BHIM SINGH Vs. STATE OF PUNJAB
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: PUNJAB & HARYANA)
STATE OF PUNJAB
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(1.)These are five companion appeals from the judgments of the High Court of East Punjab and the principal point argued before us is as to the legality of the detention of the appellants under the Preventive Detention Act on the ground that they are engaged in black marketing in cotton piecegoods.
(2.)The Jullundur wholesale cloth syndicate was formed to work out the distribution of cloth under the Government of Punjab Control (Cloth.) Order passed under the Essential Supplies Act. Certain persons who held licences as wholesale dealers in cloth formed themselves into a corporation and all cloth controlled by the Government was distributed in the district to the retail quota holders through them. The Government allotted quotas to the retailers and orders were issued by the Government for giving each retailer certain bales under the distribution control. If some of the retail licence holders did not take delivery of the quotas allotted to them under the Notification of 4-10-1950 issued by the Government of India, Department of Industries and Supplies, it was, inter alia, provided that the wholesale syndicate may give the bales not so lifted to another retail dealer. It may be noted that all along the price for the cloth to be sold wholesale and retail had been fixed under Government orders. The Syndicate was suspected to be dealing in black market and had been warned against its activities by the District Magistrate of Jullundar several times. On 7-6-1951, an order was issued by the District Organiser, Civil Supplies and Rationing, Jullundar, to the managing agents of the wholesale cloth corporation, Jullundar City, intimating that they were strictly forbidden to dispose of any unlifted stock against unexpired terms without his prior permission in writing, They were further directed that thenceforth no such stock would be allowed to be sold to an individual retailer, but permission would be granted to sell the same to Associations of retailers only. It was stated that this letter was not in accordance with cl. 5 of the Notification of the Government of India dated 4-l0-1950, which authorised the wholesale syndicate to be at liberty to sell unlifted cloth to any other retailer or an association of retail dealers of the same district. It may be further noted that the Cotton Cloth Control Order was in operation even prior to 1950. For sometime control on the distribution of cloth was lifted but the price remained under the control of the Government. During that time it has been alleged that the appellants and several others sold cloth at rates higher than those fixed by the Government. Even when the distribution and price were both controlled the manufacturing mills were allowed to sell at prices fixed by the Government a certain percentage of cloth which was not taken by the Government under its control. This was described as free sale cloth and it was alleged that the appellants and several others were doing black marketing in this free sale cloth.
(3.)By an order passed by the District Magistrate on 19-6-1951 he directed that the appellants be detained under S. 3(2), Preventive Detention Act, to prevent them from acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies of cloth, essential to the community. On 2-7-1951, the District Magistrate, Jullundar, directed that the appellants be committed to District Jail, Jallandar, from 2-7-1951 until 1-10-1951, The appellants were detained accordingly. The grounds for their detention were given to them on the morning of 6-71951. The grounds set out the activities of the appellants as managing agents or partners in different firms or employees of the said firms or corporations. It was stated that they had been disposing of most of the stocks of cloth received for the Jullundar District in the black market at exorbitant rates from June 1949 to October 1950 during the period when control on distribution was removed and that even after the reimposition of that control in October 1950 they disposed of cloth which has been frozen under the directions of Director of Civil Supplies in the short interval between the passing of the order and its service on them. The second ground was in respect of their individual activities as members of the firm in which they were partners in disposing of stocks of cloth in black market at rates higher than the controlled ones, to various dealeres, through agents. The particulars were specified in Appendix 'A.' They refer to the free sale cloth. In the third ground it was alleged that by illegal means they deprived the rightful claimants of the various stocks of cloth with a view to pass the same into black market at exorbitant rates. We do not think it necessary to go into greater details of these grounds or refer to the other grounds.
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