Gangadhara Rao, J. -
(1.) This petition, for a writ of habeas corpus, is filed to release the petitioner Sri Atmakuri Venkataratnam. The District Magistrate, Prakasam District, Ongole, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3(2) of the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) passed an order of detention on the petitioner under section 3(1)(b)(i) of the said Act on 1 8/05/1982, Grounds of detention were served upon him. He is now lodged in Central Jail, Visakapatnam.
(2.) The grounds of detention read as follows :- "You are a resident of Martur village, Addanki Taluk of Prakasam District. You are a fair price shop dealer in Martur village dealing with the distribution of essential commodities under public distribution system Your fair price shop is located at Door No. 3-235 of Martur village. On credible information that you are indulging in clandestine business in levy sugar, the District Supply Officer, Ongole surprised your fair price shop at 4.00 p.m. on 22-4-1982. You were not available. The following commodities are available in your shop. Wheat 6 Quintals (six) Sugar Q. 8-12-800 grams. Cement 194 bags. Your son Sri Atmakuri Seetaramanjaneyulu was present and he produced the accounts relating to distribution of wheat only. The stock of wheat available tallied with the book-balance. Simultaneously, your residential house-cum-retail shop located in Door No. 7-160 was also checked by the District Supply Officer, Ongole and it was found that a quantity of 32 quintals of sugar was stocked therein. As per retail levy sugar licence bearing No. 44/ADK/77 held by you, you shall carry on the sugar business at Door No. 3/70 of Martur village. But actually you are carrying on business as Fair Price Shop dealer at Door No. 3-235 of Martur and retail business at Door No. 7-160 of Martur village. Both these places where stocks of sugar are found are not authorised places and that you have violated Clause 3 (1) of A.P. Sugar Dealers Licensing Order 1963. Further your son Sri Seetharamanjaneyulu did not either produce the accounts or give satisfactory explanation for the said stock. The District Supply Officer, Ongole, believed that the stocks relate to levy sugar and that they are kept there for black-marketing. Hence the District Supply Officer seized the said stocks of sugar under the cover of a mediatornama and handed over the stocks to the Revenue Inspector, Martur for safe custody. In order to ascertain the factual position from you, the District Supply Officer, Ongole, again visited Martur on the next day i.e., 23-4-1982 and checked your shop. You were present and you have produced the register showing the distribution of sugar. According to the stock books produced, the entire levy sugar was distributed by 31-3-1982. But a check of the residence-cum-retail shop by District Supply Officer Ongole revealed that there is still as stock of 4 quintals and 22 kgs. of sugar unaccounted for in the residential house-cum-retail shop. When enquired you have stated that you have purchased the said stock of 4 quintals and 22 kgs. from the adjoining village fair price shop dealers. When questioned about the particulars of the fair price shop dealers who sold the said stocks to you, you have stated that their identity is not known. You did not produce the bills for the sugar in question. Hence believing that you are indulging in illegal purchase and black marketing of levy sugar, the District Supply Officer, Ongole seized the said stock and handed it over to the Revenue Inspector, Martur for safe custody. Regarding the stocks of 40 quintals 12 kgs. and 800 grams of sugar seized on the previous day i.e. 22-4-1982, you have stated that it is the March, 1982, you have stated that it is the March, 1982, quota of Konidena and Martur village which you took delivery from the super bazar Addanki on 22-4-1982 at 8.30 a.m. and transported it in lorry AAK-41. You have further stated that as against the total quantity of 55 quintals of sugar taken delivery by you from super bazar, Addanki and transported through lorry No. AAK-41, you have unloaded a quantity of 7 quintals of sugar at the Fair Price Shop of Sri. Y. Venkataramiah at Jannatali village in the first instance and thereafter unloaded 40 quintals of sugar at Martur out of which 24 quintals relate to Martur village and 16 quintals relate to Konidena village. You have stated that you kept 16 quintals of sugar intended for Konidena at your residence as the lorry could not go to Konidena village and that the lorry proceeded to Gannavaram (V) to deliver the remaining stock of 8 quintals to