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Rameshwar Dayal Gupta Vs. the Regional Transport Authority, Meerut - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpecial Appeal No. 288 of 1955
Judge
Reported inAIR1958All575; 1958CriLJ984
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 48, 60 and 60(1); Uttar Pradesh Motor Vehicles Rules, 1940 - Rule 81(10); Constitution of India - Article 226; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 35
AppellantRameshwar Dayal Gupta
RespondentThe Regional Transport Authority, Meerut
Appellant AdvocateM.H. Beg, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateJunior Standing Counsel
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
.....breach untenable - held, such intervention can be allowed. - - in the circumstances the regional transport authority appears to have been clearly in error when it took the view that the presence of the three passengers without tickets on the appellant's vehicle amounted to a breach of the conditions of the permit which could justify its suspension. the sentence cannot be set aside because the conviction on one of the charges was found to be bad. if as has been shown it is bad in law this court cannot refuse to interfere simply because it is possible to argue that it is not too severe. these other grounds are that the notice to show cause issued to him was bad because the facts were vaguely stated and no reference was made in it to the provisions of law or the conditions of the permit..........on the 26th of august, 1954 at 8-20 a.m. sri a.i. qizilbash, the secretary of the regional transport authority, meerut, checked the vehicle near the level crossing on the khatauli-jansath road. it was found that there were 31 passengers in the vehicle but only 28 of them held tickets, no tickets having been issued for the remaining three. it was also found that the stage carriage had not started at miranpur at 7-30 a.m. according to the scheduled time table but has started at 7-50 a.m. at jansath on its way to khatauli.it had not gone to miranpur at all. sri qizilbash thereupon issued a notice to the appellant to show cause under section 60 of the motor vehicles act why the permit of the appellant in respect of the vehicle should not be suspended or cancelled. the appellant.....
Judgment:

A.P. Srivastava, J.

1. This special appeal has been preferred against an order of a learned Single Judge of this Court by which he dismissed a petition filed by the appellant under Article 226 of the Constitution.

2. The appellant is the owner of a stage carriage No. USP. 834 and held a permit for running it on Khatauli-Jansath-Miranpur-Ramraj route in the district of Muzaffarnagar. On the 26th of August, 1954 at 8-20 A.M. Sri A.I. Qizilbash, the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority, Meerut, checked the vehicle near the level crossing on the Khatauli-Jansath road. It was found that there were 31 passengers in the vehicle but only 28 of them held tickets, no tickets having been issued for the remaining three. It was also found that the stage carriage had not started at Miranpur at 7-30 A.M. according to the scheduled time table but has started at 7-50 A.M. at Jansath on its way to Khatauli.

It had not gone to Miranpur at all. Sri Qizilbash thereupon issued a notice to the appellant to show cause under Section 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act why the permit of the appellant in respect of the vehicle should not be suspended or cancelled. The appellant showed cause. His explanation was that his vehicle had in fact startled from Miranpur according to the time schedule and that it was not necessary to issue any tickets to the three passengers who were found without tickets because they were not passengers but only employees of the appellant.

The matter was considered by the Regional Transport Authority and it decided to suspend the permit of the appellant for three months. The appellant preferred an appeal to the State Transport Authority Tribunal, which upheld the order of suspension. He then filed the writ petition against the dismissal of which this special appeal has been filed and prayed for the quashing of the order of suspension by a writ of certiorari. He also claimed a writ of mandamus requiring the authorities not to enforce the order of suspension.

The main points urged in support of the petition before the learned Single Judge were (1) that though the vehicle of the appellant had in fact started from Miranpur according to the time table, even if it was conceded for the sake of argument that it had started not at Miranpur but at Jansath, that could not amount to a breach of the conditions of the permit for which the appellant's permit could be suspended; (2) that as the passengers who were found without tickets had not paid any fare it was not necessary for the appellant to issue tickets, to them; the mere fact that they were without ticket could nob justify the suspension of the appellants' permit; (3) that the appellant had not been given a fair hearing either before the Regional Transport Authority or before the Appellate Tribunal; and (4) that the order that the appellant's vehicle should start every day from Miranpur and should not run between Jansath and Khatauli only was not a valid order and if it was to be deemed to be a condition of the appellant's permit it amounted to an unreasonable restriction on the appellant's right to carry on his trade and profession and was therefore void.

