Govinda Bhat, J.
1. In this writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India the petitioner has prayed for the issue of a writ in the nature of certiorari to quash the entire proceedings started by the first respondent, the Regional Transport Authority, Mangalore pursuant to its notification dated 10th January, 1959, and the order granting permits or counter-signatures to respondents 3 to 10 in the said proceedings and for a further direction to grant permits to the petitioner's vehicles after considering his applications in accordance with law. One more relief prayed for to direct the first respondent to grant the certified copy of the order made in favour of respondents 3 to 10 has become unnecessary since the copy of the relevant resolution has been furnished subsequent to the filing of the writ petition.
2. The petitioner and respondents 3 to 10 are carrying on transport business in Mangalore. The petitioner was plying eight lorries on Mangalore-Bombay route since the year 1956. The said lorries had permits issued by the Regional Transport Authority, Mangalore, valid for South Kanara District and they were plying in the Bombay State under temporary permits issued by the Regional Transport Authority, Mangalore, after obtaining the concurrence of the State Transport Authority, Bombay. For the purpose of his business, petitioner is maintaining an office in Bombay also.
3. For facilitating inter-State trade and commerce, the Governments of the State of Mysore andBombay entered into an arrangement for grant by each State, of 300 permits on inter-State routes lying in the said States. The provisions of the agreement were published under Notification No. H.D. 200 M. V. A. 57 dated Bangalore, 25th May, 1959, in the Mysore Gazette. The relevant portion of the notification reads thus:-
'In exercise of the powers conferred by subsection (i) of Section 43 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (Central Act IV of 1939), the Government of Mysore, are pleased to issue the following directions to the State Transport Authority, the draft of the said directions having been published in Part IV Section 2 (c) of the Mysore Gazette dated the 6th November, 1958, with Government Notification No. HD 200 (3) MVA 57 dated 27th October, 1958, the objections and suggestions received in respect of the said draft directions having been considered in consultation with the State Transport Authority and the representatives of the interests affected having been heard.
The State Transport Authority is directed to take necessary action to give effect to the following arrangement entered into with the Government of Bombay regarding inter-State operation of transport vehicle.
2. Public Carriers:- (a) The number of public carrier permits to be counter-signed by the Transport Authorities on routes in the other State shall not exceed 300. No permit shall be countersigned for more than three specific routes connecting specific terminals by the shortest routes. The permits may be counter-signed by the State Transport Authority if possible.
(b) The quota of 300 permits shall be divided by each State among the several regions in the State and the nominations along with the permits shall be sent to the reciprocating Transport Authority.
(c) The public carriers nominated for counter-signature of permits in the reciprocating State shall not be used for transport of goods between two points in the reciprocating State.
(d) The counter-signing Authority may insert a condition in accordance with Section 66 (2) (vii) of the Motor Vehicles Act empowering it to vary the conditions of counter-signature or attach thereto further conditions.'
Out of the quota of 300. 12 permits were allotted to Mangalore region. Even before the publication of the above notification, the Mysore State Transport Authority, on the basis of the draft notification published in the Mysore Gazette dated 6th November, 1958, had issued instructions to the Regional Transport Authorities, to call for applications for grant of permits for counter-signature by the Bombay State Transport Authority and pursuant to the said direction, the 1st respondent issued a notification dated 10th January, 1959, which reads thus:-
'Notification dated 10th January, 1959. Rc. No. 12822/A4/58.
It has been proposed to grant counter-signature for the 12 Public Carrier Permits of Mangalore Region for the Bombay State. All concernedare hereby informed that application in the prescribed form with the prescribed fees will be received by the undersigned at his office up to 5th February, 1959, for scrutiny and recommendation of their permits for being counter-signed for Bombay State, by the Bombay State Authorities.
(1) The operator should be a bona fide operator having business connection with the Bombay State merchants even prior to the Re-organization of the States (i.e., before 1st November, 1960).
(2) He should have been obtaining temporary permits or counter-signatures from time to time to continue his business in Bombay State.
(3) He should he a law-abiding citizen of India and an operator of status and should have been paying the taxes and other fees due to Government regularly.
(4) He should hold a permanent Public Carrier Permit valid till, the border region of the Mysore State, In case he has none and if be wants to take his vehicle to Bombay State permanently, he should obtain such a permit from his home region and then get it counter-signed for the border region.
(5) He should prove the bona fides of his business connections in the Bombay State.
Applications received after 5th February, 1959, will not he considered.
Secretary, R. T. A.'
