1. The petitioners in the above Writ Petitions have been plying stage carriages and have applied for the renewal of their permits. One of the conditions attached to the existing permit in each case was that the vehicle should carry a maximum under of sitting passengers and a fixed number of standing passengers in two rows besides the driver and conductor. Before their permits were due to expire they applied to the concerned Regional Transport Authority for renewal of the same under Section 58 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, by virtue of the powers delegated to him under Rule 169 of the Andhra Pradesh Motor Vehicles Rules 1964, sanctioned renewal of the permits and granted certain time for the production of the relevant records for making the necessary endorsements. It was also stated in the order that the vehicle in each case should be produced before the Motor Vehicles Inspector 'for inspection and for recommending the number of standing passengers that can be allowed in a single row only.' The petitioners approached the Secretary Regional Transport Authority Secretary Regional Transport Authority for clarification of the order asking him not to insist upon such variation as a condition for renewal of the permits. It is stated in the petitioners' affidavits that unless they agree for the deletion of the particular clause enabling them to have two rows of standing passengers, the endorsements on the renewal of the permits could not be effected. The petitioners therefore submit that the fixation of number of passengers in the original permit was a condition of the permit, that the Regional Transport Authority cannot, under the Act or the Rules, delegate the power to vary the conditions of the permit in favour of the Secretary, that in any event there was in fact no such delegation of power to the Secretary and that the proposed action of the Secretary is wholly without jurisdiction and that such a variation of the condition of the permit can be made only by the Regional Transport Authority after following the prescribed procedure of issuing a notification and calling for representations, etc.,
2. It is contended by the learned Government Pleader on behalf of the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Krishna at Vijayawada (respondent in each case) that it is sufficient if the power of renewal is delegated as the said power carries with the incidental function to vary the conditions of the permit, that it really amounts to attaching new conditions at the time of the renewal which amounts to grant of a new permit, that there is, therefore, no question of variation of any of the existing conditions, that variation of a condition arises only during the currency of the period of the permit, that in any event, it is the duty of the petitioners to obtain a fitness certificate and comply with the requirements of Rule 392 of the Rules according to which the number of passengers has got to be fixed afresh. It is however conceded on behalf of the respondent that there is no specific provision in the Act or the Rules for the conditions of permit or that in this particular case there was in fact any delegation.
3. On behalf of the petitioners it is urged by Sri G. Suryanarayana and Srimathi Amareswari, that the power to vary the conditions of permit cannot be said to be incidental to the power of renewal, that the schemes of the Rules and the Act indicate that the power of varying the conditions of a permit is regarded as an independent power and not one as incidental to the power of renewal, that the Secretary can act only when there are no objections or representations before him but should only place the material before him in case there are any representations or objections filed before him, that the renewal of a permit by making the necessary endorsements on the other permit does not tantamount to the grant of a new permit but, that it is a mere continuation of the old permit except that the period is extended at the time of the renewal.
4. In order to appreciate these contentions, it is necessary to refer to the relevant provisions of the Act and the Rules.
5. Section 44 of the Act which provides for the constitution of the various Authorities under the Act deals with the subject of delegation under sub-section (5) which is as follows:
'44(5) The State Transport Authority and any Regional Transport Authority authorised in the behalf by rules made under Section 68, may delegate such of its powers and functions to such authority or person and subject to such restrictions, limitations and conditions as may be prescribed by the said rules.'
'48 (3) The Regional Transport Authority, if it decides to grant a stage carriage permit, may grant the permit for a service of stage carriages of a specified description or for one or more particular stage carriages, and may, subject to any rules that may be made under this Act, attach to the permit any or more of the following conditions, namely:-
(vi) the maximum number of passengers and the maximum weight of language that may be carried on any specified vehicle or on any vehicle of a specified type, either generally or on specified occasions or at specified times and seasons;
(xx) that the conditions of the permit shall not be departed from, save with the approval of the Regional Transport Authority may, after giving notice of not less than one month: -
(a) vary the conditions of the permit;
(b) attach to the permit further conditions'.
