1. On a reference made by one of us (Puttaswamy, J.) this case was posted before us for disposal.
2. Among others, the Petitioner was the registered owner of a motor vehicle bearing registration No. AAC 4966 classified as a 'Tourist Vehicle' registered in the neighbouring State of Andhra Pradesh. For the period from 1-4-1981 to 31-7-1983 the said vehicle was covered in an All India Tourist Permit bearing No. 14/79 valid upto 4-2-1985) issued under Section 63(7) of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1939 ('MV Act') by the State Transport Authority of Andhra Pradesh.
3. In exercise of the powers conferred on it by Section 16 of the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Taxation Act of 1957 (Karnataka Act 35 of 1957 ('the Act'), Government ofKarnataka in its Notification No. HD 210 TMI 76 dated 20-12-1976 wholly exempted tourist vehicles covered by All India Tourist permits issued by other States from payment oftaxes under the Act. With the result, the Petitioner was not liable to pay taxes on the said vehicle for its user in the State of Karnataka to the State of Karnataka till that notificationwas in force, except obtaining an exemption of 'free taxation card' under Section 10A of the Act.
4. But, Government by its notification No. HD 50 TMI 81 dated 31-3-1981 withdrew the said exemption on vehicles covered by All India Tourist permits with effect from 1-4-1981,the result being that the Petitioner became liable to pay taxes on the said vehicle for its user in the State of Karnataka from that day. In Writ Petition No. 12589 of 1981 the Petitioner and several others similarly situated of various other State, who were habitually operating their vehicles in the State challenged the said notification issued by Government before this Court or before the Hon'ble Supreme Court and obtained its stay on furnishing a bank guarantee for Rs. 6,000/-. On 8-7-1983 this Court dismissed the said Writ Petitions filed by the Petitioner and others and the Special Leave Petitions and the Writ Petitions filed before in by all others were also dismissed by the Supreme Court on 12-8-1983, which is since reported as B.A. Jayaram -v.- Union of India, : 3SCR624 .
5. On the termination of the proceedings before the Supreme Court, the Regional Transport Officer, Kolar ('RTO') issued show cause notice No. DSA, KLR, PR 150/83 dated 5-3-1984 (Annexure-A) calling upon the Petitioner to pay a sum of Rs. 90,720/- being the arrears of taxes due by her for the user of her said vehicle in the State of Karnataka from 1-4-1981 to 31-3-1984. In response to the same, the Petitioner filed her objections before the RTO on 16-4-1984 (Annexure-C.). On 6-4-1984 the RTO also issued a notice of hearing to the Petitioner fixing the date of hearing on 16-4-1984, in response to which the Petitioner filed a further explanation/statement before the RTO on 29-6-1984 (Annexure-D).
6. On an examination of the show cause notice, the replies filed and the records, the RTO made an order against the Petitioner on 23-7-1984 (Annexure-E) determining her liability for taxes under the Act at Rs-71,064-00 from l-4-1981 to 31-7-1983, however, giving credit to a sum of Rs. 11,880-00 being the earlier cash payment and the encashment of thebank guarantee furnished by her and called upon her to pay the balance of Rs. 59,184-00 being the arrears of taxes for the said period. In this Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, the Petitioner has challenged the said order made by the RTO on 23-7-84.
7. While issuing rule nisi on 30-7-1984, this Court made an interim order directing the Petitioner to pay a sum of Rs, 25,000/- and file a written undertaking before the RTO not to further encumber or alienate her motor vehicle No. ADC 340, that was then covered in her permit, with which she had complied.
8. Sri M.R. Venkatanarasimhachar, Learned Counsel for the Petitioner, strenuously contends that the finding of the RTO that his client had operated her vehicle even during the period of 6 months that was disputed by her and was, therefore, liable to pay taxes to the State for the said period also was based on no enquiry, evidence and illegal.