In response to the said notification, the petitioner and respondents 3 to 10 besides others, filed applications in the prescribed form and paid the prescribed fee. When the said applications were filed, none of the applicants held a permanent public carrier permit valid till the border region of the Mysore State as required by clause (4) of the notification dated 10-1-1959. Their permits were valid only for the South Kanara Region. Under Column (4) of the application, the applicants were required to state the route or area for which the permit is desired. Against the said column, the applicants desired for permits on the Mangalore-Bombay route. On receipt o the applications, the first respondent did not publish the applications or the substance thereof as required by Sub-section (3) of Section 57 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The subject of the grants, however, was included in the agenda for the meeting of the first respondent and in the meeting held on 19-2-1959 a resolution was passed selecting the petitioner among others for being recommended for the grant of counter-signature by the Bombay Authority. At the said meeting, petitioner, and other applicants were present and they were heard. That resolution, however, was altered at a subsequent meeting held on 16-3-1959 by deleting the name of the petitioner. When the 1st respondent sent up its nominees to the and respondent, the latter observed that the selected operators had permits valid only for South Kanara District, but according to Clause (4) of the terms of the notification they should hold permits valid up to Mysore State border, and on that ground, the applications were returned to the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Mangalore.
Either under instructions from the Secretary of the 1st respondent or suo motu, the selected applicants applied for extension of the area of theirpermits up to the Mysore State border. The said applications, after due notification, were granted. On 24-10-1959, the first respondent resubmitted the applications of the selected operators, viz., respondents 3 to 10, to the 2nd respondent. The applications with the recommendations for grant ot counter-signatures to the permits of respondents 3 to 10 were sent by the and respondent, to the State Transport Authority, Bombay and on the basis of the said recommendation, the Secretary State Transport Authority, Bombay, purported to grant counter-signatures to their permits for the Mangalore Bombay route. Even before the grant of counter-signatures the petitioner preferred Writ Petition No. 1074/50 in this Court to prohibit respondents 1 and 2 from proceeding with the grant of the applications of respondents 3 to 10. But that writ petition was rejected on the ground that it was premature. After the grant of the counter-signatures the petitioner after unsuccessful attempts made to obtain certified copies of the orders passed by respondents 1 and 2 filed this writ petition on 8-4-1960.
4. The contention of the petitioner is that the action taken by respondents 1 and 2 on the applications received pursuant to the notification dated 10th January 1959 for grant of permits on the Mangalore-Bombay route, cannot be supported under any provision of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939- It is not disputed before us that the respondent No. 1 did not follow the procedure laid down by Section 57 of the Act while dealing with the applications for grant of public carrier permits. In support of his contention Shri Mohandas Hegde, learned counsel for the petitioner, relied on the decision of this Court in S. M. Shinde v. S. B. Bagli, Writ Petition No. 187 of 1962: (AIR 1963 Mys 261), wherein it is observed that the instructions given in that case by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal to the Regional Transport Authority, Bijapur, to follow the procedure prescribed by Section 57 for selecting the permit holders for grant of variation of the public carriers' permits by inclusion of the new route or routes lying in Maharashtra State and thereafter to forward the list of selections to the State Transport Authority, for securing counter-signatures to their permits by the Maharastra State Transport Authority, correctly indicates the procedure to be followed by the Regional Transport Authority, in dealing with the applications for inter-State permits under the arrangement entered into between two States.
In that case, the Regional Transport Authority, Bijapur, without following the procedure prescribed by Section 57(3) of the Act, had selected certain permit holders for being recommended to the State Transport Authority, Maharashtra, for grant of counter-signature. One of the aggrieved parties preferred a Revision Petition before the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, against the said recommendation. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal in its order referred to the facts relating to the inter-State Agreement, the instructions issued to the Regional Transport Authorities by the State Transport Authority and the relevant provision of the Act and came to the conclusion that the procedure adopted by the Regional Transport Authority Bijapur, in selecting some of the operators for recommending them for grant of counter-signatures to their original permits to ply in Maharashtra State was illegal as it was not covered by any of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act. Though this Court held that the Revision Petition before the State Transport Appellate Authority was incompetent, it was observed by this Court that the instructions given by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal correctly indicate the procedure to be followed by the Regional Transport Authority.
5. In view of the opinion expressed by this Court in the said writ petition, the action of respondents Nos. 1 and 2 cannot be supported. But on behalf of the respondents Nos. 3 to 10, their learned counsel contended that there is no order made by Respondent No. 1 or respondent No. 2 amenable to certiorari, that the counter-signatures by themselves constitute independent grants by the Maharashtra. State Transport Authority which is beyond the jurisdiction of this Court, and that the source of the power to grant counter-signature is Section 63(3) read with Section 56 of the Act and if counter-signature is granted pursuant to an inter-State agreement between two States, the procedure required to be followed under Section 57 is dispensed with by virtue of the proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 63. Shri N. T. Raghunathan, learned counsel for some of the respondents argued that the term 'counter-signature' has not been defined under the Act and if we read the definition of the term 'permit' in Section 2(20) with Sub-section (1) of Section 63, the counter-signature has to be construed as a permit. In order to correctly appreciate the contentions of the learned counsel for respondents 3 to 10 it is necessary to set out the definition of 'permit' and the provisions of Section 63.