Section 57 lays down the procedure for application and for grant of permits, Sub-section (8) thereof states that:
'An application to vary the conditions of any permit, other than a temporary permit, by the inclusion of a new route or routes or a new are or, in the case of a stage carriage permit, by increasing the number of services above the specified maximum, or in the case of a contract carriage permit or a public carrier's permit, by increasing the number of vehicles covered by the permit, shall be treated as an application for the grant of a new permit:'
Section 58(2) states that a permit may be renewed on an application made and disposed of as if it were an application for a permit.
Rules 158 reads as follows:
'158 Appointment of Secretary - Each Regional Transport Authority shall have a Secretary appointed by the Government and shall perform such duties and exercise such powers as may be specified in these rules and in the bye-laws made by the Regional Transport Authority under Rule 173.
'Rule 169, Powers of Regional Transport Authority - Delegation - The Regional Transport Authority may, for prompt and convenient despatch of business by general or special resolution, delegate to the Secretary the following functions: -
XX XX XX
(viii) Power to renew or refuse to renew a permit or counter signature of a permit under S. 58 and power to countersign or refuse to countersign a permit under Section 63 subject to the restrictions contained in clauses (I), (iii), (iv) and (v):
XX XX XX
(xvii) Power to vary or refuse to vary a permit on an application under sub-section (8) of Section 57 in cases where no objections or representations are received with reference to sub-section (3) of the Section 57:
(xviii) Power to give notice under clause (xxi) of sub-section (3) of Section 48, clause (viii) of sub-section (2) of Section 51 and clause (vi) of sub-section (2) of Section 56 of a proposal to vary a permit otherwise than on an application under sub-section (8) of Section 57, and power under these sections to vary the permit accordingly if no objections or representations are received within the time prescribed in the notice:
Rule 170, Action taken under powers delegated - Report - The Secretary shall place before the next meeting of the Regional Transport Authority a report in writing of all action taken by him under the powers delegated to him.
Rule 238, Endorsement on Parts A and B. - Transport Authority sanctioning an application for renewal of endorsement or extensions of validity of a permit shall call upon the permit holder to produce Part B or Parts A and B of the permit, as the case may be and endorse the renewal in Parts A and B of the permit and return them to the holder. The Transport Authority may revoke its sanction of the application for renewal, if the permit-holder fails to produce the documents aforesaid within thirty days from the date of receipt by him of the order requiring the production of the records:
Provided that the Secretary of the Transport Authority may, it satisfied on an application made to him in writing by permit-holder within the period of thirty days aforesaid that there is sufficient ground, grant an extension of time not exceeding four months in aggregate for the production of the records.
Rule 392, Limit of seating capacity - Subject to the provisions of Rule 389 regarding seating accommodation, the number of passengers excluding the driver, conductor and one checking Inspector, that a public service vehicle may be permitted to carry, shall not exceed the number determined by dividing the difference in kilograms by between the registered laden weight and unladen weight less 163 by 59 in the case of double-decked and by 68 in the case of single-decked vehicles'.
The effect of the above provisions of the Act and the Rules may thus be summarised. The fixation of the maximum number of passengers in a stage carriage is one of the conditions of the permit, Variation of the existing conditions of a permit and attaching further conditions to a permit are also treated as conditions of the permit. With reference to the variation or attaching further conditions to the permit, the Regional Transport Authority is empowered to vary the conditions only after giving notice of not less than one month. The provisions of this Rule indicate that even the Regional authority, while granting a renewal, cannot vary the conditions of the permit except by following the procedure of giving one month's notice and hearing representations. The Regional Transport Authority is given the power to delegate certain specified powers and delegate certain specified powers and functions subject to various restrictions and conditions. Such of those functions which have been delegated by the Regional Transport Authority to its Secretary have been specifically enumerated under 19 heads. The Secretary has to perform such duties and exercise such powers as are specified in the Rules which inter alia specified the delegated functions. Rule 169 which provides for delegation of powers and functions by the Regional Transport Authority to the Secretary makes mention of only some of the items mentioned in Section 48(3) relating to the conditions of permit. While the power to renew a permit has been delegated, there is no express delegation of the functions contemplated in Section 48(3)(xxi) which relates to variation of conditions of permit. There is no indication in Rule 169 (viii) dealing with the power to renew a permit includes all other functions incidental thereto, namely the variation of the conditions of the permit. It is power is delegated to the Secretary, he has no jurisdiction to exercise any such power. The power of the Regional Transport Authority to vary the conditions of the permit under Section 48(3)(xxi) not having been specifically is irresistible that the Secretary has no power to vary the conditions of a permit.
