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Palakurti Venkata Rao and ors. Vs. the State of Andhra Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. Nos. 1508, 1510, 1511 and 1512 of 1958 and 23 of 1959
Judge
Reported inAIR1960AP214
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 68C, 68D, 68E and 68F; Constitution of India - Article 226; Andhra Pradesh Motor Vehicles Rules, 1957 - Rule 11
AppellantPalakurti Venkata Rao and ors.
RespondentThe State of Andhra Pradesh and ors.
Appellant AdvocateK. Mangachari, ;M.K. Nambiyar, ;G. Suryanarayana, ;M. Dwarkanath, ;G.S.R. Anjaneyulu and ;K. Amareswari, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateD. Narasaraju, Adv. General, ;P. Ramachandra Reddy, 3rd Government Pleader, ;D. Venkatappayya Sastry and ;P.R. Ramachandra Rao, Advs.
DispositionPetitions dismissed
Excerpt:
motor vehicles - maintainability of writ - sections 68-c, 68-d, 68-e and 68-f of motor vehicles act, 1939 - state transport undertaking (stu) framed scheme - petition under article 226 to pass writ of certiorari - petitioner took ground of noncompliance of sections 68-c, 68-d, 68-e and 68-f of act and violation of judicial principles - validity of scheme dependent on compliance of procedures laid down under act - scheme only quasi judicial in nature - no need of compliance of strict judicial principle - compliance of principle of natural justice is sufficient - facts suggestive of compliance of provisions of act and principle of natural justice - held, writ of certiorari against stu can not be issued. - - the difference between courts and quasi-judicial tribunals is set out very.....p. chandra reddy, c.j.1. in these petitions, certiorari is sought in respect of two orders, g. o. ms. no. 2948 dated 22-12-1958 approving the scheme of nationalisation as initiated by state transport undertaking and the order of the regional transport authority, krishna district in memorandum no. 23400/a5/58 dated 24-12-1958 rendering the permits granted to the petitioners ineffective as from 25-12-1958 in pursuance of the scheme.2. the facts that are needed to make what we are going to say intelligible may be briefly stated. in the year 1956. the motor vehicles act was amended by inserting chapter iv under central act 100 of 1956. under section 68a, occurring in that chapter, a state transport undertaking could he formed by a state government. section 68-c enabled the state transport.....
Judgment:

P. Chandra Reddy, C.J.

1. In these petitions, certiorari is sought in respect of two orders, G. O. Ms. No. 2948 dated 22-12-1958 approving the scheme of nationalisation as initiated by State Transport Undertaking and the order of the Regional Transport Authority, Krishna District in Memorandum No. 23400/A5/58 dated 24-12-1958 rendering the permits granted to the petitioners ineffective as from 25-12-1958 in pursuance of the scheme.

2. The facts that are needed to make what we are going to say intelligible may be briefly stated. In the year 1956. the Motor Vehicles Act was amended by inserting Chapter IV under Central Act 100 of 1956. Under Section 68A, occurring in that chapter, a State Transport Undertaking could he formed by a State Government. Section 68-C enabled the State Transport Undertaking to prepare and publish a scheme for the purpose of providing an efficient, adequate, economical and properly co-ordinated transport service in public interest. In exercise of the powers conferred by this section, the State Transport Undertaking, Andhra Pradesh promulgated a scheme providing for the Undertaking to ply buses to the exclusion of every one else on all the routes specified therein in Krishna District.

The petitioners and also a number of other per-sons, who were carrying on motor transport business in Krishna district, filed objections to the approval of the scheme by the Government as required by Section 68-D. These objections were heard by the Secretary in charge of the Transport Department. The State Government, overruling all the objections, approved the said scheme in G. O. Ms. No. 58, Home, on 7-1-1958. Two days thereafter, a Road Transport Corporation (hereinafter referred as the Corporation) was constituted. This body was empowered to take over the management of the existing Road Transport Undertaking and to enforce the scheme approved as mentioned.

3. Many of the operators approached this Court invoking its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. The petitions were dismissed for the reasons set out in the Judgment reported in Gopala-krishnayya v. State of Andhra Pradesh, : AIR1959AP292 . These matters were taken up in appeal to the Supreme Court, While these appeals were pending, some of the operators filed a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution in the Supreme Court for the enforcement of their fundamental rights to carry on their business of motor transport and for prohibiting the State Government from taking over the routes on which they were plying their stage carriages. Several contentions were raised in support of the appeals.

While rejecting most of them, the Supreme Court accepted the argument that the enquiry undertaken by the authorities concerned under Section 68-D was not consistent with the principles of natural justice in that the hearing was given by the Secretary, while the decision was taken by the Chief Minister and that since the Secretary must be said to be biased in favour of the Transport Department, a hearing given by him offended the principles el natural justice. Consequently, the scheme as approved was quashed by a majority judgment of 3 : 2. Two of the learned Judges dissented from this view expressing the opinion that the act performed by the State Government in approving the scheme was an administrative one and that the procedure' adopted by the Government did not involve any violation of the principles of natural justice.

