1. This is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution for quashing the temporary permit, permit No. P. Tem. 808-B/1959, granted to respondent No. 2, the Central Provinces Transport Services, Jabalpur, by the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, in respect of route Harpal-pur-Chhatarpur for four timings, valid for the period 1st October 1959 to 23rd October 1959 for the carriage of passengers holding road-cum-rail tickets on the ground that the said grant was irregular and in complete disregard of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and the rules made thereunder.
2. The petitioner is a transport operator holding permanent stage carriage service permits for the same route (four return trips daily), and he also holds a contract with the postal authorities for carrying mail from Chhatarpur to Harpalpur and vice versa. Harpalpur is the railway-station for Chhatarpur and the timings and the services of the petitioner as well as other operators have been so adjusted that for each tram arriving at Harpalpur or going from Harpalpur, there are two services for people coming to and going from both ends, i.e., Chhatarpur and Harpalpur. The timings of the petitioner's all four services are also so adjusted that they connect with the train timings at Harpalpur.
3. Respondent No. 2, the Central Provinces Transport Services, is a transport undertaking owned by the State Government of Madhya Pradesh. It appears that it has been negotiating for sometime past with the railway authorities for a contract to carry passengers to whom road-cum-rail tickets may be issued either by the railway authorities or by the out-agencies created for the purpose by the railway authorities. The contracts have not yet been finalized but respondent No. 2, by annexure Rule II, notified its willingness to the Chief Commercial Superintendent, Central Railway, Bombay, to start out-agencies at Chhatarpur with effect from 1st April 1959.
4. The Central Provinces Transport Services, in order to enable it to implement its undertaking to the railways, on 6th/7th April 1959, applied to the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, for a permanent stage carriage permit and also for a temporary permit in forms P. St. S. A. and P. Tem. A. for four return trips on the Harpalpur-Chhatarpur route (See Annexure R. IV). The reason stated in the application for the grant of the said permits was to pick up out-agency service on the Harpalpur-Chhatarpur route.
5. The application for a permanent stage carriage permit was rejected as it was not in accordance with the provisions of Section 57 of the Motor Vehicles Act. With reference to the application for a temporary permit under Section 62 of the Act, the Regional Transport Authority, on 20th April 1959, passed the following orders :
'Representative of C. P. T. S. and objectors present and heard.
As C. P. T. S. have not yet been given the contract by the Railway, no action can be taken by us now. However, if between now and the next meeting of the R. T. A., the contract is given to C. P. T. S., the Secretary will issue a temporary permit (subject to our confirmation) to avoid dislocation of the public service.'
6. The Regional Transport Authority thereafter admittedly met on 29th May 1959 and 30th June 1959, but no decision was taken on the application of respondent No. 2 for the grant of a temporary permit to the Central Provinces Transport Services.
7. On 33st August 1959, the Central Province Transport Services again applied for a temporary permit in form P. Tern. A under Section 62 of the Motor Vehicles Act on the Harpalpur-Chhatarpur route for picking up out-agency service from 1st October 1959.
8. On 3rd September 1959, the Regional Transport Authority met at Satna, but before the full agenda could be gone through, the Commissioner, Rewa, was - called away to Rewa on urgent business. Consequently, no orders on the application of respondent No 2 for the temporary permit could be passed.
9. On 30th September 1959, the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority issued the impugned temporary permit to respondent No. 2 (for four times) for the Harpalpur Chhatarpur route valid for the period 1st October 1959 to 23rd October 1959. The permit-holders were specifically enjoined only to carry passengers who held road-cum-rail tickets and railway parcels, and the timings given to it were that they should reach Harpalpur half an hour before the arrival of the train at Harpalpur and should leave half an hour after the departure of the train from there.
10. The said permit is challenged on the following grounds :
(1) That the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, had no authority to grant the permit.
(2) That there was no particular temporary need to warrant the grant of a temporary permit under Section 62(c) of the Motor Vehicles Act.
(3) That in any case the grant of timings co-related with the train arrivals were not authorized by the Motor Vehicles Act.
11. Section 44(5) of the Motor Vehicles Act provides as follows :
'The State Transport Authority and any Regional Transport Authority, if authorised in this behalf by rules made under Section 68 may delegate such of its powers and functions to such authority or person and subject to such restrictions, limitations and conditions as may be prescribed by the said rules.'
It is common ground that no rules in this behalf have been framed under Section 58 of the Act, and consequently the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, could not delegate its powers to their Secretary to grant a temporary permit. The grant of the impugned permit by the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, is thus prima facie invalid because no order of the Regional Transport Authority granting the permit in question was pointed out to us to warrant the issue of a permit by the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority.
12. The learned Advocate-General, strenuously sought to justify the issue of the permit on the strength of the order passed by the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, at their meeting on 20th April 1959. According to him, it was a conditional grant, which could be availed of by the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, at any time it chose to act on it
13. The contention has, in our opinion, no force. In the first place, the order was not a conditional order granting the permit. The issue of the permit was subject to confirmation, and, in so far as it amounted to delegation of the power of the Regional Transport Authority to their Secretary to grant the permit to respondent No. 2 on certain conditions being satisfied, it was ultra vires the Regional Transport Authority in the absence of rules under Section 68 read with Section 44(5) of the Motor Vehicles Act.
