1. This is a reference by the learned Sessions Judge of Saharanpur in a case under Section 299, U.P. Municipalities Act. One Daulat Singh was prosecuted for an offence under that Section upon a complaint made by the Municipal Board of Roorkee and was convicted by the trying Magistrate in a summary trial. He went up in revision to the learned Sessions Judge of Saharanpur and it was contended on his behalf that upon the admitted facts of the case his conviction under Section 299, Municipalities Act, was illegal. This contention has been accepted by the learned Judge and he has accordingly made this reference with the recommendation that the conviction should be set aside. Under Section 298, U.P. Municipalities Act, every Municipal Board is empowered to make bye-laws consistent with the Act and with any rules framed under the Act for the purpose of promoting or maintaining the health, safety and convenience of the inhabitants of the Municipality. There is a list of model bye-laws framed by the Government which it is open to any Municipal Board to adopt for its own purposes. In list A appended to Section 298 there is a section 'G' headed 'Offensive trades.' This Section provides for the granting of a license by the Municipal Board 'for storing hay, straw, thatching grass, wood, coal or other dangerously inflammable material.' It appears that the Municipal Board of Roorkee has exercised its power under Section 298 of the Act and has made a bye-law which runs as follows:
No person shall use any place within the municipal limits for storing hay, straw, thatching-grass, wood, coal or dangerously inflammable materials unless a license has been granted for the same.
2. Section 299(1), U.P. Municipalities Act, confers upon every Municipal Board the power to prescribe a penalty for a breach of any bye-law framed by it. In the exercise of that power the Roorkee Municipal Board has prescribed that
a breach of any of the provisions of these bye-laws shall be punishable with a fine which may extend to Rs. 100 and in the event of a continuing breach with a further fine which may extend to Rs. 5 for every day after the date of the first conviction during which the offender is proved to have persisted in the offence.
3. Now the prosecution of Daulat Singh was based upon the allegation that he was keeping a shop in which he had stored timber without having taken a license from the Municipal Board as he was required to do in accordance with the bye-law referred to above. When he was put on his trial he made the following statement:
I used to have a license. I have now applied but the Municipal Board has refused to give me a license. The wood is lying there for sale as building material.
4. In view of this statement the learned trying Magistrate convicted him and passed the following order:
The accused admits storing wood without a license. He is fined Rs. 25 or one week's simple imprisonment in default.
5. In revision before the learned Sessions Judge it was contended on behalf of Daulat Singh that the bye-law referred to above did not apply to 'timber' or building material at all and hence the conviction was illegal. This contention has been accepted by the learned Sessions Judge and I have now to consider whether the view taken by the learned Judge is correct. The learned Judge has written an elaborate order in support of his view that timber or building material is not included within the term 'wood' used in the bye-law referred to above. His argument taken as a whole may be divided into two parts; one part dealing with the correct interpretation of the word 'wood' as used in the bye-law, and the other with the purpose and intention of the Municipal Board in framing the bye-law. I have carefully considered each part of the argument but I find myself unable to agree with the conclusion arrived at by the learned Judge. The word 'wood' is undoubtedly a generic term which includes timber, and there is apparently no reason whatever for holding that the same word as used in the bye-law referred to above is confined to only one variety of it, namely fire-wood or wood used as fuel. All wood may not be timber, but all timber is certainly wood. The learned Judge has however relied upon a decision of the Bombay High Court in Ahmedalli Esufalli v. Emperor (1938)25 AIR Bom 282. In that case the question in issue was whether ply-wood fell within the definition of timber as used in Part 3, Sch. M to the City of Bombay Municipal Act, 1888, so as to render it necessary for a person keeping it to take a license. The learned Judges of the Bombay High Court answered that question in the negative. It was argued before the learned Judges that ply-wood was timber because it was manufactured from timber and was still to be used for building or carpentry and it therefore came within the dictionary definition of timber as 'wood used for building or carpentry.' In dealing with that argument the learned Chief Justice observed as follows:
And I quite agree that there is a good deal to be said for that view. But in my opinion, there is rather more to be said for the opposite view, namely, that ply-wood has reached a stage at which it has acquired a name of its own. After all we are dealing with a question merely of nomenclature. We are not concerned with the nature of ply-wood or how it is produced or what it is used for. The question is: Has the timber in ply-wood reached a stage in its development at which it has acquired a distinctive name of its own so that it can no longer be properly described as timber. In my opinion it has reached such a stage.