4. Giving effect to the judgment of the Supreme Court, the State Government directed the restoration of the permits to the petitioners and the Corporation accordingly withdrew its buses from 20-11-1958. Pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court, fresh notices were issued on 12-11-1958 by the State Government to all the objectors informing them that a personal hearing would be given by the Chief Minister on 9-12-1958, when they could submit anything they desired to be considered and file further objections. This was also published in the leading newspapers and in the Andhra Pradesh Gazette. A personal hearing as required was given by the Chief Minister, several of the objectors taking part in it. We are told that elaborate arguments were addressed by the advocates for the objectors. The Corporation through its counsel also stressed its view point.

5. On a consideration of the representations made both by the objectors as also by the Corporation, the Chief Minister passed orders approving the scheme as originally published. This was published in the Official Gazette on the 22nd. The next day the Corporation applied to the Road Transport Authority for the issue of permits for plying stage carriages and for eliminating the permits granted to private operators. On the following day. the Road Transport Authority met and Issued permits to the Corporation and also passed orders rendering the permits of the petitioners and others ineffective from the next day. Notices of this were served on all the permit holders. It is to remove these orders on certiorari that the petitioners have sought the aid of this Court.

6. The validity of the orders of the Chief Ministers approving the scheme is challenged on various grounds :

'1. The order approving the scheme having been cancelled by the Supreme Court, the whole scheme stands quashed and without there being a proper and valid notification under Section 68-C of the Motor Vehicles Act, the State Government had no jurisdiction to exercise the functions under Section 68-D.

2. The proceedings being judicial in character, they are vitiated (a) by the bias of the authority who decided the objections, (b) by that authority receiving representations from the Corporation be-hind the back of the petitioners and (c) by not disclosing the reasons for its decision and

3. The cancellation of the permits without notice to them was without jurisdiction.' We shall deal with them seriatim.

7. On the first point, what is urged is that, since the Supreme Court struck down the whole scheme, there should be a fresh scheme prepared and notified under Section 68-C of the Act, It is added that Section 68-D requires the procedure indicated in Section 68-C and Section 68-D to be followed whenever a scheme was cancelled or modified. This contention is unsubstantial. At the Outset, it must be mentioned that Section 68-E is inapplicable to a case where the approval of the scheme alone is quashed. Its impact is only on the cancellation of the scheme by the State Transport Undertaking of the Corporation as the case may be. That apart, it is clear from the order of the Supreme Court that what was set aside was only the approval of the scheme.

In fact, their Lordships specifically negatived the contention that the scheme as initiated under Section 68-C was ultra vires the provisions of the Act and held that it was validly published. The directions issued by the Supreme Court also proceeded on the assumption of the legality of the scheme as initiated under Section 68-C. It is also significant that the petitioners were permitted to file additional objections which involved the idea that the enquiry was to he re-started from the stage at which the enquiry into the objections was to he held. The filing of additional objections to the scheme implies the existence of a scheme and of the objections originally filed by the objectors. That this is so is made clear by the operative part of the judgment which is in these words :

'In the result, for the reason that the State Government did not make the enquiry consistent with the principles of natural justice in approving the scheme, the order approving the scheme is here-by quashed and a direction issued to the 1st respondent to forbear from taking over any of the routes in which the petitioners are engaged in transport business. This judgment will not preclude the State Government from making the necessary enquiry in regard to the objections filed by the petitioners in accordance with law. The petitioners will have liberty to file additional objections if any.'

These remarks leave no room for doubt that what was contemplated by the Supreme Court was only a fresh enquiry into the objections already submitted and to be submitted.

8. We will now come to the question bearing on the alleged bias of the enquiring authority. The stress of the argument on behalf of the petitioners is that the Chief Minister had already committed himself to the view that, in the interests of the public, there should be nationalisation of bus transport. To substantiate the proposition that he had already made up his mind, our attention was drawn to a few newspaper cuttings Exs. V, VI, IX etc. We are invited to hold on the basis of these cuttings that the Minister concerned had no judicial mind.

It is said that in order to constitute bias which could disqualify the Tribunal from hearing a matter, it is not essential that it should be established that there was actual bias and that it was enough if bias could be assumed or even if there was suspicion. All that is relevant was to consider whether there is material which could arise in the mind of a reasonable man grave doubts about the ability of the Tribunal to conduct a judicial investigation with impartiality.

