D.S. Mathur, J.
1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India by Messrs. Rama Shanker Misra and Brothers of Kanpur for the issue of a writ in the nature of certiorari to quash Resolution No. 11(e) dated 1-11-1956 of the Regional Transport Authority, Kanpur, respondent No. 1, cancelling permanent permit No. 374 for Mahoha Rajnagar route which had been granted to the petitioner and had once been renewed. A request was also made for the issue of a writ in the nature of mandamus to command the respondents, namely, the above Regional Transport Authority and the State Transport Authority, Lucknow, respondent No, 2, not to interfere with the petitioner's right of running his stage carriage permit on Mahoba-Rajnagar route under the above permit in accordance with the law.
2. During the pendency of the present writ petition, Ahmad Husain, respondent No, 3, applied for being added as a co-respondent, The application was opposed by the petitioner, but was allowed. Ahmad Husain is thus respondent No. 3, and he is the person on whose complaint the permanent permit of the petitioner was cancelled.
3. The record has become somewhat bulky on account of the parties raising unnecessary issues, for example Ahmad Husain has given a long history of his claims for being granted a permanent permit for the above route on the ground that it was on account of his efforts that the Provincial Transport Authority, Vindhya Pradesh, Rewa, consented to countersign the permit to be issued by the Regional Transport Authority, Kanpur, for running stage carriage on the above route which lay partly within the limits of the State of Vindhya Pradesh.
These are all matters of past history, and even if the assertions are correct, they would not justify cancellation of the permit of the petitioner and the grant of a permanent permit to Ahmad Husain, respondent No, 3. The parties do not admit certain other facts, for example, the nature of the agreement arrived at between the petitioner and Ahmad Husain, respondent No. 3, and the correctness or otherwise of the complaints made by Ahmad Husain, Most of these points are not material for the decision of the present proceeding, and I shall confine myself to only the material facts, most of which are not in dispute.
4. Rama Shankar Misra, Bijai Shankar Misra and Girja Shankar Misra, all of whom are brothers, jointly carried on the family business of running a stage carriage under the name and style of M/s. Rama Shankar Misra and Brothers. The said Firm, which shall hereinafter be referred to as the petitioner, held one permanent stage carriage permit No. 374 for running their stage carriage on Mahoba-Rajnagar route. The permit was issued on 28-11-1951 in respect of vehicle No. U. P. R. 4801 valid up to 27-11-1954. It was renewed on 5-10-1955 for a period of three years, that is, up to 4-10-1958. The vehicle No. U. P. R. 4801 covered by the permit was on 18-7-1952 replaced by vehicle No. U. P. R. 6962.
The petitioner's case is that this vehicle met with an accident in the year 1954 and was badly damaged whereafter it became necessary for the petitioner to replace the said vehicle. This assertion is either not admitted or denied by the respondents. The fact, however, remains that vehicle No. U. P. R. 6962 was not plied for a few months. The renewal of permit No. 374 was allowed by the Regional Transport Authority, Kanpur, in its meeting held on February 14/15, 1955, whereupon the petitioner requested for extension of time to produce a fit vehicle. The application so moved is dated 12-4-1955. The petitioner was allowed one month's time to obtain renewal of permit, and, later on, the period was extended up to October 10, 1955.
5. It was on 5-10-1955 that the petitioner produced a vehicle No. U. S. C. 266 which was declared fit, and the permit was renewed after allowing necessary replacement of the old vehicle. The new permit thus covered vehicle No. U. S. C. 266. From the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of respondents Nos. 1 and 2, it is apparent that this vehicle originally stood in the name of Sri Shambhu Nath Shukla and was transferred to the petitioner on 29-9-1955, though as per receipt dated 16th October 1955, the seller had received the sale price of Rupees-6,000/- from Ahmad Husain.
