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The Essential Commodities Act, 1955

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Bombay High Court
Eknath Pandurang Dighole vs The State Of Maharashtra, Through on 15 December, 2010
Bench: S.A. Bobde, P. D. Kode

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IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY NAGPUR BENCH AT NAGPUR

Letters Patent Appeal No. 563/2010 in

Writ Petition No. 1184/2010 (d)

Eknath Pandurang Dighole,

aged 49 years, Occ. Business, r/o Hanwatkhed, Tq. Shindkhed Raja, Dist. Buldhana. .....PETITIONER ...V E R S U S...

1. The State of Maharashtra, through

its Secretary of Food and Urban Supply

and the Consumer Protection Department,

Mantralaya, Annex. Building, Mumbai-32.

2. The Dy. Commissioner (Supply),

Amravati Division, Amravati.

5. The District Supply Officer,

Buldhana, Dist. Buldhana. ....RESPONDENTS ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Mr. N. D. Khamborkar, Advocate for petitioner. Mrs.K. R. Deshpande, A.G.P. for respondents. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ CORAM:- S. A. BOBDE & P. D. KODE, JJ.

:- 15th

DATE December

, 2010

ORAL JUDGMENT (Per:- S. A. Bobde, J.)

1. Heard. Admit. Taken up for final hearing by consent of the parties.

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2. This appeal is filed by a Kerosene dealer against the order of suspension of Kerosene license granted to him under the provisions of the Maharashtra Kerosene Dealers' Licensing Order, 1966, framed under the powers conferred by clauses (c), (d), (i), (ii) and (j) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

3. It was questioned before the learned Single Judge, that the District Supply Officer, Buldhana suspended the license of the appellant without specifying any period during which it would remain in force. In other words, the suspension is for an indefinite period. The power to suspend license has been conferred on the authority by clause (10) of the Maharashtra Kerosene Dealers' Licensing Order, which reads as follows.

"10. Provision for cancellation or suspension of licence.- No holder of a license or his agent or servant or any other person acting on his behalf shall contravene any of the terms or conditions of the license, and if such holder, agent, servant or other person contravenes any of the said terms or conditions, then, without prejudice to any other action that may be taken against him, his license may be cancelled or 3

suspended by order in writing of the licensing authority. Provided that, no order shall be made under this clause unless the licensee has been given a reasonable opportunity of stating his case against the proposed cancellation or suspension."

The provision makes a clear distinction between the cancellation of a license and the suspension of license. It is implicit in nature of suspension that it cannot be permanent but can only be for a limited duration, that too during the period of validity of the license; otherwise it would amount to cancellation. The considerations for passing either of the two orders would also be different. This aspect of the matter was lost sight of when the writ petition was decided. The writ petition was decided on the basis of the facts of the case.

4. In the circumstances, we find that the impugned order cannot be upheld and is liable to be set aside. So also, the orders passed in appeal and in revision, upholding the said order are also liable to be set aside.

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5. In the result, we allow the appeal and set aside the impugned order dated 14.05.2008 and remand the matter back to the District Supply Officer, Buldhana for fresh decision, in accordance with law. The District Supply Officer, Buldhana shall decide the appeal as expeditiously as possible and in any event not later than six months from the date of receipt of the writ from this Court. The Letters Patent Appeal stands disposed of accordingly. No order as to costs.

JUDGE JUDGE kahale