Decided on July 07,1972



- (1.)The petitioner in this Rule is a coal merchant and carries on business inter alia of transport of coal throughout India through Railways in his firm name of Surajmal Gurudayal. The petitioner tendered coal for booking at Ranigunj and Burdwan Stations along with forwarding notes in May, 1971 but the Station Master of Ranigunj refused to accept the consignment endorsing that the coal would not be accepted for booking at the said station. Subsequent tender at Burdwan Station met with same fate. The petitioner contends that such acts or the part of the Railways are illegal as there is no circular or rule restricting the booking of coal. According to the Alphabetical list of Railway Stations published by the Indian Railways Conference Association the said stations are open for booking of coal. The refusal is also in violation of section 27 of the Indian Railways Act. Under the goods tariff it is obligatory on the part of the Railways to accept forwarding notes but they are allegedly refusing to accept the same. On his representation the Divisional Superintendent of the Easter Railways, Howrah, informed him that under the order of the Joint Director, Transportation (Coal) Railway Board dated May 15, 1971 booking of coal from stations other than colliery sidings would not be permitted. The said order is unwarranted and unlawful and against the provisions of Indian Railways Act, 1890 and the restrictions are in violation of Article 14 and 301 of the Constitution. Such restriction is also unreasonable as it violates Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution interfering with the petitioner's fundamental right to carry on trade and is not protected by Article 19(6). On these allegations the petitioner moved this Court and obtained this Rule on June 2, 1971 calling upon the respondents to recall, rescind or set aside the orders refusing to accept coal for booking by the Eastern Railway as also the restrictions imposed by memo dated May 15, 1971 and not interfere with the business of the petitioner by not accepting the forwarding notes for booking of coal. On July 19, 1971 and interim order of injunction was issued restraining the respondents note to give effect to the impugned order of May 15, 1971 pending disposal of the Rule, while the hearing of the Rule was expedited.
(2.)The Rule has been opposed by the respondents who have filed an affidavit-in-opposition disputing the contentions made by the petitioner. It was stated that under the Coal Tariff of the Eastern Railway then existing, coal could be dispatched from colliery sidings only and not from any other Station. Under the Coal Tariff, part I, framed by the Eastern Railway, at page 1 all traffic in coal is to be booked under invoices showing name of the dispatching colliery as the sender in each case. Coal traffic under Rule 6 of Chapter I of the said Tariff would be offered for booking from colliery sidings and not from any other stations. These Rules have been framed under section 54 of the Indian Railways Act. Goods Tariff No. 33, part I published by I.R.C.A. in Rule 101 Chapter I for acceptance, carriage and delivery of goods subject to variations published in the Tariff and circulars of Railway concerned. Article 1 of page 1 of the Coal Tariff envisage booking of coal from colliery sidings only. Further the Railways are running short of transport capacity for transport of coal due to various operational hazards and some traders are trying to by-pass the rules of movement of coal from sidings other than colliery sidings causing disruption of fair distribution of coal to the consumers. It is further stated that as different types of coal have different specific gravity it is essential that coal should be weighed for safety reasons and also for calculation of freight and weighment of coal cannot be done except by weighbridge. The facilities in respect of weighbridge are available only in depot-yards serving the collieries for which purposes booking of coal is only possible from colliery sidings. It was denied that there was infringement of the fundamental of legal rights of the petitioner on account of such restrictions.
(3.)The petitioner filed an affidavit-in-reply in which it was stated that the Coal Tariff nowhere restricted booking of coal for stations other than colliery sidings. The respondents had no authority to amend the Goods Tariff published by I.R.C.A. and Coal Tariff has no statutory force and cannot override the provisions of the Indian Railways Act. No weighment of coal is necessary prior to booking as the wagons could be loaded upto a mark which is there is all wagons. And other allegations were denied and those in the petition were reiterated.

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