Satish Chandra, J.
1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution for a writ in the nature of Mandamus commanding the respondents to publish the petitioner's application for a stage carriage permit and consider it along with the renewal application of respondent No. 3.
2. It appears that Varanasia Jabalpur Via Mirzapur is an inter-state route lying between the State of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Under a reciprocal arrangement between the two States the strength of this route for which permits could he issued has been fixed at two. The permits were issued to Sri S. N. Tripathi and Smt. Hur-mazi Begum, respondent No. 3. These permits ware to expire on or about 25th December, 1966. The petitioner being desirous for one of these permits, made an application on 26-9-1966 for a stage carriage permit on this route. In the covering letter to his application the petitioner stated that he was applying under Section 57(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act. He also alleged that both the existing permits were illegally granted and as such they are not liable to be renewed. The Secretary Regional Transport Authority, respondent No. 2, on 2-11-1966 replied that there would be no vacancy on the date the petitioner desired his application to be considered under Section 57(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act. The application will, however, be placed before the Regional Transport Authority in its meeting to be held on November 18, 1966. The petitioner was informed that he may represent his case before the Authority.
Thereupon the petitioner addressed another letter to the Secretary on 17th November, 1966. In this letter he mentioned that he had applied for a permit in the vacancy caused on the expiry of the permit granted to Smt. Hurmazi Begum and Pandit S. N. Tripathi and his application should be considered along with their renewal applications, if any, and there was hence no need for placing his application before the Regional Transport Authority in the meeting to be held on 18th November, 1966. The petitioner states that Smt. Hurmazi Begum, respondent No. 3, had already applied for renewal of her permit. Her application for renewal was sent, by the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority for publication on 26-10-1966 and it was published on 5-11-1966. The petitioner's application made on 26-9-1966, was pending when Smt. Hurmazi Begum's application was sent for publication. Her application was fixed for disposal before the Regional Transport Authority on 16th December. 1966.
The petitioner alleges that the Secretary Regional Transport Authority has not published the petitioner's application and as such it could not be considered by the Regional Transport Authority along with Smt. Hurmazi Begum's renewal application. The letter issued by the Secretary on 2-11-1966 was misleading and was intended to deceive the petitioner. It is alleged that Smt Hurmazi Begum is the mother-in-law of Sri Muzaffar Husain, Transport Minister in the Government of Uttar Pradesh. The Regional Transport Authority if directly under the control of the Transport Minister and because of this the Regional Transport Authority is bent upon renewing the permit of Smt. Hurmazi Begum. With that end in view, the authority is not allowing any other applicant including the petitioner, to come in competition with Smt Hurmazi Begum. The action of the Secretary in not publishing the petitioner's application was mala fide and arbitrary. The authorities have decided not to consider any other application along with the renewal application of respondent No. 3 and to renew her permit straightaway.
3. Respondent No. 3 in her counter-affidavit has alleged that the writ petition has been filed only to subserve political rivalry and jealousy. The leaders of the Praja Socialist Party and of the Samukt Socialist party are bent upon to malign Sri Muzaffar Husain ever since he assumed the charge of the ministry of Transport and they have picked up respondent No. 3 as a target. The third respondent was granted a stage carriage permit in 1957 long before Sri Muzaffar Husain became minister. She is being victimised and harassed and subjected to litigation merely because she is related to a minister. Her application for renewal was duly published but no objections have been filed by any one including the petitioner. There was no complaint or conviction against her and in all respects she had better claims for renewal. She denied that the permit was given to her either because of any fraud or misrepresentation or because of the influence of her son-in-law. Sri Muzaffar Husain.
4. Another counter-affidavit has been filed on behalf of the Regional Transport Authority and its Secretary. It is stated therein that the petitioner applied for the permit on 26th September, 1966 and desired that his permit should take effect in six weeks from the date of his application. On such a date there would have been no vacancy on the route and if the petitioner's application was granted, the limit of the strength for the route would have been violated. The petition was hence liable to be rejected summarily. There was, therefore, no necessity for publishing the petitioner's application. The various allegations relating to the grant of permit to the third respondent have been denied. It has been affirmed that the Regional Transport Authority is a statutory quasi judicial body The Transport Minister has no power to interfere in the affairs of the authority in the matter of grant of permit. It has been denied that the authority has decided not to consider any application alone with Smt. Hurmazi Begum's renewal application and to renew her application outright.
