19 December 1975
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal Civil 2035 of 1971








CITATION:  1976 AIR  578            1976 SCR  (3)  58  1976 SCC  (1) 671  CITATOR INFO :  R          1977 SC 276  (9)  R          1978 SC 327  (11)  F          1980 SC 517  (10,11)  RF         1981 SC 116  (20)  R          1982 SC 149  (15,965)  R          1992 SC 443  (7)

ACT:      Constitution of  India-Art. 226-Scope  of the  power of writ of "certiorari".      Rule of  practice-Usefulness of  English decisions  and when can be considered.      "Aggrieved persons"-Tests for deciding.

HEADNOTE:      "Locus standi"-Whether a rival in trade and an owner of an existing  cinema theatre  is an "aggrieved person" within the meaning  of s.  8A of  the  Bombay  Cinema  Rules.  1954 entitling him  to invoke  the certiorari  jurisdiction  "ex- debito justitiae  ’ of the High Court for quashing the order granting a   "no  objection certificate" under rule 6 of the Bombay Cinema Rules, 1954.      Damnum sine injuria-Principle of.      Under the  Bombay  Cinema  Rules,  1954,  the  District Magistrate, after  inviting the  objections under  r. 4 from the  public   and  also   the  opinions   of  the   District Superintendent of  Police, Chairman  Nagar Panchayat and the Executive  Engineer   (Roads   &   Buildings),   and   after considering them.  may grant  under rule  5 a  "no objection certificate’’ to the appellants for the location of a cinema theatre under  his jurisdiction,  or  in  case  of  his  not granting the  certificate, he  must refer  under s. 6 of the Rules, the  matter to  the State Government with his reasons therefor.      In respect  of the  application of the respondents, not being  satisfied   of   the   opinions   of   the   District Superintendent  of   Police,   Nagar   Panchayat   Chairman, Executive Engineer  (Roads &  Buildings) favouring the grant of  certificate  to  the  appellants  herein,  the  District Magistrate personally  visited  the  site  and  submitted  a



report to  the State  Government  to  the  effect  that  the proposed site  was not  fit for  the location  of  a  cinema house. On  the directions of the State Government, which did not agree  with the  report submitted  by him,  the District Magistrate granted the certificate to the respondents.      The appellant being a rival in the cinema trade, though he did  not prefer any objections at the time when they were called for,  filed a  writ petition in the Bombay High Court alleging that  (i) the  impugned certificate  issued by  the District Magistrate  was not  in the  exercise  of  his  own discretion and  with due  regard to  the principles  in  the Bombay Cinematographic  Act, 1918  and the  Rules  and  (ii) Since as  a  Licensing  Authority,  the  power  has  not  be objectively exercised  in a quasi judicial manner, the grant of the certificate suffered from lack of jurisdiction.      The High  Court, dismissed  the writ  petition  on  the ground that  no right  vested in  the  appellant,  had  been infringed or  prejudiced or  adversely  affected  as  direct consequence of  the order  impugned by  him, and as such, he was not  an "aggrieved  person" having a locus standi in the matter.      On appeal by special leave to this Court, the appellant contended that  (i) apart  from a  right in  common with the general public  to object  to the  grant before the District Magistrate, the  appellant being  a rival  in the same trade had  a  particular  commercial  interest  to  see  that  the permission was  not granted  to another  in contravention of law to  start the  same business, entitling him to a writ of certiorari ex-debito  justitiae; and  (ii)  The  concept  of "aggrieved person’s  being wide,  any one  who is personally interested and  genuinely grieved by an act of usurpation of jurisdiction or  lack of  jurisdiction on  the  part  of  an administrative  tribunal  or  body  would  fall  within  the category of an "aggrieved 59 person" even  if such usurpation or lack of jurisdiction had not resulted  in infringement  of a  legal  right  or  legal interest vested  in him;  nor would  such a person be denied "locus  standi"’  for  me  purpose  of  "certiorari"  merely because he  had not  lodged  any  objection  or  joined  the proceedings before the tribunal.      Dismissing the appeal, the Court, ^      HELD: (1) The founding fathers of the Constitution have designedly couched  Article 226 in comprehensive Phraseology to enable  the High Court to reach injustice, wherever it is found. In  a sense,  the  scope  and  nature  of  the  power conferred by the Article is wider than that exercised by the writ courts in England.      Dwarka Nath  v. Income Tax Officer, Kanpur [1965] 3 SCR 563, referred to.      (2) The  adoption of  the nomenclature of English writs with the  prefix "nature  of" superadded, indicates that the general principles  grown over  the  years  in  the  English courts,  can   shorn  of  unnecessary  technical  procedural restrictions, and  adapted to the special conditions of this vast country,  in so  far as  they do  met conflict with any provision of  the Constitution,  or the law declared by this court be  usefully considered  in directing  the exercise of this discretionary  jurisdiction  in  accordance  with  well recognised rules of practice. [64 D-F]      (3) According  to most  English decisions,  in order to have the  locus standi to invoke certiorari jurisdiction the petitioner should be an "aggrieved person", and in a case of defect of  jurisdiction, such a petitioner shall be entitled



