Decided on December 10,2003

P.K.BALAN Appellant


- (1.) The question that arises for consideration in all these cases is regarding the rate of motor vehicles tax to be applied to contract carriages having all India tourist permit operating regular inter- State service under the provisions of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Taxation Act (for short the Act). According to the petitioners, they are liable to pay tax only at the rate as provided under Section 3(1) read with Entry 7 of the Schedule to the Act. The petitioners also relied on circular issued by the Transport Commissioner in support of their stand. According to the respondents the petitioners have to pay tax for each entry of the vehicle in the State as provided under Section 3(5) proviso.
(2.) The very question came up for consideration before this Court earlier in a batch of writ petitions O.P. No. 8528/2002 and connected cases. In that case the question arose as to whether the petitioners are entitled to pay tax for each month or minimum for a quarter as demanded by the respondents. This Court passed an interim order dated 27-3-2002 in the said writ petitions directing the petitioners to pay tax for a quarter. Based on the above, petitioners were remitting tax per quarter in advance from March, 2002 onwards. Subsequently, 3 out of the said writ petitions O.P. Nos. 8528, 8535 & 8555 of 2002 were disposed of by a common judgment dated 18-12-2002. The single Bench after considering the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of the Act and also the provisions of Section 88(9) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 held that it is a matter of option to the petitioners either to pay tax for each entry depending on the period of stay during that entry or to pay quarterly tax as provided under the Act. The first writ petition O.P. No. 8086/2002 was also one among the said writ petitions and therefore the decision in O.P. No. 8528/2002 will govern the said case also.
(3.) The case of the petitioners in the other cases also would normally be governed by the said judgment. However, the Transport Commissioner, Thiruvananthapuram has issued a circular dated 12-11-1993 (Ext. P3 in O.P. 8086/2002). The said circular refers to an earlier circular dated 9-12-1991 clarifying that the facility provided under G.O. (P)81/91 PW &Tdated 23-11-1993 for payment of short time tax for 7 days/30 days in respect of public service vehicles registered and normally kept in any other State and authorised to ply in Kerala State under the authority of a special permit issued under sub-section (8) of Section 88 of the Act is applicable to tourist vehicles covered by permits issued under Section 88(9) of the said Act. By the present circular the said facility available to tourist vehicles of other States for the payment of short term tax was withdrawn. The circular provided that one month two months/quarterly tax may be levied from such vehicles considering their months of entry in the State. The earlier circular was modified to that extent. The petitioners relied on this circular and pressed for direction to the respondents to receive from the petitioners for their vehicles on remitting payment of tax for one month/two months/one quarter tax following Ext. P3 circular. The petitioners have also sought for direction restraining the respondents from demanding tax for each entry into the State if tax for a quarter is paid for the respective vehicles. Thus in short the petitioners want to pay the tax in respect of their contract carriages which are registered outside the State for use inside the State either monthly, by-monthly or per quarter. They have also sought for a direction restraining the respondents from demanding tax for each entry into the State if tax for a quarter is paid for the respective vehicles.;

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