9. These propositions are sought to be established with reference to some of the decided cases, From United Breweries Co, v. Bath Justices, 1929 A.C. 586, Law v. Chartered Institute of Patent Agents (1919)-2 Ch 276 and Manak Lal v. Dr. Prem Chand, (S) : [1957]1SCR575 and some other cases which will be referred to presently. In 1926 A.C. 586 a refusal to renew an old licence by the compensation authority was set aside since three of the justices, who sat and voted on the compensation authority, were parties to a resolution of the licensing justices authorising a solicitor to appear on their behalf to oppose the renewal. It was remarked that these justices were disqualified from sitting on the compensation tribunal on the ground of bias. In the course of his speech Viscount Cave, Lord Chancellor observed :

'My Lords, if there is one principle which forms an integral part of the English law, it is that every member of a body engaged in a judicial proceeding must he able to act judicially; and it has been held over and over again that, if a member of such a body is subject to a bias (whether financial or other) in favour of or against either party to the dispute or is in such a position that a bias must be assumed, he ought not to take part in the decision or even to sit upon the tribunal.'

The learned Law Lord added

'This rule has been asserted, not only in the case of Courts of justice and other indicial tribunals, but in the case of authorities which, though in no sense to be called courts, have to act as judges of the rights of others.'

10. In 1919-2 Ch. 276 the principle was stated thus:

'A person who has a judicial duty to perform is disqualified from performing it if he has a bias which renders him otherwise than an impartial judge, or if he has so conducted himself in relation to the matters to be investigated as to lead a reasonable man to suspect that he may have such a bias.'

11. (S) : [1957]1SCR575 accords with this doctrine. In that case a committee of the Bar Council appointed to enquire into the misconduct of an advocate had as its chairman another advocate who appeared on behalf of the opposite party in proceedings under Section 145 Cr. P. C. while the delinquent advocate acted as Pleader for the applicant in those proceedings out of which the misconduct proceedings arose. It was held that since the Chairman of the tribunal had appeared for the opponent in Section 145 Cr. P. C. proceedings he was disqualified from active as a member of that tribunal. In dealing with the problem of bias, their Lordships observed that the test was not whether in fact bias has affected the judgment but whether the litigant could reasonably apprehend that a bias attributable to a member of the tribunal might have operated against him in the final decision of the tribunal.

12. Another decision relied on for the petitioners is Venkatachalam Iyer v. State of Madras, : AIR1957Mad623 . It was laid down there that if a member of a tribunal is shown to have a pecuniary interest in the subject matter of the decision the Order of the tribunal will be removed by cerfiorari, Rajamannar C. J., who delivered the opinion of the Bench, classified bias into three categories; pecuniary, personal and official. The argument built upon. this judgment is that official bias operates as much fatally as personal or pecuniary bias.

13. Lastly, our attention was drawn to a judgment of this Court in Naraynna Rao v State of Andhra Pradesh 1958-2 Andh W.R. 281 : (AIR 1958 Andh Pra 636) to which one of us was a party. What happened there was that one of the members who constituted the tribunal had prejudged the issue having taken part in the proceedings earlier. It was held that this vitiated the proceedings resulting in the discharge of the petitioner from service.

14. We are of opinion that the principles enunciated in those rulings are not of much avail to the petitioners. On the contrary some of them contain dicta which are destructive of the theories propounded for the petitioners. At the outset, it is necessary to remember that the proceedings in dispute are not judicial in nature but only quasi-judicial. There is a fundamental distinction between judicial process and quasi-judicial process. All the characteristics of judicial process could not be imported into quasi-judicial process. In exercise of quasi-judicial functions, it is only the principles of natural justice that should be observed and all the procedure governing a judicial proceeding need not be observed.

In regard to the latter what is important is that It should not lack in natural justice, the simplest aspect of this being that no man shall he a fudge in his own cause and that each of the parties should he afforded an opportunity to place his cn.se before the enquiring authority. All the doctrines that are applicable to courts of law cannot be invoked in regard to enquiries by quasi-judicial tribunals having regard to the difference in the functions between the two. The analogy of judicial methods could not apply to administrative tribunals which are entrusted with the duty of discharging quasi-judicial functions. There is no warrant for the wholesale transportation of the rules of procedure that generally govern courts of law. The only requirement, as already pointed out, is that they should act judicially and discharge their duties without bias and give each of the parties an opportunity of adequately representing this case.

15. As observed by Viscount Haldane, Lord Chancellor in Local Government Board v. Arlidge, 1915 AC 120.

'The decision must be come to in the spirit and with the sense of responsibility of a tribunal whoso duty it is to mete out justice.'

It is also pertinent to see what Lord Shaw says in his speech in the same case:

'And the assumption that the methods of natural justice are ex-necessitate those of Courts of justice is wholly unfounded. This is expressly applicable to steps of procedure or forms of pleading. In so far as the term 'natural justice' means that a result or process should he just, it is a harmless though it may be a high-sounding expression; in so far as it attempts to reflect the old jus naturale it is a confused and unwarranted transfer into the ethical sphere of a term employed for other distinctions; and in so far as it is resorted to for other purposes, it is vacuous.'

