1. These are appeals preferred by the Government from the judgment of the learned Joint Magistrate of Pollachi in C.A. Nos. 14 to 21 of 1937. Those appeals were from the decisions of the Stationary Sub-Magistrate of Pollachi, who convicted several persons of an offence under Section 16 of the Motor Vehicles Act for violating Rule 30(a)(1)(i) of the Madras Motor Vehicles Rules. The facts in each case were that lorries had been engaged at Calicut to deliver bags of grain at Pollachi. In some cases the owners of the lorries alone were prosecuted; in other cases both the owners and the drivers were prosecuted. They were all convicted by the learned Stationary SUD-Magistrate. The owners were sentenced to fines of Rs. 50 and the drivers to fines of Rs. 20. On appeal the learned Joint Magistrate found it established that these lorries had been engaged for hire at Calicut and he said it was not disputed that the owners of them had not obtained permits in form G as required by Rule 30 (a)(1)(i) of the Madras Motor Vehicles Rules but the learned Joint Magistrate held that the convictions were bad because there had been no plying for hire in the district of Coimbatore of which Pollachi is a division. The learned Joint Magistrate says that the lorries were plying for hire only at Calicut and there was no plying for hire in Pollachi. He noticed the words in Rule 30 that:
No motor vehicle shall be let or plied for hire in any local are a or along any public road in the Presidency of Madras.
2. But he said that he did not know exactly what was the meaning of the words 'let for hire'. He held that letting for hire must be one definite and localised act and that in the present cases even if the charge was that the vehicles were let for hire, the letting had been done and completed at Calicut and therefore neither the police nor the magistracy of Pollachi had any jurisdiction in respect of these cases.
3. The learned Joint Magistrate I think has erred in this discussion of Rule 30(a). The wording is that:
No motor vehicle shall be let or plied for hire in any local area or along any public road in the Presidency of Madras, unless the registered owner of such vehicle has obtained a special permit...in Form G.
4. When a lorry is engaged for a journey from Calicut to Pollachi for hire, it is in my opinion quite justifiable to say that the vehicle has been let for hire along the public roads in the Presidency of Madras in the districts of Malabar and Coimbatore and therefore the offence is committed in the district of Malabar as well as in the district of Coimbatore if the lorry gets beyond the limits of the district of Malabar on its journey to Pollachi. The learned Joint Magistrate I think is clearly in error in thinking that it was the intention of the framers of the Motor Vehicles Rules that no G permits should be necessary for the local areas through which the lorries passed. It would be much more reasonable to suppose that the framers of the Motor Vehicles Rules intended that permits should be taken out for every area through which vehicles engaged or plied for hire travel.
5. Having expressed this view on the question of law, I am not prepared to interfere with the acquittals in these cases for two reasons. One is that the trial by the learned Sub-Magistrate was very unsatisfactory. Many cases which ought to have been tried separately were lumped together and tried together and this is very undesirable. The offence committed' by each person in such cases is his own offence and he should be tried separately for it. If both the owner and the driver had Committed the offence in respect of a single journey, there is no objection to the joint trial of those two but it is very objectionable in my opinion that several owners and several drivers should be tried in one trial for several offences committed on different dates. The second reason why. I am not even going so far as to order a retrial of these cases is that Mr. Sridharan who appears for the respondents has pointed out that no evidence was given in any of these cases that the vehicles were not provided with G permits. I have no doubt, as the learned Joint Magistrate has remarked that in fact there were no G permits for these lorries on the dates mentioned. Obviously if G permits had been in existence, there would have been no prosecutions; or if there had been the defence of the accused would have been simple. It is nevertheless a defect and a fatal defect in the prosecution that there was no evidence let in of this essential fact.
6. For these reasons, I shall dismiss these appeals.