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Municipal Board of Hardwar Union, Hardwar Vs. Sri Raghubir Singh and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectOther Taxes;Constitution
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpecial Appeal No. 343 of 1955
Judge
Reported inAIR1958All430
ActsUttar Pradesh Municipalities Act, 1916 - Sections 128(1); Government of India Act, 1935; Constitution of India
AppellantMunicipal Board of Hardwar Union, Hardwar
RespondentSri Raghubir Singh and anr.
Appellant AdvocateKedar Nath Sinha, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateR.S. Pathak, Adv.
Excerpt:
motor vehicles - toll tax - section 128 of u.p. municipalities act, 1916 - tax on motor vehicles entering or leaving municipal limits implies tax is payable by the person who brings vehicle in or takes it out of limits set - held, toll once paid cannot be levied on the same vehicle in respect of the same user of the roads and amenities - immaterial whether the toll collected when the vehicle enters the municipal limits or when it leaves them.  - - subject to this modification of the order made bythe learned judge these appeals fail, and they aredismissed......the orders contained in the notification dated 29-10-1941, to the extent they purported to levy a toll on vehicles entering the limits of the hardwar union municipality when carrying passengers; (b) directing the appellant board not to levy a toll on the vehicles belonging to the respondents when such vehicles were either entering or leaving the limits, of the hardwar union municipality with passengers. 4. the learned judge was of opinion that the appellant board was entitled to levy a toll on, inter alia, motor vehicles entering municipal limits when carrying passengers but that it had no authority to levy a toll on vehicles leaving municipal limits. the learned judge accordingly issued a direction to the appellant board not to levy toll on the vehicles of the respondents when leaving.....
Judgment:

O.H. Mootham, C.J.

1. These are appeals by the Hardwar Union Municipal Board from an order of Mr. Justice Mehrotra dated 26-9-1955, which raise the question of the validity of a tax imposed by the appellant Board on, inter alia, motor vehicles leaving the limits of the Hardwar Union Municipality when carrying passengers. The tax (described variously as a toll or tax or toll tax) was first imposed by the appellant Board on 29-10-1941, in exercise of the powers conferred on it by Section 128 (1), Clause (xiv) of the U. P. Municipalities Act, 1916. The Notification imposing the tax, so far as is relevant, reads as follows:

'Levy of toll on motor vehicles and tongas entering or leaving the municipality with passengers.

DESCRIPTION OP THE TAX.

A toll tax on motor vehicles and tongaa entering or leaving the limits of the Hardwar Union Municipality with passengers to be levied at the rate of annas 2 per passenger.

Provided that children over three years of age and under twelve shall be charged at half the rates. Provided also that the tax will not be collected in respect of the following persons:'

2. Then follows a list of nine classes of persons and a Note with regard to the obtaining of exemption certificates to which we refer later. This notification was amended by a later Notification dated 22-2-1955. By the amending Notification rickshaws were included among the vehicles on which the tax is levied and the rate of tax was enhanced from two to four annas a passenger. At the same time one of the nine classes of persons in respect of whom the tax would not be collected was omitted.

3. The principal respondents to these appeals (to whom it is convenient to refer as the respondents') are the owners of motor buses which ply between Hardwar and Rishikesh. These vehicles are obliged to stop at a toll barrier just within the limits of the appellant Municipality and are required to pay a toll at the rate of annas 4 per passenger both when the vehicle enters Hardwar on its journey from Rishikesh and again when it leaves Hardwar on its return Journey.

The respondents contested the right of the appellant Board to levy a toll by virtue of the Notification of 29-10-1941, as subsequently amended, and they preferred petitions in this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution in which they prayed for the issue of writs in the nature of mandamus

(a) directing the appellant Board and respondent No. 2 (who is the Commissioner of the Meerut-Agra Division) to withdraw the orders contained in the Notification dated 22-2-1955, and to suspend the operation of the orders contained in the Notification dated 29-10-1941, to the extent they purported to levy a toll on vehicles entering the limits of the Hardwar Union Municipality when carrying passengers;

(b) directing the appellant Board not to levy a toll on the vehicles belonging to the respondents when such vehicles were either entering or leaving the limits, of the Hardwar Union Municipality with passengers.

4. The learned Judge was of opinion that the appellant Board was entitled to levy a toll on, inter alia, motor vehicles entering Municipal limits when carrying passengers but that it had no authority to levy a toll on vehicles leaving Municipal limits. The learned Judge accordingly issued a direction to the appellant Board not to levy toll on the vehicles of the respondents when leaving the limits of the Hardwar Union Municipality.

From that order the appellant Board appeals. There is no appeal by the respondents, and therefore the only question which has to be considered is the legality of the tax imposed by the appellant Board on vehicles leaving Municipal limits when carrying passengers.

5. Clauses (vii) and (xiv) of Sub-section (1) of Section 128 of the U. P. Municipalities Act provide that

'128 (1) Subject to any general rules or special orders of the State Government in this behalf, the taxes which a board may impose in the whole or any part of a municipality are-

(vii) a toll on vehicles and other conveyances, animals and laden coolies entering the municipality,

(xiv) any other tax which the State Legislature has power to impose in the State, under the Constitution.'

Prior to the Constitution coming into force Clause (xiv) of Section 128 (1) read thus: 'Any other tax which the Provincial Legislature has power to impose in the Province under the Government of India Act, 1935.'

Now the case for the appellants is put in two ways. It is argued, first, that the tax is one on 'passengers carried by road' within the meaning of Entry 56 in the second list of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and is therefore one which the Board could impose under Clause (xiv) of Section 128 (1) of the Municipalities Act as it now stands. We think this argument to be without force.