to a  writ of  certiorari as  a matter of course,, but if he does not fulfil that character and is a "stranger" the court will, in its discretion, deny him this extraordinary remedy, save in exceptional circumstances. [64 F-G]      (4)  The   expression  "aggrieved  person"  denotes  an elastic and  to an  extent an  elusive concept. It cannot be confined  within   the  bounds   of  a   rigid,  exact   and comprehensive definition.  At  best,  its  features  can  be described in a broad tentative manner. Its scope and meaning depends on diverse, variable factors such as the content and intent‘ of the statute of which contravention is alleged the specific circumstances of the case, the nature and extent of the prejudice or injury suffered by him. English courts have sometimes put a restricted and sometimes a wide construction on the expression, "aggrieved person". [64 H. 65 Al      (5) In  order to  have the ’locus standi’ to invoke the extraordinary  jurisdiction  under  Art.  226  an  applicant should ordinarily  be one  who has  a personal or individual right in  the subject  matter of  the application, though in the case  of some  of the  writs like  habeas corpus  or quo warranto, this  rule is  relaxed or modified. The expression "ordinarily" indicates that this is not a cast-iron rule. It is  flexible  enough  to  take  in  those  cases  where  the applicant has  been prejudicially  affected  by  an  act  or omission of an authority, even though he has no propriety or even a  fiduciary interest in the subject matter. That apart in exceptional cases even a stranger or a person who was not a party  to the  proceedings before the authority, but has a substantial and  genuine interest  in the  subject matter of the proceedings will be covered by this rule. [10 A, C-D]      (6) In  the context of locus standi to apply for a writ of certiorari,  an applicant  may ordinarily  fall in any of these categories: (i) person aggrieved. (ii) stranger. (iii) busybody  or  meddlesome  interloper  Persons  in  the  last category are  easily distinguishable from those coming under the first  two categories  inasmuch  as  they  interfere  in things which  do not concern them, masquerading as crusaders for justice  in the  name of  pro bono  publico, though they have no  interest of  the public  or even  of their  own  to protect  The   distinction  between  the  first  and  second categories though  real, is  not always well demarcated. The first category  has, as  it were,  two concentric  zones;  a solid central  zone of  certainty and a grey outer circle of lessening certainty  in a  sliding centrifugal scale with an outermost nebulous fringe of uncertainty. Applicants falling within the  central zone  are those  whose legal rights have been infringed.  Such applicants  undoubtedly stand  in  the category of  "persons aggrieved’.  In the  grey outer-circle the bounds which separate the first category 60 from   the   second,   intermix,   interfuse   and   overlap increasingly in a centrifugal direction. All persons in this outerzone may not be "persons aggrieved". [71 A-C, D-E]      (7) To  distinguish such  applicants  from  "strangers" among them,  some broad  tests may be deduced from case law, the efficacy  of which varies according to the circumstances of the  case, including  the statutory  context in which the matter falls  to be  considered. These  are: (1) Whether the applicant is a person whose legal right has been infringed ? (2) Has  he suffered  a legal  wrong or injury, in the sense that his  interest recognised  by law has been prejudicially and  directly  affected  by  the  act  or  omission  of  the authority complained  of ?  (3)  Is  he  a  person  who  has suffered a legal grievance, a person against whom a decision has been  pronounced which  has wrongfully  deprived him  of



something or  wrongfully refused him something or wrongfully affected his  title to  something ? (4) Has he a special and substantial grievance  of his  own beyond  some grievance or inconvenience suffered by him in common with the rest of the public ?  (5) Was  he entitled to object and be heard by the authority before it took the impugned action ? If so, was he prejudicially affected  in the exercise of that right by the act of  usurpation  of  jurisdiction  on  the  part  of  the authority ?  (6) Is the statute, in the context of which the scope of the words "person aggrieved" is being considered, a special welfare  measure designed  to lay  down  ethical  or professional standards  of conduct for the community? (7) or is it  a statute  dealing with  private rights of particular individuals ? [71 E-H, 72 A]      Rex v.  Taunton St.  Mary (1815)  3 M & S 465, King  v: Groom &  Others Ex parte [1901] 2 K.B. 157, King v. Richmond Confirming Authority  Ex parte  Howitt [1921] 1 K.B. 157. R. Thomas Magistrates  Court Ex Parte Green Baum (1957) 55 LCR. 129,   135,   135-136   in   Yardley’s   Book   of   English Administrative Law  2nd Edition  p. 228;  Rex v.  Manchester Legal Aid  Committee [1952]  2 QBD  413. Attorney General of Gambia v.  N’s Jie [1961] A.C. 617. Maurice v. London County Council [1964]  QB 362, 378. Regina v. Liverpool Corporation Ex Parte  Liverpool Taxi Fleet Operator’s Association [1972] (2) QB  299; Regina v. Paddington Valuation Officer Ex parte Peachy Property  Corporation  Ltd.  [1966]  1  QB  860;  Bar Council of  Maharashtra v.  M. V.  Dabholkar [1976] 1 SCR p. 306 Rex  v. Butt  I Another  Ex parte  Brooke  vol.  xxxviii (1921-22) Times  Law Reports 537; Regina v. Brighton Borough Justices Ex  parte Jarvia  (1954) 1  Weekly Law Reports 203. Burton &  others v.  Minister of  Housing & Local Government [1961] 1  QBD 278.  In re  Side bottom  (1880) 14 ChD. 458 @ 465; Ex  parte Scott  [1916] 1  KB  7;  King  v.  Middllesex Justices (1832)  37 FR  594-(1832) 3 B & AD 938; R. Bradford an Avan  Urban Dt.  Council Ex  parte Balton [1964] 2 All ER 492; Gregorrey  v. Comden  London Borough Council (1966) WLR 899; R.  v. London  O.B. Ex  parte West Minister Corporation [1951] 2  K.B. 508;  Regina v.  Cardiff  Justices  Ex  parte Cardiff Corporation  [1962] 2  Q.B. 436;  State of Orissa v. Madan Gopal  Bangta [1952]  SCR 28.  Calcutta Gas co. v. The State of  West Bengal [1962] Supp. 3 SCR l; Rameshwar Suthoo v. Member,  Board of  Revenue Orissa [1967] 2 SCR 172; State of Orissa  v. Rajashah  Chandamall AIR  1972 S.C.  2114. Dr. Satyanarayana Sinha  v. M/s.  Lal &  Co. [1974]  1 SCR  615; Colamen v.  Miller [1939]  307 Q.B. 433. Chapman v. Sheriden Wyoming Coal Co. 338 U.S. 621, American Jurisprudence Vol. 2 Ld. at  575 p.  334 Joint  Anti Fascist Refugee Committee v. Melarth 341  U.S. 123;  United States  Cane Sugar  Refiners’ Asson. v.  McNutt 138  F 2nd 116: 158 ALR 849; United States v. Storer  Broadcasting Co.  351 U.S.  192 and  Kansas  City Power & Light Co. v. McKay 350 U.S. 884, considered.      (8) The  Bombay Cinematographic  Act and  the Rules are not designed  to set  norms of moral or professional conduct for the  community at  large or  even a  section thereof and hence, the  expression "person  aggrieved"  must  receive  a strict construction. The Act and the Rules do not confer any substantive justiciable  right on  a rival  in cinema trade, apart from  the option in common with the rest of the public to lodge  an objection  in response  to the notice published under Rule  4. Section  8A of  the Act  confers a  right  of appeal to the State Government, only on any person aggrieved by an  order of  a licensing  authority refusing  to grant a licence or revoking or suspending any licence under s 8.                                                    [72B,C-E] 61



