1. The petitioner was a transport operator operating five services a day on the Tirupati Sri Kalahasti route, a short route in the Andhra Pradesh Transport texminology. On 15-1-1972 the General Manager, Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation published a draft scheme under Section 68C of the Motor Vehicle Act in relation to the Tirupati-Sri Kalahasti route proposing to operate transport services exclusively and to the exclusion of other operators. Within thirty days of the publication of the draft scheme, as prescribed by Section 68-B of the Act, the petitioner and other filed their objections before the State Government. Though the petitioner alleged in his writ petition that the Municipal Chairmen of Tirupati, Sri Kalahasti, Chittoor and Madanpalle also filed objections within the prescribed period, it transpires from the record that the objections were filed long after the expiry of the prescribed period of thirty days. The Secretary to the Government, Home Department, gave a personal hearing to the petitioner and other objectors on 4-8-1973 and thereafter on 16-11-1973, he passed orders overruling the objections and approving the scheme with some modifications. The approved scheme was issued in G. O. Ms. No. 1505, Home (Transport) dated 17-11-1973. The petitioner has filed this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution for the issue of writ to quash G. O. Ms. No. 1505.
2. Sri S. Ramachandra Rao, learned counsel for the petitioner, raised the following four contentions: (1) The scheme went beyond the powers conferred on the Road Transport Corporation by the very Act which created it namely, the Road Transport Corporations Act. (2)The Municipal Chairman of Tirupati Chittoor, Madanapalle and Sri Kalahasti were not heard nor were their representations considered. (3) The declared policy of the Government was to take over medium and long routes only and not short routes. The present scheme by which short route was taken over was discriminatory. (4) The Home Secretary did not give any reasons for overruling the objections.
3. The Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation established under the Road Transport Corporations Act, Section 19 of the Act defines the powers of the Corporation. Section 19(2)(c) provides that the powers of the Corporation shall include the power to prepare schemes for the acquisition of and to acquire, either by agreement or compulsorily in accordance with the law of acquisition, whether absolutely or for any period , the whole or any part of any undertaking of any other person to the extent to which the activities thereof consist of the operation of Road Transport Services, where a Corporation acquires a whole or any part of undertaking of any other person. Section 19 requires the Corporation , in appointing its Officers and its servants, to take into consideration the claims of employees employed in that undertaking. Section 40 of the acts also provides for the payment of compensation by the Corporation whenever the whole or any part of any undertaking is acquired by the Corporation. Where there is no agreement about the amount of compensation it is required to be determined by an arbitrage tribunal from whose decision an appeal shall lie to the High Court. The submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner was that the power of the Road Transport Corporation to take over any undertaking operating any transport services had necessarily to be exercised in accordance with the provisions of the Road Transport Corporations Act, the very Act which was responsible for establishing the Road Transport Corporation. He submitted that by preparing the scheme by which the corporation became entitled to operate the transport services exclusively and to the exclusion of all others without acquiring the undertaking itself as provided by Sections 19 and 40 of the Road Transport Corporation Act the Road Transport Corporation was acting beyond and contrary to the powers given to it by the Road Transport Corporations Act. There is no substance in this submission. The Road Transport Corporations Act does not compel a Road Transport Corporation to take over any transport undertaking. Section 19 enumerates the powers of the Corporation and the power to acquire a transport undertaking under S. 19(2)(c) is one of the powers of the Corporation so enumerated. The powers of the Corporation are not limited by the Road Transport Corporations Act. It is open to the Parliament to vest other powers in the Corporation. In fact , Section 18 of the Road Transport Corporations Act imposes a general duty on the Corporation to so exercise its powers as progressively to provide or secure or promote the provision