The Bombay High Court while deciding a petition filed by the owner of a restaurant held that mere registration of a crime would not furnish a ground to cancel a performance license of a restaurant until held guilty.

A Single Bench of Justice Sandeep K. Shinde set aside the cancellation of a performance license of a restaurant named Geeta Lunch Home located in Mumbai. The Bench stated –

"The petition is opposed by the learned A.G.P. He relied on the affidavit of the Assistant Commissioner. I have perused it, however, affidavit does not point out, whether offences registered against the licensee, have been culminated into conviction or not. It is settled law that until held guilty, a person should be treated as innocent, and therefore, mere registration of crime would not furnish ground to cancel license."

Advocate R.D. Soni appeared for the petitioner while Advocate P.P. Pujari represented the State i.e., the respondent.

In this case, the petitioner was granted a performance license by the Commissioner of Police under the Rules called "Rules for Licensing and Controlling Places of Public Amusement (other than Cinemas) and Performances for Public Amusement including Melas, Tamashas), 1960". The Deputy Commissioner issued a show cause notice to the petitioner asking why the license should not be cancelled for alleged violation of the license conditions. However, the petitioner did not respond to the notice and hence, the license was cancelled. Such a decision was challenged before the Principal Home Secretary (Appeal And Security) at Maharashtra State Mantralaya in Mumbai. The appeal was decided ex-parte by an order confirming the order passed by the DCP and another show cause notice was issued.

The petitioner being aggrieved by such an order sought a review of the same but it got dismissed for want of jurisdiction. Therefore, the petitioner approached the High Court challenging such a decision.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted before the Court that the license has been cancelled by the authority principally, relying on the crimes registered against the establishment or its owner or servants. On the other hand, the counsel for the State opposed such a contention and relied on the Assistant Commissioner's affidavit.

The High Court after hearing both parties noted –

"… in consideration of above facts, it is evident that the licensing authority while cancelling the license, in-principal relied on the crimes registered against the licensee or its servant, which he could not have, in view of the Government Resolution dated 23.01.2019 and the law laid down in above decisions."

The Court further held that "I deem it appropriate to set aside the impugned order and direct the respondent no.4 to pass the order in accordance with law pursuant to show cause notice dated 13.07.2016."

Accordingly, the Court set aside the order, allowed the petition, and disposed of the same.

Cause Title – Geeta Lunch Home v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.

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