the fair price shop dealer at Gannavaram village. In support of your contention that you lifted the stocks to Martur on 22-4-1982 you cited Sri D. V. Koteswara Rao Section Writer, Taluk Office, Addanki as having followed the lorry along with you and delivered the stock to you under acknowledgment at 10-00 a.m. on 22-4-1982. In order to verify the genuineness of your statement, the District Supply Officer, Ongole made further enquiries into the matter. Sri D. V. Koteswara Rao Section Writer, Taluk Office, Addanki who was cited by you as the person who accompanied the lorry stated that he delivered sugar stocks to Jonnatali and Gannavaram villages on 23-4-1982 and that he did not go to Martur on 22-4-1982 to deliver the sugar stock to you at Martur and that he simply took acknowledgment from you on 23-4-1982 in token of having delivered sugar stock on 22-4-1982 of which he had no idea whatsoever. The District Supply Officer, Ongole, enquired Sri N. Varaprasadarao, son of Subrahmanyam, President Addanki Super Bazar to ascertain the actual lifting of sugar from Super Bazar Godown, Addanki. He stated that you come to his super bazar on the affection of 22-4-1982 to take delivery of 55 quintals of sugar intended to Gannavaram, Konidena, Martur and Jannathali and that you left he godown of Super Bazar with 55 quintals of sugar by the lorry No. AAK-41 around 5-30 p.m. on 22-4-1982. He stated that you returned with the lorry to Addanki on the same day at about 7-00 p.m. and kept out of 25 bags of sugar in his personal godown and out of 25 bags out sold away 10 bags of sugar at Addanki itself and proceeded around 7-30 p.m. towards Medarametla on the same lorry with 30 bags of sugar. He further stated that you came alone with Sri Koteswara Rao from Taluk Office, Addanki on 23-4-1982 and took delivery of 15 bags of sugar from his personal godown and proceeded to Jonnatali and Gannavaram villages. Thus it is evident from the statements of the President Super Bazar, Addanki and Sri Koteswara Rao, Section Writer of Taluk Office that you did not take the sugar stocks to Martur village on 22-4-1982 as contended by you and as regards the stocks of Jonnatali and Gannavaram the stocks were actually delivered at village points on 23-4-1982. The District Supply Officer, Ongole, also enquired Sri S. Meeravali son of S. Mastan, lorry driver of AAK 41 of Addanki who stated that you contracted him at 4-00 p.m. on 22-4-1982 to hire his lorry for transport of sugar bags to Martur and other 3 villages and took lorry to godown of Super Bazar, Addanki. He stated that no member of Taluk Office staff was available at the time of loading sugar bags into lorry at super bazar godown and 55 bags of sugar was loaded into his lorry. Thus, it is evidence from the statement of the driver of the lorry that the contention of you that Sri D. Koteswara Rao accompanied the lorry and delivered the stock at Martur on 22-4-1982 is totally false. The driver of the lorry further stated that you wrote trip sheet from Addanki to Martur. The lorry driver stated that the lorry bound for Martur left at about 5-30 p.m. on 22-4-1982 but after proceeding 1 km. from Addanki Super Bazar, you have asked him to stop the lorry and went to Taluk Office and came back to lorry around 7-00 p.m. The driver stated that he was asked by you to get back to Addanki and accordingly you unloaded some sugar stock at the private godowns of the President, Super Bazar and then proceeded to Medarametla. At Medarametla village 10 bags of sugar was unloaded and from Medarametla village the lorry proceeded to Ravinutala village and unloaded some sugar stock and returned to medarametla where you left the lorry perhaps left for Martur. The driver further stated that the lorry covered the following trips. 21-4-82 From Addanki to Ganapavaram (with load) 22-4-82 From Gannavaram to Narasaraopet (empty) from Narasaraopet to Jonnalagadda (empty) from Jonnalagadda to Vellampalli (paddy) 9-00 a.m. from Vellampalli to Addanki 2-30 p.m. The lorry driver stated that you contacted him at 4-00 p.m. on 22-4-1982 for transport of sugar bags only after he returned from Vellampalli to Addanki. Sri Vadigineni Suribabu and 2 other coolies who loaded and unloaded the 55 bags of sugar in lorry AAK 41 on 22-4-1982 have also given their statement which is on record. Sri Madala Subbarao, Managing Partner, Sri Venkata Satyanarayana Rice Mill, Vellampalli gave a statement that the lorry AAK 41 unloaded paddy stock at 1-00 p.m. on 22-4-1982 at his mill. From the foregoing facts, it is evidence that you actually took delivery of sugar stocks between 4-30 