S.N. Katju, J.
1. The petitioner Sheo Charan Das Sharma filed a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution praying for a writ of certiorari for quashing certain resolutions passed by the first respondent, the Regional Transport Authority, Meerat. He further prayed for a writ in the nature of; mandamus commanding the second respondent, the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Meerut, not to issue any temporary permits to opposite party-respondents 3 to 14. Satish Chandra, J., who heard the matter, referred the following question for decision to a large Bench:
'Is a rival operator entitled to maintain a writ petition to challenge a temporary permit granted to another operator?'
2. The petition then came before a Division Bench of this Court consisting of Verma and Rajeshwari Prasad, JJ. They found that the decisions of this Court on the question were conflicting. They pointed out that several Single Judges of this Court had answered this question in the affirmative while it had been answered in the negative in two Division Bench decisions of this Court (Civil Misc. Writ No. 690 of 1965, Mahendra Sen Jain v. State Transport (Appellate) Tribunal, U. P., Lucknow, decided at Lucknow on 5th of November, 1965, and Civil Misc. Writ No. 1870 of 1961, Sri Mohammad Jafar v. Regional Transport Authority, Meerut, decided on 5th of October, 1962. Verma and Rajeshwari Prasad, JJ., referred to the decisions of the Supreme Court in Nageshwar Rao v. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Authority, AIR 1959 SC 308 and Raman & Raman Ltd. v. State of Madras, AIR 1959 SC 694, and expressed a doubt as to the correctness of the aforesaid decisions of the two Division Benches of this Court. In view of the importance of the question they referred the same for decision by a Full Bench.
3. There are three separately classified routes, which are relevant to the present case, within the jurisdiction of the first respondent, viz., (1) Meerut-Kankar-khera-Sardhana-Mulhera-Bayanwal-Kuan-Budhana (hereinafter referred to as route No. (1), (2) Meerut- Kandarkhera- Banoo-Sardhana-Bhuni Parai-Doghat-Tikri (hereinafter referred to as route No. 2) and (3) Meerut-Kankar-khera- Nanoo- Sardhana- Bhooni- Barnawa Binauli (hereinafter referred to as route No. 3).
4. The petitioner is an existing operator of a stage carriage on route No. 3. The number of stage carriages plying on the aforesaid route as fixed by the first respondent some time in December 1953 was 18. It appears that soon after the number was reduced from 18 to 17 by the first respondent in exercise of its powers under Section 47 (3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter called the Act). According to the petitioner, the first respondent had fixed different and separate time tables for the operators on the aforesaid three routes and the operators plied their stage carriages on the said routes in accordance with their respective rime tables. The first respondent by its resolution No. 42 (b) dated 2/4-8-1961 and 4/5-9-1961 resolved to amalgamate the aforesaid three routes into one route. By a subsequent resolution the amalgamated route was extended upto Kotana. The decision of the first respondent regarding the aforesaid amalgamation and extension of the route was subject to the approval of the State Transport Authority. On 25/26-7-1962 the State Transport Authority U. P. disapproved the aforesaid amalgamation of the three routes as also the extension of the route upto Kotana. Thereafter the first respondent, on 16/18-10-1962 16/18-10-1962 , set aside the amalgamation of the three routes and restored the old three routes. It, however, issued temporary permits on the initially proposed amalgamated route and such permit-holders started operating their vehicles on the amalgamated route on the basis of a common time-table. Thereafter 16 existing operators of route Nos. 2 and 7 and existing operators of route No. 3 applied to the first respondent for the inclusion of routes Nos. 1 and 3 and routes Nos. 1 and 2 respectively in their permits. The petitioner and some operators of route No. 3 objected to the aforesaid application in accordance with the provisions of Section 57 (3) of the Act. Thereafter on 28-5-1966 the petitioner and two other persons made separate applications to the first respondent under Section 46 of the Act for the grant of new stage carriage permits on routes Nos. 1, 2 and 3. The aforesaid applications are still pending. According to the petitioner, the first two respondents have not published the aforesaid applications as required under Section 57i (3) of the Act. Thereafter the first respondent passed certain resolutions in October, November and December 1965 and in November 1966 and decided on 15/16-12-65 to allow applications under Section 53 (8) of the Act, if and when so made for plying stage carriages, in effect, on routes Nos. 1 and 2 and on portions of route No. 3.
