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Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board, Jabalpur Vs. the State of Madhya Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMisc. Petn. No. 230 of 1971
Judge
Reported inAIR1972MP188; (1973)ILLJ266MP; 1972MPLJ939
ActsMotor Transport Workers Act, 1961 - Sections 2 and 3
AppellantMadhya Pradesh Electricity Board, Jabalpur
RespondentThe State of Madhya Pradesh and ors.
Appellant AdvocateB.L. Seth, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateJ.P. Bajpai, Dy. Adv. General
DispositionPetition allowed
Cases ReferredThe Queen v. Justice of Cambridgeshire
Excerpt:
- .....(supply) act. 1948.(2) that in 1961 the parliament of india enacted an act known as the motor transport workers act (act no. 27 of 1961) in order to provide for the welfare of motor transport workers and to regulate the conditions of their work.(3) that the said act was made applicable to the state of madhya pradesh from 28-6-1963 whereupon the state of madhya pradesh has framed rules under the said act known as the madhya pradesh motor transport workers rules, 1963.(4) that under section 2(e) of the act. 'motor transport undertaking' means a motor transport undertaking engaged in carrying passengers or goods or both by road for hire or reward, and includes a private carrier.(5) that the petitioner, amongst its other activities, also maintains transport vehicles for the.....
Judgment:

Naik, J.

1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for certain reliefs under the Motor Transport Workers Act (Act No. 27 of 1961), hereinafter called 'the Act'.

2. The petitioner alleges--

(1) That it is a statutory corporation constituted for the whole of the State of Madhya Pradesh under Section 5 of the Electricity (Supply) Act. 1948.

(2) That in 1961 the Parliament of India enacted an Act known as the Motor Transport Workers Act (Act No. 27 of 1961) in order to provide for the welfare of Motor Transport workers and to regulate the conditions of their work.

(3) That the said Act was made applicable to the State of Madhya Pradesh from 28-6-1963 whereupon the State of Madhya Pradesh has framed rules under the said Act known as the Madhya Pradesh Motor Transport Workers Rules, 1963.

(4) That under Section 2(e) of the Act. 'motor transport undertaking' means a motor transport undertaking engaged in carrying passengers or goods or both by road for hire or reward, and includes a private carrier.

(5) That the petitioner, amongst its other activities, also maintains transport vehicles for the carriage of its own goods and is thus a private carrier as defined in Section 2 (22) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939.

(6) That the petitioner is thus a 'motor transport undertaking' within the meaning of Section 2(g) of the Act, so far as its activity as a private carrier is concerned.

(7) That under Section 3 of the Act. every motor transport undertaking is required to register its undertaking under the Act.

(8) That the petitioner, therefore, applied for the registration of its undertaking, in so far as it was a private carrier.

(9) That the respondent State declined to grant registration unless the petitioner included in its petition and paid the necessary fees for the registration of such other vehicles which it owned and possessed but which were not used in its activities as a private carrier for the transport of its goods -- such vehicles being staff cars, station wagons, jeeps, pick-ups, etc. owned and possessed by the petitioner; that the respondent State through its Deputy Secretary in the Labour Department vide Annexure 2 had intimated the petitioner that under the provisions of the Act, the drivers of the staff cars and jeeps owned by the -petitioner were also entitled to the benefits of the provisions of the Act as they were also motor transport workers as defined therein,

(10) That as these other motor vehicles have not been registered under Section 3 of the Act, the respondents are also threatening to prosecute the petitioner for the alleged infringement of Section 3 read with Rule 8 (1) and (f), Section 10 (1) and (2). Rule 24 (1) and (2), Section 13 and Rules 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38.

(11) That the act of the respondents in refusing registration and in insisting that the petitioner's motor vehicles, which are not used for the transport of its goods as a private carrier, shall also be registered under the Act and the Rules thereunder is illegal and contrary to law.

It is. therefore, prayed that the respondents be restrained by suitable orders, writs or directions,--

(a) from giving effect to their directions contained in Annexure 2,

(b) from insisting that the petitioner shall extend the provisions of the Act to its employees who are not connected with its undertaking as a private carrier, i.e., to the workers employed on its 'non-goods vehicles', and

(c) from insisting that, instead of taking out a single registration certificate in respect of all the goods transport vehicles owned and possessed by the petitioner, it must take out separate registrations in respect of each of its divisions in charge of a Divisional Engineer.

3. The respondents by a common return are contesting the petition. According to them, the words 'private carrier' or 'motor transport undertaking' refer to the owners and not to the vehicles. They say that once the petitioner is held to be a motor transport undertaking, the benefits of the Act would become available to all persons who come in the category of 'motor transport workers' as defined in clause (h) of Section 2 of the Act and this category includes drivers of the staff cars, jeeps, station wagons owned and used by the petitioner.