Section 2(20):-- 'Permit' means the document issued by the State or Regional Transport Authority authorising the use of a transport vehicle as a contract carriage, or stage carriage, or authorising the owner as a private carrier or public carrier to use such vehicle'.
Section 63(1): Except as may be otherwise prescribed, a 'permit granted by the Regional Transport Authority of any one region shall not be valid in any other region, unless the permit has been counter-signed by the Regional Transport Authority of that other region, and a permit granted in any one State shall not be valid in any other State unless counter-signed by the State Transport Authority of that other State or by the Regional Transport Authority concerned.
Provided that a private carrier's permit, granted by the Regional Transport Authority of any one region with the approval of the State Transport Authority, for any area in any other region or regions within the same shall be valid in that area without the counter-signature of the Regional Transport Authority of the other region or of each of the other region concerned.
(2) A Regional Transport Authority when counter-signing the permit may attach to the permit any condition which it might have imposed if it had granted the permit, and may likewise vary any condition attached to the permit by the Authority by which the permit was granted.
(3) The provisions of this Chapter relating to the grant, revocation and suspension of permitsshall apply to the grant, revocation and suspension of counter-signatures of permit.
Provided that it shall not be necessary to follow the procedure laid down in. Section 57 for the grant of counter-signatures of permits, where the permits granted in any one State are required to be counter-signed by the State Transport Authority of another State or by the Regional Transport Authority concerned as a result of any agreement arrived at between the States.' (4) )(5) ) omitted as being unnecessary.(6) )
According to Shri Raghunathan, since Sub-section (1) of Section 63 declares that a permit granted in any one State shall not be valid in any other State unless counter-signed by the State Transport Authority of the other State and 'permit' has been defined to mean the document authorising the owner of a public carrier to use such vehicle, the counter-signatures granted by the Maharashtra State Transport Authority alone constitute the permits in the instant case and the recommendations made by respondents 1 and 2 were intended merely to aid the Maharashtra State Transport Authority to exercise its statutory powers. Shri Rangaswami, learned counsel for some of the respondents argued that the provisions of Chapter IV of the Act relating to the grant, revocation and suspension of permits are applicable to the grant, revocation and suspension of counter-signatures of permits and that by virtue of the proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 63, the necessity to follow the procedure laid down in Section 57 is dispensed with even in respect of the grant of the inter-State permit where counter-signatures are required to be granted as a result of an agreement arrived at between the States.
The contention of both the learned counsel, in our opinion, cannot be accepted as sound. A permit granted in any one State for a motor vehicle for use in both the States requires to be countersigned before the owner of the vehicle is entitled to use the vehicle in that other State. The grant of permit for the entire inter-State route has to be made by the Regional Transport Authority of the home State of the applicant for the permit. If the Regional Transport Authority or State Transport Authority of each State grants independent permits valid 'or use in the issuing State only, no question of granting counter-signature arises. In such cases, the permit issued by the authority of each State is an independent permit for an inter-State route or region only. But the Motor Vehicles Act provides for the grant of permits for inter-State routes lying in more than one State by the authority of the home State of the operator. But before the operator can use his vehicle on the portion of the route lying in another State he is required to obtain the counter-signature of the authority in that other State. The counter-signature has to he made on the primary permit granted by the authority of the home State.
The proviso to Sub-section (3) relied on by the learned counsel refers to the permits granted in one State for counter-signature by the other State. The said proviso does not dispense either with the grant of the permit by the home State of the operator nor with the procedure laid down by Sec-tion 57 for making such a grant. Since under the terms of the agreement the Transport Authority in the reciprocating State is required to counter-signature the permits agreed to between the States, the proviso dispenses with the procedure laid down in Section 57 for the grant of counter-signature only. The proviso does not dispense with the procedure laid down in Section 57 for the grant of what we may call the primary permits by the home State for an inter-State route. Indeed the proviso correctly understood proceeds on the basis that all questions or considerations relevant to grant of permits including the need for transport services on inter-state routes and their adequacy will have received the fullest consideration and examination by the Authority granting the primary permit in the light of the Inter-State Agreement.
