Decided on March 04,1952



Rajamannar, C.J. - (1.) This is an application by one Luis Caetanao Menezes for the issue of a writ of prohibition, prohibiting the State of Madras from exercising any of the powers derived from Madras Act X of 1937 (the Madras Prohibition Act), or to issue a writ of mandamus directing the Board of Revenue to issue a permit to the petitioner. In the affidavit in support of the application, the petitioner states that he is a Portuguese subject born at Sholapur of parents both of whom were born in Goa, that his birth certificate proves his Portuguese nationality and his name is inscribed in the register of Portuguese subjects maintained at the Consulate at Madras; that according to the laws of his country he is entitled to all the rights and privileges to which any citizen born in any Portuguese province in Europe is entitled to without any restrictions or limitations whatsoever. It is further stated that after the Madras Prohibition Act was extended to the City of Madras, the petitioner who was residing at Royapuram, Madras, applied to the Board of Revenue through the Collector of Madras for a permit for the possession and consumption of liquor stating that he was a Portuguese subject and he was accustomed to partake of foreign liquor for over thirty years; that under the rules framed under the said Act the Board of Luis Caetano Menzes vs. State of Madras (04.03.1952 - MADHC) Page 1 of 4 Revenue is empowered to grant permits and in so granting or refusing the permits the Board of Revenue from time to time follows the directions given to the Board by the Government, that the application of the petitioner was eventually refused on the 18th November 1948 for the reason that there was no good ground for exempting him from the provisions of the Act. The petitioner alleges that European nationals of foreign states are given permits without any restriction but persons in the position of the petitioner who are subjects of a foreign European power like Portugal but who are not Europeans are denied the same treatment. This he charges is discriminatory on the part of the State and it is contrary to Article 14 of the Constitution.
(2.) The Assistant Secretary, Board of Revenue and Excise, has sworn to an affidavit on behalf of the State, that the State is not concerned with the laws of Portugal and the right of the petitioner under those laws; and justifying the refusal on the ground that the applicant was treated as an Indian as there was no clear proof that he was a non-Indian.
(3.) At the time of the hearing of the application, the learned Advocate brought to our notice the latest Government Order on the subject of issue of liquor permits (G. O. No. 517 Development dated 2nd February 1951). The following is the material portion of this order: "The Government have examined the various classifications now in force for grant of liquor permits and direct that in future applicants for liquor permits should be divided into the following two classes: 1. Indians and the citizens of the French and Portuguese settlement in India; 2. Foreign national excluding citizens of the French and Portuguese settlements in India; Indians and citizens of the French and Portuguese settlements in India should be granted permits only in exceptional cases on the production of medical certificates and subject to the other restrictions now in force for the grant of permits to Indians, permits may be granted to other nationals coming under category (2) and who are 21 years or above as in the case of non-domiciled Europeans without drawing any distinction between non-domiciled Europeans and nondomiciled Asians as regards the quantity to be allowed.";

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