To a similar effect is the statement of Lord Parmoor in that case :

'Where, however, the question of the propriety of procedure is raised in a hearing before some tribunal other than a court of law there is no obligation to adopt the regular forms of legal procedure. It is sufficient that the case has been heard in a Judicial spirit and in accordance with the principles of substantial justice.'

16. It is thus clear that it does not follow that an administrative tribunal, which is charged with the duty of adjudicating upon a matter should follow the same procedure as a court of law. In regard to administrative matters very often judicial methods may be unsuitable because they may cause delay, expense and public and private injury',

17. The opinion of Frankfurter J. in Federal Communications Commission v. Pottsvilc Broadcasting Co., (1939) 84 Law Ed. 656 is worth recalling in this context. The difference between courts and quasi-judicial tribunals is set out very forcibly, if we may say so with respect, by the learned Judge in the following passage at page 661 :

'Courts, like other organisms, represent an interplay of form and Function. The history of Anglo American Courts and the more or less narrowly defined range of their staple business have determined the basic characteristics of trial procedure the rules of evidence, and the general principles of appellate review. Modern administrative tribunals are the outgrowth of conditions far different from those. To a largo degree they have been a response to the felt need of governmental supervision over economic enterprise--a supervision which could effectively be exercised neither directly through self-executing legistation nor by the Judicial Process. That this movement was natural and its extension inevitable was a quarter century ago the opinion of eminent) spokesman of the law.

Perhaps the most striking characteristic of this movement has been the investiture of administrative agencies with power far exceeding and different from the conventional judicial modes for adjusting conflicting claims -- modes whereby interested litigants define the scope of the inquiry and determine the data on which the judicial judgment is ultimately based. Administrative agencies have power themselves to initiate inquiry, or, when their authority is invoked to control the range of investigation in ascertaining what is to satisfy the requirements of the public interest in relation to the needs of vast regions and sometimes the whole nation in the enjoyment of facilities for transportation, communication and other essential public services.'

18. There is, therefore, no doubt that the wholesale importation to administrative proceedings of the rules of procedure adopted by courts of law is not permissible. All that the tribunals should observe is the procedure and the fundamentals of fair-play. We may notice here a passage in 'Law and Orders' by Alien, which sets out the characteristics of judicial and quasi-judicial process at page 71 :

'Assuming that there is a dispute between two or more parties (lis inter partes), there must also be:

(1) a presentation, either orally or in writing, of the case i.e., the facts and the contentions founded thereon for each side -- in other words, a joinder of issue; (2) the ascertainment of the facts by means of evidence, each party having the right to adduce and examine it; (3) argument by the parties on any points of law which may arise; (4) a decision disposing of the matter in hand, the findings being based on stated conclusions concerning the facts and the application of such rules of law as the judge holds to be relevant and binding upon him. This last characteristic is important. The judge is, of course, a free agent in determining what rule of law is applicable, but having so determined, he is not a free agent to decide whether he will follow it or not. He decides as it dictates and not as his discretion inclines.

A quasi-judicial process exhibits the first and second characteristics, but not necessarily the third and never the fourth. The quasi judge must know the rival cases and the facts on which they are based, but he need not consider arguments about them (though he is unwise if he does not), and his final decision is not based on any obligatory and uniform rule. He may decide that for some reason not susceptible of exact formulation, such as policy, special expediency of hardship -- he will act not automatically but exceptionally.'

The rule stated by the House of Lords in Board of Education y. Rice, 1911 AC 179 relied on for the petitioners is not in any wise different from the principle enunciated above. There the local education authority refused to pay the same salaries as those of the teachers in a provided school. On a complaint by the managers of a non-provided school, the Board of Education directed an enquiry which resulted in the report that the local education authority had failed to maintain the school and keep it efficient. On this, the Board of Education had to determine certain questions which the tribunal failed to decide. The House of Lords affirmed the Judgment of the Court of Appeal which quashed the decision of the Board of Education by certiorari and also issued a mandamus commanding the Board to determine that question. In the course of his speech, this is what Lord Loreburn remarked :

'It will, I suppose, usually be of an administrative kind but sometimes it will involve matter of law as well as matter of fact, or even depend upon matter of law alone. In such cases the Board of Education will have to ascertain the law and also to ascertain the facts. I need not add that in doing either they must act in good faith and fairly listen to both sides, for that is a duty lying upon every one who decides anything. But I do not think they are bound to brat such a question as though it were a trial. They have no power to administer an oath, and need not examine witnesses. They can obtain information in any way they think best, always giving a fair opportunity to those who are parties in the controversy for correcting or contradicting any relevant statement prejudicial to their view.'

