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B. Veeraswamy and ors. Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh Represented by Its Secretary, Public Works and Transport Department, Hyderabad and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. Nos. 1047 and 1049 of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1959AP413
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 44A, 48, 48A, 51A, 56, 56A, 64, 64A and 133A; Madras Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1948; Constitution of India - Article 245; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 115; Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1956
AppellantB. Veeraswamy and ors.
RespondentState of Andhra Pradesh Represented by Its Secretary, Public Works and Transport Department, Hyderab
Appellant AdvocateP. Ramachandra Rao and ;P. Suryanarayana, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateGovt. Pleader, ;P. Babul Raddy and ;Konda Kotayya, Advs.
DispositionPetitions dismissed
Excerpt:
motor vehicles - power of government to give directions - sections 44 a, 48 a, 51 a, 56 a of motor vehicles act, 1939 (as amended by madras act of 1948) - petitioners were bus owners - conditions attached to their permits altered by regional transport officer - challenge by petitioners on ground that government has no power to grant authority to regional transport officer to perform functions of state transport authority - contention turned down - held, under sections 48 a and 56 a government has such powers. - maximssections 2(xv) & 3(1) & (3): [v.v.s. rao, n.v. ramana & p.s. narayana, jj] ghee as a live stock product held, [per v.v.s. rao & n.v. ramana, jj - majority] since ages, milk is preserved by souring with aid of lactic cultures. the first of such resultant products developed.....opinionsatyanarayana raju, j.1. the following question has been referred to the full bench:'whether the state government can authorise the regional transport officer to exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the state transport authority under sections 48a, 51a and 56a of the motor vehicles act?2. the factes relevant for the consideration of the question may he stated: respondents 3 and 4 are holders of two stage carriage permits on the route gujjanagundla to old guntur via stall girls school. by their applications, dated 5th may, 1956, they applied to the regional transport officer, guntur for variation of the route by extending it to nambur railway station. in his proceedings, dated 22nd august, 1956, the regional transport officer refused the applications of respondents 3.....
Judgment:
OPINION

Satyanarayana Raju, J.

1. The following question has been referred to the Full Bench:

'Whether the State Government can authorise the Regional Transport Officer to exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the State Transport Authority under Sections 48A, 51A and 56A of the Motor Vehicles Act?

2. The factes relevant for the consideration of the question may he stated: Respondents 3 and 4 are holders of two stage carriage permits on the route Gujjanagundla to Old Guntur via Stall Girls School. By their applications, dated 5th May, 1956, they applied to the Regional Transport Officer, Guntur for variation of the route by extending it to Nambur Railway Station. In his proceedings, dated 22nd August, 1956, the Regional Transport Officer refused the applications of respondents 3 and 4 to extend the route. The two operators thereupon preferred revision petitions to the Government of Andhra. By their order dated 24th October, 1956, the Government set aside the order of the Regional Transport Officer and directed him to grant the extension of the route. The propriety of the Government Order is the subject-matter of these Petitions, filed under Article 226 of the Constitution.

3. About two decades ago, in the year 1939, the Central Legislature enacted the Motor Vehicles Act (IV of 1939) (hereinafter referred to as 'the Principal Act'). Since then the Central as well as the State Legislatures have made extensive amendments to the Act. The Act was amended by the Madras Legislature in its application to the Madras State by several Amendment Acts. For the purposes of this reference, it is sufficient to notice the amendments made by the Motor Vehicles (Madras) Amendment) Act (XX of 1948), which may hereinafter be referred to as 'the Amendment Act'.

4. The Act creates new rights and liabilities and prescribes an elaborate procedure for regulation of motor transport. It contains ten Chapters. Chapter IV, entitled 'Control of Transport' provides for establishment by the State Government of a regular hierarchy of Administrative Bodies.

5. Section 44 of the principal Act empowers the State Government to constitute a State Transport Authority and Regional Transport Authorities for notified regions with specified powers and functions. Section 48 confers certain powers on a Regional Transport Authority. One of such powers is to attach to a stage carriage permit the following, among other conditions:

'That the stage carriage or stage carriages shall be used only on specified routes or in a specified area.'

