Bam Labhaya, Ag. C.J.
1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for Writs of Mandamus and Certiorari. It questions the competency of the order of the State Transport Authority, Assam, dated 21-6-52.
2. The facts leading to the petition are as follows: Tenders were invited for Contract Carriage (Taxi) Permits in Cachar region. The petitioner submitted an application for a permit. The Regional Transport Authority, Cachar, granted one taxi permit to the petitioner for a period of 3 years with effect from 15-4-52. The order was duly communicated to the petitioner. In pursuance of the terms contained in the order, the petitioner paid the requisite permit fee and a permit was issued in her favour. The petitioner then purchased a vehicle No. ASA 1028 for a sum of Rs. 7000/- and began plying it. On 2-7-52 the petitioner was informed by a letter from the Secretary, State Transport Authority, Assam, that Subhas Chandra Sen, respondent 2, had been granted a permit in her place. In pursuance of the appellate order, the Regional Transport Authority, Cachar, directed the petitioner to surrender her permit by a letter dated 16-7-52.
3. The petitioner challenges the order of the appellate authority on the ground that it was passed without any notice to her and, in consequence, she had no opportunity to represent her case. The order, therefore, was in excess of the jurisdiction of the Appellate Authority. The procedure it adopted is also challenged as opposed to the fundamental principles of natural justice.
4. The petition is supported by an affidavit. The facts stated in the petition have not been challenged on behalf of the respondents. The order of the Regional Authority granting a permit to the petitioner was admittedly appealable under Section 64, Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. An appeal was preferred by respondent 2, Subhas Chandra Sen. In his appeal, Shrimati Suprava Dev Roy, the present petitioner, was placed in the list of respondents. The Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority, Cachar, was also impleaded. Besides him, there were 6 other respondents, including the present petitioner.
5. The allegations that no notice was sent to the petitioner who was a party to the appeal, and that she was not heard in support of the order of the Regional Authority which was in her favour, are not disputed. The only question is--whether the Appellate Authority was under an obligation to grant a hearing to the present petitioner before substituting Subhas Chandra Sen in place of the petitioner as a grantee of the permit issued to her.
6. Section 64, Motor Vehicles Act provides that a person aggrieved by the refusal of the Provincial or a Regional Transport Authority to grant a permit, may within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner, appeal to the prescribed authority who shall give such person and the regional authority an opportunity of being heard. A hearing has thus been provided for. The person aggrieved by the order as also the regional authority have both to be heard. This statutory obligation has been placed on the Appellate Authority. The learned advocate for the petitioner argues that the provision clearly indicates that the proceeding is quasi-judicial in character. A judicial approach is contemplated and this has been expressly provided for. The nature of the proceeding being judicial or quasi-judicial, an obligation to hear any party who may be adversely affected by the appellate order, would be there according to well-recognised principles of natural justice, even though it is not expressly provided for.
7. The Appellate Authority had a judicial function to perform. Its decision could affect the petitioner who was a party to the proceeding. An order in her favour could not have been reversed without hearing her, as Authorities acting judicially or in a quasi-judicial manner are bound also by principles of natural justice. She was not heard. There has, therefore, been a failure to follow a well-recognised principle of natural justice. The learned counsel has relied on--'Natesa Pillai v. Central Road Traffic Board, Egmore, Madras', AIR 1952 Mad 39 (A), in support of his contention. In this case, it was held that
'The Regional Transport Authority, in the exercise of his original jurisdiction, and the Central Road Traffic Board and the Government in discharge of their appellate and revisional jurisdiction, are bound to act judicially.'
The learned Government Advocate does not dispute the proposition that the State Transport Authority had a judicial function to perform. It was a quasi-judicial body, and in the exercise of its appellate function, a judicial approach was contemplated. As held by Their Lordships of the Supreme Court in--'Parry and Co. Ltd., Dare House, Madras v. Commercial Employees Association, Madras', AIR 1952 SC 179 (B), if an inferior Tribunal vested with power to exercise judicial or quasi-judicial functions, adopts a procedure which is contrary to principles of natural justice, its order may be quashed by a Writ of Certiorari. The fact that Section 64, Motor Vehicles Act does not expressly require that a person to whom a permit has been granted, should be heard if his permit is to be cancelled, does not affect the obligation to observe principles of natural justice in proceedings of a judicial or quasi-judicial character. The Appellate Tribunal in this case, therefore, has exceeded its jurisdiction in cancelling the petitioner's permit and granting the permit to Subhas Chandra Sen, respondent 2, in her absence and without giving her any hearing. The appellate order, therefore, is liable to be quashed, and we order accordingly. We further direct that the appellate authority shall dispose of the appeal after hearing all parties interested in the result of the appeal, including the present petitioner against whom the appeal is directed. The Rule is made absolute.
8. I agree.