p.m. and 5-30 p.m. on 22-4-1982 but not at 8.30 a.m. as contended by you. Hence the contention that you took the stocks of sugar to Martur and that the stocks available at your shop and residence relate to March 1982 quota is totally false. Taking a clue from the evidence given by the President Super Bazar, Addanki, the driver of the lorry No. AAK 41, and the hamalis who loaded and unloaded the sugar stocks to District Supply Officer made further investigation at Addanki, Medarametla and Ravinutala villages and unearthed the unauthorised disposal of 40 quintals as against 55 quintals of sugar taken delivery by you from Super Bazar, Addanki. (i) Seizure of 20 bags of levy sugar at Ravinutala :- Shri Chebrolu Narasambhotlu son of Jagannadham, Ravinutala from whose house the stocks of 20 bags of levy sugar was found stated that around 11-00 p.m. on 22-4-1982, the mutha collies have unloaded the stock of 20 bags of sugar on the pretext that the lorry carrying sugar bags gave trouble. Ascertaining that the stocks were kept there by you for disposing the stocks in black market with a view to derive illegal and huge profits, the District Supply Officer, Ongole seized the stocks on 25-4-1982 and handed over the stocks of the village Munsif Ravinutala for safe custody. (ii) Seizure of 10 bags of levy sugar at Medarametla : Sri Batchu Anjaneyulu son of Audinarayana of Madarametla village in whose house the stock of 10 bags of levy sugar was found stated that the stock in question was unloaded in his house at 8-00 p.m. on 22-4-1982 from lorry AAK 41. As the explanation given by the house owner is not satisfactory and as per circumstantial evidence, ascertaining that the stocks were kept there by you unauthorisedly for disposing the stocks in black market with a view to derive illegal and huge profits, the District Supply Officer, Ongole, seized the stocks on 27-4-1982 and handed over the stocks to the Village Munsif, Medarametla for safe custody. (iii) Disposal of 3 bags of sugar in black market to Sri A. Kandaswamy son of Attiyappakounder of Addanki :- Sri A. Kandaswamy son of Attiyappakounder, proprietor of Jaya Sweet Home, addanki, stated that he purchased 3 bags of sugar at Rs. 480.00 each from you on 22-4-1982 and utilised the stock for preparation of sweets. The District Supply Officer, Ongole, enquired Sri Kandaswamy on 27-4-1982 and recorded his statement. Thus it is evident that you derived as sum of Rs. 345.00 out of this black-marketing transaction i.e. difference between the black market rate of Rs. 480.00 minus the levy sugar rate of Rs. 365.00 per quintal. (iv) Seizure of 6 quintals of levy sugar in Addanki village :- Sri Perla Sahadeva Kumar son of Radhakrishnaiah of Addanki stated that you unloaded the stock of 6 bags of sugar at his house on 22-4-1982 around 7-00 p.m. Ascertaining that you kept the stocks for black marketing, the District Supply Officer, Ongole seized the stock of 6 bags of sugar on 3-5-1982 under the cover of Mediatoranama and handed over the stocks to the Village Munsif of North Addanki for safe custody. Thus as against the 40 quintals of sugar diverted by you, the District Supply Officer, Ongole investigated into the case and traced out the whereabouts of 39 quintals. From the foregoing facts, it is evident that you have contravened the Clauses 3(1) and 3(2) of the A.P. Sugar dealers Licensing Order 1963. The fact that you are indulging in black-marketing of sugar is clearly seen from the statement given by you on 23-4-1982 before the District Supply Officer; Ongole that you purchased 4 quintals from the adjacent fair price shop dealers which were found in your residence cum retail shop. Thus, you have acted in the manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies of commodities essential to the community and therefore, you are ordered to be detained under section 3(1)(b)(i) of the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act 1980 to prevent you from indulging on such acts in the public interest".
(3.) The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner has sent the petition dated 17-6-1982 through his son to the Joint Collector and the District Supply Officer surrendering the sugar licence and the fair price shop dealership on 19/06/1982, the authorities had received the petition and hence the detention of the petitioner is no longer necessary. In reply to it, it is submitted by the learned Public Prosecutor appearing for the respondents that the Joint Collector had endorsed on the petition to file it before the competent authority and returned it to the Advocate for the petitioner.;