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Waryam Singh Vs. Sukhdeo Prasad and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. 91 of 1968
Judge
Reported inAIR1972Raj165; 1972()WLN111
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 2(18); Rajasthan Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1951 - Sections 3; Rajasthan Motor Vehicles Taxation Rules, 1951 - Rule 28
AppellantWaryam Singh
RespondentSukhdeo Prasad and anr.
Appellant Advocate L.R. Mehta and; B.R. Arora, Advs.
Respondent Advocate P.C. Mathur, Adv.
DispositionAppeal partly allowed
Excerpt:
damages for malicious prosecution - motor vehicles act, 1939--sections. 42 end 123 and rajasthan motor vehicles taxation act, 1951--sections 11 & 17 and rajasthan motor vehicles taxation rules, 1951--rule 27--vehicle carrying bricks from market to village--held, it does not amount to 'agricultural purpose'--prosecution by t.i. is not without reasonable cause--suit for malicious prosecution rightly dismissed.;carrying of bricks from market, towns to the village of the cultivator for the purpose of construction of a house or cattle shed cannot be said to be an operation similar to that of tilling, sowing, harvesting or crushing of agricultural produce. nor does it amount to carrying of produce of farm to markets towns and manure and seeds from market towns to farm. also the use of a..........for damages for malicious prosecution for offences under section 42 read with section 123 of the motor vehicles act, 1939 and under section 11 of the rajasthan motor vehicles taxation act. while dismissing the suit the trial court awarded costs of the litigation as also compensatory costs to the tune of rupees 200/- to each of the two defendants.2. plaintiff waryam singh was an agriculturist who had his agricultural lands in his personal cultivation in chak no. 26h, tehsil karanpur. waryam singh also resided there. his case was that lie cultivates his field with the help of a tractor and he had his own tractor no. rjk 4507 to which a trailer or trolley was attached. on 13-8-64 the plaintiff had sent his tractor to karanpur with its driver for bringing diesel oil as also some pucka.....
Judgment:

Kan Singh, J.

1. This is a plaintiffs appeal arising out of the judgment and decree of the learned Additional District Judge Sri Ganganagar dated 29-8-68 dismissing his suit for damages for malicious prosecution for offences under Section 42 read with Section 123 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 and under Section 11 of the Rajasthan Motor Vehicles Taxation Act. While dismissing the suit the trial court awarded costs of the litigation as also compensatory costs to the tune of Rupees 200/- to each of the two defendants.

2. Plaintiff Waryam Singh was an agriculturist who had his agricultural lands in his personal cultivation in Chak No. 26H, Tehsil Karanpur. Waryam Singh also resided there. His case was that lie cultivates his field with the help of a tractor and he had his own tractor No. RJK 4507 to which a trailer or trolley was attached. On 13-8-64 the plaintiff had sent his tractor to Karanpur with its driver for bringing diesel oil as also some Pucka bricks in connection with the construction of his house as well as cattle sheds situated at Chak No. 26-H. While the tractor was on its way back, defendant No. 1 Shri Sukhdeo Prasad, who was at that time a Transport Sub-Inspector, seized it. In spite of the repeated requests of the driver, Shri Sukhdeo Prasad did not release the tractor. According to the plaintiff, Shri Sukhdeo Prasad was duly informed that the material loaded in the trailer belonged to the plaintiff and it was being carried to Chak No. 26H to be used for agricultural purposes. The Sub-Inspector, however, did not heed the request of the driver and threatened him with a prosecution and at the same time demanded illegal gratification to the tune of Rs. 300/. As the driver was not agreeable to pay the bribe, the plaintiff was challaned by defendant No. 1 in the Court of Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Karanpur for offences under Section 11 of the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act and 42/123 of the Motor Vehicles Act The plaintiff averred that though he was convicted by the learned Sub-Divisional Magistrate having been sentenced to a fineof Rs. 100/- for the offence under the Motor Vehicles Act and Rs. 50/- for the offence under Section 11 of the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, on appeal he was acquitted by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Sri Ganganagar. The plaintiff maintained that his prosecution was malicious and without reasonable and probable cause for the same. The suit was filed both against Shri Sukhdeo Prasad, the Transport Sub-Inspector as well as the State of Rajasthan. The plaintiff claimed Rs. 10000/- as general damages and Rs. 1000/- as special damages on account of the expenses incurred by him in defending himself in the criminal case upto the stage of appeal and also on, account of certain sundry items.

3. The suit was resisted by the two defendants. It was denied that the Sub-Inspector had demanded any bribe or that there was any malice on the part of Sukhdeo Prasad in seizing the tractor and the trolley or in launching the prosecution against the plaintiff. According to the defendants, the driver of the plaintiff had not stated that the bricks were being taken for the construction of the plaintiffs house or the cattle sheds.