5. The petitioner on 26-10-1966 made representation to the second respondent objecting to the grant of temporary permits on the three routes and prayed that they be withdrawn. The second respondent passed the following orders on 31-10-1966:
'Status quo should be maintained until the matter is finally decided by the R. T. A.' Thus, in effect, the objection of the petitioner was rejected by the second respondent and temporary permit-holders were allowed to ply their stage carriages on the three routes as mentioned above.
6. The position of the different routes may be briefly explained. The first route goes from Meerut to Budhana via Sardhana and Mulhera. The second route goes from Meerut to Tikri via Sardhana and Mulhera and then crosses a ferry bridge at Baparsi and goes on to Doghat and proceeds on to Tikri. The third route goes from Meerut to Binauli via Sardhana, Bhuni and Barnawa. It appears that the ferry bridge at Baparsi can be operated only during fair weather and it is removed in the rainy season. According to the respondents, the passengers proceeding' from Tikri to Doghat and to certain other neighboring villages had to suffer inconvenience during rainy season on account of the removal of the ferry bridge at Baparsi and had to make special arrangement for transshipment at Baparsi. In order to remove the inconvenience of passengers proceeding from Budhana and Tikri to Meerut during rainy season and to avoid the route via Baparsi temporary permits were issued for the plying of stage carriages proceeding from Budhana and Tikri via Binauli. In short, the stage carriages from Budhana and Tikri were to go to Binauli and then to proceed on to Meerut via Sardhana on the Meerut-Binauli route. The effect of the change was that temporary permit-holders were permitted to ply on a portion of the third route via between Barnawa and Sardhana by proceeding on to Meerut.
7. The petitioner contended that the grant of temporary permits to respondents 3 to 17 was without jurisdiction and void as it violated the provisions of Section 62 of the Act and the said respondents were, in effect, plying on the aforesaid routes without any lawful permit. The petitioner further contended that he had objected under Section 47 of the Act against the grant of the aforesaid temporary permits to the respondents and his objection having been rejected ho had a right to maintain the present writ petition in this Court. The respondents, by way of a preliminary objection, have contended that it is not open to the petitioner to object to the grant of temporary permits and the present petition is not maintainable.
8. The provisions of the Act, relevant to the consideration of the question referred to this Bench, are :
Section 2 (20). 'Permit' means the document issued by the Commission or a State or Regional Transport Authority authorising the use of a transport vehicle as a contract carriage, or stage carriage, or authorising the owner as a private carrier or public carrier to use such vehicle....
Section 42. 'Necessity for permits -- (1) No owner of a transport vehicle shall use or permit the use of the vehicle in any public place, save in accordance with the conditions of a permit granted or countersigned by a Regional or State Transport Authority or the Commission authorising the use of the vehicle in that place in the manner in which the vehicle is being used
Section 46. 'Application for Stage Carriage Permit -- An application for a permit in respect of a service of stage carriage or to use a particular motor vehicle as a stage carriage (in this Chapter referred to as a stage carriage permit) shall, as far as may be, contain the following particulars, namely :--
(a) the route or routes or the area or areas to which the application relates;
(b) the number of vehicles it is proposed to operate in relation to each route or area and the type and seating capacity of each such vehicle;
(c) the minimum and maximum number of daily services proposed to be provided in relation to each route or area and the time-table of the normal services;
(d) the number of vehicles intended to be kept in service to maintain the service and to provide for special occasions;
(e) the arrangements intended to be made for the housing and repair of the vehicles, for the comfort and convenience of passengers and for the storage and safe custody of luggage;
(f) such other matters as may be prescribed.
