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Panalal Balabhai Zaveri Vs. State of Gujarat - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1971)12GLR350
AppellantPanalal Balabhai Zaveri
RespondentState of Gujarat
Excerpt:
- - 1. this special civil application raises an interesting question regarding the interpretation of section 13 of the bombay motor vehicles tax act, 1958 hereinafter referred to as the act). the petitioner herein is the owner of a tractor and a trailer; as the section stands with the conjunctive 'and' between the words 'designed' and 'used',it is obvious that both the conditions must be satisfied. it is, therefore, clear that the two vehicles of the petitioner are not entitled to exemption under section 13(1) and his case would clearly fall under section 13(2) and would be governed by the relevant notifications in force at that time......the period of exemption must have been extended as usual, the petitioner went on using these two motor vehicles but on or about august 21, 1964, he received an order from the r.t.0. dated august 18, 1964, directing the appellant to pay tax and penalty in respect of these two vehicles for the period april 1, 1962 to september 30, 1964, and the total amount according to that demand notice came to rs. 8937/-. against this order or demand notice from the r.t.0. the petitioner preferred an appeal to the state transport officer. by the order, dated december 9, 1964, the state transport officer rejected the contention of the petitioner that the two vehicles were totally exempt from tax under the act but he remanded the matter to the regional transport officer for consideration of the question.....
Judgment:

B.J. Divan, J.

1. This Special Civil Application raises an interesting question regarding the interpretation of Section 13 of the Bombay Motor Vehicles Tax Act, 1958 hereinafter referred to as the Act). The petitioner herein is the owner of a tractor and a trailer; the tractor bears registration No. G J A 4240 and the trailer bears registration No. G T A 9788 It is the contention of the petitioner that the tractor and the trailer are designed and were used solely for agricultural operations on the farm and farmland and he contends that as such they are exempt from the payment of any tax under the provisions of the Act. It is further the case of the petitioner that he had applied for and was granted exemption for a further period of one year along with the registration books but he did not receive any reply from the R.T.0. No decision of the R.T.0. was communicated to him nor was he informed that his application for exemption was refused. Under the belief that the period of exemption must have been extended as usual, the petitioner went on using these two motor vehicles but on or about August 21, 1964, he received an order from the R.T.0. dated August 18, 1964, directing the appellant to pay tax and penalty in respect of these two vehicles for the period April 1, 1962 to September 30, 1964, and the total amount according to that demand notice came to Rs. 8937/-. Against this order or demand notice from the R.T.0. the petitioner preferred an appeal to the State Transport Officer. By the Order, dated December 9, 1964, the State Transport Officer rejected the contention of the petitioner that the two vehicles were totally exempt from tax under the Act but he remanded the matter to the Regional Transport Officer for consideration of the question whether during the relevant period, the vehicles had been used solely for agricultural operations. The Regional Transport Officer was directed that in the event of the petitioner producing the necessary proof, the two vehicles were to be taxed on the footing of motor vehicles used for agricultural operations and on that basis the amount of tax and the penalty, if any, was to be assessed and taxed and a new demand notice on that footing was directed to be issued. After the remand the necessary proof was produced by the petitioner before the Regional Transport Officer and ultimately by the Order, dated March 24, 1965, the petitioner was informed that he was liable to pay 50% of the annual rate prescribed under the Act and on that footing from April 1, 1962 to March 31, 1963; and thereafter from April 1,1963 to March 31, 1964, the petitioner was required to pay the aggregate amount of Rs. 2883/-. The present petition has, therefore, been filed challenging the order Annexure B to the petition, being the order passed by the appellate authority, namely, the State Transport Officer; and also the order passed after remand on March 24, 1965.

2. Section 13 of the Act, under which exemption has been claimed by the petitioner is in these terms :

13. (1) All motor vehicles designed and used solely for agricultural operations on farms or farm lands, shall be exempt from the payment of the tax.

(2) The State Government may, subject to the provisions of any rules made in that behalf, by notification in the Official Gazette, exempt either totally or partially any class of motor vehicles other than those falling under Sub-section (1), or any motor vehicles belonging to any class of persons, from the payment of the tax.

Explanation: For the purpose of this section the expression 'agricultural operation' means tilling, sowing, harvesting, crushing of agricultural produce, or any other similar operation carried out for the purpose of agriculture but does not include the transportation of persons or materials for the purpose of agriculture, or the transportation of agricultural produce.

