Decided on February 08,1968



- (1.) These writ petitions were heard on the preliminary point regarding the constitutionality of the Kerala Rice and Paddy (Procurement by levy) Order, 1966, the Kerala Paddy and Rice (Declaration and Requisitioning of Stocks) Orders, 1966, the Kerala Paddy (Maximum Prices) Order, 1965 and the Kerala Rice (Maximum Prices) Order, 1965. The Orders themselves, for short, would be referred to hereinafter as the Levy Order, the Declaration Order and the Maximum Prices Orders. They were attacked as offending Art.14, 19 and 31 of the Constitution and also as being ultra vires the provisions of the parent Act under which they were promulgated viz., the Essential Commodities Act. At the commencement of the hearing itself, it was agreed that after settling the question of the constitutional validity of the Orders, the writ petitions themselves, may if necessary, be posted for further hearing on their merits or for appropriate orders. In some of these writ petitions the validity of the Kerala Rice Purchase by Levy Order, 1966 and the Kerala Rice and Paddy Regulation of Movement Control Order, 1966, were also challenged. The vires of this latter Order is now pending determination by a Division Bench. It was represented almost at the conclusion of the hearing that the validity of the Levy Order in particular, and the Declaration Order, was being challenged also with respect to Art.25 and 26 of the Constitution in certain other writ petitions. As no arguments were advanced with respect to Art.25 and 26 in these writ petitions, nothing contained in this judgment should be taken as precluding any contention against these Orders under these Articles, or as dealing with anything other than the validity of these four Orders in the light of the broad contentions already indicated.
(2.) The Levy Order, 1966, by Clause.3 thereof requires every cultivator to sell to the Government or to its agent paddy derived from lands cultivated by him in accordance with a certain graduated scale of levy. There is a similar obligation on rent receivers also under Clause.3B. Clause.4 provides for the issue of notice to the cultivators; Clause.6 provides for objection and appeal. Clause.7 forbids the cultivator and rent receiver after service of notice from selling or removing paddy from his stock without measuring the levy demanded and provides for payment of price in respect of the levy paddy to be sold to the Government. Clause.9 provides for seizure of paddy, and Clause.10 again provides for powers of entry, search, seizure, etc. Clause.11 confers a power of revision on the Government or on the Commissioner; and Clause.13 confers on the Government the power of exemption with respect to any class or classes of cultivators in any area from the provisions of the Order.
(3.) The Declaration Order defines "Stockholder" as meaning, in the case of producers one having in his possession or control, ten quintals or more of paddy or seven quintals or more of rice, and in the case of non producers, one having three quintals or more of paddy or two quintals or more of rice. Clause.3 of the Order requires every stockholder within five days of the commencement of the Order, and every person becoming a stockholder thereafter, within three days of his becoming such, to make a declaration in the prescribed form of the quantity of the paddy and rice in his possession and control to a specified authority, and make further declaration of any further stock of paddy coming into his possession or control, within three days of such stock thus coming into his possession or control. Clause.4 of the Order requires every stockholder to sell to the Government or any agent of the Government at the controlled price such quantity of paddy or rice in his possession as may be specified by the order in writing served on the stockholder. "Controlled Price" is defined by Clause.2(b) as the price fixed by the two Maximum Prices Order, 1965, referred to earlier, for rice and for paddy. Clause.6 provides for appeal and Clause.7 for inspection and seizure of stocks of paddy or rice. Clause.10 provides for the Government's power to grant exemptions from the provisions of the Order; and Clause.11 provides for the right to call for records and issue orders.;

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