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Ram Niwas Gupta Vs. 1st Additional District Judge and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ Petn. Nos. 5220 of 1982 and 1125 of 1983
Judge
Reported inAIR1984All124
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 2(20) and 59(1)
AppellantRam Niwas Gupta
Respondent1st Additional District Judge and ors.
Appellant AdvocateA.D. Saunders, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateA.R. Dubey and ;L.P. Naithani, Advs.
Excerpt:
motor vehicles - transfer of permit - sections 59 (1) and 2 (20) of motor vehicles act, 1939 - transfer of bus for five years with permission to ply on basis of permit available with seller - at time of end of tenure - period extended by six years - permission of r.t.a. not taken - held, permission of r.t.a. not required as there was no transfer of permit. - - under section 2(20) a permit holder like the respondent in respect of a stage carriage need not have any interest proprietary or possessory, in the vehicle itself. it can also be carried on with vehicles belonging to the partnership firm on the basis of permits obtained by a partner in respect of those vehicles, as a partner though not owner of those vehicles is clearly as a partner in possession of those vehicles. naithani, tbe..........not contravene section 59 (1) of the motor vehicles act because there was no transfer made of the permit held by the respondent in his name. the owner of the stage carriage, it is argued, need not himself obtain the permit; there is no breach of any of the provisions of this act where the owner of a stage carriage plying the same does not hold the permit in his name.5. according to section 42 (1) of the act, in so far as relevant, 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 by the regional transport authority. sub-section (1) of section 59 enacts that a permit shall not be transferable from one person to an-other except with the permission of the transport authority which.....
Judgment:
ORDER

B.D. Agrawal, J.

1. These are two connected petitions under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution.

2. Sachindra Kumar (hereinafter the respondent) holds a stage carriage permit No. 604-A for the Atrauli-Amapur via Charra-Kasganj route. He plied Bus No. UPC 5375 against this permit. On or about 8th August, 1974 he entered into agreement with Ram Niwas (hereinafter the petitioner) whereby he agreed to transfer the vehicle to the petitioner and to let him ply the same against the respondent's permit. Apprehending breach of this agreement on respondent's part, the petitioner instituted O. S. No. 140 of 1975 in the Court of Civil Judge, Aligarh for perpetual injunction. The suit ended in compromise between the parties entered into on 17th Jan., 1976 the material terms of which were:--

(i) That the Bus No. UPG 5375 with its Chassis No. 34205207, 17401, Engine No. 0717952, 1970 Model in question is and will remain the property of the plaintiff.

(ii) That the plaintiff shall be entitled to ply the said Bus on the Permit No. 604-A on the route Atrauli-Amapur via Chharrah-Kasganj for a period of six years and the defendants will not interfere in the plaintiff's plying the said Bus for the said period.

(iii) That the defendant No. 1 shall not for a period of six years from the date of this compromise ply or cause to be plied any other Bus of any other person, on permit No. 604-A nor he will get the name of any other person entered in Permit no. 604-A or in the Registration Certificate.

(iv) That the defendant No. 1 will have no objection in allowing the plaintiff to ply any other Bus on Permit No. 604-A during the period of six years as mentioned in para No. 2 above.

(v) That the plaintiff shall pay Rs. 200/-per month payable by 10th day of the succeeding month from the date of the compromise to Sri Sachindra Kumar, defendant No. 1, for a period of six years or till shorter time as the plaintiff plies his Bus on Permit No. 604-A and in case of default of payment for 3 consecutive months, the defendant No. 1 shall be at liberty to stop the plaintiff from plying the Bus on tine said permit In case the defendants or any of them, in any manner, prevent the plaintiff from plying his bus on Permit No. 604-A, the plaintiff shall not be liable to pay the said sum of Rs. 200/- per month to the defendant No. 1.

