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Sudhir Sharma Vs. S.T.A. (T) and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ Petn. No. 2904 of 1979
Judge
Reported inAIR1980All352
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 2(28A), 68C, 68F, 68F(1A) and 68F(1C); Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantSudhir Sharma
RespondentS.T.A. (T) and ors.
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
.....- grant of temporary permits to private operators for shorter routes overlapped by larger routes - state transport undertaking obtained permit for the longer routes which completely overlap the shorter routes - permits issued to undertaking ceases to be effective. (ii) nationalisation scheme - sections 68f(1c),section 68 f(1a) and 68c of motor vehicles act, 1939 and article 226 of constitution of india - a scheme framed under chapter iv - benefit of state transport undertakings - no final scheme has been published - transport authorities grant permits to private operators in violation of section 68f(1a) or (1c) of the act and permit them to ply on their route - aggrieved can file writ petition. - - 4. the parliament by the act no, 56 of 1969 added four sub-sections to section 68-f (1)..........for plying his vehicle on moradabad-kashipur-ramnagar route. he has challenged the order of the state transport authority, dated may 2, 1978, granting stage carriage permits to respondentsnos. 4 to 20 on the said route and also the order of the state transport appellate tribunal, dated april 16, 1979 dismissing the petitioner's revision and upholding the order of the state transport authority granting permits to the respondents.2. the state transport undertaking of uttar pradesh issued a notification on 22-2-1968 proposing a scheme under section 68-c of the motor vehicles act, 1939, hereinafter referred to as the act, for the exclusive operation of its vehicles on the routes (1) moradabad-kashipur-ramnagar via thakurdwara. (2) moradabad-dilari via kashipur and doraha, (3).....
Judgment:

K.N. Singh, J.

1. The petitioner holds a permanent stage carriage permit for plying his vehicle on Moradabad-Kashipur-Ramnagar route. He has challenged the order of the State Transport Authority, dated May 2, 1978, granting stage carriage permits to respondentsNos. 4 to 20 on the said route and also the order of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, dated April 16, 1979 dismissing the petitioner's revision and upholding the order of the State Transport Authority granting permits to the respondents.

2. The State Transport Undertaking of Uttar Pradesh issued a notification on 22-2-1968 proposing a scheme under Section 68-C of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, hereinafter referred to as the Act, for the exclusive operation of its vehicles on the routes (1) Moradabad-Kashipur-Ramnagar via Thakurdwara. (2) Moradabad-Dilari via Kashipur and Doraha, (3) Moradabad-Tanda-Darhyal-Kashipur and (4) Moradabad-Tanda Darhyal-Kashipur-Ramnagar. By another notification published under Section 68-C proposing a scheme for notifying the route Nagina-Kashipur via Afzalgarh-Jaspur for the exclusive operation of the vehicles of the State Transport Undertaking. These are interregional routes and as such the State Transport Authority had taken these routes under its control. The scheme proposed under the aforesaid notification have not been finalised as yet. In February and May, 1977 the State Transport Authority granted temporary permits to respondents Nos. 4 to 20 for plying their mini buses on the aforesaid routes under Section 68-F (1-C) of the Act as the State Road Transport Corporation had not made any application by that time for the grant of temporary permit to it. Subsequently, the U. P. State Road Transport Corporation, hereinafter referred to as the Corporation, made application for grant for temporary permits on the said routes. The State Transport Authority, by its order dated 20-1-1978, granted temporary permits to the Corporation on the routes in respect of which notifications under Section 68-C had been issued. The Corporation, however, surrendered these permits on 26-2-1978 and made fresh applications before the State Transport Authority for the grant of temporary permits to it on the routes (1) Ramnagar-Delhi via Kashipur-Moradabad. Garh-Hapur, (2) Jaspur-Delhi via Kashipur-Moradabad (3) Ram-nagar-Meerut via Kashipur-Moradabad and (4) Jaspur-Meerut via Kashipur-Moradabad. On March 9, 1978, the State Transport Authority granted permits to the Corporation for the said routes. Thereafter respondents Nos. 4 to 20 were directed to stop plying their vehicles on the routes in respect of which temporary permits had been issued to them. The respondents thereupon approached the State Transport Authority and urged that even though permits had been granted to the Corporation, they were entitled to ply on the routes in question in pursuance of the permits granted to them earlier. The State Transport Authority by its order dated 2-5-1978 upheld the respondents' contention and directed that the respondents shall be permitted to ply on the routes in respect of which temporary permits had been granted to them earlier. The petitioner thereupon filed a revision under Section 65-A before the State Transport Appellate Tribunal against the order of the State Transport Authority, dated May 2, 1978. The petitioner contended that since permits had been issued to the Corporation under Section 68-F (1-A) of the Act, the temporary permits granted to the respondent under Section 68-F (1-C) ceased to be effective and they were not entitled to ply their vehicles on the routes in question. The Appellate Tribunal by its order dated April 16, 1979, dismissed the revision and upheld the order of the State Transport Authority. Aggrieved, the petitioner has approached this Court by means of this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the aforesaid two orders.

