SUGAR MILLS COMPANY LIMITED Vs. JOINT SECRETARY SUGAR GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
SUGAR MILLS COMPANY LIMITED
JOINT SECRETARY (SUGAR), GOVT.OF INDIA
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PRAKASH NARAIN -
(1.)The issues raised in the petition are an outcome of the concept of controlled economy, In a country like ours where despite all effort population outstrips production, the State to discharge its burden of a welfare State has to step in to ensure equitable distribution of various goods, including the consumer goods. The equitable distribution has to be not only with regard to the quantity but also the price. It is to ensure this that the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 was enacted. As the Preamble of the Act says, it was enacted to provide, in the interest of the general public, for the control of the production, supply and distribution of, and trade and commerce in certain commodities.
(2.)Section 3 of this Act empowers the Central Government if it is of the opinion that it is necessary or expedient so to do for maintaining or increasing supplies of any essential commodity or for securing their equitable distribution and availability at fair prices or for securing any essential commodity for the defence of India or the efficient conduct of military operations it may, by order, provide for regulating or prohibiting the production, supply and distribution thereof and trade and commerce therein. It is under the provisions of S. 3 that the Levy Sugar Supply (Control) Order, 1979 was issued (for short called the Levy Sugar Order). Clause 2 of the Levy Sugar Order empowers the Central Government to issue directions to any producer or recognised dealer to supply levy sugar of such type or grade and in such quantities to such persons or organisations in such areas or markets as may be specified in the order and at a price not exceeding the price determined under sub-section (3-C) of S. 3 of the Essential Commodities Act. Levy sugar is denned to mean the sugar requisitioned by the Central Government under clause (f) of sub-section (2) of S. 3 of the Essential Commodities Act.
(3.)Section 3 (1), as noticed earlier, empowers the Central Government to issue orders in certain contingencies and to ensure certain results. Sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Act specifically empowers the Central Government to issue orders requiring any person holding in stock, or engaged in the production, or in the business of buying or selling, or any essential commodity, (a) to sell the whole or a specified part of the quantity held in stock or produced or received by him, or (b) in the caw of any such commodity which is likely to be produced or received by him, to sell the whole or a specified part of such commodity when produced or received by him, to the Central Government or a State Government or to an officer or agent of such Government or to a Corporation owned or controlled by such Government or to such other person Or class of persons and in such circumstances as may be specified in the order. Therefore, reading the provisions of S. 3 of the Act along with the provisions of the Levy Sugar Order it is obvious that what is contemplated is to take away property, belonging to a person. The taking away of property without payment of price or compensation would be unconstitutional. From a producer of a, commodity to take his produce compulsorily may even amount to a violation of Art. 19 (1) (g) or Article 31 of the Constitution. Therefore, the Essential Commodities Act lays down the principles on which compensation or price is to be calculated for being paid to the person whose property is compulsorily sought to be acquired or taken or requisitioned by virtue of an order passed under S. 3 of the Act.
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