Harbans Singh, J.
(1) In a public meeting held by the Communist Party in an open ground near Yamunagar, a loud-speaker was installed, in which Piara Singh and five others, who are petitioners in this revision, addressed a gathering. On the allegation that the pitch of the loud-speaker was high and the speeches and the poems could be heard across the road near the police post, they were challenged for the contravention of Section 3 of the Punjab Instruments (Control of Noises) Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) and they were convicted under Section 5 of the said Act and sentenced to a fine of Rs. 51/- each or in default, two weeks' simple imprisonment. The appeal filed by them was dismissed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Ambala, and they have come up in revision.
(2) It is not dispute that the Act came into force on the 11th January, 1958, vide a notification dated the 2nd of November, 1957, published by the Punjab Government on 11th of January, 1958, on which date the Act was enforced 'in all the territories which immediately before 1-11-1956 were comprised in the State of Punjab'. Section 3 of the Act runs as follows:
'No person shall use or operate any instrument in or upon any premises at such pitch or volume as to be audible beyond the precincts thereof except under the written permission of the District Magistrate.* * * * * * * * * * *'
It is further not disputed that no permission was taken from the District Magistrate and the position taken by the accused was (1) that the pitch was not high and (2) that the provisions of Section 3 of the Act are inapplicable to the use of the loud-speaker in a meeting held in an open ground which is not enclosed. The finding of the Courts below is that the pitch was loud and the words spoken on the loud-speaker were heard beyond the road the Yamunanagar Police Post. The rough site plan, Exhibit P. B., shows that the meeting was held in the open ground towards the south of the petrol pump and the Yamunanagar Post is situated across Jagadhri road at some distance. The exact distance of the police post is not, however, given in the plan.
(3) The point urged by the learned counsel was as to what is the meaning of the words 'premises' and 'precincts' as used in Section 3 of the Act. According to the learned counsel for the petitioner, the words 'premises' and 'precincts' necessarily mean some building or the adjuncts of a building or an enclosure and these words do not apply to an open space which is not enclosed. In support of this contention he mainly relied upon a Division Bench judgment of the Madras High Court in Public Prosecutor v. Rajanga Chetti, AIR 1954 Mad. 285. In that case the meaning of word 'premises' as used in Section 250 of the Madras District Municipalities Act was under consideration. According to that section 'every person intending (a) * * * (b) to install in any premises any machinery * * * driven by steam water or other power * * * not being machinery * * * exempted by rules, shall, before beginning such * * * installation, make an application in writing to the Municipal Council for permission to undertake the intended work.
The respondents in that case had installed and worked an oil engine of five horse-power each on their agricultural land without obtaining any licence. Gobinda Menon J. (as he then was), delivering the judgment of the Division Bench, considered the meaning given to the word 'premises; in Wharton's and Ramanatha Aiyar's Law Lexicons and in Bai Jamna v. Bai Jadav, ILR 4 Bom. 168 (F.B.), and other case, and came to the conclusion that though 'premises' has been defined as including land or houses, 'the primary meaning of the word 'premises' is not open land under the sky, but something in the nature of a roofed construction with walls'.
The learned Judge then went on to observe--
'We cannot, therefore, agree with the contention of Mr. Santanam that when the District Municipalities Act * * * uses the word 'premises' as such, any vacant or open land of whatever acreage it might be, would come within the meaning of the term 'premises'. If we accept the contention put forward on behalf of the State, then it comes to this, that wherever, within the State, a person installs an oil engine or a machinery, he should be compelled to take out a licence, for the entire State, except the City of Madras is * * * covered by the District Municipalities Act and the Local Boards Act.'
Following an earlier decision of a Single Judge in Venkatachala Udayan v. Executive Officer, Rasipuram Panchayat Board, AIR 1950 Mad 38, the Division Bench came to the conclusion that the word 'premises' as used in the abovementioned Act must be understood as meaning a building with land adjacent thereto and that a building is a necessary criterion for the application of the term.
(4) The learned counsel for the petitioners urged that in the present case also the Act applies to the entire State of Punjab, as it existed prior to the 1st of November, 1956, and that it would be giving too wide a meaning to the word 'premises', to include in it open land of whatever acreage it might be. He also referred to a judgment of Bhandari C. J. in Ram Sarup v. State, Criminal Revn. No. 1084 of 1959, D/- 5-11-1959, where it was held that working of a loud-speaker on a public thoroughfare was not hit by the provisions of Section 3 of the Act. On the basis of the authority of the Madras High Court and the decision of Bhandari C. J. abovementioned, it was urged that the word 'premises' must be confined to houses, buildings or some enclosed land and does not apply to open land.
(5)The learned counsel for the State, however, urged that the word 'premises' should be given a wider meaning as given in Wharton's Law Lexicon and Stroud's Judicial Dictionary. He urged that the decision in the criminal revision referred to above was not correct. He also referred to Emperor v. Ramchandra Bhaskar, 7 Ind Cas 935 (Bom), where while dealing with the word 'premises; as used in the City of Bombay Municipal Act, a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court held that this word must be presumed to have been used in its legal sense as referring to both the buildings and sites, and that the idea behind the section is to avoid nuisance by the use of loudspeakers at an unnecessary high pitch.
(6) The point that has arisen in the case is likely to arise in a number of other cases an is of considerable importance. I have been informed that a very large number of cases are already pending in the Courts below in which the same point is involved. I feel that it is a fit case in which this matter should be more authoritatively decided and I, consequently, direct that the records of this case be sent to the Hon'ble Chief Justice for placing the matter before a larger Bench.