19. What follows is that quasi-judicial tribunals are not exacted to import the rules of procedure applicable to judicial tribunals. They have only to hear the matter before them in a judicial spirit, act in a judicial spirit and mete out substantial justice. It should also be noted that there are no abstract principles of natural justice divorced from the statutory provisions The scope and the principles of such quasi-judicial process and the principles of natural justice have to be gathered from the statute. If the ambit of the powers and the duties of a tribunal are defined by a statute in unequivocal terms, we cannot go behind it and import notions which are extraneous to it.

The question as to what constitutes natural justice has been discussed exhaustively and thoroughly, if we may say so with respect, in a very lucid judgment by Sinha J., who delivered the opinion of the Court, in New Prakash Transport Co. Ltd. v. New Suwarna Transport Co. Ltd.. 1957 SCT 236 : ((S) ATR 1957 SC 232). The controversy there was whether the Regional Transport Authority or the appellate authority was bound to furnish a copy of the Police report to any of the parties. It was ruled by their Lordships that there was no such obligation on the part of tile authorities to give a copy of such document and the principles of natural justice were complied with if the appellate authority had read Out the contents of the report.

His Lordship Sinha J. said, inter alia, that the rules of natural justice have to be inferred from the nature of the tribunal, the scope of its enquiry and the statutory rules of procedure laid down by the law for carrying out the objectives of the statute. He referred to the dictum of Viscount Simon in General Council of Medical Education and Registration of United Kingdom v. Spademan. 1943 AC 627 that the Medical Council was bound to satisfy the requirements of law and the rules made thereunder and to decide on the sworn testimony after due inquiry. He also extracted with approval the statement of Lord Atkin in 1911 AC 179 made while pointing out the antithesis between convenience and justice that 'convenience and justice are often not on speaking terms'.

20. The very case on which great reliance is placed by the Counsel for the petitioners viz., 1926 A.C. 586 clearly establishes the proposition that the rules of natural justice have to be determined with reference to the statute governing a particular enquiry. This is what Viscount Cave. Lord Chancellor, says in the course of the judgment:

'No doubt the statute contemplates the possibility of the licensing justices appearing before the compensation authority and taking part in the argument; for it is provided by Section 19, Sub-section 2 that the compensation authority shall give any person appearing to them to be interested in the question of the renewal of a licence 'including the licensing justices', an opportunity of being heard. But the statute nowhere says that justices who elect to appear as opponents of the renewal and take active steps (such as instructing a solicitor) to make their opposition effective, may nevertheless act as judges in the dispute and in the absence of a clear provision to that effect I think that the ordinary rule, that no one can be both party and judge in the same cause holds good.'

It is clear that it is the provisions of the enactment that determines the rules of natural justice and it is only in the absence of a definite provision in the statute that ordinary rule that no one can he both, a party and a judge would hold good.

We have, therefore, to consider whether the Chief Minister has violated any principles of natural justice i.e., whether he has functioned in accordance with the rule laid down by the legistature.

21. The chief attack against the enquiring; authority is that he had a bias in favour of nationlisation and was therefore precluded from holding an enquiry. It is argued that several of the press reports called in aid by the petitioner reveal that he had made up his mind to proceed with nationalisation. The Chief Minister in his order denies that he had any such bias. He says :

'the press cuttings filed before me are not communiques issued by the Government with the approval of the Government. They are published records of several statements said to have been made by me on various occasions. It is common knowledge that press cuttings, here and there, torn out of context, will give a completely twisted picture and version of a man's real intention. It is not possible for me to state anything definite about the veracity of these statements said to have been made by me at different points of time.'

He also said that it was not possible to treat the paper cuttings of statements said to have been made by him as legal evidence in an enquiry. In this connection it is useful to remember that none of the paper cuttings represents any statement issued by the Government.

22. What is attributed to the Chief Minister is official bias. In this connection it is to be remembered that the list was only between private parties and the State undertaking and the State Government was only an adjudicator. There is no allegation and not even a suggestion that he had any prejudice against any of trie operators; nor has it been whispered that he had any personal interest in the matter. So, could the alleged official bias render him unfit to deal with the objections? It is worthy of note that Section 68-D vests the State Government with the duty and the responsibility of deciding the objections. So, any idea of official bias seems to be excluded.

If the notion of official bias was in the contemplation of the legistature, it would not have conferred upon the State Government the power to enquire into these objections. Further where official bias is suggested, it is necessary to establish that there is reasonable ground for assuming the possibility of a bias, and there should be a real likelihood in that behalf. This is what Gajendrajiadkar J., said in(S) : [1957]1SCR575 a ruling relied on by the petitioners :

'But where pecuniary interest is not attributed but instead a bias is suggested, it often becomes necessary to consider whether there is a reasonable ground for assuming the possibility of a bias and whether it is likely to produce in the minds of the litigant or the public at large a reasonable doubt about the fairness of the administration of justice. It would always be a question of fact to he decided in each case. 'The principle' says Halsbury 'nemo debet esse judex in causa propria sua' precludes a justice, who is interested in the subject matter of a dispute from acting as a justice therein.'

