Somnath Iyer, J.
1. On June 30, 1967, the Regional Transport Authority, Chittoor, in the State of Andhra Pradesh, granted a permit to respondent 3 to operate his stage carriage on an inter-State route between Tumkur and Thirupathi which is in the State of Mysore. Part of that route between Mulbagal and Doddaballapura which lies within the State of Mysore, became a notified route under a Scheme called the Kolar Scheme which was published on January 25, 1968, after It received approval under Section 68-D of the Motor Vehicles Act.
2 Meanwhile, respondent 3 had made an application to the State Transport Authority, Bangalore, on September 5, 1967, for its counter-signature under Section 63 of the Motor Vehicles Act in respect of the route which was within the Mysore State, That counter-signature became necessary by reason of the provision contained in Section 63(1) of the Act that a permit granted by one State shall have no validity in another State unless it is counter-signed by the concerned Transport Authority of that State.
3. But, the Mysore State Transport Authority by an order made by it on March 2, 1968, refused counter-signature on the basis of the exclusion of private operators from the nationalised routes, But, in the appeal preferred to it by respondent 3, the Revenue Appellate Tribunal directed the State Transport Authority to countersign the permit, and, it is this direction which is called in question in these three writ petitions.
4. The petitioner in Writ Petition No. 1443 of 1968 is an operator on the same route under an inter-State permit granted to him by the concerned Mysore State Transport Authority. The petitioner in Writ Petition No. 1456 of 1968 is the Mysore State Road Transport Corporation. The Petitioner in Writ Petition No. 1643 of 1968 was one of those who opposed the counter-signature.
5. These three petitioners ask us to quash the order made by the Revenue Appellate Tribunal on the principal ground that the exclusion of respondent 3 from the notified route between Mulbagal and Doddaballapura is so complete and effective that the State Transport Authority had no power to countersign the primary permit granted to respondent 3.
6. In the appeal before the Revenue Appellate Tribunal in which the impugned order was made by it, the Petitioner in W.P. No. 1443 of 1968 was respondent 3, the Corporation which is the petitioner, in W.P. No. 1456 of 1968 was respondent 6 and the petitioners in W.P. No. 1643 of 1968 were respondents 4 and 5. In its order the Tribunal made the observation that the opposition to the counter-signature sought by respondent 3 emanated only from the Corporation, and that the other respondents before it advanced an argument only with respect of timings. The petitioners in W.P. No. 1643 of 1968 state in their affidavit that that observation made by the Tribunal is inaccurate, and that what was done by those petitioners was to adopt the argument advanced on behalf of the Corporation which opposed the counter-signature. 7. However that may be, since the Corporation, even according to the Tribunal, did oppose the counter-signature in the appeal preferred to the Tribunal on the ground of exclusion which the Kolar Scheme incorporates, and that question arises in all the three writ petitions, we proceed to consider the correctness of the conclusion reached by the Tribunal that that exclusion had no impact on respondent 3.
8. The reason why the Tribunal Reached that conclusion was that the
'(d) Whether the services are to be operated by the State Transport Undertakings to the exclusion, complete or partial of other, persons or otherwise.
9. Since the scheme prepared under Section 68-C of the Motor Vehicles Act may provide for complete or partial exclusion of private operators, it is clear from this part of the scheme that the exclusion which the Kolar Scheme incorporated was not a complete exclusion, and that in the case of 'existing permit holders on the inter-State routes' to whom Sub-clause (a) appearing against Clause (d) of the scheme refers, there was no exclusion, and that the Corporation could not exclude them from operation on an inter-State route,
10. The meaning of this exemption created is that, if on the date on which the approved scheme commenced to operate, there was a person who was a holder of an inter-State permit, he is unaffected by the exclusion provided for by the scheme.
11. The question which the Tribunal, therefore, had to decide was whether respondent 3 was the holder of an inter-State permit on the date on which the scheme came into being. It came to the conclusion that he was, and, the ground on which that conclusion was founded was that, under an agreement entered into between the Governments of Andhra Pradesh and Mysore State with respect to inter-State operation, the concerned Transport Authority of the one State was under a duty to grant counter-signature to an inter-State permit granted by the other State. It also thought that notwithstanding the fact that the State Transport Authority in the State of Mysore deferred the consideration of the question whether respondent 3 was entitled to the counter-signature sought by him until the Kolar Scheme commenced to operate, there was an acquisition of the right by respondent 3 to such counter-signature even after the scheme came into force, and that he therefore fell within the exemption.