of an efficient, adequate, economical and properly co-ordinated system of road transport services in the State of part of the State for which it is established. Section 68-A to Section 68-J constitute Chapter - IV-A of the Motor Vehicles Act dealing with special provisions relating to State Transport Undertakings. Section 68-C vests in the State Transport Undertaking (The Road Transport Corporation of the State) the power to prepare a scheme in relation to any area or route or portion thereof giving particulars of the nature of the services proposed to be rendered by it, whether to the exclusion complete or partial of other persons etc. This power is in no way limited or curtailed by the provisions of the Road Transport Corporations Act. It is in addition to the powers given under that Act. In fact, it does not deal with the acquisition of the undertaking of any person as suggested by the petitioner. It merely deals with the exclusive right of the Corporation to operate services in a particular area or on a particular route. The vehicles, the workshops, the employees of the undertaking are not touched at all. All that is done is to cancel the permits granted to others on the routes and grant permits exclusively to the Road Transport Corporation. Provision is made by Section 68-G for payment of compensation for the cancellation of permits. But this is not to be confused with the compensation provided under the Road Transport Corporations Act for the acquisition of an undertaking. The acquisition of an undertaking under the Road Transport Corporations Act and the preparation of a scheme enabling the Road Transport Corporation to run services exclusively in an area or on a route are two different things and are not to be confused with one another. Even if there is any doubt whether the preparation of a scheme may not in substance amount to the acquisition of an undertaking, Section 68-B of the Motor Vehicles Act gives overriding effect to the provisions of Chapter IV-A of the Act over all other enactments. It says, 'the provisions of this chapter and the rules and orders made thereunder shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in Chapter IV of this Act or in any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any such law.' In view of Section 68-B there is no force whatever in the first submission made on behalf of the petitioner.
4. The second submission of the learned counsel was made on the assumption that the Municipal Chairman of Chittoor, Madanepalle, Tirupati and Sri Kalahasti has made representations within the prescribed period of thirty days after the publication of the draft scheme. I have already stated that the assumption is not correct. The second submission is therefore devoid of any force.
5. In regard to the third submission the learned counsel relied on G.O. Ms. 1829 Home dated 23-12-1972 as enunciating the general policy of the Government that schemes under Chapter IV-A of the Act should be confined to long distance routes and not to short and medium routes. G.O. Ms. No. 1829 dealt with a part of the scheme in regard to the operation of certain road transport services in Ongole District. In the course of the order it was observed , 'the Government consider that the needs of the travelling public will be better served by the Road Transport Corporation by operation of the services on the long distance routes , instead of operation on the short and medium routes. In view of the above , the Government consider that the routes relating to various schemes as shown in the annexure are not approved.' I find myself unable to treat this statement as an order of the Government made under Section 68-D as an enunciation of the policy of the Government. Even assuming that the statement can be said to amount to an enunciation of Governmental policy the authority deciding objections under Section 68-D of the Motor Vehicles Act is not bound by any policy enunciated by the Government. In T. Govinda Raja Mudaliar v. State of Tamil Nadu, : 3SCR222 , it was observed by the Supreme Court as follows :
'We are unable to see how any authority who exercises individual power under Section 68-D is bound by what has been stated as a policy decision of the Government. In fact his main function is to hear such objections as may be preferred to the schemes published under Section 68-C and approve and modify the schemes so published after giving an opportunity to the objector. His function being of a quasi-judicial nature is to bring a judicial approach to the matter and even if he happens to be a servant of the Government he is not bound in any way to carry out or endorse the policy of the Government without discharging his duties as contemplated by S. 68-D.'
