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Damodar Das Sital Dass Vs. Regional Transport Authority, Rewa - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMisc. Petn. No. 415 of 1976
Judge
Reported inAIR1977MP46; 1977MPLJ1
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 2(28A), 68C, 68D, 68F(1A), 68F(1C) and 68F(1D)
AppellantDamodar Das Sital Dass
RespondentRegional Transport Authority, Rewa
Appellant AdvocateS.Q. Hasan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateP.C. Pathak and ;H.C. Kohli, Advs. for Intervenor, for Respondent No. 2
DispositionPetition allowed
Cases ReferredM. P. S. R. T. Corporation v. S. T. A. Tribunal
Excerpt:
- - (1-a) where any scheme has been published by a state transport undertaking under section 68-c, that undertaking may apply for a temporary permit, in respect of any area or route or portion thereof specified in the said scheme, for the period intervening between the date of publication of the scheme and the date of publication of approved or modified scheme, and where such application is made, the state transport authority or the regional transport authority, as the case may be, shall, if it is satisfied that it is necessary to increase, in the public interest, the number of vehicles operating in such area or route or portion thereof, issue the temporary permit prayed for by the state transport undertaking. it is now well settled that route is the highway which has to be traversed..........government;(iii) any local authority or police authority within whose jurisdiction any part of the area route proposed to be covered by the scheme lies. may, within thirty days from the date of its publication in the official gazette, file objections to it before the state government. (2) the state government may, after considering the objections and after giving an opportunity to the objector or his representatives and the representatives of the state transport undertaking to be heard in the matter, if they so desire, approve or modify the scheme,(3) the scheme as approved or modified under sub-section (2) shall then be pub-lished in the official gazette by the state government and the same shall thereupon become final and shall be called the approved scheme and the area or route to.....
Judgment:

Singh, J.

1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. It has been referred to this Full Bench in view of conflict of authorities in this Court on the interpretation of Section 68-F (1-D) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939.

2. Damodardas Sitaldas, who is the petitioner in this petition, holds a stage carriage permit for the route Hanumana-Telgawan. This route is an interstatal route as Hanumana is in Madhya Pradesh and Telgawan in Uttar Pradesh. By a notice dated 18th February 1976, the Regional Transport Authority has invited applications for grant of a return trip permit for the route Bidhauli-Sidhi via Sonbarsa-Amaliya-Bahari-Kubari. Whole of this route lies in Madhya Pradesh, but a part of it, which lies between Amaliya and Bahari, overlaps the interstatal route Hanumana-Telgawan. The Madhya Pradesh State Transport Corporation, which is a State Transport Undertaking, published Scheme No. 39 in December 1965 under Section 68-C. This Scheme, which is still awaiting approval, modification or rejection, relates to certain interestatal routes including the route Hanumana-Telgawan. The Scheme proposes that these routes will be operated by the Corporation. The petitioner's contention is that in view of this Scheme and section 68-F (1-D) of the Act, the Regional Transport Authority has no jurisdiction to grant a permit for any part of the route Hanumana-Telgawan or for any route overlapping any part of this route even if such part or the route for which permit is applied for lies wholly in Madhya Pradesh. The petitioner further contends that if the Regional Transport Authority cannot grant a permit, it logically follows that it cannot also invite applications for such a permit. On these grounds, the petitioner prays for quashing of the notice inviting applications for permit for the route Bidhauli-Sidhi which, as earlier stated, partly overlaps the route Hanumana-Telgawan. The petition is opposed by the intervener, Swami Prasad Soni, who in pursuance of the notice has applied for a permit on the route Bidhauli-Sidhi,

3. The relevant sections of the Act are as follows:

'68-C, Where any State Transport undertaking is of opinion that for the purpose of providing an efficient, adequate, economical and properly coordinated road transport service, it is necessary in the public interest that road transport services in general or any particular class of such service in relation to any area or route or portion thereof should be run and operated by the State Transport undertaking, whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, of other persons or otherwise, the State Transport undertaking may prepare a scheme giving particulars of the nature of the services proposed to be rendered, the area or route proposed to be covered, and such other particulars respecting thereto as may be prescribed, and shall cause every such scheme to be published in the official Gazette and also in such other manner as the State Government may direct.'

