Kunaratnam v. Selliah
1963Present: H. N. G. Fernando, J.K.KUNARATNAM’ (Police Sergeant), Appellant, and E. SELLIAH,
S. C. 11511963—M. C. ChavaJcachcheri, 16606
Offence of carrying more than 7 passengers in a private car—Proof—“ Privatecar ”—“ Motor car ”—Motor Traffic Act, as amended by Act, No. 63 of 1961,ss. 5, 180 (2), 235, 240.
In a prosecution under section 180 (2) of the Motor Traffic Act for carryingmore than seven passengers in a private car, the accused was acquitted by theMagistrate on the ground that, according to the evidence, the vehicle hadseating arrangement for more than eight persons and, therefore, was not a“ motor car ”.
Held, that in the absence of evidence to the effect that the seating accom-modation had been increased after the date of the registration of the vehiclethe only material before the Court as to the seating capacity was to be foundin the certificate of registration containing the Commissioner’s determinationas to the class to which the vehicle belonged.
Obiter : In' a charge under section 180 of the Motor Traffic Act it is notpermissible to look outside the certificate of registration for the purpose ofdetermining whether or not a particular vehicle is a private car.
Appeal from a judgment of the Magistrate’s Court, Chavakachcheri.
S. A. Pullenayegum, Crown Counsel, for the Complainant-Appellant.
No appearance for the Accused-Respondent.
Cur. adv. wit.
H. N. G. FERNANDO, J.—Kunaratnam v. Selliah
June 27, 1963. ' H. N. Q. Fernando, J.—
This was a prosecution for an alleged offence against section 180 (2)of the Motor Traffic Act as amended by Act No. 63 of 1961. Thevehicle was registered on 17th February, 1960 as a private car and itsseating capacity as specified in the certificate of registration was 7 personsexcluding the driver.
Upon the facts, there is no doubt that 17 passengers were carried onthe vehicle on the date of the alleged offence, and the Magistratewould undoubtedly have convicted the Accused of carrying more than7 passengers, but for a rather interesting construction he has placedon the relevant provisions of the Act.
“ Private car ” is defined in section 240 of the Act as a “ motor carregistered as a private car ”. The expression “ motor car ” is defined
as “a motor vehicle, not being awhich is constructed
or adapted for the carriage of not more than 8 persons ”. In consideringthe definition of private car, the Magistrate holds that in order to be a“private car ” a vehicle must firstly be a motor car and must secondlybe registered as a private car. He agrees that the second condition isfulfilled, but considers that the first question has yet to be determined,namely, whether the vehicle is “ constructed or adapted for the carriageof not more than 8 persons ”. The evidence being to the effect that thereare seating arrangements for the accommodation of more than 8 persons,he reaches the conclusion that this vehicle is not a motor car.
An examination of the definition in section 240 of the several differenttypes of motor vehicles shows that all the definitions taken togetherare intended to be an exhaustive list of all types of vehicles for the purposesof the application of the Act to vehicles. In regard to passengercarrying vehicles, a main line of distinction is drawn between thoseintended for the carriage of persons for a fee or reward and those notso intended. In the latter case • the prefix “ private ” is generallyemployed in the Act. Of these private vehicles, some are classified asmotor cycles, ambulances and invalid carriages, and apart from the typesjust mentioned, a vehicle which is “ private ” has to be registeredeither as a coach or as a car, the distinction between them being madeby reference to the question whether the vehicle is constructed or adaptedfor the carriage of more than 8 persons or not more than 8 persons.Section 6 of the Act deals with the registration of cars and coaches.
Section 235 provides that when any question, as to the class to whicha motor vehicle of any type or classification should be deemed to belong,arises in connection with a registration or licensing of the vehicle, thedecision of the Commissioner on that question shall be final andconclusive. At the stage therefore when the Accused’s vehicle wasregistered as a “ private car ”, the Commissioner finally and conclusivelydecided in connection with that registration that the vehicle is a carand not a coach. But the learned Magistrate in this case has formed theopinion that the determination is not conclusive for purposes other than
H. N. G. FERNANDO, J.—Kunaratnam v. Scilia h
that of registration and that accordingly if the seating accommodationis subsequently altered, a vehicle may subsequently be regarded asnot being a car ; even if this opinion be correct, there was no evidencein this case to the effect that the seating accommodation had beenincreased after the date of registration of the vehicle, and in the absenceof such evidence the only material before the Court as to the seatingcapacity was to be found in the certificate of registration containingthe Commissioner’s determination.
For this reason alone the Magistrate’s order of acquittal cannot beupheld. In addition, it is perhaps useful for me to express disagree-ment with the opinion expressed by the learned Magistrate. It willbe seen that section 5 provides that a motor car may be registered as aprivate car or as a hiring car, and that a motor coach may be registeredas a private coach or as an omnibus. The definitions in section 240 ofa “ private car ” as a motor car registered as a private car and of a“ private coach ” as a motor coach registered as a private coach, merelyinvoke the respective classifications which are determined at the timeof registration. In other words, the definition declares to be a privatecar that which has been registered as a private car under section 5.Although the definition does contain the' expression “ motor car ”,that expression is used in the definition only because what is registrableas a private car under section 5 is that which has been determined forthe purpose of section 5 to be a motor car. I do not therefore agree withthe Magistrate that in a charge under section 180 it is permissible to lookoutside the certificate of registration for the purpose of determiningwhether or not a particular vehicle is a private car.
The order of acquittal is set aside. I convict the Accused and sentencehim to a fine of Rs. 100/-.
Acquittal set aside.
K. KUNARATNAM (Police Sergeant),Appellant, and E. SELLIAH, Respondent