Section 47. 'Procedure of Regional Transport Authority in considering application for stage carriage permit -- (1) A Regional Transport Authority shall, in considering an application for a stage carriage permit, nave regard to the following matters, namely :
(a) the interests of the public generally;
(b) the advantages 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 been broken;
(c) the adequacy of other passenger transport services operating or likely to operate in the near future, whether by road or other means, between the places to be served;
(d) the benefit to any particular locality or localities likely to be afforded by the service;
(e) the operation by the applicant of other transport services, including those in respect of which applications from him for permits are pending;
(f) the condition of the roads included in the proposed route or area; and shall also take into consideration any representations made by persons already providing passengers transport facilities by any means along or near the proposed route or area, or by any association representing persons interested in the provision of road transport facilities recognised in this behalf by the State Government, or by any local authority or police authority within whose jurisdiction any part of the proposed route or area lies;
(3) A Regional Transport Authority may, having regard to the matters mentioned in Sub-section (1), limit the number of stage carriage generally or of any specified type for which stage carriage permits may be granted in the region or in any specified route within the region'.
Section 48. 'Grant of Stage Carriage Permits -- (1) Subject to the provisions of Section 47, a Regional Transport Authority may, on an application made to it under Section 46, grant a stage carriage permit in accordance with the application or with such modifications as it deems fit or refuse to grant such a permit:
Provided that no such permit shall be granted in respect of any route or area not specified in the application.
(2) Every stage carriage permit shall be expressed to be valid only for a specified route or routes or for a specified area.
(3) The Regional Transport Authority, if it decides to grant a stage carriage permit, may grant the permit for a service of stage carriage of a specified description or for one or more particular stage carriage, and may, subject to any rules that may be made under this Act, attach to the permit any one or more of the following conditions, namely:
(ii) the minimum and maximum number of daily services to be maintained in relation to any route or area generally or on specified days and occasions;
(xx) that the conditions of the permit shall not be departed from, save with the approval of the Regional Transport Authority; (xxi) that the Regional Transport Authority may, after giving notice of not less than one month :
(a) vary the conditions of the permit;
(b) attach to the permit further conditions'.
Section 57. 'Procedure in applying for and granting permits-
(1) . .........
(2) An application for a stage carriage permit or a public carrier's permit shall be made rot less than six weeks before the date on which it is desired that the permit shall take effect, or, if the Regional Transport Authority appoints dates for the receipt of such applications, on such dales.
(3) On receipt of an application for a stage carriage permit or a public carrier's permit, the Regional Transport Authority shall make the application available for inspection at the office of the authority and shall publish the application or the substance thereof in the prescribed manner together with a notice of the date before which representations in connection therewith may be submitted and the date, not being less than thirty days from such publication, on which, and the time and place at which, the application and any representations received will be considered :
Provided that, if the grant of any permit in accordance with the application or with modifications would have the effect of increasing the number of vehicles operating in the region, or in any area or on any route within the region, under the class of permits to which, the application relates, beyond the limit fixed in that behalf under Sub-section (3) of Section 47 or Sub-section (2) of Section 55, as the case may be, the Regional Transport Authority may summarily refuse the application without following the procedure laid down in this sub-section.
(5) When any representation such as is referred to in Sub-section (3) is made, the Regional Transport Authority shall dispose of the application at a public hearing at which the applicant and the person making the representation shall have an opportunity of being heard either in person or by a duly authorised representative.
(6) When any representation has been made by the persons or authorities referred to in Section 50 to the effect that the number of contract carriage for which permits have already been granted in any region or any area within a region is sufficient for or is in excess of the needs of the region or of such area, whether such representation is made in connection with a particular application for the grant of a contract carriage permit or otherwise, the Regional Transport Authority may take any such steps as it considers appropriate for the hearing of the representation in the presence of any person likely to be affected thereby.
(8) An application to vary the conditions of any permit, other than a temporary permit, by the inclusion of a new route or routes or a new area or, in the case of a stage carriage permit, by increasing the number of services above the specified maximum, or in the case of a contract carriage permit or a public carrier's permit, by increasing the number of vehicles covered by the permit, shall be treated as an application for the grant of a new permit''.
Section 58. 'Duration and Renewal of Permits-- (1) (a) A stage carriage permit or a contract carriage permit other than a temporary permit issued under Section 02 shall be effective without renewal for such period, not less than three years and not more than five years, as the Regional Transport Authority may specify in the permit'.
