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G. Ramanna Chowdary Vs. the Goverment of Andhra Pradesh Home (Transport Iii) Department and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. Nos. 3550, 3944 and 4348 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1972AP195
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 47, 47(3) and 64-A ; Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantG. Ramanna Chowdary
RespondentThe Goverment of Andhra Pradesh Home (Transport Iii) Department and ors.
Appellant AdvocateK. Amareswari, ;P. Ramakoti and ;K. Mangachary, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateGovt. Pleader and ;P. Babulu Reddy and ;E.P.K. Sikhamani, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....of application for permit for irregularity in prior meeting for deciding application - grant of permit in such subsequent meeting challenged - commitment of irregularity in prior meeting does not vitiates subsequent proceedings before competent authority - permission to adduce additional evidence is discretion of government - grant of permit by subsequent proceedings after considering relevant factors justified. (ii) administrative order - whether decision of transport authorities to open new routes and to limit number of buses through such routes be treated as quasi judicial decision - neither right of parties nor any dispute determined by such decision - held, such decision based upon administrative policy of government is an administrative order and not quasi-judicial..........transport authority had undoubtedly inherent jurisdiction to consider the applications and to grant permits. in the exercise of that jurisdiction, the regional transport authority might have committed an irregularity in proceedings to consider those applications by relying upon an alleged invalid decision taken by an improperly constituted regional transport authority. since that irregularity has not resulted in any miscarriage of justice, the irregularity of the earlier decision under section 47(3) of the act would not affect or vitiate the validity of the subsequent proceedings before the competent authority.17. thus the decision under section 47(3) of the act, to open a new route or limiting the number of buses on that route is an administrative decision of the regional transport.....
Judgment:

Sriramulu, J.

1. These three writ petitions have been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution, for the issuance of a writ of certiorari quashing the order of the State Government passed in G. O. Rt. 2293, Home (Transport-III) Department dated 12-8-1969, confirming the order of the Appellate Authority, which in its turn confirmed the order of the Regional Transport Authority, Anantapur.

2. The material facts, so far as they are relevant for appreciating the contentions raised, are:

At its meeting held on 23-5-1961 the Regional Transport Authority, Anantapur considered the applications for the grant of a stage carriage permit on the route Rayadurg to Guntakal, and granted the permit to one Venkataswamy. The unsuccessful applicants preferred appeals to the Appellate Authority against the order of the Regional Transport Authority granting the stage carriage permit in favour of Venkata Swamy.

The Appellate Authority set aside the grant of permit in favour of Venkata Swamy and granted the same to one Santappa. Venkata Swamy thereupon filed writ petition No. 743 of 1963 in this Court for quashing the order of the Appellate Authority setting aside the grant of permit in his favour and granting it to Santappa. In that writ petition Venkataswamy contended. inter alia, that the Regional Transport Authority, which considered the applications at its meeting held on 23-5-1961, did not consist of a non-official member and Authority was bad and illegal. That contention was accepted and the Writ as prayed for was issued with a direction that the applications should be considered afresh the Regional Transport Authority with the non-official Member participating in the meeting.

3. The duly constituted Regional Transport Authority, with a non-official Member, then considered the applications afresh at the meeting held on 4-9-1967 and once again granted the permit to Venkata Swamy. Appeals against the grant to permit to Venkataswamy to the Appellate Authority resulted in their dismissal. Revisions to the State Government by the unsuccessful applicants also failed. Hence these writ petitions.

4. The learned counsel appearing for the petitioners contended that since the limiting of number of vehicles on the route under Section 47(3) of the Act was taken by the Regional Transport Authority, which was not validly constituted, proceedings after the matter went back to it, in pursuance of the directions of the High Court culminating in the grant of permit to Venkataswamy, are illegal and void. After the matter went back to it, the duly, constituted Regional Transport Authority should have taken a fresh decision under Sec. 47(3) of the Act and thereafter proceeded to consider the applications for the grant of permit. Since that procedure was not adopted, the order procedure was not adopted, the order passed by the Regional Transport Authority granting the permit to Venkataswamy is void and illegal. The decisions taken under Section 47(3) to open a new route and limiting the number of buses on that route, cannot be said to be an administrative order in view of the Judgment of the Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No. 95 of 1965.