On 15-10-1955, the proprietors of the petitioner firm and Ahmad Husain executed an agreement Annexure A to the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of respondents Nos. 1 and 2, and Annexure C to the counter-affidavit of Ahmad Husain respondent No. 3. The agreement related to vehicle No. U. S. C. 266 which was run by the petitioner on the! above route. Under this agreement, the Petitioner transferred three-fourth interest in the vehicle and also three-fourth interest in permit No. 374 to Ahmad Husain, and Ahmad Husain became liable to receive profits and to bear losses, if any, to the extent of his share of three-fourth. It was also mentioned in the agreement that the name of Ahmad Husain would be got entered in the registration certificate and permit and that irrespective of whether the name of Ahmad Husain was or was not entered in the permit and the registration certificate, he was liable to receive profits or to bear losses to the extent mentioned above
It was also mentioned in the agreement-deed that the vehicle had been given in the Sapurdagi of Ahmad Husain. The case of the petitioner is that the document was obtained under coercion and has no legal value, and Ahmad Husain was merely entitled to recover the amount of the advance with interest, and he had no interest in the vehicle nor in the permit. It was also denied that the vehicle was handed over to and was given in the possession of Ahmad Husain. Ahmad Husain, respondent No. 3, on the other hand, asserts that the agreement is genuine and enforceable and he was throughout in possession of vehicle No. U. S. C. 266.
6. The petitioner's case also is that on 27-6-1956 there was an accounting between the parties when it was decided to hand over vehicle No. U. S. C. 266 to Ahmad Husain in full and final satisfaction of his dues and that the vehicle was in pursuance of this decision handed over to him (Ahmad Husain).
7. The petitioner had beforehand, on 23-6-1956, applied to the Regional Transport Authority, Kanpur, for replacement of vehicle No. U. S. C. 266 by another vehicle No. U. S. H. 166. Along with his application the petitioner filed an affidavit containing the following affirmation:
'Neither they have sold the present existing vehicle No. U. S. C. 266 nor they intend to sell it with the benefit of the permit.'
The replacement was sanctioned on 28-6-1956 and the permanent stage carriage permit was allowed to cover new vehicle No. U. S. H. 166 on 2-7-1956.
8. On 10-7-1958 Ahmad Husain moved a complaint in writing along with a copy of the agreement dated 15-10-1955 in the office of the Regional Transport Authority, Kanpur, requesting for cancellation of the replacement of vehicle No. U. S. H. 166 and to enter his name in place of the petitioner in the permit and registration certificate of vehicle No. U. S. C. 266. A notice was served upon the petitioner to show cause why the permit be not cancelled under Section 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The petitioner submitted an explanation dated 22-9-1956 and the matter was considered by the Regional Transport Authority in its meetings held on October 25/27, 1956 and November 1, 1956. The Regional Transport Authority then passed the resolution 11(e) whereby the petitioners' permit was cancelled for misrepresenting facts by concealing the fact of partnership with Ahmad Husain.
9. In the petition, the petitioner had challenged the competence of the Regional Transport Authority and also whether it was properly constituted on the dates the meetings were held. This point was, however, not argued before me, may be because the facts as mentioned in the counter-affidavit of respondents Nos. 1 and 2 made it clear that there was no defect in the constitution of the Regional Transport Authority.
10. On 15-11-1956, the petitioner preferred an appeal before the State Transport Authority, Lucknow, respondent No. 2, against the cancellation of the permit on 1-11-1956. As the State Transport Authority was not likely to meet for about two months and also because the petitioner was advised that the appeal preferred before the Transport Authority was misconceived, the petitioner at the same time moved the present writ petition before this Court.
11. The respondents have raised a few preliminary objections to the maintainability of the present writ petition. It is said that it is liable to dismissal on the ground that the petitioner had concealed material facts, and an alternative remedy was available to the petitioner-firm which it had availed of by preferring an appeal before the State Transport Authority. It was also contended that the period of the permit expired on 4-10-1958, and the present petition had since become infructuous.