12. It is the correctness of this view which is assailed before us, and it was contended for the Corporation by Mr. Krishna Rao that the view taken by theKolar Scheme 'exempted' an existing permit holder on the inter-State route from the complete exclusion of private operators which was provided for by Clause (d) of the Scheme. The relevant part of that clause reads:--
The State Transport undertaking will operate services on all the routes to the complete exclusion of other persona except that--
(a) the existing permit holders on theinter-State routes, may continue tooperate such inter-State routes, sub-ject to the condition that their permitshall be rendered ineffective for theover-lapping portions of the notifiedroutes; * * * * *'
Tribunal overlooks the provisions of Section 63 or the other relevant provisions of the Act such as Sections 2(20), 42, 45. 46. 47 and 48.
13. Now, Section 63 which regulates the counter-signature with respect to a permit granted by one regional authority in respect of a permit which authorises operation in more than one region and also with respect to a permit granted by the transport authority of one State in respect of an inter-State route part of which falls within another State reads:--
'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 State 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 regions concerned.
* * *
(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.'
14. The clear provision which Sub-section (1) of the section incorporates is that, if the Regional Transport Authority of one region of a State grants a permit which is effective in another region of that State, that permit, until it is counter-, signed by the concerned authority of the other region, has no validity in that region, but is efficacious only in the region the Regional Transport Authority of which granted the permit. But we are not concerned in these cases with that part of Sub-section (1) since the permit granted by the Chittoor Regional Transport Authority to respondent 3 was not an inter-regional permit but was an inter-State permit.
15. In respect of an inter-State permit what that sub-section further provides is that that permit granted by the authority of one State shall not be valid in the other Stated unless the concerned 'authority of the other State affixes its counter-signature to it, and, it is this part of Sub-section (1) which has relevance to the question which we have to decide.
16. It is common ground that, when the Kolar Scheme after it received approval under Section 63-D, was published, the inter-State permit which had been granted by the Chittoor Regional Transport Authority had not been yet countersigned by the State Transport Authority of Mysore which had the power to affix such counter-signature at the relevant point of time. It may be recalled that the Chittoor authority granted the inter-State permit on June 30, 1907 and the application for counter-signature to the State Transport Authority of Mysore was made only on September 5, 1967. That application was still pending and had not been disposed of when the Kolar Scheme was published on January 25, 1968 after it received approval under Section 68-D.
17. It has been explained by Mr. Narayan appearing for respondent 3 that although the Chittoor Regional Transport Authority passed its resolution for the grant of the permit to respondent 3 on June 30, 1967, the communication of that resolution was made only on September 1, 1967. But we think that that, aspect of the matter has really no materiality in the circumstances of the present case.
18. So, on January 25, 1968 when the Kolar Scheme commenced to operate, the counter-signature for the inter-State permit granted by the Andhra Pradesh State Authority had not yet been granted or made by the State Transport Authority of Mysore. The question is whether in that situation respondent 3 could make a claim to the exemption which the Kolar Scheme created in favour of inter-State operators to which it refers in Sub-section (a) which appears against Clause (d) of the scheme.
19. That exemption, it will be seen, is available to 'existing permit holders on, the inter-State routes'. While it was asserted by respondent 3 that, whether there was counter-signature or not by the Mysore State Authority, respondent 3 became an existing permit holder on an inter-State route within the meaning of that expression occurring in the scheme when the Andhra Pradesh State authority granted him an inter-State permit, it was equally strongly maintained by the petitioners before us that the status of an inter-State permit holder can be attained by the grantee of an inter-State permit by the authority of one State only at the point of time when that inter-State permit is counter-signed by the authority of the other State. It is however manifest that an operator who can claim exemption should be the holder of an inter-State permit on the date when the scheme commenced to operate.
20. We do not accede to the argument advanced by Mr. Narayaria Rao appearing in W.P. No. 1443 of 1968 that that inter-State permit holder should have by then also commenced his operation on the inter-State route. We do not think that that construction suggested by him receives support even from the words 'may continue to operate such inter-State routes' occurring in Sub-clause (a) which appears against Clause (d) of the scheme. What earns the exemption created by that Sub-clause is the right flowing from an inter-State permit, whether or not on the basis of that inter-State permit the operation on such inter-State route has been commenced. All that the words 'may continue to operate' mean is that the holder of an inter-State permit, if he held one when the scheme commenced to operate, shall have the right to operate on the inter-State route in the same way in which he would have been entitled to operate had there been no exclusion such as the one which the scheme creates.