    Section  8B   of  the   Act  provides  that  the  State Government may  either of  its  A  own  motion  or  upon  an application made  by "an  aggrieved  person"  call  for  and examine  the  record  of  any  order  made  by  a  licensing authority under this Act and passes such order thereon as it thinks just and proper. [72 F-G]      (9) Such  harm or  loss  in  business  arising  out  of setting up  of a  rival cinema house adversely affecting the monopolistic, commercial’  interest of  the applicant is not wrongful in  the eye  of law  because, it does not result in injury to  a legal right or a legally protected interest the business competition  causing it  being a  lawful  activity. juridically harm  of  this  typed  is  called  "damnum  sine injuria" the  term injuria being here used in its true sense of an  act contrary to law. The reason why the law suffers a person knowingly  to inflict  harm of  this  description  on mother without  holding him  accountable for it is that such harm done  to an  individual is  a gain to society at large. [73 E-F]      Salmondon jurisprudence referred to.      (10) In  the instant  case,  none  of  the  appellant’s rights orinterests  recognised by  the general  law has been infringed  as  a  result  of  the  grant  of  ’No  Objection certificate’. He  has not been denied or deprived of a legal right. He  has not sustained injury to any legally protected interest.  In fact, the impugned order does not operate as a decision against  him, much  less does  it wrongfully affect his title  to something.  He has  not been  subjected to  a, legal wrong.  He has  suffered no legal grievance. He has no legal peg  for a  justicable claim to hang on. Therefore, he is not  a "person  aggrieved" within the meaning of s. 8A or 8B of  the Bombay Cinema Rules, 1954 and has no locus standi to challenge  the grant  of the  ’No objection certificate’. [73 C, F-G] D      Rice & Flour Mills case [1970] 3 S.C.R. 846 applied.      (11) Assuming that the appellant is a stranger, and not a busybody, then also there are no exceptional circumstances in the  present case which would justify the issue of a writ of certiorari  at his  instance. On the contrary, the result of the  exercise  of  these  discretionary  powers,  in  his favour, will,  on balance, be against public policy. It will eliminate  healthy  competition  in  business  which  is  so essential to  raise commercial  morality. it  will  tend  to perpetuate the  appellant’s monopoly  of cinema  business in the town.  and above  all,  it  will  seriously  injure  the fundamental rights  of respondents  1 and  2 which they have under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution to carry on trade or business  subject to  "reasonable restrictions imposed by law". [74 C-D]      (12) It  is true  that in  the ultimate  analysis,  the jurisdiction under  Art. 226  is  discretionary.  But  in  a country like  India where  writ petitions  are instituted in the High  Courts by  the thousand  many of them frivolous, a strict ascertainment,  at the outset, of the standing of the petitioner to invoke this extraordinary jurisdiction must be insisted upon.  The broad  guidelines indicated coupled with other well established, self-devised rules of practice, such as the availability of an alternative remedy, the conduct of the petitioner etc., can go a long way to help the Courts in weeding out  a large number of writ petitions at the initial stage with consequent saving of public time and money. While a Procrustean  approach should  be avoided,  as a  rule, the court should  not interfere  at the instance of a "stranger" unless there  are exceptional circumstance involving a grave miscarriage of  justice having  an adverse  impact on public



interests.                                                [73H, 74 A-B]

JUDGMENT:      CIVIL APPELLATE  Jurisdiction: Civil Appeal No. 2035 of 1971.      Appeal by  Special Leave  from the  Judgment and  order dated the  11th November,  1971 of the Gujarat High Court in S.F.A. No. 158484 of 1 970.      V. N.  Tarkunde and  Mrs.  S.  Gopalakrishnan  for  the Appellant.      Vimal Dave and Miss Kailash Mehta for Respondents 1-2.      G. A.  Shah and  M. N.  Shroff and  Girish Chandra  for Respondent Nos. 3-4. 62      The Judgment of the Court was delivered by      SARKARIA, J.-Whether the proprietor of a cinema theatre holding a  licence for  exhibiting cinematograph  films,  is entitled to  invoke the  certiorari jurisdiction  ex  debito justitiae to get a ’No-objection Certificate’, granted under Rule 6  of the  Bombay Cinema  Rules, 1954  (for short,  the Rules) by  the District  Magistrate in  favour of a rival in the   trade, brought  up and  quashed on  the ground that it suffers from  a defect  of jurisdiction,  is  the  principal question that  falls to  be determined  in  this  appeal  by special leave.      The circumstances  giving rise  to this  appeal are  as follows:      Respondents 1  and 2  are owners  of  a  site,  bearing Survey No.  98 in  the town  of  Mehmadabad.  They  made  an application under  Rule 3  of  the  Rules  to  the  District Magistrate, Kaira, for the grant of a Certificate that there was no objection to the location of a cinema theatre at this site.  The   District  Magistrate   then  notified   in  the prescribed  Form,   the  substance  of  the  application  by publication in  newspapers, inviting objections to the grant of a  No-objection Certificate. In response thereto, several persons lodged  objections, but  the appellants, who are the proprietors of  a cinema  house, situated  on Station  Road, Mehmadabad, were  not among  those objectors.  Some  of  the objections were that a Muslim graveyard, a Durgah, a compost depot, a  school and  public latrines  were situated  in the vicinity of the proposed site.      The District  Magistrate (Res.  3 herein)  invited  the opinions of  the  Chairman  of  Nagar  Panchayat,  Executive Engineer Roads and  F,  Buildings, and  the District  Superintendent of Police. These three authorities opined that they had no objection to the grant  of the  Certificate  applied  for.  The  District Magistrate visited  the  site  on  27-7-1970  Thereafter  he submitted a  report to  the State  Government (Res. 4) ’that the proposed  site was not fit for ’the location of a cinema house. He  recommended that  the ’No-objection  Certificate’ should be  refused. The  State Government did not agree with the recommendation  of the  District Magistrate and directed the  latter  to  grant  the  Certificate.  Accordingly,  the District Magistrate  granted the  ’No-objection Certificate’ on 27-11-1970 to Res. 1 and 2.      On 16-12-1970,  the appellants filed a writ petition in the High  Court under  Articles 226/227  of the Constitution praying for  the issuance of a writ of certiorari, mandamus, or  any  other  appropriate  writ  or  order  directing  the Respondents to treat the No-objection Certificate granted to



