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The Public Prosecutor Vs. Dhanuskodia Pillai and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles;Criminal
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 565 of 1949
Judge
Reported inAIR1950Mad479
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 3 and 3(1)
AppellantThe Public Prosecutor
RespondentDhanuskodia Pillai and anr.
Respondent AdvocateN.G. Krishna Iyengar, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredEmperor v. Ramdas Nathubhai
Excerpt:
- .....that the-specimen signatures had not been submitted. this direction was also complied with and renewed licence, ex. d-1, was issued on 23rd march 1949 which on the face of it showed that the licence was in force from 12th january 1949 till 11th january 1950. the sub-magistrate was of opinion that since the licensing authority had issued the licence which took effect from 12th january 1949, at the time the checking took place on 10th march 1949, it must be deemed that respondent 1 had a valid and effective licence and therefore did not commit any offence. if respondent, did not commit any offence, respondent 2 has also not committed any. 3. the learned public prosecutor contends that respondent 1 is bound to wait until he gets the licence and should not have driven the car during the.....
Judgment:

Govinda Menon, J.

1. This is an appeal by the Provincial Government against the acquittal of the two respondents for offences under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. Respondent 1 who was the driver of the pleasure ear No. 1487 was charged under Section 3 (1), Motor Vehicles Act in that he drove a motor vehicle in a public place without an effective licence issued to him authorising him to drive the vehicle; and respondent 2 was charged under Section 5 of the same Act which states that no owner, or person in charge of a motor vehicle, shall cause, or permit any person who does not hold an effective licence, to drive the vehicle. The Sub-Magistrate of Tiruchendur found that the respondents did not commit any offence and acquitted both of them.

2. On 10th March 1949, at about 10-30 P. M. P. W. 2 found respondent 1 driving the motor vehicle in question along the road from Tiruchendur to Kurumbur and the owner, respondent 2, was in the car. When directed to produce the driving licence, respondent 1 was unable to do so because he did not, at that time, possess a licence. His case was that he had an effective licence which is marked as Ex. P-1 valid upto 11th January 1949. On 10th January 1949, he applied to the District Superintendent of Police for the renewal of the licence and that application was returned to him on 20th January 1949, for want of two recent photographs and two specimen signatures. The application was again re-presented with the recent photographs but it was returned again on the ground that the-specimen signatures had not been submitted. This direction was also complied with and renewed licence, Ex. D-1, was issued on 23rd March 1949 which on the face of it showed that the licence was in force from 12th January 1949 till 11th January 1950. The Sub-Magistrate was of opinion that since the licensing authority had issued the licence which took effect from 12th January 1949, at the time the checking took place on 10th March 1949, it must be deemed that respondent 1 had a valid and effective licence and therefore did not commit any offence. If respondent, did not commit any offence, respondent 2 has also not committed any. 3. The learned Public Prosecutor contends that respondent 1 is bound to wait until he gets the licence and should not have driven the car during the interregnum between the date of his application and the date of its granting. He relies upon the decision of Horwill J. in Public Prosecutor v. Krishnaswami : AIR1942Mad196 . What happened there was that the driving licence of the respondent-accused had expired on 10th December 1940 and on 12th December 1940 when he drove the car without a licence an accident occurred. Thereafter, on the very same day, the accused applied for a renewal of the licence which was granted to take effect from 10th December. On these facts, it was held that the renewal cannot be regarded as a licence to infringe at pleasure another provision of the Act. This decision would have concluded the matter in controversy but for the fact that in the present case, even before the expiration of the licence, respondent 1 had applied for a renewal and taken some of the necessary steps. While the application for renewal was pending with the authorities and had not been disposed of respondent 1 bona fide thought that he was entitled to drive the car. But in Pubic Prosecutor v. Krishnaswami : AIR1942Mad196 , at the time the accident occurred, the driver's licence had already expired and he had not even applied for a renewal. It was only after the accident that the driver thought of applying. Such being the case, it seems to me that there is no complete analogy between that decision and the present case. If a person, who already had a licence and had applied for renewal of the same before the expiry of the term mentioned therein and expects to get it renewed in due course, drives the vehicle after the expiry of the licence but before the renewed licence is actually received, he cannot be said to have driven the vehicle without a licence. He was under the bona fide belief that his licence would be renewed which would take effect from the date of the expiry of the previous licence, for the necessary steps for getting the licence renewed have been taken and as a matter of fact, as has happened here, the licence was granted subsequently with retrospective effect. In the circumstances the decision of Beaumont C. J. and Sen J, in Emperor v. Ramdas Nathubhai : AIR1942Bom216 applies directly to the facts of the present case. In that case the accused, who had a licence issued to him on 2nd February 1940 and which expired on 2nd February 1941, was found driving his motor vehicle on 17th February 1941, under the time-expired licence, but got the licence renewed on the very same day for another year, which was issued with retrospective effect from 2nd February 1941. On his being prosecuted on 15th June 1941, it was held that at the time when the prosecution was launched the accused could produce a licence which in terms was effective from 2nd February 1941 and which was effective therefore on the day on which the offence was alleged to have been Committed, and therefore the conviction could not be sustained. The facts of the present case are more in favour of the accused than in the Bombay case for it is not clear from the judgment in the Bombay case as to whether the accused, when he was found driving the car under a time-expired licence, had already applied for the renewal of his licence, though it is seen that on the very same day as he was found driving the car under a time-expired licence, he got his licence renewed. When the respondents in the present case were charged on 1st April 1949, respondent 1 was already in possession of a valid licence which took effect from 12th January 1949 and therefore on 10th March 1949, it cannot be said that he had no valid licence. The principle of the Bombay decision that even though at the time the offence was committed there was no valid licence, the fact that at the time the prosecution was launched an effective licence had been issued to the accused with retrospective effect would be an answer to the prosecution, would similarly be a valid answer for respondent 1 to give that when he was prosecuted he had a valid and effective licence which showed that on the date when the offence was committed he was driving the car properly. There are provisions in the rules made under the City Municipal Act to the effect that when a person files an application for a licence and pays the requisite fee for it, he can bona fide proceed on the basis that the licence would be granted; and if he were to ply a trade or carry on a business before he actually obtains the licence, it cannot be said that he was committing an offence. The principles embodied in such rules can be applied by analogy here also. Respondent 1 bona fide expected that he would be granted a licence as his expectations have later on been fulfilled. The time taken by the licensing authority to verify the application and for respondent 1 to comply with the requirements should not stand in the way of a bona fide expectant licence-holder from carrying on his trade. My attention has not been invited to any provision of the Motor Vehicles Act which specifically interdicts a licence-holder, who has applied for a renewal of his licence before its expiry but who had not got it renewed immediately after the expiry of the term, from proceeding on the basis that he would in the normal and usualcourse of circumstances get the licence renewed; and if, on that footing, he carries on his ordinary avocation, it cannot be held that he was committing an offence. I am therefore of opinion that the acquittal of the two respondents by the lowerCourt was right and this appeal is dismissed.


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