Mr. Zaveri, on behalf of the petitioner, contended before me that it has been found by the - R.T.0. by his order, dated March 24, 1965. that the two vehicles in question had been used for agricultural purposes and he contended that since they were used for agricultural purpose and were not. according to the petitioner, used for transportation of persons or materials, these vehicles could be said to be used solely for agricultural operations within the meaning of Section 13(1). He, therefore, contended that since these two motor vehicles were used solely for agricultural purposes on farm and farm lands, they were totally exempt from the payment of the tax. This contention of Mr. Zaveri must be rejected because only those motor vehicles that are 'designed and used solely for agricultural operations on farms and farm lands' which are entitled to exemption under Sub-section (1) of Section 13. It is probably with this terminology of Section 13 in mind that the petitioner in para 2 of the petition has stated that the two vehicles are designed and used solely for agricultural operations on his farm. In the affidavit-in-reply filed by the Director of Transport, it has been denied that these vehicles of the petitioner are designed and used solely for agricultural operations on farm or farm lands as required by Section 13(1) of the Act. Mr. Zaveri's contention was that mere use solely for agricultural operations on farm and farm lands entitles the vehicle to exemption under Section 13(1). Mr. Zaveri's contention can be accepted only if the word' 'and' occurring between the words 'designed' and 'used' were to be read as 'or'. From a grammatical construction of Section 13(1), it is clear that a motor vehicle, for which exemption is claimed, must be designed solely for agricultural operations on farm and farm lands and must also be used solely for agricultural operations on farm and farmlands. As the section stands with the conjunctive 'and' between the words 'designed' and 'used', it is obvious that both the conditions must be satisfied.

3. In Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes, 12th Ed. (1969), at page 232, it has been pointed out:

In ordinary usage, 'and' is conjunctive and 'or' disjunctive. But to carry out the intention of the Legislature it may be necessary to read 'and' in place of the conjunction 'or' and vie versa.

The Disabled Soldiers Act 1801, for example, in speaking of property to be employed for the maintenance of 'sick and maimed soldiers,' referred to soldiers who were either sick or maimed, and not only to those who were both.

The expression 'local and public authorities' in Section 4(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1916 has been held by Winn J. not to 'mean authorities which are both local and public...but authorities which are either local or public.

Mr. Zaveri relied upon the decision of the House of Lords in John G. Stein and Co. Lid v. O'Hanhn (1965) A.C. 890. In that case, Section 48(1) of the Mines and Quarries Act, 1954 was considered by the House of Lords and the relevant section said:

It shall be the duty of the manager of every mine to take, with respect to every road and working place in the mine, such steps by way of controlling movement of the strata in the mine and supporting the roof and sides of the road or working place as may be necessary for keeping the road or working place secure.

Lord Reid interpreting this provision said that he could not 'suppose that it was intended that in every case the manager must both attempt to control movement of the strata and provide support... The natural meaning of the words of the section is that one or other of the prescribed methods must be adopted in every case.' The normal rule of interpretation is to give full scope to the actual words used by the Legislature unless the literal interpretation is likely to lead to absurd results.

4. In the instant case, the word 'and' appears to have been used by the Legislature as laying down two conditions and not alternative conditions. It could never have been the intention of the Legislature that any motor vehicle designed solely for agricultural use without its user as such should earn exemption from the tax under the Act because if the word 'and' in this context were to be read as 'or', then either of these two types of vehicles, those designed for agricultural purpose and those used for agricultural purpose would be entitled to exemption Untied the Act. The Scheme of the Legislation seems to be to benefit agriculturists and that too agriculturists who utilize the motor vehicles for the purpose of tilling, sowing, harvesting or similar operations for the purpose of agriculture; but the transportation of agricultural produce is not included within the meaning of agricultural operations. Under these circumstances and particularly in the light of the Explanation to Section 13, It is obvious that the word 'and' occurring in Section 13(1) in the expression 'designed and used' must be interpreted as conjunctive and not as disjunctive as contended for by Mr. Zaveri. It is clear that the a tractor fey Itself of a trailer by itself or the combination of a tractor and a trailer Is not designed solely f6r agricultural operations. A tractor can be used for non-agricultural operations; so can a trailer and so can a tractor and trailer combination. In view of this, it is obvious that neither the trailer nor the trailer belonging to the petitioner can fall under Section 13(1) of the Act arid no exemption can be granted tinder Section 13(1) in respect of the tractor or the trailer.

