1. This is an appeal by the Government of Bombay against an acquittal. Notice has been served upon the accused person, but there is no appearance on his behalf. The point, however, involved in the appeal is, it seems to us, a very simple one.
2. The facts are that the accused without having taken out a license for that purpose plied for hire a hand-lorry in the City of Ahmedabad to which the provisions of Bombay Public Conveyances Act VI of 1863 have been extended. The learned Magistrate was of opinion that hand-drawn lorries were not conveyances within the meaning of the Act, and upon that ground alone directed the accused's acquittal. We have, therefore, to see whether this view of the Magistrate's is the right view under the Statute.
3. We begin with this consideration that there would appear to be no reason in the nature of things why hand-drawn lorries should be excluded from the operation of the Act. So far as regards the objects which an Act of this character is intended to serve, such, for instance, as the supervision imposed over public carriers plying for hire, it clearly makes no difference whether a particular conveyance plying for hire is drawn by horses or by men. Coming to the actual words of the Act, we do not think that they bear out the rather fine distinction which the learned Magistrate desired to import. The defining section is Section 1, which enacts that ' every carriage with two or more wheels which shall be used for the purpose of plying for hire...of whatever form or construction, or by whatever number of horses or other animals the same shall be drawn, and every Palkhi, which shall be let for hire, shall be deemed and taken to be a public -land-conveyance. ' We observe upon that, that the occurrence of the Palkhi in this definition is adverse to the theory that a public conveyance must necessarily be a conveyance' drawn by horses or other animals. Next, we are of opinion that the words ' or by whatever number of horses or other animals the same shall be drawn, ' are not intended to restrict, but rather to expand, the scope of the defining words already used. This opinion derives countenance from one of the clauses in Section 7 of the Act. That section deals with the fees to be levied for licenses in accordance with the various classes of conveyances licensed ; and one of those classes is described as being labour-carts to carry goods only. There is no condition expressed or implied that such labour-carts shall be drawn by horses or shall not be drawn by human agency.
4. On these grounds we think that the learned Magistrate's view of the Act is incorrect. We must, therefore, reverse the learned Magistrate's order and convict the accused under Section 2 of the Act, As the case comes before us merely in order to get a decision upon the point of law we award a nominal sentence of one rupee, or in default simple imprisonment for one day.