9. Sri S. Rajendra Babu, Learned Government Advocate appearing for the respondents in justifying the impugned order contends that the plea of non-operation raised by the Petitioner for the first time in her second explanation was liable to be rejected without any investigation by the RTO.
10. In the show cause notice dated 5-3-1984 (Annexure-A) the RTO in clear and unambiguous terms, stated that the Petitioner had operated her vehicle in the State of Karnataka continuously for the entire period which assertion was not denied by the Petitioner in her very first explanation , filed on 16-4-1984 (Annexure-D) before the RTO. What is stated therein only pertains to payments made by her and certain other incidental matters.
11. What was issued by the RTO on 6-4-1984 was only a notice of hearing and was not a show cause notice and the same could not be relied on by her to improve her case and plead what had not been pleaded by her in her very first reply to the earlier show cause notice. We are of the view, that on this short ground it was open to the RTO to reject this plea of the Petitioner without any further examination.
12. In all fairness to the Petitioner, the RTO has, how-ever, examined the belated explanation of the Petitioner andhas found that she had operated her vehicle in the State ofKarnataka for the disputed period also. In recording thatfinding of fact, the RTO had relied on check reports of theofficers of the department which undoubtedly were relevantto the determination of the question. We cannot take anyexception to this at all.
13. On and after the Supreme Court rendered its decisionin Jayaram's case, the Petitioner has been regularly payingtaxes on the vehicle covered in her permit to the States ofKarnataka and Andhra Pradesh and the RTO has takenthis as one of the circumstances to reject the plea of thePetitioner for her non-operation during the disputed periodSri Achar contends that this was totally irrelevant andillegal.
14. When the Petitioner pays taxes in the home State andthis State with which we are primarily concerned, it is obviousthat she pays them only to operate her vehicle in both theStates and for no other reason at all. When the Petitioneroperates her vehicle in this State after paying taxes to boththe States, it is pretty certain that she would have definitelyoperated her vehicle for the entire period without paymentof taxes to the State of Karnataka. After all this is consistentwith her later conduct. We do not see anything illegal inthe RTO relying on this, as one of the circumstances torecord his finding.
15. After all the Petitioner would not have approachedthis Court for nothing and obtained an order of stay fornothing at all. Without any doubt the Petitioner approachedthis Court and obtained an order with one and the onlyobject of operating her vehicle in this State without payment of taxes, as she was doing earlier. Even the very telling observations of the Supreme Court in Jayaram's case militate against the case of the petitioner.
16. We are of the view that everyone of the circumstances and materials relied on by the RTO to record his finding were relevant. We cannot interfere with that finding of fact under Article 226 of the Constitution. We therefore, reject this contention of Sri Achar.
17. Sri Achar next contends that a vehicle registered inanother State when operated in the State of Karnataka forthe entire period, was exigible to taxes under Section 3(2) ofthe Act only and not under Section 3(1) of the Act, as foundby the RTO.
18. Sri Babu contends that a vehicle registered outside theState of Karnataka but regularly operated in the State ofKarnataka was exigible to taxes under Section 3(1) of the Actand not under Section 3(2) of the Act.
19. On a detailed examination of the very question, theRTO has found that a vehicle used for more than 30 days inthe State of Karnataka was exigible to taxes under Section3(1) of the Act and not under Section 3(2) of the Act, interalia observing thus :
'Section (3) of the Act says that the tax at the rates specified in Part-A of the schedule shall be levied on all motor vehicles suitable for use on roads. Section 4(1) of the Act says that the tax levied under Section 3 shall be paid in advance by the registered owner or person havingpossession or control of the motor vehicle, for a quarter, half year or year at his choice within 10 days from the commencement of such quarter, half year or year as the case may be . The proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 4 says that where the tax payable in respect of a motor vehicle for a year does not exceed three hundred rupees, the tax shall be paid annually. By reading of Section 3(1) read with Section 4(1) the registered owner is liable to pay tax in advance for a quarter half year or year at his choice.
Sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Act says that notwithstanding any-thing contained in sub-section (I) of Section (4) taxes at the rate specified in Part-B of the schedule shall be levied on motor vehicles suitable for use on roads, which are in the State for periods shorter than a quarter, but not exceeding thirty days. The effect of sub-section (2) of Section (3) is that if the vehicle is in the State for a period shorter than a quarter but not exceeding thirty days, there is separate table for payment of tax for a week or for a month. The object of sub-section (2) of Section 3 is to lessen the burden of tax if the vehicle is kept in the State temporarily for a period not exceeding thirty days. Under Rule 10 of the Rules, it is specifically provided in matters pertaining to sub-section (2) of Section 3, that any person who intends to bring a motor vehicle liable to tax temporarily into the State, by using the road, shall apply to any taxation authority and obtain ataxation card for the required period and obtain the same in Form No. 11 and any person who having brought a motor vehicle into the State, intends to keep it therein shall immediately after the expiry of the period for which tax is paid in respect of that vehicle, deliver or cause to be delivered to the taxation authority a declaration in Form 12 and on the basis of the said declaration, the TaxationAuthority shall collect the amount of tax due on the vehicle and issuetaxation card. As has been stated earlier sub section (2) of Section 3 of the Act is intended to cover up the cases of keeping a vehicle in the State for a short periods.'
We are of the view that every one of these reasons given by the RTO to reach his conclusion was in accord with the scheme and object of the Act and does not suffer from any infirmity at all.
20. Section 3(2) of the Act governs a case of user of a vehicle for a period not exceeding 30 days and not to a case of continuous user of a vehicle as in the present case. Section 3(2) applies to a case of temporary or sporadic user of a vehicle of outside State and not to a case of continuous user of such vehicle in the State of Karnataka. When a vehicle iscontinuously used in the State as found by the RTO, then that vehicle is exigible to pay taxes only under Section 3(1) of the Act. We see no merit in this contention of Sri Achar also and reject the same.
21. As all the contentions urged for the Petitioner fail, this Writ Petition is liable to be dismissed. But, at this stage Sri Achar prays for payment of the balance amount due by the Petitioner in ten equal monthly instalments, the first instalment commencing on 20-1-1985.
22. Sri Babu contends that 10 instalments sought by the Petitioner is unreasonable.
23. We have given our anxious consideration to the rival submissions made by both sides on this aspect. We have earlier seen that against a sum of Rs. 59,184-0 ) demanded by the RTO, in pursuance of the interim order made by this Court, the Petitioner has paid a sum of Rs. 25,000)/- leaving a sum of Rs. 34, 184/- as still due by her to the State. We are of the view that it is reasonable to permit the Petitioner to pay this balance of Rs 34,184/- in six equal monthlyinstalments, the first instalment to commence on 15-1-1985 with a single default clause, but continuing the earlier undertaking filed before the RTO, till the entire arrears is paid by her to the State.
24. With the disposal of this Writ Petition, it is hardlynecessary for us to point that notices issued by the otherRegional Transport Officers, if any, for the same Vehicle forthe very same period cannot be pursued by them and havenecessarily to be withdrawn by them, which we hope will bedone by them.
25. In the light of our above discussion, we dismiss thisWrit Petition and discharge the rule issued in the case. But,notwithstanding the same, we. permit the Petitioner to paythe balance of Rs. 34,184/- due by her in the impugned orderin six equal monthly instalments, the first such instalment tobe paid on or before 15-1-1985 with a single default clause.If the Petitioner commits default in the payment of first orany one of the subsequent instalments then the whole of theamount, then outstanding shall immediately become payableto the State which the authorities are free to recover inaccordance with law. We further direct that till ail paymentsof arrears are made by the Petitioner, the undertaking filedby her before the RTO will continue to be in force.
26. Writ Petition is disposed of in the above terms. But, in the circumstances of the case, we direct the parties to bear their own costs.