6. The only other question which remains for consideration is as contended by the learned 4th Government Pleader whether the power to renew which has been delegated under sub-clause (viii) of Rule 169 takes in the power to vary the conditions of the permit. As already pointed out, Section 48(3)(xxi) contemplates that the Regional Transport Authority should issue one month's before varying the conditions of the permit evidently with the object of considering representations of persons affected by the variation. A reading of many of the sub-rules under Rule 169 including sub-rule (xviii), gives an indication that the Regional Transport Authority can act only when no objections or representations are filed before him. The rule-making authority has not contemplated the receiving of representations and hearing objection by the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority in the matter of varying the conditions of a permit. It is therefore clear that the power to vary the conditions was not intended to be a power incidental to the renewal of a permit. It was further contended by the learned Government Pleader that at the time of the renewal what is granted is really a new permit and that the Secretary can insist upon any new conditions, though they may in substance amount to a variation of the old conditions of the permit. In this view of the matter, it is argued by the learned Government Pleader that there is really no variation of condition of a permit arises only during the period of the permit but not after the expiry of the period at the time of the renewal. But this argument is devoid of substance in view of the ruling of the Supreme Court in V. C. K. Bus Service v. R. T. Authority. : 1SCR663 in which it was laid down that a renewal is a continuation of a permit previously granted and that the mere fact that the grant of renewal is not a matter of course or that it is open to the authorities to impose fresh conditions at the time of renewal does not, when the permit is in fact renewed, alter its character as a renewal. In view of the said ruling I am not prepared to accept the argument of the learned Government Pleader that the renewal really amounts to the grant of a fresh permit entitling the authority to impose new conditions at variance with the conditions in the old permit.
7. The next argument of the learned Government Pleader is that at the time of granting a renewal of the permit, the authorities are entitled to insist upon a fresh certificate of fitness in accordance with Rule 392 relating to fixation of capacity of passengers. But it is common ground that in all the above petitions, the fitness certificate granted in favour of the petitioners has not expired and that there is no need for them to apply for a new fitness certificate.
8. It is lastly contended by the learned Government Pleader that there is no need to interfere at this stage and if the petitioners' permits are cancelled, they can file appeals against the said orders. But so far as the present action of the Secretary is concerned, there is admittedly no other remedy of the petitioners. As I have come to the conclusion that the Secretary is acting without any authority under law, in demanding the variation of a condition relating to the fixation of standing passengers, as a condition precedent for endorsing the renewal of the permit, I think it is a fit case for interference even at this stage. The petitioners further contend that their objection is not only of mere technicality but is based on substance, for, according to them, if the question of variation of the condition relating to the number of passengers is to be considered by the Regional Transport, there is sufficient scope for making their representation and there is equally a chance of the Regional Transport Authority retaining the old conditions of the permit. It is also urged on behalf of the petitioners that in view of the capacity of the bus fixed under the conditions of the permit, they had spent large amounts in having their stage carriages built at considerable cost to meet such requirements and if the number of passengers is now considerably reduced, they will suffer substantial loss.
9. For the above reasons, I allow these Writ Petitions and direct in each case the issue of a writ in the nature of Mandamus to the effect that the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority or his subordinates should forbear from taking any further proceedings by way of variation of the original condition of the permit providing for two rows of standing passengers. The petitioner in W. P. 783/65 is entitled to his costs. Advocate's fee: Rs. 100. In all other cases, the petitioners are entitled to their costs, Advocates fee: Rs. 50 in each case.
10. Petition allowed.