To a similar effect is the statement made by Raja-mannar C. J., in (S) : AIR1957Mad623 already adverted to. The learned Ghief Justice extracted the rule stated by Lord Goddard in Rex v. Nailsworth Licensing Justices, 1953-2 All ER 652 at p. 654:

'Objection cannot be taken to everything which might raise a suspicion in somebody's mind -- as Day J., said in R. v. Taylor etc., JJ. and Laidler, Ex parte Vogwill, ((898) 14 TLR. 185 'anything at any time which could make fools suspect'. It is not something which raises doubt in somebody's mind that is enough to cause an order or a judgment of justices to be set aside. There must be something in the nature of real bias.'

23. Applying the rules stated above, could it be said that the Chief Minister had any bias, which coulcl disable him from hearing the matter The alleged statement of the Chief Minister pressed into service by the petitioners would only amount to this that the Chief Minister had strong predilections in favour of the nationalisation of motor transport. In Our opinion, that would not operate to disqualify him from functioning under Section 68-D.

24. In this connection, we may cite the judgment of United States of America v. Morgan, (1940) 85 Law Ed. 1429. It was laid down there that merely because the Secretary of Agriculture, who was required to fix the minimum for the services, expressed his views on the matter before it came on for hearing before him, it did not disentitle him from exercising his duty in subsequent proceedings ordered by the Court. To a like effect is the decision in Fahey v. Mallonee, (1946) 91 Law Ed 2030. The relevant consideration in judging this issue is whether the enquiring authority is capable of judging the controversy fairly on the basis or its own circumstances. There Is no material on record here which would have the effect of disturbing such an assumption.

25. We may here notice a few of the decisions of English Courts which throw some light on this enquiry. In the Queen v. Handsley 1881-8 Q.B.D, 683, an Officer of the corporation, who was charged with the duty of collecting borough rate obtained a summons against a rate payer in arrears. In doing so, he exercised his own discretion and acted on his own responsibility without consulting the Town Council or any committee member thereof. At the time of the hearing the justices dismissed the summons on the ground that one of the sitting Magistrates was a town Councillor and as such, was disqualified from adjudicating upon the summons.

In an application for the issue of writ of mandamus Cave J. and Field J., remarked that when Section 502 of the Local Act authorised the Justice in question to act, although he was a member of the town Council, it was not sufficient to show that the adjudicating justice was a member of the town Council and as such was interested in the result of the complaint or information or that he was a member of the corporation which is charged with the duty of prosecuting the offence, which he sat to adjudicate upon. But before he can be disqualified, it should be shown that he had such substantial interest in the result of the hearing as to make it likely that he had a real bias in the matter. The learned Judges cited several cases in support of this conclusion of theirs.

26. Queen v. Huntingdon JJ., (1879) 4 Q.B.D. 522 is in consonance with the doctrine of the above-mentioned case. There, the members of the town Council took an active part in the making of an order under the Dogs Act. In a prosecution consequent on a breach of this very order an objection was raised that inasmuch as the Magistrates present at the hearing were members of the Town Council and took an active part in the issuing of the notice, it was not competent to them to sit as justices to hear the) case. The objections were overruled and the accused was convicted.

In an application for certiorari, to bring up the conviction to be quashed, Denman J., said that because these Magistrates were members of the Town Council, it could not be said that they were not proper persons to hear or not likely persons to give an impartial decision as to whether or not the order has been disobeyed. These authorities clearly establish that the mere possibility of a bias was not sufficient to disqualify any enquiring authority and that there should be real bias or real likelihood of bias. There are observations in 1926 AC 586 also to that effect.

27. Here petitioners have not succeeded in establishing that the Chief Minister was incapable of bringing an independent mind into the enquiry and was likely to incline towards one side. His Lordship Subba Rao J., who gave the majority decision, said that the hearing given by the Secretary, Transport Department, offended the principles of natural justice for the reason that he was the Secretory of the very department, which initiated the scheme. Such a disqualification docs not attach to the Chief Minister and no bias could be attributed to him. It follows that this contention must be repelled.

28. We will now take up another branch of contention. It is complained that representations were received from the Corporation after the closure of the hearing and in the absence of the petitioners and 'that the contents of the document had considerably coloured the decision of the Tribunal. This is met by the counsel for the Corporation stating that the representation filed on behalf of the Corporation did not contain any material apart from what was argued by him. He said that every point and fact men-Honed in the representation in writing, copies of which were served on the petitioners subsequent to the filing of these petitions was argued by him before the Chief Minister at the hearing of the objections and it is only as a matter of convenience that it was filed before him in the presence of the objectors and their counsel.

