1. This is a petition by the Government of Bombay to enhance the sentence of fine of Rs. 7, imposed by an Honorary Presidency Magistrate upon the accused Rama Deoji under Rule 27-A of the Motor Vehicles Rules. This rule says: 'No person shall, when intoxicated, drive a motor vehicle in a public place.' Information was laid that the accused had without any kind of warning suddenly swerved to his right in order to go to the Cooperage Maidan for parking his car, and in doing so he ran into a cir which was on tb. 9 proper side of the road, with the result that damage was done to the mudguards of both the cars, and that at the time of the collision the accused was under the influence of liquor. Upon this the Magistrate issued a summons to the accused calling upon him to appear and answer a charge of driving a motor car while under the influence of liquor, and so hiving contravened Rule 27 A of the Motor Vehicles Rules.
2. The record of the trial in the column of 'offence complained of or proved' shows 'Driving a car when under the influence of liquor. Rule 27 A, M.V. Rules 'and the column of 'accused plea and his examination 'shows' accused pleads guilty.'
3. The Government Pleader in support of the application contends that this is a case in which a fine of Rs. 7 is inadequate and that it should be increased. The maximum penalty for a contravention of the rules under Section 16 of the Motor Vehicles Act is Rs. 100 in the case of a first offence.
4. Mr. Bhandarkar for the accused has objected that the conviction of the accused for contravention of Rule 27 A is improper, inasmuch as the charge actually stated to him was merely one of being under the influence of liquor instead of being intoxicated, and that there is a distinction between the two things. He has cited Sheru v. The Grown I.L.R. (1923) Lah. 50 in support of this distinction. He also contends that the word 'intoxicated' in this rule means that the driver must be absolutely incapable of driving a motor vehicle, in the sense of not being able to steer in the direction in which he wants to go. In our opinion the word 'intoxicated' cannot be read in this very extreme sense. It in fact corresponds with the word 'drunk' that is generally used in similar English enactments. No doubt, there has been a good deal of controversy in England as to when a person can properly be said to be drunk, and a distinction has been made between his being drunk and his being merely under the influence of liquor. I do not, however, think it is necessary for us in this particular case to go into any controversy of that kind. The fact remains that the words' under the influence of liquor' do sufficiently represent the meaning of the word 'intoxicated, 'except that it may be said that the latter word expresses a degree of influence which is not sufficiently expressed in the words 'under the influence of liquor.' But this question of degree is one that is at any rate involved in the words; and if the accused intended to assert that he was not under the influence of liquor to a degree that really mattered in regard to his exercising due care and judgment in driving the car, then that should have been stated by the accused clearly, so as to raise an issue on the point. On the contrary he pleaded guilty; and in view of the fact that his act in suddenly swerving was one of extreme rashness, as admitted by Mr. Bhandarkar himself, the circumstances clearly point to the accused understanding that he was pleading guilty to a degree of intoxication which would bring the case under this rule. There has, in our opinion, been no misapprehension of the accused, so as to justify our holding that he did not plead guilty to a breach of this particular rule.
5. Mr. Bhandarkar further urged that it was improper to have had two separate trials, one for a breach of this rule before the Honorary Presidency Magistrate, and another for an offence under Section 5 of the Motor Vechicles Act in regard to rash or negligent driving before a Stipendiary Presidency Magistrate. It appears from his petition that he was convicted under this section by the Presidency Magistrate, Third Court, two days after the conviction we are considering and was fined Rs. 25, The accused could, no doubt, have been tried at one trial for the two offences, as they were separate offences in one aeries of acts constituting the same transaction, so as to fall under Sub-section (1) of Section 235, Criminal Procedure Code. A breach of the Rule 27A would be committed the moment that the accused was driving the car in an intoxicated state. The act of rashness in regard to which he was convicted was a subsequent event. But there is nothing illegal in his being separately charged and tried for each of the two offences. Therefore, there is, in our opinion no substance in the technical objections that have been raised on behalf of the accused.
6. As regards the merits, we think that breaches of this particular rule should ordinarily meet with deterrent punishment, because the dangers involved in a person driving a motor vehicle when intoxicated are very great. We take, however, into consideration the fact that the accused has been fined Rs. 25 under Section 5 of the Motor Vehicles Act, and that he is a poor man. We think it will suffice if we raise the fine of Rs. 7 to Rs. 25. A week's time is allowed for payment.