Minerva Talkies Bangalore v. State of Karnataka : Case Comment

CASE COMMENT

MINERVA TAILKIES BANGALORE V. STATE OF KARNATAKA

 

CITATION

1988 AIR 526, 1988 SCR (2) 511

BENCH

HON’BLE JUSTICE E. S. VENKATARAMIAH

HON’BLE JUSTICE K. N. SINGH

 

Author: Vikram Nagpal from Himachal Pradesh National Law University, Shimla

 

 INTRODUCTION

The declared will of the legislature and the policy and purposes of the Act are discernable from the title, preamble and the express provisions of the Act. The legislative will is declared by the Preamble of the Act which seeks to deal with the subject of enactment. Generally, the preamble to an Act briefly indicates the object of the legislation. It may not be exhaustive, but still, it discloses the primary purpose of the legislation. If the express provisions of the Act are plain and unambiguous, it is always advisable to find out the purpose of the legislation from those provisions, but if the provisions are ambiguous and the courts face the difficulty in deducing the purpose of the Act from the express provisions of the Act it is permissible to refer to the title and preamble of the Act to find out the legislative object, and the purpose of the Act. In the instant case, the title of the Act is “The Karnataka Cinemas (Regulation) Act 1964” and its preamble declares that it is “an Act to provide for regulating exhibition by means of cinematography and the licensing of places in which cinematograph films are exhibited in the State of Karnataka.” It further provides that “whereas it is expedient to provide for regulating exhibition by means of cinematography and the licensing of places in which cinematograph films are exhibited in the State of Karnataka and for other allied matter,” the Act is being enacted. The title of the Act and the preamble clearly indicate that the main purpose of the Act is to regulate the exhibition of cinematograph films in places in respect of which a license for that purpose may be issued. The extent of control and regulation is evidenced by the provisions of the Act.

 

FACTS

The appellants/petitioners hold licenses for exhibiting cinematograph films in their cinema theatres under the Act and the Rules in Form F prescribed by the Rules. The Rules and conditions contained in the License (Form F) do not prescribe any restriction on the number of shows of films which a licensee can exhibit in his theatre. Condition No. 11 of the license, however, provides that: ‘No cinematograph exhibition shall continue after such time not later than 1.00 a.m.’. Normally, the cinema owners were holding four shows but later on, they increased it to five shows in a day starting from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, 12 noon to 3 p.m., 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. Thus, the cinematograph films were being exhibited continuously from 10 a.m. to midnight, which caused a number of problems. The State Government in the exercise of its powers under Section 19 of the Act framed Rules 41-A directing that no licensee shall exhibit more than four cinematograph shows in a day. Rule 41-A is as under:

41-A. Number of shows permissible in a day: No licensee shall exhibit more than four cinematograph shows in a day.

In pursuance of Rule 41-A, the appellants were directed to exhibit cinematograph films for four shows only in a day. The appellants challenged the validity of the aforesaid rule placing the restriction on their right to exhibit cinematograph films before the High Court of Karnataka by means of writ petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution. The appellants contended before the High Court that the restriction imposed by Rule 41-A on the licensees requiring them not to exhibit more than four shows in a day was beyond the rulemaking power, as the Rule did not carry out the purposes of the Act. It was further contended that the Rule placed an unreasonable restriction on their fundamental right to carry on the business of exhibiting cinematograph films. The Respondent State submitted before the High Court that the State Government realized that on account of exhibition of five shows in a day, in a cinema theatre, it was not possible for the licensees to keep the theatres hygienically clean and reports were received that for want of time the licensees were not exhibiting approved films and slides required under the provisions of the Act. The State Government found that exhibition of five shows in a day was not conducive to the health of the cine-goers and therefore it framed Rule 41-A limiting the shows. It was contended that the Rule was intended for TV regulation of the exhibition of cinematograph films in the licensed premises, and was within the scope and purposes of the Act. It was further pleaded before the High Court that the impugned Rule 41-A was not violative of Article 19 of the Constitution as it placed a reasonable restriction in the interest of the general public as contemplated by Article 19(6) of the Constitution.

 

ISSUE

Whether Rule 41-A places unreasonable restrictions on the appellants’ right to carry on a business of exhibiting cinematograph films in violation of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution?