It is here necessary to notice the provisions introduced by the Amendment Act. Section 44-A reads:

'The State Government may appoint a State Transport Commissioner and notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, may, by notification in the Fort St. George Gazette, authorise such Commissioner or any officer subordinate to him to exercise and discharge, in lieu of any other authority prescribed by or under this Act, such powers and functions as may be specified in the notification.'

Section 48-A is in the following terms:

'Any conditions attached to a stage carriage permit in pursuance of Clause (d) of Section 48 may, at any time, be varied, cancelled or added to by the State Authority, provided that this power shall not be exercised to the prejudice of the holder of the permit without giving not less than three months' notice to him.'

6. Section 51-A inserted by the Amendment Act, confers similar power on the State Transport Authority to alter any conditions attached to a contract carriage permit and is subject to the same limitation. Section 56-A empowers the State Transport Authority to alter any conditions attached to a public carrier's permit.

7. Another material provision to which reference is necessary is Section 133-A, added by the Central Legislature in 1942.

'133-A (1) The State Government may, for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of this Act, establish a Motor Vehicles Department and appoint as officers thereof such persons as it thinks fit.

(2) Every such officer shall be deemed to be a public servant, within the meaning of the Indian Penal Code.

(3) The State Government may make rules to regulate the discharge by officers of the Motor Vehicles department of their functions and in particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power to prescribe the uniform to be worn by them, the authorities to which they shall be subordinate, the duties to be performed by them, the powers (including the powers exercisable by police officers under this Act) to be exercised by them, and the conditions governing the exercise of such powers.'

Mention may here be made of Rule 208, made by the Madras Government, by virtue of the powers conferred on them by the Act:

'(a) Upon application made in writing by the holder of any permit the Transport Authority may at any time, in its discretion, vary the permit or any of the conditions thereof, subject to the provisions of Sub-rule (b).

(b) If the application is for the variation of the permit by the inclusion of an additional vehicle or vehicles or if the grant of variation would authorise transport facilities materially different from those authorised by the original permit, the transport authority shall deal with the application as it it were an application for permit.'

8. In W. P. No. 806 of 1951 on the file of the High Court of Madras Mr. Justice Subba Rao held that on a combined reading of Sections 48 and 48-A it was clear that the conditions attached to a permit could be varied only by the State Transport Authority. There was then a proposal before the Government of India to amend the principal Act empowering Regional Transport Authorities to vary the conditions of a permit. Pending Legislation by the Central Legislature, the Madras Government, as a temporary measure, issued a notification on 14th February, 1953, authorising Regional Transport Officers to vary the conditions of a permit. They purported to issue the notification under the powers vested in them under Section 44-A of the Amendment Act. The notification runs as follows:

In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 44-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (Central Act IV of 1939) the Governor of Madras hereby authorizes the Regional Transport Officers and the Secretary, Road Traffic Board Madras:--

(1) to exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the State Transport Authority under Sections 48-A, 51-A, 56-A of the said Act, and

(2) to dispose of all such proceedings under any of the said sections pending before the State Transport Authority on the date of publication of this notification in the Fort St. George Gazette as may be transferred to them by the State Transport Authority.

The Regional Transport Officers and the Secretary, Road Traffic Board, Madras, are informed that the powers delegated in para 2 above should be exercised in such a way as not to undermine the authority and prestige of the Regional Transport Authorities. In order to achieve the object, the procedure prescribed in G. O. Ms. No. 2335 (Home) dated the 12th June, 1951. should be followed strictly in the cases of opening of new routes, putting additional buses on existing routes and in varying existing routes. The Government also direct that other cases of variations where the decision of the Regional Transport Officer is likely to go counter to the previous decision of the Regional Transport Authority should be submitted to the Central Road Traffic Board for its approval and should not be disposed of by the Regional Transport Officer or the Secretary, Road Traffic Board, without the prior approval of the Central Road Traffic Board.' Meanwhile, the decision in W.P. No. 806 of 1951 was reversed in appeal by a Division Bench of the Madras High Court. The Division Bench held that the Regional Transport Authority could vary the conditions of a permit which it had granted. Notwithstanding the reversal of the judgment, which occasioned the notification, the Government did not withdraw the notification, and it was pursuant to the power conferred under the said notification that the Government of Andhra authorised the Regional Transport Officer in the instant case to vary the conditions of the permit by extending the route.