3. Chapter IV-A of the Act contains special provisions relating to creation of monopoly in favour of the State Transport Undertaking for providing motor transport services on the routes in respect of which a scheme is framed in accordance with those provisions. Under Section 68-C the State Road Transport Undertaking may propose a scheme for the complete or partial exclusion of other persons for providing road Transport services on a route or area specified under the scheme. The scheme so proposed is required to be published in the official gazette. On the publication of the scheme the existing operators who may have been already providing transport facilities on the route or area are entitled to file objections which have to be heard by the State Government or an authority authorisedby it under Section 68-C of the Act. After hearing objections, the hearing authority is empowered to approve, modify or reject the scheme. If the scheme is approved, it has to be published in the official gazette by the State Government and thereupon the scheme becomes final and it is known as ''approved scheme' and the route or area in respect of which the scheme is framed is called notified area or notified route. The scheme as finally published under Section 68-D (3) of the Act is statutory in nature and operates as law. Section 68-F (2) provides for the consequential steps which are to be taken by the Transport Authorities constituted under the Act for the purpose of giving effect to the approved scheme which contemplate cancellation or curtailment of an existing permit and refusal to entertain any application for grant or renewal of any permit. Section 68-F (1) of the Act lays down that if a State Transport Undertaking applies for grant of a permit in pursuance of an approved scheme the Transport Authority constituted under the Act shall issue such permits to the Undertaking notwithstanding anything contained to the contrary in Chap. IV of the Act. These provisions have been enacted by the Parliament for giving effect to an approved scheme.

4. The Parliament by the Act No, 56 of 1969 added four sub-sections to Section 68-F (1) of the Act, namely, (1-A), (1-B), (1-C) and (1-D), making provisions for the grant of temporary permits to the Undertaking as well as to other private operators during the period intervening between the date of publication of a scheme under Section 68-C of the Act and the date of publication of an approved scheme. Sub-section (1-A) of Section 68-F lays down that the State Transport Authority or the Regional Transport Authority, as the case may be, may issue temporary permit to the State Transport Undertaking in respect of any area or route any portion thereof which may have been specified in a scheme proposed under the notification issued under Section 68-C of the Act. The power to grant temporary permits is limited for the period intervening between the date of publication of the notification under Section 68-C and the date of notification issued under Section 68-D (3) of the Act. The temporary permits so issued to the State Transport Undertaking shall remain effective for theperiod specified in Sub-section (1-B). Sub- section (1-C) lays down that if no application for temporary permit is made by the State Transport Undertaking temporary permits may be granted to any person in respect of the route or portion thereof, but the permit so granted shall cease to be effective on the issue of permit to the State Transport Undertaking in respect of the area or route or a portion thereof. Sub-section (1-D) curtails the power of the Transport Authorities to grant or renew any permit in favour of any person in relation to an area or route thereof covered by the scheme published under Section 68-C of the Act during the intervening period. It further provides that where the period of an existing permit expires after the publication of the scheme under Section 68-C the Transport Authority may renew the same for a limited period. Such a permit, however, ceases to be effective on the publication of the scheme under Sub-section (3) of Section 68-D of the Act.

