D.M. Chandrasekhar, C.J.
1. This is an appeal from the order of Nesargi, J; in W. P. No. 5731 of 1977. The appellant and the respondents herein were the petitioner and the respondents respectively in the writ petition and they will hereinafter be referred to according to their positions in the writ petition.
2. The petitioner had made an application for grant of a permit to operate a stage carriage on an inter-State route. By its resolution dated 26/27-11-1976, the Karnataka State Transport Authority (hereinafter referred to as the K. S. T. A.) had granted such permit to the petitioner. Against the grant, respondents 3 to 11 preferred appeals to the Karnataka State Trans port Appellate Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as the Tribunal) which set aside that grant on the sole grounds that on the day when that resolution granting the permit was passed by the K. S. T. A., only the Chairman and non-official members thereof were present and that since none of the official members thereof was present, that resolution was invalid. The Tribunal remanded the case to the K. S. T. A. with a direction to consider the petitioner's application afresh along with other applications for the same route, which were ripe for hearing.
3. The petitioner impugned the judgment of the Tribunal before the learned single Judge who dismissed the writ petition upholding the decision of the Tribunal.
4. After examining the records of the K. S. T. A. the learned single Judge also held that the meeting of the K. S. T. A. on the day that resolution was passed, was not validly held as no notice of that meeting had been sent to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Intelligence and Railways) who was one of the two official members of the K. S. T. A., although none of the parties had pleaded in the writ petition that no notice of that meeting had been sent to the Deputy Inspector General of Police.
5. In this appeal, Sri M. Rangaswamy, learned counsel for the appellant, assailed the correctness of the view taken by the Tribunal and the learned single Judge that the K. S. T. A. could not transport any business when no official member was resent at its meeting. On the other hand, learned counsel for respondents 3 to 11 sought to support the view taken by the Tribunal and the learned single Judge.
6. In order to appreciate the rival contentions of learned counsel, it is necessary to set out the relevant provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') and the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Rules, 1963, (hereinafter referred to as 'the Rule') made thereunder.
7. Sub-section (1) of S. 44 provides, inter alia, that the State Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute for the State a S. T. A. Sub-section (2) of that Section provides, inter alia, that a S. T. A. shall consist of a Chairman who has judicial experience and such other officials and non-officials, not being less than two, as the Government may think fit to appoint. The proviso to sub-section (2) states, inter alia, that in the absence of the Chairman, a member of the S. T. A. may preside over the meeting thereof notwithstanding that such member does not possess judicial experience.
8. Rule 91 provides for conduct of business of the S. T. A. Sub-rule (3) of that Rule Provides that the quorum to constitute a meeting of the State Transport Authority shall be three members including the Chairman, sub-rule (5) of that Rule provides that all questions which may come up before the S. T. A. at any of its meetings, shall be decided by a majority of the members therein and that in every case of equality of votes, the Chairman shall cast a second time his vote.
9. None of the parties questioned the validity of R. 91. Such validity has been upheld by a Division Bench of this Court in G. T. Venkataswami Reddy v. Regional Transport Authority, Bangalore (AIR 1966 Mys 55).
10. In exercise of the powers conferred by S. 44 of the Act, the Government of Karnataka, by its notification dated 24-5-1974, reconstituted the K. S. T. A so as to consist of the Chairman two official members including the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Intelligence and Railways) and two non-official members.
11. It is common ground that at the meeting of the K. S. T. A. in which the resolution in question was passed, only the Chairman and two non-official members were present and neither of the official members was present.
12. As stated earlier, both the Tribunal and the learned single Judge took the view that though R. 9(3) provides that the quorum to constitute a meeting of the K. S. T. A. shall be three members including the Chairman, unless at least one official and one non-official member are present at such meeting, no business can be transacted in such meeting. Support for this view was sought to be derived from the decision of the Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No. 769 of 1969 (B. Rajagopala Naidu v,. Government of Andhra Pradesh). There, the validity of the resolution passed by a R. T. A. was challenged on the ground that the R. T. A. and the S. T. A. were so constituted as not including any non-official member. The Supreme Court held that the R. T. A. and the S. T. A. were not properly constituted in the absence of non-official members. What the Supreme Court said was relating to the constitution of the R. T. A. and the S. T. A. and not in regard to the effect of the absence of official or non-official members at any meeting. Hence, that decision cannot be authority for the proposition that even where the S. T. A. consists of both official and non-official members, the absence of official members are non-official members in a particular meeting, precludes it from transacting any business at such meetings.
13. The learned single Judge and the Tribunal have also relied on the decision in Thankachan v. Regional Transport Authority, Allepey (AIR 1968 Ker 26). There, the facts were these: A meeting of the R. T. A. was attended by the Chairman, two non-official members and two official members. After hearing the parties, there had been difference of opinion between the official and the non-official members. The latter wanted a postponement of the decision. This was apparently not agreed to by the official members including the Chairman. The non-official members thereafter left the meeting leaving a note with the Chairman and did not participate in the decision which was take by the Chairman and the two official members. A single Judge of the Kerala High Court held that as the decision of the R. T. A. had been taken by some only of the members who had heard the parties, it was not valid. Adverting to the decision of the Supreme Court in Rajagopala Naidu's case (supra) his Lordship observed thus:
'No doubt these decisions dealt with the constitution of the R. T. A. and not with its functioning. But these decisions throw some light as to the intention of the legislature which appears to be that the body must consist of official as well as non-official opinions and approaches which are likely to be divergent. It also insists that its membership must consist of a member with judicial experience and all these aspects are considered as not only necessary but as essential.'