4. The short question that arises for consideration in this petition is whether the drivers of the staff motor cars, station wagons, jeeps etc. owned and used by the petitioner unconnected with its activity as a private carrier are 'motor transport workers' within the meaning of the Act.

5. The expression 'motor transport worker' is defined in clause (h) of Section 2 of the Act, which says--

''motor transport worker' means a person who is employed in a motor transport undertaking directly or through an agency. whether for wages or not, to work in a professional capacity on a transport vehicle or to attend to duties in connection with the arrival, departure, loading or unloading of such transport vehicle and includes a driver, conductor, cleaner, station staff, line checking staff, booking clerk, cash clerk, depot clerk, time-keeper, watchman or attendant, but except in Section 8 does not include--

(i) any such person who is employed in a factory as defined in the Factories Act. 1948 (63 of 1948);

(ii) any such person to whom the provisions of any law for the time being in force regulating the conditions of service of persons employed in shops or commercial establishments apply'.

6. The expression 'motor transport undertaking' is defined in clause (g) of Section 2 of the Act. It says--

' 'motor transport undertaking' means a motor transport undertaking engaged in carrying passengers or goods or both by road for hire or reward, and includes a private carrier'.

7. The expression 'private carrier' is not defined in the Act; but clause (n) of Section 2 of the Act says that--

'All other words and expressions used but not defined in this Act and defined in the Motor Vehicles Act. 1939 (4 of 1939). shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in that Act'.

As defined in clause (22) of Section 2 of the Motor Vehicles Act. 1939,--

' 'private carrier' means an owner of a transport vehicle other than a public carrier who uses that vehicle solely for the carriage of goods which are his property or the carriage of which is necessary for the purposes of his business not being a business of providing transport. or who uses the vehicle for any of the purposes specified in Sub-section (2) of Section 42.'

Again, the expression 'transport vehicle' is not denned in the Act but is denned in the Motor Vehicles Act. 1939 to mean--

'a public service vehicle or a goods vehicle'.

(Clause 33 of Section 2 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939); and 'goods vehicle', as defined in clause 8 of Section 2 of the Motor Vehicles Act. 1939 means--

'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'.

8. The Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board (hereinafter called 'the Board') is a statutory corporation constituted under Section 5 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948. Under Section 18 of the said Act--

'Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Board shall be charged with the general duty of promoting the coordinated development of the generation, supply and distribution of electricity within the State in the most efficient and economical manner, with particular reference to such development in areas not for the time being served or adequately served by any licensee, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions It shall be the duty of the Board:--

(a) to prepare and carry out schemes sanctioned under Chapter V;

(b) to supply electricity to owners of controlled stations and to licensees whose stations are closed down under this Act;

(c) to supply electricity as soon as practicable to any other licensees or persons requiring such supply and whom the Board may be competent under this Act so to supply'.

In order to facilitate its work, the Board owns and maintains a number of motor vehicles of various kinds. Some of these motor vehicles are maintained by it for the transport of its goods. These latter motor vehicles come within the category of 'goods vehicles' as defined in Section 2 (8) of the Motor Vehicles Act. It is not disputed that the petitioner Board does not own any 'public service vehicle' as defined in Section 2 (25) of the Motor Vehicles Act. In so far as the petitioner Board is the owner of 'goods vehicles' and uses those vehicles solely for the carriage of goods which are its property or the carriage of which is necessary for the purposes of its business, it is a 'private carrier' as defined in Section 2 (22) of the Motor Vehicles Act; and being a 'private carrier', it is included in the definition of 'motor transport undertaking' as contained In Clause (g) of Section 2 of the Act.

9. The definition of 'motor transport undertaking' is in two parts. In the first is its true connotation, which is that of a motor transport undertaking engaged in carrying passengers or goods or both by road for hire or reward. The second part contains its extended meaning. The Legislature intended to extend the benefits of the provisions of the Act to the employees of a private carrier also by artificially including 'private carrier' within the expression 'motor transport undertaking' as used in the Act.

10. As explained by Lord Watson in Dilworth v. Commissioner of Stamps, 1899 AC 99 at p. 105--

'The word 'include' is very generally used in interpretation clauses in order to enlarge the meaning of words or phrases occurring in the body of the Statute; and when it is so used these words or phrases must be construed as comprehending, not only such things as they signify according to their natural import, but also those things which the interpretation clause declares that they shall include'.

But the extended meaning is not to be necessarily or indiscriminately given.

