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U.P. State Road Transport Corporation Vs. the State Transport Appellate (Tribunal), U.P. Lucknow and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ No. 4961 of 1971
Judge
Reported inAIR1977All1
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 68C and 68F(2); Uttar Pradesh Road Transport Service (Development) Rules, 1955 - Rule 3; Constitution of India - Article 141
AppellantU.P. State Road Transport Corporation
RespondentThe State Transport Appellate (Tribunal), U.P. Lucknow and ors.
Appellant AdvocateS.K. Sharma, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS.K. Dhaon, Adv. and ;Standing Counsel
Excerpt:
.....transport service (development) rules, 1955 -scheme under section 68-c giving exclusive right to state transport corporations for operation on particular route - no specific provision for cancellation of existing permits of private operators - however to give effect to notification no permit of private operators to be renewed. (ii) conflicting orders of supreme court - two orders of supreme court giving conflicting views - view of later case to be followed. - cantonments act[c.a. no. 41/2006]. section 346 & cantonment fund (servants rules, 1937, rules 13, 14 & 15: [h.l. gokhale, ag. cj, p.v. hardas, naresh h. patil, r.m. borde & r.m. savant, jj] jurisdiction of school tribunal constituted under maharashtra employees of private schools (conditions of service) regulations act, (3 of..........respondents nos. 3 to 14 filed appeal against the order of the regional transport authority. the state transport appellate tribunal set aside the order of the regional transport authority and renewed their permits with corridor restrictions for the overlapping portions of the notified routes. the corridor restrictions laid down a condition in the renewed permit to the effect that while plying their stage carriages on the muzaffarnagar-saharanpur route via bamanheri and galgalheri, respondents nos. 3 to 14 shell not pick up or set down passengers on the notified portion of the route, namely, muzaffarnagar-bamanheri and saharanpur-galgalheri route. the u. p. state road transport corporation (hereinafter referred to as the corporation) filed writ petition in this court challenging the.....
Judgment:

K.N. Singh, J.

1. A learned single Judge of this Court has referred the following question to this Bench:

'Whether under a scheme in which a notified route overlaps a portion of a pre-existing route there is total exclusion of private operators without there being specific provision cancelling or modifying the existing permits on the overlapped route, can the permits be so renewed as to cover overlapped portion of the notified route?'

2. The facts giving rise to this-reference are necessary to be noted. Respondents Nos. 3 to 14 are private operators, they held stage carriage permits for providing road transport service on the route Muzaffarnagar-Saharanpur via Bamanheri-Deoband and Galgalheri. On the expiry of the period of their permits they made applications for renewal of their permits but the Regional Transport Authority rejected their application on the ground that a portion of the route lying between Muzaffarnagar-Bamanheri and Saharanpur-Galgalheri formed part of notified routes Muzaffarnagar-Barela-Basera and Saharanpur-Hardwar via Chutmalpur and Galgalheri. Respondents Nos. 3 to 14 filed appeal against the order of the Regional Transport Authority. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal set aside the order of the Regional Transport Authority and renewed their permits with corridor restrictions for the overlapping portions of the notified routes. The corridor restrictions laid down a condition in the renewed permit to the effect that while plying their stage carriages on the Muzaffarnagar-Saharanpur route via Bamanheri and Galgalheri, respondents Nos. 3 to 14 shell not pick up or set down passengers on the notified portion of the route, namely, Muzaffarnagar-Bamanheri and Saharanpur-Galgalheri route. The U. P. State Road Transport Corporation (hereinafter referred to as the Corporation) filed writ petition in this Court challenging the orders of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal.

