M/S. APPUKUTTY AND OTHERS Vs. THE STATE OF KERALA
LAWS(KER)-1968-1-21
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
Decided on January 05,1968

M/S. Appukutty And Others Appellant
VERSUS
THE STATE OF KERALA Respondents

JUDGEMENT

P.T. Raman Nayar, J. - (1.) These appeals and original petitions have been heard together since they raise common questions.
(2.) The petitioners in all these cases are dealers in foodgrains who have been appointed wholesale distributors of rationed, articles, namely, rice (including paddy) and wheat, under Clause 51 of the Kerala Rationing Order (for short, the Order) made by the State Government under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act (for short, the Act) in pursuance of a delegation made by the Central Government under Section 5 thereof. Under Clause 51, the appointing authority is the Collector of the district concerned, and he can, under sub-clauses (8) and (9) thereof, amend, vary, suspend or cancel and appointment for misbehaviour, or in the interest of the general public, after adopting a show cause procedure. By a notification of the 19th September 1967, the State Government, acting in pursuance of a. delegation of the 24th July 1967 by the Central Government, added a new clause, Cl. 51-A, to the Order. The relevant portion of that clause runs thus:- "51-A. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in Clause 51 or any contract to the contrary, if at any time, the Government are of opinion that in the interest of the general public it is necessary or expedient so to do, the Government may, by general or special order, cancel the appointment of any or all or any class of authorised wholesale distributors after giving an opportunity to such distributor or distributors of being heard; and such order of the Government shall be final". Then, on the 27th September, it gave show cause notices to the petitioners, as to other wholesale distributors in the State, excepting co-operative societies, in the following terms: "NOTICE (Under Clause 51-A of the Kerala Rationing Order 1966). "Whereas after considering the working of the scheme for distribution of rationed articles in the State and all aspects of the matter Government are of opinion that the wholesale depots should be organised by a phased programme through Co-operative Organisations and the Food Corporation of India and that in the interest of the general public it is necessary and expedient that your appointment as authorised wholesale distributor under the Kerala Rationing Order, 1966 for rice and wheat under order of the District Collector, Calicut should be cancelled. Now, therefore notice under Clause 51-A of the Kerala Rationing Order, 1966 is given to you to make representations, if any, in the matter to the Secretary to Government of Kerala, Food Department, Kerala Secretariat, Trivandrum on or before 15-10-1967 and also, if you so desire, appear before him, in the Kerala Secretariat at 11 A. M. on 18th October 1967 for being heard in the matter. If no representation is received from you before the expiry of the period specified above or if you do not appear before the Secretary to Government, Food Department at the appointed time, it will be deemed that you do not wish to be heard and further action taken". All but one of the petitioners came to this Court with applications under Article 226 of the Constitution praying that the new clause be declared void and the notices quashed on the ground that they offended Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution and were ultra vires the Act and the delegation of the 24th July 1967, made thereunder by the Central Government. Some of these petitioners sought, in addition, an order restraining the State Government from taking any action pursuant to the new clause. The learned single Judge who heard these applications, upheld the new clause but quashed the notices on the ground that the preference shown to co-operative societies over the petitioners before him was a discrimination offending Article 14 of the Constitution. These appeals by those petitioners are against the refusal to strike down the new clause and the consequent refusal to restrain the State Government from taking action thereunder.
(3.) Judgment was pronounced by the Single Judge on the 8th November 1967. On the 24th November, the State Government issued fresh show cause notices under the new clause to all the petitioners in the following terms: "NOTICE (Under Clause 51-A of the Kerala Rationing Order, 1966). "Whereas after considering the working of the scheme for distribution of rationed articles in the State and all aspects of the matter Government are of opinion that the wholesale depots should be organised by a phased programme by eliminating all the wholesalers in the Private Sector including the Co-operative Societies and entrusting the entire distribution to the Food Corporation of India, and that in the interest of the general public it is necessary and expedient that your appointment as authorised wholesale distributor under the Kerala Rationing Order, 1966 for rice and wheat under order of the District Collector, Kozhikode should be cancelled. Now, therefore notice under Clause 51-A of the Kerala Rationing Order, 1966 is given to you to make representations, if any, in the matter to the Secretary to Government of Kerala, Food Department, Kerala Secretariat, Trivandrum on or before 10-12-1967 and also, if you so desire, appear before him, in the Kerala Secretariat at 10-30 A. M. on 13-12-1967 for being heard in the matter. If no representation is received from you before the expiry of the period specified above or if you do not appear before the Secretary to Government, Food Department at the appointed time, it will be deemed that you do not wish to be heard and further action taken." These original petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution are to quash these notices and to restrain action pursuant thereto on much the same grounds as were urged in the applications that are the subject-matter of the appeals.;


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