In support of the statement made by the learned counsel from the Bar, an affidavit of Sri Guru Parshad, the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation, is also filed. We see no reason for not accepting the statement of the learned counsel and the truth of the allegations contained in the affidavit. That being so, the complaint is without any foundation and effect cannot be given to this argument.

29. It was next urged that there was no judicial decision embodied in a written order. Apart from the question whether the State Government acting under Section 68-D is under an obligation to sot out the reasons in support of its conclusion, there is an order of the Chief Minister adducing his reasons in support of his conclusion. It is true that a copy of this was not furnished to the petitioners when they made an application in that behalf on 26-12-1958 and what was given to them was the operative part of the order approving the Scheme. It does not follow that the order was not supported by reasons.

The order in question hag been filed before us and copies thereof were served upon the petitioners sometime after these objections were filed. It is stated by the Advocate-General that, having regard to the allegations in the affidavit and the arguments of the counsel for the petitioners at the time of the admission of these petitions he made enquiries and learnt that there was an order giving reasons in support of the decision and thereupon he advised the Government to give a copy of it to the other side This statement, which was not challenged and to which no exception was taken, renders this contention inadmissible. We are not, therefore, impressed with this argument either.

30. It was next maintained that the Chief Minister had not decided all the points that he was bound to decide under Section 68-D. It was argued that all the abjections must be judged from four standpoints, namely, whether the scheme initiated by the State Transport Undertaking would provide an efficient, adequate, economical and property coordinated transport service. The submission is that the Chief Minister had not discussed the four aspects separately and that the order does not reveal that he had considered whether such a service would be economical. The Advocate-General sought to meet it by arguing that no such duty is cast on the State Government under Section 68-D. It was the function of the State Transport Undertaking to satisfy itself about these matters in view of the provisions of Section 68-D, proceeded the argument. We need not pause here to consider that problem since there are other effective answers to the point raised For the petitioners,

31. The order in question shows that after considering the representations made on behalf of the State Transport Corporation and the objections of the private operators, the Chief Minister reached the decision that the service to be provided by the Corporation would be more efficient and would serve the needs of the travelling passengers much better and that it was in the public interests that the Corporation should operate the transport service. He had negatived all the objections advanced on behalf of the bus owners, who were operates in that area. The enquiring authority is not called upon either by statute or by principles of natural justice to discuss all the contentions advanced by the parties topically and record his reasons in detail under each head.

Such a Tribunal is not required to state its conclusions minutely on each of the questions raised, We have already indicated what a quasi-judicial tribunal is called upon to do in an enquiry such as this. An order of a quasi-judicial tribunal need not contain all the attributes of a judgment. See West v. Standard Oil Co., (1928) 73 Law Ed 265. That aside, the order now filed discloses that the main points arising in the matter had received the careful attention of the Chief Minister and his opinions were formed on the material on record and attendant circumstances,

32. The various considerations that weighed with him in arriving at the decision are set out in the order. Nothing further could be expected of an Administrative tribunal performing quasi-judicial functions. We, therefore, negative this contention also.

33. It was lastly submitted that the reasoned order of the Chief Minister could not be regarded as an integral part of the Government order as notified in the official gazette. This argument is inadmissible. The order approving the scheme could only be issued in the name of the Governor as, under the Constitution, all orders are expressed to be issued in the name of the Governor and consequently the impugned order also went in the name of the Governor. But the decision is that of the Chief Minister and both of them are to be read as the integral part of the same order. We overrule this submission also.

34. The only point that survives is the one based upon Rule 11 of the Andhra Pradesh Motor Vehicles Rules, 1957. It is maintained by the counsel for the petitioners that the cancellation of permits without notice to the petitioners who were persons to be affected thereby was totally without jurisdiction while the stand taken by the Advocate General was that the relevant rule does not contemplate the issue of notice before actually taking a decision to cancel the permits of the petitioners but only after they are actually cancelled.

35. Before we deal with the merits of the relative contentions, it is useful to extract Rule 11. Rule 11 : In giving effect to the approved scheme, the Regional Transport Authority or Authorities concerned shall, before eliminating the existing services or cancelling any existing permit or modifying the conditions of the existing permit so as to

(i) render the permit ineffective beyond a specified date;

(ii) reduce the number of vehicles authorised to be used under a permit; or

(iii) curtail the area or route covered by the permit in so far as such permit relates to the notified routes;

give due notice to the persons likely to be affected in the manner prescribed in these rules.

36. It is manifest that the terms of the rule require that notice should go to the persons to be affected thereby before eliminating the existing services or cancelling any existing permit. There are obstacles in the way of accepting the theory propounded by the Advocate-General that all that the rule requires is the service of notice upon the persons affected after deciding to render their permits ineffective. What is needed, according to him, is that the operators should be told about the date from which the order of cancellation would take effect. If this construction were permissible, then the issue of notice would be meaningless with regard to the modification of the conditions.