3. At the hearing of the writ petition before Hari Swarup, J. it was urged on behalf of the Corporation that theState Transport Appellate Tribunal had no authority in law to renew or grant permits to private operators for providing road transport services on any portion of the notified routes. On behalf of respondents Nos. 3 to 14 it was submitted that the scheme notifying Muzaffarnagar-Basera via Bamanheri-Berla route did not contain any specific direction for cancellation or modification of respondents' permits which were in respect of an existing route, namely, Muzafrarnagar-Saharanpur. It was further urged that since the respondents' permits had been renewed with corridor restrictions, the integrity of the scheme of the notified routes was not violated. Reliance was placed on the decision of a Division Bench of this Court in State of U. P. v. Radhey Lal Sarin, Spl. Appeal No. 1042 of 1970, D/-29-3-1970 (All). In Sarin's case the question was whether private operators were prohibited from plying stage carriages on Agra-Gwalior, an inter-statal route, because it overlapped Agra-Dhol-pur route which was a notified route under Chapter IV-A of the Motor Vehicles Act. The Bench held that since the scheme did not provide prohibition to the plying of a private operator on Agra-Gwalior route, the scheme did not affect the right of permit-holders to ply their stage carriages on the overlapping portion of the notified route. The petitioner Corporation relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Mysore State Road Transport Corporation v. Mysore State Transport Appellate Tribunal, AIR 1974 SC 1940. Since the view taken by the Division Bench of this court was contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court, the learned single Judge referred the above-noted question to a larger Bench.

4. Chapter IV-A of the Motor Vehicles Act contains provisions for notifying a route or area and for cancellation or modification of existing permits. Section 68-C empowers the State Transport Undertaking to prepare and publish a scheme for providing road transport service for any area or route to the exclusion, complete or partial, of other persons. The scheme becomes approved scheme after it is published under Section 68-D (3) and the area or the route to which it relates is called the notified area or 'notified route. Section 68-F (2) enumerates the consequences which follow the approval of a scheme and the Regional Transport Authority is directed to take steps for giving effect to thescheme in respect of the notified area or route. Clauses (a), (b) and (c) of Section 68-F (2) require the Regional Transport Authority to reject any application made for the grant and renewal of permit of private operator if it relates to a notified route or area and cancel or modify the permits of existing operators so as to curtail the area or the route covered by the permit in so far as the permit may relate to any overlapping portion of the notified area or route. Section 68-F (2) contemplates that the integrity of an approved scheme for providing road transport service by the State Transport Undertaking to the complete exclusion of private operators must be maintained and for that purpose no permit should be renewed and existing permits should be cancelled or, if necessary, the area of a route covered by the permit should be curtailed or modified. Section 68-F of the provisions contained in Chapter IV-A do not permit transport authorities constituted under the Act, to renew or grant any stage carriage permits to a private operator for providing road transport services on any notified route or portion thereof if the scheme is for exclusive operation of the services of the State Transport Undertaking on the notified route or portions thereof. Section 68-C contemplates two kinds of schemes, one providing total monopoly in favour of the State Transport Undertaking to the complete exclusion of private operators while the other class of scheme may provide for partial exclusion of private operators. If the scheme makes provision for exclusive operation of the State Road Transport Undertaking, no private operator is entitled to obtain permit or to provide road transport service on the notified route or portion thereof. But if the scheme makes provision for partial exclusion the private operators are not completely excluded, they may obtain permit to provide road transport service on the notified route or portion thereof in accordance with the terms and conditions laid down in the scheme.

5. In a case where the scheme contains provision for the exclusive operation of road transport service of the State Transport Undertaking, the consequences laid down in Section 68-F (2) would automatically follow. The Regional Transport Authority has no option but to modify or cancel the existing permits and refuse to renew any permit in order to give effect to the approved scheme. The Legislature itself made provision forthe consequences which would ensue after a scheme is approved and a route is notified. Therefore, the nature of particular scheme must be examined in each case. If the scheme is for exclusive operation of the State Transport Undertaking no private operator is entitled to renewal of his permit for the notified route or any portion thereof. If the permit relates to some other route, the Regional Transport Authority cannot renew permit if it overlaps any portion of the notified route. In Abdul Ghafoor v. State of Mysore, AIR 1961 SC 1556 the Supreme Court held that when a scheme is notified under Chapter IV-A of the Act and if it prohibits private transport owners to operate on the area or any portion thereof, the Regional Transport Authority cannot either renew the permit of private owners or give any fresh permit in respect of a route which overlaps the notified route.

