(1) The petitioner is the owner of a motor vehicle which was checked by a Superintendent of Police when it was performing the journey on a road known as the Kolhar Bilgi road. The Superintendent made a report that when he asked the petitioner's driver for the production of the permit, it was not produced. After this checking was done on October 28, 1964, a notice was issued to the petitioner on December 19, 1964, asking him to show cause why the registration certificate of the vehicle should not be suspended under Section 33(1)(b) of the Motor Vehicle Act.
(2) The Petitioner, through his communication addressed to the Regional Transport Authority, who had issued that notice to him, denied that he had committed any act which would justify the suspension of the registration certificate and pleaded that although a permit had been granted earlier, it had not been issued. The Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority who was the Registering Authority within the meaning of Section 33 of the Motor Vehicles Act, made an order suspending the registration certificate for a period of three months, and that order was confirmed by the Commissioner for Transport in the appeal preferred by the petitioner under Section 35.
(3) In this writ petition, Sri Venkatanarasimhachar contends that the order made by the Registering Authority falls to the ground since he did not record a finding that the vehicle had been or was being used for hire or reward at the relevant point of time. We have seen the report of the Superintendent of Police, and that report does not state that when the vehicle was checked, it was being used for hire or reward, or that it had been previously used in that way. It was however stated in the show cause notice that it was so used, but of the fact that it was so used or had been used, there was no evidence whatsoever before the Registering Authority. What emerges from the order of the Registering Authority is, that that authority came to the conclusion that it was proved that the vehicle had been or was being used for hire or reward because the official records disclosed that the motor vehicle was not covered by any valid permit when it was checked by the Superintendent of Police. This is what he stated in that context:
'It is quite evident from the office records that the motor vehicle was not covered by any valid permit on the date of checking as the permit has been issued by this office on 2-12-1964. Therefore, the offence of using the motor vehicle for hire or reward without any permit stands established. The following order is therefore made.'
(4) The remaining part of the order is the operative portion by which the suspension of the registration certificate was made.
(5) It is clear from this order that what was over-looked by the Registering Authority was that in the absence of proof that the motor vehicle had been used or was being used for hire or reward, the provisions of Section 33(1)(b) are not attracted. The Registering Authority seems to have thought that it was enough that the motor vehicle was not covered by a permit when it was checked by Superintendent of Police. He thought that the fact that it was not so covered by a permit was proof of the user of the motor vehicle for hire of reward. That conclusion, it is obvious is impossible.
(6) The Transport Commissioner repelled the argument that the motor vehicle was not used for hire or reward on the basis of the presumption that every motor vehicle which is plied on the road without a permit must be presumed to have plied for hire or reward. It is perfectly manifest that there can be no such presumption. Many motor vehicles perform journeys on the roads without their being used for hire or reward and the mere fact that they performed a journey on a road, cannot transport any one to the conclusion that the journey was made for hire or reward.
(7) Under the penal provision like Section 33(1)(b) of the Motor Vehicles Act, no suspension of a registration certificate can be made unless all the ingredients enumerated in that clause are proved or established. One of these ingredients is that the vehicle had been used or was being used for hire or reward. So, it became necessary for the Registering Authority to satisfy himself whether the materials before him justified the conclusion that at some point of time the vehicle was used or was being used for hire or reward. Into that question the Registering Authority made no investigation, and he considered it permissible to cancel the registration certificate merely on the ground that the vehicle was not covered by a permit.
(8) We, therefore, set aside the order of the Registering Authority and that made by the Transport Commissioner in appeal. No costs.
(9) Order accordingly