EMPEROR Vs. GOVIND BHIMRAO KULKARNI
HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY
GOVIND BHIMRAO KULKARNI
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Leonard Stone, Kt. , C. J. -
(1.)WE have before us seven matters six of them being applications and one of them being a reference to us by the learned Sessions Judge, Sholapur. All these cases arise out of the same subject-matter. The point is a very short one and it is this. The Sholapur Mills Spinning & WEaring Company, Ltd. , owns six motor lorries or trucks and four touring cars; all of them used in the company's business. Now after the rationing of motor spirit came into force in the year 1941 this company was given its quota of coupons to obtain motor spirit for its ten motor vehicles, and in the course of carrying out their activities the company used, indiscriminately, the petrol coupons in respect of one vehicle to put petrol into another vehicle and what is complained of by Government is that the petrol in respect of the coupons for the lorries or trucks was used in the touring cars and vice versa. Whether or not to do this is an offence must depend solely on what interpretation is to be placed upon the Motor Spirit Rationing Order, 1941, which was made in exercise of the powers conferred by Rule 81 of the Defence of India Rules, 1939.
(2.)THE section upon which the answer to this question depends is Clause 26, which is contained in the chapter, which is headed "restrictions on supply and use of motor spirit, and dealings with receipts and coupons". Clause 26 is intituled "use of motor spirit for a purpose other than that authorised" and it is in these terms: No person shall use or permit the use of motor spirit acquired by him against the surrender of special receipts or coupons or under the authority of a licence (a) for a purpose other than that to which the special receipts, coupons or licence relates, and for other purposes therein mentioned, (b) save in accordance with any conditions or instructions appearing on or attached to the coupons. . . and (c) for any particular purpose where a supply has been made for more than one purpose, in the manner therein set out. and then we come to Sub-clause (d) which is as follows : In a case in which the coupons have been issued in respect of a particular vehicle, in any other vehicle except a vehicle of the same class owned by the person to whom the coupons have been issued.
In order to bring any particular case within the exception two elements have got to prevail. The first is that the "other vehicle" must be a vehicle of the same class and the second element is that it must be owned by the person to whom the coupons have been issued. No question arises with regard to the second element because all these vehicles belong to Sholapur Mills Spinning & Weaving Company, Ltd. The question, however, raised by the learned Government Pleader is that a motor lorry and a touring car are not vehicles of the same class. It must be at once apparent that almost any articles of the same type can be divided into quite a number of different classes and in different ways. For instance, motor cars can be divided into classes according to their horse power or their makers or their user. It therefore falls to consider what Sub-clause (d) means by "vehicles of the same class". When the definition clause of this order is referred to it will be found that in Sub-clause 2 (g) "motor vehicle" means any mechanically propelled vehicle constructed or adapted for use on roads, and, that the definition of 'vehicle' in Sub-clause (2) (p) is a motor vehicle or a motor boat. In other words a 'vehicle' means first of all any mechanically propelled vehicle constructed or adapted for use on roads, and, secondly, a motor boat, so that as far as, the definition clause of this Order is concerned there are only two classes of vehicles. Reference has been made to the second schedule of this order in winch there is the heading "class of vehicles" and below it vehicles are divided into five classes. Class I is vehicles belonging to the Central or a Provincial Government. Class 2 is a vehicle of local authorities. Class 3 is transport vehicles and motor boats used for public transport. Class 4 is motor vehicles in the possession of a dealer or a distributor and class 5 is vehicles not included in items 1, 2, 3, and 4 .So that classified by reference to the second schedule both the motor lorries and the touring ears of this company fall in class 5. Apart from the definition section and the 2nd schedule there is not in this Order any other method by which types of vehicles can be classified, and whether the classification be taken by reference to the second schedule or by reference to the definition of "vehicle" in Sub-clause 2 (p) what has been done does not constitute an offence because the vehicles in question would be of the same class. It must be borne in mind that we are considering the penal provisions of emergency legislation, and in order to find that an offence has been committed it is not sufficient to guess at what the intention of the Legislature may have been, we have to find words of sufficient clarity to bring home the offence charged. Whether or not the Legislature intended to limit the exception to different classes of motor cars it is impossible to say. To construe the language used in Sub-clause 26 (d) by the standard of either of the methods above mentioned results in no offence being made out.
The result in each of these seven cases is as follows: In applications Nos. 147, 204, 205, 206, 230, and 231 all of 1946 the rule is made absolute and the proceedings are quashed. In reference No.22 of 1946 the reference is accepted, the rule is made absolute and the convictions and sentences set aside. Fines if paid to be refunded. .
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