5. The scheme as envisaged by the four Sub-sections of Section 68-F (1) is clear that on the publication of a notification under Section 68-C of the Act, the Transport Authorities constituted under the Act have power to issue temporary permits to the State Transport Undertaking if it makes application for the purpose. The life of such a permit is to last till the finalisation of the scheme under Section 68-D (3) or till the order is passed by the State Government under Sub-section (2) of Section 68-D of the Act disapproving the scheme. If however, the State Transport Undertaking does not make any application for temporary permit, it is open to the transport authorities to grant temporary permit to any private operator for plying his vehicles on the route or area or portion thereof which may be the subject matter of the scheme published under Section 68-C of the Act. The life of such a permit comes to an end by operation of law under Section 68-F (1-C) of the Act on the issue of a permit to the State Undertaking under Section 68-F (1-A) of the Act. Thus where the Corporation does not make any application for the grant of a temporary permit, transport authorities may grant temporary permit to private operators, but if at any stage thethe State Transport Undertaking makes application and temporary permits are granted to it, any permit issued to private operators earlier would cease to be effective as provided by Sub-section (1-C). No specific order of cancellation need be passed as by operation of law any permit issued to a private operator shall cease to be effective. Sub-sections (1-A) and (1-C) of Section 68-F are mutually exclusive to each other, therefore, the moment permits are granted to the State Transport Undertaking, the permits granted to private operators would cease to be effective by operation of law as contemplated by Section 68-F (1-C) of the Act.

8. The Appellate Tribunal has held that since the temporary permits had been issued to the Corporation on larger routes, namely, Ramnagar-Delhi, Ramnagar-Meerut, Jaspur-Delhi, and Jaspur-Meerut, Section 68-F (1-C) does not come into play as these routes were not proposed to be notified under the scheme published under Section 68-C of the Act, as such the respondents permits though issued for the routes in respect of which notification under Section 68-C had been issued could not be rendered ineffective. The Tribunal observed that the routes in respect of which permits were issued to the Corporation no doubt overlap the routes mentioned in the notification under Section 68-C of the Act, but that by itself does not attract the provisions of Section 68-F (l-C) of the Act. Relying upon the definition of route as contained in Section 2 (22) of the Act, the Tribunal observed that Moradabad-Ramnagar via Kashipur, Moradabad-Kashipur and Moradabad-Ramnagar were quite different routes than those routes in respect of which permits had been granted to the Corporation. The Tribunal held that permits granted to the Corporation could not be covered by Section 68-F (1-A) consequently the permits granted to private operators did not cease to be effective.

7. The Appellate Tribunal, in our opinion, committed patent error in holding that the Corporation had not obtained permits under Section 68-F (1-A) of the Act for the routes included in the notifications published under Section 68-C of the Act. A perusal of the Corporation's application made for the grant of permits and theorders passed thereon (Annexure V to the petition) shows that the Corporation had applied for the grant of temporary permits on the routes Ram-nagar-Moradabad via Kashipur, Jaspur-Moradabad via Kashipur, Ramnagar-Moradabad via Thakurdwara and Kala-garh-Afzalgarh under Section 68-F (1-A) and in addition to that the Corporation had further made a prayer for the grant of permanent permits under Section 68-F (1) of the Act on the notified routes Moradabad-Delhi and Morada-bad-Meerut. The State Transport Authority issued a combined permit to the Corporation for the route Jaspur-Delhi via Kashipur-Moradabad, Morada-bad-Meerut via Ramnagar and Kashipur and Moradabad-Delhi via Kashipur under Section 68-F (1) in respect of the notified routes Moradabad-Delhi and Moradabad-Meerut. It further granted temporary permits on the routes Ramnagar-Moradabad via Kashipur, Ramnagar-Moradabad via Thakurdwara, Jaspur-Moradabad and Kalagarh-Afzalgarh under Section 68-F (1-A). All these routes were included in the notification published under Sec. 68-C. Thus, the Corporation had obtained temporary permits for operating its vehicles on the routes mentioned in the notifications under Section 68-C of the Act. The provisions of Sec. 68-F (1-C) were attracted and the permits granted to respondents Nos. 4 to 20 on the routes mentioned in the notification under Section 68-C ceased to be effective by operation of law. Merely because the Corporation was plying its vehicles on the larger route, namely, Ramnagar-Meerut, Ramnagar-Delhi and Jaspur-Meerut, the provisions of Section 68-F (1-C) are not inapplicable. The scheme of Chapter IV-A excludes private operators from carrying on business on a notified route on routes published under Section 68-C of the Act provided the Corporation is plying its own vehicles under permits granted to it by the transport authorities. It is undisputed that the Corporation is plying its vehicles on the routes mentioned in the notification published under Section 68-C of the Act under the permits granted to it. The Corporation vehicles are completing their journey on the larger routes, namely, Jaspur-Delhi via Kashipur, Ramnagar-Delhi via Moradabad and Moradabad-Delhi via Kashipur andwhile doing that they are plying on the entire routes as published under Section 68-C of the Act. Since the Corporation had obtained permits under Section 68-F (1-A) for plying its vehicles on the routes mentioned in the notification published under Section 68-C, the provisions of Section 68-C (1-C) of the Act were applicable and the permits granted to respondents Nos. 4 to 20 ceased to be effective by operation of law.