6. In Mysore State Road Transport Corporation v. Mysore State Transport Appellate Tribunal (AIR 1974 SC 1940) the Supreme Court held that if there is a prohibition to operate on a notified route or routes no licence can be granted to any private operator whose route traversed or overlapped any part or whole of that notified route. The Supreme Court examined the approved scheme to ascertain whether the scheme read as a whole prohibited private operators from operating on the notified route or any portion thereof and after the scrutiny of the scheme the Court held that the scheme provided that the notified route was to be operated by the State Transport Undertaking to the total exclusion of other operators. On behalf of the private operators it was urged that integrity of the scheme was not affected if overlapping was for a short distance and if they were permitted to ply their vehicles with corridor restrictions of not picking up or setting down passengers on the overlapping part of the notified route. The Supreme Court repelled the contention in the following manner:

'There is no justification for holding that the integrity of the notified scheme is not affected if the overlapping is under five miles or because a condition has been stipulated in the permit that the operators will not pick up or set down any passengers on the overlapping route.'

7. The principle which thus emerges is that if the scheme notified under Chapter IV-A of the Act makes provisionfor the exclusive operation of the route, or part thereof, by the State Transport Undertaking, then the consequences enumerated in Section 68-F (2) of the Act would automatically follow even though the scheme does not contain express direction for the curtailment or cancellation of existing permits of private operators or for rejection of any application for renewal of permit. But if the scheme makes partial prohibition, consequences as contemplated by Section 68-F (2) of the Act would ensue to the extent the scheme may provide for the curtailment or modification of permits of private operators.

8. In Radhey Lal Sarin's case (Spl. Appeal No. 1042 of 1970, D/- 29-3-1970 (All)) the Bench held that since the scheme framed under Chapter IV-A of the Act did not itself provide for any restriction or curtailment of any of the permits held by private operators the existing permits could not be curtailed or modified. In coming to that conclusion that Bench was of the view that since Rule 3 of the U. P. Road Transport Service (Development) Rules require that a scheme shall, inter alia, provide for the cancellation or curtailment of transport services other than those under the scheme, it was necessary to positively make provision in the scheme itself for either restricting or curtailing or modifying or cancelling the existing permits. We are unable to agree with the view of the Division Bench. Rule 3 merely prescribes the details of a scheme framed under Chapter IV-A of the Act. Once the scheme states that on the notified route the State Transport Undertaking shall provide road transport services exclusively and that the number of private vehicles plying on the route or portion thereof shall be reduced to nil, the requirement of Rule 3 is fulfilled. In such a case, no person other than the State Transport Undertaking is entitled to provide road transport service on the notified route or portion thereof. For the purposes of giving effect to the provisions of the scheme the Legislature has issued a mandate to Regional Transport Authority under Section 68-F (2) to take necessary steps to curtail, modify or cancel the existing permits as the case may be. If the existing permit is for the notified route cancellation of the permit necessarily follows but in a case where the existing permit is for a portion of the notified route, the permit must be modified or curtailed to give effect to the scheme so that no privateoperator is permitted to provide road transport services on any portion of the notified route. The permit of an existing operator may be for a different route, but if the route of the existing permit overlaps any portion of the notified route, the permit cannot be renewed because that would grant licence to private operators to provide road transport services on the notified route in violation of the scheme. For these reasons we are of the opinion that Radhey Lal Sarin's case does not lay down correct law.

9. In the instant case the scheme relating to Muzaffarnagar-Barla-Basena route as finally approved and published contains provision for exclusive operation of the notified route by the State Transport Undertaking. Clause 3 of the scheme provides that the State Transport Services shall be provided on the route or a portion thereof and the provision of transport services otherwise than under the scheme is prohibited. Clause 4 lays down that no person other than the State Government shall be permitted to provide any road transport service on the route or portion thereof specified in Clause 2. Clause 5 states that all the transport services shall subject to the provisions made in the scheme be provided by the State Government exclusively. Clause 8 further provides that the number of private transport vehicles plying on the route or portion thereof specified in Clause 2 shall be reduced to nil. These clauses show that the scheme clearly provides that State Transport Undertaking shall provide road transport services on the Muzaffarnagar-Barla-Basera route or any portion thereof exclusively to the complete exclusion of private operators. The scheme relating to Saharanpur-Hardwar route contains similar provision. Clauses 4 and 8 of the scheme state that no person other than the State Government shall be permitted to provide any road transport services on the route or portion thereof and the number of private transport vehicles plying on the route or portion thereof shall be reduced to nil. These two clauses of the scheme clearly point out that the State Transport Undertaking is entitled to provide road transport services on Saharanpur-Hardwar route or portion thereof exclusively to the complete exclusion of private operators. No person other than the State Transport Undertaking is entitled to provide road transport services on any portion of the notified route. Since the twoschemes contain total prohibition against the private operators, the consequences as laid down in Section 68-F (2) would follow.