Section 62. 'Temporary Permits -- A Regional Transport Authority may without following the procedure laid down in Section 5/, grant permits, to be effective for a limited period not in any case to exceed four months, to authorise the use of a transport vehicle temporarily -
(a) for the conveyance of passengers on special occasions such as to and from fairs and religious gatherings, or
(b) for the purposes of a seasonal business, or
(c) to meet a particular temporary need, or
(d) pending decision on an application for the renewal of a permit; and may attach to any such permit any condition it thinks fit;
Provided that a temporary permit under this section shall, in no case, be granted in respect of any route or area specified in an application for the grant of a new permit under Section 46 or Section 54 during the pendency of the application:
Provided further that a temporary permit under this section shall, in no case, be granted more than once in respect of any route or area specified in an application for the renewal of a permit during the pendency of such application for renewal'.
9. The Act prohibits the use of a motor vehicle in any public place without a permit issued by the authority concerned. The State has thus taken away the right of a citizen to ply a motor vehicle in a public place without a permit issued under the provisions of the Act. The Act further lays down the procedure for applying for a permit and its grant by the authorities concerned and prescribes the conditions under which a vehicle can ply on a public place. Once the permit is withdrawn it will be unlawful to ply a motor vehicle in a public place. The definition of the word 'permit' in Section 2 (20) does not make any distinction between a permanent and a temporary permit. When the legislature has referred to a temporary permit it has specifically said so.
10. Learned counsel for the petitioner argued that the first proviso to Section 62 pointedly says that a temporary permit under the section shall in no case be granted in respect of any road or area specified in an application for the grant of a new permit under Section 46 or 54 during the pendency of the application. He contended that the petitioner and certain other persons have made applications under Section 46 for the grant of new permits on the three routes and the aforesaid applications have not been disposed of and were still pending. Therefore the grant' of temporary permits to the respondents on the aforesaid routes was in clear violation of the provisions of Section 62 of the Act. He further argued that the provisions of Section 62 only relax the conditions for the application and grant of permits as laid down in Section 47 of the Act and do not affect the provisions of any other section of the Act and, therefore, apart from the application of the provisions of Section 57, a temporary permit is as good and effective as any other permit. He contended that the provisions of Section 62 did not exclude the application of Section 47 of the Act and the petitioner had a right to object to the grant of temporary permits to the respondents and the provisions of Section 47 (1) (a) to (f) could not be ignored. He further contended that the resolution by which authority was given to grant temporary permits did not give any specific reason within the meaning of Section 62 for the grant of such permits. The petitioner had acquired a legal right by the grant of a permit in his favour and that could only be curtailed by a valid grant of temporary permit under Section 62. If the grant of temporary permit was in violation of the provisions of Section 62, then in that case the petitioner had a right to come to this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution and seek relief by obtaining a suitable writ. Learned counsel stressed that the provisions of Section 47 confer a right on the petitioner to object to the grant of temporary permits to the respondents and he had preferred the objections against the grant. The objection was not accepted by the second respondent and, therefore, he was an aggrieved person who could seek relief under Article 226 of the Constitution. The right of the petitioner to object against an illegal grant of a permit was recognised by the Legislature. Persons who have no valid right to ply their vehicles on any route, start doing so, then the rights of the valid permit-holders on that route are infringed and they can seek appropriate relief by restraining such persons from plying their vehicles in an unauthorised manner. The right to operate a vehicle after the grant of a valid permit is a proprietary right and if unauthorised persons operated their vehicles without any permit, and as the grant of an invalid temporary permit amounts to there being no permit at all, the rights of the present permit-holders were infringed and they could challenge the unauthorised acts of persons illegally plying their vehicles on their routes.
