K.S. Puttaswamy, J.
1. In this petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, the petitioner has challenged the order dated 2nd May, 1977 of the Karnataka State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Bangalore (hereinafter referred to as the Tribunal) in Appeal No. 73 of 1976 and connected appeals (Exhibit-E) affirming the Resolution dated 22-11-19-75 of the Regional Transport Authority, Dakshina Kannada (have in after referred to as the R.T.A.) on subject No. 152 of 75-6 (Exhibit-A).
2. In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 57(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), the R.T.A. suo motu called for applications for grant of a stage carriage permit on the route Coondapur to Mangalore. The length of the route is about 100 K.Ms. and is a 'medium route' within the meaning of that term occurring in Rule 104-A(1) (b) of the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Rules 1963 (hereinafter referred to as the Rules). In response to the notification issued by the R.T.A., the petitioner, respondent-3 and several others applied for grant of permit on the route.
3. Before considering the applications made by the applicants, the R.T.A. as required by the Rules, prepared a marks sheet in which the petitioner and respondent-3 with whom alone, we are now concerned, secured equal number of marks viz., five (5) marks each.
4. On an examination of the claims put forth before it by the rival applicants, the R.T.A. in its meeting held on 22-11-1975, rejected the application of the petitioner and selected respondent-3 as the permit holder for the route (Exhibit A).
5. Against the said order of the R.T.A. the petitioner and several other applicants tiled appeal Nos. 1026/75, 38/76, 70/76, 14/76, 15/76, 73/76 and 102/76 before the Tribunal, which by its order dated 2nd May 1977 (Exhibit-E) has dismissed them and has affirmed the grant made to respondent-5.
6. In its fairly lengthy order the R. T. A. rejected the Application of the petitioner on the sole ground that he was a new entrant and the route was earmarked to experienced operators like respondent-3. Before the Tribunal, the legality of the rejection was seriously contested by the petitioner. But the Tribunal without really examining the case of the petitioner, has dismissed his appeal along with the other appeals.
7. Sri M. Rangaswamy, learned Counsel for the petitioner, strenuously contends that the sole reason for rejecting his client's application proceeds on a total misreading of Rule 104-A of the Rules and Section 47 of the Act,
8. Sri M.R. Venkatanarasimhachar, learned Counsel for respondent 3, in justifying the impugned orders, contends that this is not a fit case in which court should interfere with the grant made to his client at this distance of time, assuming they suffer from any infirmity.
9. In selecting a permit-holder for any route, the R.T.A must have regard to the factors enumerated in Section 47(1) of the Act as also to the rules regulating selection of permit holders.
10. Rule 104-A(1) defines the routes into short, medium, and long routes.
11. Rule 104-A(2) directs the authorities to give preference to the applicants for the routes defined in Rule 104-A(1) others being equal and not otherwise. Rule 104-A(2) does not place an absolute embargo for grant of a permit to a new entrant on a medium route or a long route if it finds that the new entrant was the most meritorious of all the applicants before it. If a new entrant is the most meritorious of all the applicants on a medium or long route the R.T.A. cannot exclude him solely on the ground that he is a new entrant. Rule 10-1-A(2) cannot be construed as a rule of exclusion to exclude all new entrants for grant of permits on medium- or long routes. Unfortunately, the R.T.A. has construed Rule 104-A(2) as a rule of exclusion and not as a rule of preference and has rejected his application without really considering the same on merits as it was bound to. From his, it follows that the order of the R.T.A. is manifestly illegal.
12. Even the Tribunal has not really focussed its attention to the case of the petitioner and has cursorily dismissed his appeal. In this view, the order of the Tribunal is also manifestly illegal.
13. On the above conclusion, the proper order to be made would be to set aside the impugned orders and remit the case to the R.T.A. for fresh disposal. But that course is not however justified on the facts of this case.
14. In pursuance of the order of the R. T. A. respondent No. 3 has obtained the permit and has been operating his service from about January 1976 or even earlier. An order of remand at this distance of time, in addition to causing serious injury to respondent No. 3, will seriously inconvenience the travelling public on the route, who are using that service for nearly 8 years. In these circumstances, this is a fit case in which this Court should decline to interfere with the impugned orders notwithstanding the illegalities committed by the authorities.
15. In the light of my above discussion, I hold that this writ petition is liable to be dismissed. I, therefore, dismiss this writ petition and discharge the rules issued in this case. But in the circumstances of the case, I direct the parties to bear their own costs.
16. Sri L.M. Pandurangaswamy, learned High Court Government Pleader, is permitted to file memo of appearance for respondents 1 and 2 within 15 days from this day.