Somnath Iyer, J.
1. We are concerned in this Writ Petition with the timings assigned to the petitioner who is an inter-State permit holder. He operates his stage carriage on a route part of which lies in the state of Andhra Pradesh and the other part in the State of Mysore. This permit was granted to him in the first instance by the Regional Transport Authority of Chittoor for the route between Arogyavaram in the State of Andhra Pradesh and Chikballapur in the State of Mysore. At one stage the petitioner sought an extension of this route from Chikballapur to Doddaballapur in the State of Mysore over a distance of eighteen miles, and, when he sought such extension he also sought an alteration of the timings assigned to him.
2. On June 29, 1966 the Regional Transport Authority, Chittoor granted the variation in timings sought by the petitioner overruling the objections of respondent 2 who was also an inter-State permit holder operating between Madanapalli in the State of Andhra Pradesh and Kyalanur in the State of Mysore. The distance between Arogyavaram and Madanapalli, both of which were in the State of Andhra Pradesh, is four miles and the common route of the petitioner and respondent 2 is the route between Madanapalli in Andhra Pradesh and Chintamani in the State of Mysore, over a distance of 36 miles, according to the plan supplied to us by the petitioner. The assignment of new timings by the Regional Transport Authority of Chittoor required the counter-signature of the regional Transport Authority of Kolar, and so, an application was made by the petitioner on September 20, 1966 for such counter-signature. Since there was an inter-State agreement covering the grant of the permit which was granted to the petitioner, the procedure prescribed by Section 57 of the Motor Vehicles Act with respect to publication and objections stood dispensed with under Section 63(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act. But respondent 2 nevertheless intervened in the proceeding relating to such counter-signature and the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority who was delegate of the power conferred upon the Regional Transport Authority who was delegate of the power conferred upon the Regional Transport Authority with respect to counter-signature repelled the objections of respondent 2 to the application for counter-signature which was granted.
3. From this grant of counter-signature to the altered timings there was a revision petition presented by respondent 2 to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal under Section 64-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, and, by an order made by that Tribunal on December 21, 1966 the altered timings in respect of which there was a counter-signature by the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority was set aside and the petitioner was directed to operate his stage carriage in accordance with the old timings in the Kolar region.
4. The petitioner who is aggrieved by the order made by the Tribunal in that way challenges it in this writ petition.
5. On behalf of the petitioner Mr. Narayana Rao made more than one submission. His first submission was that from the order made by the Secretary was that from the order made by the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority no revision petition could be presented under Section 64-A of the Motor Vehicles Act. His second submission was that even if it was possible for the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, which will be referred to as the Tribunal in the course of this order, to exercise revisional jurisdiction with respect to the order made by the Secretary of the regional Transport Authority, that revisional jurisdiction could not be exercised in the presented case in which no more than a pure question of fact across for investigation. His third submission was that the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority was bound to act in conformity with the directions issued by the State Transport Authority as provided by Rule 124 of the Mysore Motor Vehicles Rules, 1962 which will be referred to as the rules, and that an order made in obedience to that direction which according to Mr. Narayana Rao was issued by the State Transport Authority was impervious to the exercise of revisional jurisdiction by the Tribunal. His last submission was that in the consideration of the question whether the altered timings sought by the petitioner could be assigned to him, the Tribunal allowed itself to be influenced by an irrelevant consideration whether those altered timings were likely to affect or prejudice the priority enjoyed by respondent 2. The argument presented in this context was that the only matter which could be taken into account in respect of that matter was whether the interest of that matter was whether the interest of the general public would be served better by the alteration in timings and not whether an existing old operator was likely to be prejudiced.
6. It should be mentioned here that the Tribunal pointed lout in the course of its order that respondent 2 was an older operator than the petitioner, and that the permit under which respondent 2 was operating his stage carriage had been granted nearly 25 years ago, whereas the petitioner was a new-comer having commenced his operation only about eight years before the Tribunal made its order That the permit under which respondent 2 is operating his stage carriage was granted much earlier than the permit which was granted to the petitioner is undisputed, although it is explained to us by Mr. Narayana Rao appearing for the petitioner that respondent 2 is one of the subsequent transferees of that permit.
7. When the permit was granted to the petitioner in the first instance before he sought an extension of the route from Chikballapur to Doddaballapur, he was leaving Arogyavaram at 2.15 p.m., he was reaching Madanapalli at 3-45 p.m. and the State border at Rayalpad at 4-45 p.m. and he was reaching Chintamani at 6-40 p.m. The second respondent was leaving Madanapalli at 11-10 A. M. and Rayalpad at 3.55 p.m. and Chintamani at 5.40 p.m. So, at all points which were common to the routes of the petitioner and respondent 2, the time of arrival and departure of the second respondent was much earlier than that of the petitioner.