 

Judgment

HIGH COURT

A Division Bench of the High Court heard the parties at length, but there was a difference of opinion between the two learned Judges constituting the Bench of the High Court. K.S. Puttaswamy

K.S. Puttaswamy, J. held that the impugned rule was ultra vires as it was beyond the rulemaking power of the Government under Section 19 of the Act. He further held that the Rule placed unreasonable restrictions on the appellants’ right to carry on their business guaranteed to them under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. The learned Judge held that the restriction placed by the Rule 41-A was neither in the interests of the general public nor it was reasonable. Narayan Rai Kudoor, J. in separate judgment upheld the validity of the Rule holding that the impugned Rule carried out the purposes of the Act, namely, the regulation of the exhibition of cinematograph films and the restriction placed by it was reasonable and in the interests of the general public. Since there was a difference of opinion between the two learned Judges the matter was placed before M. Rama Jois J., who agreed with the opinion expressed by N.R. Kudoor J. Rama Jois J. held that the State Government had the power to frame Rule 41-A under Section 19 of the Act and the Rule did not place an unreasonable restriction on the appellants’ right, to carry on business of exhibiting cinematograph films. The learned Judge ruled that the impugned Rule was not ultra vires the Act and it did not violate appellants’ fundamental rights under Article 19 of the Constitution. In view of the majority opinion, all the writ petitions were dismissed.

 

SUPREME COURT

In the result, we are of the opinion that Rule 41-A is intra vires the Act as it carries out the purposes of the Act and it does not place any unreasonable restriction in violation of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. We are in agreement with the majority opinion of the High Court. Accordingly, the appeals, as well as the writ petitions, are dismissed with costs.

 

ANALYSIS

Section 19 of the Act confers power on the State Government to frame rules for carrying out the purposes of the Act. Sub-section (2) of Section 19 requires the State Government to frame rules in respect of the matters specified in Clauses (a) to (h). While Section 19(1) confers general power on the State Government to make rules to carry out the purposes of the Act, Sub-section (2) specifies particular matters in respect of which rules may be made. The power conferred under Sub-section (2) is not exhaustive instead it is illustrative and it does not restrict or affect the general power of the State Government under Sub-section (1) to make rules for carrying out the purposes of the Act. The power conferred by Section 19(1) contemplates the framing of any rule which may have bearing on the regulation of exhibition of cinematograph films. The rule so made must be related to the purposes of the Act. The preamble and the provisions of the Act provide for the regulation of the exhibition of cinematograph films which is the primary purpose of the Act. Under Section 19(1) the Legislature has conferred wide powers on the State Government to make rules embracing all the legitimate activities connected with the exhibition of cinematograph films which include rules for incidental matters like period of show, admission to the cinema hall, interval between two shows including the number of shows which a licensee may hold in a day. No person has the right to exhibit cinematograph films in a place except under a license in accordance with its conditions and restrictions imposed by such license. The State Government has general power to issue directions to any licensee or licensees under Section 12 with regard to the exhibition of films. Section 14 further confers powers on the State Government to issue orders and directions of general character which it may consider necessary in respect of any matter relating to the exhibition of the cinematograph films. Such directions issued by the State Government are binding on the licensee. These directions may be in the form of rules or instructions directing the licensee to limit the number of shows if the State Government considers it necessary to do so, in the public interest. The Act confers wide powers on the State Government for the regulation of the exhibition of the cinematograph films which includes power to regulate hours during which cinematograph films may be exhibited, the seating arrangements for the members of the public, and any other allied matters pertaining to public safety, health, sanitation, and incidental matters. Rule 41-A which limits the number of shows in a day regulates the exhibition of the cinematograph films, and it carries out the purposes of the Act. It is, therefore, referable to the State Government’s general powers under Section 19(1) of the Act. Rule 41-A is further referable to Clauses (a) and (d) of Section 19(2) of the Act. Clause (a) confers powers on the State Government to frame rules prescribing terms, conditions and restrictions subject to which a license may be granted, in the exercise of that power. The State Government may lay down conditions and impose restrictions prescribing hours during which films may be exhibited and also the number of shows in the licensed premises. Similarly, Clause (d) confers power on the State Government to frame rules regulating the exhibition of cinematograph films for the purpose of securing public safety. Any rule regulating the exhibition of the cinematograph films if reasonably connected with public safety would be justified under the aforesaid provisions. Rule 41-A adds a condition to the licence that exhibition of films will be limited to four shows in a day. No licensee can claim to have unrestricted right to exhibit cinematograph films for all the 24 hours of the day. Such a claim would obviously be against public interest. Right to exhibit cinematograph films is regulated by the provisions of the Act in the interest of the general public. The restriction to limit the number of shows to four in a day placed by Rule 41-A is regulatory in nature which clearly carries out the purposes of the Act.

 

CONCLUSION

Therefore, the purpose of Act was to regulate the exhibition of cinematograph films the State Government could frame rules to carry out those purposes. The power to regulate includes the power to restrain, which embraces limitations and restrictions on all incidental matters connected with the right to trade or business under the existing license. Rule 12(3) regulated entry to different classes to the cinema hall and it was within the rulemaking power of the State Government to frame such rule. That fixing limit of the rate of admission was an absolute necessity in the interest of the general public and the restriction so placed was reasonable and in public interest.

 

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