1. The petitioner in this case is a firm of building contractors and they have been convicted under Sections 42 and 123, Motor Vehicles Act, and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 100.
2. The case for the prosecution is that in respect of M. S. C. 109 which is a lorry owned by them they carried goods, to wit furniture, contrary to the conditions of the permit. The company has been given permits for a number of lorries of which M. S. C. 109 is one. According to the prosecution, the only goods permitted to be carried in the lorry are building materials which is mentioned as against the column 'nature of goods to be carried' which is item 8 in the permit given to them. There are about nine items in the permit starting with the name of the holder, father's name, address, area etc, type and capacity of vehicles, permitted laden weight, nature of goods, date of expiry and lastly conditions. As against this column 'conditions' it is stated that M. S. Clause 109 is permitted to carry two persona in the driver's cab and nine persons in the body of the lorry provided it is empty. No other condition is mentioned therein. It may be stated here that the permit that has been given to them mentions the register numbers of other lorries also and under the column 'conditions' four other lorries whose register numbers are mentioned therein are permitted to carry two persons in the driver's cab and 12 persons in the body of the lorry provided it is empty and as regards lorry No. M.S.C. 8387 it is mentioned that it is permitted to carry building and road materials only. It is, therefore, clear from what is stated against column 'conditions' that there is no prohibition from carrying furniture in this lorry M.S.C. 109. It is true that there is no permission either to carry furniture but when we read the conditions as regards M. S. C. 8387 permitting it to carry building and road materials only and when there is no such restriction with regard to the other lorries, it is not unreasonable to infer that under the column 'conditions' no such restriction is imposed on this lorry.
3. But it is contended by the Crown that as against col. 7 nature of the goods to be carried it is stated building materials and, therefore, this is a condition of the permit. The permit for these lorries is issued in form No. 86 prescribed by the authorities which is found at page 207 of the Madras Traffic Code. After netting out what has to be mentioned in the application as against each column there is a separate column under the beading conditions. Under Section 63 (2), Motor Vehicles Act the Regional Transport authority may in granting a private carrier's permit impose conditions to be specified in the permit, relating to the description of the goods as may be carried, It is, there-fore, contended by the Crown that what is described in col. 7 as to the nature of the goods to be carried must be interpreted as a condition and, therefore, in this case as only building materials are described as the nature of the goods to be carried, it must be read as limited only to building materials. A reading of the various columns will clearly show that each column cannot be interpreted as a condition of the permit. It is only a description of the particulars required for the licensing authorities so that they may be in a position to issue a permit. For instance, the second column 'father's name' cannot be said to be a condition of the permit nor can col. 3 'address' be so termed. If these were conditions there is no need why there should be a separate column for 'conditions'. The Transport authorities issue permits for buses also. In such cases the seating capacity is mentioned as one of the particulars required in col. 5 of the permit. Where the seating capacity has been exceeded it has been held by this Court in C. M. P. no. 6296 of 1948 not to be a violation of the conditions of the permit though it may amount to an offence under some other provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act. If, therefore, taking of passengers in excess of the seating capacity mentioned in the permit is not a condition, I do not see how if under the column 'nature of the goods to be carried' building materials are mentioned, it can be construed as a condition of the permit. Apart from this there is evidence in the permit itself that in cases where the authorities wanted to restrict the permit holder to carry certain articles only; they have mentioned it as for instance M. S. C. 8387 where under 'conditions' it is restricted to carry building and road materials only. There is nothing preventing the licensing authorities from imposing such a condition if they deem it necessary under the column conditions. In the circumstances, therefore, the carrying of furniture cannot be said to be a violation of the conditions of the permit.
4. It is not suggested that this furniture was transported from one place to another for hire. In fact it is not disputed that they carried their own furniture from one place of theirs to an-other of their own.
5. It is pointed out that the accused has pleaded guilty of the charge. But it is clear from what I have stated above that what the accused pleaded guilty to was to the facts viz., that they carried furniture. They admitted it. If this amounts to an offence undoubtedly they are guilty of the offence. But if these facts do not amount to an offence I do not see how a plea of guilty will avail the prosecution. In the circumstances, therefore, I hold that it is not a plea of guilty of the offence but it is only an admission of the facts stated in the charge sheet which do not amount to an offence.
6. The conviction and sentence are, therefore, set aside and the fine if paid will be refunded.