1. These three appeals arise from three suits filed by the Bangalore City Municipality and disposed of by one judgment as point involved for decision is common. The respondents-defendants are mills manufacturing textiles within the limits of the Municipality by the use of machinery driven by electric power. According to the Municipality license had to be obtained by the Mills for carrying on the business with the aid of electric power and fee had to be paid in proportion to the extent of the power utilised for the purpose.
It is admitted that the license was not obtained by any of the defendants in the three suits and no fee was paid to the Municipality by them. The defendants were prosecuted in the criminal Court for failure of these but were acquitted. Thereupon the three suits were filed for recovery of the amounts separately due from each of the defendants. The liability for obtaining license and for payment of the fee were denied by the defendants and upholding these pleas the learned District Judge dismissed all the suits. The Municipality has appealed.
2. The decision in the cases turns upon the validity of a bye-law in part and construction of the rest. The bye-law material for consideration is marked as Ex. A and reads thus:
'No person shall use any place, for boiling gold or silver or for installation of machinery driven by power or otherwise for any purpose except under and in accordance with the conditions of license to be obtained in this behalf from the Municipal Council issued by the Municipal Commissioner''.
Objection was raised to the adoption of this by some of the mills in Bangalore but as shown by Ex. H, it was overruled on 6-3-1941 by the Bye-law Committee on the ground that the Government had sanctioned it. The order of the Government referred to therein is Ex. K, dated, 27-8-1935 by which a rule in the following terms was framed:
'No person shall use any place not belonging to the Municipal Council, as a place for gold and silver boiling or for installation of power driven machinery, except under and in accordance with the conditions of a license to be obtained in this behalf from the Municipal Council'.
A comparison of the rule and the bye-law shows that the words in both are mostly the same except that the expression 'or otherwise for any purpose' in the bye-law after the word 'power' is not found in the Rule. It was notified in Ex. A dated 15-1-1940 that the bye-laws would come into force from 15-2-1940. Long prior to this date, the defendants started the mills; and had electric installation provided for working the mills. The question therefore is whether in view of this they are not subject to the operation of the bye-law.
It is contended that the bye-law is comprehensive enough to apply to places where electric power is used for any purpose whether the installation was prior to or alter the bye-law. As pointed out already the words 'or otherwise for any purpose' in the bye-law are an addition to the rule framed by the Government and include more than what is warranted by the rule. The Municipality has no doubt the power to make bye-laws but the] power is nut absolute and unlimited.
Bye-laws are treated as autonomic law binding and enforceable as laws enacted by the legislature subject to the authority vested in any bodies making the same and also to the condition of reasonableness. Pollock in his Book of Jurisprudence at page 245 quotes from a decision the passage:
'Every bye-law is a law, and is obligatory to all persons bound by it, that is within its jurisdiction as any Act of Parliament, only with this difference, that a bye-law is liable to have its validity brought in question'.
In -- 'White v. Morley', (1899) 2 QB 34 (A) at p. 39 Channel J. observes;--By-laws must not only be reasonable but must not be repugnant to the general law. A bylaw is a local law, and may be supplementary to the general law; it is not bad because it deals with something that is not dealt with by the general law. But it must not alter the general law by making that lawful which the general law makes unlawful; or that unlawful which the general law makes lawful.'
The settled rule of construction is that the rule should not be repugnant to the law and the bye-law should not be repugnant to the rule or the law. The rule cannot be attacked as being repugnant to the Act or as being in excess of the power of the Government to make it but the bye-law provides for what is beyond the limits laid down by the rule by requiring persons other than those mentioned in the rule to obtain the license. This, in my opinion, is not legally permissible and to that extent the bye-law is invalid.
3. Even otherwise what is forbidden to be done without a license is the 'installation' of machinery and not the employment of machinery. It would be a travesty of language to say that machinery in existence for years prior to the bye-law was installed after. To 'instal' anything means establishing it and has reference to the stage or times when it comes into existence, to the initial act and not continuance of what is done previously. The same word in a similar provision of the Madras Municipalities Act has been interpreted to relate to what is done at the inception. See -- 'Muthu Balu Chettiar v. Chairman Madura Municipality', AIR 1927 Mad 961 (SB) (B) and 'Arunachala Chetty v. Emperor', 1931 Mad WN 495 (C). It has to be remembered that the obligation under the bye-law is penal and fiscal. A provision of this kind has to be strictly construed and the ambiguity if any has to be regarded as helpful to the person sought to be made liable. The bye-law is not clear and definite enough to justify the claims of the Municipality and as such the dismissal of the suits was correct. There is no ground for disturbing the decision of the lower Court. The appeals are dismissed but without costs.
4. Appeals dismissed.