We are inclined to think that the object of the rule is that the Transport Authority should hear the representations which the persons likely to be affected may make before any action is taken by it under Section 68-F of the Motor Vehicles Act. No purpose is served by the service of notice upon the holder of a permit after modifying the conditions and the very object of this rule would be defeated if the person concerned is not heard either before reducing the number of vehicles or curtailing the area as envisaged in Clauses (ii) and (iii) of Rule 11. The same rule of construction should be adopted in regard to every one of the acts envisaged in Rule 11. For these reasons, we hold that notices should be served before the Regional Transport Authority resolves to do any of the things indicated in the rule.

37. Nor can we agree with the Advocate-General that the issue of a notice by the Regional Transport Authority subsequent to the filing of these petitions would cure the defect, if any. It is true that, after the complaint was made in the writ petitions that the proper authority failed to observe Rule 11, the Regional Transport Authority served a notice upon the petitioners on the 2nd of February that the permits were rendered ineffective from the 10th of February. This notice is not also in conformity with the rule apart from its not helping the petitioners in any way. Here again, the petitioners were not afforded an opportunity to make representations in regard to the date from which the permits should be made ineffectual.

It merely informs them the time from which the order would come into operation. Further, by the time the notice was given, the buses of the petitioners were no longer on the road, the order of the Regional Transport Authority having been given effect to more than a month before and the stage carriages of the Corporation having already begun to ply on the various routes mentioned in the scheme. There can, therefore, be no doubt that there was a breach of the relevant rule.

38. What then is the effect of the non-observance of it? Would it result in the proceedings of the Regional Transport Authority becoming ab initio void? We think that it does not have the effect that is ascribed to it by the Counsel for the petitioners. The argument pressed upon us by Sri Nambiar is that as it is this rule that is the foundation of the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority to take action to render the existing permits ineffective etc., it should be strictly complied with and failure to observe that rule will make all the proceedings inoperative.

39. This contention overlooks the existence of Section 68-F which runs thus:

'68-F. Issue of permits to State Transport Undertakings:

(1) Where, in pursuance of an approved scheme, any State Transport Undertaking applies in the manner specified in Chapter IV for a stage carriage permit or a public carriers permit or a contract carriage permit in respect of a notified area or notified route, the Regional Transport Authority shall issue such permit to the State Transport undertaking notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in Chapter IV.

(2) For the purpose of giving effect to the approved scheme in respect of a notified area or notified route, the Regional Transport Authority may by Order

(a) refuse to entertain any application for the renewal of any other permit;

(b) cancel any existing permit;

(c) modify the terms or any existing permit so as to

(i) render the permit ineffective beyond a specified date;

(ii) reduce the number of vehicles authorised to be used under the permit;

(iii) curtail the area or route covered by the permit in so far as such permit relates to the notified area or notified route.'

XX XX XX

40. It is manifest that this section is the source of power of the Regional Transport Authority in regard to the matter enumerated therein and also in Rule 11. It is that section that confers authority upon the tribunal to do any of the things set out therein and the Regional Transport Authority does not derive any power from Rule 11 in that regard. That rule only prescribes the procedure to be followed by the Regional Transport Authority in eliminating the existing service or cancelling the permit etc. The intendment of the rule, as could be gathered from the language, is to enable the parties, that would be adversely affected, to make representations in regard to any of the matters contemplated in that rule, Therefore, in Our judgment the infringement of the rule would only lead to the order being irregular but not without jurisdiction.

41. So the rulings relied on by the Counsel for the petitioners are not in point for the reasons that they relate to cases in which the statutory provisions which vested jurisdiction in a court Or tribunal to do a particular thing were not satisfied. In these circumstances, we have to consider whether the order impugned should be set aside. After a careful consideration of all the attendant circumstances, we have reached the conclusion that no useful purpose will be served by doing that. The only result of the setting aside of that order will be that the Regional Transport Authority will give notice to the petitioners and specify afresh the date from which the permits would be rendered ineffective.

It is not as if the petitioners could persuade the Regional Transport Authority not to eliminate the existing services or cancel the existing permits. They could only ask for extending time for rendering the permit ineffective. In such a situation, it will be an empty formality to set aside the order with a direction to obey Rule 11 and does not lead to any practical consequences. In the existing circumstances, namely, when more than two months have elapsed since the permits of the petitioners were cancelled and the vehicles of the Corporation have been plying on these routes, no useful purpose will be served by adopting that course. We are not, therefore, disposed to quash the order of the Regional Transport Authority.

42. For all the above reasons, the petitions are dismissed. Having regard to the last mentioned circumstance we direct the parties to bear their own costs.

43. We must say that we received much assistance from both sides who have argued the case with much ability.


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