5. In this connection, Mr. Zaveri relied upon the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in In re. Rayla Rama Rao : AIR1961AP66 . In that case, Sanjeeva Row Nayudu J., sitting singly, interpreted the provisions of sortie of the Sections of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. The provision of Section 11 A. of the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1931, similar to Section 13(1) of the Act before me was also considered by the learned Judge. While considering the provision of the 1939 Act, the learned Judge has considered the definitions of 'transport vehicle' and 'A public service vehicle' but apparently he has overlooked the definition of 'motor venicle' occuring in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. A 'transport vehicle' means a public service vehicle or a goods vehicle; and 'a public service vehicle' means 'any motor vehicle used or adapted to be used for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward and includes a motor cab, contract carriage, and stage carriage. A 'goods vehicle' as defined in Clause (8) of the same section, 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. If the attention of S.R. Nayudu J. had been drawn to Section 2(18) of the Motor Vehicles Act, which defines the words 'motor vehicle', then it is obvious that the learned Judges reasoning would not be on the lines which appealed to him. Overlooking this aspect of the words 'motor vehicle' Nayudu J. accepted the contention urged before him that a trailer does not come within the definition of goods vehicle. The argument was that a trailer does not move by itself. In view of the fact that the provisions of Section 2(18) were not considered in this Andhra Pradesh judgment, with great respect, I am unable to follow this decision or the reasoning in that decision. In that case it was held that the tractor-cum-trailer combination was exempt from taxation within the meaning of Section 11A of the 1931 Act and Nayadu J. held on the interpretation of the section before him as follows:

In other words, if the motor vehicle in question is used for transporting agricultural produce in addition to various other agricultural purposes such as those for which tractors are normally employed, then obviously that vehicle would be exempt from taxation under Section 11A of the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act. Apparently, the Legislature intended to exempt from taxation all motor vehicles which are used solely for the purpose of agriculture. Then apparently, it must have struck them that it may be contended later that any vehicle which is used merely for the purposes of carrying agricultural produce from the fields to the market would also claim exemption which obviously was not the intention of the Legislature.

The language of Section 11A which has been interpreted by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the above case was different from Section 13(1) of the Act before me inasmuch the words 'designed and used', which are the governing words, were not used in Section 11A of the Statute before the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Under these circumstances, that part of the judgment also cannot help Mr. Zaveri.

6. In the affldavit-in-reply filed by the respondents it has been stated:

I say that the Government of Bombay by their Notification No. MTA/1758/11415-XII, dated 5th Sept. 1958, issued under Section 13(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1958, exempted from payment of the tax tractors used for drawing trailers owned by agriculturists and used by them for transportation between the land cultivated by them personally and to the place of residence or godown or any market place or agriculture produce grown by them in connection with the cultivation of such land. By virtue of this Notification the said vehicles of the petitioner were exempted from payment of tax till 31st March 1962. Thereafter however the State of Gujarat issued a Notification No. LDF/MVT/9495/7373/F, dated 31st March 1962. The said exemption was taken away with effect from 1st April 1962. The said Notification granting partial exemption to the extent of 50% of the tax was subsequently amended by Government Notification No. LDF/MVT/9453/F-9829, dated 27th April 1962 and another Notification being MTA/F, dated 14th October 1963. The cumulative effect of granting partial exemption in respect of the tractors for drawing trailers by those belonging to agriculturists who were the registered owners thereof and used for the purposes referred to as aforesaid is to the extent mentioned below with effect from 1st April 1962.

(a) to the extent of 621/2% if the registered laden weight of the vehicle does not exceed 3049 K.Gs. and

(b) to the extent of 50% if the registered laden weight of the vehicle exceeds 3049 K.GS.

It is, therefore, clear that the two vehicles of the petitioner are not entitled to exemption under Section 13(1) and his case would clearly fall under Section 13(2) and would be governed by the relevant Notifications in force at that time.

In the result, this Special Civil Application fails and is dismissed. There will Be no order as to costs Petition dismissed.


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