21. Any other view would lead to the strange result that, if the holder of an inter-State permit had been unable to put his stage carriage on the route by reason of the fact that the inter-State permit became effective a very short time before the scheme commenced to operate, or by reason of the fact that such operation had become difficult on account of external circumstances over which he had no control such as a break down or a strike, the exemption created by the scheme would become unavailable to him. An interpretation resulting in such consequences, which Mr. Krishna Rao very rightly did not support, is in our opinion quite unacceptable.
22. So it is not the commencement of operation on the strength of an inter-State permit that earns the exemption, but the right to commence such operation on the basis of such inter-State permit of which the operator must be a holder at the relevant point of time. The question is whether respondent 3 was one. The answer to this question depends upon the interpretation which we should place upon the relevant statutory provisions contained in Section 63,
23. The basic assumption made by the Tribunal before it proceeded to embark upon an elucidation of those provisions was that there was an inter-State agreement between the Governments of the Mysore and the Andhra Pradesh States under which the two Governments entered into a reciprocal agreement that each Government shall grant an inter-State permit with respect to the inter-State route between Tuinkur and Tirupati or between Tirupati and Tumkur. What was also further observed by the Tribunal was that under that agreement the Government of one State agreed to countersign the inter-State permit granted by the other State.
24. Although at one stage the advocates appearing for the petitioners contended before us that the Tribunal was in error in proceeding upon this assumption, since no evidence was produced before the State Transport authority with respect to any such inter-State agreement, it is seen from the affidavit produced in these writ petitions that the petitioners do not controvert the correctness of the statement contained in the Tribunal's order that there was an inter-State agreement like the one to which it refers. So, we proceed to discuss the question arising before us on the hypothesis that there was such an agreement, and, the question which therefore arises is whether that agreement can assist the claim made on behalf of respondent 3 that on the date when there was a grant of the inter-State permit by the Andhra State Transport Authority he became an inter-State permit holder.
25. Now, Section 63(1) says that, if an inter-State permit is granted by the authority of one State it shall not be valid in the region of another State until it is counter-signed by the authority of that other State. The clear meaning of this part of the sub-section is that that inter-State permit so granted shall have validity only in the State in which it was granted, and that in the other State, what infuses validity into the permit is the counter-signature by the authority of that State. Until it becomes efficacious and valid in that way in the other State, it is obvious that the operation which is authorised by the permit is the operation in the State in which the primary permit was granted. And Mr. Narayan appearing for respondent 3 did not dispute that what gives the right to operate a stage carriage in the other State is the counter-signature and until that counter-signature is granted, operation in the other State is impermissible.
26. The words 'a permit granted En 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' clearly indicate that until the counter-signature is secured the primary permit does not become an inter-State permit.
27. That, that is the correct view to take is clear from Section 2(20) of the Act which reads:--
' 'Permit' means the document issued by the Commission or a 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.'
28. The purpose for which a permit is obtained by an operator is to use his vehicle on the route to which that permit relates. And, if in the case of a primary permit granted by one State which purports to be an inter-State permit, the right to such user in the other State does not accrue until the counter-signature in that other State is granted, it should be clear that the primary permit does not become a permit in the other State such as would create the right to operate the stage carriage in that other State. So, what is clear from Section 63(1) is that a primary permit which purports to be an inter-State permit granted by the authority of one State becomes an inter-State permit only when it is counter-signed by the concerned authority of that other State, and not until then.
29. In that view of the matter the permit granted to respondent 3 by the Andhra State Transport Authority although called and described as an inter-State permit, could become an inter-State permit authorising operation on the whole stretch of the inter-State route only on counter-signature by the concerned authority in the State of Mysore.
30. But it was urged by Mr. Narayan that that view which may be possible in the case of ordinary inter-State permits granted under Section 63(1) does not cover a case which is regulated by an inter-State agreement between the Governments of the two States under which counter-signature is imperative and not discretionary. Mr. Narayan contended that that is so is clear from the proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 63.
31. Sub-section (3) states that the counter-signature which Sub-section (1) refers shall stand regulated by the same procedure by which the grant of a permitstands regulated. In other words the procedure prescribed by Section 57 and the other relevant provisions of the Act are equally applicable to an application in which a counter-signature is Bought. The application has to be published and representations have to be invited and considered. But the proviso to that sub-section states that if an inter-State agreement between the Governments of the two States requires the Government of one State to counter-sign an inter-State permit granted by the other State, and so no discretion is left to refuse such counter-signature, it shall not be necessary to follow the procedure laid down in Section 57 of the Act in so far as it is applicable.