3. All these contentions were rejected by the learned Single Judge and he dismissed the appellant's petition.

4. In his some-what lengthy arguments in appeal the learned counsel for the appellant raised a number of points. We do not think it necessary to deal with all of them. The appellant's permit has been suspended under Section 60 (1) (a) of the Motor Vehicles Act for breach of two conditions of his permit. The first was that the vehicle had been found carrying three passengers to whom tickets had not been issued. The second was that he had not followed the prescribed time table as he had started his vehicle at Jansath on the morning in question instead of at Miranpur.

5. The fact that three of the passengers in the vehicle did not have tickets was not disputed on behalf of the appellant. The explanation he put forward was that it was not necessary to issue tickets to these passengers becausethey were his own employees. The contentionurged on behalf of the respondents is that innot issuing tickets to the three passengers theappellant contravened Section 48 (d) (vi) of theMotor Vehicles Act and Clause (10) of Rule 81 of theU. P. Motor Vehicle Rules.

It is however pointed out on behalf of the appellant, and in our opinion rightly, that neither of these provisions can be said to have been contravened simply because three of the passengers travelling in the appellant's vehicle were found to be without tickets. Section 48 (d) (vi) of the Motor Vehicles Act only requires that if passengers pay fares tickets should be issued to them. In the case of the three passengers in question it is neither alleged nor proved that they had paid any fares or that tickets had not been issued to them in spite of that payment.

It is therefore obvious that the appellant could not be held to have contravened this provision simply because three persons were found on his bus who did not possess tickets. This clause of Section 48 does not impose any duty on the permit holder not to carry passengers free of charge. Clause (10) of Rule 81 of the Motor Vehicles Rules too does not impose any such liability on the permit-holder. It only enjoins a passenger not to board a stage carnage unless he holds a pass or obtains a ticket.

The liability that it imposes is therefore on the passengers intending to board a stage carriage. It imposes no liability on the permit, holder of the stage carriage. There is nothing before us to show that the permit of the appellant contained any condition that he should not allow any person to travel on his vehicle without issuing a ticket to him. In the circumstances the Regional Transport Authority appears to have been clearly in error when it took the view that the presence of the three passengers without tickets on the appellant's vehicle amounted to a breach of the conditions of the permit which could justify its suspension.

6. Under Section 48 (c) of the Motor Vehicles Act the Regional Transport Authority can regulate timings of arrival and departure of stage carriages. Under Sub-clause (iii) of Clause (d) of the section the observance of a time table approved by the Regional Transport Authority can form one of the conditions of a permit. Such a time table and strict adherence to it appear to be necessary in the interest of the travelling public for whose benefit stage carriages are allowed to ply.

The permit granted to the appellant was in respect of the Khatauli-Jansath-Miranpur-Ramraj route, and according to the respondents the entire distance had to be covered in accordance with a fixed time table, vehicles being required to arrive and leave each station on the way at a prescribed time. The position had been made clear to the appellant by the issue of a specific order that he would not be allowed to run a sort of shuttle service between any two intermediate stations on the route.

Thus it would not be open to him to start his vehicle at Jansath and to run it upto Khatauli; only. When the vehicle of the appellant was checked on the 26th August, 1954, however, it was found that his vehicle had started at 7-50 A.M. from Jansath instead of starting at 7-30 A.M. from Miranpur. It had not gone to Miranpur at all. The appellant denied this fact and alleged that his vehicle had in fact started at Miranpur at the scheduled time.

This allegation was however not accepted either by the Regional Transport Authority or by the Tribunal. The finding on the point being a finding of fact could not be allowed to be questioned in writ proceedings. The appellant probably realised this. He therefore contended that really there was no condition in his permit that he will have to adhere to any schedule or time-table. The order about not running a shuttle, he urged, could not be considered to be a condition of the permit.

He therefore said that even if it was assumed that on that morning his vehicle had started at Jansath and not at Miranpur he could not be held to have broken any condition of his permit. The answer tp this contention is provided by paragraph 7 of the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the Regional Transport Authority, where it is definitely stated 'that it has specifically been mentioned in the petitioner's (appellants') permit that he would observe the timings under Section 48 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1939. The time table of each route is fixed by the Regional Transport Authority and the permit-holders have to follow the same as the same being an essential condition of the permit.

The condition that the petitioner would not be allowed to run shuttle services being an essential condition of permit could have been appealed against under Section 64 of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1939. But the petitioner did not make any grivance of it since he did not prefer any appeal before the State Transport Authority Tribunal. It was therefore a condition of the appellant's permit that he would observe fixed time table and would not run a shuttle service. If it was found that the appellant had not in fact adhered to the time table and had tried to run a shuttle service between Jansath and Khatauli he could be held to have contravened the conditions pf his permit.

