Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Siddhartha Varma, J. while allowing this petition restored the licence of the petitioner to run the Fair Price Shop.

In the instant case, the petitioner Nasareen Jahan ran a Fair Price Shop whose license was suspended on 23-5-2017 after a preliminary enquiry conducted on the basis of a complaint. Later on, the license was cancelled and thereafter the appeal too was dismissed which was filed by the petitioner.

Counsel for the petitioner Krishna Kumar Singh, submitted that the enquiry did not take place as mentioned in the Government Orders of 29-7-2004 and 16-10-2014. Any date, place or time was not fixed for the enquiry nor was the petitioner given any opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses. It was further submitted that if the manner in which the charges were dealt with is seen it becomes crystal clear that the orders were passed without any application of mind.

The first charge was that during the inspection, the dealer of the shop was not present and was also alleged that the rate card was not displayed. But, the counsel for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner had gone to collect the essential commodities.

The second charge on the petitioner was that two Antyoday Cardholders, namely, Jafiran w/o Nasir and Rashma w/o Malle were given only 35 kg of food grains and kerosene oil was given to them in the alternative months. The petitioner had replied that Jafiran and Rashma were not Antyodaya Cardholders in her shop and to that effect Jafiran and Rashma had also given their affidavits and had specifically stated that no inspection was done and that they had never given any statement.

The third charge was that those collectively certain cardholders had said that they were not given their food grains and to that, a reply was given that the Distribution Register itself was clear that the distribution was being done properly. Counsel for the petitioner submitted that yet again a strange conclusion was drawn that the petitioner was not distributing food grains properly.

However, upon hearing the case on 24-7-2019 the case was again taken up on 31-7-2019 and upon seeing the manner in which the charges were dealt with, the Court had summoned the Sub Divisional Officer who could not reply to the question put to him as to why he was deciding cases without any application of mind. The Court definitely found that the enquiry was not conducted as per the Government Orders nor any place, date and time was fixed for such enquiry.

Thus, the Court observed that the impugned orders passed by the Commissioner Moradabad, Mandal Moradabad and the order passed by the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Sambhal, District Sambhal cannot be sustained in the eyes of law and, therefore, it needs to be quashed.[Nasareen Jahan v. State Of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 3210, decided on 02-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Sanjeev Prakash Sharma, J. while deciding a petition stated that “Motor Vehicle Rules are required to be framed not only for the benefit of persons who seek license but also taking into consideration the public who are using the roads”.

The present petition has been filed stating that the petitioner held a license for Light Motor Vehicle which he was issued earlier and had been driving it for the last 13 years and therefore in light of the same he prayed that he should be allowed the transport vehicle license.

The High Court on considering the submissions, noted that the petitioner was illiterate and unable to write or read, yet the transport department had issued him the license. Further, the Court stated “that license cannot be allowed to be issued for driving any kind of vehicle to an illiterate person as he is virtually a menace for the pedestrians as he would not be in a position to understand road signs and notices of caution written on boards for human safety on the highways as well as on the roads in the cities.

Hence, on consideration of the facts and circumstances of the present case, the Court issued a direction and stated that, license of Light Motor Vehicles as issued to the petitioner and similar persons be withdrawn. State Transport Department has also been directed to take action against such persons who have been issued license but are unable to read and write. Thus, the petition was dismissed with the above observation. [Deepak Singh v. State of Rajasthan, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 671, decided on 24-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: The Bench of Mohammad Rafiq, and Goverdhan Bardhar, JJ. allowed this PIL filed for clearance of road which was encroached by shops, structures, vehicles etc.

This Public Interest Litigation was filed to draw the attention of the Court towards an attempt by Nagar Nigam, Kota to regularize the illegal and unauthorized constructions in old Sabji Mandi, Kota which caused obstructions in the public passage and in the market. A notice/advertisement in 2013 was issued by Nagar Nigam, Kota which invited applications to regularize such constructions for which the land was either leased out or was given on license. The petitioner filed contempt petition alleging non-compliance of the aforesaid order. Photographs were also produced on record by the applicants. These photographs prima facie showed bodies/temporary structures/kiosks having been put on the land of the public road. This reduced the width of the road and also obstructed the free flow of traffic when the market operated. The shopkeepers had put their goods/items on part of the road. The parking of two-wheelers and other vehicles by the shop owners and the customers also aggravated this issue. The question here was whether Nagar Nigam which granted a license to these kiosk holders several decades ago when there was no problem of huge population in the city of Kota and also there was hardly any traffic issue, can be permitted to regularize such possession/construction?

The Court while considering the facts directed their removal. [Prem Kumar Agarwal v. State Urban Development, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 17, Order dated 10-01-2019]

Case BriefsInternational Courts

Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ): A Five Judge Bench comprising of Saunders (President) and Wit, Hayton, Anderson, and Rajnauth-Lee, JJ. awarded only vindicatory damages to the appellant as they could only prove breach of their constitutional right and no consequential damage thereto.

