(1.)Leave granted in all the Special Leave Petitions.
(2.)I. T. C. Limited filed a writ petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India before the Patna High Court against an order of assessment passed by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee, Monghyr, demanding a sum of Rs. 35,87,072. 00, inter alia on the ground that the purchase of unprocessed tobacco leaves from the growers, being the subject-matter of the levy, the Market Committee has no power to levy and collect fee. The stand taken before the High Court was that tobacco leaves neither having been bought or sold within the market area and the power to levy and collect market fee under Section 27 of the Bihar Agricultural Produce Markets Act, being on the Agricultural produce bought or sold in the market area, the Market Committee was not entitled to levy market fee. The Division Bench however without entering into the aforesaid controversy, came to the conclusion that no clear notice appears to have been given to the company to produce the records for the purpose of satisfying the Market Committee that the tobacco leaves in question were either not processed or exported from the market area and, therefore, the company must be given a fresh opportunity of adducing all the relevant documents before the Market Committee to escape the presumption arising out of proviso to Section 27 of the Act. The High Court having remitted the matter to the Market Committee for passing a fresh assessment order, the company has approached this Court, which is the subject-matter in Civil Appeal No. 6453 of 2001 arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 12374/84. When the Special Leave Petition was listed before a Bench of this Court in February, 1987, the judgment of this Court in I. T. C. Ltd. v. State of Karnataka, reported in 1985 Supp (1) SCR 145 had been placed. The Bench tentatively being of the view that the decision of this Court requires reconsideration directed that the matter be placed before a Constitution Bench of five Judges and that is how the matter has been placed before the Constitution Bench. Subsequent to the Bihar case, similar cases arising out of judgment of other High Courts on being assailed before this Court, those cases also have been tagged on to this case. When this batch of cases had been earlier listed before a Constitution Bench and arguments had been advanced on behalf of company, the Court felt that it would be appropriate to issue notice to the Attorney General and the Advocate Generals of all the States, as most of the States have their State Act called the Agricultural Produce Market Act and pursuant to the order of this Court dated 10th of April, 2001, notices were issued to Advocate Generals of all the States as well as to the Ld. Attorney General, whereafter this case has been heard by this Bench.
(3.)Different State Legislatures have enacted Agricultural Produce and Markets Act for regulating sale and purchase of the agricultural produce within the market area and for levy and collection of market-fee. Parliament having declared that it is expedient in the public interest that Union should take under its control the tobacco industry, enacted the Tobacco Board Act, 1975 which is an Act to provide for the development of tobacco industry under the control of the Union Government. Under the Agricultural Produce Markets Act, the State Government having notified 'tobacco' as an agricultural produce, the purchase and sale of tobacco is to be regulated under the provisions of the State Act and the Market Committee has the right to levy and collect market-fee on such sale and purchase of the notified agricultural produce viz. the tobacco. In a case arising from the State of Karnataka, this Court by a majority of 2 : 1, came to hold that the tobacco industry having been taken over by the Central Government under Entry 52 of List I and having passed the Tobacco Board Act, the State Legislature ceases to have any jurisdiction to legislate in that field and, therefore, the provisions contained in the Karnataka Act, entitling the Market Committee to levy market-fee in respect of sale and purchase of tobacco within the market area directly, collides with the Tobacco Board Act, 1975 and as such the State Act so far as it relates to tobacco was struck down. The minority view expressed by Justice Mukherjee was however to the effect that both Acts can operate in their respective fields and there is no repugnancy if both the Acts are considered in the light of their respective true nature and character. The majority view relied upon the decisions of this Court in State of Orissa v. M. A. Tulloch and Co. , 1964 (4) SCR 461 and Baij Nath Kedia v. State of Bihar and Ors. , 1969 (3) SCC 838.