12. It will be wrong to say that the petitioner had concealed material facts. What it had done was to mention the material facts almost in full, though at the same time giving its own version of such facts. The present case is, therefore, not one which should be thrown out on the ground of suppression or concealment of material facts or of misstatement of facts.
13. Section 64 of the Motor Vehicles Act make a provision for an appeal against an order of the Regional Transport Authority cancelling or suspending the permit, and for that reason, the appeal preferred before the State Transport Authority, Lucknow, was maintainable. In the circumstances of the present case, this can be no valid ground for not exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Under the Constitution every citizen has a fundamental right to carry on any trade, business or profession subject, of course to reasonable restrictions which can be imposed under Article 19 of the Constitution.
The petitioner had been granted a permit and it was later renewed up to 4-10-1958. Its permit-was cancelled within the period for which the permit had been renewed and the effect of cancellation of the permit was to restrict the fundamental rights of the petitioner. High Courts are lenient in admitting petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution where fundamental rights of persons are affected. It is where fundamental rights are not affected that High Courts do not interfere with the orders of a subordinate authority, if an alternative remedy, equally efficacious, is available to the aggrieved person.
Further, the present proceeding has been pending now for about three years, and it was under the orders of this Court that the petitioner was able to ply its vehicle on the above route and thus use the permit for the remaining period and after expiry of the renewed period to ply the vehicle on the basis of temporary permit granted by the Regional Transport Authority. If the petition is dismissed on a preliminary ground and the petitioner is directed to exhaust all the alternative remedies before approaching this Court, the effect would be that the rival claims of the petitioner and Ahmad Husain will remain undecided for a long period and the petitioner would be able to carry on the business for a much longer period on the basis of temporary permits. It will be in the interest of the parties that the petition should be decided on merits.
14. The period of the renewed permit expired on 4-10-1958, but the petitioner is still interested in the result of the petition keeping in mind that it would be better placed for renewal of the permit in case its rights are upheld and the order of cancellation of the permit is vacated by this Court. Section 58 of the Motor Vehicles Act makes a provision for renewal of stage carriage permits. Sub-section (2) thereof lays down that a permit may be renewed on an application and disposed of as if it were an application for a permit; but under the second proviso to the suit-section, other conditions being equal, an application for renewal shall be given preference over new applications for permits.
Ahmad Husain does not hold a stage carriage permit for plying a vehicle on the above route. The petitioner is probably the only holder of permit for this route, and consequently, as far as Ahmad Husain, respondent No. 3, or any other new applicant is concerned, the petitioner shall have a right of preference for renewal of its permit. Consequently, if the order of cancellation of the permit is set aside, the petitioner would be in a position to obtain renewal of the permit. But if the petition is dismissed on the ground of its being infructuous, the order of cancellation would not be set aside and the petitioner would be handicapped in putting forward its case and in obtaining renewal of the permit.
There is, therefore, a subsisting interest in the petitioner, and on the basis of such interest, the petitioner can claim a final adjudication of the matters in controversy. To put it differently, it will he wrong to say that the present petition has become infructuous on account of expiry of the period of the permit on 4-10-1958.
15. A permit granted by the Transport Authority can be cancelled or suspended under sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The permit can be so cancelled or suspended on many grounds, one of which is, that the holder of the permit had obtained the permit by fraud or misrepresentation. Another ground on which the permit could be cancelled or suspended was if the holder of the permit ceased to possess the vehicle or vehicles covered by the permit. This clause has since been amended and it is now permissible to cancel the permit if the holder thereof does not own the vehicle.
The order of cancellation was passed during the year 1956 when the old provisions were in force. There is controversy between the petitioner and the respondents as to who was actually in possession of vehicle No. U. S. C. 266 at the time its replacement was sought for, or to be more accurate, from the date of the execution of the agreement on 15-10-1955; but in view of the fact that the permit has not been cancelled on this ground, that is, tinder Clause (c) of Section 60(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, no useful purpose would be served by entering into the controversy.