Secondly, the delegation, even if valid, exhausted itself as soon as the next meeting of the Regional Transport Authority had been held. Admittedly, not one but three meetings had since been held, and, under the circumstances, that order in terms could not justify the grant of a temporary permit to respondent No. 2 on 30th September 1959. Thirdly, the authorization was to grant a permit to respondent No. 2 if and when a contract was given to it by the railways. It is admitted at the bar that no contract had yet been entered into between the Central Provinces Transport Services and the railway administration.
Fourthly, it appears that the grant of the impugned permit was not in pursuance of the application pending on 20th April 1959 but was made on an application for a temporary permit filed on or about 31st August 1959. The conditional order, dated 20th April 1959 even if valid, could not enure for the application made on or about 31st August 1959.
14. In our opinion, the Secretary Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, had no justification whatsoever for the issue of the impugned permit, and its issue by him on 30th September 1959 was illegal and without authority.
15. We are also equally clear that there was no particular need to warrant the grant of the permit under Section 62(c) of the Motor Vehicles Act. So, even if the permit were granted in pursuance of any direction or order of the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, its grant could not be justified. The reason given in the application for the temporary permit was 'for picking out-agency service'.
It was rightly pointed out by a Division Bench of this Court in Misc. Petition No. 133 of 1959 decided on 22nd July, Meghraj v. Chairman R.T.A. Rewa (of which one of us, Naik, J., was a member) that there has to be a temporary need and such a need must also be a particular need. (See also Shah Transport Co., Chhindwara v. State of M. P., AIR 1952 Nag 353). The need of respondent No. 2 to feed its out-agency contract was a permanent need. It could not designate that need to be a temporary need by asking for a permit for a shorter duration and then continuing to ask for such short term permits till it was successful in obtaining a permanent permit.
16. If the contention of respondent No. 2 were correct, the result would be that the temporary need in the instant case would go on recurring, till a permanent permit was granted to it by the Regional Transport Authority, which conceivably may never occur as the grant of a permanent permit would depend on considerations enumerated in Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act. In this connection it is significant to note that the first proviso to Section 62 of the Act says that a temporary permit under this section shall, in no case, be granted in respect of any route or area specified in an application for the grant of a new permit under Section 46 or Section 54 during the pendency of the application.
In the instant case, in view of the contract which respondent No. 2 wants to enter with the railway authorities for operating its out-agencies, it is contemplating the grant of a permanent permit. For that end, once it had even made an application for a temporary permit as well as a permanent permit at the same time. These applications had been disposed of without the grant of any permit whatsoever. The attempt now to get a temporary permit was nothing short of an attempt to circumvent the provisions of the Act.
17. It has also to be borne in mind that the out-agency contract on which so much reliance is being placed by the learned Advocate-General is a creation of respondent No. 2 itself, and it could not put that forward as an excuse for being treated favourably in the matter of grant of a temporary permit. Good sense required that it should have applied for a permanent stage carriage permit under Section 46 of the Motor Vehicles Act and then to have entered into a contract with the railway authorities to run its out-agency service only if it had been successful in so obtaining the permit.
Instead of that course, which was quite open to it, the attempt of respondent No. 2 to force the issue on the ground of having entered into a contract with the railway authorities is quite unwarranted. The contract by itself could not and does not give it a preferential right, nor does it create a particular temporary need where none existed. The provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act could not be allowed to be misused for the sole benefit of a commercial undertaking of the State Government.
18. The third contention that the timings could not be granted by the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, is also correct. Under Section 48(3)(iii) of the Motor Vehicles Act, the fixing of the timetable is quasi-judicial act which, in the absence of the rules, could not be delegated by the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, to their Secretary.
But, in the instant case, the timings are most elastic. In fact, no timings by the hour are given. What has been given is the right to ply buses not with reference to any fixed time but with reference to train arrivals or departures at Harpalpur. The Motor Vehicles Act, as it stands, does not permit such a course and the fixation of timings in the manner done is illegal and unwarranted,
19. We are, therefore, of opinion that the issue of the impugned permit is without authority, illegal and in disregard of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, and the petitioner is entitled to the writ prayed for. The permit No. P. Tem. 808-B/1959, issued on 30th September 1959, under the signature of the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, in favour of the Central Provinces, Transport Services Jabalpur, for plying its public stage carriages between Harpalpur and Chhatarpur for the period 1st October 1959 to 23rd October 1.959 is hereby quashed. Respondents Nos. 2 and 3 arc prohibited from their running stage carriage services on the said route from tomorrow, the 22nd October, 1959.
20. Counsel's fee Rs. 100/- to be paid by respondent No. 2. The amount of security deposit shall be refunded to the petitioner.