend protection to the farmers who have undertaken raising of sugarcane crop, the Central Government issued the Control Order in exercise of the power conferred by S. 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. By Cl. 3 of this Order, power was conferred on the Central Government to fix minimum price of sugarcane to be paid by producers of sugar for sugarcane purchased by them. Cl. 4 confers similar power to fix the minimum price to be paid by the producers of khandsari sugar for sugarcane purchased by them. Other clauses of the Order for the present purpose are not relevant Cl. 3A was introduced by G.S.R. 815 (E)/ESS. COM./Sugarcane dated September 24, 1976, which inter alia, conferred power on the Central Government and various other authorities mentioned therein to allow a suitable rebate in regard to the weight of the binding material not exceeding 0.625 kg. per quintal of sugarcane, when sugarcane was purchased by the producer of sugar. Subsequently, by Notification GSR 197 (E)/Ess. Com./Sugarcane dated March 20, 1-978 Cl. 4A with the marginal note "Rebate that can be deducted from the price paid for sugarcane by producers of khandsari sugar" was introduced. Cls. 4 and 4A are material for the present discussion and they may be extracted:
"4. Minimum price of sugarcane payable by producers of khandsari sugar:-
The Central Government or a State Government, with the concurrence of the Central Government, may, by notification in the Official Gazette, from time to time, fix the minimum price or the price of sugarcane to be paid by producers of khandsari sugar or their agents for the sugarcane purchased by them:
Provided also that the Central Government or, with the approval of the Central Government, the State Government, may in such circumstances and subject to such conditions as it may specify allow a suitable rebate in the price so fixed."
"4A, Rebate that can be deducted from the price paid for sugarcane by producers of khandsari sugar:-
Inserted vide Notification No. GSR 197 (E)/Ess. Com./Sugarcane dated 20-3-1978.
A producer of khandsari sugar or his agent shall pay, for the sugarcane purchased by him, to the sugarcane grower or the sugarcane growers, co-operative society, either the minimum price of sugarcane fixed under clause 4, or the price agreed to between the producer or his agent and the sugarcane grower or the sugarcane growers" co-operative society, as the case may be (hereinafter referred to as the agreed price:)
(iii) Where the sugarcane is brought bound in bundles and weighed as such, the Central Government or, with the approval of the Central Government, the State Government or the Director of Agriculture or the Cane Commissioner or the District Magistrate within their respective jurisdiction, may allow a suitable rebate in regard to the weight of the binding material not exceeding 0.625 kilogram per quintal of sugarcane, and