11. There is considerable conflict of view as to the right of an existing operator holding a permanent stage carriage permit to challenge by a writ petition the grant of temporary permits on his route to another operator. Some of such cases may be mentioned below, in Civil Misc. Writ No. 690 of 1965 (All.), decided by Lakshmi Prasad and U. S. Srivastava, JJ., on 5-11-1965, a similar question was considered. In Civil Misc. Writ No. 70 of 1967 (All.), Satya Prakash Tyagi v. Government of the State of Uttar Pradesh, decided on 10-3-1967 (All.), by G. D. Sahgal and Lakshmi Prasad, JJ., the petitioner, who was an operator holding a permit along with others to ply his stage carriage on a route challenged the act of respondents 1 to 3, who were plying their buses without any permit on that route. It was held that no right of the petitioner has been infringed by plying of the buses of the respondents over a portion of the route on which the petitioner held a permit to ply his stage carriage and the writ petition was dismissed. The correctness of the aforesaid decision was doubted by the Division Bench which has referred the case to us.
12. Dwivedi, J., In Civil Misc. Writ No. 2125 of 1960, K. M. O. Union Ltd. v. Regional Transport Authority decided on 12-10-1960 (All.), expressed the view that the petitioner in the case before him was adversely affected by the grant of temporary permits and the writ petition was maintainable.
13. It is necessary to consider whether the application of Section 47 of the Act is excluded by the provisions of Section 62 of the Act. Section 62 itself pointedly says that the Regional Transport Authority may grant permits authorising the use of a transport vehicle temporarily which may be effective for a limited period not exceeding four months. It further lays down certain conditions as mentioned in Clauses (a) to (d) which may necessitate the grant of such temporary permits. The first proviso to the section says that a temporary permit shall in no case be granted in respect of any route or an area specified in an application for the grant of a new permit under Section 46 or Section 54 during the pendency of the application while the second proviso permits the grant of a temporary permit only once in respect of any route or area specified in an application for the renewal of a permit during the pendency of such application for renewal. It is clear that temporary permits could be granted under Section 62 of the Act to meet certain special contingencies as indicated in Clauses (a) to (d) which, from their very nature, require the grant of permits without delay. While granting temporary permits under Section 62, only the procedure laid down in Section 56 of the Act could he dispensed with, but it could not be said that the requirements of Section 47 are excluded. As a matter of fact, the conditions indicated in Clauses (a) to (d) in Section 62 have to be taken into consideration along with the matters pointed out in Section 47 (1) (a) to (1) as also the other provisions of the section for considering an application for stage carriage permit. If the provisions of Section 47 of the Act are not dispensed with while granting temporary permits under Section 62, it necessarily follows that the Regional Transport Authority is required to take into consideration any representation made by a permit-holder operating his stage carriage on the route on which a temporary permit is granted.
Annexure B to the petition gives an extract of the proceedings of the Regional Transport Authority meetings. It shows that the applications for grant of temporary Stage carriage permits on the routes in question were considered and 'it was resolved that the permits of all the above three routes be extended on applications made by them under Section 57 (8) of the Motor Vehicles Act in due course and in the prescribed manner'. It was further decided that in the meantime temporary permits for all the three routes be granted in public interest on applications. There is nothing in the aforesaid resolution to indicate whether the reason for the grant of temporary permits came within the meaning of Clauses (a) to (d) of Section 62 of the Act. Thus, prima facie, no ground was shown in the aforesaid resolution for the grant of temporary permits under Section 62 of the Act. The grant of a permit to an operator confers a legal right to him to operate a stage carriage on a given route subject to the conditions laid down by the Act. It is true that every person has a right to use a national highway but such right has been restricted by the provisions Or the Act. If the Act was not there, then any person could operate his vehicle on a highway without a permit. The Act allows the use of a highway by an operator of his Stage carriage subject only to the grant of a valid permit in his favour. Once a permit is granted to him, he is entitled to operate his carriage on a given route along with the other permit-holders. But the exercise of the right to operate vehicles on a particular highway is confined only to the permit-holders who are granted permits to do so. The interest of such a permit-holder amounts to a legal right to operate his stage carriage on a particular highway along with other permit-holders. When a person applies for the grant of a permit, he does so with a view, in case the permit is granted to him, to invest money on the business of operating a stage carriage on the route concerned along with other permit-holders. He can be assumed to have a fair idea of the amount which he would invest in the business, and, taking into consideration the number of permit-holders on the route and the volume of traffic, to have an idea about the profits that he may derive from the business. Such a permit-holder can have no valid grievance to the grant of permits, under the Act, to other persons, but if a person is introduced on the route without a valid permit being granted to him, then certainly his right in the business could be said to have been curtailed by the unauthorised intruder on the route and he is entitled to seek redress in an appropriate manner. Such a person could be said to be an aggrieved person because his interest in his transport business has been curtailed, in some measure, by an unauthorised intruder who starts plying his own stage carriage on the route.