5. It was next contended that the Appellate Authority having granted permission to adduce evidence in view of the special circumstances in which it could not be adduced before the Regional Transport Authority should not have rejected that evidence on the ground that it was not produced before the Regional Transport Authority. On merits also it was submitted that the decisions of the Appellate Authority and the Government are erroneous.

6. Sri D. Venkatareddy, learned Government advocate for Transport cases, contended that the decision limiting the number of buses on the route under Section 47(3) of the Act, is now well established to be an administrative order, which did not involve the exercise of quasi-judicial powers The validity of the decision of the Regional Transport Authority taken under Section 47(3) of the Act could have been challenged by the petitioners in revision under Section 64-A of the Act before the State Government. Having not done so and having allowed the order to become final, the petitioners could not have raised that objection before the Government or in this Court in these Writ proceedings. That the proceedings under Section 47(3) of the Act are administrative in nature has been held by Gopal Rao Ekbote, J. in Writ Petn. No. 1358 of 1966 (And Pra) and also Krishna Rao, J. in Writ Petition No. 5498 of 1968 (Andh Pra).

7. The petitioners having submitted to the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority and taken a chance of a favourable order, cannot attack the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority, in the appellate Court, when the decision went against them. The Regional Transport Authority did not lack inherent jurisdiction to consider the applications for grant of a permit. Consideration of applications for the grant of a permit, without taking a fresh decision under Section 47(3) of the Act, may at best be an irregularity in exercise of its jurisdiction. But since that irregularity has not resulted in miscarriage of justice, the further proceedings of the Regional Transport Authority are not vitiated. In support of the above argument, the learned Government Pleaders relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in Tikaram & Sons Ltd. v. Commr. of Sales Tax, (AIR 1968 SC 1288) a decision of this Court in v. Perayya v. C.. Subbarao, : AIR1961AP159 another decision of the Supreme Court in Sailendra Nath Bose. v. State of Bihar, (AIR 1968 SC 1292).

8. We have carefully considered the arguments advanced before us by the learned counsel. The objection that the decision under Section 47(3) of the Act, taken by the improperly constituted Regional Transport Authority was bad in law and the properly constituted Regional Transport Authority could not rely upon it and proceed to considered the applications for grant of permit, has not been taken before the Regional Transport Authority. Duly constituted Regional Transport Authority has, no doubt, jurisdiction to consider the applications for the grant of permits. Having submitted to its jurisdiction and taken a chance of a favourable order, the petitioners cannot turn round and object to the jurisdiction of the Regional transport Authority before the Appellate Authority, when the order of the Regional Transport Authority was against them. Such an objection having not been raised before the Regional Transport Authority or the Appellate Authority could not have been taken before the Government. Nor can that objection be taken before us in these writ proceedings. The correctness or propriety of the decision taken by the Regional Transport Authority under Section 47(3) of the Act can be challenged in revision under Section 64-A of the Act before the Government. The petitioners did not do so and the decision under Section 47(3) of the Act has, therefore, become final and binding on the Regional Transport Authority, at the time of consideration of applications for the grant of permit.

9. When the law lays down a particular for challenging the correctness or legality of the order passed by the Regional Transport Authority, that procedure must be followed and without following that procedure the legality of that decision, which has become final, cannot be challenged in subsequent proceedings before a competent authority.

10. In (AIR 1968 SC 1292) the accused, who was tried under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption, Act, contended before the competent authority that since the investigation in his case was done by a person, who had not authority to do, he was entitled for an acquittal. That objection was rejected. The Supreme Court held that 'where cognizance of the case has in fact been taken and the case proceeded to its termination, the invalidity of the proceeding investigation did not vitiate the result, unless miscarriage of justice has been caused thereby.'

11. In the instant case, as we have already stated, there has been no miscarriage of justice. The invalidity of the preceding order of the Regional Transport Authority under Section 47(3) of the Act cannot vitiate the further proceedings, which came up for determination before the competent Regional Transport Authority.

12. We will then consider whether in fact, the decision taken by the improperly constituted Regional Transport Authority under Section 47(3) of the Act to open a new route and limiting the number of buses on that route, is an administrative decision of the Regional Transport Authority, or a decision taken in exercise of its quasi-judicial powers.

