Decided on January 30,1957



- (1.) THIS petition under Article 226 raises the question whether the East Punjab control of Bricks Supplies Order, 1949, is consistent with the provisions of the constitution.
(2.) THE petitioners in this case are a firm of coal merchants having their head office at Ferozpore. In the year 1950 they were granted a licence for the manufacture and sale of bricks under the provisions of the East Punjab Control of Bricks supplies Order, 1949, and this licence was renewed year after year, the last licence being valid up to the 31st. March, 1954. The petitioners obtained large quantities of coal under a permit for the purpose of firing their brick-kiln but they did not use the coal for the purpose for which it was intended and passed it on to certain other persons. The State Government caused enquiries to be made into the matter and finding the allegations against the petitioners to be true declined to order the renewal of their licence. The petitioners are dissatisfied with the order of the State government and have challenged the validity of the Order of 1949. It is not necessary however to go into this question as I am of the Opinion that the petition can be disposed of on other grounds.
(3.) THE first point for decision in the present case is whether the petitioners have come to this Court with clean hands. It is common ground that in the year 195051 they were allotted 14 wagons of coal all of which were passed on to other firms. In the year 1951-52 they obtained permits for 17 wagons of coal but were unable to pass their quota on to other persons as no consignment of coal arrived in Ferozpore owing to the shortage of transport. In the year 1952-53 the petitioners received 9 wagons of coal, four of which were transferred to others, four given on loan and one not accounted for. Thus out of a total number of 23 wagons of coal received as many as 18 were transferred to other firms, four were given by them on loan and one was completely unaccounted for. The petitioners admit that they did not fire their kiln in Ferozepore after July 1950, but they attribute their failure to do so to a number of circumstances, among others being (1) that they had already a large number of bricks in stock with them; (2) that in view of the serious tension between India and Pakistan over the kashmir issue there was scarcely any building activity (3) that it was difficult to persuade the labour to work at their kiln which is at distance of one and a half miles from the border; and (4) that Government had auctioned a number of old bricks which had become available by the destruction of houses due to floods and consequently that there was no demand for purchase of bricks in Ferozepore. The State Government controverted these allegations by stating that there was sufficient demand for supply of bricks and that other kiln licensees were manufacturing bricks during the relevant period. Even if the allegations made by the petitioners were accepted at their face value and even if it were assumed that it was difficult or impossible for them to manufacture bricks, it seems to me that there was no justification whatever for the petitioners placing indents for supplies of coal during the relevant period. It is contended on behalf of the State, and in my opinion with a certain amount of justification, that the petitioners who were coal merchants by profession were anxious to obtain wagons of coal not with the object of firing their kiln but with the object of selling coal in the black-market or at any rate with the object of making profits over the sales. A writ of mandamus is controlled by equitable principles and can be issued only to a person who comes into Court with clean hands and who is not guilty of fraud or bad faith in respect of the matters in controversy between the parties. I am satisfied that the petitioners in the present case obtained their licence not with the object of firing their kiln but with the object of obtaining supplies of slack coal for the purposes of their business as coal merchants.;

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