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Municipal Commissioner Vs. G. Thotappa - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subjectcriminal
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1944Mad260
AppellantMunicipal Commissioner
RespondentG. Thotappa
Excerpt:
- - the charge in these three cases was that on 9th may 1942, 30th may 1942 and 6th june 1942 respectively the accused failed to give reasonable assistance to the supervisor employed under the municipality in the discharge of his duties under the madras entertainments act. he went out, checked the accounts and complained to the proprietor about the conduct of the gatekeeper. ' the use of the words 'admission to the entertainment' clearly indicates that the officer who visits the place of entertainment for the purpose of ascertaining whether the provisions of the act are complied with, will be entitled as of right to be admitted to the entertainment itself and it will not be open to the person in charge of the entertainment to refuse to permit him to enjoy the entertainment......it is urged by the learned counsel for the municipality that the supervisor may choose his own time to check and it was not for the authorities in the theatre to state when he should do so. that right is not disputed. it is stated however that it was open to him to sit in any convenient place outside the auditorium and choose his own time for going in and checking and that he had not been prevented from doing so. the time to be chosen for checking may have to be fixed with reference to the fresh admissions into the auditorium and this could be fixed by the supervisor only if he is in the auditorium and is able to know when and who are being admitted into it. under section 11:(1) any officer authorised by the provincial government in this behalf may enter any place of entertainment.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Kuppuswami Ayyar, J.

1. These are petitions filed by the Commissioner of Hospet Municipality against the order of the Joint Magistrate of Hospet setting aside the conviction and sentence of a fine of Rs. 25 imposed by the Stationary Sub-Magistrate of Hospet in C. C. Nos. 1624, 1648 and 1745 of 1942 for offences punishable under Sections 11 (2) and (3) and 14 (d), Madras Entertainments Tax Act of 1939. The accused in all these cases is the same, viz., Totappa, proprietor of Basaveswara Talkies. The charge in these three cases was that on 9th May 1942, 30th May 1942 and 6th June 1942 respectively the accused failed to give reasonable assistance to the supervisor employed under the municipality in the discharge of his duties under the Madras Entertainments Act. The supervisor in question, P.W. 1, in all these cases, was one of the seven clerks of the municipal office who had been deputed by the municipality to check whether the provisions of the Act and the rules thereunder were being complied with in Basaveswara Talkies. He had also to check the accounts relating to the issue of tickets. He went to the theatre on the dates mentioned above, obtained a free pass in his name with the purpose noted therein, viz., to check. He entered the theatre, but instead of starting the checking, sat in the auditorium to witness the show. After sometime the gatekeeper went to him and asked him to check or quit the place. He went out, checked the accounts and complained to the proprietor about the conduct of the gatekeeper. The proprietor asked him to do the checking and go out. The supervisor went away and returned with an order from the Commissioner authorising him to sit in the theatre throughout the show. But the proprietor would not allow him to sit in the auditorium and this is how he is said to have obstructed the supervisor in the discharge of his duties.

2. The evidence in the case disclosed that as soon as P.W. l went in with the gate pass the lights were switched on to enable him to check the tickets. But instead of doing so he sat in the auditorium and told those connected with the theatre that he would check at his own convenience. The first Court found that when he was asked to go out if he was not checking, it was obstruction in the discharge of his duties as he was entitled to choose his own time for checking. But the appellate Magistrate was of opinion that 'there was no doubt that the supervisor did intend to sit throughout the show before he started the checking' and that therefore there was no obstruction caused to him by his being asked to either cheek or go out of the auditorium. He set aside the conviction and acquitted the accused in all the three cases. It is to revise those three orders that these three petitions have been filed.

3. On facts there is no dispute. The supervisor was given a free pass marked 'to check' and he was allowed to enter the hall. As soon as he went in, the lights were switched on to enable him to check evidently the number of persons in the hall and the number of tickets which ought to have been collected from them. But he did not check and chose to sit down and asked them to go on with the show. The gatekeeper told him that if he was not checking, as the pass was only given to him to check, he should come out of the auditorium. The subsequent order brought by him from the Commissioner was to enable him to sit throughout the show. It is urged by the learned Counsel for the municipality that the supervisor may choose his own time to check and it was not for the authorities in the theatre to state when he should do so. That right is not disputed. It is stated however that it was open to him to sit in any convenient place outside the auditorium and choose his own time for going in and checking and that he had not been prevented from doing so. The time to be chosen for checking may have to be fixed with reference to the fresh admissions into the auditorium and this could be fixed by the supervisor only if he is in the auditorium and is able to know when and who are being admitted into it. Under Section 11:

(1) Any officer authorised by the Provincial Government in this behalf may enter any place of entertainment while the entertainment is proceeding, and any place ordinarily used as a place of entertainment at any reasonable time, for the purpose of seeing whether the provisions of this Act or any rules made thereunder are being complied with; and (2) The proprietor of every entertainment or the owner or person in charge of any place ordinarily used as a place of entertainment shall give every reasonable assistance to the inspecting officer in the performance of his duties under Sub-section (1); (3) If any person prevents or obstructs the entry of the inspecting officer, he shall, in addition to any other punishment to which he is liable under any law for the time being in force, be punished with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

Apart from all this, it is clear from Section 12, Madras Entertainments Act, that the officer authorised by the Local Government to enter the place of entertainment for the purpose of seeing whether the provisions of the Act and the rules are being complied with 'shall not be required to pay for his admission to the entertainment.' The use of the words 'admission to the entertainment' clearly indicates that the officer who visits the place of entertainment for the purpose of ascertaining whether the provisions of the Act are complied with, will be entitled as of right to be admitted to the entertainment itself and it will not be open to the person in charge of the entertainment to refuse to permit him to enjoy the entertainment. The Magistrate therefore was not justified in finding that he was not entitled to sit throughout the show and witness it and that all that he was entitled to was to check and then go away. If he need not pay for his admission to the entertainment and he was therefore entitled to a free pass, he could certainly witness the entire show without payment and he could not be asked to go out of the auditorium. Since a person entrusted with the duty of seeing that the provisions of the Act are complied with is entitled to witness the entertainment and sit in the auditorium without payment and could choose his own time for the checking during the course of the entertainment, the conduct of the accused in having asked the supervisor of the municipality either to check or clear out of the auditorium was certainly an obstruction offered in the performance of his duty. The order of the appellate Magistrate is therefore liable to be set aside.

4. But I do not think that in the circumstances of this case it is necessary to remand the appeals. It is not open to this Court in revision to set aside the order and straight way convict the respondent. The appeals will have to be remanded for the purpose of an enquiry. It is stated by Mr. Chandra Reddi, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, that it is unnecessary in view of the trivial nature of the offence and that his client filed this revision petition only to have the question settled as to whether it would be open to a servant of the municipality who is deputed to see if the provisions of the Act are complied with to sit in the auditorium during the course of the entertainment and choose his time for the purpose of checking the tickets. In these circumstances I do not think it is necessary to remand the appeals to the lower Court for being reheard and it would be enough if I merely point out that the view of the appellate Magistrate is incorrect. The petitions are accordingly dismissed.


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