Bishambhar Dayal, C.J.
1. This petition is by a firm carrying on business within the municipal area of Raipur Corporation. The Inspector of the Corporation reported on the 8th September 1970 that the petitioner firm is strongly suspected to have imported a large quantity of materials and placed them in its godown without paying octroi for the same. As a result of this report, the respondent-Corporation on the 11th September 1970 locked the godown of the petitioner as the petitioner did not agree to allow inspection of the goods inside the godown. The petitioner wanted three days' time to give a reply. On the 14th September 1970 the petitioner was informed that the inspection would be done on the 15th September at 9 a.m. According to the petitioner, the officers of the Corporation illegally broke open the lock of the godown and ransacked it; -while, according to the Corporation's return, they entered into the godown on the 15th September in the presence of a representative of the firm and in his presence a list of the materials placed in the godown was made and that no ransacking was done as alleged. The representative was asked to produce receipts for the octroi cess paid on the goods which was not done and consequently the goods were after making a list, handed over to the custody of the petitioner and it was directed not to deal with the property tall it produced its documents relating to the payment of octroi or, in the alternative, the octroi was assessed and paid, It is stated in the return filed on behalf of the Corporation:
'No sooner the petitioner gives information about payment of octroi duty or makes payment of triple octroi duty under protest the petitioner will be allowed to deal with those goods.'
2. The contention of learned counsel for the petitioner is that under the Municipal Corporation Act of this State the officers of the Corporation hadno power to enter into the godown of the petitioner for any purpose and, in any case, have no power to restrain the petitioner from dealing with its goods as it liked. The contention of the petitioner is that the only right of the Corporation is to check the goods at the barrier and to realize octroi duty thereon at that place. If the goods have passed on and have entered into the godown of the petitioner, the Corporation has no right any further either to check the goods or to collect the octroi.
3. Learned counsel appearing for the respondent-Corporation has relied upon Section 372 of the M. P. Municipal Corporation Act, 1956. as authorising the Corporation to enter into the godown for the purpose of inspection and assessment of the value of the articles imported into the octroi limits without paying octroi so that the duty could be collected. The relevant part of Section 372 (1) reads as follows:--
'Any municipal officer duly authorised in this behalf..............may enterinto or upon any premises, with or without assistants or workmen, in order to make any inspection ... valution or inquiry.........which is authorised by thisAct or by any rule or bye-law made thereunder or which, in his opinion it is necessary or expedient for any of the purposes or in pursuance of any of the provisions of this Act or of any such rule or bye-law, to make or execute:' * * * *'
This section occurs in Part VIII, Chapter XXXIV. headed 'General provisions for the carrying on of the municipal administration' and above Section 372 a subhead 'Powers of entry and inspection' occurs. Thus, this section gives a general power to the authorized officers to conduct inspection and valuation after entering into any premises for all the purposes necessary under the Act. The contention of learned counsel for the petitioner that this section could be utilised only for the purpose of inspecting and valuing unauthorized constructions does not appear to be sound. We are, therefore, of opinion that the officers of the Corporation were within their right in demanding an inspection and, if it was refused, immediately to lock up the godown so that the articles may not be removed before inspection and the right of inspection may not be frustrated. This section also authorises the entry of the officers into the godown inspection of the articles placed therein and the making of a list thereof.
4. The further action on behalf of the Corporation, however, of givingthe articles in the custody of the petitioner with a condition that it will not deal with the articles is wholly unauthorized. There is no power in the Corporation to prevent the owner of the goods from using them as he likes. Learned counsel appearing for the Corporation relied upon Section 188 of the Act for this power. It runs thus.
'188 (1) If any toll or cess on import is not paid on demand, the officer empowered to collect the same may seize any article on which the cess on imports is chargeable, or any animal on which the toll is chargeable for any part of the burden borne by such animal, of sufficient value to satisfy the demand.
(2) The Commissioner after the lapse of five days from the seizure and after the issue of a proclamation fixing the time and place of sale, may cause any property so seized, or so much thereof as may be necessary, to be sold by auction to satisfy the demand with the expenses occasioned by the seizure, custody and sale thereof, unless the demand and expenses are in the meantime paid: Provided that, by order of the Commissioner, articles of a perishable nature which cannot be kept for five days without serious risk of damage may be sold after the lapse of such shorter time as he may think proper having regard to the nature of the articles.'
This section is applicable only where the officer empowered to collect any toll or cess makes a demand of any particular cess. If even after the demand is made, the demand is not met, then the officer can seize the articles on which cess is chargeable. In the present case, no demand has yet been made and the Corporation is not even certain whether anv cess or toll is payable on these articles or not. It is still asking the petitioner to prove whether the toll has been paid or not. In these circumstances, the Corporation has no power to seize the goods and prevent the petitioner from using them as it likes.
5. The result, therefore, is that the petition is partly allowed and the supratnama under which the petitioner is restrained from utilizing the goods as it likes is quashed as being wholly without jurisdiction. The petitioner is not bound by the same. Parties will bear their own costs. The outstanding amount of security deposit shall be refunded to the petitioner.