High Courts do not usurp the function and power of a Court of Appeal while entertaining petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. They merely exercise jurisdiction to correct any error in the exercise of jurisdiction by the subordinate authority. They, therefore, merely consider whether the order which is being challenged was within the jurisdiction of the subordinate authority or that authority had exceeded the jurisdiction or committed an error in the exercise of jurisdiction which is apparent on the face of the record. In other words, this Court can only determine whether the Regional Transport Authority was justified or not in cancelling the permit on the ground of misrepresentation of facts by concealing the tact of partnership with Ahmad Husain. If the permit could be cancelled on some other ground, those points cannot be considered by this Court. They can be taken into consideration only by the subordinate authority, namely, the Regional Transport Authority. I shall, therefore, confine myself to the ground on which the permit of the petitioner was cancelled.
16. The petitioner is alleged to have misrepresented facts when it applied for replacement of vehicle No. U. S. C. 266 by U. S. H. 166, that is On 23-6-1956 by wrongly asserting in the affidavit (Annexure B) that the present existing vehicle U. S. C. 266 had not been sold, nor was there any Intention to sell that vehicle with the benefit of the permit.
17. The relevant clause of Section 60(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act gives power to the Transport Authority to cancel or suspend the permit if the holder of the permit has obtained it by misrepresentation. It was contended on behalf of the petitioner that no permit was obtained at the time the replacement of the vehicle was sought for and on that ground the Transport Authority had no power to cancel the permit even if the replacement was obtained by misrepresentation. The learned counsel wants me to give a narrow meaning to the word'obtaining the permit.' The term 'permit' has been delined in Section 2(20) of the Motor Vehicles Act as a 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.
Permit thus relates to a specified vehicle, and not to any vehicle which the holder of a permit may possess or own. Consequently, if vehicle to which the permit relates becomes unserviceable and the vehicle is not replaced in accordance with the law, the holder of the permit will not be able to use any other vehicle. If the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act are considered in a correct perspective, it would mean that for the new vehicle duly replaced the permit as amended is a permit as contemplated by the law; and consequently, the obtaining of an order for replacement of the of vehicle and also securing the suitable amendment of the permit will, in the eye of law, amount to the obtaining of a permit. The petitioner was the holder of a permit and it shall have to be held that it had, as holder of the permit, obtained a permit by making the declaration contained in the affidavit filed along with the application for replacement of the vehicle on 23-6-1956. If the permit was so obtained by misrepresentation, the Regional Transport Authority shall have the power under Clause (d) of Section 60(1) of the Act to cancel the permit.
18. It cannot be denied that while filing the affidavit on 23-6-1956, the petitioner had concealed facts pertaining to the execution of the agreement on 15-10-1955. Under Section 59(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, the transfer of a permit without the permission of the Transport Authority is prohibited. What the sub-section provides is that a permit shall not be transferable from one person to another except with the permission of the Transport Authority which granted the permit and shall not without such permission operate to confer on any person to whom a vehicle covered by the permit is transferred any right to use that vehicle in the manner authorised by the permit. No party can be permitted to do an act indirectly which it could not do directly.
When a transferee of the permit has no right to use the vehicle in the manner authorised by the permit unless the transfer has been sanctioned by the Transport Authority, he will not, in the eye of law, become a holder of the permit if by a private agreement the permit ho'der transfers the permit or an interest therein to another person. The transfer so made will be against the law and will consequently be void, but the transfer of a permit is different from the transfer of ownership of the motor vehicle, or the transfer of a right to a share in the profits from the business of plying a stage carriage. In other words, the agreement dated 15-10-1955 could determine the rights of the petitioner and respondent No. 3 with regard to their title to vehicle No. U. S. C. 266 and the manner in which the profits of the business were to be shared by them.
