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A writ court should not ordinarily interfere with the quantum of punishment levied without sufficient reasons: Calcutta High Court

The petitioner assailed an order dated 10th December 2019 (“the impugned order”) before the bench of Ravi Krishan Kapur J. The order had been issued by the Director, Directorate of District Distribution, Procurement and Supply Department of Food and Supplies, Government of West Bengal which affirmed the decision dated 26 September 2019 by the Divisional Controller Food & Supplies, Bakura terminating the fair price shop dealership of the petitioner in the matter of Dalgobinda Deogharia v State of West Bengal WPA 2570 of 2020.

The brief facts of the case are that the petitioner is a fair price shop dealer and is also a kerosene dealer licensed under the West Bengal Public Distribution System (Maintenance and Control) Order, 2013 and the West Bengal Kerosene Control Order 1968 respectively. On 4 July 2019, the Area Inspector (Food and Supplies) Bankura II visited the shop premises of the petitioner and sealed the same since the shop had remained closed on 4 July 2019 without prior intimation to the concerned authority.

It was submitted on behalf of the respondent authorities that there were diverse irregularities and malpractices in the manner in which the petitioner was conducting his business which compelled the respondent authority in passing the impugned order. It was further alleged that the petitioner had been negligent in carrying on the said business.

The bench took the view that as a principle of law, it is settled that the writ jurisdiction is supervisory in nature and a Court exercising the same does not act as an appellate authority nor does it ordinarily review findings of facts petitioner had unequivocally admitted to several irregularities and discrepancies which have been enumerated in the order dated 8 August, 2019 before the Sub-Divisional Controller, Food and Supplies Department, Bankura (S). Accordingly, it was found that the petitioner had violated the provisions of the 2013 Control Order and the dealership of the petitioner had been terminated. In the statutory appeal, the petitioner also admitted to the fact that there was an illegal insertion of a line at his instance in a letter signed by the Area Inspector, Food and Supplies Department, Bankura. As a principle of law, admissions if true and clear are by far the best proof of facts admitted.

The bench also did not find any procedural impropriety nor perversity nor illegality nor contravention of any law in the impugned orders passed by the respondent authorities. The petitioner had been given an adequate opportunity of hearing before passing of the impugned order. There had also been no violation of the principles of natural justice. There was no unfairness shown by the respondent authorities

The bench ruled that “It is also well settled that a writ court does not ordinarily interfere with the quantum of punishment levied without sufficient reasons [State of Meghalaya and Ors Vs Mecken Singh N. Marak (2008) 7SCC 580]. Accordingly, I find that the petitioner has failed to demonstrate any reasons to interfere with the impugned order. The authorities cited by the petitioner are distinguishable and inapposite to the facts of the instant case.”

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