9. This Central Legislature has since enacted Act 100 of 1956 which came into force on 16th February, 1957. Section 48(3) (xxi) of the principal Act as amended by the Central Amendment Act 100 of 1956, authorises the Regional Transport Authority to vary the conditions of a permit and to attach to the permit further conditions. As the impugned order was made by the Government on 24th October, 1956, the question referred to the Full Bench must be determined with reference to the notification issued by the Madras Government on 34th February, 1953.

10. The answer to that reference depends upon the true construction of the expression 'any officer subordinate to the Transport Commissioner', found in Section 44-A of the Amendment Act. There is no ruling of this Court which has considered the scope of Section 44-A. A Division Bench of the Madras High Court, consisting of Rajamannar C. J. and Panchapakesa Ayyar J., in W.A. No. 107/55 observed thus:

'Now Section 44-A of the Act refers to a Provincial Transport Commissioner and to officers subordinate to him. It was not disputed that the Regional Transport Officer as an officer created by the Statute was not subordinate to the Provincial Transport Commissioner as such. In our opinion, Section 44-A contemplates officers subordinate to the Provincial Transport Commissioner ......The present appeal can be disposed of on a simpler issue, i.e., that the purported delegation under Section 44-A to the Regional Transport Officer was bad because the Regional Transport Officer is not an officer subordinate to the Provincial Transport Commissioner. The delegation made to the Regional Transport Officer was therefore ultra vires.'

The same question was again raised in the Madras High Court in two W.Ps. filed under Article 226. Rajagopala Ayyangar J., felt himself bound by the above-mentioned judgment of the Division Bench and he therefore held that the Regional Transport Officer had no power to effect the variation. This judgment was taken in Letters Patent Appeal in W.A. Nos. 56 and 57 of 1956. Krishnaswami Nayudu and Ramaswami JJ., before whom the appeals came on for hearing, came to the conclusion that the earlier decision in W.A. No. 107 of 1955 required reconsideration and so referred the appeals to a Full Bench whose decision is reported in Krishnaswami Mudaliar v. Palani Pillai, . The Full Bench has held that the delegation of powers made by the State Government to the Regional Transport Officers by G.O. Ms. No. 527 dated 14th February, 1953, is bad. The reasons on which the learned Judges of the Full Bench rested their conclusion may be summarised thus: Section 133-A empowers the State Governments to set up Motor Vehicles Departments and also to determine the subordination of the various officers in those departments. It must be assumed that the Madras Legislature was aware of the existence of Section 133-A when it introduced Section 44-A, and in using the word 'subordinate' in that Section, it must have intended that the word should be understood only in the manner to determine which provision had already been made in the Act. There being no rules framed under Section 133-A, making the Regional Transport Officer subordinate to the Transport Commissioner, it follows that under the Statute he has not yet become a subordinate to the Commissioner. Therefore, the delegation of powers made to him in the notification dated 14th February, 1953, is bad.

11. According to the decision of the Full Bench, this construction of Section 44-A ensures that there will be no transfer or delegation of powers except to officers whose subordination has been determined by rules properly framed under the Act and it also avoids the anomaly of a person in the position of a Secretary of a body being empowered to vary the conditions of a permit granted by that body.

12. The Act itself does not define the word Subordinate'. The Transport Commissioner is constituted the Head of the Department of Transport, which is the Motor Vehicles Department, directed to be constituted under Section 133-A of the Act. It is incontrovertible that the Head of a Department of the Government is a person who is a superior officer having the control of the administration of he Department. From the Financial Code, the Madras Services Manual and the Madras Civil List, it is seen that the Commissioner is the head of the Transport Department and other officers, including Regional Transport Officers are subordinate to him.

