1. This appeal has been posted before me owing to a difference of opinion between Jackson, J., and Madhavan Nair, J. It is an appeal by Government against the acquittal of the accused by the Joint Magistrate of Tirupattur. The charge against him was illegal possession of petrol in excess of the quantity covered by his license to 'keep' petrol.
2. The facts not disputed are that the accused holds a license for storage of 500 gallons of petrol and has a store for that quantity at Katpadi. He is the agent of the Burma Oil Company and, as their agent, also holds a transport license for transport of petrol without limit of quantity. On 28th November, 1925 evening he took delivery at the Katpadi railway station of 1000 gallons. He carried these to his premises, put 500 in store, disposed of another 100 before dark, and kept the remaining 400 in bandies on his premises over night with a view to transporting them in the morning to Vellore and Madanapalle for which places he had booked orders. At 10 a. m. on the 29th morning, the Police visited the premises and found the 400 gallons in excess. The case was argued before me, and I think also before the learned Judges of the Bench, on the footing that these 400 gallons were really intended for transport and would have been transported on that morning if the Police had not paid their visit. The question therefore resolves itself into this : Does a transport license cover a halt over night, say from sundown till 10 a.m. next morning, so that the possession of petrol during that halt is not the 'keeping' of petrol within the meaning of Section 5 (1917) MWN 720 of the Act.
3. Now a license for the transport of petrol must obviously include permission to be in possession of the petrol for the purpose of and during the process of transportation. It would be absurd to hold that, in addition to the license to transport, the transporter, e. g., the handyman, must be in possession of a license to keep petrol on his 'premises' or that every place at which he halts on his way must also possess a license to 'keep' petrol. A license to 'keep' petrol lays down stringent conditions as to the nature of the Building, etc., and these cannot by any stretch of imagination be held applicable to a country cart or a motor lorry or a railway waggon. Also so long as Govenment does not lay down rules regarding the issue of temporary licenses to cover such temporary possession if they consider such possession illegal without a license of that nature or regarding the provision of licensed halting places which transporters must use, it is unreasonable to hold that the transporter cannot, except on peril of prosecution, halt his consignment for a few hours over night in places which are not formally licensed to keep petrol. The transport of petrol during the night time obviously has its own dangers. Therefore it must be token to be the law, and also is common sense, that a license to transport includes permission to possess or keep for the process of and during the transport.
4. Now if the transporter, the accused in this case, had halted at any other place on his journey from the railway station to his destination from sundown to 10 a. m. with his consignment of petrol, I would not hold that this was such an unreasonable halt that it cannot be said to have been in the process of transport or can be said to constitute the possession of petrol during that halt a keeping of it within the meaning of Section 5 (1) of the Act. If then such a halt would not be an offence in regard to any other place, it cannot be an offence, because the place at which the bandies were kept was the accused's own premises. The fact that he has a store for petrol there makes no difference. If a halt just outside his premises is no offence, it does not become an offence if the halt is within the premises. The halt was during and in the process of transportation and the possession of petrol during that period is therefore not an offence.
5. I therefore agree with Madhavan Nair, J., and hold that no offence has been committed and I therefore dismiss this appeal.