PATHIKANA, .T.—Mohiclcen r. Thirunavakarasu
Present: Pathirana, J., and Skarvananda, J.
A. C. S. M. MOHIDEEN, Accused-appellantand
K THIRUNAVUKARASU, Inspector of Police,Complainant-RespondentS.C. S4U/71—M.C. Colombo 68202/D
Co?£troI of Prices Act, section 4—Price Orders made thereunder—,Discretion of Controller to jix price “if it c npears to the Controllerthat there is, or is likely to arise in any part of Ceylon, anyshortage of any article”—Can Courts review Price Order onground of it being unreasonable.
Where an order made by the Controller of Prices under section4(1) of the Control of Prices Act, fixing the price of a pound ofbeef at Tls. 1.25 as the controlled retail price, was challenged asultra vires on the ground that it was unreasonable because it wasbelow the price that normally prevails in the market—
Held : That the Courts cannot review the order on this groundwhere the Controller has exercised his discretion under the section.
PP.EAL> from a conviction at a trial before the Magistrate'sCourt, Colombo.
S- C. Chandrahasan for the accused-appellant.
Hector S. Yapa State Attorney, for the Attorney-General.
January 25, 1974. Pathirana, J.
Mr. Chandrahasan challenges the Price Order No. C. 430 madeby the Controller of Prices (Food) under section 4 of the Con-trol of Prices Act (Chapter 173) published in the GovernmentGazette Extraordinary No. 14578/10 dated 26.7.1967 on theground that it is ultra vires. It is submitted that this order isunreasonable and therefore ultra vires the Control Prices Actas the price fixed at Rs. 1.25 as the control retail price for a poundof bec-f without bones is below the price that normally prevailsin the market.
Wc have carefully read section 4 (1) of the Control of PricesOrdinance (Chapter 173). The provision to make an order fixingthe maximum price above which an article shall not be sold islaid down in section 4 (1) : ‘ if it appears to the Controller thatthere is, or is, likely to arise in any part of Ceylon, any shortageof any article or an unreasonable increase in the price of anyarticle ’. This Court cannot review the order of the Controlleron the ground of unreasonableness when he exercises hisdiscretion and makes an order under section 4 (1).
An objective test cannot be applied to scrutinise the questionwhether there is or likely to arise any shortage of anv article orany unreasonable increase in the price of any article. Once itappears to the Controller that there is such a situation, then hemay exercise Iris discretion and fix the maximum price above
John Singho v. The Attorney-General
which mat article shall not be sold. No limitations or qualifica-tion j am placed in section 4 (1) or in the other sections in theAct on .he Controller when he decides to exercise his discretionto fix the maximum price. Besides, section 4 (7) states thatwhere an Order has been approved by the Minister, notificationol such approval shall be published in the Government Gazette ;and upon such notification, the Order shall be deemed to bevalid and effectual as if it were herein enacted.
We are therefore, of the view that an order under section 4 (1)cannot be challenged as ultra vires on the ground of unreason-ableness. The submission of Mr. Chandrahasan on this groundtherefore fails.
We do not see any reason to interfere with the decision of thelearned Magistrate on the facts of the case.
On the sentence, we find the accused-appellant has been sen-tenced to four (4) months’ R.I. and to pay Rs. 4,000 as a fine ; indefault (i weeks R.I. The sentence of 4 months R.I. will remain.We vary the fine of Rs. 4,000 to a fine of Rs. 2,000 (two thousand)in default 6 weeks’ R. I. The default sentence in the event of thefine not being paid, will be consecutive.
Subject to this variation, the appeal is dismissed.
Sharvananda, J.— I agree.
A. C. S. M. MOHIDEEN, Accused-appellant and K. THIRUNAVUKARASU, Inspector of P