8. As a result, of the counter-signature to the altered timings assigned by the Chittoor Regional Transport Authority, the petitioner reaches Madanapalli at 2.30 p.m. and leaves that place at 2.45 p.m. According to the old timings the time of his departure from Madanapalli was 4 p.m., but now it has become advanced to 2.45 p.m., whereas the time of departure of respondent 2's stage carriage from Madanapalli is 3.15 p.m., half an hour later than the time of the petitioner's departure. Similarly at Rayalpad the petitioner's stage carriage departs at 3-10 p.m. whereas respondent 2's time to departure is 4 p.m. The original time of the petitioner's departure was 5 p.m., and so, he now enjoys priority to the extent of 1 hour and 50 minutes. Similarly at Chintamani the petitioner arrives now at 4.45 p.m., whereas he was arriving at 6.45 p.m., and respondent 2 arrives only at 5.40 p.m. The position with respect to the arrival and departure of the stage carriages of the petitioner and respondent 2 respectively is displayed by the following table which has been produced before us:--
Petitioner 2nd Respondent.Old New2-15 P. M. A. 12-15 P. M. Arogyavaram3-30 P. M. D. 12-40 P. M.3-45 P. M. A. 2-30 P. M. Madanapalli A. 11-10 A. M.4-00 P. M. D. 2-45 P. M. D. 3-15 P. M.4-45 P. M. A. 3-05 P. M. Rayalpad A. 3-55 P. M.5-00 P. M. D. 3-10 P. M. D. 4-00 P. M.6-40 P. M. A. 4-45 P. M. Chintamani A. 5-40 P. M.6-50 P. M. D. 5-00 P. M.
9. The complaint made before the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority on behalf of respondent 2 was that the new timings assigned to the petitioner has the effect of bringing about a deprivation of the priority of timings enjoyed by respondent 2 all along, and that a counter-signature with respect to the new timings proposed by the Regional Transport Authority should therefore be refused. But the Secretary to the Regional Transport Authority negatived this contention on the ground that there was some principle to which he had to give effect, namely, whether or not the priority of timings was being enjoyed by an earlier operator with respect to the operation of his stage carriage, it will be enough to maintain priority of his timings only at one terminus and not with respect to the other. In this context the Secretary said this:--
'It is seen from the revised timings granted by the R. T. A. Chittoor that his priority of timings over the applicant is maintained in the forward journey and only in the return journey the applicant has been granted priority of timings over this objector granting 2-45 p.m. as departure timing from Madanapalli over his objector who leaves Madanapalli towards Chintamani at 3-15 P. M. There is half an hour interval between the two operators and the general principle of maintaining priority at one end to each of the operators is maintained and I feel both equity and law goes in favour of the applicant. His objection is therefore overruled.'
10. The Secretary proceeded on the basis that even the revised timings assigned by him to the petitioner did not result in the deprivation of priority of timings with respect to the forward journey between Kyalanur in the State of Mysore and Madanapalli in the State of Andhra Pradesh, and that the deprivation was only with respect to the return journey from Madanapalli to Kyalanur. So he thought that, since with respect to the journey from the end the priority enjoyed by respondent 2 was continued, he could have no objection to the deprivation of the priority with respect to the return journey.
11. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal who did not concur in the view taken by the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority of Kolar was of the view that it was a principle supported by justice and reason that the 'priority' of the existing operators, as far as possible, is to be maintained whenever a subsequent grant or revision of timings is made.' This, in our opinion, is how we should understand what was said by the Tribunal although the Tribunal in that part of the order in which it made this observation mentioned that the maintenance of priority of the existing operators rested upon 'a fundamental principle of law and convention'. What, in our opinion, the Tribunal really thought was that such maintenance of priority of timings was demanded by reason and justice, although it employed phraseology which quite accurate.
12. Another reason assigned by the Tribunal for displacing the counter-signature granted by the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority was that which was advanced in the context of an argument presented by the Advocate for the petitioner, who argued before the Tribunal that a change in the timings assigned to the petitioner became necessary in consequence of certain timings which had been assigned to another operator named Devaraja Modaliar by the Regional Transport Authority of Bangalore. The Tribunal repelled this argument and pointed out that the timings assigned to Devaraja Modaliar had been set aside in appeal by the Mysore Revenue Appellate Tribunal and that the controversy relating to that matter had not come to an end.
13. The question is whether we can say that the order made by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal in the exercise of its revisional jurisdiction can be impeached either on the ground that the Tribunal could not have exercised any revisional jurisdiction with respect to the timings assigned by the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority or on the ground that the exercise of such revisional jurisdiction was not possible as contended by Mr. Narayana Rao whose argument was that the question before the Tribunal was no more than a pure question of fact.