3. On the eve of the expiry of this agreement which was entered for a term of six years, the petitioner instituted another Original Suit No. 23 of 1982 for perpetual injunction in the Court of Munsif Havali, Aligarh on 16th Jan., 1982 asserting that on Oct. 11, 1981 the respondent tod agreed to extend the term by seven years for enhanced payment at the rate of Rs. 240/- per month and that he had also advanced Rs. 5,000/-for which the petitioner executed receipt. An application for temporary injunction was also made. The trial Court granted ex parte interim injunction on 16th January, 1982 restraining the respondent from interfering with the petitioner in plying his bus against Permit No. 604-A. This injunction continued up to 28th Jan., 1982. On 29th Jan., 1982 the Regional Transport Officer, Agra at the respondent's instance replaced his Bus No. UPT 3972 against this permit. The ad interim injunction dated 16-1-1982 was confirmed by the trial Court on Feb. 3, 1982. The respondent filed Misc. Civil Appeal No. 26 of 1982 against this order which was allowed by the learned Additional District Judge on 19-3-1982 and the injunction vacated finding that there was contravention of Section 59 (1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. The petitioner preferred Writ Petition No. 5220 of 1982 against this Order dated 19th March, 1982. The operation thereof was stayed on May 11, 1982 by this Court. Then the petitioner applied to the trial Court for ad interim mandatory injunction contending that the endorsement of the respondent's Bus no. U.P.T. 3972 on the said permit (in pursuance of the Order dated 19-3-1982) be deleted by the Regional Transport Officer and his own bus substituted. Learned Munsif granted interim mandatory injunction asked for on 13th Oct., 1982. In Misc. Civil Appeal No. 181 of 1982 filed by the respondent against this order, the same was affirmed by the learned Additional District Judge on 11th NOV., 1982. Aggrieved the respondent has filed Writ Petition No. 1125 of 1983. Both the petitions were heard together.

4. Sri R. A. Sharma learned counsel for the petitioner urged that the agreement relied upon by him does not contravene Section 59 (1) of the Motor Vehicles Act because there was no transfer made of the permit held by the respondent in his name. The owner of the stage carriage, it is argued, need not himself obtain the permit; there is no breach of any of the provisions of this Act where the owner of a stage carriage plying the same does not hold the permit in his name.

5. According to Section 42 (1) of the Act, in so far as relevant, 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 by the Regional Transport Authority. Sub-section (1) of Section 59 enacts that a permit shall not be transferable from one person to an-other except with the permission of the transport authority which granted the permit. Section 61 which provides for transfer of permit on death of the holder is not relevant to this case. Contravention of Section 59 (1) is made punishable. Section 23 of the Contract Act lays down that the object or consideration of an agreement is unlawful where the argument is forbidden by law or is of such a nature that if permitted, it would defeat the provisions of any law. An agreement of which object or consideration is unlawful is void.

6. Does the impugned agreement dated 13th Oct., 1981 amount to that of transfer of Permit No. 604-A by the respondent in favour of the petitioner? Admittedly permission of the Regional Transport Authority was not taken before entering into the transaction or even subsequently. The true implications of the receipt of Rs. 5,000/- claimed by the petitioner as containing this agreement can be understood only in the light of the contents of the earlier compromise dated 17-1-1976--the reason being that save for extension of term by seven years and increase in the amount to Rs. 240/- per month from Rs. 200/- per month earlier stipulated, the rest of the terms were intended to remain unaltered. The relevant terms of the compromise dated 17-1-1976 I have quoted above. The transport vehicle (Bus no. UPG 5375) belongs to the petitioner. The permit shall continue to be held by the respondent-The petitioner shall ply his vehicle against this permit and as consideration pay specified amount per mensem for a definite period only. The analysis shows that the title to the permit did not pass to the petitioner. While the respondent does not cease to own the permit, the transaction entered into by him enables the petitioner to ply his vehicle against that permit for specified period. Under section 2(20) a permit holder like the respondent in respect of a stage carriage need not have any interest proprietary or possessory, in the vehicle itself.

7. The law is settled that in so far as a stage carriage is concerned; neither Section 42(1) nor Section 2(20) or any other provision in this Act requires that the permit obtained be in the name of the owner of the transport vehicle, vide K. M. Viswanatha Pillai v. K. M. Shanmugham Pillai (AIR 1969 SC 493); Veerappa Pillai v. Raman and Raman Ltd. (AIR 1952 SC 192). The same view was taken by this Court in Khalil-ul Rahman v. State T. A. Tribunal (AIR 1963 All 383). To put this, in other words, there is no inconsistency in the permit for stage carriage being held by respondent and the vehicle allowed by him to be plied against this being owned by the petitioner.

8. The decision in Dayabhai and Co., Barwani v. C. I. T. M. P. (AIR 1966 Madh Pra 13) (Division Bench) is more directly in point. It was held (at p. 17):

'It follows from the above propositions that partnership business in transport can be carried on on the strength of a permit obtained by a partner and with a vehicle belonging to him. It can also be carried on with vehicles belonging to the partnership firm on the basis of permits obtained by a partner in respect of those vehicles, as a partner though not owner of those vehicles is clearly as a partner in possession of those vehicles. In the absence of any provision in the Motor Vehicles Act laying down that transport business in partnership can only be done on permits issued and obtained by the firm itself and with vehicles of which the firm is the owner, it cannot be held that Sections 31, 42 and 59 of the Motor Vehicles Act are transgressed when transport business is carried on with vehicles belonging to a partner or to the firm on the authorization of permits held by a partner. In the partnership business done by partner with vehicles belonging to him or to the partnership firm on permits obtained and held by him, there is no transfer of vehicles or transfer of permits.'