Respondents 1  and 2  as illegal,  void and ineffectual They further asked  for an  injunction restraining  Respondents 1 and 2  from utilising  the certificate  for the  purpose  of building a cinema theatre.      The main  grounds of  challenge were: that the impugned Certificate had  been issued by the District Magistrate, not in the exercise of his own discretion with due regard to the principles indicated  in the  Bombay Cinematograph Act, 1918 (for short,  the Act) and the Rules, but mechanically at the dictates of  the State  Government;  that  Rules  S  and  6, according to an earlier judgment of the High Court being 63 ultra vires  and void,  the Government had no power to grant or refuse  A the  No-Objection Certificate;  that such power belonged to  the District  Magistrate who  was the Licensing Authority, and  had to be exercised by him objectively, in a quasi judicial  manner  in  accordance  with  the  statutory principles; since  it was not so exercised, the grant of the Certificate in question suffers from lack of jurisdiction.      In the  affidavit  filed  in  reply,  by  the  District Magistrate (on  behalf of Respondents 3 and 4) a preliminary objection was  taken that the appellants had no locus standi to file  the writ  petition because their ,. rights were not in any  manner affected  by the  grant of  the ’No-objection Certificate’. It  was stated  that the deponent had reported the case  and submitted  the records to the State Government under Rule  S, recommending  that on account of the location of a  graveyard, a  church, a  temple, a mosque and a school near the  proposed site,  the  no-objection  certificate  be refused. It was admitted that on receipt of the order of the State Government  he granted the No-Objection Certificate to Respondents 1  and 2  in compliance  with  the  Government’s directive. .      The High  Court, purporting  to rely  on  this  Court’s decision in  State of  Gujarat v.  Krishna Cinema(1)  and an earlier decision  of its  own in  Kishore Chander Ratilal v. State of  Gujarat("), held  that Rule  5(2) in its entirety, and the  words "the  previous permission  of the  Government obtained under  Rule S"  in Rule  6 being  ultra  vires  and invalid, have to be ignored as non est, with the result that the District Magistrate had to come to his own conclusion on relevant considerations  and objective  norms whether  a  No objection Certificate  should be  granted or  refused;  that under  the   Act  the   District  Magistrate   and  not  the Government-is the  Licencing Authority,  and he was bound to exercise this  power, which  is  an  integral  part  of  the process of licensing, in a quasi judicial manner, that since the District  Magistrate exercised this power not on his own in accordance  with objective  principles, but solely at the dictates of  the Government,  his act  in granting  the  No- Objection  Certificate   suffers  from   a  patent  lack  of jurisdiction.      The High Court, however, dismissed the writ petition on the ground  that no  right vested  in the appellant had been infringed, or  prejudiced or  adversely affected as a direct consequence of  the order  impugned by  him, and as such, he was not  an aggrieved  person’ having  a locus standi in the matter.      Mr. Tarkunde  appearing for  the appellant, assails the finding of  the High  Court in regard to the locus standi of the appellant  to maintain  the writ petition. The burden of his arguments  is that apart from a right in common with the general public  to object  to the  grant before the District Magistrate, the appellant was a rival in the same trade and, as such,  had a  particular interest  to see that permission



was not  granted to  another, in  contravention of  law,  to start the  same business; consequently, the illegal grant of the No-objection  Certificate had prejudicially affected the commercial interest of the appellant who stood in the ll      (1) [1971] 2 S.C.R. 110.      (2)Special Civil  Application No.  912 of 1970, decided      by Gujarat High Court on 25/27th Nov. 1 970. 64 category of  an "aggrieved  person’ entitled  to a  writ  of certiorari ex  debito justitiae. It is submitted that so far as  certiorari  is  concerned,  the  concept  of  ’aggrieved person’ is  very wide and is not confined to a person who is grieved by  an invasion  of a  legal right  vested  in  him. Anyone-says Mr.  Tarkunde-who is  personally interested  and genuinely grieved by an act of usurpation of jurisdiction or lack of  jurisdiction  on  the  part  of  an  administrative tribunal or  body, would  fall within  the  category  of  an ’aggrieved person’,  even if  such  usurpation  or  lack  of jurisdiction had  not resulted  in infringement of a illegal right or  legal interest  vested in  him; nor  would such  a person be  denied locus standi for the purpose of certiorari merely because he had not lodged any objection or joined the proceedings before the tribunal (District Magistrate, in the present case). In these premises, it is maintained, the High Court was  not justified in denying the remedy of certiorari to the  appellant. Counsel  has cited a number of decisions, mostly of the English Courts, in support of his contentions.      Article 226 of the Constitution empowers the High Court to  issue   to  any   person  or  authority,  including  the Government, within its territorial jurisdiction, directions, orders or  writs, including  writs in  the nature  of habeas corpus, mandamus,  prohibition, quo  warranto and certiorari for the  enforcement of fundamental rights and for any other purpose.      As explained by this Court in Dwarka Nath v. Income-tax officer, Kanpur(1)  the founding fathers of the Constitution have  designedly   couched  the   Article  in  comprehensive phraseology to  enable the  High Court  to  reach  injustice wherever it  is found.  In a  sense, the scope and nature of the power  conferred by  the  Article  is  wider  than  that exercised by  the  writ  courts  in  England.  However,  the adoption of  the nomenclature  of English  writs,  with  the prefix "nature  of" superadded,  indicates that  the general principles grown  over the years in the English Courts, can, shorn of  unnecessary technical procedural restrictions, and adapted to  the special  conditions of this vast country, in so far  as they  do not  conflict with  any provision of the Constitution, or the law declared by this Court, be usefully considered in  directing the  exercise of this discretionary jurisdiction in  accordance with  well-recognised  rules  of practice.      According to  most English  decisions, in order to have the locus  standi to  invoke  certiorari  jurisdiction,  the petitioner should be an "aggrieved person" and, in a case of defect of  jurisdiction, such  a petitioner will be entitled to a  writ of  certiorari as  a matter  of course, but if he does not  fulfil that  character, and  is a  "stranger", the Court will,  in its  discretion, deny him this extraordinary remedy, save in very special circumstances.      This takes  us to  the  further  question:  Who  is  an "aggrieved  per   son"  and   what  are  the  qualifications requisite for  such a  status ?  The  expression  "aggrieved person" denotes  an elastic,  and, to  an extent, an elusive concept. It  cannot be confined within the bounds of  rigid, exact and  comprehensive definition.  At best,  its features