'68-D. (1) On the publication of any scheme in the Official Gazette and is not less than one newspaper in regional language circulating in the area or route which is proposed to be covered by such scheme;--

(i) any person already providing transport facilities by any means along or near the area or route proposed to be covered by the scheme;

(ii) any association representing persons interested in the provision of road transport facilities recognised in this behalf by the State Government;

(iii) any local authority or police authority within whose jurisdiction any part of the area route proposed to be covered by the scheme lies.

may, within thirty days from the date of its publication in the official Gazette, file objections to it before the State Government.

(2) The State Government may, after considering the objections and after giving an opportunity to the objector or his representatives and the representatives of the State Transport Undertaking to be heard in the matter, if they so desire, approve or modify the scheme,

(3) The scheme as approved or modified under Sub-section (2) shall then be pub-lished in the official Gazette by the State Government and the same shall thereupon become final and shall be called the approved scheme and the area or route to which it relates shall be called the notified area or notified route: Provided that no such scheme which relates to any inter-State route shall be deemed to be an approved scheme unless it has been published in the official Gazette with the previous approval of the Central Government.'

'68-F. (1-A) Where any scheme has been published by a State Transport Undertaking under Section 68-C, that Undertaking may apply for a temporary permit, in respect of any area or route or portion thereof specified in the said scheme, for the period intervening between the date of publication of the scheme and the date of publication of approved or modified scheme, and where such application is made, the State Transport Authority or the Regional Transport Authority, as the case may be, shall, if it is satisfied that it is necessary to increase, in the public interest, the number of vehicles operating in such area or route or portion thereof, issue the temporary permit prayed for by the State Transport Undertaking.

(1-B) A temporary permit issued in pursuance of the provisions of Sub-section (1-A) shall be effective,--

(i) if the scheme is published under Sub-section (3) of Section 68-D, until the grant of the permit to the State Transport Undertaking under Sub-section (1), or

(ii) if the scheme is not published under Sub-section (3) of Section 68-D, until the expiration of the one week from the date on which the order under Sub-section (2) of Section 68-D is made.

(1-C) If no application for a temporary permit is made under Sub-section (1-A), the State Transport Authority or the Regional Transport Authority, as the case may be, may grant, subject to such conditions as it may think fit, temporary permit to any person in respect of the area or route or portion thereof specified in the scheme and the permit so granted shall cease to be effective on the issue of a permit to the State Transport Undertaking in respect of that area or route or portion thereof.

(1-D) Save as otherwise provided in Sub-section (1-A) or Sub-section (1-C), no permit shall be granted or renewed during the permit intervening the date of publication, under Section 68-C of any scheme and the date of publication of the approved or modified scheme, in favour of any person for any class of road transport service in relation to an area or route or portion thereof covered by such scheme:Provided that where the period of operation of a permit in relation to any area, route or portion thereof specified in a scheme published under Section 68-C expires after such publication, such permit may be renewed for a limited period, but the permit so renewed shall cease to be effective on the publication of the scheme under Sub-section (3) of Section 68-D.'

4. The prohibition contained in Sub-section (1-D) of Section 68-F prevents grant or renewal of a permit in relation to an area or route or portion thereof covered by the scheme. According to the learned counsel for the petitioner, a route specified in the scheme over which the State Transport Undertaking proposes to run its services is a route covered by the scheme irrespective of whether it proposes to operate on the route to the exclusion or otherwise of private operators. The learned counsel for the intervener, on the other hand, submits that a scheme proposes to cover a route only to the extent it proposes to exclude private operators. The learned counsel further submits that on a true construction Scheme No. 39 does not propose to exclude private operators from that part of the route Hanumana-Telgawan which lies wholly in Madhya Pradesh and, therefore this part of the route cannot be said to be covered by the scheme.