13. A reference to the order of the Government in G.O. Ms. No. 730, Home Department D/- 22-2-1947, puts the matter beyond doubt:

'One of the conclusions reached at the eighth meeting of the Transport advisory council held in Delhi in October 1945 related to the establishment of an administrative machinery to work the general policy of planned transport. The council recommended among other things, that each Provincial Government should create a whole time office of Provincial Transport Commissioner and that subject to the general control of the Provincial Government, the Provincial Transport Commissioner should be the Chief Transport Administrative Officer in the province, the Chairman of the Provincial Transport Authority under Motor Vehicles Act and be competent to give such directions as may lawfully be given to the Regional Transport Officers ......To implement this recommendation the Government have decided to create the post of a Transport Commissioner for the province. The post will be in the first instance sanctioned temporarily for a period of one year.

His Excellency the Governor of Madras hereby sanctions the creation of the post of Transport Commissioner of the grade of a Collector with a special pay of Rs. 200/- per mensem for a period of one year from the date of appointment. He will be the Chairman, Central Road Traffic Board, Provincial Motor Transport Controller and Provincial Rationing Officer.'

Section 133-A empowers the State Government to make rules to regulate the discharge by officers of the Motor Vehicles department of their functions and the authorities to which they shall be subordinate. The plain intendment of this Section is to provide that the subordinate officers in the performance of their various duties, are subject to the direction and control of a superior officer, The words 'the Transport Commissioner or any officer subordinate to him' used in Section 44-A are of a much wider amplitude. The object of the Motor Vehicles Act is to provide for the control and regulation of motor transport. The Act prescribes a regular hierarchy of administrative bodies to deal with the regulation of motor transport. The administrative bodies constituted under the Act are to exercise and discharge such powers and functions as are specified in the Act. They are appointed by the Government. Section 43-A vests a general power in the State Government to issue such orders and directions, as it may consider necessary, to the State Transport Authority or a Regional Transport Authority in respect of any matter relating to road transport and such Transport Authority shall give effect to all such orders and directions. Section 44-A empowers the State Government to appoint a State Transport Commissioner and authorise such Commissioner or any officer subordinate to him to exercise and discharge, in lieu of any other authority prescribed by or under the Act, such powers and functions as may be specified in the notification issued by them. In construing a statutory provision, every word occurring therein must be given its proper meaning.

14. Now, what is the exact purport of the component words of the expression 'any officer subordinate' used in Section 44-A? 'Any' is a word which excludes limitation or qualification. It connotes wide generality. Its use points to a distributive construction (Vide: Stroud's Judicial Dictionary). The word 'any' is used in the sense of 'anybody', 'any person'. The individual who is invested with the authority and is required to perform the duties' incidental to an office is an officer. For determining whether officers are subordinate or not, the test is not whether a review of such of their determinations as are quasi-judicial may be had, but whether in the performance of their various duties they are subject to the direction and control of a superior officer, or are independent officers subject only to such directions as the statute gives. The Regional Transport Officer is an individual who is invested with the authority and is required to perform the duties incidental to an office and is therefore an officer. In the performance of his various duties, he is subject to the direction and control of the Transport Commissioner. He is thus an officer subordinate to the Transport Commissioner.

15. Two objections have been raised with regard to this construction. Firstly, it is pointed out that a clerk or even a peon in the Transport Department is subordinate to the Transport Commissioner and that it would be open to the State Government to delegate the powers referred to in Section 44-A to a clerk or even to a peon; and secondly, that it would be open to the Government to delegate to an officer subordinate to the one who granted the permit the power to vary its conditions. The first of the objections is based on the assumption that the State Government, in authorising persons to exercise and discharge such powers and functions as may be specified in the notification may abuse their powers. As has been observed by the Supreme Court in Dr. N. B. Khare v. The State of Delhi, it is improper to start with such an assumption and decide the legality of an Act on that basis. Where the power of delegation is vested in the Government, it cannot be easily assumed that there will be an abuse of such power. There is, moreover, a presumption that the Government will discharge their duties honestly and in accordance with the rules or law. It is also to be noted that 'any officer subordinate' occurring in Section 44-A, must mean any eligible officer and there is no reason to assume that the Government would authorise a person who is not eligible, to exercise and discharge the powers and functions.