can be described in a broad, tentative manner. Its scope and meaning      (1) [19965] 3 S.C.R. 536. 65 depends on diverse, variable factors such as the content and intent of the statute of which contravention is alleged, the specific circumstances of the case, the nature and extent of the petitioner’s  interest, and the nature and extent of the prejudice or  injury suffered  by him.  English Courts  have sometimes put a restricted and sometimes a wide construction on the  expression "aggrieved person". However, some general tests have been devised to ascertain whether an applicant is eligible for this category so as to have the necessary locus standi or ’standing’ to invoke certiorari jurisdiction. ,,      We will  first take  up that  line of cases in which an "aggrieved person"  has been  held to  be one who has a more particular or  peculiar interest  of his  own beyond that of the general  public, in  seeing that  the  law  is  properly administered. The  leading case  in this  line in  Queen  v. Justices of Surrey(1) decided as far back as 1870. There, on the application  by the  highway  board  the  Justices  made certificates that  certain  portions  of  three  roads  were unnecessary. As  a result,  it was  ordered that  the  roads should cease to be repaired by the parishes.      E, an  inhabitant of one of the parishes, and living in the neighbourhood  of the  roads,  obtained  a  rule  for  a certiorari to  bring up  the orders and certificates for the purpose of  quashing them  on the ground that they were void by reason  of the  notices not  having been  affixed at  the places required  by  law.  On  the  point  of  locus  standi (following an  earlier decision  Hex v. Taunton St. Mary(2), the Court  held that  though a  certiorari is  not a writ of course, yet  as the  applicant had  by reason  of his  local situation a  peculiar grievance  of his  own,  and  was  not merely applying as one of the public, he was entitled to the writ ex debito justitiae.      It is  to be  noted that in this case was living in the neighbourhood of  the roads were to be abandoned as a result of the  certificates issued  by the  Justices. He would have suffered special inconvenience  by the abandonment. Thus had shown  a   particular  grievance  of  his  own  beyond  some inconvenience suffered by the general public. He had a right to object  to the  grant of the Certificate. Non-publication of the  notice at all the places in accordance with law, had seriously prejudiced  him in  the  exercise  of  that  legal right.      The ratio  of the  decision in  Queen  v.  Justices  of Surrey (supra)  was followed  in King  v. Groom  and ors. Ex Parte(3). There,  the parties  were  rivals  in  the  liquor trade. The applicants (brewers) had persistently objected to the jurisdiction  of the  justices to grant the ‘ license to one J.  K. White in a particular month. It was held that the applicants had a sufficient interest in the matter to enable them to invoke certiorari jurisdiction.      A distinguishing  feature of  this case was that unlike the appellants  in the  present case  who did  not,  despite public notice,  raise any  objection    before  the District Magistrate to the grant of the No-objection Certificate, the brewers were  persistently raising objections in proceedings before the  Justices at  every stage.  The law  gave them  a right to (1) [1870] S B. 466.                 (2) [1815] 3 M & S 465.                   (3) [1901] 2 K. B. 157. 66 object and  to see that the licensing was done in accordance



with law.  They were seriously prejudiced in the exercise of that right  by the  act of usurpation of the jurisdiction on the part of the Justices.      The rule  in Groom’s  case was  followed in The King v. Richmond Confirming  Authority, Ex  parte Howitt(1).  There, also, the  applicant for  a certiorari  was a  rival in  the liquor trade.  It is  significant  that  in  coming  to  the conclusion that the applicant was a ’person aggrieved’, Earl of Reading C.J. laid stress on the fact that he had appeared and objected before the Justices and joined issue with them, though unsuccessfully, "in the sense that they said they had jurisdiction when he said they had not".      In R.  Toames Magistrate  Court Ex  parte  Greenbaum(2) there were two traders in Goulston St., Stepney. One of them was Gritzman  who held a license to trade on pitch No. 4 for S days  in the  week an  pitch No. 8 for the other two days. The other was Greenbaum, who held a licence to sell on Pitch No. 8  for two  days of  the week,  and pitch No. 10 for the other days of the week. A much better pitch, pitch No. 2, in Gulston St.  became vacant.  Thereupon,  both  Gritzman  and Greenbaum applied  for the grant of a licence, each wanted o to give  up his  own existing  licence and get a new licence for pitch  No. 2. The Borough Council considered and decided in favour  of Greenbaum  and refused  Gritzman who  was left with his pitches 4 and 8.      Gritzman appealed  to  the  magistrate.  He  could  not appeal against the grant of a licence to Greenbaum, but only against the  refusal to  grant a  licence to himself. Before the  magistrate,   the  Borough  Council  opposed  him.  The magistrate held  that the  Council were  wrong to refuse the licence of  pitch No.  2 to  Gritzman. The Council thereupon made out a licence for Gritzman for pitch No. 2 and wrote to Greenbaum saying  that his  licence had been wrongly issued. Greenbaum made  an application for certiorari to court . The court held  that the  magistrate had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal.  An objection  was taken  that Greenbaum  had no locus  standi.   Rejecting  the   contention,  Lord  Denning observed:           "I should have thought that in this case Greenbaum      was certainly  a person  aggrieved, and not a stranger.      He was  affected by the magistrate’s orders because the      magistrate ordered  another person  to be  put  on  his      pitch. It  is a proper case for the intervention of the      court by means of certiorari."      It is  to be  noted that  the Council had duly allotted pitch No.  2 to  J’’ Greenbaum  in  the  exercise  of  their administrative power.  The Magistrate’s  order  pursuant  to which the  Council cancelled  the allotment. and re-allotted that pitch  to Gritzman,  was without  jurisdiction By  this illegal cancellation and reallotment Greenbaum’s interest to trade on  pitch No.  2, which  had been duly licensed out to him was  directly and  prejudically affected by the impugned action.      (1) [1921] I K.B. 248.      (2)[1957]  55  L.G.R.  129-135,  135-136  extracted  in      Yardley’s book  of English Administrative Law. 2nd Edn.      at p. 228. 67      R. v.  Manchester Legal  Aid Committee(1),  is  another case  belonging   to  this  group.  lt  was  held  that  the applicants therein  were "persons  aggrieved"  because  they were grieved  by the  failure of  the Legal Aid Committee to give them  prior notice  and  hearing  to  which  they  were entitled under  Regulation 15(2). Thus it could be said that they had suffered a legal wrong.



    In Regina  v. Liverpool Corporation, Ex parte Liverpool Taxi Fleet  operators’ Association("),  the City  Council in exercise of  its powers  under the  Town Police Clauses Act, 1847, limited  the number  of  licences  to  be  issued  for hackney carriages to 300. The Council gave an undertaking to the  associations  representing  the  300  existing  licence holders not  to increase  the number of such licence holders above 300  for a  certain period.  The Council, disregarding this  undertaking,  resolved  to  increase  the  number.  An Association representing  the existing licence-holders moved the  Queens’   Bench  for  leave  to  apply  for  orders  of Prohibition, Mandamus  and Certiorari.  The  Division  Bench refused. In  the Court of Appeal, allowing the Association’s appeal, Lord Denning M. R. Observed ar pp. 308, 309:           "The taxicab  owners’  association  come  to  this      Court for relief and I think we should give it to them.      The writs  of prohibition  and certiorari lie on behalf      of any  person who  is a  "person aggrieved"  and  that      includes  any   person  whose   interests  may  be  pre      judicially affected  by what  is taking  place. It does      not include  a mere  busybody  who  is  interfering  in      things which  do not  concern him;  but it includes any      person who  has a  genuine grievance  because something      has been  done or  may be  done which  affects him: See      Attorney-General of the Gambia v. N’Jie [1961] A.C. 617      and Maurice v. London County Council [1964] 2 Q.B. 362,      378.  The   taxicab  owners’   association  here   have      certainly a locus standi to apply for relief."      It may  be noted  that in this case, the whole question turned on  the effect in law of the undertaking, and whether the applicants had been treated fairly.      Emphasising the  "very special  circumstances"  of  the case, the  court read into the statute, a duty to act fairly in accordance  with the principles of natural justice. Thus, a  corresponding   right  to  be  treated  fairly  was  also imported, by  implication, in  favour  of  the’  applicants. Viewed from  this standpoint, the applicants had an interest recognised in  law, which  was  adversely  affected  by  the impugned action.  They had  suffered a  wrong as a result of the unfair treatment on the part of the corporation.      In Regina  v. Paddington  Valuation Officer,  Ex  Parte Peachy Property  Corporation Ltd.,(3),  ratepayers were held to  have   the  locus   standi  to   apply  for  certiorari, notwithstanding the  fact that it could not be said that the actual burdens  to be  borne by  the  applicants  fell  more heavily  on   them  than  on  other  members  of  the  local community. Hl      (1) (1952) 2 W.B.D. 413.          (2) [1972] 2 Q.B.299.      (3)[1966]1 Q.B. 880. 68      In Bar  Council of  Maharashtra v.  M. V. Dabholkar(1), Bench of  seven learned  Judges of this Court considered the question whether  the Bar  Council of  a State was a ’person aggrieved’  to  maintain  an  appeal  under  s.  38  of  the Advocates’  Act,   1961.  Answering   the  question  in  the affirmative,  this   Court,  speaking   through  Ray   C.J., indicated how  the expression  "person aggrieved"  is to  be interpreted in the context of a statute, thus:           "The meaning of the words "a person aggrieved" may      vary according  to the  context of  the statute. One of      the meanings  is that  a person  will  be  held  to  be      aggrieved by  a decision if that decision is materially      adverse to  him. Normally, one is required to establish      that one  has been  denied or  deprived of something to      which one  is legally  entitled in order to make one "a



