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Sampath Raj Vs. Regional Transport Officer - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectOther Taxes;Motor Vehicles
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.P. No. 1047 of 1980
Judge
Reported inILR1985KAR3481
ActsKarnataka Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1957 - Sections 3 and 4
AppellantSampath Raj
RespondentRegional Transport Officer
Appellant AdvocateP.R. Srirangaiah, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS. Rajendra Babu, Govt. Adv.
Excerpt:
.....vehicle was found plying on roads or for the entire period of one year.;the provisions of the motor vehicles taxation act come into play only when a motor vehicle possesses a certificate of registration as required under the provisions of the motor vehicles act. tax is levied at the rates specified in part-a and part-b of the schedule to the act on the different classes of motor vehicles which are suitable for use on roads. under the explanation to section 3 of the act, a motor vehicle whose certificate of registration is current, is deemed to be a vehicle suitable for use on roads. the provisions of section 4 of the act, which provides for the mode of payment of tax livable under the act, would next assume importance. a registered owner of a motor vehicle or a person having..........a year, at his choice. under the first proviso to section 4, where the tax payable in respect of a motorvehicle does not exceed rs. 300/-, the tax shall be paid annually. the explanation to section 4 mentions that 'the tax for half year shall be double the tax for a quarter and the tax for a year shall be four times the tax for a quarter'. it is relevant to mention herein that the second proviso to section 4 was inserted by karnataka act 8 of 1983 under which the owners could make payment in advance in alump sum at their choice for a period of 5 years or 10 years on which they would be entitled to some rebate.the charging provisions of the act, namely, section 3 has to be read along with the schedule which provides for the rates specified for different classes of vehicles. part-a of the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Rajasekhara Murthy, J.

1. In this writ petition, the petitioner, who is the purchaser of a heavy motor vehicle bearing No. APA 1855 registered in the State of Andhra Pradesh, has challenged the demand made by the R.T.O., Bangalore, dated 8th June 1978 as per Exhibit-A and the order of the Deputy Commissioner for Transport, Bangalore Division, Bangalore, dated 18th September 1979 as per Exhibit-B. By Exhibit-A, the petitioner is called upon to pay tax under the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1957 thereinafter referred to as `the Act') amounting to Rs. 4,800/- due in respect of the said vehicle for the period 1-7 1977 to 30-6-1978.

2. An appeal was filed before the Deputy Commissioner for Transport, Bangalore Division, Bangalore, against the said demand. It was contended before the appellate authority that the vehicle was purchased by the petitioner from its previous owner one Abdul Razack during May 1977 and that the same was not in a good condition and the Fitness Certificate had also expired and further that the petitioner has not used the vehicle from May 1977 and that therefore he is not liable to pay the tax for one full year from 1-7-1977 to 30-6-1978. The appellate authority dismissed the appeal and held that the 1st respondent was right in demanding the tax for the period in question and that the petitioner is liable lo pay the same.

3. The said vehicle was found plying near Kengeri on 26-6-1978 carrying manure without payment of tax and without a valid fitness certificate and the vehicle was there-fore seized and handed over to the police.

It is the case of the petitioner that he approached the 1st respondent during June 1978 for renewal of the fitness certificate after the vehicle underwent repairs. It is his further contention that he is not liable to pay motor vehicles tax from 1-7-1977 to 30-6-1978 during which period the vehicle was not in use. It is, however, alternatively contended on behalf of the petitioner that in any event he is liable to pay tax only for one quarter, namely, the quarter ending 30th June 1978 during which the vehicle was detected while plying and was seized. The Learned Counsel for the petitioner has also relied upon the Full Bench decision of this Court in B.V. Subramanya Setty -v.- R.T.O., Mysore : ILR1984KAR85 .

4. On behalf of the respondents, it is contended that the petitioner would be liable to pay tax under the Act for the entire period 1-7-1977 to 30 6-1978 and under the provisions of the Act he cannot escape the liability to pay the tax for the entire year by paying tax only for one quarter.

5. Sri Srirangaiah, the Learned Advocate for the petitioner has sought reliance on the various provisions of the Act and has strenuously contended that under Part A of the Schedule to the Act, it is only tax for a quarter that the petitioner would be liable to pay the tax and in this case also, since the vehicle was found plying without payment of tax, his liability to pay the tax under the Act would not exceed one quarter. According to him, it is well settled and it is also the practice with the department that in a case of detection as in the present case the registered owner of a motor vehicle would be liable to pay tax for only one quarter and not for a full year. He has relied upon the observations of the decision of the Full Bench of this Court in Subramanya Setty's case. According to him, the observations made by this Court, as follows, support his contention :