16. With regard to the second of the objections, it is necessary to note that the Act or the rules made thereunder do not contain any special provision prohibiting an authority, other than the one which granted a permit, to vary its conditions. Section 60 of the Act is one of the special provisions governing the cancellation and suspension of permits. It enables only the authority which granted a permit to suspend it. This provision does not apply to the variation of the conditions of a permit. Section 48-A introduced by the Madras Amendment Act of 1948, empowers the State Transport Authority to vary, cancel or add to any of the conditions attached to a stage carriage permit. The only limitation on the exercise of this power is that such variation, cancellation or addition should not be made to the prejudice of the holder of the permit without giving him notice. Section 44-A introduced by the same amendment Act, empowers the State Government to authorise the Transport Commissioner or any officer subordinate to him to exercise and discharge in lieu of any other authority prescribed by or under the Act. such powers and functions. On a combined reading of Sections 44-A and 48-A, it is clear that the Government is within its powers in authorising the Regional Transport Officer, who is an officer subordinate to the Transport Commissioner, to exercise the power vested by Section 48-A in lieu of the State Authority.

17. The Madras Full Bench has held that the word 'subordinate' in Section 44-A, should be understood in the sense of statutory subordination. This interpretation, if we may say so, with respect tails to give effect to all the constituent parts of the expression 'any officer subordinate', and in particular, omits to consider the effect of the word 'any' altogether. As has been already stated, the word 'any' excludes limitation Or qualification and connotes wide generality. It comprehends not only the officers whose subordination to the Transport Commissioner is statutorily determined, but all eligible subordinate officers. We are, therefore, of opinion that the Regional Transport Officer conies within the ambit of the expression 'any officer subordinate' used in Section 44-A. We do not think that there is any validity in the objections raised by the petitioners.

18. For all the above reasons, the answer to the question referred to the Full Bench must be that the State Government can authorise the Regional Transport officer to exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the State Transport Authority under sections 48-A, 51-A and 56-A of the Motor Vehicles Act.

(Note-- In pursuance of the above suggestion of the Full Bench dated 20-11-1958 the case came on for hearing before a Division Bench, who alter perusing the record, and hearing arguments of the advocates, made the following order:)

Order of the Division Bench (17-12-1958)

Jaganmohan Reddy, J.

19. These two writ petitions initially came up before our brother Satyanarayana Raju J., & were referred to a Bench because the question of the validity of the delegation made under G. O. No. 527 dated 14-2-1953, whereunder the Regional Transport Officer has been empowered to dispose of applications under Section 48-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, was raised. The reference to the Division Bench was necessitated because of an unreported decision of a Bench of the Madras High Court, which held that the delegation was ultra vires. Accordingly, these petitions came up for consideration before a bench consisting of the former Chief Justice and one of us, which referred the question 'Whether the State Government can authorise the Regional Transport Officer to exercise the powers and discharge the functions of the State Transport Authority under Sections 48-A, 51-A and 56-A of the Motor Vehicles Act', to a Full Bench. The Full Bench answered the question in the affirmative.

20. Before us the learned Advocates for the parties now contend that this answer does not conclude the main question arising in the petitions. The decision of the Government is assailed on the ground, that the petitioners were not given notice of the revision and that contrary to the principles of natural justice, a matter affecting their rights was decided behind their back and consequently they prayed that the orders of the Government in G. O. No. Ms. 2917 D/- 24-10-1956 be quashed by the issue of a Writ of certiorari. Further they contend that the revision before the Government was Untenable as the right of appeal afforded by Section 64 of the Motor Vehicles Act was not availed of. For a proper appreciation of the questions raised before us, it is necessary to state briefly the facts.