6. I therefore, see no substance in the third submission of the learned counsel.
7. The last submission of the learned counsel was that the Home Secretary was exercising quasi-judicial functions in deciding upon the objections under Sec. 68-D of the Motor Vehicles Act and it was, therefore, necessary that his order should be a speaking order containing reasons for his decision. The learned counsel complained that the Home Secretary had extracted the objections raised by the various objectors and the answers of the Road Transport Corporation and at the conclusion merely mentioned that he overruled the objections. The learned counsel submitted that there was nothing to indicate that the Home Secretary has applied his mind to the objections raised by the petitioner and others and considered them. It is true that the Home Secretary has not stated his reasons for overruling the various objections. It might have been better perhaps if the Home Secretary had indicated his reasons thereby avoiding the criticism that he had not given reasons because he had no good reasons to give and that he had chosen the path of silence because it was the path of safety. As has been repeatedly observed by Courts the giving of reasons is one of the fundamentals of good administration and a Court may well consider it salutary to hold, with an eye on long term objectives , that the quasi-judicial tribunal in whom Parliament has vested a discretion failed to give reasons because it had no good reasons to arrive at the conclusion that it did. In Silver Mining Co. v. Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, W.P. No. 516 of 1965 (Andh. Pra) , I had pointed out :
'One good reason for the insistence on reasons is that it will prevent quasi-judicial tribunals from mechanically rejecting appeals and revisions in an off-hand manner. Just as a statement of reasons will restrain arbitrary and capricious interference with orders of Subordinate Tribunals by appellate or revision tribunals , so will it restrain mechanical rejection of appeals and revisions. Experience tells us that the danger of mechanical rejection is far greater than the danger of capricious interference. The danger of such mechanical rejection is bound to increase if courts are smugly to say that reasons are not necessary. An insistence on reason will actives a lazy and sterile mind and will assure us that the mind will be applied to the case. Otherwise, rights of appeal and revision so carefully provided by Parliament may be reduced mere nothing by quasi-judicial functionaries.' So, I may say that in deciding the objections under Section 68-D of the Motor Vehicles Act the failure to give reasons may reduce to a mere nothing the right of hearing so carefully provided by the Parliament under S. 68-D (2). Justice and the appearance of justice require that the litigating party should have the satisfaction that the quasi-judicial tribunal had applied its mind to his case. In the present case, however, there is sufficient material to conclude that the Home Secretary applied his mind to the objections raised by the petioners and others. First he has very carefully analysed and summrised the various objections raised before him and the answers of the Corporation to those objections. No one can prepare the careful and analytical epitome that the Home Secretary has done in this case without applying his mind to it. Similarly the arguments have also been summarised. The Home Secretary has deviated from the draft scheme in regard to the inter-state transport facilities and held that the curtailment of inter-state transport facilities was not in public interest. He has also altered the number of buses and the number of round trips from 6 to 8 and 35 to 44 respectively. The seating capacity of the buses has also been altered from 31 to 54 to 51 - 60. All these are indications that the Home Secretary did apply his mind to the questions at issue. I may also notice that in C.M.P. Co-operative Society v. State of Madhya Pradesh, : 3SCR329 . The Supreme Court observed .
'There is no express provision in these two sections laying down that the authority hearing objections must come to some finding of fact as a condition precedent to its final order. As such no express finding as envisaged in the American cases is necessary under S. 68-C read with S. 68-D that the scheme provides an efficient, adequate, economical and properly Co-ordinated road transport service. Besides we are of opinion that the whole object of hearing objections under Section 68-D is to consider whether the scheme provides an efficient, adequate, economical and properly co-ordinated Road Transport Service. After hearing objections the State Govt. or the Officer authorised by it has either to approve or modify or if necessary , to reject the scheme. Where the scheme is approved or modified it necessarily follows in our opinion that it has been found to provide an efficient, adequate, economical and properly Co-ordinated road transport service : if it is not of that type , the State Government or the authority appointed to hear objections would reject it. In the absence of a provision requiring an express finding in these two sections it seems to us that the very order of the State Government or the authority appointed by it to hear objections must be head to mean either, where the scheme is approved or modified, that it subserves the purposes mentioned in S. 68-C or where it is rejected, that it does not subserve the purposes. Section 68-D (2) does not require in our opinion any express finding, and even if there is none in the present case, it would not invalidate the orders passed by the authority hearing the objections.'
8. In the result , the Writ Petition is dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100/-.
9. Petition dismissed.