10. Sri S. K. Dhaon, learned counsel for the respondent-operators, urged that since under the direction of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal the respondent-operators are required not to pick up or set down passengers on the notified portion of the route, the integrity of the scheme is not violative. He further urged that in passing and re-passing their vehicles on the notified portion of the route without picking up or setting down passengers the respondents operators do not carry on any trade or business in road transport. We find no merit in the contention. Section 68-A (a) of the Act defines 'road transport service' which means service of motor vehicles carrying passengers or goods or both for hire or reward. If the respondents are permitted to ply their vehicles on the notified portion of the route even with corridor restrictions they would carry passengers for hire on the portion of the notified route. Even if the respondents do not pick up or set down passengers on the notified portion of the route they would certainly carry passengers from a point prior to one termini to & place beyond the other termini of the notified route and in doing so they would charge fare from the passengers for the notified portion of the route. Thus they would be carrying passengers for hire and reward on the notified' portion of the route. This would certainly be in contravention of the two schemes noted earlier which impose complete prohibition against private operators to ply their motor vehicles or carrying goods for hire or reward on the notified route or portion thereof.

11. Shri Dhaon then placed reliance on an unreported decision of the Supreme Court in Ram Sanehi v. Bihar State Road Transport Corporation, Civil Appeal No. 2426 of 1968, D/- 20-8-1970 in support of his contention. In Ram Sanehi's case, the Supreme Court held that the plying of stage carriage vehicles by private operators on an overlapping portion of the notified route with corridor restrictions did not violate the integrity of the scheme. The Supreme Court on examination of the scheme before it found that the scheme did not contain any provision enabling the State Transport Undertaking to provide road trans-port services exclusively on the notified route or any portion thereof. Their Lordships held that in the absence of any provision for complete exclusion of the private operators, the plying of vehicles on a portion of the notified route with corridor restrictions did not violate the integrity of the scheme. The decision in Ram Sanehi's case is based on the provisions of the scheme itself. The principle laid down in that case cannot be applied to the instant case where the scheme contains a complete ban on the right of private operators to provide road transport services on the notified route or any portion thereof.

12. Learned counsel for the petitioner produced a copy of the notification issued under Section 68-D of the Act relating to Patna-Newada route to show that the scheme contemplated complete exclusion of other, persons except the State Transport Undertaking. He urged that in spite of prohibition of private operators the Supreme Court in Ram Sanehi's case (1970-2 SCWR 699) held that the grant or renewal of permit to a private operator for a portion of the route did not violate the integrity of the scheme. The instant case is fully covered by the law laid down in that case. On a perusal of the notification we find that the Patna Newada Scheme permitted other private operators to run stage carriages at the discretion of the State Government. Further Ram Sanehi's case is an unreported judgment and the earlier cases of Supreme Court were neither brought to the notice of the Supreme Court nor discussed, whereas in the Mysore State Road Transport Corporation's case (AIR 1974 SC 1940) the Supreme Court considered its earlier decisions and discussed the matter at length in coming to the conclusion that if the scheme prohibits private operators to operate on the notified area or route or any portion thereof, the Regional Transport Authority cannot either grant or renew permits of such private operators in respect of a route which may be overlapping the notified route. It is noteworthy that the Supreme Court's decision in Mysore State Transport Corporation is later in time. Even if there is some conflict in the two Supreme Court decisions, we have to follow the law as declared in the later case of Mysore State Transport Corporation.

13. In view of the above discussion, we are of the opinion that since the two schemes relating to routes Muzaffarnagar-Barela-Basere and Saharanpur-Hardwar via Chutmalpur and Gagalheri provide that the Corporation shall provide road transport services on the notified routes or portions thereof to the complete exclusion of private operators, the respondents permits could not be renewed for a portion of the notified route. We are further of the opinion that it is not necessary for the scheme to contain specific provision for cancellation or modification of existing permits of overlapping routes.

14. Accordingly, we answer the question referred to us in the negative. Let the papers of this case be laid before the Bench concerned with our answer.

H.N. Seth, J.

15. I agree.


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