(1) This is an appeal against the judgment of the Judicial Second Class Magistrate, Rajahmundry, in C. C. 313 of 1962 by which he acquitted the respondents of offences under Sections 123 and 125 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (Act IV of 1939) and the 1st respondent (A-1) of an offence under Section 7 of the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1931 (Act III of 1931).
(2) The following are the relevant facts : On 29-4-1962 the Motor Vehicles Inspector, Kakinada, checked a tractor and trailor combination bearing Registration Nos. A. P. P. 3795 respectively at Kadiam. The vehicles were carrying bricks, a building material. The owner of these vehicles is the 1st respondent. At the time of the checking, the 2nd respondent was driving the tractor. The driver did not produce the registration certificate, the insurance certificate, the driving licence, the permit and the fitness certificates. The tax for the quarter ending 30-6-1962 was not paid. No tax disc was exhibited. The Officer seized the vehicles and handed them to the Police at Dowleswaram. The respondents were prosecuted for offences under the Motor Vehicles Act and the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act.
(3) The Judicial Second Class Magistrate acquitted the respondents of the offences as above stated in the view that a tractor was not a transport vehicle within the meaning of Section 2 (33) of the Motor Vehicles Act. that Section 38 of the said Act had therefore no application and there was therefore no liability to produce the fitness certificates and the certificate of insurance and further that an offence under Section 7 of the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act was not committed as there was no proof that the vehicles were used for non-agricultural purposes throughout the quarter. The learned Magistrate purported to follow the decision of Sanjeevarow Naidu, J. in In Re. Rayala Rama Rao, : AIR1961AP66 in finding as above.
(4) The appeal came on for hearing before Mirza. J. The learned Judge felt that a Bench might go into this question and that is how the case is before us.
(5) There is no controversy over the facts that on the day when the Motor Vehicles Inspector checked the vehicles, the relevant certificates were not produced and that tax had not been paid for that quarter.
(6) The learned Public Prosecutor has urged before us that it is incorrect to say that a tractor with a trailer attached is not a transport vehicle within the meaning of the Motor Vehicles Act and that it is equally incorrect to say that the vehicles fall within the purview of Section 11-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1931 and are therefore exempt from tax.
(7) The first point which arises for our considerations is whether the tractor with a trailer attached are transport vehicles within the meaning of Section 2 (33) of the Motor Vehicles Act. We would first peruse the relevant definitions in the Act.
(8) Section 2 Clause (33) defines 'transport vehicle' as meaning 'a public service vehicle or a good vehicle'. A public service vehicle is defined in Section 2 (25) thus :
'Public service vehicle' means any motor vehicle used or adapted to be used for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward and include a motor cab, contractor carriage, and stage carriage.'
A good vehicle is defined in Section 2 (8) as meaning
'any motor vehicle constructed or adapted for use for the carriage of goods, or any motor vehicle not so constructed or adapted when used for the carriage of goods solely or in addition to passengers.' Section 2 (18) defines a 'motor vehicle' thus :
'Motor Vehicle' means any mechanically propelled vehicle adapted for use upon roads whether the power of propulsion is transmitted thereto from an external or internal source and includes a chasis to which a body has not been attached and a trailer, but does not include a vehicle running upon fixed rails or a vehicle of a special type adapted for use only in a factory or in any other enclosed premises.'
(9) It is therefore to be noticed that the definition of the Motor Vehicles under the Act includes a trailer.
(10) The vehicles in question are obviously not 'public service vehicles', but they would undoubtedly fall within the definition of 'goods vehicles'. In : AIR1961AP66 relied on by the learned Magistrate, the definition under Section 2 (18) was not considered and the learned Judge appears to have accepted the argument that the trailer did not come within the definition of 'good vehicle' because the trailer did not move by itself. We are constrained to differ from this interpretation accepted in : AIR1961AP66 and say that the trailer comes within the definition of a goods vehicle and so it is a transport vehicle within the meaning of Section 2 (33) of the Motor Vehicles Act.
(11) We may also look at this matter from the case of the respondents themselves that the tractor and trailer have been separately registered as light motor vehicles. A 'light motor vehicle' has been defined in section 2 (13) of the Act as
'a transport or omnibus the registered laden weight of which, or a motor car or tractor the unladen weight of which, does not exceed 6,000 pounds avoirdupois;'
So, on their own plea the tractor trailer combination would be transport vehicle within the meaning of the Act. The learned counsel for the respondents does not seriously contest this position.
(12) We have therefore to find that they are transport vehicles and that the necessary fitness certificate and the permits have to be obtained, in default whereof they constitute violations under the Motor Vehicles Act punishable under Ss. 123 and 125 of the Motor Vehicles Act.
