M L SACHDEV Vs. UNION OF INDIA
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
UNION OF INDIA
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(1.)A three Judge bench of this court in Writ Petition No. 297 of 1990 made an order on 20/04/1990, to the following effect:
This is an application under Article 32 filed as a public interest litigation for a direction to the Union of India to fill up the posts of Chairman and Members of the Commission under the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969. Notice was issued on this petition on 28/02/1990 and service had been effected before 26/03/1990. The writ petition was adjourned on 26/03/1990 till 9/04/1990 to enable Union of India to file its counter-affidavit. Such affidavit has, however, not been filed till today. When the matter was listed yesterday we were told that if the matter be called today a statement could be made as to when the posts shall be filled up. Counsel for the Union of India says that within a month's time these appointments are likely to be made.
It is not disputed that the Chairman of the Commission died in harness on 11/12/1989. One of its members retired on 31/12/1989. The third member has retired on 28/02/1990. Mr Manchanda, the other member who was acting Chairman retired on 22/03/1990. It is said that the term of one member only has been extended after notice was issued in the case.
Under the Act the Commission becomes functional with a bench of two members and in view of the fact that it has only one existing member for some time, the Commission has not been functioning.
It is not disputed that the Commission is the kingpin for the functioning of the MRTP Act and is the statutory mechanism for enforcing the law brought about for public benefit. Its provisions are intended to provide protection to consumers and control monopolies. In these circumstances we have not been able to appreciate why the Commission has been rendered non-functional by keeping the various posts vacant. We direct that the Commission shall be appropriately constituted within three weeks from today. The writ petition is disposed of accordingly. No costs. At the instance of the Union of India the learned Vacation Judge on 25/05/1990 extended the time to comply with the direction given in the writ petition till 7/07/1990.
(2.)On the allegation that the order of this court of 20/04/1990, was not complied with by 7/07/1990, a petition for contempt was filed in this court on 7/08/1990. On 21/09/1990 notice was issued on the petition and on 12/10/1990 the following order was made:
"Issue notice on the contempt petition to Mr A. N. Verma, secretary of Industry and Company Affairs to appear and show cause on 22/10/1990 why he should not be convicted for contempt of court for non-compliance of the court's order dated 20/04/1990. We are satisfied that contempt has been committed, therefore, no preliminary notice has been issued. "
(3.)An affidavit was filed on 22/10/1990 by the contemner Shri AN. Verma, secretary, Department of Company Affairs, Ministry of Industries of the Union government where it was averred that certain steps were taken for the reconstitution of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission set up under the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') but the appointment of the Chairman could not be finalised as the Judge to whom the offer had been made ultimately declined. It was pleaded:
"It will be seen from the above facts and circumstances that the deponent did his best to obtain orders of appointments of Chairman and the Members of the MRTP Commission as per directions of this Hon'ble court, but the appointments could not be made despite all efforts and due diligence. There has also been no wilful negligence or intention to disobey the orders of this Hon'ble court in the matter.
The deponent accordingly seeks the indulgence of this Hon'ble court and submits that in special circumstances of the case, the deponent or the respondent may not be held guilty of disobedience of the directions of this Hon'ble court and that further reasonable time may be granted for completing the procedure of appointment of the Chairman and the Members. "
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