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Syed Hamed Vs. Commissioner, Thiruvarur Municipality - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1976CriLJ260
AppellantSyed Hamed
RespondentCommissioner, Thiruvarur Municipality
Excerpt:
- - after hearing the parties and scrutinising the documents, i am satisfied that the civil suit covers the assessment period in respect of which the prosecution is launched......had not observed the principles of the act in making the assessment and that he had also filed a civil suit o. s. no. 226 of 1973 before the district munsif, tiruvarur, questioning the general revision and the subsequent increases in the tax. in addition to the statement, he filed a copy of the plaint in the said suit. the learned sub-magistrate, who tried the case, found the petitioner guilty under rules 30 (2) and 36 (1) of the district municipalities act, convicted him thereunder and sentenced him to pay a fine of rs. 20, in default to undergo simple imprisonment for two days, and further directed him to pay the house tax of rsection 2927. on appeal, the learned sub divisional magistrate has confirmed the conviction and sentence passed and the direction given by the learned.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Ratnavel Pandian, J.

1. This petition is filed by the accused, challenging the judgment of the learned Sub Divisional Magistrate, Nagapat-tinam, in C, A. No. 62 of 1973 on his file, confirming the conviction and sentence passed by the learned Sub-Magistrate, Tiruvamr, in C. C. No. 1160 of 1973, on his file. The Commissioner of the Tiruvarur Municipality preferred a complaint under Schedule IV, Rules 30 (2), 36 (1) and 36 (10) of the Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act, for alleged wilful default in payment of property tax of RSection 2927, against the accused. The prosecution examined two witnesses to speak about the service of the demand notice on the accused by registered post and marked Ex. Pt 1, the postal acknowledgment. The accused contended in his statement under Section 342 Crl. P. C, that the tax levied is illegal and does not bear any relation to the annual value of the building as determined under the Tamil Nadu Act XVIII of 1960. Further, he stated that the Municipality had not observed the principles of the Act in making the assessment and that he had also filed a civil suit O. S. No. 226 of 1973 before the District Munsif, Tiruvarur, questioning the general revision and the subsequent increases in the tax. In addition to the statement, he filed a copy of the plaint in the said suit. The learned Sub-Magistrate, who tried the case, found the petitioner guilty under Rules 30 (2) and 36 (1) of the District Municipalities Act, convicted him thereunder and sentenced him to pay a fine of Rs. 20, in default to undergo simple imprisonment for two days, and further directed him to pay the house tax of RSection 2927. On appeal, the learned Sub Divisional Magistrate has confirmed the conviction and sentence passed and the direction given by the learned Sub-Magistrate, Aggrieved by the said decision, the accused has come forward with this revision petition.

2. Admittedly, a civil suit was filed by this petitioner in O. S. No. 226 of 1973, challenging the general Revision and the subsequent increases in tax from 1-10-1970 to 31-3-1973. A copy of the plaint in the said suit was filed along with the statement of the accused before the Sub-Magistrate. The prayer in the said plaint is to declare the general revision and subsequent increases in the tax made by the respondent municipality on the buildings of the petitioner, as detailed in annex-ure-A to the said plaint, beyond the fair rent determinable under Madras Act XVIII of 1960 for the period of assessment (from 1-10-1970 to 31-3-1973), as illegal and ultra vires, and to restrain the first defendant therein (respondent herein) by a permanent injunction from realising any amount as per the demand notices and assessment. It is seen that the plaint is signed by the petitioner on 28-6-1973, The charge-sheet in this case is dated 2-5-1973, and received in court on 10-5-1973. Obviously, the suit was filed after the Municipality has taken criminal proceedings against the petitioner for his wilful omission to pay the tax due by him as shown in the charge-sheet, amounting to Rs. 4927. The trial court, while dealing with the question regarding the pendency of a civil suit, held that the petitioner should have instituted the suit in the year 1970 itself, and after referring to a number of decisions dealing with the jurisdiction of a criminal court, convicted and sentenced the petitioner as above.

The appellate court observed that a mere pendency of a Civil suit will not in any manner curtail the statutory powers of the Municipality in launching prosecutions against persons who are allegedly guilty under the provisions of the Act. The petitioner has come forward with this revision petition to this Court on 21-1-1974, During the hearing of this revision petition, Mr. Nagarajan, appearing for the petitioner, filed a certified copy of the plaint and a certified copy af the decree, passed in the suit O. S. No. 226 of 1973. I gave time to the Counsel appearing for the Municipality to verify whether the relevant period for which the assessment has been made and in respect of which the prosecution has been lanuched, is the period covered by the civil suit. After hearing the parties and scrutinising the documents, I am satisfied that the civil suit covers the assessment period in respect of which the prosecution is launched. So, in the interests of justice and for the convenience of court, I have marked the copy of the plaint with the annexure as Ex. C. 1 and the copy of the decree as Ex. C. 2. Ex, C. 2 is dated 24-8-1974, i. e., after the revision was filed. The learned District Munsif, Tiruvarur, after hearing the suit, has passed a decree declaring that the general revision and subsequent increases in tax made by the Municipality for the abovesaid period of assessment are illegal and ultra vires and restraining the Municipality, by means of a permanent injunction, from realising any amount as per the demand notices and assessment. In this revision petition, I am not sitting over the judgment of the learned District Munsiif, to decide whether his decree is correct or not. As it is, the decree of the said Civil Court stands. No material has been placed before me on the side of the respondent to show that the decree passed by the learned District Munsif has been set aside or stayed or at least an appeal has been filed. Under these circumstances, the decree of the civil court has to be given effect to. As it stands now, the conviction and sentence passed and the directions given by the criminal courts are based on the revision and increase of taxes, which are declared to be illegal and ultra vires by the Civil Court. Therefore, I have no other option except to allow this revision petition and set aside the conviction and sentence passed and direction given by the courts below.

3. Accordingly, the revision petition Is allowed. The fine amount if paid shall be refunded to the petitioner.


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