9. Contrary view was taken in Varada-rajulu Naidu v. Thavasi Nadar (AIR 1963 Mad 413) cited for the respondent but in K. M. Viswanatha Pillai (AIR 1969 SC 493) (supra), the Supreme Court repelled this as erroneous. The respondents' counsel relied also on Inderjit Singh v. Sunder Singh (AIR 1969 Raj 155). In that case the permit was held by one of the partners who agreed to share this with other partners in proportion to the respective shares and conferred on themselves the right to use and manage the vehicle in the manner authorised by the permit. This was held to be in contravention of Section 59 (1). The distinguishing feature is that the permit holder agreed 'to share' the permit with others which in itself entails transfer thereof in proportionate shares. Later, the same High Court distinguished this in Mangilal v. Gheesukhan (AIR 1980 Raj 14) and followed the Madhya Pradesh High Court view expressed in Dayabhai and Co. case (AIR 1966 Madh Pra 13) (supra).

In Mangilal, the truck was purchased by the parties jointly and partnership was entered into to ply it jointly. The permit obtained was, however, by defendant No. 1 in his name. It was held that this did not involve transfer of the permit.

10. Sri L. P. Naithani, tbe respondents' learned counsel, laid strong reliance on the decision of the Full Bench on Ghulam Aha-med v. Mohd. Iqbal (AIR 1970 J & K 165). A careful perusal thereof shows that this does not lay down a different proposition. The truck belonged to the defendant. He entered into partnership agreement with the plaintiffs 1, 2 and 3 providing that the defendant will be the owner of the material of the truck as well as its route permit to the extent of one third, and that the rest (including in the permit) shall be held in proportionate shares by the other partners namely, the plaintiff. On these facts it was held that the defendant made transfer of shares in the truck and also the route permit. In the case before us the petitioner is not given any share in the respondents' permit nor title created in him in any other firm. The decision in Dayabhai & Co. case (AIR 1966 Madh Pra 13) was distinguished observing that there was no transfer in that case. At page 168, Boat, J. speaking for the Court took care to observe:--

'If however, the terms of the partnership would have been that the permit would continue in the name of the petitioner and he had joined the other partners who either invested some money or their physical or mental labour, which would entitle them to share the benefit of the partnership, keeping the permit intact in the name of the petitioner there would have been nothing ob-jectionable in such a partnership.'

11. Sri Sharma the learned counsel sought to exclude Section 59 (1) from another angle also. He argued that the petitioner be taken to be a benamidar with respect to the permit and entitled on that basis to ply the bus irrespective of Section 59 (1). To support this contention he cited an unreported decision of a Division Bench of this Court in Kartar Singh v. Shri Shambhu Dayal Lakshar (First Appeal From Order No. 288 of 1976) dated 20-10-1976. In that case upon similar facts their Lordships proceeded on assumption that the appellants were benamidars and could, therefore, exercise the same rights as could be exercised by the respondent. The aforementioned decision of the Supreme Court in K. M. Viswanatha Pillars case (AIR 1969 SC 493) was relied to support the argument that the law in India permits a benami transaction.

Sri Naithani has submitted not without considerable force that the Supreme Court case proceeded on a different set of facts. The parties were members of a joint Hindu family. The joint family entered into a partition of joint family property. A motor bus fell to the share of the plaintiff. At the time of the partition the permit was not in the name of the defendant and some proceedings for the transfer of the permit in his name were pending. The partition deed provided that as soon as the route permit and registration were transferred in the name of the defendant, he shall have the same transferred in the name of the plaintiff. Later permit was transferred in the defendant's name. The plaintiff purchased certain vehicles in defendant's name and obtained permits also in defendant's name. While going abroad, the defendant executed Power of Attorney in plaintiff's favour wherein he admitted that the three vehicks belonged to the plaintiff and were plying on permit held in the defendant's name as requested by the plaintiff. These were the facts upon which the Supreme Court held that the transaction was benami and the Act does not contain any bar against such a transaction which is permissible under the general law of the country. In that case, it will be noticed, to all intents and purposes and viewed in the light of the well known tests the transaction was benami from the inception. Nothing of that kind, it was urged, exists in the un-reported case of Kartar Singh or in the present.