32. The argument constructed on this proviso was that when respondent 3 made an application for counter-signature, it was the imperative duty on the Mysore State Transport Authority which could not refuse such counter-signature, to grant it, and that if without doing so, the State Transport Authority kept the matter pending until the scheme came into force, the acquisition by respondent 3 of the status of an inter-State permit holder did not stand postponed. It was said that the grant of counter-signature in that situation was a mere matter of form and not of substance, and that the same right which could have been claimed by a person to whom counter-signature had been granted could be claimed by respondent 3 who was entitled to such counter-signature as of right.
32A. It is seen that the application for counter-signature was made on September 5, 1967 and it is surprising that the State Transport Authority made no decision on that application until March 2, 1968. In the meanwhile the scheme began to operate. The delay in the disposal of the matter is perhaps attributable to the unawareness on the part of the State Transport Authority, as it was, it is plain, on the part of respondent 3 also, of the existence of the absolute right to claim the counter-signature under the proviso to Section 63(3) of the Act.
33. It was explained by this court in Akbar Saheb v. Presiding Officer, M.S.T. A.T., (1968) 2 Mys LJ 219 = (AIR 1969 Mys 242) that when there is an inter-State agreement like the one to which it refers, counter-signature of the permit could not be opposed, and so, could not be refused. But if it was neither refused nor granted until the scheme commenced to operate, could it be said that the counter-signature which, could be claimed as of right and which could not be refused must be deemed to have been granted by the State Transport Authority? In our opinion, the answer to this question must be in the negative.
34. If a primary permit becomes an Inter-State permit only on counter-sign-nature, for the reasons that until such counter-signature, that permit has no
validity in a State other than the State by which it was granted, what is essential to make that permit valid in the State is the counter-signature, whether it is claimable as of right or not. And counter-signature which cannot be refused but is not made, could be compelled in an appropriate proceeding such as an application for a mandamus. But respondent 3 resorted to no such remedy,
35. It is undisputed that the draft scheme had been published in the year 1964, and, when the application was presented in September 1967 it should have occurred to respondent 3 that any delay in the grant of counter-signature would involve him in difficulty, especially if the exemption created by the approved scheme was also the exemption proposed in the draft scheme, as we are informed it was. But respondent 3 made no such endeavour, and, we are not impressed by the argument advanced before us by Mr. Narayan that if he had, sought a mandamus in that way, his application would have failed on the ground that he had an alternative remedy in the form of an appeal under Section 64. It is plain that an appeal to our jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution does not always fail by reason of the existence of an alternative remedy.
36. However that may be, if the exclusion under the scheme becomes inapplicable only to an operator who is an inter-State permit holder on the date when the approved scheme commenced to operate, respondent 3 would fall within the orbit of the exclusion if he was not one. And the mere fact that he could have become an inter-State permit holder on the grant of counter-signature in recognition of the absolute right to it claimable under the inter-State agreement between the Governments of the two States, does not transform a primary permit which had not yet become an inter-State permit into an inter-State permit.
37. The Revenue Appellate Tribunal, it is clear, did not correctly comprehend the provisions of Section 63 of the Motor Vehicles Act. It was in error in thinking that the right to operate a stage carriage between Tirupathi and the State border of the State of Mysore had any relevance to the question whether the exemption created by the scheme was applicable to respondent 3. What was overlooked by the Tribunal was that what was relevant for the question which had to be decided was not the right to operate on that sector, but the right to operate also on the sector inside the Mysore State, and, if there was no right, as there was none in the cases before us, when the schemecame into being. It would not be possible for respondent 3 to maintain that he was an existing inter-State permit holder, to whom alone the exemption is available.
38. In the view that we take that respondent 3 was not an existing permit holder on an inter-State route within the meaning of Sub-clause (a) appearing against Clause (d) of the scheme, he did not stand removed from the exclusion which the scheme otherwise created. That being so, the State Transport Authority did not have the power to grant him the counter-signature which had not yet been granted to him when the scheme commenced to operate. So the Revenue Appellate Tribunal was in error In directing the State Transport Authority to exercise a power which it did not possess.
39. In this view of the matter it becomes unnecessary for us to discuss the argument maintained by Mr. Narayan Rao, that the appeal preferred by respondent 3 to the Revenue Appellate Tribunal from the decision of the State Transport Authority was an incompetent appeal, or that we should understand the words 'Regional Transport Authority' occurring In Sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 68-F of the Motor. Vehicles Act as having reference only, to the State Transport Authority, and that the omission to make an amendment of these two sub-sections was a careless omission in respect of which we could ourselves make a rectification, on that question and abstain from expressing any opinion in these writ petitions.
40. So we allow these writ petitions and set aside the order made by the Revenue Appellate Tribunal. In consequence the order made by the State Transport Authority stands restored.
41. No costs.
42. Writ petitions allowed.