1. These revision petitions raise an interesting point.
2. Within the limits of Tirupattur Municipality, there is a big banyan tree and under its spreading branches, a number of bunks are said to have been put up. These petitioners are carrying on their business there as bangle merchants. The land itself belongs to the local Devasthanam and rents are paid apparently to the Devasthanam also. In as much as these bunks are inside the municipal limits, they have got to take licences from the Municipality and such licences have been granted. But what has happened is, that on account of crows sitting on the branches of the banyan tree and their droppings fouling beneath, these merchants have put up flat pandals or awnings over their bunks. But they have been prosecuted by the Municipality, because they have taken out licences only for bunks and they have now put up unauthorised constructions beyond the terms of the licence.
3. Both the Courts below convicted the petitioners for putting up unauthorised construction, to wit, a kottai or thatched covering over the bunk, amounting to a hut as denned under Section 3(ii) of the District Municipalities Act.
4. Mr. K.V. Sankaran, learned Counsel for the petitioners, has successfully persuaded me that this unauthorised construction would not amount to a 'hut' within the meaning of Section 3(ii), because, as it stands, it is not a building which is constructed principally of wood, mud, leaves, grass or thatch and there is no declaration by the Municipality for the purposes of this Act that a structure of this description comes within any temporary structure of whatever size or any small building of whatever material made which the Council may declare to be a hut for the purposes of this Act. Therefore, the convictions cannot stand, and they are hereby set aside, and the fines, if collected, will be refunded.
5. It will be open to the Municipality to make the declaration that a thatched roofing of this description would be considered to be a hut within the limits of the Tirupattur Municipality, and it may, after making that declaration, issue notice and evict these petitioners and if they disobey, prosecute them also.
6. Learned Counsel brings to my attention that, if the objection is that this thatched covering is of inflammable material, the petitioners are prepared to put up coverings of zinc sheet or other non-inflammable material approved by the Municipality over their bunks. I am sure that this is a matter which will engage the attention of the Municipality before taking any steps to make the aforesaid declaration and evict the petitioners or prosecute them.