STATE Vs. K MANDIRAM PILLAI
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
K. MANDIRAM PILLAI
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(1.) The question that arises for decision in this reference made by the learned Sessions Judge of Trivandrum is whether on a conviction under S.8 of the Travancore - Cochin Vehicles Taxation Act, 1950, (Act XIV of 1950) it is competent to the trial court to remit any portion of the tax on the ground that the vehicle had not used the public road for the whole of the quarter in respect of which tax was due. In C.C. No. 462 of 1951, the learned Second Additional Second Class Magistrate, Trivandrum, found the owner of lorry M.S.T.R. 3955 to have been guilty of putting the vehicle on the public road on 18.7.1950 and on 2.9.1950 without paying the tax due in respect of the third quarter of 1950. While imposing a fine of Rs. 25 on the accused for such contravention of the law, the court ordered that the proportionate tax for two months shall also be recovered from him. S.8 (Act XIV of 1950) reads:
If the tax due in respect of any vehicle has not been paid, the registered owner or the person having possession or control thereof shall be punishable with fine which may extend to fifty rupees; and the amount of the tax due by him in respect of such vehicle for the quarter or quarters or half year or year concerned shall also be recovered as if it were a fine.
This Section and S.4(1)(a), dealing with payment of tax and issue of licenses in respect of motor vehicles contemplate payment of tax quarterly, half yearly or annually at the choice of the registered owner or person having possession or control of the vehicle and not for any shorter period. S.4(1)(b) provides that where the tax for any motor vehicle has been paid for any quarter, half year or year and the vehicle has not been used during the whole of that quarter, half year or year or a continuous part thereof not being less than one month, a refund of the tax at such rates as may, from time to time, be notified by Government, shall be payable subject to such conditions as may be specified in such notification. The learned Magistrate who tried the case thought that as the vehicle was not proved to have been put on the public road during the month of August 1950, it was competent for him to remit the proportionate tax for that month and that the recovery of the tax under S.8 need only be of the proportionate tax for the months of July and September in which months alone the vehicle was proved to have been put on the public road. Apart from the fact that this is opposed to the terms of S.8 which speaks of recovery of tax for the quarter or quarters or half year or year concerned, the notification (dated the 20th July 1950), issued under S.4, (published in the Gazette dated 25th July 1950, see pp. 104 to 108 of the Statutory Rules and Notifications of Travancore - Cochin, 1950), does not provide for the refund of any vehicle tax where the vehicles is not put on the road only during the second month of a quarter. With respect to the refund of tax levied on vehicles for a quarter, the rules refer to particulars as to the user of motor vehicles under six classes in respect of which refund can be claimed. Non user for the second month of a quarter is not one among them. Further, Explanation III on page 108 (statutory Rules and Notifications, 1950) states that no refund shall be made in cases where the tax is paid only after its non payment has been detected or after a prosecution or other proceedings has been commenced in respect of such non payment, but that the Inspector General of Police may sanction refunds in such cases if he is satisfied that special circumstances exist to justify that course. The question of refund can only arise when payment has already been made and it is a condition precedent that the license should be surrendered. Once a prosecution has been launched for non payment of the tax it is only the Inspector General of Police who can sanction the refund and that for satisfactory reasons. It may also be noticed that the notification already referred to and printed on page 99 of the Statutory Rules and Notifications of Travancore - Cochin, 1950 shows that when a vehicle is to be used for the first month of a quarter there is no provision for payment of tax at any reduced rate. The reduction comes in only when the use is only for the second and third months of a quarter or parts thereof or the third month of a quarter or part thereof.
(2.) The learned Judges point of view that the Magistrate should have directed the realisation of the tax for the entire quarter is therefore right. We cannot however agree with him that the case should be remitted back to the Magistrate to make the direction to recover from the accused the tax for the whole quarter, namely, Rs. 360, in place of the amount of Rs. 288 already directed to be recovered. Under the revisional powers vested in us under S.439, Criminal Procedure Code, it is competent for us here to direct the whole tax to be recovered. We order accordingly.;
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