1. This case which falls under the Bombay District Municipalites Act (III of 1901) is, I think, best decided on its own facts without any attempt to lay down any general proposition from the complicated intricacies of the Statute. Now the simple facts which we have before us here are these.
2. On the 12th January 1916 the present applicant obtained from the Managing Committee of the Municipality a perfectly valid and legal permission to build his house with a certain gallery. He consequently began the building. On the 26th March following, there was communicated to him from the Municipality an order that the previous permission was revoked and that his building must be so modified as to leave a certain set-back to the detriment or the omission of his gallery. This order was the result of a resolution of the general body on the preceding day, the 25th of March. The applicant, notwithstanding this last-mentioned order, proceeded with his building in compliance with the permission of the 12th of January. Because he did so, he has been convicted under Section 96, Clause (5), of the Bombay District Municipalities Act and has been sentenced to a fine of Rs. 60.
3. I am clearly of opinion that on these facts the applicant was not guilty of any offence under the section. As I have said, the permission accorded to him by the Managing Committee in January was entirely within the powers of the Managing Committee and was lawful and valid. It would be extremely inconvenient in practice if a lawfull permission accorded by the Managing Committee was subject at any future date to be cancelled by the general body. For it is plain that no citizen would then have notice as to when he might safely begin his building. If, however, words clearly importing such a power of subsequently overriding the permission were discoverable in the Statute, there would be no alternative but to give effect to them. No such words are, however, discoverable. On the contrary the whole tenor of Section 96 of the Act, with its various sub-sections and clauses and sub-clauses, seems to me to show that what is contemplated is an application by the citizen, a period of time during which the Municipality should consider the merits of that application and then the issue of orders once and for all. Sub-section 5, it is to be observed, speaks of 'such legal orders of the Municipality as may be issued under this section. ' It does not say such legal orders as may from time to time be issued under the section, and any such latitude of construction would, in my opinion, render these sections unworkable in practice. I am of opinion, therefore, that both the terms of the Statute and the reason of the thing are in favour of the present applicant.
4. I would, therefore, make the Rule absolute, set aside the conviction, order the applicant to be acquitted and discharged and direct that the fine, if paid by him, be refunded to him.
5. I agree.