1. This is an appeal by the State against the acquittal of the respondent by the appellate Court.
2. The respondent applied for a license to instal an 1 H.P. Electric Motor and for running it. The application is dated 14th March, 1955. An order was passed by the Panchayat Board on 21st April, 1955, in the following terms:
The matter of granting permission to Sri S.N. Karuppiah Pillai for installing an 1 H.P. Electric Motor for nib works, is receiving attention and he is further informed that he should not instal or run the machine until and unless definite orders are issued by the undersigned.
Subsequently, according to the evidence given by P.W. 2 a clerk in the Sathur Panchayat Board, the Panchayat Board appears to have decided to grant a license. This resolution was passed about a month prior to the witness giving evidence, which was on 30th August, 1955. The license, therefore, must have been issued within a short time after his giving evidence. The Panchayat Board unfortunately prosecuted the respondent, because on 24th March, 1955, it was found that the respondent was running the motor, without a license. This was seen by P.Ws. 1 and 3 and by P.W. 6 when they visited the factory on 24th May, 1955. Therefore, before the issue of the actual license, which was issued subsequent to the visit of P.W. 6, the respondent had undoubtedly installed the motor and was running it. The question now is whether his action is a legal one.
3. That the respondent cannot instal this motor and run it without a license is not disputed. That the respondent applied for a license and permission by his application, dated 14th March, 1955, is not disputed. The only question is whether the order passed on 21st April, 1955, under Exhibit P-7 can be construed as an order passed under Section 96(3) of the Panchayats Act. Under Section 96(3), if orders on an application for any license or permission are not communicated to the applicant within thirty days or such longer period as may be prescribed in any class of cases after the receipt of the application by the executive authority the application shall be deemed to have been allowed for the period. By Notification XXX issued und.er the powers conferred by the Government by Section 96(3) of the Madras Village Panchayats Act, 1950, the authorities were directed to pass orders and communicate the same within 60 days after the receipt of the application. Section 96(3) must, therefore, be read as within 60 days after the receipt of the application. Now, the question is whether the order passed on 21 st April, 1955, can be considered to be an order passed under Section 96(3).
4. In Panchayat Board, Tondi v. Muhammad Mohideen (1944) M.W.N. 38, in construing a similar provision contained in Section 212(11) of the Local Boards Act. Kuppuswami Ayyar, J., has held that an order on similar application to the Board stating that the matter was receiving the attention of the authorities and that it had been referred to the Health Officer for enquiries and that final orders would be communicated only after the matter was ascertained was held to be an order within the meaning of Section 212(11); that is to say, an order passed without either granting or refusing license but indicating that the matter was receiving attention and that it had been referred to the Health Officer and final orders would be communicated thereon would be an order within the meaning of that section. No final orders ganting or refusing the grant need be passed. This decision is referred to by Balakrishna Ayyar, J., in Crl. R.C.No. 1106 of 1952, reported in Anthoniswami Chettiar v. The State of Madras represented by the Executive Officer, Panchayat Board, Dharmapuri (1953) 2 M.L.J. 39. In that case according to the judgment which I sent for and perused, on a similar application by the petitioner in. that case, the following two orders were passed : (1) the petitioner was definitely told that he should stop the building work, and (2) he was informed that the question of renewing his license would be considered only after he had replied to their previous letter and after the matter referred to therein was disposed of. Here also it must be noted that no final orders were passed, but the petitioner was told that he should stop doing his work and that the question of renewing his license would be considered only after his reply to their enquiries were received and considered. These two decisions are, therefore, authority for the position that the orders passed under Section 96(3) on the application preferred by the party need not be final orders. They may be in the nature of an interim order.
5. Speaking for myself, a reading of this clause seems to indicate that final orders should be passed on the application. Otherwise there is no knowing when the final orders will be passed. An applicant purchases either a motor or an engine or other machine in the hope of obtaining permission to instal the same and running it. He may satisfy all the requirements under the law and yet if he does not get an order within a certain time or gets over an interim order of the kind referred to not only in this case but also in the other two cases referred to above, and if there is inordinate delay in passing final orders then the applicant will be put to considerable damage and loss. It is to prevent such contingency and make the officers in the local bodies attend to the work as quickly as possible and to make the applicant also know of the final result so that he might know where he stands that the time period of 60 days is fixed. Equally it is possible that the application may not contain all the particulars necessary for the Board to grant permission or license and in the very nature of things in obtaining the necessary particulars which may be necessary for the Board to consider before it grants or refuses the license there may be a delay, and if this delay is occasioned by the applicant himself by his not furnishing the particulars, he might take advantage of his own delay and instal the machine and start working the same, because within the period of 60 days allowed no final orders had been passed. It may be that the putting up of the particular engine or motor in a particular place might turn out to be highly injurious. It might affect the health of the people. The Board, therefore, would be compelled to allow this to continue although the applicant himself may delay in furnishing the particulars. The consequences of this are more serious than the consequences of the loss that may be sustained by the applicant himself if the order is delayed.
6. It seems to me that any order on an application such as the one passed in this case and the ones passed in the two decisions referred to above will be an order passed under Section 96(3). In the present case, the order that was passed was that the respondent shall not instal or run the machine until and unless definite orders were issued by the Board. A perusal of correspondence like Exhibits P-5 and P-10 shows that the matter was being referred to the Health Officer and that the matter was being examined. This is not a case in which the respondent was ultimately refused any license because he was granted the license ultimately though in the month of July. The attempt on the part of the Board to get a report from the various officers concerned appears to be genuine and bond fide. It cannot be said that they intended to delay for the purposes of putting the respondent to any loss. The Board was only anxious to consider the suitability of the place and various other circumstances which were necessary before giving permission, and in the meantime they were very particular that he should not instal the machinery. Exhibit P-7 contains an order which is somewhat similar to the orders passed in the two cases referred to above, I, therefore, hold that Exhibit P-7 is an order under Section 96(3). It amounts to a refusal, just like the orders in the two cases referred to above, and such orders having been held to be orders under those particular sections, I hold that this is an order passed under Section 96(3).
7. In this view, the acquittal, no doubt is not correct. But in view of the fact that subsequently the license itself has been granted, the ends of justice do not require that the order of the appellate Court should be set aside and this case remanded for further hearing. The Public Prosecutor is only anxious to have the law correctly laid down. So, while holding that the order passed under Exhibit P-7 is an order passed under Section 96(3) and that the acquittal is, wrong, I pass no orders as to rehearing of the appeal, as the respondent has been granted a license and no useful purpose will be served by sending the appeal back to the appellate Court for rehearing. Ends of justice do not require it.
8. With these observations the appeal is dismissed.