14. The argument that the revision petition presented by respondent 2 was an incompetent revision petition was founded on the postulate that, since the grant of the inter-State permit the route of which was extended by the Chittoor Regional Transport Authority with respect to the inter-State agreement between the States of Mysore and Andhra Pradesh, the counter-signature of the Kolar Regional Transport Authority with respect to the timings assigned by the Chittoor Regional Transport Authority even in the Kolar region was mandatory and not open to discussion or consideration by the Regional Transport Authority of Kolar.
15. It is undisputed that with respect to the extended route of the petitioner there is such an inter-State agreement. The proviso to Section 63(3) of the Motor, Vehicles Act is that where a counter-signature to a permit granted by the authority of one State by the authority of the other State is enjoined by inter-State agreement, the provisions of Section 57 of the Motor Vehicles Act with respect to publication of notices calling for objections and the like stand dispensed with.
16. So it was argued that an inter-State agreement precludes resistance to counter-signature since such resistance is possible only through an objection under Section 57 adherence to which is statutorily dispensed with by the proviso and that it became the imperative duty of the regional Transport Authority of Kolar to countersign the permit and to assign the timings assigned by the Chittoor Regional Transport Authority. It was argued that that precisely was what was done by the Kolar Regional Transport Authority although before it did so, its secretary unnecessarily heard respondent 2 who had no right to intervene. It was said that the appeal to the revisional power created by Section 64-A was therefore unavailable.
17. We do not accede to this contention, which overlooks the distinction between the counter-signature of the inter-State permit and the counter-signature of its conditions. The effect of the proviso to Section 63(3) is that when there is an inter-State agreement, the counter-signature of the permit could not be opposed and so could not be refused. But Section 63(2) invests the counter-signing authority to add conditions to the permit to be counter-signed and to vary the conditions which the primary permit incorporates. That that power is an independent power uncontrolled by the duty to make the counter-signature is plain from Section 63(2) which reads:
'63 (1) ** ** ** ** ** ** **
Validation of permits for use outside region in which granted.
(2) A Regional Transport Authority when counter-signing the permit may attach to the permit any condition which 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.
** ** ** **'
Sub-section (3) of Section 63 and the proviso to it which do not assist a contrary interpretation read:
'63. ** ** ** ** ** ** **
(3) The provisions of this Chapter relating to the grant, revocation and suspension of permits shall apply to the grant, revocation and suspension of counter-signatures of permits:
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.
** ** ** **'
The words 'when counter-signing the permit' contained in sub-section (2) demonstrate that the power conferred by that sub-section is distinct from the act of counter-signature and that that power continues to be exercisable even when the counter-signature may be mandatory in a case which falls within the proviso to Section 63(3). That power has to be exercised in the ordinary way whether it is invoked by the grantee of the primary permit or by some one who complains about its conditions. In either case, the counter-signing authority has a duty to make a proper adjudication in that matter. The provisions of Section 63(2) do not fit into the argument that there can be no intervention even in that sphere, which if accepted, would preclude even the grantee of the permit to seek a variation of its conditions.
18. Now, Section 64-A under which respondent 2 presented the revision petition reads:--
'64-A. Revision:--The S. T. Authority may, either on its own motion or on an application made to it, call for the record on any case in which order has been made by a Regional Transport Authority and in which no appeal lies, and if it appears to the State Transport Authority that the order made by the Regional Transport Authority is improper or illegal, the State Transport Authority may pass such order in relation to the case as it deems fit:
** ** ** **'
19. The power of the State Transport Authority to which this Section refers now stands transferred to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal. And, from the discussion so far made, the Regional Transport Authority of Kolar Which was the counter-signing authority had the power to alter the conditions of the permit, although it could not decline its counter-signature. The assignment of timings being one such condition, it was under a duty when respondent 2 appealed to that power to investigate the propriety of the timings assigned by the Kolar regional Transport Authority and to make a proper disposition in that regard, And, under Section 64-A which empowers the exercise of revisional jurisdiction with respect to every order of the Regional Transport Authority which is improper or illegal, it was permissible for respondent 2 to invoke that revisional jurisdiction when the Secretary of the Kolar Regional Transport Authority negatived his opposition.
But, it was urged that even so, since the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority was clothed with the power with respect to the assignment of altered timings sought by the petitioner and that power was exercised in the materials before him, the decision reached by him was a decision on a pure question of fact with which interference in revision was impermissible. It was submitted that the Secretary depended upon the relevant circumstances and facts which in his opinion justified the counter-signature, and that that decision which was not fundamentally defective and was not either improper or illegal, could not be disturbed by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal. It was also urged that the Tribunal did not in so many words record a finding that the decision of the Secretary was either improper or illegal and that on the contrary it founded its view on the mistaken supposition that there was some kind of a right to priority in an existing old operator.