In the first place it is to be observed that it is only the additional tax of 2 annas in respect of each passenger which was imposed after the Constitution came into force; the original tax was imposed much earlier. Secondly, we are of opinion that the tax is not a tax on passengers at all.

6. It is argued that the Notification does not state in terms by whom the tax is payable,and it is contended that the first proviso and a provision contained in a Note at the foot of the Notification with regard to the obtaining of exemption certificates indicates that the tax is payable by the individual passengers. We think that this contention is ill-founded.

A tax 'on' motor vehicles entering or leaving the Municipal limits implies, in our opinion, that the tax is payable by the person who brings that vehicle in or takes it out of those limits, and that that was the intention of the Board is in our opinion made clear by Rr. 1 and 2 of the Rules for the assessment and collection of the tax published in a Notification also dated 20-10-1941. Those rules read thus:

'1. No person shall (bring within or carry outside the limits of the municipality any motor vehicles or tongas laden with passengers unless he has paid the tax in respect of the passengers nor shall any person, in order to evade payment of the toll tax let down passengers, outside the municipal limits and pick them up again at any place within the limits after passing the barrier.

(2) When any person in charge of a motor car or lorry or tonga laden with passengers wishes to pass a barrier, such person shall pay the toll to the moharrir or any person appointed by the Board for the purpose, at the barrier. On receipt of the tax the person receiving it shall fill up a receipt in duplicate and shall hand over one copy along with coupon to the person paying, the toll and retain the other as a counterfoil; in the receipt book.'

In our opinion the two Notifications of 29-10-1941, when read together -- as they must be read -- make it clear that the liability to pay the tax is imposed on the person in charge of the vehicle, the amount of the tax being calculated with reference to the number of passengers. The first proviso to the first Notification does suggest that the tax is levied on the passengers, but when that proviso is read in conjunction with the second proviso we have no doubt that it means that tax will be collected at half rates 'in respect of' children between ages of 3 and 13 years.

The fact that exemption certificates can be obtained by persons who come within one of the classes enumerated in the second proviso in our opinion means only that in respect of such persons tax will not be collected from the person in charge of the motor vehicle in which they are passengers.

7. The second argument is that as the tax to the extent of 2 annas in respect of each passenger was first imposed in the year 1941 it was tax which, if not falling within Clause (vii) of Section 128 (1), was a tax which the Provincial Legislature had power to impose, and which continued to be lawfully levied after the Constitution came into force by virtue of Article 277; and that the additional tax of 2 annas in respect of each passenger levied in the year 1955 was a tax which (if not falling within Clause (vii)) the State Government had power to impose, and that therefore in both these the tax could be validly, levied by the appellant Board under Clause (xiv).

8. The taxes which a Provincial Government in 1941 and the State Government after 26-1-1950, had power to impose are to be found in List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Government of India Act, 1935, and in List n of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution respectively. It is conceded on behalf of the appellant,Board that if the impugned tax is not a tax which could be imposed by the Board under Clause (vii) of Section 128 (1) then it is valid to the extent of the first 2 annas only if it be a tax which is a 'toil' within the meaning of Entry 53 of List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Act of 1935, and, as regards the second 2 annas, is either (a) a tax on 'passengers carried by road' within the meaning of Entry 56 or a 'toll' within the meaning of Entry 59 of List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution.

It is further conceded that if a toll has been paid under Clause (vii) on a vehicle entering municipal limits then the appellant Board could not, under that clause, impose a toll on the same vehicle when leaving municipal limits. We have held that the tax is on passengers carried by road and the only question, therefore, is whether the tax imposed by the appellant Board on motor vehicles leaving municipal limits with passengers is a 'toll' within the meaning of either Entry 53 of List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Government of India Act or Entry 59 of List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution. It is not suggested that the word 'toll' has not the same meaning in both entries.

9. Now it is not seriously disputed that a toll is a payment which is taken in respect of some benefit, common examples being a toll paid for the right to use a market or to cross a bridge. It is not however in our opinion essential that the toll should be collected at the moment the benefit for which it is paid arises.

It is not necessary that it be realised, in the case of the examples we have given, at the moment when the trader enters the market place or when the traveller starts to cross the bridge. We can see no reason why it cannot be realised when the trader leaves the market or the passenger has reached the other end of the bridge. It cannot however be collected twice in respect of the same benefit.

If the consideration for the payment of the toll is the use of the market area, or the right to cross the bridge, the tool cannot be levied both when the trader enters and when he leaves the market or when the passenger starts crossing the bridge and again when he has crossed it.

10. Now in the case before us it is not in dispute that the consideration for the payment of the toll levied by the appellant Board is the right to use the roads within the municipal limits and such amenities as may be connected therewith. The toll is payable by certain classes of vehicles, including motor vehicles, when carrying passengers, and in our opinion it is immaterial whether the toll be collected when the vehicle enters the municipal limits or when it leaves them.

But when once the toll has been paid it cannot again be levied on the same vehicle in respect of the same user of the appellant Board's roads and amenities. We are of opinion, therefore, that the respondents are right in their contention that if they have paid the toll on their vehicles when entering Hardwar municipal limits they cannot be compelled to pay that toll again when the same vehicles leave the municipal limits on their return journey.

11. We think, therefore, with respect, thatbe learned Judge went too far when he said at a toll cannot be levied on a vehicle going t of the limits of the Municipal Board, and at as a consequence the appellant Board's Notification of 1941 was ultra vires its powers in so far as it purported to invest the appellant Board with that authority.

The respondents are however entitled to adirection that the appellant Board shall not levya toll on vehicles owned by them when leavingthe limits of the Hardwar Union Municipality, inthose cases in which the same vehicles have paida toll when they last entered those limits. Subject to this modification of the order made bythe learned Judge these appeals fail, and they aredismissed. In each appeal the first respondent isentitled to his costs recoverable from the appellant Board.


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