4. The learned Additional District Judge framed the necessary issues and then after recording the evidence of both the parties came to the conclusion that the plaintiff was found to have contravened the terms of the permit by transporting bricks which were not meant for any agricultural purpose. Consequently there was reasonable and probable cause for defendant No. 1 to check and seize the tractor and the trolley. He also found that no malice on the part of the defendant No. 1 was established though the learned Judge added that the plaintiff himself might have threatened defendant No. 1 and it was perhaps for this reason that defendant No. 1 had to engage his own counsel even in the criminal case besides the prosecutor who was there on behalf of the prosecution. In the result, the learned Additional District Judge held that the plaintiff had miserably failed to prove his case. As regards the general and special damages, the learned Judge came to the conclusion that Rs. 4000/- could have been awarded as general damages and Rs. 860/- as special damages, if the plaintiff had otherwise succeeded. For awarding compensatory costs to each of the two defendants, the learned Judge observed that the litigation was launched by the plaintiff with false and vexatious allegations and only to harass defendant No. 1 in a spirit of revenge, as he has put it.

5. In assailing the judgment and decree of the Court below, learned counsel for the appellant has contended that the plaintiff had not utilised the tractor for any hire or reward even according to the defendant No. 1 himself and, therefore, therewas no reasonable and probable cause for the plaintiff's prosecution. He further submitted that the plaintiff has proved the existence of malice on the part of defendant Shri Sukhdeo Prasad.

6. A perusal of the judgment of the learned Additional Sessions Judge in the criminal case reveals that he came to the conclusion that no offence under Section 42 read with 123 of the Motor Vehicles Act was committed because the tractor was not being used for hire or reward. As regards the other count the learned Judge held that the tractor and the trolley were not being used for an agricultural purpose. In that connection he observed that the word 'agricultural purpose' was not defined in the statute and, therefore, it has to be taken in its ordinary dictionary sense. For this reason he came to the conclusion that even the offence under Section 11 of the Rajasthan Motor Vehicles Taxation Act was not proved by the plaintiff and accordingly he allowed the appeal and acquitted the plaintiff (accused in the criminal case).

7. I may first read the relevant provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939:

8. Section 2 (18) defines 'motor vehicle' as follows:--

'Section 2 (18) '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.'

Section 2 (32) defines the term 'trailer' which means any vehicle other than a sidecar, drawn or intended to be drawn by a motor vehicle. Then Sub-section (8) of Section 2 defines a 'goods vehicle' which 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. A perusal of these provisions shows that the term 'motor vehicle' will take in a tractor as well as a trolley attached to it and if the trailer is used for the carriage of goods which undoubtedly it is, then it will be falling within the definition of the term 'goods vehicle'. The term 'transport vehicle' means a public service vehicle or a goods vehicle, (vide Section 2, Sub-clause (33).).

9. Now Sub-section (1) of Section 42 provides for necessity for permits. It inter alia lays down that no owner of a transport vehicle shall use or permit the use of a transport vehicle in any public place, save in accordance with the conditions of a permit granted or counter-signed by a Regional or State Transport Authority or the Commission authorising the use of thevehicle in that place in the manner in which the vehicle is being used. Subsection (3) lays down to what transport vehicles Sub-section (1) shall not apply. Clause (i) of Sub-section (3) may be noticed here. It reads:--

'(i) except as may otherwise be prescribed, to any goods vehicle which is a light motor vehicle and does not ply for hire or reward, or to any two-wheeled trailer with a registered laden weight not exceeding 800 Kilograms drawn by a motor car.'

This Sub-clause would not obviously apply to a trailer attached to a tractor. Therefore, where the trailer or trolley is attached to a tractor Sub-section (1) of Section 42 shall apply and a permit shall be necessary for authorising its use in any public place.

10. Section 123 provides for punishment for contravention of Section 42 or for contravention of any condition of the permit.

11. Permits for transport vehicles are of two kinds namely, private carriers permit, or public carriers permit, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter IV of the Motor Vehicles Act and the relevant Rules. It is not disputed in the present case that the plaintiff had a private carriers permit for the tractor and the trolley. Since it is not shown that the tractor and the trolley was transporting any goods for hire or reward at the time, the prosecution on that count was hardly justified.

12. I may next turn to the relevant provisions of the Rajasthan Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1951. Section 4 lays down that

'save as otherwise provided by this Act or by Rules made thereunder or by any other law for the time being in force, no motor vehicle shall be used in any public place or kept for use in the State of Rajasthan unless the owner thereof has paid in respect of it, a tax at the appropriate rate specified in the schedules to this Act within the time allowed by Section 5. Save as hereinafter specified, such tax shall be payable annually notwithstanding that the motor vehicle may from time to time cease to be used.'