11. According to Nanavati. J. in Bapu Vithal v. Secretary of State, AIR 1932 Bom 370,--

'.....it is a recognized principle of judicial interpretation that the inclusive meaning is not to be necessarily and indiscriminately applied to the word'.

because, as pointed out in Emperor v. DeSouza, (1911) ILR 35 Bom 412:--

'Where a term is interpreted in a statute as 'including' & C., the comprehensive sense is not to be taken as strictly defining what the meaning of the word must be under all circumstances but merely as declaring what things may be comprehended within the term where the circumstances require that they should'.

In the words of Lord Denman, C. J. in The Queen v. Justice of Cambridgeshire, (1836) 112 ER 551 at P. 555.--

'.....an interpretation clause is not to receive so rigid a construction; that it is not to be taken as substituting one set of words for another, nor as strictly defining what the meaning of a word must be under all circumstances. We rather think that it merely declares what persons may be comprehended within the term, where the circumstances require that they should,'

Craies' Statute Law, Sixth Edition, at p. 215 says--

'Another important rule with regard to the effect of interpretation clause is that an interpretation clause is not to be taken as substituting one set of words for another, or as strictly defining what the meaning of a term must be under all circumstances, but rather as declaring what may be comprehended within the term where the circumstances require that it should be so comprehended. If, therefore, an interpretation clause gives an extended meaning to a word, it does not follow as a matter of course that, if that word is used more than once in the Act. it is on each occasion used in the extended meaning, and it may be always a matter for argument whether or not the interpretation clause is to apply to the word as used in the particular clause of the Act, which is under consideration'.

12. The contention of the respondents is that the petitioner Board is a 'private carrier' as defined in Section 2 (22) of the Motor Vehicles Act and as the expression 'motor transport undertaking' in the Act includes a 'private carrier', the petitioner Board is a 'motor transport undertaking' as defined in the Act. It is thus contended that as the Act intends to extend the benefit of its provisions to the employees of the 'motor transport undertaking' as defined in the Act. their benefit must be extended to the employees of the petitioner Board as it is a 'motor transport undertaking'. It is further contended that the definition of the expression 'motor transport worker' in Section 2(h) of the Act in terms includes all the employees of the petitioner Board in so far as the petitioner Board is a 'motor transport undertaking'.

13. In our opinion, the contentions are fallacious and cannot be accepted. They are contrary both to the rules of statutory interpretation as also to the language of the Act. It is, no doubt, true that the petitioner Board is a private carrier; but it has to be remembered that it is a 'private carrier' only in so far as it is the owner of certain 'goods vehicles' which it is using solely for the transport of its own goods, etc. It is not a private carrier for all purposes nor do all its activities come under the category of a private carrier. Now, as stated in paragraph 9 above, even a 'private carrier' is not within the connotation of the expression 'motor transport undertaking' as given in the first part of the definition. It (a private carrier) comes within the connotation of the term 'motor transport undertaking' because of the extended meaning given to the expression in Section 2(g) of the Act. It is settled law that where an extended meaning is given to an expression. we shall not necessarily substitute the extended meaning for the expression wherever it occurs in the Act.

No doubt, the petitioner Board is a private carrier; but it is not only a private carrier. It has other business activities which are unconnected with its activity as a private carrier. Consequently, it cannot be equated with a private carrier for all purposes. In Clause (g) of Section 2 of the Act. it is a private carrier which has been included within the definition of 'motor transport undertaking'. Consequently, it would be quite unjustified to equate 'motor transport undertaking' with the petitioner Board because it also carries on the activity of a private carrier and is, therefore, a 'private carrier' within the meaning of the Motor Vehicles Act. The petitioner Board would be a 'motor transport undertaking' only, in so far as it carries on the activity of a private carrier, in other words, in relation to its activity as a private carrier.

14. Under Section 3 of the Act,--

'Every employer of a motor transport undertaking to which this Act applies shall have the undertaking registered under this Act'.

The petitioner Board as the employer of a 'motor transport undertaking' would, no doubt, be required to get the undertaking registered under the Act; but it shall have to do so only in relation to its activity as a private carrier. In other words, the petitioner Board qua private 1 carrier would require registration and consequently for this purpose it shall have to declare under the Act and the Rules, only the 'goods vehicles' owned by it and which it uses as a private carrier. Its staff cars, jeeps, etc., which have no relation with its activity as a private carrier, shall not have to be so declared, The respondents have, in our opinion, quite erroneously refused registration to the petitioner Board on its application for the purpose and were not at all justified in insisting that its other motor vehicles shall also have to be declared in the application for the registration and the requisite fees also Paid in respect of them.