    person aggrieved".  Again a  person is  aggrieved if  a      legal burden  is imposed  on him.  The meaning  of  the      words  "a   person  aggrieved"  is  sometimes  given  a      restricted meaning  in certain  statutes which  provide      remedies for  the protection  of private  legal rights.      The restricted  meaning requires  denial or deprivation      of legal rights. A more liberal approach is required in      the back  ground of  statutes which  do not  deal  with      property rights  but deal with professional conduct and      morality.  The  role  of  the  Bar  Council  under  the      Advocates’ Act  is comparable to the role of a guardian      in professional ethics. The words "person aggrieved" in      sections 37  and 38  of the  Act are of wide import and      should not be subjected to a restricted inter pretation      of possession  or denial  of legal rights or burdens or      financial interests.      In Rex  v. Butt  and anr.  Ex Parte Brooke(2), a person who was  merely a resident of the town, was held entitled to apply for  certiorari. Similar  is the decision in Regina v. Brighton Borough Just ices Ex Parte Jarvis(3).      Typical of the cases in which a strict construction was put on the expression "person aggrieved", is Buxton and ors. v. Minister  of Housing  and Local  Government(4). There, an appeal by  a  Company  against  the  refusal  of  the  Local Planning Authority  of permission  to develop  land owned by the Company  by digging  chalk, was allowed by the Minister. Owners of  adjacent property applied to the High Court under s. 31(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1959 to quash the decision of the Minister on the ground that the proposed operations by  the company would injure their land, and that they were ’persons aggrieved’ by the action of the Minister. It was  held that  the expression  ’person aggrieved’  in  a statute meant  a person  who had suffered a legal grievance; anyone given  the right  under s.  37 of  the Act of 1959 to have his  representation considered  by the  Minister was  a person aggrieved,  thus section  31 applied, if those rights were infringed;  but the  applicants had  no right under the statute, and      (1) [1976]1 S.C.R. 306.      (2) Vol. XXXVIII(1921-22) Times Law Reports 537.      (3) (1954)1,Weekly Law Reports 203.      (4) [1961] 1 Q.B.D. 278. 69 no legal  rights had  been infringed and therefore they were not entitled   to  challenge the Minister’s decision. Salmon J. quoted with approval these observations of James T. J. in In Re Sidebothem(1).           "The words  ’person aggrieved’ do not really means      a man  who is  disappointed of a benefit which he might      have received  if some  other order  had been  made.  A      ’person aggrieved’  must be  a man  who has  suffered a      legal grievance,‘a man against whom a decision has been      pronounced  which   has  wrongfully   deprived  him  of      something, or  wrong fully  refused him  something,  or      wrongfully affected his title to something."      Ex Parte  Stott(2), is another illustration of a person who had  no legal  grievance, nor had he sufficient interest in   the   matter.   A   licensing   authority   under   the Cinematography Act,  1901, granted to a theatre proprietor a licence for  the exhibition  of cinematograph  films at  his theatre. The  licence was  subject to the condition that the licensee should  not exhibit any film if, he had notice that the licensing  authority objected  to it.  A  firm  who  had acquired the sole right of 1 exhibition of a certain film in the district  in which the theatre was situated entered into



an agreement  with the  licensee for  the exhibition  of the film at  his theatre.  The licensing  authority having given notice to the licensee that it objected to the exhibition of the film, the film applied for a writ of certiorari to bring up the  notice to  be  quash  ed  on  the  ground  that  the condition attached to the licence was unreasonable and void, and that  they  were  aggrieved  by  the  notice  as  ’being destructive of  their property. It was held that whether the condition was  unreasonable or  not, the applicants were not persons who  were aggrieved  by the  notice and had no locus standi to maintain the application.      Similarly, King  v. Middlesex  Justices(3), it was held that the  words "person  who shall  think himself aggrieved" appearing in  the statute governing the grant of licences to innkeepers mean a person immediately aggrieved as by refusal of a  licence to  himself, and  not one  who is consequently aggrieved, and  that  though  the  Justices  had  granted  a licence to  a party  to open  a  public  house,  not  before licensed, within  a very short distance of a licensed public house, the  occupier of  the latter  house could  not appeal against such grant.      Other instances  of a  restricted interpretation of the expression  "person   aggrieved"  are  furnished  by  R.  v. Bradford on-Avon Urban District Council Ex Parte Boulton(4); Gregory v. Camden London      (1) [1880] 14Ch.D.458,at p.465.       (2) [1916] 1K B.7      (3) (1832) 37 R. R. 594-(1832) 3 & Ad. 938.      (4) (1964) 2 All. E. R. 492. 70 Borough Council(1); R. v. London O.E. Ex parte West-Minister Corporation(2); Regina  v. Cardiff Justices Ex parte Cardiff Corporation(3).      This Court  has laid down in a number of decisions that in  order   to  have   the  locus   standi  to   invoke  the extraordinary jurisdiction  under Article  226, an applicant should ordinarily  be one  who has  a personal or individual right in  the subject  matter of the application, though (1) the case  of some  of the  writs like  habeas corpus  or quo warranto this  rule is  relaxed or modified. In other words, as a  general rule,  in fringement  of some  legal right  or prejudice to  some legal  interest in hearing the petitioner is necessary  to give  him a  locus standi in the matter see The State of orissa v. Madan Gopal Rungta(4); Calcutta . Gas Co. v.  The State of West Bengal(5); Ram Umeshwari Suthoo v. Member, Board of Revenue, orissa(6); Gadda Venkateshwara Rao v. Government  of Andhra  Pradesh(7);  State  of  orissa  v. Rajasaheb Chandanmall(8); Dr. Satyanarayana Sinha v. M/s. S. Lal & Co.(9)].      The expression  "ordinarily" indicates that this is not a cast-iron  rule. It  is flexible  enough to  take in those cases where the applicant has been prejudicially affected by an act  or omission of an authority, r even though he has no proprietary or  even a  fiduciary interest  in the  subject- matter. That  apart, in exceptional cases even a stranger or a person  who was  not a party to the proceedings before the authority, but has a substantial and genuine interest in the subject matter  of the   proceedings will be covered by this rule. The principles enunciated in the English cases noticed above, are not inconsistent with it.      In the  United States  of America, also, the law on the point is  substantially the  same. "No  matter how seriously infringement  of   the  Constitution   may  be  called  into question, "said Justice Frankfurter in Coleman v. Miller(10) "this is  not the tribunal for its challenge except by those who have some specialized interest of their own to vindicate



