M.S. Menon, J.
1. These are appeals by the State against the acquittal of the accused in C.C. Nos. 660 and 661 of 1951 on the file of the Second Class Magistrate of Kanayannore. The charge against the accused in both the cases was that he violated Sections 4(1)(d) and 8, Travancore-Cochin Vehicles Taxation Act, 14 of 1950, by putting on the road T.C.C. 1634 (C.C. No. 660 of 1951) and T.C. No. 1635 (C.C. No. 661 of 1951) on 23.7.51.
2. The user of the vehicles on the date in question was not disputed and the only defence in the two cases, as summarised by the lower Court, was:
That the bus in question has been granted permit to be treated as a reserve bus, that as per Government Notification T 4-7879/49/PWC dated 20.1.1951 issued in the exercise of powers conferred on the Government under Section 11, Travancore Cochin Vehicles Taxation Act, 14 of 1950, Government have exempted reserve buses from payment of vehicles tax, that the exemption once granted is absolute and unconditional and obtains as long as the permit remains in vogue i.e. the exemption obtains till and so long as the permit has not expired or has not been cancelled, that this bus which had been granted permit as a reserve bus, which permit was current on date of checking and which in fact expires only on 15.6.1954, had not to pay tax therefor
3. We are not prepared1 to accept the contention and are clearly of the opinion that the lower Court was wrong in doing so. Nor are we prepared to accept the contention of the State that if the tax was in arrears in respect of any one of his sixteen route buses-it was admitted that he had not paid the tax in respect of some of them-the accused was precluded from using a reserve bus and that he would necessarily incur a penalty by such a user.
4. Section 4, Travancore-Cochin Vehicles Taxation Act, 1950. provides for the payment of tax and the issue of licenses in respect of motor vehicles and Section 8 stipulates:
If the tax due in respect of any vehicle has not been paid, the registered owner or the person having possession or control thereof shall be punishable with fine which may extend to fifty rupees; and the amount of the tax due by him in respect of such vehicle for the quarter or half-year or year concerned shall also be recovered as if it were a fine.
5. The notification referred to in the extract1 from the judgment given above was published in the Travancore Cochin Government Gazette dated 30.1.1951 (Part I, page 107) and is in the following terms:
In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 11, Travancore-Cochin Vehicles Taxation Act, 1950 (Act 14 of 1950) and in supersession of Public Works and Communications Department Notification No. VII, dated 20.7.1950, the Government are hereby pleased to exempt reserve buses from payment of tax with effect from 17.8.1949, subject to the conditions specified below:
(1) In the case of an operator having less than seven route buses, one of his reserve buses shall be exempt from payment of tax.
(2) In the case of operators having seven or more route buses, exemption from payment of tax shall be granted at the rate of one reserve bus for every seven route buses and also an additional reserve bus for any fraction, of route buses in excess of seven owned by the concern.
(3) Except when temporary permits are granted, reserve buses should not be put on any route other than those sanctioned for regular route buses, for which the reserve bus is a substitute.
(4) Tax at the usual rate shall be realised for reserve buses plying on temporary permits out side the routes sanctioned to the respective regular buses or if operated in addition to and not In substitution, of the regular buses sanctioned for the route.
(5) Tax for all route buses should be remitted and no exemption from payment of tax for any period in respect of a route bus, shall be granted, as the reserve bus is to ply in place of the route bus withdrawn from service on account of breakdown, mechanical defects or other reason.
(6) There shall be one reserve bus for every seven buses in operation subject to a minimum of one reserve bus for every operator.
(7) The seating capacity of the reserve bus, should be equal or less than the seating capacity of the route bus or buses for which the reserve bus Is sanctioned.
6. Two things are clear from the Notification:
(1) that the operators are entitled to one reserve bus free of tax for every seven route buses (or part thereof) in respect of which the tax has been duly paid; and (2) that a reserve bus can be put on the road only in lieu of a route bus for which the tax has been duly paid.
7. It follows that if the accused had paid the tax in respect of at least eight of his route buses, he would have been entitled to put on the road on 23.7.1951 both T.C.C. 1634 and T.C.C. 1635 in lieu of any two of those eight buses. There is no clear evidence in this case as to the number of buses for which the tax had been actually-paid and whether T.C.C. 1634 and T.C.C. 1635 were used in substitution or not.
8. The decisions of the lower Court acquitting the accused have hence to stand and all that we can do is to interpret the law for future guidance.
9. We dismiss Criminal Appeals Nos. 143 and 144 of 1952.