There were scientific findings which were based on air quality monitoring data indicating that the business of cleaning and trading gunny bags had negative impacts on the air and environment of Maharajgunj. The respondent State Government therefore decided that it was necessary to shift the gunny bags cleaning and trading business to an environmentally safer place and accordingly issued a government order. The petitioners contended that the respondent had no jurisdiction to direct the petitioners to shift their place of business, when the business carried on by them was not a polluting one. They also contended that only five per cent of the traders dealing in gunny bags took recourse to dusting and cleaning of the old and used gunny bags, by reason whereof pollution was created, and therefore, the traders who took recourse to such dusting and cleaning of old and used gunny bags should be directed to close their business instead of the entire market.
The court was of the view that the submission of the petitioners that for the acts of a handful of the traders, at whose instance air and environmental pollution was caused, the entire business community dealing in gunny bags should not be directed to be shifted, could not be accepted. Causation of environmental pollution having been admitted, the onus was heavily upon the petitioners to prove that by reason of their activities no pollution was caused. It was clear that a licence could be cancelled for creating nuisance. According to the Constitution of India, the right to carry on business or trade was subject to any restriction that could be imposed by any law in force. The right of the petitioners to carry on business in old and used gunny bags could not be said to be absolute.
Since the business carried on by the petitioners was endangering the lives of the people living in the area, more particularly the traders and the public in general, who visited the market day in and day out, as also the workers engaged therein, the court held that no fault could be found in the impugned order which directed the shifting of the business of the petitioners from a thickly populated area to a safer place to avoid air and environmental pollution. The writ petition had no merit, and it was accordingly dismissed. This order, however, did not preclude any person from making an application to the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad for grant of fresh licence if he intended to carry on business in new and unused gunny bags.