8. The Tribunal's reasoning that since the Corporation had obtained permits on the longer-routes and not for the shorter routes as mentioned in the notification published under Section 68-C, the provisions of Section 68-F (1-C) are not attracted, is misconceived. It is undisputed that the longer routes over which the Corporation has been plying its vehicles completely overlap the shorter routes as mentioned in the notification under Section 68-C. Thus the Corporation is running its stage carriage for hire on the routes mentioned in the notification published under Section 68-C of the Act on temporary permits which were expressly issued under Section 68-F (1-A) of the Act. Can it then be said that the Corporation has not obtained any permit as contemplated by Section 68-F (1-A) of the Act or that it was not plying its vehicles on the routes in respect of which the notifications under Section 68-C of the Act have been issued. The answer is certainly in the negative aS noted earlier, the Corporation itself made application to the State Transport Authority for the grant of temporary permits for the routes mentioned in the notification under Section 68-C and the State Transport Authority granted the same and in addition to that the Corporation was further allowed to ply its vehicles on the notified portion of the route. The definition of 'route' as introduced by Section 2 (28-A) by Act 56 of 1969 means a line of travel which specifies the highway traversed by motor vehicle between a terminus and another. In other words, 'route' means that portion of the highway over which a motor vehicle travels from one termini to other termini. A permit granted under the Act is generally for a route mentioned therein which authorities the vehicle to undertake journey from one termini to the other. Route is an essential ingredient of a permit authorising the plying of motor vehicles on a public highway. If the State Transport Undertaking has obtained permit for the longer routes which completely overlap the shorter routes the legal position would be that the undertaking has permit for the shorter routes also. In that view no private operator is entitled to ply on the shorter routes and the permits issued to him ceases to be effective.

9. In Mysore State Road Transport Corporation v. Mysore State Transport Appellate Tribunal, (AIR 1974 SC 1940) a contention was raised that having regard to the definition of 'route' as contained in Section 2 (28-A) of the Act, a private operator was entitled to ply his vehicle on a shorter route even if the larger route was notified which overlapped the shorter route. The Supreme Court repelled the contention and held that the definition of route correlates the notional line of travel between the two termini with the portion of the highway which has to be traversed on the route. It further held that where a private transporter made an application to operate on the route which overlaps even a portion of the notified route, then that application has to be considered only in the light of the scheme as notified and if there is total prohibition then the application must be rejected. The principles laid down in Mysore Road Transport Corporation's case are fully applicable to the instant case although the situation involved in the present case is converse. Even if the Corporation is plying on the longer routes under a permit granted by the transport authorities under Sections 68-F (1) and 68-F (1-A) of the Act, it is not permissible under the provisions of the Act to allow private operator to ply his vehicle for hire and reward on a portion of that route. In this view of the matter, the respondents attempt to draw distinction on the basis of shorter and longer route must be rejected. In U. P. State Road Transport Corporation v. State Transport Appellate Tribunal, (AIR 1977 All l) a Full Bench of this Court considered this matter and held that no private operator was entitled to obtain permit on shorter route even if overlapping is of a few miles on the notified route. The Tribunal's view that a permit issued to respondentsNos. 4 to 20 on the shorter routes will not cease to be effective on the ground that the permits of the Corporation were granted on the longer routes, cannot be upheld.