13. This point is concluded by the Judgment of this Court in Writ Petn. No. 1358 of 1966 (Andh Pra) and 5498 of 1968 (Andh Pra) and the decision of the Supreme Court in Md. Ibrahim v. State Transport Appellate Tribunal, : [1971]1SCR474 . When the Regional Transport Authority decides to open a new route and limits the number of buses on that route, it is not, adjudicating the rights between any of the parties or dealing with any disputes between the parties. Such a decision is based upon the administrative policy of the Government and is not a matter which has to be adjudicated upon after hearing and party. The decision, in other words, is not a judicial decision. It is only when the Regional Transport Authority proceeds to dispose of claims of rival contestants for a permit it acts in exercise of its quasi-judicial powers. Since the decision taken under Section 47(3) of the Act did not involve rights of any of the parties, it is only an administrative decision. The validity or in validity of that decision would not affect or vitiate the further proceedings taken by the duly constituted Regional Transport Authority.

14. Undoubtedly the Regional Transport Authority had jurisdiction to consider applications for the grant of permits. It did not lack inherent jurisdiction. Entertainment and consideration of applications for the grant of permits on the basis of a decision, under Section 47(3) of the Act, taken by an improperly constituted Regional Transport Authority, may at best be an irregularity in exercise of its jurisdiction. A distinction must always be drawn between the elements which are essential for the foundation of jurisdiction and the mode in which such jurisdiction has to be assumed and exercised.

15. It is only where a Court lacks inherent jurisdiction over the subject-matter of the proceedings, a judgment rendered or order made therein, shall be wholly void and as such no reliance can be placed on it even though no steps have been taken to have it vacated or reversed and to such a case the maxim 'consent cannot give jurisdiction' will apply. But in a case where the Court possessing the inherent jurisdiction exercises the same in an irregular manner, the defect may be cured either by consent or waiver.

16. In the instant case before us the Regional Transport Authority had undoubtedly inherent jurisdiction to consider the applications and to grant permits. In the exercise of that jurisdiction, the Regional Transport Authority might have committed an irregularity in proceedings to consider those applications by relying upon an alleged invalid decision taken by an improperly constituted Regional Transport Authority. Since that irregularity has not resulted in any miscarriage of justice, the irregularity of the earlier decision under Section 47(3) of the Act would not affect or vitiate the validity of the subsequent proceedings before the competent authority.

17. Thus the decision under Section 47(3) of the Act, to open a new route or limiting the number of buses on that route is an administrative decision of the Regional Transport Authority and not a decision in exercise of its quasi-judicial powers. Objection to its validity should be taken before the Regional Transport Authority at the appropriate time. If the propriety or the legality of the Regional Transport or the legality of the Regional Transport Authority's decision under S. 47(3) of the Act is not challenged before the Government in revision it becomes final and binding on the duly constituted Regional Transport Authority in the matter of consideration of applications for the grant of permits. Further proceedings before the duly constituted Regional Transport Authority would not, in such a case, be vitiated and the grant of permit would not become invalid, unless there is miscarriage of justice. If the proceedings before the competent Regional Transport Authority came to a termination, their validity cannot be questioned on the ground that the decision taken earlier under Section 47(3) of the Act was invalid.

18. We will then take up the other objections. In exercising its writ jurisdiction, the Court is not sitting in appeal over the orders of the Government. The findings of fact arrived at by the Transport Authority and the Government are binding on this Court. Whether to permit or not a party to adduce additional evidence is a matter of discretion to the Appellate or Revisional Authority, depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Mere receipt of papers by an authority does not amount to admission of those documents. The papers might have been received by the Appellate Authority but that does not mean that the Authority is precluded from considering the question of their admissibility. The discretion exercised by the Authority in refusing to admit them cannot be said to have been exercised either unreasonably or perversely.

19. We, therefore, see no flaw in the order of the Government in not permitting the appellant to adduce evidence at the stage of revision. On a perusal of the order of the Government, we find that the Government has taken into consideration all the factors which are germane for the grant of permit. No extraneous or irrelevant considerations influenced the Government's decision for passing the impugned order. We, therefore, see no merit in these writ petitions. The legal objections raised by the writ petitioners fail and are rejected.

20. On merits, the applicants have not made out a case for interference with the order of the Government. The writ petitions therefore fail and are accordingly dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee is Rs. 100/- in each case.

21. Petitions dismissed.


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