15. The learned Deputy Advocate-General for the respondents sought to derive support for his contention from the provisions of Section 2(h) of the Act. But, in our opinion, on a true interpretation of the aforesaid provision, the contention cannot be said to be borne out.

16. The definition of the expression 'motor transport worker' in Clause (h) of Section 2 of the Act provides for three classes of employees:

(a) those employed by a 'motor transport undertaking' to work in a professional capacity on a transport vehicle;

(b) those employed by it to attend to duties in connection with the arrival, departure, loading or unloading of such transport vehicle; and

(c) drivers, conductors, cleaners, etc.

17. In our opinion, the category (c) aforesaid is not a category by itself. They are also employees of the 'motor transport undertaking' and in connection with its 'transport vehicles'. The contention of the learned Deputy Advocate-General that though drivers, conductors, etc, may be the employees of the 'motor transport undertaking,' they need not be in connection with its 'transport vehicles' cannot be accepted. The drivers, cleaners, etc. have been brought within the definition by a clause beginning with 'includes' and, therefore, it shall have to be seen whether in the context such a wide meaning as is sought to be put on the clause by the learned Deputy Advocate-General could be put on it. The clause simpliciter includes drivers, cleaners, etc. without specifying whether they are to be employees of the 'motor transport undertaking' and it is not contended that it is referable to all drivers, cleaners, etc. The context suggests that the Clause (h) is dealing with employees of a 'motor transport undertaking' and that consequently the drivers, cleaners, etc., who have been included within the definition, must necessarily be the employees of the 'motor transport undertaking'. And. in so far as the petitioner Board is a 'motor transport undertaking', only in relation to its activity as a private carrier, only those employees of the petitioner Board who have been employed by it qua private carrier as drivers, cleaners, etc. shall come within the definition of 'motor transport worker' under the Act.

18. We also feel that the inclusive definition has been framed by the Legislature in order to bring within the ambit of the definition of 'motor transport worker' all those employees of a 'motor transport undertaking' who though employed in connection with its 'transport vehicles', have not been included in the first two categories. It could not have been intended to bring within the category of 'motor transport worker' employees who have not been employed in connection with the 'transport vehicles' nor in relation to the activity of the petitioner Board as a 'private carrier'. Because, in that case the Parliament would have brought within the ambit of the Act the drivers, cleaners, etc. of private cars who were not in any way connected with 'transport vehicles'. This intention could not reasonably be ascribed to Parliament when it was legislating for the welfare of 'motor transport worker', viz., employee of 'motor transport undertaking' in relation to its 'transport vehicles'.

We are, therefore, of opinion that the drivers, cleaners, etc. employed by the petitioner Board unconnected with, its activity as a 'private carrier' are not 'motor transport workers' within even the inclusive meaning of Clause (h) of Section 2 of the Act.

19. The next question that arises for consideration is whether an application by the petitioner Board was competent or whether each of its sub-division in charge of a Divisional Engineer had to separately apply for registration of the vehicles under his charge. Under Section 3 of the Act, the employer of a 'motor transport undertaking' has to apply for registration. Clause (e) of Section 2 of the Act defines 'employer' to mean--

'In relation to any motor transport undertaking, the person who, or the authority which, has the ultimate control over the affairs of the motor transport undertaking, and where the said affairs are entrusted to any other person whether called a manager, managing director, managing agent or by any other name, such other person'.

In the instant case, the ultimate control vests in the Board and has not been entrusted to any other person. The assertion to the contrary by the respondents has no evidence to support it. The application for registration made by the petitioner was thus quite competent and was wrongly not entertained.

20. In the result, the petition is allowed. It is declared that the opinion expressed and directions given by the State Government in Annexure 2 are contrary to law and erroneous. It is further declared that only such persons who are employed by the petitioner Board acting as a 'private carrier' on the 'goods vehicles' owned by it and used solely for the carriage of goods which are its property as drivers, conductors, cleaners, etc, which can be included within the definition of 'motor transport worker' contained in clause (h) of Section 2 of the Act and not the workers employed by the petitioner Board on its motor vehicles other than such 'goods vehicles' such as staff cars, station wagons, jeeps, pick-ups, etc.. which are not used for carriage of goods solely or in addition to passengers, are entitled to the benefit of the provisions under the Act. It is also declared that under Section 3 of the Act, petitioner Board, in so far as it is a 'Private carrier' may apply for a single registration certificate in respect of the 'goods vehicles' owned and used by it.

21. The costs of this petition shall be paid by the respondents. Counsel's fee Rs. 100.00 if certified. The amount of security for costs deposited by the petitioner Board shall be refunded to it.


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