'There is however the explanation to Section 3(1) of the Taxation Act which provides that a motor vehicle of which the certificate of registration is current shall, for the purposes of the Taxation Act, be deemed to be a vehicle suitable for use on roads. The Explanation which is in the nature of a deeming provision is intended to prevent evasion of the tax imposed by Section 3(1) as observed by this Court in Hanuman Transport Company -v.- Transport Commissioner [1965(2) Mysore Law Journal 465]. The Explanation enacts a fiction that every motor vehicle of which the certificate of registration is current, is suitable for use on roads in order to prevent the evasion of tax by owners of motor vehicles. It requires them to pay tax levied under Section 3(1) of the Taxation Act which also reserves them the right to claim refund under Section 7 on proof of non-user of the vehicles as prescribed therein. In such cases the burden of proving non-user on roads is on the owner of the vehicle, who is expected to know all the facts of user or non-user of the vehicle and not on the Taxing Authority. The above fiction cannot be extended to a motor vehicle whose certificate of registration is not current. In the case of such a vehicle tax will become payable only when it is established by the taxing authority that it was suitable for use during the relevant period.'

6. In order to appreciate the contention of Sri Srirangaiah, it is necessary to examine the scheme of the Act.

7. The relevant provisions of the Act, namely, Section 3 the charging section and Section 4 which provides for mode of payment of tax provide for levy of tax on all motor vehicles suitable for use on roads at the rates specified in Part-A of the Schedule. Explanation thereto reads as follows :

'Explanation - A motor vehicle of which the certificate of registration is current shall,for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be a vehicle suitable for use on roads.'

Sub-section (2) of Section 3 provides for rates of taxes as per Schedule B on motor vehicles for periods shorter than a quarter, but notexceeding 30 days.

Section 4 is an important section under which an owner of a motor vehicle has to pay the tax payable in respect of the vehicles referred to in Schedule-A for a quarter, half year or a year, at his choice. Under the first proviso to Section 4, where the tax payable in respect of a motorvehicle does not exceed Rs. 300/-, the tax shall be paid annually. The explanation to Section 4 mentions that 'the tax for half year shall be double the tax for a quarter and the tax for a year shall be four times the tax for a quarter'. It is relevant to mention herein that the second proviso to Section 4 was inserted by Karnataka Act 8 of 1983 under which the owners could make payment in advance in alump sum at their choice for a period of 5 years or 10 years on which they would be entitled to some rebate.

The charging provisions of the Act, namely, Section 3 has to be read along with the schedule which provides for the rates specified for different classes of vehicles. Part-A of the schedule gives in detail, the classes of vehicles and the quarterly tax payable in respect of each such vehicle. Part-B however provides for the classes of vehicles and the rate of tax leviable under Section 3(2) of the Act .

8. If the contention of the Learned Counsel for the petitioner is to be accepted, the owner of a motor vehicle, which is exigible to tax under the Act, the liability would be to pay tax for each quarter and for one year under the scheme of the Act. The Act, no doubt provides that a owner of a vehicle should pay tax either for one quarter or for two quarters or for one full year, at his choice and in cases where the tax for one year does not exceed Rs. 300/- it should be paid in oneinstallment.

9. The 1st Respondent in this case has made a demand for payment of Rs. 4,840/- which is due for a period of 12 months from 1-7-1977 to 30-6-1978, and the said demand was made on the petitioner, who is the purchaser of the vehicle in question, under Section 9(1) of the Act. The petitioner's case is based on the further assertion that the vehicle was not in use for the entire period of one year and he sought for the renewal of the 'fitness certificate' only during June 1978 after the vehicle underwent repairs and was suitable for use. Therefore, his contention is that for the period prior to the quarter ending 30-6-1978, he is not liable to pay any tax. Relying on the Full Bench decision of this Court in Subramanya Setty's case, Learned Counsel submitted that the burden of proving the use of vehicle would be on the authorities under the Act since the fitness certificate had expired during the period in dispute and was renewed only during June 1978.

10. It is necessary to refer to the facts in Subramanya Setty's case in order to appreciate the contention of the petitioner. In that case, the owner of a stage carriage, who purchased the same 24-10-1973 from its previous owner, was called upon by the R.T.O., Mysore to pay the arrears of tax payable upto the date of transfer of the vehicle in his favour. According to the petitioner in that case, the fitness certificate issued in respect of the vehicle had expired on 10-10-1968 and the documents had been surrendered before the R.T.O. on 27-7-1968 and the petitioner's contention was that he was not liable to any arrears of tax prior to the date on which thefitness certificate was renewed.