21. The petitioners in W.P. Nos. 1047 and 1049 of 1956 are different bus operators, the former operating on the route Guntur-Vijayawada and the latter on the routes Nallapadu Pedakakani and Parchur Guntur. The respondents, D. Pundarikakshudu and T. Buchiramaiah, applied on 5-5-1956 to the Regional Transport Authority, Guntur, for the extension of the existing town service route Gujjanagundla to Old Guntur via Stall Girls' High School up to Nambur Railway station, that is to operate between Gujjanagundla and Nambur Railway Station via Stall Girls' High School. On receipt of this application the Regional Transport Authority gave notice on 26-5-1956 of the variation under Section 47(1) of the Act, among others to the petitioners inviting representations by those affected or interested on or before 14-6-1956. Pursuant to this notice, representations were submitted by the petitioners. The Regional Transport Officer thereafter hoard objections and issued a notice for public hearing before the Regional Transport Authority dated 26-6-1936. Objections were heard by the said authority which refused to recommend the extension sought for by the respondents. But notwithstanding this, the respondents applied to the Regional Transport Officer, for the said variation of the bus route. The Regional Transport Officer, Guntur purporting to act as the State Transport Authority under Section 48-A issued a notice under Section 57 (3) of the Madras Motor Vehicles Act D/- 9-7-1950 calling for objections on or before 11-8-1956. It may here be stated that the petitioners did not submit any representations, nor did they appear before the Regional Transport Officer, who however, passed orders on 22-8-1958 rejecting the application of the respondents. The respondents thereupon filed a revision petition before the Government against the order of the Regional Transport Officer dated 22-8-1.956 and the Government after a consideration of the various matters, passed the following order:

'Sri D. Pundarikaksha Rao and Sri T. Buchiramayya applied for the grant of variation of the existing town service route, Gujjanagundla to Old Guntur via Stall Girls' High School as Gujjanagundla to Nambur Railway Station via Stall Girls' High School and Old Guntur in respect of their buses ADG 2246 and ADG 919 respectively. After following the prescribed procedure the applications were notified under Section 57(3) of the M.V. Act 1939. Notwithstanding the fact that no objections were received with reference to this notification, the Regional Transport Officer, Guntur, in his proceedings L.Dis. No. 7955-A3/56 dated 22-8-1956 refused to grant the variation of the existing town service route. Against this order, Sarvasri T. Buchiramayya and D. Pundarikakshudu have come up to the Government an revision.

(2) The Government have examined the case with reference to the connected records. The Government consider that having regard to the fact that Nambur is growing in importance and also of the fact that representations have been received urging for extension and as there are no direct bus facilities from Old Guntur to Nambur Railway Station, the route Gujjanagundla to Old Guntur via Stall Girls' High School should be varied as Gujjanagundla to Nambur Railway Station in respect of Buses ADG 2246 and ADG 919. In this view the proceedings of the Regional Transport Officer, Guntur L.Dis. No. 7855-A3-56 d/-22-8-1956 are set aside as not proper and the Regional Transport Officer, Guntur is directed to grant the variation in respect of the two buses as indicated above.' The only question in these writ applications, as already stated is whether the order of the Government is bad by reason of the omission to give specific notice of the revisions filed by the respondents and the variation of the bus route and whether the Government could entertain the revisions when the respondents had a right of appeal which they did not avail of. The learned Government Pleader submits that the Government were not obliged to give any such notice to any person who had not put in his appearance or Filed any representation before the Regional Transport Officer in pursuance of the notice under Section 57(3), nor is there anything in Section 64-A to warrant the necessity of any such notice being given to the petitioners. Secondly ho contends that there is no right of appeal on a question of variation. Even if there is such a right the provisions of Section 64-A do not limit the power of the Government to entertain revisions only in cases where there is right of appeal.