apart from  a political  concern which  belongs to  all". To have a  "standing to  sue", which  means locus standi to ask for relief  in a  court independently of a statutory remedy, the plaintiff  must  show  that  he  is  injured,  that  is, subjected to  or threatened  with a  legal wrong. Courts can intervene only  where legal  rights are  invaded(11). "Legal wrong" requires a judicially enforceable right and the touch stone to  justiciability is  injury to  a legally  protected right. A  nominal or a highly speculative adverse affect(12) on the  interest or  right of  a person  has been held to be insufficient to  give him the "standing to sue" for judicial review of administrative action(18). Again the      (1) (1966) 1 W. L. R.899          (2) [1951] 2K.B. 508.      (3) [1962] 2 QB 436.      (4) [1952] S.C.R.28.      (5) [1962] Supp.3 S.C.R. 1.      (6) [1967] 1, S.C. Appeals 413.      (7) A.I.R. 1966 S.C.828-[1966] 2 S.C.R.172.      (8) A.T.R.1972 S.C.2112.      (9) A.I.R.1973 S.C.2720-(1974) I S.C.R 615.      (10)(1939) 307 U.S. 433.      (11)Chapman v. Sheridan-Wyoming Coal Co. 338 U. S.621.      (12)American  Jurisprudence Vol.  2 d  ss. 575. p. 334          Joint Anti Fascist Refugee. Committee v. MeGarth          341 U.S.123.      (13)United  States Cane  Sugar  Refiners.  Assoen.  v.          MeNutt 138 2nd 116: 1518 A.L.R.849. 71 "adverse affect"  requisite for "standing to sue" must be an "illegal  effect’’(l). Thus, in the undermentioned cases, it was held  that injury resulting from lawful competition, not being a  legal wrong, cannot furnish a "standing to sue" for judicial relief(2).      It will  be seen that in the context of locus standi to apply for  a writ of certiorari, an applicant may ordinarily fall in  any of  these categories:  (i) ’person  aggrieved’; (ii) ’stranger’;  (iii) busybody  or meddlesome  interloper. Persons in the last category are easily distinguishable from those coming  under the  first two  categories. Such persons interfere  in   things  which  do  not  concern  them.  They masquerade as  crusaders for justice. They pretend to act in the name  of Pro  Bono Publico, though they have no interest of the  public or even of their own to protect. They indulge in the  pastime of meddling with the judicial process either by force  of habit or from improper motives. Often, they are actuated by  a desire  to win notoriety or cheap popularity; while  the  ulterior  intent  of  some  applicants  in  this category,  may  be  no  more  than  spoking  the  wheels  of administration. The  High Court should do well to reject the applications of such busybodies at the threshold.      The distinction between the first and second categories of applicants,  though real,  is not always well-demarcated. The first  category has, as it were, two concentric zones; a solid central  zone of certainty, and a grey outer circle of lessening certainty  in a sliding centrifugal scale, with an outermost nebulous fringe of uncertainty. Applicants falling within the  central zone  are those  whose legal rights have been infringed.  Such applicants  undoubtedly stand  in  the category of  ’persons aggrieved’.  In the  grey outer-circle the. bounds  which separate  the  first  category  from  the second, intermix,  interfuse and  overlap increasingly  in a centrifugal direction. All persons in this outerzone may not be "persons aggrieved.      To distinguish  such applicants from ’strangers’, among them, some  broad tests  may be  deduced from the conspectus



made above. These tests are not absolute and ultimate. Their efficacy varies  according to the circumstances of the case, including the statutory context in which the matter falls to be considered.  These are: Whether the applicant is a person whose legal  right has  been infringed  ? Has  he suffered a legal wrong  or injury,  in the  sense  that  his  interest, recognised by  law.  has  been  prejudicially  and  directly affected by the act or omission of the authority, complained of ?  Is he  a person  who has suffered a legal grievance, a person "against  whom a  decision has  been pronounced which has wrongfully  deprived  him  of  something  or  wrongfully refused him  something, or  wrongfully affected his title to something" ?  Has he  a special and substantial grievance of his own  beyond some  grievance or inconvenience suffered by him in  common with the rest of the public ? Was he entitled to object  and be  heard by the authority before it took the impugned action? If so, was he prejudicially affected in the exercise  of   that  right  by  the  act  of  usurpation  of jurisdiction on      (1) United States v.Storer Broadcasting Co.351 U.S.192.      (2) Kansas  City Power  & light  Co. v. McKay 350 U. S.          884. 6-390SCr/76 72 the part  of the  authority ? Is the statute, in the context of which  the scope of-the words "person aggrieved" is being considered. a  social welfare  measure designed  to lay down ethical  or   professional  standards  of  conduct  for  the community ?  or is  it a statute dealing with private rights of particular individuals ?      Now let  us apply  these tests to the case in hand. The Act and  the Rules  with which  we are  concerned,  are  not designed to  set norms  of moral or professional conduct for the community  at large or even a section thereof. They only regulate the  exercise of private rights of an individual to carry on  a particular  busness on  his  property.  In  this context, the  expression "person  aggrieved" must  receive a strict construction.      Did  the   appellant  have  a  Legal  right  under  the statutory provisions  or under  the general  law, which  has been subjected to or threatened with injury. ? The answer in the circumstances  of the  case must  necessarily be  in the negative.      The Act  and the  Rules do  not confer  any substantive justiciable right on a rival in cinema trade, apart from the option in  common with  the rest  of the public, to lodge an objection in  response to the notice published under Rule 4. The appellant did not avail of this option. He did not lodge any objection in response to the notice, the due publication of which was not denied. No explanation has been given as to why he  did not  prefer any  objection to  the grant  of the Objection Certificate  before the District Magistrate or the Government. Even  if he  had objected  before  the  District Magistrate and failed, the Act would not give him a right of appeal. Section  8A of  the Act confers a right of appeal to the State  Government, only  on any  person aggrieved  by an order of  a licensing authority refusing to grant a license, or revoking  or suspending  any  licence  under  section  8. Obviously, the appellant was not a "person aggrieved" within the contemplation of Section 8A      Section  8B   of  the   Act  provides  that  the  State Government  may  either  of  its  own  motion,  or  upon  an application made  by "an  aggrieved person",  call  for  and examine  the  record  of  any  order  made  by  a  licensing authority under  this Act, and pass such order thereon as it