14. The aforesaid decision of Kerala High Court is also distinguishable on facts inasmuch as both the official and the non-official members were present when the R. T. A. heard the parties, but only the Chairman and the official members decided the matter and the non-official members did not participate in such decision. Hence, the decision of the Kerala High Court cannot also be an authority for the proposition that the R. T. A. or the S. T. A. which consists of both official and non-official members, cannot transact any business at the meeting if all official or non-official members are not present at that meeting.
15. The learned single Judge and the Tribunal sought to derive support from the following observations of a Full Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Govt. of Andhra Pradesh v. Durga Suryanaryana : AIR1971AP192 :
'The learned counsel Smt. Amareswari contended that the quorum R. 163(2) does not expressly state in terms that of the three members one shall be a non-official. But it would be too much to infer a repugnancy by an inference that the non-official was sought to be excluded in the quorum rule. A harmonious construction is always the rule of Interpretation of Statutes and the rules made thereunder. As we are satisfied that it would be too much to infer an exclusion of a non-official from the quorum rule as there is no express mention thereof, we are reluctant to infer a repugnancy as is contended for. We are satisfied that the quorum rule is a reflection of S. 44(2), and we are certain that in the light of the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No. 769 of 1963(SC) which was referred to in the earlier part of the judgment the quorum rule was intended to be and has to be read as a true reflection of S. 44(2) and must include a non-official member. This contention of Smt. Amareswari has also to be rejected and is rejected.'
16. With great respects to their Lordships of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, we are unable to agree with their view, that merely because S. 44(2) provides that the S. T. A. and the R. T. A. should consist of both official and non-official members, the rule relating to quorum at a meeting of such Authority which does not expressly provide that among the minimum number of members constituting the quorum there should be at least one official member and one non-official member, should be construed as providing so by necessary implication. The constitution of the S. T. A. or the R. T. A. is different from the attendance of members thereof at its meetings.
17. The concept and significance of quorum have been explained thus by the Supreme Court in Punjab University v. Vijay Singh, : AIR1976SC1441 :
'By the quorum, a minimum number of members of the committee must be present in order that its proceedings may be lawful, but that does not mean that more than the minimum are denied an opportunity to participate in the deliberations and the decisions of the committee. Whenever a committee is scheduled to meet, due notice of the meeting has to go to all the members of the committee and it is left to each individual member whether or not to attend a particular meeting. Every member has thus the choice and the opportunity to attend every meeting of the committee. If any member considers the matter which is to be discussed or determined in a particular meeting as of such importance that he must make his voice heard and cast his vote, it is open to him and indeed he is entitled to attend the meeting and make his presence felt'.
All that S. 44(2) provides is that the S. T. A. or the R. T. A. should consist of both official and non-official members besides the Chairman, so that different points of view and varied experience of these two categories of members may be available for the deliberations of that authority. Once the S. T. A. or the R. T. A. is constituted so as to include both these two categories of members, each category of members will have opportunity to attend every meeting of that authority and put forth its respective point of view and make its voice heard and cast its votes. However, if such official or non-official members do not choose to be present, neither S. 44(2) nor R. 91 provides, expressly or by necessary implication, that the meeting of the S. T. A. or the R. T. A. cannot transact business in their absence.
18. S. 44(2) permits the S. T. A. or the R. T. being constituted so as to consist of the Chairman and only one non-official member and only are official member. In such an event, if the quorum rule provides that the Chairman and one other member will constitute the quorum, can it be said that such rule is invalid because it does not require the presence of both the official and the non-official members, at a meeting of that body to make the proceedings lawful? In our opinion, neither S. 44 nor R,. 91 can reasonably be construed as making it essential that both categories of members should be present to render the proceedings of a meeting of that authority lawful. Thus, we are unable to agree with the view taken by the learned single Judge and the Tribunal that the resolution of the K. S. T. A. granting permit to the petitioner, was invalid on account of the absence of both the official members in the meeting at which that resolution was passed.
19. Sri Rangaswamy next contended that the learned single Judge was not justified in holding that the aforesaid resolution was invalid on the ground that no notice of the meeting in which that resolution was passed, had been delivered to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Intelligence and Railways). Sri Rangaswamy submitted that the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Intelligence and Railways) was appointed as a member of the K. S. T. A. by his office and not by his name, that it was sufficient if a notice of the meeting of the K. S. T. A. addressed to him by his official designation, had been delivered on his behalf to his subordinate and that as a matter of fact the notice of the meeting in question had been so delivered.
20. When none of the parties had specifically pleaded that the notice of the meeting of the K. S. T. A. had not been delivered to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, this Court should not have embarked on a roving examination of the records of the K. S. T. A. to discover any procedural defects. In the absence of necessary averments in the pleadings, the K. S. T. A. had no opportunity to meet this point by showing that the person who had signed in token of having received the notice, did so on behalf of the Deputy Inspector General of Police.
21. In the circumstances, the learned single Judge was not justified in holding that the resolution of the K. S. T. A. granting the permit to the petitioner, was invalid on account of non-service of the notice of the meeting of K. S. T. A. on the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Intelligence and Railways).
22. Having taken the view that the resolution granting permit to the petitioner was invalid, on account of the absence of the official members in the meeting of the K. S. T. A. the Tribunal did not go into other questions arising in the appeals before it. Since we have not accepted this view of the Tribunal, those appeals should be remitted to it so that it may consider the other questions arising therein and dispose of those appeals afresh.
23. In the result, we allow this appeal, reverse the order of the learned single Judge, quash the impugned judgment of the Tribunal and remit those appeals to the Tribunal so that it may dispose of them afresh.
24. In the circumstances of the case, we direct the parties to bear their own costs in this appeal.
25. Appeal allowed.