NAND KISHORE CHOUDHURY Vs. HOWRAH MUNICIPALITY
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
Nand Kishore Choudhury
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(1.)This revisional application is directed against the conviction of the Petitioner Nanda Kishore Choudhury under Section 492 of the Calcutta Municipal Act, 1923, as extended to Howrah, taken with Section 175, for failure to renew his trade license for the year 1956-57. The Petitioner carries on business as an occupier of a godown or a depot at No. 1, Charaghat 1st Bye Lane, Howrah. The Petitioner was carrying on business by storing foodgrains at the aforesaid godown for some years, and for 1954-55, and 1955-56, he had been assessed to trade license fee of Rs. 25 per year under Section 175 of the Act, being classed under item 43 of class V. of Schedule VI of the Calcutta Municipal Act as extended to Howrah. The health license fee payable under Section 386 of the Act during these years was Rs. 50 per year. On January 28, 1957, the Petitioner was served with a notice by the License Officer of Howrah Municipality wherein he was informed that for the year 1956-57, his trade license in respect of his business as occupier of the godown at No. 1, Charaghat 1st Bye Lane, Howrah, for the purpose of storing of grains was Its. 50 and he was directed to pay the tax within 7 days. In other words, the License Officer purported to enhance trade license fee from Rs. 25 to Rs. 50 per year with effect from 1956-57. The Petitioner did not pay license fee at the enhanced rate. He sent a cheque for Rs. 75 in payment of his trade license fee at Rs. 25 and health license fee at Rs. 50, i.e., he tendered license fee at the old rate for the year 1996-57. But this cheque was returned by the License Officer. As the Petitioner did not pay the fees at the enhanced scale, ultimately the present prosecution under Section 492 taken with Section 175 of the Calcutta Municipal Act as extended to Howrah was initiated against him, the issue of summons being ordered on July 16, 1957, by the Magistrate concerned.
(2.)The Petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charge and contended that he was not liable to pay the license fees at the enhanced rate. The learned Magistrate however found that the increased demand had been made on the basis of the fair letting value of the portion of the godown in the occupation of the Petitioner, such fair-letting value being Rs. 110 or, i.e., above Rs. 100. When the fair-letting value of the premises in the occupation of the party concerned is over Rs. 100 per month, he comes under class IV of the table of license fees forming part of Schedule VI of the Act, and in respect of the Petitioner's trade or business of storing grains in the godown, the proper item is item 25 under class IV and therefore trade license is Rs. 50 per year. The learned Magistrate also held that in enhancing the license fee, Municipality followed the proper procedure laid down in the rules under Schedule VI, by issuing a notice under Rule 12; and that the Petitioner had not filed an appeal within 30 days of the service of notice on him as required under Rules 14 and 15 of the Rules under Schedule VI and therefore the assessment by the municipality had become final, and the Petitioner was not entitled to challenge the same in the criminal proceeding. On the merits also, the learned Magistrate came to the finding that the municipality was right in holding that the fair letting value of the portion of the godown in the occupation of the Petitioner was about Rs. 110 per month, and therefore the classification as made by the Municipality for the purpose of trade license fee was quite correct. The learned Magistrate convicted the Petitioner under Section 492 read with Section 175 of the Calcutta Municipal Act, 1923, as extended to Howrah, and sentenced him to pay a fine of Rs. 150 in default, simple imprisonment for 30 days.
(3.)The Petitioner filed an appeal before the learned Sessions Judge, Howrah; but the appeal was dismissed. The Petitioner has thereafter filed this revisional application.
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