At, High Court of Karnataka
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE R. GURURAJAN
For The Petitioner: Atul K Alur, Advocate. For The Respondent : B. L. Sanjeev, HCGP.
The petitioner in this petition is challenging a notice issued u/s.25A of the Act dated 22.1.2002, Annexure 'C'. The petitioner also is seeking for a writ of declaration that the woman mentioned in Sec.17(4) (ii) includes women also.
2. The petitioner M/s.Catering Inn is a partnership firm and is engaged in catering business. It is registered in
in terms of the Karnataka Sales Tax Act. The petitioner-firm consists of two women partners. The partners started the business by way of supply of ready food to the different persons in different localities. The Government of Karnataka with a view to provide benefits in terms of the Policy, provided certain facilities to women entrepreneurs. The Government amended Section 17 (4) (ii) of the Act No.5/200 while providing composition to such women caterers. AN application was filed by the petitioner and thereafter, an order has been passed in terms of Annexure 'B'. Thereafter, noticing certain mistakes in the matter, a notice u/s.25A was issued t the petitioner. The petitioner with these facts is before me.
3. The petitioner has also raised certain additional grounds in terms of the amendment. Amendment is allowed. The petitioner is to amend the petition.
4. Respondent has entered appearance through State Counsel.
5. Matter is heard for final disposal with the consent of the Counsel.
6. Sri. Atul, learned Counsel says that the word 'woman' includes 'women' also. He says that in those circumstances, notice in terms of Annexure 'C' requires my interference.
7. Per contra, learned Government Pleader supports the order.
8. After hearing, I have carefully perused the material on record. Sec.17(4) provides for a composition not-withstanding anything contained in sub Sec.1 to 3 Sec.17 in the matter. The said composition is available not o all dealers but for a few dealers. The composition is available in respect of a dealer being a woman, catering food and drinks. Admittedly, in the case on hand, it is not a woman but two women who are engaged in the said business. The authority after noticing this error has chosen to issue a notice u/s/.25A of the Act. The petitioner has challenged Sec.17 (4) (ii) which includes women also. The said challenge is unsustainable in law and in the given circumstances. Sec. 17(4) is a special provision and the Government in terms of its Policy has chosen to provide benefits to a few dealers. In such circumstances, it cannot be said that Article 14 is violated. This finding of mine finds support from the Judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of 2003(4)LRI 1. The Supreme Court in somewhat identical circumstances ruled that rules providing reservation/preference in favour of women for being appointed as Principal of Woman's College is not in violation of Articles 14, 15 or 16 of the Constitution of India. In these circumstances, the validity argument is rejected.
9. Coming to the arguments with regard to a 'woman' including 'women', it is not possible for this Court to accept this argument of this petitioner. Admittedly, the Government in its wisdom has chosen to provide this benefit to a women dealer. This being a policy decision of the Government, it is not possible for this Court to interfere and provide relief to the petitioner. The Supreme Court in 2003(4)LRI. 1 has ruled that it is not for the Court to sit in appeal against the policy decision taken by the State Government. In the given circumstances, I am not inclined to accept the argument that the words as shown as 'woman' is to include 'women', which is my opinion would be running against the policy of a special provision being available to a 'woman' dealer and not 'women' dealer. The argument of the petitioner in this regard is equally rejected. In so far as the merits of the matter is enhanced, I do not express any opinion at this stage since Annexure 'C' is
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nothing but a notice to the petitioner. If no orders are passed as on today, liberty is reserved to the petitioner to file an appropriate reply to Annexure 'C' within two weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. If no orders are passed as on today, the respondents are to consider the proposed objections and pass orders in accordance with law within four weeks thereafter. 10. Ordered accordingly. No costs.