5. For finding out the meaning of the words 'an area or route or portion thereof covered by such scheme' as they occur in Sub-section (1-D), of Section 68-F, it is useful to go back to Section 68-C. This section deals with the preparation and publication of. a scheme- The State Transport Undertaking can prepare a scheme when it is of opinion that for purpose of providing an efficient, adequate, economic and properly co-ordinated road transport service, it is necessary in the public interest that road transport services in general or any particular class of such service in relation to an area or route or portion thereof should be run and operated by the Undertaking 'Whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, of other persons or otherwise'. The words 'or otherwise' in Section 68-C go to show that it is not essential for a scheme that it should propose exclusion complete or partial of other persons from the route on which the Undertaking proposes to run its services. What is essential for a route to be included in a scheme is that the Undertaking should propose to run its services on it. As provided in the section, a scheme must contain particulars of the nature of the services proposed to be rendered by the Undertaking, 'the area or route proposed to be covered' and such other particulars as may be prescribed. Now 'the area or route proposed to be covered', the particulars of which are required to be given in the scheme, is that area or route over which the Undertaking proposes to run its transport services whether to the exclusion complete, partial or otherwise of other persons. This area or route, therefore, is not necessarily such from which private operators are wholly or partially excluded. Section 68-C, therefore, shows that a route 'covered'' by a scheme is that route which is specified in the scheme over which the Undertaking proposes to run its services irrespective of whether the scheme proposes to exclude or not to exclude private operators from that route. This inference as to the meaning of a route 'covered' by a scheme is further strengthened by a look at Section 68-D which uses the words 'covered by such scheme' or 'covered by the scheme' at three places in Sub-section (8). The section contemplates publication of a scheme in the official Gazette and a newspaper circulating 'in the area or route which is proposed to be covered by such scheme' The section further provides that any person providing transport facilities by any means along or near 'the area or route proposed to be covered by the scheme', any recognised association and any local authority or police authority within whose jurisdiction 'any part of the area or route proposed to be covered by the scheme lies' can file objections to the scheme. The words 'covered by such scheme' and 'covered by the scheme' occurring in Section 68-D (1) do not obviously have any link with the exclusion or non-exclusion of private operators by the scheme. These words here, as in Section 68-C', refer to the area or route specified in the scheme in respect of which the State Transport Undertaking proposes to provide transport services. Reading Sub-section (1-D) of Section 68-F in the light of Sections 68-C and 68-D, it is clear that the words 'covered by such scheme' in Sub-section (1-D) are used in the same sense in which these word or similar words are used in Sections 63-C and 68-D (1). A route would be held to be 'covered' by a scheme within the meaning of Sub-section (1-D) if it is specified in the scheme which proposes that the State Transport Undertaking will run its services on it irrespective of my provision, for exclusion or non-exclusion of private operators. This conclusion is further supported by reading together the enacting part of Sub-section (1-D), its proviso and Sub-sections (1-A) and (1-C) of Section 68-F. These sub-sections of Section 68-F are closely linked and they provide as to what is to happen during the period between the date of publication of a scheme under Section 68-C and the date of publication of the approved scheme under Section 68-D (3). Sub-section (1-D) enacts a prohibition and provides that during this period no permit can be granted or renewed in relation to 'an area or route or portion thereof covered' by the scheme. The ban in the matter of renewal is lifted by the proviso in a case where the period of operation of a permit 'in relation to any area or route or portion thereof specified in the scheme' expires after the publication of the scheme under Section 68-C. Similarly, Sub-sections (1-A) and (1-C) lift the ban as regards temporary permits and make provision for grant of temporary permits to the State Transport Undertaking and failing that to any other person 'in respect of the area or route or portion thereof specified in the scheme'. It will be seen that though the enacting part of Sub-section (1-D) uses the words 'covered by such scheme', the proviso uses the words 'specified in the scheme' which are also used in Sub-sections (1-A) and (1-C). As all these provisions are closely connected and operate in the same field, it is clear that the words 'covered by such scheme' in Sub-section (1-D) mean the same thing as 'specified in the scheme' used in the proviso and Sub-sections (1-A) and (1-C). Indeed this is how these sub-sections were recently construed by the Supreme Court in Mohd. Ashfaq v. S. T. A T. U. P., AIR 1976 SC 2161 at p. 2166,' where Bhag-wati, J. observed as follows :

'It will, therefore, be seen that where a scheme is published under Section 68-C, no permit in respect of a route specified in the scheme can be granted or renewed during the intervening period between the publication of the scheme under Section 68-C ard the publication of the approved schene, except a temporary permit to the State Transport Undertaking under Sub-section (1-A) or failing that, a temporary permit to any other person under Sub-section (1-C), with this qualification that a existing permit can be renewed for a limited period.'

