At, High Court of Kerala
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE DAMA SESHADRI NAIDU
For the Petitioner: Dr. Sebastian Champappilly, P.A. Sainudeen, Dr. Abraham P. Meachinkara, George Cleetus, Advocates. For the Respondents: P. Santhosh Kumar, Government Pleader.
1. The petitioner's vehicle-Tarmac Coach-is being used in Cochin International Airport. When the vehicle broke down and was brought for repair, the transport authorities seized it under Ext.P1 Check Report. The cause for seizure is that the petitioner has neither registered the vehicle nor paid the motor vehicle tax under the Kerala Motor Vehicle Taxation Act.
2. The petitioner filed Ext.P13 application expressing his willingness to pay the tax, and sought one time settlement for tax as provided in Exts.P11 and P12 Government Orders. But the 2nd respondent, through Ext.P14, turned down the petitioner's request. Aggrieved, the petitioner has filed this writ petition.
3. The learned counsel for the petitioner submits that when the petitioner wanted to pay the tax in terms of the scheme notified by the Government, the respondent authority insisted that the petitioner should register the vehicle before his paying the tax. According to the learned counsel, the petitioner is not plying the vehicle in public place and that he is not liable to get the vehicle registered.
4. As to the question whether registration is a precondition for the authorities to accept the tax, the learned counsel has drawn my attention to Section 4(3)(b) of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Taxation Act, to contend that the authorities could receive the tax even without registration of a vehicle.
5. The learned Government Pleader, on his part, submitted that Section 39 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 mandates that without registration no person can use the vehicle. Since the petitioner has admittedly been using the vehicle in the International Airport, it is mandatory for him to register and then pay the tax.
6. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioner and the learned Government Pleader for respondents.
7. I reckon after perusing both the provisions that registering the vehicle operates in a different sphere from the necessity of paying the tax. Since Section 4(3)(b) of the Act permits the authorities to accept tax even for the non-registered vehicle, I do not see any legal impediment for the authorities to accept the tax. Tax is, after all, a matter of revenue, and I see no valid reason why the Government shies away from accepting money offered by the petitioner. They shall accept the tax.
8. Further, if the petitioner could not be permitted to operate the vehicle without registration as mandated under Section 39 of the Act, it is open for
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the authorities to pursue the issue under that provision and take appropriate steps, in which event the petitioner may have his remedies as has been confidently contended by the learned counsel for the petitioner. With these observation, I close the writ petition.