Decided on November 08,1955


Referred Judgements :-



Bhimasankaram, J. - (1.)This is an appeal against the decision of our learned brother Umamaheswaram, J., in W.P. No. 375 of 1955, declining to issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ restraining the District Magistrate, Anantapur, from issuing a licence to the first respondent under section 4 of the Cinematograph Act, II of 1918 (hereinafter called 'the Act').
(2.)The facts material for the determination of the questions of law raised before us are simple. The appellant is the proprietor of a theatre called " Vauhini Kala Mandir " in the municipal town of Tadipatri. He has a licence under section 4 of the Cinematograph Act to exhibit cinema shows in that theatre. The 1st respondent purchased a building in 1949 in which cinematograph films were being exhibited upto the year 1940 under a licence till then in force. As a result of certain defects pointed out by the Executive Engineer such exhibition was stopped in the year 1940. But before the defects were rectified, the Government requisitioned the building and handed it over to a local Go-operative Stores which was using it as godown till the year 1953. The building was however vacated by the Stores in that year and early in the year 1954, the ist respondent applied to the local District Magistrate for the issue of a licence under section 4 of the Act. As he received no reply, he presented a petition to the local Government on 29th May, 1954. The appellant who came to know of this filed a memo, dated 8th July, 1954, before the District Magistrate setting out his objections to the grant of a licence to the 1st respondent. The Government in G.O. R. No. 14, dated 12th January, 1955, passed the following Order :-
"In the circumstances stated by the Collector of Anantapur in his letter, dated 3rd December, 1954, cited, the Government consider that a licence under the Cinematograph Act may be granted to the old theatre at Tadipatri belonging to Sri A. Sultan Mohiuddin & Brothers provided necessary repairs are carried out. The Collector is therefore requested to grant a reasonable time say three or four months to the management of the old theatre for carrying out the requisite repairs to bring the theatre upto the specification of the Cinematograph Rules."

(3.)Thereupon, the appellant filed a writ petition out of which this appeal arises for the relief above specified. He has impleaded the State Government as the 3rd respondent. Our learned brother dismissed the application, and the petitioner has come up in appeal before us. The main contentions of the appellant are three in number. In the first instance, he urges that, under the Act, the authority having power to grant licences is the District Magistrate and the local Government has no power to direct him to issue one, as they have purported to do in the above G.O. The material portion of the relevant sections are extracted below in order that this contention may be appreciated.
"Section 4 :- The authority having power to grant licences under this Act (hereinafter referred as the "licensing authority") shall be the District Magistrate. 5. (3) Subject to the foregoing provisions of this section, and to the control of the (Provincial Government), the licensing authority may grant licences under this Act to such persons as it thinks fit, and on such terms and conditions and subject to such restrictions as it may determine."
It is contended by the appellant that the power of control cannot be co-extensive with the power initially to grant a licence and that at any rate even assuming that the Government could direct the issue of a licence to a particular individual it could only do so after the District Magistrate had declined to grant one in the first instance. We cannot accept this contention. It is to be noticed that the Statute expressly provides that the grant of licences by the licensing authority to such persons as it thinks fit, is subject to the control of the State Government. The power of control extends over the whole range of the power to grant licences and the word " control " has a very wide connotation. In our view, the Statute does not in any way delimit the ambit of controlling power. Such control may take the shape of either general or particular instructions. It cannot be said that the District Magistrate is the statutory authority solely entrusted with the power to grant or refuse a licence, as, for instance, was the case, in the statutory rules framed under the City of Bombay Police Act which were considered by the Supreme Court in Commissioner of Police, Bombay v. Gordhanadas Bhanji, (1952) S.C.R. 135 : 1951 S.C.J. 803.

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