Section 3 lays down that the State Government may by notification in the official gazette exempt either totally or partially any motor vehicles or class of motor vehicles from the payment of the tax imposed by this Act, Then Section 22 empowers the State Government to make rules by notification for carrying into effect the purposes of the Act. The State Government have framed the Rajasthan Motor Vehicles Taxation Rules, 1951 in exercise of this power. Rule 27 lays down the exemptions and exceptions. It reads:

'Rule 27. Exemptions and exceptions.--Under Section 3 of the Act the Governmentare pleased to exclude from the operation of the Act the classes of motor vehicles specified in Rules 28 and 29 to the extent specified therein:

Provided that no transport vehicle registered outside Rajasthan and brought within it for temporary use shall be so excluded unless reciprocal arrangements for exemption from the payment of the tax have been agreed to and are certified to exist by the Rajasthan Transport Authority constituted under Section 44 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (Act IV of 1939).' Rule 29 relates to partial exemption from payment of tax in respect of motor vehicles used for the conveyance of pupils to and from a school and such vehicles are liable to half the tax prescribed for private vehicles. Rule 28 is about complete exemption from payment of the tax. There are various clauses in it and the relevant Clause here is Clause (h) which reads:

'Clause (h). Any tractor or a combination of a tractor and a trailer used solely for carrying out agricultural operations:Provided that when such a tractor, or a combination of a tractor and a trailer is used for hire or reward, it shall be liable to payment of tax in accordance with Schedule II to the Act.

Explanation.-- For the purpose of this clause the expression 'agricultural operations' shall mean tilling, sowing, harvesting or crushing of agricultural produce or any other similar operation carried for the purpose of agricultural and shall include carrying of produce of farm to market towns and manure and seeds from market towns to farm.'

13. The above rule is clear enough and it shows that for earning complete exemption a tractor or a trailer must be used solely for carrying out agricultural operations. In other words, if they are used not solely for carrying out agricultural operations but also for other purposes, then the exemption would not be available. The term 'agricultural operations' has been defined in the explanation and it means tilling, sowing, harvesting or crushing of agricultural produce or any other similar operation carried out for the purpose of agriculture. Therefore, the other operations must be similar to tilling, sowing, harvesting or crushing. The inclusive part of the definition would take in carrying of the produce of farm to market towns and manure and seeds from market towns to farm. Carrying of bricks from market towns to the village of the cultivator for the purpose of construction of a house or cattle shed cannot be said to be an operation similar to that of tilling, sowing, harvesting or crushing of agricultural produce. Nor does it amount to carrying of produce of farm to market towns and manure and seeds from market towns to farm. Also the use of a tractor on hireeven for agricultural operations aforesaid shall not attract the exemption clause.

14. Section 17 of the Rajasthan Motor Vehicles Taxation Act empowers any police officer in uniform not below such rank as may be prescribed and any officer of the Transport Department not below the rank of a Sub-Inspector to require the driver of any motor vehicle in any public place to stop the vehicle and cause it to remain stationary so long as may reasonably be necessary for the purpose of satisfying himself that the amount of the tax due in accordance with the provisions of this Act in respect of such vehicle has been paid. Sub-section (2) lays down that where any tax due in respect of any vehicle has not been paid, any officer referred to in Sub-section (1) may seize and detain such vehicle and take or cause to be taken such steps as he may consider necessary for the safe custody of the vehicle until it is produced before the Taxation Officer of the area concerned within a reasonable time or the tax due in respect of the vehicle is paid. Section 11 of the Act lays down that whoever contravenes any of the provisions of this Act or of any rule made thereunder shall on conviction be punishable with fine which may extend to Rs. 200/- and in the event of such person having been previously convicted of an offence under this Act or under any rule made thereunder with fine which may extend to Rs. 300/-.

15. The Sub-Inspector of the Transport Department namely, defendant No. 1 could therefore have stopped the vehicle for the purpose of examination and as he felt that the tax had not been paid, he could seize the vehicle. The prosecution of the plaintiff for this offence cannot, therefore, be said to be without reasonable or probable cause.

16. The learned Additional District Judge was, therefore, right in dismissing the plaintiff's suit. However, I do not find sufficient justification for the learned Additional District Judge to have awarded compensatory costs to the two defendants. At any rate, for one of the two counts the plaintiff could have a grievance and, there-fore, on his acquittal he could have thought of going to a court of law, though as I have already held there appeared to be a reasonable and probable cause for defendant No. 1 to seize the tractor and the trolley and to have filed a complaint in the court. The mere fact that the offence under Section 42 read with Section 123 of the Motor Vehicles Act was also added will not mean that the prosecution on that count was necessarily mala fide. It may be on account of lack of appreciation of the legal position regarding this count.

17. The result is that I allow the appeal in part. The judgment and decree OS the learned trial Judge shall stand asit is subject to the modification that the awarding of compensatory costs of Rupees 200/- each to the two defendants is set aside. The parties are, however, left to bear their own costs of this appeal.


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