21. Now the revisional jurisdiction created by Section 64-A is available and could be exercised whenever the State Transport Appellate Tribunal is of the opinion that the order made by the Regional Transport Authority is improper or illegal. In Ramayya v. State of Andhra, AIR 1956 Andhra 217 the High Court of Andhra Pradesh made the elucidation that an order made by the Regional Transport Authority would be an improper order in a case where it contravened the principles of natural justice or is otherwise inequitable or manifestly unjust. With this elucidation which was accepted by this Court in W. P. No. 428 of 1965 (Mys) we respectfully agree and we are of the opinion that the view taken by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal was that the decision of the Regional Transport Authority was both inequitable and manifestly unjust.
22. This view was founded, as already observed, on the opinion entertained by the Tribunal that the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority was not right in thinking that there was no deprivation of the priority of an older operator so long as his priority at one end is maintained. It rested also on the further view that it was opposed to reason and justice that the right to priority of an old existing operator should be taken away when the grant of timings in made to a subsequent grantee.
23. We do not accept the view pressed on us by Mr. Narayana Rao that the prejudice caused to an old operator by the alteration of timings assigned to a new operator is an irrelevant consideration. That argument which was constructed on the provisions of Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act does not receive any support from its language, and, if an old operator has been enjoying priority of timings during a long period, it may be possible in a proper case to say that that priority should not be defeated by the grant of timings to a subsequent grantee of a permit. In the fixation of timings which should be done under clauses (iii) and (iv) of Section 48(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, one of the matters to be taken into consideration by the concerned authority is the priority of timings enjoyed by an existing operator, and, there can be no reason behind the argument that the prejudice which may be caused to him by the assignment of prior timings to a subsequent grantee is not a matter which can influence the fixation of timings.
24. There is nothing in the decisions of this court and of the High Court of Madras in United Transport Co. v. Regional Transport Authority, AIR 1964 Mys 26 and C. S. S. Motor Service v Madras State, : AIR1953Mad279 upon which Mr. Narayana Rao, depended which can amount to an enunciation to the contrary.
25. It was therefore open to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal to reach the conclusion that the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority made an improper decision which rested upon the view taken by him that respondent 2 could not insist on the maintenance of the priority in the timings which had been originally assigned to him. If the Tribunal thought that that aspect of the matter had been overlooked by the Secretary and that he was wrong in taking in the view that so long as respondent 2 enjoyed priority on one of the journeys he could be deprived of his priority on the other, we cannot substitute for that conclusion reached by the Tribunal a different opinion. That opinion rested on relevant considerations and we see no defect or error in the view taken by it such as would justify the exercise of our jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.
26. The next submission made to us was that there was a direction by the State Transport Authority to the Regional Transport Authority that the timings assigned by the Chittoor Regional Transport Authority should not be altered, and that there should be a counter-signature without the alteration of those timings.
27. Rule 124 of the Mysore Motor Vehicles Rules was the foundation of this argument. That rule provides that although the Regional Transport Authority may impose its own conditions when it makes the counter-signature to a permit, that power to impose conditions in that way is subject to the directions issued by the State Transport Authority in that behalf. It was pressed on us that the State Transport Authority had issued a direction in regard to the assignment of timings to the petitioner, and that the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority of Kolar was without power to even investigate the question whether the timings suggested by the Chittoor authority should or should not be assigned.
28. This argument fails for the reason that it is not proved that there was any such direction by the State Transport Authority to that effect. No material was placed before us which could justify the view that there was any such direction. The only material placed before us was a letter addressed by the Secretary of the State Transport Authority, Bangalore to the Secretaries of the Regional Transport Authorities of Kolar, Chitaldrug, Bangalore and Bellary in which they were requested to counter-sign the permits 'as per the lists enclosed.' The list mentions no more than the particulars of the route in respect of which counter-signatures had to be made and that list did not specify any timings.
29. The direction by the State Transport Authority which can fall within Rule 124 is a direction to which S. 44 refers and that direction is a direction which the State Transport Authority can issue only if it is founded on the direction by Government under Section 43, and for the purposes enumerated in that section. It is not proved that there was any such direction by the State Transport Authority which the Regional Transport Authority was bound to obey under the 124th Rule.
30. At one stage it was argued by Mr. Narayana Rao that the petitioner is exposed to considerable hardship in consequence of the order made by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal since he is bound to operate his stage carriage in the Andhra Pradesh region in accordance with the timings assigned by the Chittoor Regional Transport Authority and that if he does so, the continuity of the service would be broken and that the passengers would be exposed to great hardship and discomfort. But into this aspect of the matter, we can make no investigation.
31. We are, therefore, not satisfied that the impugned order made by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal was beyond its competence of that it suffers from any defect or infirmity which demands the exercise of our jurisdiction.
32. So, we dismiss this writ petition. No costs.
33. Petition dismissed.