(13) We now turn to the next point raised before us that the tractor-cum-trailer combinations are liable for taxation under the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1931. The respondents rely on Section 11-A of Motor Vehicles Taxation Act 1931 (Act III of 1931) for non-payment of tax. On the date of check, the tractor-cum-trailer combination was used for the carriage of bricks. The 1st respondent deposed as D. W. 1 that on 29-4-1962 his tractor was transporting bricks to his Kadiam fields where he was constructing a shed for the installation of an electric motor to pump water from out of a bore well. The learned Magistrate has not accepted this version of the 1st respondent but acquitted him on a different ground that the prosecution failed to prove that throughout the quarter these vehicles were used for a non-agricultural purpose so as to make A-1 liable for payment of tax for the quarter. He proceeded on the premises that if it was true that the bricks were transported for the construction of the shed for the installation of an electric motor to pump water to the fields, the vehicles would have been used for purposes of agriculture.
(14) The learned Public Prosecutor has urged before us that these assumptions were incorrect. He would say that the carriage of bricks by the tractor-cum-trailer combination would not be using the vehicles for the purpose of agriculture, and further that it is incorrect to say that the prosecution was bound to prove that on every other day throughout the quarter the vehicles were used for a non-agricultural purpose.
(15) We have no reason to differ from the finding of the learned Magistrate that the bricks were not transported for the purpose of construction of a shed for an electric motor for pumping water to the fields. If so, the only question which survives is whether the prosecution is bound to prove that the vehicles were used for a non-agricultural purpose during all the other days of the relevant quarter.
(16) It seems to us that such a proposition is unsupportable, and if : AIR1961AP66 (supra) purports to lay down such a proposition, we would respectively state our dissent, as the very purpose of a check is defeated and a violation of the law would go unchecked.
(17) We may peruse the relevant section in this context :
'Section 11-A. Nothing in this Act shall apply to a motor vehicle used solely for the purposes of agriculture.'
(18) There is nothing in the relevant section to support such a view of the onus lying on the prosecution. The word 'solely' occurring in the section denotes that any user otherwise without reference to any specified period excludes the applicability of the section. It would be incorrect to say that a user of the vehicles for non-agricultural purposes on some days only of the relevant quarter could still earn this exemption from taxation.
(19) The question of the true meaning of 'the purposes of agriculture' occurring in the section has been debated before us at some length. For the reason that these terms are not defined under this Act, we may have to see what these terms convey in ordinary parlance. the learned Public Prosecutor has invited our attention to the decisions of the Supreme Court in Commr. of Income-tax West Bengal v. Benoy Kumar Sahas Roy, (S) : 32ITR466(SC) where the topic had received an exhaustive treatment. Of particular importance are these observations of the Supreme Court at p. 774.
'Whether the narrower or the wider sense of the term 'agriculture' should be adopted in a particular case depends not only upon the provisions of the various statutes in which the same occurs but also upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The definition of the term in one statute does not afford a guide to the construction of the same term in another statute and the sense in which the term has been understood in the several statutes does not necessarily throw any light on the manner in which the term should be understood generally.
This decided cases disclose a variety of opinion in regard to the connotation of the terms 'agriculture' and 'agriculture purposes'.'
(20) Inasmuch as we agree with the finding of the learned Magistrate that the bricks were not being carried on the day of check for the construction of shed for an electric motor to pump water for the fields, it is not necessary for us to answer the question posed by the learned Public Prosecutor whether bricks carried for such a purpose as stated would be using the vehicles for the purposes of agriculture within the meaning of Section 11-A of the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act.
(21) We find on the facts and circumstances of the case that the respondents cannot earn the exemption under Section 11-A of the Act. We find therefore that an offence under Section 7 of the Madras Motor Vehicles Act has been committed and the 1st respondent has to be found guilty.
(22) In the result, the acquittals are set aside and the respondents are convicted as under; Each of Respondents 1 and 2, the owner and the driver respectively, are convicted of an offence under Section 123 of the Motor Vehicles Act for the contravention of the provisions of Sections 22 and 42 (1) (using the vehicles without fitness certificates and permits) and sentenced to a fine of Rs. 50/- (fifty) or in default to simple imprisonment for one month. Each of the respondents are further convicted of an offence under Section 125 of the Motor Vehicles Act for the contravention of the provisions of Section 94 (using the vehicles without insuring) and sentenced to a fine of Rs. 50/- (fifty) or in default to simple imprisonment for one month. The 1st respondent (the owner) is further convicted of an offence under Section 7 of the Madras Motor Vehicles Taxation Act (failure to pay tax) and sentenced to a fine of Rs. 50/- (fifty) or in default payable for the quarter viz., Rs, 270/- shall be recovered as if it were fine.
(23) Appeal allowed.