Thus, the petitioner had a legal right to ply his own stage carriage along with other permit-holders and if his right along with the rights of such other co-permit-holders are infringed by a person who has no valid right to intrude on the route, then the petitioner, as also the other co-permit-holders, are persons who will come within the category of aggrieved persons. In Regional Transport Authority v. Kashi Prasad, AIR 1962 All 551, the grant of compensation permits was challenged by a permit-holder who was plying his vehicles on the route on which the compensation permits had been granted. Chief Justice Mootham observed:
'The question whether the respondent is possessed of any right at all in the present case is disputed. The appellants contend that he is objecting to competition and that his right to ply his bus gives him no right to raise such an objection. To this the reply is that the respondent does not, and cannot, object to fair competition; but that he is entitled to object to competition, arising out of the grant to rival bus operators of permits not lawfully issued. For the reason which I shall state shortly, I do not think it is necessary in this case to define the nature of the right which a petitioner must possess before he can ask for the issue of the writ of mandamus; but I should be sorry to think the law is such that a person in the position of the respondent, provided he can show something more than nominal loss, is without a remedy. As the Supreme Court has pointed out in Saghir Ahmad v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1954 SC 728, any member of the public can, within the limits imposed by the State regulations, carry on the business of transporting passengers by motor vehicle. His right to carry on that business is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g), and he is entitled to challenge the constitutionality of any law which unreasonably curtails that right, I am disposed to hold that he can also challenge the legality of action purporting to be taken under a law if such action unjustifiably curtails that right.'
Once a valid permit is granted to an operator, he has a right to carry on his business of plying his vehicle on the route concerned and the right thus given to him is a proprietary right.
14. In AIR 1959 SC 308, the implementation of a scheme of nationalisation of bus transport under Chap. IV-A of the Act was under consideration, The petitioners who were plying their buses on various routes, apprehending that their rights would be taken over by the State Corporation pursuant to the aforesaid scheme, sought the aid of the Court to protect their fundamental right to carry on their business against the action of the State Corporation on various grounds. It was observed by the Supreme Court that-
'..... .if an authority is called upon to decide respective rights of contesting par-tics or, to put it in other words, if there is a lis, ordinarily there will be a duty on the part of the said authority to act judicially.'
It was further observed:
'To state it differently, though, the purpose is to provide an efficient, adequate, economical and co-ordinated road transport service in public interest, the scheme proposed may affect individual rights such as the exclusion complete or partial, of other persons or otherwise, from the business in any particular route or routes. Under Section 68-C, therefore, the State Transport Undertaking may propose a scheme affecting the proprietary rights of individual permit holders doing transport business in a particular route or routes. The said proposal threatens the proprietary right of that individual or individuals.'
15. It is thus clear that if the grant o temporary permits was in violation of the provisions of Section 62 and of Section 47 of the Act, then there was an infringement of the proprietary interest of the petitioner as also of his other co-permit-holders and he was entitled to relief under Article 223 of the Constitution by issue of a writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court in Venkateswara Rao v. Government of Andhra Pradesh, 'AIR 1960 SC 828, observed:
'This Court held in the decision cited supra that 'ordinarily' the petitioner who seeks to file an application under Article 226 of the Constitution should be one who has a personal or individual right in the subject- matter of the petition. A personal right need not be in respect of a proprietary interest: it can also relate to an interest of a trustee. That apart, in exceptional cases as the expression 'ordinarily' indicates, a person who has been prejudicially affected by an act of omission of an authority can file a writ even though he has no proprietary or even fiduciary interest in the subject-matter thereof. The appellant has certainly been prejudiced by the said order. The petition under Article 226 of the Constitution at his instance is, therefore, maintainable.' It is clear that if it is found that temporary permits had been given to persons in violation of the provisions of the Act, then in that case the petitioner or a person who had been prejudicially affected by the grant of such temporary permits had a personal or individual right in the subject-matter of the petition apart from the fact that he had a proprietary interest in the business of plying his vehicle a valid permit.