This Court, on an elaborate consideration of the pro-visions of the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1957, vis-a-vis the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, held that the fiction was embodied in the explanation to Section 3(1) of the Taxation Act in order to prevent the evasion of tax by owners of motor vehicles and would be applicable only to cases where certificate of registration is obtained under Chapter-H of the Motor Vehicles Act and continues to operate as long as the said certificate is current. It was further observed that in the case of a transport vehicle which does not have the fitness certificate issued under Section 38(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act it shall not be deemed to have been validly registered for purposes of Section 22 of the Act. The petitioner's contention in Subramanya Setty's case was that under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act it should be deemed that the vehicle in question was not validly registered during the relevant period and that therefore explanation to Section 3(1) of the Motor Vehicle Taxation Act would not be applicable. The Full Bench therefore held that a motor vehicle whose certificate of registration is current, shall be deemed to be a vehicle suitable for use on roads and not otherwise and further that the provisions of Section 3(1) of the Taxation Act also would be attracted only to a case where the registration is current. It is in these circumstances that this Court held that the burden of proving non-user of the vehicle would be on the owner of the vehicle in a case where the certificate of registration is current. The further observation made by the Full Bench was that in a case where the certificate of registration is not current the burden would be on the taxing authority to establish that the vehicle was suitable for use during the relevant period.

11. Whether the petitioner is liable to pay tax only for one quarter during which the vehicle was found plying on roads or whether the authorities under the Act are legally justified in making a demand for the entire period of one year from 1-7-1977 to 30-6-1978 is the question to be decided in this case.

12. As already stated, the object of the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1957, is to consolidate and amend the law relating to the levy of tax on motor vehicles in the State of Karnataka. All vehicles which are suitable for use on roads would be liable to pay the tax under the Act. For this purpose, the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act would become relevant according to the Full Bench since it is only a motor vehicle which is suitable for use on roads that is entitled to the issue of a certificate of registration under the Motor Vehicles Act. Such certificate of registration is issued only when a vehicle is in possession of a fitness certificate as required under the Motor Vehicles Act for the purpose of grant of registration under Section 22 of the Act.

13. The provisions of the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act thus come into play only when a motor vehicle possesses a certificate of registration as required under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act. Tax is levied at the rates specified in Part-A and Part-B of the Schedule to the Act on the different classes of motor vehicles which are suitable for use on roads. Under the Explanation to Section 3 of the Act, a motor vehicle whose certificate of registration is current, is deemed to be a vehicle suitable for use on roads. The provisions of Section 4 of the Act, which provides for the mode of payment of tax leviable under the Act, would next assume importance. A registered owner of a motor vehicle or a person having possession or control of the motor vehicle may, at his choice, pay the tax levied under Section 3 of the Act in advance, either for a quarter, half year or a year as the case may be. The liability to pay tax under the charging Section 3 is restricted to a quarter and at the choice of the owner, he may pay for half year or for one full year. It cannot therefore be interpreted and understood that the liability to pay the tax under the Act is for a minimum period of one year. The scheme of the Act is to permit the owner of a motor vehicle to pay for each quarter at his choice. Hence 'taxable period' under the Act is a quarter and not one year as urged by the respondent. This is the distinction between the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act and other fiscal enactments. Any other interpretation would be contrary to the scheme of the Act and the special provisions under the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act under which liability to pay tax in for one quarter and not one full year.

14. On a careful analysis of the provisions of the Act and keeping in view the intention of Legislature, it is abundantly clear that the object of the Act is to levy tax on a motor vehicle for each quarter subject to the other conditions provided in the charging section itself. That this is the scheme of the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act is explained by a Division Bench of this Court in Syed Rafiq -v.- R.T.O. 1984(1) KLJ 281. Their Lordships after an elaborate examination of the scheme of the Act, have observed at para-27 of the judgment as follows:

'27. Section 4 of the Act on the scope of which the controversy revolves reads thus :

XXX XXX XXXThis Section requires all taxes levied under Section 3 to be paid in advance by the registered owner or person having possession or control of the vehicle. Such advance payments of taxes, except in cases, where the amount levied on Motor Vehicles like mopeds, scooters, Motor Cycles does not exceed rupees three hundred for the entire year, is required to be made for the quarter, half year or year as may be chosen by such owner before such quarter, half year, year, but within the time stipulated therein. The liability and obligation to pay taxes on Motor Vehicles for the quarter, half year or year as the case may be is in advance and that obligation applies to vehicles registered within the Stale or outside the State also when they propose to enter this State and use the roads of the State'.

15. There is force in the contention of the petitioner that the phrase relevant period' referred to by this Court in Subramanya Setty's case, cannot only refer to a quarter for which the liability to pay tax by a registered owner of a vehicle under the Act arises. This is made clear by this Court in Syed Rafiq's case also.

16. In the light of the above discussion, it follows that the contention of the State has to be rejected.

17. In the result, the Writ Petition is allowed and the demand for payment of Rs.4,800/- computed and levied for one year as per Exhibit-A and confirmed by the Deputy Commissioner for Transport, Bangalore Division, as per Exhibit-B, are hereby quashed.

18. The 1st Respondent, however, is at liberty to issue a modified demand for the relevant period, namely for one quarter only.

19. Rule is made absolute.


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