KARNATI RANGAIAH Vs. A SULTAN MOHIDDIN AND BROS TADIPATRI
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
A.SULTAN MOHIDDIN AND BROS., TADIPATRI
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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
"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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