HIGH COURT OF RAJASTHAN
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(1.)Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the respondent had no authority to seize and detain the vehicle of the petitioner as special road tax under the amended provisions of the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1951 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') has not been assessed and has, therefore, not become due. Learned counsel relied upon the provisions of S.8-A of the aforesaid Act and R.8 of the Rajasthan Motor Vehicles Taxation 'Rules, 1951 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Rules').
(2.)In my view, the contention advanced by the learned counsel cannot be upheld as special road tax has been levied under S.4-B, in addition to tax and surcharge levied under Ss.4 and 4-A respectively, and special road tax is payable to the State Government on all transport vehicles at the rates fixed by the State Government by a notification published in the official Gazette, though not exceeding the maximum rates specified in Schedule 'A'. Under R.4, the tax under S.4-B in respect of all stage carriages, other than those plied exclusively within the municipal or city limits, month by month after the end of the month, but on or before the 7th of the next following month. Thus, special road tax becomes due at the end of every month and it is payable on or before the 7th day of the next following month, as provided in R.4(b) of the Rules. The provisions contained in S.8 for filing a declaration and in S.8-A read with R.8 for determination of tax are made only for the purpose of quantification of the amount of tax due. If the amount of tax due has been determined and if it is found that any amount of special road tax payable by the owner of the vehicle for the period for which the return was filed has not been paid, a notice of demand shall be issued to the owner of the vehicle.
(3.)It is settled law that liability to pay tax is a present liability, although it may be quantified later in accordance with the ascertainable data. The liability to pay special road tax at the end of each month has been fastened by S.4-B read with R.4(b) and if within 7 days of the next following month, the amount of tax due for the earlier month is not deposited by the owner of the stage carriage vehicle, then the provisions of S.17 can be resorted to. Under sub-sec.(1) of S.17, a police officer in uniform or an officer of the Transport Department, not below the rank of Sub-Inspector, or an officer of the Commercial Taxes Department not below the rank of Inspector, may require the driver of the vehicle at any public place to stop the vehicle and the said vehicle may be required to remain stationery so long as it may reasonably be necessary to do so for the purpose of satisfying that the amount of tax, in accordance with the aforesaid provisions, has been paid. However, if the amount of tax due in respect of the vehicle has not been paid, then sub-sec.(2) of S.17 authorises an officer referred to in sub-sec.(2) to seize and detain such a vehicle and keep the vehicle in safe custody, until it is produced before the taxation officer of the concerned area within a reasonable time or the tax due in respect of the vehicle is paid. If after the seizure and detention of the vehicle, the owner of the vehicle makes payment of the tax due in respect thereof, then the vehicle has to be released and custody thereof has to be handed over to the owner of the vehicle. However, if the tax paid is not paid by the owner, then the officer proceeding to seize and detain the vehicle is required to produce the same before the taxation officer of the concerned area.
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