6. It is true that to some extent the prohibition contained in Sub-section (1-D) of Section 68-F in the matter of grant of permits may go beyond the prohibition that may become operative under Sub-section (2) of the same section and Section 68-FF after the scheme is approved and published under Section 68-D (3). But the purpose behind Sub-sections (1-A) to (1-D) of Section 68-F appears to be to maintain the status quo as on the date of publication of the scheme under Section 68-C until the approved scheme is finally published subject to the provision for grant of temporary permits in case of need for the intervening period. It was probably expected by Parliament that this intervening period would not be a long one and the process leading to the approval and publication of approved scheme would be over within a reasonable time. Parliament may have never thought that a scheme published in 1965 inviting objections within 30 days can remain in cold storage for nearly eleven years still awaiting approval, modification or rejection by the appropriate Government. Inaction of the Government in that behalf cannot, however, make any difference on a question of construction of the relevant statutory provisions. All that we can hope is that the Government will now finalise the scheme as early as possible.

7. For the reasons given above, we are of opinion that the words 'covered by such scheme' in Sub-section (1-D) merely refer to the area or route specified in the scheme over which the State Transport Undertaking proposes to run its services irrespective of whether the scheme proposes to exclude or not to exclude other persons from that area or route. Somewhat similar view was taken by two Division Benches of this Court in M. P. S. R. T. C. Bhopal v. State Transport Authority, 1973 MPLJ (SN) 115 and M. P. S. R. T. Corporation v. S. T.A Tribunal, AIR 1976 Madh Pra 169. Contrary view expressed on this point in paragraph 10 of the judgment in Asghar Ali Haji Mulla Tayyabali v. State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Misc. Petn. No. 1225 of 1975, D/- 3-12-1075 (Madh Pra) is, in our opinion, not correct. .

8. We have earlier stated that in Scheme No. 39 the State Transport Undertaking proposes to run its services on the interstatal route Hanumana-Telgawan. This route is specified in the title and Clause 2 of this Scheme as also in the schedule. Hanumana-Telgawan is therefore, a route covered by the Scheme within the meaning of Sub-section (1-D) of Section 68-F and no permit can be granted in respect of any portion of this route. It is now well settled that route is the highway which has to be traversed between two termini and not any abstract line of travel. The definition of 'route': now incorporated in Section 2 (23-A) makes that position clear. Contrary dicta on this point In Mysore State Road Transport Corporation v. The Mysore Revenue Ap-pellate Tribunal, (1975) 4 SCC 132 has been overruled in Mysore State Road Trans-port Corporation v. Mysore State Trans-port Appellate Tribunal, AIR 1974 SC 1940. The latter case also decided that in this respect there is no difference in pri-ciple applicable to interstate and intra-state routes. The point that the former ease has been overruled seems to have been missed in M. P. S. R. T. Corporation v. S. T. A. Tribunal, AIR 1978 Madh Pra 169 although it notices both the cases and the observations made in it on the basis of the former Supreme Court decision cannot be taken to be authoritative. The portion of the highway between Amaliya and Bahari is a part of the route Hanu-mana-Telgawan. No permit can be granted to be operative between Amaliya and Bahari in view of the ban imposed by Sub-section (1-D) of Section 68-F. As the route Bidhauli-Sidhi for which applications have been invited includes the highway between Amaliya and Bahari, grant of permit on this route will offend the aforesaid ban. The Regional Trans-port Authority had, therefore no jurisdiction to invite applications for this route.

9. In view of the construction placed by us on Sub-section (1-D) of Section 66-F, it is not necessary for us to consider whether the Scheme proposes to exclude or not to exclude private operators on that portion of the route Hanumana-Telgawan which lies wholly in Madhya Pradesh.

10. The petition is allowed and the notice inviting applications for permit on the route Bidhauli-Sidhi is quashed. There shall be no order as to costs. The security amount deposited by the petitioner shall be refunded to him.


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