There was an indictment unsealed in the United States of America whereby the appellant was charged with securities fraud, evasion of taxes, money laundering and conspiracy to commit those offences to which the respondent were directed to search the offices of the appellant in order to prevent the destruction of evidence under the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance and International Co-operation Act, 2014.

It was stated by the appellant that only the copy of the search warrant was read to him but neither was he given a copy of the same nor the inventory of the item seized along with denial of the appellant into its office during the search which was unreasonably oppressive and thus was the breach of Section 18 of said Act as it interfered with its privacy guaranteed under Sections 9 and 14 of the Constitution which consequently led to the closing down of the business. It was argued by the respondents that when the trade license of the appellant’s company was suspended it was neither challenged nor renewed which eventually led to the closing of the business.

The Court came to the conclusion that the search was excessive but not oppressive and appellant has failed to prove a link as to how the breach harmed their business and hadn’t been for the search conducted still the appellant couldn’t have continued their business due to the suspended license. Also, the appellant overestimated the value of their business by 80% when they asked for the respective damages which clearly cannot be allowed. Accordingly, the appeal was partly allowed by awarding the appellant vindicatory damages in lieu of breach of their constitutional rights. [Titan International Securities INC v. Attorney General of Belize, [2018] CCJ 28 (AJ), dated 17-10-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Bench comprising of A.K. Goel Chairperson, S.P. Wangdi JM, and Nagin Nanda EM, reiterated its earlier order in regard to Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) being the competent authority to issue licenses and to ensure that no industry producing absolute alcohol functions without such license.”

In the present application, the issue is primarily in regard to enforcement of regulatory mechanism for handling absolute Alcohol or Ethanol. It has been stated that the distilleries which carry on the business of Ethanol production, they only require the approval of Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO). In an earlier order by the tribunal, it had shut down 5 industries in U.P for the same reason of non-attainment of license through PESO.

The tribunal in accordance of its earlier order dated 30-08-2018 gave clarity and stated that industries producing absolute Alcohol are required to comply with the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 along with obtaining license through PESO and till the time the industry doesn’t attain the said license it is prohibited to manufacture absolute Alcohol.[Social Action for Forest & Environment (SAFE) v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine NGT 275, order dated 24-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench comprising I.P. Mukerjee and Amrita Sinha, JJ. decided an appeal filed against the order of learned Single Judge directing the appellant- Indian Oil Corpn. to renew the license and continue the supply of kerosene oil to the respondent firm.

The respondent was a partnership firm that entered into an agreement for kerosene oil dealership with the appellant. According to the agreement in the event of the death of a partner, the firm was to be reconstituted and the dealership agreement was to be renewed on the decision of the appellant-Corporation. One of the partners of the firm died; however, the firm could not be reconstituted due to feud and rivalry among his heirs. Consequently, the appellant refused to renew the license of the respondent. The respondent filed a writ petition which was heard by the Single Judge who passed the impugned direction as mentioned above. Aggrieved thus, the appellant preferred the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record and found that no interference was required with the order passed by the Single Judge. Considering the issue, the Court noted that the appellant Corpn. was a State Instrumentality, as was held by the Supreme Court in Mahabir Auto Stores v. Indian oil Corpn., (1990) 3 SCC 752. The Court was of the view that if the appellant discontinues the supply of kerosene oil to the respondent, it would cause suffering to the consumers. It was observed that the policy decision of the appellant ought not to be exercised in an unreasonable and unfair manner so as to create a hardship for the public at large. Further, rule of reason, rule against arbitrariness and discrimination, rules of fair play and natural justice are part of the rule of law applicable on actions taken by State Instrumentality in dealing with citizens. Holding that in the event of discontinuance of kerosene oil supply, the ultimate sufferer would be common people, the Court upheld the order of Single Judge and directed the appellants to continue the supply of kerosene oil to the respondent. The appeal was disposed of if in above terms. [Indian Oil Corpn. v. Shree Niwas Rammgopal,  2018 SCC OnLine Cal 4383,  dated 04-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A petition filed against the decision of the State Authorities cancelling the food supply license granted to the petitioner was allowed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Harish Tandon, J.

The petitioner’s licence was cancelled by the respondents on the ground that he violated the provisions of the West Bengal Kerosene Control Order. An inspection was conducted by the respondents at the premises of the petitioner and thereafter, the Sub-Division Officer (F&S) issued a show cause notice to the petitioner. Subsequently, the petitioner’s license was cancelled. Such order of cancellation is challenged.

The High Court perused the record and inter alia found that the said order was passed without recording any reasons for cancellation of petitioner’s license. It was observed that in any adjudication it is imperative to record reasons for passing such order; an order which is bereft of any reasons is no order in the eyes law. Reasons are heart and soul of an order without which it cannot survive. In the instant case, the order punishing the petitioner was passed by respondents without giving adequate reasons for the said adjudication. According to the High Court, the impugned order, being bereft of reasons was liable to be set aside, which was accordingly ordered. [Ram Sankar Sahoo v. State of W.B.,  2018 SCC OnLine Cal 3199, dated 15-05-2018]