5. Learned counsel appearing for the Regional Transport Authority and its Secretary stated that Smt. Hurmazi Begum applied for renewal on 29th August, 1966. As alleged in paragraph 5 of the petition, the Secretary sent her application for publication in the gazette in 26-10-1966. It was published on 5-11-1968. On these dates the petitioner's application for a permit on this route was pending before the Secretary. He did not send it for publication on the ground that it was liable to be rejected because the petitioner wanted a permit to take effect six weeks from the date of his application. The petitioner had applied on 26th September, 1966. Accordingly he desired a permit to be effective from 7th November, 1966. On that date there was no vacancy on the route. The sanctioned strength of the two permits was occupied. Granting of the permit to the petitioner would have increased the sanctioned limit. In this situation the Regional Transport Authority was, in view of the proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 57 of the Motor Vehicles Act, entitled to summarily refuse the application without following the procedure of publication of the application and inviting objections thereto.
6. This stand of the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority is palpably incorrect. The petitioner had made the application in the prescribed form. The learned counsel appearing for the authorities has placed the record before me. The application in paragraph 4 thereto states that 'the permit is desired on the Varanasi-Jabalpur via Mirzapur route. The two permits granted on this route will expire in December, 1966. The applicant wants his permit to take effect on the expiry of one of these.' This left nothing in doubt. The petitioner clearly wanted a permit to take effect on the expiry of the existing permits and not at any point of time earlier or later than that event.
In the letter accompanying the application the petitioner mentioned that the two permits have already been granted on this route which will expire in December, 1966. Ht further stated: 'I apply for this permit under Section 57(2) which prescribes that an application can be given within six weeks before the date on which it is desired that the permit should take effect.' This sentence brings out the petitioner's intention of applying for one of the permits which was to expire in December. 1966. He mentioned that he was making an application under Section 57(2). He then described what Section 57(2) lays down. Section 57(2) says that an application for a stage carriage permit shall be made not less than six weeks before the date on which it is desired that the permit shall take effect. Section 57(2) does not prescribe any earlier limitation. It does not say that an application should not be made more than six weeks prior to the date on which the permit is to take effect It prescribes a minimum period and not any maximum. In order to clarify that the petitioner's application was well within time, he mentioned what Section 57(2) prescribes.
A reading of this application does not lead to the conclusion that the petitioner desired that he be given a permit to be effective from a date immediately after six weeks of the date of his application. He stated that an application can be given six weeks before. A fair reading of this application does not at all support the view taken by the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority that the petitioner desired his permit to take effect on the date immediately after six weeks from 26th September, 1966. This is all the more clear when this letter is read along with the application itself, where the petitioner in so many words stated that he wants his permit to take effect on the expiry of one of the existing permits.
7. There being no outer limit for making an application for a permit, the petitioner's application fulfilled the requirements of Section 57(2). It did not come within the clutches of the proviso to Sub-section (3) The petitioner wanted a permit to be effective after the expiry of the existing ones. At that time there would be a vacancy. The grant of a permit to the petitioner will not have the effect of increasing the number of vehicles operating on the route. The petitioner's application, therefore, was not liable to be summarily refused under the proviso to Sub-section (3).
8. The petitioner's original application being for a permit to be effective on the expiry of the existing permits the second letter of the petitioner dated 17th November. 1966 did not involve any amendment of the original application. In this letter he only further clarified the original position This letter cannot be read as seeking any amendment to the original application. The respondents were in error in treating this application as an amendment and taking the view that the original application will be treated as one for a permit to be effective on the expiry of six weeks from 17th November, 1966, and that since this date was within six weeks of the date of expiry of the existing permits, is such the application was not in order.
9. Sri Sharma, learned counsel for the petitioner, rightly pointed out that in view of the provisions of Sections 57 and 58 of the Act a fresh application for a permit has to be heard along with the application for renewal. This was expressly laid down by the Supreme Court in Ram Gopal v. Anant Prasad, AIR 1959 S. C. 851 (853). For the third respondent Sri S. C. Khare urged that on a true interpretation of Sections 57 and 58 a fresh application for a permit must be made two months prior to the expiry of the existing permit if the petitioner desires that his application should be considered along with the renewal application. It is unnecessary to consider this submission in any detail because even if this is assumed to be the correct position, the petitioner has satisfied this condition The permit was to expire on the 25th December. 1966. The petitioner made his application nearly three months before that date i.e. on 26th September, 1966.
