1. The petitioner, who holds a stage carriage permit on Bhopal-Nazirabad route, by this petition, under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, calls into question the orders of Transport Authorities by which the stage carriage permit of the respondent No. 3, which was originally for Bhopal-Barasia, has been extended upto Nazirabad.
2. Bhopal-Barasia is a route of 26 miles and Bhopal-Nazirabad via Barasia is a route of 45 miles. The respondent No. 3 applied sometime in 1966 to the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal for extension of his Bhopal-Barasia permit upto Nasirabad. On publication of the application, the petitioner objected on the ground that the grant of extension will virtually amount to granting a new permit and that it will violate the ceiling order limiting the number of stage carriage permits on Bhopal-Nazirabad route. The Regional Transport Authority by its order passed on 16th October, 1967, allowed the extension. The petitioner then filed an appeal before the State Transport Appellate Authority which was dismissed on 22nd February, 1968. The extension of the permit upto Nazirabad has been ordered under Section 57(8) of the Motor Vehicles Act as a variation of the condition of the original permit for Bhopal-Barasia. It is not disputed that there is a ceiling order in force which limits the number of stage carriage permits on Bhopal-Nazirabad route and if the extension allowed to the respondent No. 3 was in reality grant of a new permit the limit was violated.
3. The only point urged by Shri V. S. Dabir, learned counsel for the petitioner is that the extension of Bhopal-Barasia permit of respondent No. 3 upto Nazirabad in effect amounted to grant of a new permit and was not permissible under Section 57(8) of the Act.
4. The point so raised relates to the scope of Section 57 (8) which reads as follows:
'An application to vary the conditions of any permit other than a temporary permit, by the inclusion of a new route or routes or a new area or in the case of a stage carriage permit, by increasing the number of services above the specified maximum, or in the case of a contract carriage permit or a public carrier's permit, by increasing the number of vehicles covered by the permit, shall be treated as an application for the grant of a new permit.'
5. This sub-section has been construed by this Court in a number of cases. In Ugratara Motor Service v. Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, Misc. Petn. No. 266 of 1963, D/- 14-10-1963 (Madh Pra) it was observed as follows:
'It (Regional Transport Authority) also failed to notice that the permanent permit held by the respondent No. 3 was for a route of 32 miles and the extension desired by him was for another 30 miles. In granting an extension for these 30 miles, the Regional Transport Authority virtually granted a permit to the non-applicant No. 3 for a new route altogether, practically destroying the identity of the original route.'
The above passage was quoted and applied in Ramgopal Satyanarayan v. Regional Transport Authority Misc. Petn. No. 46 of 1967 D/- 26-4-1967 (Madh Pra). Ramgopal Satyanarayan's case, Misc. Petn. No. 46 of 1967 D/- 26-4-1967 (Madh Pra) clearly laid down that the variation of the condition as to route contemplated by the sub-section is limited to 'a little change' of the original route. The Court pointed out:
'To us it appears that under Clause (8) of Section 57 an application for modification, that is, introducing a little change either by the inclusion of a new route or in other manner, is envisaged, and not an application for making a change which would destroy the identity of the permit and would make it a permit for a new route altogether. This is what was held by this Court in Ugratara Motor Service's case. Misc. Petn. No. 266 of 1963, D/- 14-10-1963 (Madh Pra) (supra).'
Ramgopal Satyanarayan's case, Misc. Petn. No. 46 of 1967, D/- 26-4-1967 (Madh Pra) was in its turn followed in Rasul Motor Transport Co. v. Regional Transport Authority, Jabalpur, Misc. Retn. No. 108 of 1967, D/- 2-5-1967 (Madh Pra).
6. It is no doubt true that in all these cases the extensions granted were either longer or nearly equal in distance to routes originally covered by the permits; but that does not mean that extensions for a shorter distance are always permissible. The test applied in these cases was to see if by granting the desired extension, the Regional Transport Authority had introduced only a little change of the original route or whether the extension allowed was such which had affected the identity of the original permit. The transport authorities were clearly in error in distinguishing the aforesaid cases simply on the ground that extensions held invalid in them were either of routes longer in distance or nearly equal to the routes covered by the original permits.
7. In the Instant case the distance covered by the original permit was of 26 miles and the extension granted was for a distance of 19 miles. The permit extended was originally for Bhopal-Barasia and after extension it became a permit for Bhopal-Nazirabad via Barasia, which is a separate route and on which a limit of the number of stage carriage permits has been fixed by an order under Section 47 (3). Having regard to the distance and other factors extension of 19 miles cannot be called a little change of the original permit and was not permissible under Section 57 (8) of the Act. In our opinion, the Regional Transport Authority acted in excess of its jurisdiction in granting the extension.
8. It was, however, contended by Shri Tankha learned counsel for the respondent No. 3 that in Sri Ramvilas Service Ltd. v. Raman and Raman Service Ltd. Civil Appeal No. 258 of 1967 D/- 20-10-1967 : (reported in AIR 1968 SC 748) it has been held that the Regional Transport Authority can grant extension of the original permit without any limitation. The question in that case was whether the limit prescribed by Section 48 (3) (xxi) (Madras Amendment) applied whether a condition to that effect had been put in a permit or not. We do not find anything in their Lordships' judgment which decides the extent of variation permissible under Section 57 (8). Ramvilass case, Civil Appeal No. 258 of 1967 D/- 20-10-1967 : (reported in AIR 1963 SC 748) is, therefore, distinguishable.
9. The petition is allowed. The order of the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal granting the extension to the respondent No. 3 and the order of the State Transport Appellate Authority, Gwalior dismissing the petitioner's appeal are quashed. The petitioner will have his costs of this petition from the respondent No. 3. Counsel's fee Rs. 100/- if certified. The security amount will be refunded to the petitioner.