thinks just and proper. Assuming that the scope of the words "aggrieved person"  in Section 8B is wider than the ambit of the same  words as used in Sec. 8A, then also, the appellant cannot, in  the circumstances of this case, be regarded as a "person aggrieved’  having. the  requisite legal capacity to invoke certiorari jurisdiction.      The Act  and the  Rules recognise a special interest of persons residing,  or concerned with any institution such as a school,  temple, mosque  etc. located within a distance of 200 yards of the site on which a cinema house is proposed to be constructed.  The appellant  does  not  fall  within  the category of  such persons  having a  special interest in the locality. It  is not  his case  that  his  cinema  house  is situated anywhere  near the site in question, or that he has any  peculiar   interest  in   his  personal,  fiduciary  or representative capacity in any school, 73 temple etc.  situated in  the vicinity  of the said site. It cannot therefore   be  said that  the appellant is "a person aggrieved"  on  account  of  his  having  a  particular  and substantial interest of his own in the subject matter of the litigation, beyond  the  general  interest  of  the  public. Moreover the  appellant could  not be  said to have been, in fact, aggrieved.  As already  noticed, he,  despite adequate opportunity, never  lodged any  objection with  the District Magistrate,  nor   went  in   revision  before   the   State Government. Thus  the present  case is  not in line with the decisions which are within the ratio of Queen v, Justices of Surrey (supra).      Having seen  that the  appellant  has  no  standing  to complain of  injury, actual  or potential,  to any statutory right or interest, we pass on to consider whether any of his rights or interests, recognised by the general law, has been infringed  as   a  result   of  the  grant  of  No-objection Certificate to  the respondents  ? Here,  again, the  answer must be in the negative.      In Paragraph  7 of the writ petition, he has stated his cause of action, thus:           "The petitioner  submits that  .. he owns a cinema      theatre  in   Mehmadabad  which   has  about   a  small      population of  15000 persons  as stated above and there      is no  scope for  more than  one cinema  theatre in the      town. He  has, there  fore, a  commercial  interest  in      seeing to  it that  other persons are not granted a no-      objection certificate in violation of law."      Thus, in  substance, the  appellant’s stand is that the setting up  of  a  rival  cinema  house  in  the  town  will adversely  affect   his  monopolistic  commercial  interest, causing  pecuniary   harm  and   loss   of   business   from competition. Such harm or Loss is not wrongful in the eye of law, because  it does  not result in injury to a legal right or a  legally protected  interest, the  business competition causing it  being a  lawful activity.  Juridically, harm  of this description  is called  demnum sine  injuria, the  term injuria being here used in its true sense of an act contrary to law(1). The reason why the law suffers a person knowingly to inflict  harm of  this description  on  another,  without holding him accountable for it, is that such harm done to an individual is a gain to society at large.      In  the   light  of   the  above   discussion,  it   is demonstrably clear that the appellant has not been denied or deprived of  a legal  right. He  has not sustained injury to any legally  protected interest. In fact, the impugned order does not  operate as  a decision against him, much less does it wrongfully affect his title to something. He has not been



subjected to  a  legal  wrong.  He  has  suffered  no  legal grievance. He  ’has no legal peg for’ a justiciable claim to hang on. Therefore he is not a ’person aggrieved’ and has no locus standi  to challenge  the grant  of  the  No-objection Certificate.      lt  is   true  that,  in  the  ultimate  analysis,  the jurisdiction under Article 226 in general, and certiorari in particular, is discretionary. But      (1) Salmond  on Jurisprudence  by Fitz-Gerald.  p.  357 para 85. 74 in a  country like India where writ petitions are instituted in the  High Courts by the thousand, many of them frivolous, a strict  ascertainment, at  the outset,  of the standing of the petitioner  to invoke  this extraordinary  jurisdiction, must be  insisted upon.  The broad  guide lines indicated by us, coupled  with other  well established self-devised rules of practice,  such as  the availability  of  an  alternative remedy, the  conduct of  the petitioner  etc., can go a long way to help the courts in weeding out a large number of writ petitions at  the initial  stage with  consequent saving  of public time and money.      While a  Procrustean approach  should be  avoided, as a rule the  Court should  not interfere  at the  instance of a ’stranger’  unless   there  are   exceptional  circumstances involving a  grave miscarriage  of justice having an adverse impact on public interests. Assuming that the appellant is a ’stranger’, and  not a  busybody, then  also, there  are  no exceptional circumstances  in the  present case  which would justify the  issue of  a writ of certiorari at his instance. On the  contrary,  the  result  of  the  exercise  of  these discretionary powers,  in his  favour, will,  on balance, be against public policy. It will eliminate healthy competition in this  business which  is so essential to raise commercial morality;  it   will  tend  to  perpetuate  the  appellant’s monopoly of  cinema business  in the town; and above all, it will, in  effect, seriously injure the fundamental rights of respondents 1 and 2, which they have under article 19(1) (g) of the  Constitution, to  carry on trade or business subject to ’reasonable restrictions’ imposed by law.      The instant  case falls  well-nigh within  the ratio of this Court’s  decision in  Rice and  Flour Mills  v.  N.  T. Gowda(1), wherein  it was held that a rice mill-owner has no locus standi  to challenge under Article 226, the setting up of a  new rice-mill by another even if such setting up be in contravention of  s. 8(3)(c)  of the  Rice Milling  Industry (Regulation) Act,  1958 because  no right  vested in such an applicant is infringed.      For all  the foregoing  reasons, we are of opinion that the appellant  had no  locus standi  to invoke  this special jurisdiction  under   article  226   of  the   Constitution. Accordingly,  we   answer  the   question   posed   at   the commencement of  this judgment, in the negative, and on that ground, without  entering  upon  the  merits  of  the  case, dismiss this appeal with costs. S.R.                                       Appeal dismissed.      (1) [1970] S.C.R. 846. 75