Balbir Singh & Anr. Vs. The State : Valid limitations on business in light of Article 14.

After reading this case analysis, the readers wil become aware of what Article 14 of the Constitution of India is and how the High Court of Guwahati upheld the validity of a section as it placed the appropriate limitation on a business.
TITLEBalbir Singh & Anr. Vs. The State 
CITATION1958 CriLJ 1461
COURTHigh Court of Gauhati
JUDGES/CORAMJustice S. Prosad and Justice G. Mehrotra


The Constitution of India gives much attention to constitutionalism and standard of law. In India the standard of law is a piece of the fundamental structure of the Constitution and of common equity. Common equity says that people should never be punished for choices exerting their rights or real desires. In such a scenario, the law mandates giving earlier notice of the bodies of evidence against them, a reasonable chance to answer them, and the chance to show their own cases. In this particular case law, certain limitations on a business were viewed in light of Article 14.


The facts of the case are as follows: This is a revision appeal against the decision of the Sessions Judge, Upper Assam Districts, who confirmed the conviction and sentences passed against the two applicants Balbir Sing and Inderijt Sing by Sri A. Ahmed, Magistrate, 1st Class at Jorhat. 

Applicant No. I was convicted under Section 61-A of the East Bengal and Assam Excise Act. Applicant No. 2 was convicted under Section 53(1)(a) of the Act. Each of these two applicants was sentenced to six months’ rigorous imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs. 500/- in default to undergo another period of three months’ rigorous imprisonment.

The prosecution’s case was that on 21.11.1954, the Excise Inspector, under the authority of a search warrant, searched one Broadway Hotel and its restaurant, including its kitchen and recovered one bottle of Heyward’s brandy, one kettle containing liquor, one bottle containing about a gram of Heyward’s brandy, one bottle containing traces of Heyward’s whisky, six empty bottles of Heyward’s whisky, rum, brandy, open tumbler with smell of liquor, from the kitchen and from the drawer of the Manager’s secretariat table, one bottle containing about 2 ½ ounces of Heyward’s whisky. On the recovery of these articles, Inderjit Sing (Applicant No. 1, the manager of the hotel) John Games (Assistant Manager) and Baldev Raj (the cook) were arrested. Balbir Sing Bedi, Applicant No. 2 later surrendered. The charge was denied by the two applicants. As far as the factum of recovery was concerned, the Court believed the story given by the Deputy Superintendent of Excise. The Court did not think that in revision it could interfere with that finding. Balbir Sing was said to be the de facto proprietor of the hotel. The license of the hotel stood in the name of his minor son—Jasbir Sing Bedi.

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The main issue in the case was: Whether or not Section 17(3) of the East Bengal and Assam Excise Act was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.


In the courts opinion Section 17(3) was within the permissible limits of delegation. There was, therefore, no force in the contention of the petitioner. 

The Court convicted Indrajit Singh under Section 53(1)(a) of the Assam Excise Act, sentencing him to six months’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500/-. In the High Court’s opinion, the sentence was excessive. Additionally, both the lower Courts found him guilty of possessing incriminating articles found in the kitchen. It was held that he was in constructive possession of the said articles as the manager of the hotel. The High Court did not hold him liable for the articles recovered from the kitchen. The Court held him liable in terms of the recovery of the whisky from his office drawer. However, the Court noted that the whisky was in a very small quantity. Consequently, it reduced his sentence of imprisonment to the period already undergone. 

In result, the Court allowed the petition on behalf of Balbir Singh and set aside his conviction and sentence . The petition of Indrajit Singh was dismissed with the modification that the sentence of imprisonment was reduced to the period already undergone and the fine to Rs. 50/-, in default seven days’ rigorous imprisonment.


The Applicant, Indrajit Singh, was present and was actually engaged in the work as the manager of the hotel when the excise party started the search. The bottle containing about 2 ½ ounces of Heyward’s whisky was found in a drawer of the applicant’s table. At any rate, therefore, as far as the whisky recovered from his table, it could not be said that he had no knowledge of the fact that it was kept in his drawer within the hotel premises. Thus, the Court rightly held him to be in conscious possession of the incriminating article recovered by the excise party. The offence was fully established against him.

Also Read  Rudal Shah v. State Of Bihar

Situations where a power has been given to force confinements on the privilege to carry on business or exchange which might be now and again a sensible limitation, in the others, it might be absurd, in such condition if a stripped power is given to the official to force such a confinement on any individual of its decision, it might be said that the arrangements which give such power contain in themselves the germ of separation. Where the limitation is in all cases, having respect to the idea of the business substantial and admissible confinement, any caution given in the matter of its application cannot be said to be oppressive. So therefore Section 17(3) is not hit by the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution and therefore the courts Judgment is completely right in the present case.


Article 14 of the Constitution clarifies that the State will not deny to any individual fairness under the watchful eye of law or the equivalent insurance of the laws inside the domain of India. The point of Article 14 is to guarantee measure up to equity. The certification of equivalent equity is invalid if poor people or unskilled or frail people cannot implement their rights, due to their neediness or lack of education.