6. The learned Sessions Judge in the present case has relied upon these observations of their Lordships of the Bombay High Court and has said that they may be applied in the present case
by holding that although timber is wood it has reached a stage in its development, namely, by sawing, plaining etc. by which its character has changed and it can be employed only for certain definite purposes. In such a case timber would not be considered as wood.
7. It appears that the learned Judge was not quite certain of the correctness of his view for in the very next sentence he observes as follows:
At the same time I concede that there are certain observations in the Bombay case which may justify the taking of an opposite view.
8. Upon a careful consideration of the decision of their Lordships of the Bombay High Court, I find that it rested principally upon the fact that ply-wood is a form of manufactured timber which is the result of the application to timber of a large number of different processes of manufacture. In view of that fact they held that ply-wood though originally timber could no longer be properly described as timber because it has 'reached a stage in its development at which it has acquired a distinctive name of its own.' In my judgment, that reasoning cannot fairly be applied in the present case. It is not suggested that the timber stored by Daulat Singh was anything more than logs of wood partly sawn and partly unsawn. It is true that such material is generally used for building purposes alone, but I do not think that any violence is committed to language if such materials are described merely as wood. In common parlance wood and timber are often interchangeable terms. A finished product like a chair or table which is the result of the application to timber of several processes of manufacture and human skill would never be described as wood or timber. So that if the question arose as to whether a piece of furniture was included within the term 'wood' used in the bye-law framed by the Roorkee Municipal Board I would have no hesitation in answering that question in the negative upon the analogy of the reasoning of their Lordships of the Bombay High Court in Ahmedalli Esufalli v. Emperor (1938)25 AIR Bom 282. The question in the present case however is whether the mere fact that wood is prepared into logs or planks by sawing and plaining for the convenience of transport and for being used as building material affords a sufficient justification for holding that the wood has reached a stage in its development at which it has acquired a distinctive name of its own so that it can no longer be properly described as timber. In my view the answer must definitely be in the negative.
9. As regards the other part of the learned Judge's argument I need only say that I find nothing in this interpretation of the word 'wood' which is inconsistent with the purposes and intention of the Board in framing the bye-law. The learned Judge has held that the object of the bye-law was to prevent a danger to the public by fire and hence the intention of the Board in framing the bye-law was to prevent the storing of dangerously inflammable material without a license. With this part of the learned Judge's argument I have no quarrel whatever. But I cannot agree with the distinction which he has sought to draw between fire-wood and timber such as that with which we are concerned in the present case. To my mind a stack of fire-wood is in no sense more dangerously inflammable material than a stack of timber which consists only of wooden logs and planks. There is consequently no ground for holding that in framing the bye-law the Board did not intend to include such timber within the purview of wood. The learned Judge has tried to fortify his conclusion by pointing to the fact that in their schedule of octroi rules the Municipal Board of Roorkee have drawn a distinction between timber and wood inasmuch as they have prescribed a duty on
timber for building purposes, timber in logs and sawn into planks, ballis, ready-made doors, doorposts, windows, furniture and other articles made of wood,
but none on wood. This argument is in my judgment wholly irrelevant to the question in issue. There might be many reasons why the Municipal Board did not wish to impose a tax upon wood in all its forms and hence it selected particular forms of it for the purposes of levying a duty thereon. It does not by any means follow that timber was excluded from the purview of wood as used in the bye-law referred to above or that timber was considered to be in any sense a less dangerously inflammable material than fire-wood. I am therefore of the opinion that Daulat Singh was rightly convicted under Section 299, Municipalities Act, for having omitted to take out a license for storing timber. The reference made by the learned Sessions Judge is hereby rejected.