16. The case of Civil Misc. Writ No, 1870 of 1961, D/-5-10-1962 (All.) (supra) dealt with a case in which it was decided by the Regional Transport Authority to give an alternative route to certain operators who were plying their stage carriages on the other routes. It was held that it was not necessary to follow the provisions of Chap. IV while granting permission under Section 68-G on the alternative routes because the provisions of Chap. IV including the provision requiring the giving of opportunity to a person already providing passenger transport facility along or near the proposed route or area to make a representation and to be heard therein when a permit is applied for, did not apply to cases falling under Sections 68-F (2) and 68-C (2) of Chap. IV-A and, therefore, the petitioner in that case could not claim that any right conferred on him by the Act had been infringed by the Regional Transport Authority. As mentioned above, the provisions of Section 47 of the Act are applicable to the grant of temporary permits under Section 62 of the Act and consequently the right to make a representation and to be heard therein is not taken away by the Act. If, however, in a case falling under Section 68-G the contention of the petitioner is that his rights have been hit by the grant of invalid permits on his route, then in such a case, too, it could not be said that a petition challenging the grant of permits, under such circumstances, will not be maintainable.
17. In a recent decision of a Division Bench of this Court in Tara Chandra Jain v Regional Transport Authority, Special Appeal No. 232 of 1067 (All.) decided by N. U. Beg, C. J. and S.N. Dwivedi, J,, the question for consideration was the validity of a compensatory permit granted to the appellant on an alternative route. The grant of the aforesaid permit was challenged by the respondents who prayed for the quashing of the compensatory permit granted to the appellant. The writ petition was allowed by a learned single Judge of this Court. Thereafter the appellant came in special appeal. It was held that it could not be said that the petition in the case deserved to be dismissed oil the preliminary ground that the petitioners were not the aggrieved parties. It was further observed that the contention that the respondent-petitioners had no locus stand! to maintain the petition could not be accepted. It was observed:
'We find it difficult to accept this contention. The contesting respondents were permit-holders in respect of Etawah-Mainpuri route which was the alternative route in respect of which compensatory permit was granted to the appellant. If the appellant's permit was invalid and he was operating on, the route on the basis of an invalid permit, it is obvious that the petitioners would stand to lose financially if the appellant is allowed to operate on the samo route.'
The same principle would apply in the present case. Another Division Bench of this Court in O. B. Hearn v. State Transport (Appellate) Tribunal, U. P., Lucknow, Special Appeal No. 441 of 1965 (All.), decided by V. G. Oak, C. J. and B. Dayal, J., considered a case in which the grant of compensatory permit was challenged. One H held a stage carriage permit on a route which was nationalised. He was granted a compensatory permit on a route on which B and M were the existing operators. B and M challenged the grant of the compensatory permit to H by a writ petition which was allowed by a learned single Judge of this Court and the order of the Appellate Tribunal granting permit to H was quashed.. The petitioners contended that they had not been given a hearing by the State Transport Tribunal as required by Rule 72 of the Motor Vehicles Rules and that B himself was an applicant for a regular permit on the route concerned. The Division Bench expressed the view that by upholding the permit in favour of H, the chances of B for obtaining a permit for himself had been materially reduced and this circumstance gave sufficient standing to B to maintain the writ petition. It was further observed: '......The learned Single Judge rightly overruled the preliminary objection and held that the writ petition was maintainable.
We have seen that the State Transport Appellate Tribunal acted without jurisdiction in granting a permit in Hearn's favour. Faced with this illegal grant of permit in favour of Hearn, Bundu Khan and Masa Ullah Khan could properly come to this Court with the request that the illegal grant should be quashed. That is what the learned Single Judge has done.'
