Decided on February 22,1968

Bindeswar Prasad Appellant
Secretary To The Government Of Assam, Supply Dept. Respondents


C. Sanjeeva Row Nayudu, J. - (1.) IN this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, the question whether the appeal preferred by the Petitioner Sri Bindeswar Prasad had been rightly rejected by an order dated 26 -3 -64 issued by the Secretary Supply, Government of Assam as barred by limitation has been raised.
(2.) THE facts briefly are as follows: On 18 -8 -58 the Petitioner applied for a licence under the Assam Foodgrains (Licensing and control) Order, 1958 for setting up a mill and running it. Not having received any reply, the gain applied on 13 -3 -61. A period of about one year or more having elapsed for a reply to application, in 1962 it would appear that the authorities concerned took up the matter and called for the report. Subsequently by an order of the joint Director of Supply, Government of Assam, Shillong dated 23 -6 -62 the application was rejected and this rejection order was communicated and received by the Petitioner in the first week of August 1962. On receipt of this, the Petitioner preferred an appeal on 9 -8 -62 to the Minister in charge of Supply Department of Assam, Shillong, whereas under the Government notification No. SDB. 194/59/13 dated 13 -8 -59 the Secretary to the Government of Assam in the Supply Department was appointed as the appellate officer for the purpose of the Rice Milling Industry (Regulation) Act, 1958. While sending the appeal to the Minister in charge of Supply, who is the head of the Supply Department and a superior officer to the Secretary, to whom it should have been addressed, a copy was sent to the Director of Supply, Government of Assam, who at that time was also the Secretary to the Supply Department, Government of Assam. This fact has not been controverted in the counter -affidavit filed on behalf of the State. It must, therefore, be assumed that the original of the appeal was sent to the Minister -in -charge of Supply and a true copy thereof was, sent to the Director of Supply, who was also the Secretary of the Supply Department. In other words, a copy of the appeal was in the bands of the Secretary to the Supply Department, simultaneously more or less with the receipt of the appeal by the Minister in charge. It is claimed on behalf of the Government that the appeal was addressed to the Minister in charge, Supply Department and not to the Secretary, Supply Department. The Petitioner, was asked on 14 -5 -63 to file a fresh appeal addressed to the proper appellate authority, namely Secretary, Supply Department. On 14 -6 -63 the Petitioner preferred the fresh appeal, as directed, to the Secretary, Supply Department and this appeal has been rejected by the Secretary, Supply Department, Government as time barred on 26 -3 -64. This is briefly the sad history of this case.
(3.) WE wish to point out that considerable lethargy has been displayed in the disposal of the applications made by the Petitioner. It is surprising that an application made in the yeas, 1958 should have taken four years for disposal and we further feel that there is no question of any limitation in this case, because the appeal, which was preferred on 9 -8 -62, was well within time and that appeal was addressed to the Minister of Supply, who is a superior officer to the Secretary and it was obviously the duty of the staff of the Minister to send the appeal to the Secretary, Supply Department. The Secretary and the Minister have opportunities to meet together and are perhaps working in the same office at Shillong. Even assuming that a technical objection could be taken in view of the fact that the appeal was not addressed to the Secretary, that objection has been met in this case by the fact that a true copy of the appeal was also addressed to the Director of Supply, who was also at the same time the Secretary to the Supply Department. We feel that there should be an anxiety on the part of the officers of the Government to dispose of the applications of the public with zeal and enthusiasm, which is unfortunately sadly lacking in this case. Therefore, in this case the appeal that was preferred on 9 -8 -62 having been properly preferred and having reached the authorities in time, no question of limitation arises at all.;

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