6. Under the agreement entered into between the States of Mysore and Bombay, which is now Maharashtra, the quota of 300 permits shall be divided by each State among the several regions in the State and the nominations along with the permits shall be sent to the reciprocating Transport Authority. 12 permits were allotted to the Mangalore Region for inter-State routes lying between the States of Mysore and Maharashtra. Petitioner and respondents 3 to 10 and others were applicants for the grant of such permits. Instead of making a selection from amongst the applicants after following the procedure prescribed by Section 57, the first respondent recommended the permits of respondents 3 to 10 who hold permits valid only for Mysore State, for counter-signature by the Transport Authority in Maharashtra State. None of the respondents 3 to 10 were in possession of inter-State permits granted by the first respondent in order to entitle them to obtain counter-signatures on their permits. Hence what the Mangalore Authority has actually done could not be said to have been done pursuant to or in implementation of the Inter-State Agreement. Nor could it be said to be such as to enable the Authority of the Maharashtra State to act on or in accordance with the said Agreement.
7. Shri A.H. Anantharamaiya, learned counsel for some of the respondents urged that the petitioner has acquiesced in the proceedings of the first respondent, that he did not raise any objections when the applications wore considered for recommendation at the meeting of the Regional Transport Authority held on 19-2-1959 and as such the conduct of the petitioner disentitles him to any relief under Article 226 of the Constitution. The objection raised by the petitioner is not one purely resting on technicalities as contended by Shri Anantharamaiya. Nor are we concerned in this case purely with the rights or grievances of the petitioner as an individual operator. What is of vital importance from the point of view of public interest and the administration of law is that statutory authorities should act according to the provisions of the statute governing them. The failure to observe the procedure prescribed by Section 57 is a vital one and goes to the root of the matter. The provisions of Section 57 are mandatory and cannot be contravened by the Regional Transport Authority invested with the jurisdiction to grant permits or make selections from amongst theseveral applicants for the permits. The counter-signing Authority in Maharashtra which is required to give its counter-signatures to the permits recommended by the second respondent under the inter-State agreement, apparently proceeded on the assumption that the first respondent had issued permits for the routes from Mangalore to Bombay as specified in then respective applications. The grant of counter-signature becomes a mere formality when the permits are recommended by one of the reciprocating States under an inter-State agreement.
Though the counter-signing authority in the Maharashtra State is outside the jurisdiction of this Court, and as such beyond our jurisdiction, respondents 1 and 2, whose primary duty is to grant inter-State permits and make recommendations to the Maharashtra State Transport Authority for counter-signature, are within our jurisdiction. When it is brought to the notice of this Court that the statutory authorities within its jurisdiction refuse or neglect to perform the duty imposed on them by the statute it is the duty of this Court while exercising its jurisdiction under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution to compel the performance of public duties prescribed by the statute and to keep the subordinate and inferior bodies and tribunals exercising statutory functions within their jurisdictions. Respondents 1 and 2 on a total misunderstanding of the scope of their powers under the Act have followed a procedure unknown to law when they recommended the inter-State permits of respondents 3 to 10 for counter-signatures by the Bombay State Transport Authority, while purporting to give effect to the inter-State Agreement. The only manner in which the inter-State Agreement could be implemented is by the 1st respondent inviting applications for grant of permits for the Inter-State route or routes and making a selection from amongst the applicants or for variation of routes under existing permits so as to cover inter-state route or routes following the procedure laid down by Section 57 and thereafter recommending the permits so granted or varied for counter-signature by the Maharashtra State Transport Authority.
8. It has been argued that though we may make an order limited to quashing or setting at nought the action and/or orders of the Mangalore Authority, such an order will have the effect of nullifying an order of the Bombay Authority which is beyond our jurisdiction. We think this argument is fallacious. Firstly in the circumstances of this case the action of neither the Mangalore nor the Bombay Authority is at all operative or of any effect in the eye of law. Secondly even it the Inter-State Agreement is purported to have been implemented in the manner we have pointed out to be proper, there can be no doubt that the effective and operative order would be the grant of the inter-state permit by the Mangalore Authority functioning within our jurisdiction and the counter-signature by the Bombay Authority was only an automatic formality necessarily consequential on the order of grant by the Mangalore Authority.
9. For the above reasons, we hold that the resolution passed by the first respondent dated16-3-1959 under Subject No. 11 recommending theinter-State permits of respondents 3 to 10 for counter-signature and the action of the second respondent forwarding the said recommendations to the Maharashtra State Transport Authority are without any legal basis or authority and wholly ineffective as steps taken in implementation of the Inter-State Agreement, Consequently, we issue a direction to the first respondent to take fresh steps in implementation of the Inter-State Agreement is the manner indicated above, by inviting fresh applications for appropriate relief by way of grant or variation of permits as the case may be, dealing with such applications following the procedure prescribed by Section 57 of the Motor Vehicles Act and thereafter forwarding the necessary number of selected permits through the State Transport Authority of this State to the appropriate Authority in the Maharashtra State for counter-signature.
10. We make no order as to costs.
11. Petition allowed.