18. The petitioner's case is, firstly, that while granting temporary permits to the respondents, the Regional Transport Authority had not indicated whether the reason for the grant of such permits came within Clauses (a) to (d) of Section 62 and, therefore, the grant of permits was in violation of the provisions of Section 62; secondly, that the application of the petitioner ' for the grant of a new permit for the route on which temporary permits had been granted had not been disposed of and was still pending; and, thirdly, the representation made by the petitioner against the grant of the temporary permits to the respondents had been rejected and thus he was an aggrieved person. If the grant of the permits to the respondents was illegal and in violation of the provisions of Sections 47 and 62 of the Act, then the writ petition filed by the petitioner was clearly maintainable.
19. The answer to the question referred to us must be in the affirmative.
20. I fully agree that the question referred to us should be answered in the affirmative. The matter has been elaborately dealt with by my learned brother Katju, J., in his judgment which I have had the advantage of reading. There is hardly anything which I can usefully add to it. Since, however, I think the question can also be considered and judged from a wider aspect, I have ventured to give expression to my mind.
21. The powers vested in the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution are plenary. That Article does not say when or at whose instance or under what circumstances the High Court will exercise those powers. All the same, it affords an extraordinary but positive forum for ventilating, amongst others, grievances arising out of infraction of the laws of the land with a view to seek redress. Hence, an aggrieved person can petition to the High Court to exercise its powers under Article 226 for granting appropriate relief. Unlike Article 32 of the Constitution, Article 226 does not confer any guaranteed right to move the High Court. Therefore, a petition cannot be filed under Article 226 as of right. So it is open to the High Court in the exercise of its judicial discretion to evolve for itself some preliminary criteria for entertaining or not entertaining petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution. When it is said that a petition is not maintainable, it only means that it does not satisfy such criteria.
22. A petitioner has to show that ho is an aggrieved person, that is, ho is possessed of some legal right or capacity by virtue of which he is or should be recognised as a person at whose instance the wrong or injury either existing or threatened, complained of ought to be remedied by the High Court in exercise of its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution.
23. The powers conferred under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, are excrasable by the Transport Authorities appointed thereunder to the extent and in the manner provided in the Act itself. Permits, whether permanent or temporary, can only be granted if the requirements of the law are fulfilled or if the requisite conditions exist. In the absence of the existence of the requisite conditions no permit can be granted. An operator who has obtained a valid permit gets a right to ply his motor vehicle for hire under the Act. He can object to the grant of any permit to any other person on the ground that the grant of such permit is not warranted by the Act itself and if he does so, then his objection cannot be rejected or ignored because the practical effect of allowing his objection might be the elimination of some new competitor or competitors from the route over which he has been granted a permit to ply for hire. He may not have any right as such to claim that new competitors should not be permitted to ply their vehicles over the same route, but he, in my opinion, certainly has a right to object to any permit being granted otherwise than in accordance with law. If any application has been made for grant of a permit, he may raise an objection that the permit sought for cannot be legally granted. If the permit is granted in spite of his objection, he, in my opinion, may equally challenge the permit on the ground that no such permit could 'be legally granted under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. The objector would be an aggrieved person and if his objection is substantiated, the impugned permit can be struck down or if no permit has been actually granted, the granting of the permit may be forbidden. To achieve this end he would be entitled, if necessary, to invoke the powers exercisable by the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. By virtue of his being a permit-holder he is possessed of sufficient interest in the matter and if he files a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, it would not be liable to rejection either on the ground that he has no locus standi or the petition is not legally maintainable. His motive may be to eliminate a rival competitor, but that would be irrelevant and cannot by itself be a valid reason for dismissal of his petition as being not maintainable. In my opinion, neither on principle nor as a matter of law, can it be held that the permit-holder concerned is not entitled to file a petition under Article 226 or that the petition filed by him will be liable to be dismissed in limine as being not maintainable.
24. The answer to the question referredto us, viz., 'Is a rival operator entitled tomaintain a writ petition to challenge atemporary permit granted to another operator? is in the affirmative.