Learned counsel urged that Section 57(2) did not intend that any and every application made till the date of expiry of an existing permit must be considered along with the application for renewal He pointed out that that will make the provision unworkable and will cause dislocation of the benefit to the travelling public. This question also does not arise on the facts of the present case. The petitioner had made his application well in advance. He was not pressing for consideration of an application made shortly prior to the date of expiry.
10. Sri Khare also urged that a person who wishes that his application for a permit be considered alone with the renewal application must file objections to the renewal application, else he has no right to demand consideration of his fresh application along with the renewal application. Reliance for this purpose was placed on the decision of the Supreme Court in Purshottam Bhai Punam Bhai Patel v. State Transport Appellate Authority, C. A. No. 762 of 1963, D/- 14-4-1964 (SC). This point was raised in this Court before R. S. Pathak, J. in Writ Petition No. 294 of 1965, Chetan Lal v. State Transport Appellate Tribunal, decided on 3rd May, 1965 (All). His Lordship rejecting this contention held that in the case of rival claimants, such representations are not contemplated by the statute. The very existence of rival applications constitutes in essence objection by the one to the grant of permit to the other. His Lordship distinguished the case of Purshottam Bhai, C. A. No. 762 of 1963, D/- 14-4-1964 (SC) and relied upon the following observations of the Supreme Court in Ram Gopal's case, AIR 19511 SC 851 --
'Nor is there anything in the Act to lead to the conclusion that an applicant for a permit is bound to put in objections against the applications of competing applicants for the grant of the renewal of the permit.'
I am, with respect, in agreement with this view
11. It was also urged that the petitioner has rushed to this Court prematurely. The petitioner's application was fixed up for consideration by the Regional Transport Authority and the petitioner had been asked to make his representation before it The authority, if satisfied that the application was in order, would have directed its publication The petitioner also had a right of appeal in case his application was refused. In paragraph 4 of the petition it has been alleged that the petitioner called upon the Secretary and requested him to publish his application but he frankly stated that the petitioner's application cannot be published and considered along with the application of Smt. Hurmazi Begum. In the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the Secretary, it has been admitted that the petitioner discussed the matter with the Secretary. The secretary explained the correct position to the petitioner and informed him that his application will be placed before the Regional Transport Authority
In the light oi the averments made in his counter-affidavit it is clear that the Secretary was of the opinion that the petitioner's application is liable to be summarily refused in view of the proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 57, that is why he did not direct its publication but placed it on the agenda of the meeting of the Regional Transport Authority. The petitioner was made aware of the likely fate of his application. The petitioner's application was fixed up before the Authorities' meeting to be held on November 18, 1966. The renewal application of the third respondent was fixed up before the Authority in its meeting to be held on 16th December 1966. It was, therefore, clear that there was no likelihood of the petitioner's application being considered along with the renewal application. The petitioner's apprehension that his application will not be considered along with the renewal application and that the third respondent's application is likely to be granted and the petitioner's application summarily refused was well founded. The petitioner's action in approaching this Court at this stage cannot be characterised as premature. He cannot be blamed for not letting grass grow under his feet by seeing the permit being renewed in favour of the third respondent and his application being summarily rejected, and then going up in appeal, before coming to this Court.
On the other hand, the petitioner's allegation that the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority has acted arbitrarily in not directing the publication of his application appears to be well founded. The secretary shut his eyes to the clear and specific averments in the application and examined the covering letter minutely and wrongly took the view that the petitioner required a permit to be effective six weeks from the date of his application.
12. It was urged by the learned Junior Standing Counsel that the Secretary could not himself direct the publication of the petitioner's application because such a power has not been delegated to him. This point was not taken in the affidavits Moreover, it does not lie in the mouth of the Secretary to say this because it was he who directed the publication of the application for renewal. Presumably he had the power to do so.
13. In the result the petition succeedsand is allowed. The first and second respondents are directed to forthwith publish thepetitioner's application and consider anddecide it along with the application for renewal made by the third respondent. Thepetitioner will have his costs.