Sri Sharma also candidly pointed that in First Appeal No. 100 of 1977, (Khawaja Bux a. Mirza Mohd. Ismail) another Division Bench of this Court doubted the correctness of the aforesaid unreported decision on this aspect and on March 29, 1978 referred the matter for decision by larger Bench. The Full Bench, however, returned back the reference on 12th February, 1982 observing that various questions of facts in the first appeal should first be gone into. I have not found it necessary in the instant case to refer the matter for decision by a larger Bench because, in my view, for reasons discussed above, even independently altogether for the question whether the transaction is or is not benami, there is no transfer made of the route permit and hence permission of the Transport Authority was not necessary and Section 59 (1) cannot be said to to contravened.

12. Of no less importance, however, in this connection is the question of balance of convenience. There is no dispute that temporary injunction cannot issue unless there also be balance of convenience in petitioner's favour and the possibility of irreparable loss occurring to him due to the injunction being refused. The permit continues to be owned and retained by the respondent. Upon the petitioner's application in O. S. No. 23 of 1982 the temporary injunction granted ex parte on January 16, 1982 by the learned Munsif was :--

'Issue notice to the defendant fixing 28-1-1982. Meanwhile defendant is restrained from making any interference in the plying of plaintiff's bus UPG 5357 on route Atrauli Amapur via Chharrah-Kasganj under permit No. 604-A.'

13. This ad interim injunction clearly had its life till 28th January, 1982 only. On the 29th January, 1982 the Regional Trims-port Officer, Agra endorsed the respondent's Bus No. UPT 3972 on the permit. Thus the respondent had his own bus replaced over the permit held by (him. This was the position obtaining on 29th January, 1982. As I said above, the temporary injunction granted by the learned Munsif on 16-1-1982 and confirmed on 3-2-1982 was vacated in appeal by the learned Addl. District Judge on 19-3-1982. In Writ Petition No. 5220 of 1982 filed by the petitioner the operation of this order was stayed by this Court on May 11, 1982. Taking advantage thereof, the petitioner moved the trial Court again and this time for interim mandatory injunction directing the Regional Transport Officer to re-incorporate his Bus No. UPG 5375 on the permit. This was granted by the trial Court on 13-10-1982 and affirmed in appeal or, 11-11-1982. In Writ Petition No. 1125 of 1983 filed by the respondent the operation of these orders was stayed on January 27, 1983 but subsequently the stay was vacated by this Court on April 19, 1983. The fact retrains that as on 17-14982, when the term of the undisputed agreement between the parties dated 17-1-1976 arrived at in OS No. 140 of 1975 expired, the respondent acquired back the right to ply his own bus against the permit held by him and this was also so replaced on January 29, 1982. The respondent, in other words, seeks to avail of the permit held by him to run his own bus.

14. For the respondent, the factum of the impugned extension claimed by the petitioner dated October 11, 1981 is also disputed. The respondent's case is that he did not agree on 11-10-1981 to extend the term for another seven years nor did he receive any amount and no receipt was executed for the purpose. It was argued for the petitioner that as appearing from the orders dated 3-2-1982 and 19-3-1982 the respondent did not dispute this before the Court below. It seems to be overlooked that the respondent invoked Section 59 (1) of the Act and proceeded on the premise that, even if the averments on facts by the petitioner be correct, temporary injunction cannot issue since this provision is contravened, It would not be correct therefrom to infer, in my view, that the respondent admitted execution of the receipt dated 11-10-1981 and this is clear also from his contention as dealt with in the orders of the Courts below dated 13-10-1982 and 11-11-1982 which form the subject matter of the connected Writ Petition No. 1125 of 1983. The respondent maintains that since he has his own vehicle to run, there was no question of his acceding to the petitioner for a long term of seven years. The controversy can be resolved only upon trial on the evidence being recorded. In all fairness for so long as this is not resolved there is no compelling reason to let the petitioner have the benefit of a mundatoty injunction. The loss, if any, that he incurs during the pendency of the suit on this account is open to be recompensed in the form of claim for damages.

15. Consideration being had to the above. Writ Petition No. 5220 of 1982 fails and is dismissed. Writ Petition No. 1125 of 1983 is allowed. The order dated 13-10-1982 made by the trial Court and the order dated 11-11-1982 passed by the II Additional District Judge, Aligarh are quashed. The Regional Transport Officer, Agra (respondent No. 3) is directed meanwhile, for so long as the dispute between the parties in O. S. No. 23 of 1982 is not resolved to restore vehicle No. UPT 3972 belonging to Sachindra Kumar (petitioner in Writ Petition No. 1125 of 1983) against his permit No. 604-A. In the circumstances the costs shall be borne by the parties.


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