The document may also prove the possession of Ahmad Husain if from the conduct of the parties it appears that there was in fact a transfer of pos-session. The assertion with regard to possession) will be ineffective if it is found that the vehicle was throughout run by the petitioner and was not in possession of respondent No. 3. In other words while filing the affidavit on 23-6-1956. the petitioner intentionally avoided to make reference to the agreement executed on 15-10-1955.
19. The next question for consideration is whether such concealment will amount to misrepresentation of facts for which the permit could be cancelled under Clause (d) of Section 60(1) of the Act.
20. The term 'misrepresentation' has not been defined in the Motor Vehicles Act, but in the context of the enactment it shall have to be held that every misrepresentation or concealment of fact will not amount to a misrepresentation to justify cancellation of the permit. Misrepresentation must pertain to those facts which would have disentitled the petitioner to obtain an order in his favour for replacement of the vehicle. In other words, the misrepresentation must be such that if true facts had come to the notice of the Regional Transport Authority, it would not have allowed the replacement of the old vehicle. A similar view was taken in Babu Ram Sharma v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1953 All 641, wherein a misrepresentation of facts not material for the purposes for which the application was made was not held to be sufficient to justify the cancellation of the permit.
21. The replacement of a motor vehicle covered by a permit is sought for under Section 59(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act. It provides that the holder of a permit may, with the permission of the authority by which the permit was granted, replace by another vehicle of the same nature and capacity any vehicle covered by the permit. The sub-section is of a general nature, and if considered by itself, may suggest that the Transport Authority has been given unlimited and unrestricted powers either to grant or to refuse the replacement of the vehicle; but the powers of the Transport authority have been restricted by the rules framed by the State Government by virtue of power conferred under Section 68 of the Motor Vehicles Act. Sub-section (1) thereof gives power to the State Government to make rules for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of Chapter IV of the Act which includes Section 59. The rules so framed by the State Government are contained in Rules 63 and 64 of the U. P. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1940. Rule 63 applied to replacement of a particular vehicle authorised by a permit. This rule would govern the present case. The relevant portion of the rule runs as below:
'(a) If the holder of a permit relating to a particular vehicle by specification of the registration mark desires at any time to replace the vehicle with another, he shall forward Part A of the permit and apply in writing to the Transport Authority by which the permit was issued stating the reasons why the replacement is desired and shall
(i) if the new vehicle is in his possession, forward the certificate of registration thereof, or
(ii) if the new vehicle is not in his possession, state any material particular in respect of which the new vehicle will differ from the old.
(b) Upon receipt of an application under sub- Rule (a), the Regional Transport Authority may in its discretion reject the application:
(i) if it has previous to the application, given reasonable notice of its intention to reduce the number of transport vehicles of that class generally or in respect of the route or area to which the permit applies; or
(ii) if the new vehicle proposed differs in material respects from the old: or
(iii) if the holder of the permit has contravened the provisions thereof or has been deprived of possession of the old vehicle under the provisions of any agreement of hire purchase except in cases where a forfeited vehicle is replaced by one purchased outright '
While applying for permission to replace the vehicle by another, the holder of the permit shall have to apply as laid down Clause (a) of Rule 63, but under Clause (b) of Rule 63, the Regional Transport Authority can reject the application only on three grounds as detailed in the clause. One of the grounds of rejection can be that the Regional Transport Authority had previous to the application given reasonable notice of its intention to reduce the number of transport vehicles of the class generally or in respect of the route or area to which the permit applies. It is not the case of the parties that a reasonable notice of the intention to reduce the number of transport vehicles had been given by the Regional Transport Authority. The second ground of rejection can be if the new vehicle proposed differs in material respects from the old.
