1. The controversy here concerns the bus stand of the Haryana Roadways in Ambala Cantonment. The Cantonment Board. Ambala purporting to act under the provisions of the Cantonments Act. 1924(hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') called upon the General Manager Haryana Roadways, to pay a sum of Rs. 6300/- as house tax and Rs. 4900/- as water tax, for this bus stand on the basis of the annual valuation hereof of Rs. 70,000/- a assessed by it, that is the Cantonment Board, This claim was negative by he District magistrate, Ambala on appeal by District Magistrate, Ambala on appeal by his order of Feb. 14, 1975(Annexure P-3), holding that the bus stand was exempt from the payments of the amounts claimed under the provisions of Se. 99(2)(f) of the Act. It is against this order that the present writ petition is directed. The relevant provisions of Section 99(2)(f) of the Act are reproduced hereunder :
(a) to (e) xxx xxx
(f) any buildings or lands, used or acquired for the public service or for any public purpose, which are the property of the Government or in the occupation of the Central or any State Government.'
2. In order to qualify for exemption under the above provision, the building or land concerned must satisfy two conditions :--
(1) It should either be in the occupation of the Central or any State Government or be the property of the Government, and
(2) be acquired or used for public service or any public purpose.
3. The bus stand admittedly satisfies the first condition being property belonging to the Haryana Government. It was with regard to the second condition, that contentions were raised. The argument put forth by Mr. S. C. Sibal, appearing for the Cantonment Board was that as the Haryana Government derived income from this bus-stand from the shops located therein. It could not be said that it was being used for any pubic service or public purpose. In other words, the financial gain that accrues to the Haryana Government from this bus stand negatives its 'Public purpose'. This is indeed fan untenable proposition. What is otherwise a 'Public Purpose' cannot be robbed of its character as such merely because in fulfilling it. some financial gain may accrue thereby to the authority providing it.
4. The expression 'public purpose'. as was pointed out by Mahajan, J. In State of Bihar v. Kameshwar Singh, AIR 1952 SC 252 at p. 311, 'is not capable of a precise definition and has not a rigid meaning. It can only be defined by a process of judicial inclusion and exclusion. In other words the definition of the expression is elastic and takes its colour from the statute in which it occurs. The concept varying with the time and state of society and its needs.'
4A. The broad test to determine 'Public purpose' formulated by Judicial decisions as set out in Alyer's Manual of law Terms and Phrases, (7th Edn.) at page 767 is 'whether the purpose is one which is primarily and predominantly one for the general interest of the community or it is mainly or primarily to serve the interest of a few individuals. Is the emphasis on the general benefit of the community or is it on the benefit of some specified individuals? It is the former, it would be a pubic purpose but not so, if it is the latter.'
5. The dominant consideration to determine 'Public purpose' is thus the general interest of the community and this is more than amply served by the bus stand. Having regard to the functions and the purpose for which the bus stand was intended and is in fact being used there can be no manner of doubt that it is indeed being used for a 'Public purpose.'
6. In dealing with this matter it would be pertinent to note that there is no mention in Section 99(2)(f) of the Act of the aspect of income unlike a specific provision to this effect contained in Section 99(2)(b) of the Act. The omission of the factor of income in Section 99(2)(f) of the Act is indicative of the intention of the legislature that the income from such land or building as satisfied the conditions of Section 99(2)(f) of the Act was not a matter of any relevance thereunder.
7. The bus stand is thus fully covered by the exemption as provided by Section 99(2) of the Act.
8. Counsel for the petitioner next sought to contend that there was an inherent illegality in the impugned order as it flowed from the order (Annexure P-4) passed by the District Magistrate, Ambala on Jan. 18. Whereby on appeal by the General Manager, Haryana Roadways. He remanded the case to the Cantonment Board for fresh decision. In this behalf It was argues that there was no power of remand vested in the District Magistrate and what is more the appeal filed by he General Manager, Haryana Roadways on Dec. 12, 1972(Annexure P-2) was barred by time, and no finding had been given with regard to this plea by the District magistrate. This again is a contention devoid of merit. The position taken in the return with regard to the plea of limitation was that the One-man Assessment Committee. Siri Dass after hearing the objections of the General Manager, Haryana Roadways, had stated that the decision would be communicated by post, but instead of doing so, a bill was issued which was received only on No v. 13, 1972, the appeal was thus within time. At any rate the failure of the petition to agitate this point upon the remand of the case by the order (Annexure P-4) clearly bars this point being agitated now at this stage. For the same reasons the petitioner cannot now be heard to question the power of remand of the District Magistrate. It indeed they are aggrieved by either of these matters it was open to the to have sought their remedy at that stage.
9. For the foregoing reasons the impugned order calls for no interference in writ proceedings. This petition is accordingly hereby dismissed. In the circumstances, however, there will be no order as to costs.
10. Petition dismissed.