S.B. Sinha, J.
1. In this writ petition the petitioner has prayed for the following reliefs : ----
(a) For a direction to the respondents to pay the price of sugarcane supplied by the persons (quantities and names given in Annexure 2 to the writ petition) with interest;
(b) For a direction to respondent 5 to implement the provisions of the Bihar Cane (Regulation of Purchase and Sale) Act only.
2. The facts of the case lie in a very narrow compass.
3. The petitioner has been authorised by various cane growers to file this application on their behalf by a resolution dated the 6th August, 1983, and as contained in Annexure 1 to the writ petition. It is admitted that the respondent 2 is the owner of the sugar factory situated in the town of Samastipui and the respondent 3 is working manager of the said factory. According to the petitioner, in the year 1983, i.e., during the period 24-1-1983 to 27-6-1983 cane growers of Samastipur district supplied sugarcane to the factory of respondent 2. A list of cane growers and the quantity supplied by each of them has been mentioned in the chart contained in Annexure 2 to the writ petition. According to the petitioner, the said cane-growers were deprived of their legitimate right to get the price for the sugarcane supplied to the fore mentioned factory and, in such a situation, this petition has been filed.
4. On the 6th April, 1988, when the case was taken up for hearing, Mr. P.K. Shahi, learned counsel appearing for the respondent 2, the Corporation sought for two weeks' time to obtain instructions as .to whether the price has been paid to all the cane growers or not. Today, when the case was called out for hearing and affidavit on behalf of the respondent 2 has been filed, the material portion whereof is contained in para 3 of the said counter-affidavit which reads as follows : --
"That it is submitted that the entire price of sugarcane purchased by the Samastipur Unit of respondent 2 in the Cane crushing seasons 1982-83 and 1983-84 has been paid to the cane growers. No price remains due to be paid to the cane provers for the supply of sugarcane to the Samastipur Unit during the aforesaid crushing season."
5. The learned counsel appearing for the petitioner has submitted that, from the facts mentioned hereinbefore, it would be evident that the respondent 2 has admitted its liability to pay the price of the cane supplied by various persons to the respondent 2 and as enumerated in Annexure 2 to the writ petition. Learned counsel further submitted that, he has no instruction as to whether actually any payment has been made by the respondent 2 to the cane growers or not.
6.ue. From the perusal of the said counter-affidavit itself it would appear that the statements made therein and as referred to hereinbefore are absolutely vague. The said statements have been verified on affidavit which has been sworn by one Chandrika Pandey but even his designation h as not been stated. Para 3 of the affidavit has been verified as true to the deponent's knowledge based on information derived from the records which the deponent believes to be true, but even then neither any date of actual payment nor any other detail has been mentioned. The said records have also not been produced before me. However, Mr. Shahi assures me that all the payments have been made.
7. Mr. Shahi, however, raised two preliminary objections with regard to the maintainability of this writ application. According to the learned counsel, the writ petition is not maintainable as the same is only for the purpose of enforcing a pure money claim. The learned counsel further submitted that in any event in terms of the provisions of the Bihar Cane (Regulation of Supply and Purchase) Act, 1981, there exists an alternative remedy which is equally efficacious and as such the petitioner ought to have taken recourse to the same. On the other hand, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner has drawn my attention to the provisions of Sections 43, 44, 51, 52 and 53 of the said Act.
8. On a perusal of the aforementioned provisions, it is absolutely clear that the respondent 2 was u under a statutory obligation to pay the price of the cane supplied by the cane growers. From the scheme and object of the aforementioned Act, there cannot be any doubt that the legislature intended to give reliefs to the cane growers with regard to the payment of the price to them by the owner of the sugar factory. In such a situation, it must be held that the supply of cane and the right to receive payment therefor is a statutory one. The provisions of Section 43 of the Act, in my opinion, is mandatory in character. Not only non-payment of the price against the supply of cane entails payment of interest at the rate of 11% per annum in terms of Section 51 of the Act but the same also entails a penal consequence under Section 52 thereof. In such a situation, there cannot be any doubt whatsoever that the provisions of Sections 43 and 44 are absolutely imperative in character. Thus, evidently, the right of the cane growers being statutory in nature they have a legal right to maintain this writ petition.
Reference in this connection may be made to the case of The Gujarat State Financial Corporation v. Lotus Hotel Pvt. Ltd, AIR 1983 SC 848 wherein the Supreme Court has held as follows : --
" 12. Now if appellant entered into a solemn contract in discharge and performance of its statutory duty and the respondent acted upon it, the statutory corporation cannot be allowed to act arbitrarily so as to cause harm and injury, flowing from its unreasonable conduct, to the respondent. In such a situation, the Court is not powerless from holding the appellant to its promise and it can be enforced by a writ of mandamus directing it to perform its statutory duty. A petition under Article 226 of the Constitution would certainly lie to direct performance of a statutory duty by 'other authority as envisaged by Article 12."
9. In view of the aforementioned authoritative pronouncement of the Supreme Court, the first objection of Mr. Shahi, in my opinion, hae Court, the first objection of Mr. Shahi, in my opinion, has no substance.
10. So far as the second objection raised by the learned counsel is concerned, in my opinion, in view of the fact that once the writ petition has already been admitted, the petitioner should not be directed to avail the purported remedy of moving the Cane Commissioner for redressal of his grievance. Such a course, in my opinion, would be wholly unjust.
In this connection, reference may be made to the decision of a Division Bench of this Court in the case of Gobind Saran and Son v. State of Bihar, 1983 Pat LJR 26 : (AIR 1983 Pat 96). Further, in this application, the icer be directed to lodge prosecution as against the concerned officers in terms of Section 52 of the said Act. Such prayer, in my opinion, could not have been made before the Cane Commissioner. In this view of the matter, I am of opinion that the writ petition is maintainable.
11. In view of the fact that the right of the petitioners to get the price of the sugarcane supplied by them is a statutory right and further in view of the fact that the respondents are under statutory obligation to pay interest at the rate of 11% per annum, it is hereby directed that the respondents 2 and 3 should pay all the arrears to the persons whose names appear in Annexure 2 to the writ petition, if any, together with interest at the 11% per annum calculated from the 15th day from the actual date of supply till the date of actual payment.
12. However, there cannot be any doubt that all public officers who are statutorily enjoined to perform their statutory duties must perform the same without any fear and favour and in accordance with law. If they fail to discharge their official duties in seeing that the cane growers are paid their just and legal dues by the respondent 2 within the stipulated period but they fail to take action against the respondent 2 in accordance with law, I, however, hope and trust that in future if such an occasion arises the concerned officers would not be failing in discharging their official duties.
13. In view of the fact that the matter has been pending for a long time before this Court, in my opinion, it would be inequitable to direct launching of criminal prosecution as against respondents 2 and 3 at this stage. However, as the cane growers have been deprived of the just relief to which they were entitled to under the statute for a long time, the respondents 2 and 3 shall, while making payments to them on the aforementioned terms shall also pay a sum of Rs. 100/- to each of the persons whose names appear in Annexure 2 to the writ petition by way of casts of this writ petition.
14. In the result, this writ application is allowed.