7. The Regional Transport Authority has imposed a penalty of suspension of permit for three months on the appellant on the ground that he contravened two of the terms, of the permit. As has been shown above the authority's view in respect of one of these grounds was legally untenable. The question is whether a single punishment can be allowed to stand if one of the two grounds on which it was imposed is found to be untenable. Two contentions were advanced in this connection by the learned Junior Standing Counsel.

In the first, place he urged that the case was analogous to that of a person who had been jointly tried for two distinct offences and on whom a single sentence had been imposed. The sentence cannot be set aside because the conviction on one of the charges was found to be bad. His second contention was that in view of the gravity of the charge about non-observance of the lime table the punishment of three months suspensinn could not be considered unduly severe. The present cannot therefore be said to be a case in which this Court should exercise its discretionary powers under Article 226 of the Constitution by quashing the punishment.

8. The case of a criminal trial, however, essentially stands on a different footing. In such a trial the rule is to impose a separate sentence in respect of each distinct offence, so that if the conviction in respect of one offence is set aside the sentence imposed in respect of that offence goes. Even if a single sentence is imposed in respect of more offences than one and the appellate court finds that some of the offences are not proved it can consider the question of sentence itself and impose a suitable sentence in respect of the offences which it finds to have been proved.

This Court, however, is not sitting in appeal against the decision of the transport authorities and cannot substitute its own view about the punishment for that taken by them. They thought that three months suspension of the appellant's permit would be proper punishment as two charges had been established. No one can say what their conclusion would have been had they been of the view that only one of the charges was established.

It is also not known what view they would have taken about the comparative gravity of the two charges levelled against the appellant. It was certainly in the discretion of the transport authorities to impose on the appellant any punishment under Section 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act which they considered reasonable to Impose. In fixing the measure of punishment however they admittedly based their conclusion on the finding that the appellant had been guilty of both the breaches with which he had been charged.

When he could not have been held guilty of one of the charges the considerations in respect of that charge became extraneous considerations and if such extraneous considerations were employed in deciding what punishment was to be imposed on the appellant the entire order imposing the punishment can be held to have become void. As Farwell, L. J. laid down in Rex v. Board of Education, (1910) 2 K. B. 165 at p. 179 (A) :--

'If the Tribunal has exercised the discretion entrusted to it bona fide, not influenced by extraneous or irrelevant considerations, and not arbitrarily or illegally, the courts cannot interfere; but they have power to prevent the intentional usurpation or mistaken assumption of a jurisdiction beyond that given to the tribunal by law, and also the refusal of their true jurisdiction by the adoption of extraneous considerations in arriving at their conclusion or deciding a point other than that brought before them, in which cases the courts have regarded them as declining jurisdiction.''

The appellant can therefore contend that the transport authorities committed an error of jurisdiction by imposing a punishment upon him based on extraneous considerations and that this Court should interfere and quash the order. It is not necessary for this Court to go into the question whether if only one of the charges is established the punishment imposed is justifiable or not; that is for the transport authorities to decide. The order of suspension passed against the appellant is liable to be quashed not because it was not a possible order that could be passed in the circumstances of the case but because it must be held to be vitiated by an error of jurisdiction.

9. The suspension of the appellant's permit for three months can cause substantial loss to the appellant financially and may also be taken into account at the time of the renewal, of his permit. If as has been shown it is bad in law this Court cannot refuse to interfere simply because it is possible to argue that it is not too severe.

10. In the above view of the case the other grounds which the learned counsel for the appellant tried to urge against the impugned order become immaterial and need not be gone into. They must however be mentioned so that when the matter is re-considered as a result of the quashing of the order steps may be taken to see that the appellant has no more grievance left on their account.

These other grounds are that the notice to show cause issued to him was bad because the facts were vaguely stated and no reference was made in it to the provisions of law or the conditions of the permit which were said to have been contravened, that the appellant was not given a proper hearing either before the Regional Transport Authority or before the Appellate Tribunal and the witnesses he wanted to produce had not been examined, and that the principles of natural justice had been contravened inasmuch as Sri Qizibash who was the prosecutor of the appellant and one of the main: witnesses of the facts, also took part in deciding the case against the appellant as a member and Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority.

11. In the result the appeal is allowed,the order of suspension of the appellant's permit for three months passed by the oppositeparties is quashed, and the opposite partiesare directed not to enforce it against the appellant. It will be open to the opposite parties tore-consider the matter according to law and toimpose on the appellant such a penalty underSection 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act as maybe found to be suitable. In the circumstancesof the case there will be no order as to costs.


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