10. The Tribunal's view suffers from manifest error, as the Corporation has been plying its vehicles on the longer routes under permits granted by the State Transport Authority. Since the Corporation, is plying its vehicles on the shorter routes mentioned in the notification published under Section 68-C the provisions of Section 68-F (1-C) come into play and the permits granted to the respondents must cease to be effective. If the view taken by the Tribunal is upheld the purpose of a scheme framed under Chapter IV-A for the exclusive operation of the route by the State Transport Undertaking would be nullified. To illustrate the point, let us take a case where the State Transport Undertaking may have permits for plying its vehicles on a notified route from Allahabad to Delhi via Kanpur. Now there is another route classified by the transport authorities Allahabad-Kanpur. If the Tribunal's view is accepted, a private operator would be entitled to obtain permit for plying vehicles on the Allahabad-Kanpur route notwithstanding the fact that the shorter route is part of the longer route Allahabad-Delhi. This is not permissible as held by the Supreme Court in Mysore Road Transport Corporation's case.

11. Learned counsel for the respondent urged that the State Government had issued notification under Section 43-A (2) of the Act on 7-7-1976 and 2-8-1976 permitting grant of permits on Moradabad-Kashipur route and its allied routes, as such the respondent permits were valid and could not cease to have effect. The provisions of Section 43-A (2) as added by the Act of 1976 and amended by Section 11 of U. P. Act 27 of 1976, have overriding effect on the provisions of Chapter IV-A of the Act. These notifications have been filed as Annexures II and III to the counter-affidavit of Ram Saran, respondent No. 4. It appears that the State Government in pursuance of its powers under Section 43-A (2) of the Act issued notifications giving general directions to the Transport Authorities for giving preference to the existing mini bus operatorswhile granting additional stage carriage permits on the routes and area which may have been notified under Section 68-C of the Act, but no application for permits may have been made by the State Transport Undertaking. While issuing this notification a list of routes published under notification issued under Section 68-C but in respect of which no application for permits had been made by the State Transport Undertaking was appended to the notification. Moradabad-Kashipur-Ramnagar and allied routes find place in that list. In our opinion, these notifications merely direct the Transport Authorities to grant permits to the private operators in accordance with Section 68-F (1-C) of the Act in the assumption that the Corporation had not made any application for grant of permit under Section 68-F (1-A). The notifications, however, do not contain any direction that notwithstanding anything contained in Chapter IV-A of the Act permits should be granted to private operators, further the notifications do not authorise grant of permits to private operators even if the Corporation has obtained permits to ply its vehicles on the routes published under Section 68-C of the Act. The direction as contained in the notification proceeded on the assumption that the Corporation had made no application for grant of permit. The Corporation had, as we have noted earlier made application for grant of permits under Section 68-F (1-A), although the application was made later in time, but that does not affect the legal position. The State Transport Undertaking is free to make application under Section 68-F (1-A) any time and whenever permits are issued to it, legal consequences as contemplated by Section 68-F (1-C) would ensue and any permit granted to a private operator even prior in time would cease to be effective. The notification do not contemplate anything contrary to the scheme contained in Section 68-F of the Act and as such the question of their having overriding effects does not arise.

12. Learned counsel for the respondents urged that the aggrieved person if any could be the State Transport Corporation but since it has not chosen to challenge the plying of vehicles by respondents Nos. 4 to 20 the petitioner has no locus standi to challenge the same by means of the present petition.It is true that a scheme framed under Chapter IV-A of the Act is primarily for the benefit of the State Transport Undertaking and if permits are granted in violation of the Act naturally the Undertaking would be aggrieved, but where no final scheme has been published and only a scheme has been proposed under Section 68-C the existing operators on the routes in question would be aggrieved if transport authorities grant permits to private operators in violation of Section 68-F (1-A) or (1-C) of the Act and permit them to ply on their route. Since the petitioner is an existing operator on one of the routes published under Section 68-C of the Act he is an aggrieved person as respondent Nos. 4 to 20 are plying vehicles on his route in an illegal manner. The petitioner is therefore entitled to maintain the petition.

13. In view of the above discussion we hold that the State Transport Authority as well as the Appellate Tribunal both have committed patent error in upholding the respondents' right to ply their vehicles on the route published under Section 68-C of the Act.

14. We, therefore, allow the petition and quash the orders dated May, 2, 1978, and April, 16, 1979 parties shall bear their own costs.


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