22. Rule 555 of the Madras Motor Vehicles Rules specifies that the provisions of Sub-section (3) of Section 57 of the Act are sufficiently complied with it the particulars mentioned in that sub-section are posted on the official notice board of the Transport Authority not less than 15 days before the appointed day for the receipt of the representations. The Government In their counter asserted that such a notice was published on the notice Board of the Regional Transport Office which is sufficient compliance with Rule 155. It is denied that objections were not called by the Regional Transport Officer and it is stated that no representations were in fact received from any of the operators. The Regional Transport Officer in his proceedings L. Dis. 7955/A3/56 clearly states that 'the applications of both the applicants were duly notified and no representations have been received.' This was not seriously challenged. If so, the Government were not bound in revision to give any notice to the petitioners. Section 57(3) is not applicable to proceedings under Section 64-A. If the Legislature had intended to do so, it would have included such a provision. In Anjaneya Motor Transport v. State of Madras 1955-2 Mad LI 376: ((S) AIR 1355 Mad 660). a Bench of the Madras High Court consisting of Rajamannar C. J. and Rajagopala Ayyangar J., took a similar view. There the representations in pursuance of the notification under Section 57(3) were submitted out of the time and were not considered in accordance with the provisions of Sub-section (4) of Section 57. The variation sought for was, however, rejected. The grounds urged before the Bench challenging the order of the Government were that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the appeal because, under the Motor Vehicles Act, no appeal lay against an order rejecting an application for variation of the conditions of the permit, and that even if the Government had jurisdiction to interfere with the order of the Central Road Traffic Board, the exercise of that jurisdiction was vitiated by the failure of the Government to give notice to the petitioners, before they passed an order which affected them adversely. Rajagopalan J., before whom the matter first came up proceeded upon the footing that no appeal lay to the Government but as it is admitted that the Government had revisional jurisdiction under Section 64-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, there was no insuperable objection in sustaining the validity of the order passed by the Government. The learned Judge also held that, as the petitioners before him had not filed representations in time, they have no right to be heard by the Government and that consequently there was no violation of the principles of natural justice in not issuing notice to them before interfering with the order of the Central Road Traffic Board. In considering the argument relating to the omission to give notice by the Government, based as it was on the analogy of proceedings in civil cases where even though a party is ex parte at the trial but the judgment or decree is in his favour, notice has to he issued to him by an appellate or revisional Court before such judgment or decree is vacated or interfered with to his prejudice, Rajagopala Ayyangar J., at pp. 378-379 (of Mad LJ): (at p. 661 of AIR) observed thus:

'.........In our opinion, the entire argument of the learned counsel proceeds on a misapprehension of the nature of the proceedings under the Motor Vehicles Act. There is here no lis between the parties so that in a sense there are no parties at all except the applicant. The Transport Authority has to consider whether in the public interest the application that is made to it could be granted or not. There might be other persons providing transport facilities in such an area who might be adversely affected by such an order and who are entitled to make representations that in public interest the application need not or should not, be granted. Section 57 (3) makes provision for the interested public being notified and Section 57(4) provides the limitations. If an operator or a person interested does not take steps in time, he has no right to be heard before orders are passed and that is the effect of Section 57(4). But merely because a person files a representation out of time, he does not become in any sense a party to the proceedings. When an appeal or a revision is filed, though there is no statutory provision in that regard, the principles of natural justice require that notice should be given to those who were parties to the proceedings.'

The Bench further held that the argument that it was the duty of the appellate or revisional authority to make an enquiry as to the persons likely to be affected by any order which they might pass and deal with the appeal or revision before it, after notice to and hearing such parties, is an attempt to enact provisions similar to Section 57(3) at each stage of an appeal or a revision, which is certainly not warranted by any rule of construction, With great respect, we agree with this view.

