M.S. Nesargi, J.
1. These two appeals are filed by the State against the orders of acquittal passed by the Judicial Magistrate First Class (I Court), Bangalore City in C. C. Nos. 55 of 1973 and 54 of 1973 respectively acquitting the respondent, who was the accused in both the cases, of the offence punishable under Section 12(1)(a) of, the Mysore Motor Vehicles Taxation Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act). We consider it appropriate to pass a common judgment as the point involved in these two appeals is the same.
2. The accused is the registered owner of vehicles bearing Nos. MYA 162 and MYA 252. The quarterly tax of these two vehicles was due by 15-10-1971 in regard to the quarter ending 31-10-1971. The accused paid the concerned tax on 5-11-1971 instead of 15-10-1971. The prosecution has therefore, contended that the accused had committed an offence punishable under Section 12(1)(a) of the Act.
3. The learned Magistrate has, on the basis of the material produced before him, found that the concerned transport authority had taken action against the accused to levy penalty by way of composition and that the accused took up the matter with the Mysore Revenue Appellate Tribunal and secured a stay order in regard to the levy of penalty. He, in view of these facts, concluded that under Section 12(2) of the Act, the accused is deemed to be acquitted. He has observed that the prosecution instituted against the accused was nothing but harassment to the accused in view of penalty-recovery proceedings initiated against him already.
4. The learned State Public Prosecutor contended that the view taken by the learned Magistrate is not in accordance with law as the learned Magistrate has ignored the scheme of the Act and the scheme and ambit of Mysore Motor Vehicles Taxation Rules 1957 (hereinafter referred to as the Rules).
5. Section 12(2) of the Act clearly lays down that it shall be lawful for any person who is accused of an offence under Sub-section (1) to pay as penalty, in the prescribed manner and in the prescribed time and to the prescribed officer by way of composition for the offence with which he is accused such sum as may be prescribed. This part of Section 12(2) of the Act reads to show that even when a prosecution is going on against the accused, it shall be lawful for such an accused to get composition effected by paying the prescribed penalty. The consequences of such composition are narrated in the latter part of Section 12(2) of the Act. That part reads to show that when such composition takes place by payment of penalty in the prescribed manner and in the prescribed time, (i) the concerned accused, if in custody, shall be set at liberty; and (ii) if any proceedings in any criminal court have been instituted against such person in respect of such offence, the composition shall be deemed to amount to an acquittal and no further criminal proceedings shall be taken against such person in respect of such offence. Hence the scheme of Section 12(2) of the Act is clearly to make a person who is accused of such an offence entitled to get the offence compounded by paying the prescribed penalty in the prescribed manner and in the prescribed time and get relief as provided in the Section. It does not lay down a principle in law that unless and until the composition, fails, prosecution cannot be launched.
6. Rule 29 of the Rules makes it incumbent on the transport authority mentioned therein to inform a person who is accused of an offence punishable under Section 12 (1) (a) of the Act that it shall be lawful for him as provided under Sub-section (2) of Section 12 to pay as penalty sum prescribed by way of composition for the offence with which he is accused, within seven days from the date of service of such notice. What should be the quantum of penalty is prescribed in the same rule? It is also provided in Rule 29(B) that the penalty prescribed may be reduced with approval of the Commissioner in any case. Rule 31 of the Rules gives a right of appeal to a person aggrieved by such an order. The scheme of the Rules clearly is that the concerned transport authority has got to inform the accused or would be accused that such person has a right to compound the offence by paying the penalty as mentioned in the notice and that too within seven days from the date of notice. The person concerned may get the amount of penalty prescribed by the transport authority reduced either by proceeding, under Rule 29(B) of the Rules or by preferring an appeal under Rule 31 of the Rules.
7. In view of the position in law being as above, we are unable to agree with the reasoning of the learned Magistrate that the pendency of the proceedings initiated under Rules 29 and 31 of the Rules itself would be sufficient to hold that there is a deemed acquittal and therefore, the accused is entitled to be acquitted. There is no warrant for such a proposition of law.
8. Shri T. Keshavamurthy, learned Counsel for the respondent-accused urged that the accused would be unnecessarily harassed if the prosecution is continued and action is taken as per Section 12(1)(a) of the Act while he has been bona fide litigating his rights in regard to the very same question of penalty before the Mysore Revenue Appellate Tribunal. We do see some force in this contention. But this is a point which the accused cap agitate before the learned Magistrate and make a request for adjourning the case for a sufficient time to enable him (accused) to get the matter before the Mysore Revenue Appellate Tribunal disposed of so that if he feels like exercising his right under Section 12 (2) of the Act, he can pay the penalty and get the offence compounded.
9. In view of the foregoing reasons, we allow the appeals and set aside the orders of acquittal passed by the learned Magistrate to C. C. Nos. 54 and 55 of 1973. We direct the learned Magistrate to dispose of the cases according to law after receipt of records.