The respondents nowhere say that the new vehicle differs from the old one. In any case there was no misrepresentation of facts with regard to the material particulars of the new vehicle. The third ground of rejection is if the holder of the permit has contravened the provisions thereof or has been deprived of possession of the old vehicle under the provisions of any agreement of hire-purchase except in case where a forfeited vehicle is replaced by one purchased outright. It will be found that the replacement can be refused on the ground of dispossession of the old vehicle only when the dispossession takes place under the provisions of any agreement of hire purchase. Even in such cases replacement can be permitted if the forfeited vehicle is replaced by one purchased outright. In the present case, the alleged dispossession of the old vehicle was by Ahmad Husain, respondent No. 3. and not under the provisions of any agreement of hire purchase. Consequently, the latter portion of the third ground is inapplicable to the facts of the present case.
22. The statutory conditions of a permit are contained in Section 59(3) of the Act. It will be found that none of the conditions enumerated in this sub-section relate to the possession of the vehicle. They relate to matters connected with the plying of the vehicle and the hours of work of drivers etc. The prescribed form of a stage carriage permit as laid down in Rule 51 is P. St. P. printed at page 164 of the U. P. Motor Vehicle Rules, 1940, 1954 Edition. It will be found that the possession of a vehicle has not been made a condition precedent to the issue of a permit. In other words, therefore, there was no contravention of the conditions or provisions of the permit. Rule 63 framed by the State Government under the rule making power conferred under Section 68(1) shall have the Force of law, and consequently, the Regional Transport Authority cannot reject the application for a replacement of the vehicle with another on any ground other than those detailed in Clause (b) of Rule 63.
23. In case the petitioner had given true facts in the application for replacement of the vehicle, the application could not have been rejected. The mis-statement of facts has not therefore, in any way, affected the discretion which the Regional Transport Authority exercised or could exercise under the law while passing final orders on the above application. Such mis-statement of facts will not in the eve of law amount to misrepresentation of facts which can empower the Transport Authority to cancel the permit under Section 60 of the Act.
24. In the end, it was contended on behalf of the respondents that a contravention of the two visions of Section 59(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act could also be a ground for cancellation of the permit. A perusal of the section will make it clear that Sub-section (1) does not form the condition of the permit. The conditions of permit have been enumerated in Sub-section (3) and they make no reference to Sub-section (1),Consequently, the only meaning which can be assigned to Sub-section (1) is that it merely lays down who, in the eye of law, would be the holder of the permit and which person can use the vehicle in the manner authorised by the permit. An illegal transfer of the permit is void and is consequently ineffective. Such a transfer will not confer any right in the transferee, and the holder of the permit, namely, the transferor, shall continue to be the permit-holder entitled to use the vehicles. In any case, contravention of Section 59(1) can be no ground to refuse the replacement of vehicles under Rule 63.
25. To sum up, the concealment of partnership with Ahmad Hussain, respondent No. 3, if such partnership did come into existence under the deed of agreement dated 15-10-1955, will not amount to a misrepresentation as contemplated by Clause (d) of Section 60(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act for the simple reason that the replacement of the vehicle was not obtained by making such misrepresentation, and had true facts been mentioned in the affidavit, the Regional Transport Authority could have no power to refuse replacement. In the circumstances, the resolution dated 1-1L-1956 of the Regional Transport Authority, Kanpur respondent No. 1, cancelling the permit of the petitioner was beyond his jurisdiction, and there can be no dispute that such defect in the exercise of jurisdiction has caused manifest injustice to the petitioner.
26. The petition is hereby allowed, and it isordered that a writ of certiorari be issued to quashthe resolution No. 11(a) dated 1-11-1956 of theRegional Transport Authority, Kanpur, respondentNo. 1, cancelling the permanent permit No. 374for Mahoha Rajnagar Route. It is also ordered thata writ of mandamus be issued directing respondentsNos. 1 and 2, namely the Regional TransportAuthority and the State Transport Authority, notto interfere with the petitioner's right of runningMs stage carriage on the above route under theaforementioned permit otherwise than in accordancewith the law. Costs on parties.