23. There is no doubt that the exercise of the power under Section 64-A is of a quasi-judicial nature and must be bona fide and unbiased. If a person has been adversely affected by any of the orders of the Government, principles of natural justice require that notice should be issued to him giving him an opportunity to make his representations, though there is nothing in the aforesaid section to warrant a right of personal hearing or through advocates. As we have already held, the petitioners did not care to make any representation before the concerned authority; as such they cannot now complain of not being given an opportunity to make their representations. The prime requisite and consideration, which should weigh in the grant or refusal of a stage carriage permit or the variation thereof, is the public interest. Section 47(1) enumerates the considerations which should be taken into account in granting or refusing stage carriage permits, viz., the interest of the public generally, the advantage to the public of the service to be provided, including the saving of time likely to be effected thereby and any convenience arising from journeys not being broken, the adequacy of existing road passenger transport services between the places to be served, the fares charged by those services and the effect upon those services of the service proposed, the benefit to any particular locality or localities likely to be afforded by the service, the operation by the applicant of other transport services and in particular of unremunerative services in conjunction with remunerative services, and the condition of the roads included in the proposed route or routes.

It is only after consideration of these matters, restrictions and conditions can be imposed under Section 48, as also under Sections 55 and 56 the grant or refusal of a Public Carrier's permit, imposing restrictions or attaching conditions in granting such permits. Similarly considerations of public interest would apply to varying or cancelling or adding to any condition attached to any Stage Carriage permit or a Public Carrier's permit in pursuance of Clause (d) of Section 48, or Clause (b) of Section 56 as the case may be by the State Transport Authority or by any person exercising these powers. That this aspect was taken into consideration by the Government in varying the route is clear from the order itself which refers to the growing importance of Nambur and the public demand for such variation being expressed by several representations made to them. In our view, therefore, the petitioners are not entitled to any notice, nor can the order of the Government be held invalid by reason of such omission.

24. The next contention is that which relates to the entertain ability of the revision without the respondents first having recourse to an appeal provided under Section 64 of the Act. This contention is equally without force, firstly, because there is no right of appeal under Section 64 from an order refusing to vary a route, and secondly, Section 64-A is not conditioned by any such limitation. Sections 64 and 64-A are in the following terms:

'64. Any person:

(a) aggrieved by the refusal of the Provincial or a Regional Transport Authority to grant a permit or by any condition attached to a permit granted to him, or

(b) aggrieved by the revocation or suspension of the permit or by any variation of the conditions thereof, or

(c) aggrieved by the refusal to transfer the permit to the person succeeding on the death of the holder of a permit, or

(d) aggrieved by the refusal of the Provincial or a Regional Transport Authority to countersign a permit, or by any condition attached to such countersignature, or

(e) aggrieved by the refusal or renewal of a permit, or

(f) being a local authority or police authority or an association which, or a person providing transport facilities who, having opposed the grant of a permit is aggrieved by the grant thereof or by any condition attached thereto, or

(g) being the holder of a licence, who is aggrieved by the refusal of a Regional Transport! Authority to grant an authorisation to drive a public service vehicle may within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner, appeal to the prescribed authority who shall give such person and the original authority an opportunity of being heard.

'64-A: The Provincial Government may, of its own motion or on application made to it, call for the records of any order passed or proceeding taken under this Chapter by any authority or officer subordinate to it, for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the legality, regularity or propriety of such order or proceedings and after examining such records, may pass such order in reference thereto as it thinks fit.'

It will be seen from the above provisions, while there is a right of appeal under Section 64(b) against the revocation or suspension of the permit or any variation of the conditions thereof, there is no right of appeal against a refusal to vary the permit. Nor does Section 64-A limit the power of the Government to call for the records of any orders passed or proceedings taken by any of the officers specified in, Chap. IV only in cases where no appeal lies, as is the case with Section 115, C. P. C,, which specifically limits the power of the High Court to call for the records of any case decided by any Court subordinate to it in which no appeal lies thereto. If the Legislature had intended to fetter the Government in any way, a provision of that nature would have certainly found a place in Section 64-A.

25. In the result, these writ petitions are dismissed with costs, in one. Advocate's fee Rupees 100/-.


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