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Indian Case Summary

State Of Mysore vs H. Sanjeeviah on 16 January, 1967 – Case Summary

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In the case of State of Mysore vs H. Sanjeeviah on 16 January, 1967, the Supreme Court of India was tasked with examining the validity of certain provisions under the Madras Forest Act (11 of 1900) and their implications on the Constitution of India. The case was presided over by a bench consisting of Rao, K. Subba (CJ), Shah, J.C., Sikri, S.M., Ramaswami, V., and Vaidyialingam, C.A.

Facts of the Case

The case revolved around Section 37 of the Madras Forest Act, 1900, which granted the government the power to make rules regulating the transit of forest produce. A rule was framed under this section that prohibited the removal of forest produce without a permit. After the Constitution was promulgated in 1950, two provisos were added to this rule. The first proviso prohibited the issuance of permits allowing forest produce to be removed between sunset and sunrise, while the second proviso conditionally permitted such removal between sunset and 10 p.m. The respondent, H. Sanjeeviah, a forest contractor, challenged the validity of these provisos in the High Court, arguing that they exceeded the rule-making power under Section 37 of the Madras Forest Act and were restrictive of his freedom of trade and commerce as declared by Article 301 of the Constitution.

Issues Raised

The primary issues raised in this case were:

  1. Whether the power to impose restrictions as contemplated by the two provisos to Rule 2 can be found in any of the clauses of sub-section (2) of Section 37.
  2. Whether the provisos were in truth restrictive of the right to transport forest produce.
  3. Whether the provisos were protected by Article 305 of the Constitution.
  4. Whether the provisos were in violation of Article 301 of the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of trade, commerce, and intercourse.

Court’s Observations and Judgment

The court observed that the power conferred upon the State Government by Section 37 was merely “to regulate the transit” of forest produce and not to restrict it. The court held that a rule which totally prohibits the movement of forest produce during certain hours is prohibitory or restrictive of the right to transport forest produce. Therefore, the court concluded that the two provisos to Rule 2 were not regulatory in character, but were restrictive.

The court also held that the provisos were not protected by Article 305 of the Constitution. The court clarified that while Section 37, which conferred the power to make rules, was “existing law” within the meaning of that expression in Article 305, the rules made in exercise of that power after the Constitution cannot be deemed to be “existing law”.

Furthermore, the court held that the provisos were not saved by Article 304, which is an exception to Article 301, as they were not made by the Legislature of the State, but by the Executive Government in exercise of delegated authority. Moreover, the court held that the provisos were in violation of Article 301 of the Constitution, as they imposed a restriction on the freedom of trade.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s decision and dismissed the appeal filed by the State of Mysore, holding the two provisos to Rule 2 as unconstitutional and invalid.