The judgment revolves around the question of what constitutes a reasonable restriction under Article 19(6) of the Constitution.
Section 3 and 4 of theCentral Provinces and Berar Regulation of Manufacture ofBidis(AgriculturalPurposes) Act, 1948 authorised the Deputy Commissioner to notify a particular period of time during the agricultural season to prohibit the manufacture of Bidis. The object of the Act was to provide sufficient and uninterrupted supply of labourers to boost the agricultural productivity. Further, the provisions penalised the manufacturer if he violated the rules and also barred him from employing any person while the order prohibiting manufacture of Bidi is made by the Deputy Commissioner. The petitioners in the instant case challenged the above stated provisions under Article 32 stating that they violated the right to freedom of trade and profession under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
The Indian Constitution:
Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by Part III
(1) The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
(2) The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III
(i) the professional or technical qualifications necessary for practising any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business, or
(ii) the carrying on by the State, or by a corporation owned or controlled by the State, of any trade, business, industry or service, whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, of citizens or otherwise.
Whether section 3 and 4 of the Central Provinces and Berar Regulation of Manufacture of Bidis(AgriculturalPurposes) Act, 1948constitutionally valid?
The petitioners contended that, the Act unreasonably restrains them from manufacturing Bidis during the agricultural season. The provisions do not have a rational nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the legislation in question. The object of the Act is to provide an uninterrupted supply of labourers during the agricultural seasons which can be achieved by imposing restrictions on those who work as agricultural labourers alone. But the Act imposes an unreasonable restriction on the entire manufacture of Bidis and all the non-agricultural workers also. Therefore, it does not constitute a valid reasonable restriction under Article 19(1)(g). The only reason that the Act was enacted before the enactment of the Constitution does not prevent the application of constitutional validity test.
The respondent contended that, the legislature of Madhya Pradesh would only be the proper judge in deciding this matter as they only know the prevailing conditions of agriculture and Bidi manufacture in the State. Since the Court does not know the prevailing hindrances the issue is to be left to the discretion of State legislature.
Upon hearing the parties to the case, the Court held that, the restriction laid down in the Act is excessive in nature. Further the argument of the respondent run counter to the principles of the Constitution and therefore cannot be entertained. Hence the Court declared that the complete restraint was unconstitutional.