1. Section 3 of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Taxation Act 1963 charges to tax motor vehicles 'used or kept for use in the State'. 'Motor Vehicle' is not a term defined in that Act but the definition in the Motor Vehicles Act. 1939 would apply. That is so provided in the Act. The definition of 'Motor Vehicle' in the Motor Vehicles Act 1939 as contained in Section 2(18) of the Act is as follows:
'Motor vehicle' means any mechanically propelled vehicle adapted for use upon roads whether the power of propulsion is transmitted thereto from an external or internal source and includes a chassis to which a body has not been attached and a trailer: but does not include a vehicle running upon fixed rails or a vehicle of a special type adapted for use only in a factory or in any other enclosed premises'.
It is apparent from the definition that motor vehicle must be one adapted for use on roads. It is the construction of this term that I am concerned with in the second appeal.
2. Plaintiff company possessed a tractor K. L. Q. 2102 for which the company was called upon to pay tax under the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1963. Notices were served on the plaintiff and two such notices one for Rs. 2,400/- for the period from 1-7-1958 to 30-3-1963 and another for Rs. 1,320/- for the period from 1-4-1963 to 31-3-1966 are challenged in the suit and an injunction restraining proceedings for recovery pursuant to the notices is sought for. Subsequent to the filing of the suit Government exempted the vehicle from tax for the period from 1-7-1958 to 30-6-1963, with the result that the claim for tax from 1-7-1903 to 31-3-1966 is alone challenged thereafter.
3. The challenge is on the ground that the vehicle which is a tractor fitted with hydraulically operated shovel is confined in its operation to the factory premises and therefore it is not a motor vehicle within the meaning of the Motor Vehicles Act 1939. Consequently, according to the plaintiff, it is not a motor vehicle within the meaning of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1963.
4. Before I advert to the above contention I must also notice another contention by counsel that even assuming it as a motor vehicle, it is not used or kept for use in the State. Of course that contention has only to be stated to be rejected. That it is so kept for use in the State is evident from the very admission of the purpose for which it is being operated.
5. The more serious contention turns on the construction of the definition of the term 'motor vehicle'. The counsel for the appellant-plaintiff cannot certainly contend that the vehicle cannot be put to use elsewhere. In fact the counsel has not attempted to go to that extent. The case is that actually it is not being put to use anywhere outside the factory premises. That it is not physically possible to put it to use elsewhere than the factory premises is not a contention which is urged or which if urged, would stand. Therefore the question is whether the fact that it is not being used or even the fact that it is not intended to be used outside the factory premises would be sufficient to take it out of the category of motor vehicle as defined in Section 2 (18) of the Motor Vehicles Act 1939. That would depend upon the construction to be put on the word 'adapted' in the sub-section. According to counsel for the appellant 'adapted to be used' must be read to mean 'used' and inspiration for this is sought to be drawn from a decision in State of Mysore v. Syed Ibrahim. (AIR 1967 SC 1424).
6. In the case before the Supreme Court, to which I have just now adverted, the question was whether the owner of a vehicle which did not have a permit for use as a transport vehicle but was nevertheless used on occasions for carriage of goods was to be considered to have contravened Section 42 (1) of the Motor Vehicles Act 1939 which prohibits the owner of a transport vehicle from using or permitting the use of a transport vehicle in any public place save in accordance with the conditions of a permit. Admittedly the vehicle which was being used was not a transport vehicle in the sense a vehicle with permit to transport. A goods vehicle is defined as any motor vehicle constructed or adapted for the use of carriage of goods or any motor vehicle not so constructed or adapted when used for carriage of goods solely or in addition to passengers. Therefore the definition of goods vehicle itself indicates that even if it is not constructed or adapted for use as a goods vehicle if it is used as one such it comes within the definition. It was found in that case that it was actually so used and therefore Section 42(1) was held to have been contravened. I fail to see any basis in that decision for the Contention that in order to show that a vehicle is adapted for a particular use it must be shown that it is used for the purpose.
7. Considerable assistance would be obtained on this question from what Salmon J. has said in Daley v. Hargreaves, 1961-1 All ER 552. The question there was whether certain dumpers used in connection with a road construction were motor vehicles. The definition of a motor vehicle in the Act with which the court was concerned in that case was 'mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads'. It was contended that since the vehicles were not equipped with lights, reflectors, horn, wines, number plates or direction indicators the court must hold that they were not intended to be used on roads by the manufacturers of the vehicles. On the facts of that case the court took the view that the dumpers were not motor vehicles and the learned Judges who decided the case made it clear that the decision was reached only on the particular facts of the case and was not intended to apply to dumpers generally- Salmon J. said:
'Intended ............ for use on roads' may mean no more than 'suitable or apt for use'.
and with this conclusions Lord Parker C. J. agreed.
In a later case Maddox v. Storer, 1962-1 All ER 831 Lord Parker C. J. noticed the difference in meaning where 'adapted' is used distinctively as an alternate to construct (as apparently seen in the definition of goods vehicle in the Motor Vehicles Act. 1939) and adapted used on its own has seen in the definition of motor vehicle in the same Act). In a case where the term adapted is used disjunctively as an alternate to construct, it would mean 'altered and made fit for the purpose' while standing by itself adapted would mean 'fit and suitable for the purpose.' I need not be concerned with this distinction here since the definition, with which I am concerned here, refers only to adapting the vehicle for use upon roads. It is apparent that what is meant is 'fit and apt for use on the roads'. I cannot read it to mean 'actually used on the roads'. If it could be used as a vehicle that could be out on the roads in the normal course, it is a motor vehicle. That it is not so used on the road but is used only in certain factory premises makes no difference as it nevertheless has the potential to be used as a vehicle upon the road.
8. In the circumstances I must hold that there is no merit in this appeal. There is some mistake in the date from which tax is found due from the plaintiff in the concluding part of the judgment of the court below. I make it clear that in view of the exemption granted by the State tax will be recoverable from 1-7-1963 and not from 1-4-1963 mistakenly noticed by the court below.
9. The second appeal is in the circumstances, dismissed with costs.