1. The petitioner under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution is directed against the condition imposed in an order of the Regional Transport Authority, Jabalpur (respondent 2) dated 27-9-1958 to the effect that a grant to the petitioner of a stage carriage permit for the Jabalpur-Mandla via Berela-Niwas route (hereinafter called the route) would stand cancelled if the appeal filed by Messrs. Sheikh Rasool Motor Transport Company (respondent 3) is allowed by the State Transport Appellate Authority (Respondent 1). The petitioner has also challenged the validity of the order of the State Transport Appellate Authority dated 25-1-1960 whereby the aforesaid appeal was allowed.
2. The facts of the case, which are not in dispute,' are these. The respondent 3 had applied for and obtained a stage carriage permit for the route to be operated on timings to be fixed subsequently. It transpired that the timings so fixed conflicted with the timings of another permit for the route. On a representation made by the respondent 3, the timings were revised. Since the respondent 3 did not operate even in accordance with the revised timings, the respondent 2 passed on 28-3-1958 the following order :-
'The applicant is represented by Shri Sheikh Rasool. He has been directed to produce a stay order within 30 days failing which the timings given to him will be enforced and if he does not run his bus, the permit will be cancelled. Order communi-cated.'
3. Since the respondent 3 neither obtained a stay order nor operated the permit by running its buses in terms of the order dated 28-3-1958, a notice dated 1-5-1958 (Annexure II) was served on the respondent 3 directing it to start at once running its buses on the fixed timings and that, if it failed so to do, the question of cancellation of the permit under S, 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, would be taken up for consideration. The matter came up before the respondent 2 on 30-5-1958, when it was found that the respondent 3 started running its buses from 26-5-1958, that is nearly one month after the time limit originally fixed in the order dated 28-3-1958. The permit granted to the respondent 3 was cancelled because it had failed to comply with that order.
4. In view of the vacancy caused by cancellation of the permit of the respondent 3, applications were made for regular stage carriage permits. One of the objectors was the respondent 3 who contended that, since it had filed an appeal against the order of cancellation, a new permit in place of the one which was cancelled should not be granted. In regard to this, the respondent 2 observed:
'An affidavit is filed by Sheikh Rasool Motor Transport Company Ltd., stating that he has filed an appeal against the order of cancellation of his permit. The applicants for the permit concede that any order granting a permit to any of them will stand cancelled if Sheikh Rasool Motor Transport Co.'s appeal succeeds. In these circumstances, there is no need to adjourn the case for decision cf Sheikh Rasool's appeal'.
Ultimately, on the condition mentioned in the opening paragraph of the order, a regular permit was granted to the petitioner which expressly agrees to that condition.
5. When the appeal filed by the respondent 3 came up before the respondent 1 (State Transport Appellate Authority), the petitioner applied for being impleaded as a party to the appeal under Rule 73(b) of the Motor Vehicles Rules on the ground that it had subsequently obtained a permit for the route and should be regarded as 'any other person interested in the appeal'. The respondent 1 rejected that application, allowed the appeal and set aside the order of cancellation of the permit granted to the respondent 3. Thereupon, by an order dated 14-3-1960, the new permit granted to the petitioner was cancelled though that order was not communicated before this petition was filed.
6. One of the two contentions in support of the petition is that th'e respondent 2, in granting a regular permit subject to the condition impugned before us, disregarded the provisions of Section 58 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 that the condition was liable to be struck down as illegal and that, even if the petitioner consented to it, it was not precluded from challenging it because there was no estoppel against statute. Reliance is placed upon Maritime Electric Co. Ltd. v. General Dairies Ltd., AIR 1937 PC 114, Veerappa Pillai v. Raman and Raman Ltd. 1952 SCR 583 : (AIR 1952 SC 192), and Mahboob Sheriff and Sons v. Mysore State Transport Authority, AIR 1960 SC 321.
The principle that there is no estoppel against statute is well established but in the instant case, as we would show hereafter, the condition imposed In this case is, in effect, not contrary to the provisions of Section 58 ibid. The facts of Veerappa Pillai's case 1952 SCR 583 : (AIR 1952 SC 192) are distinguishable and their Lordships of the Supreme Court also distinguished that case in a later case to which we would advert more fully presently. In Mahboob Sheriffs case, AIR 1960 SC 321, the regular permit was renewed only for one year contrary to the provisions of sub-Section (2) of Section 58.
7. In V. C. K. Bus Service Ltd. v. Regional Transport Authority, (S) AIR 1957 SC 489, the facts were there. For a certain route, the Regional Transport Authority, rejecting the claims of several others, granted a permit to one V. C. K. Bus Service. By an order dated 19-2-1953, the appellate Authority set aside that grant and gave the permit to another person. The order passed in appeal was unsuccessfully challenged in revision and also in writ proceedings in the Madras High Court. Even the Letters Patent Appeal against the decision on the writ petition was dismissed on 21-3-1956. During the pendency of these protracted proceedings, the operation of the order dated 19-2-1953 was stayed.
Since the period of the permit had expired, V. C. K. Bus Service succeeded in obtaining two renewals, one for the period 1-7-1954 to 30-6-1955 and another for the period 1-7-1955 to 30-6-1958. Apprehending that in consequence of dismissal of the Letters Patent Appeal, the renewal would be cancelled, V. C. K, Bus service filed a petition for a writ of prohibition to restrain the Regional Transport Authority from cancelling the permit. Rajago-pala Ayyangar, J. dismissed the petition on the ground that when the original permit was set aside, the renewal thereof fell to the ground. In appeal against that order, Rajamannar, C. J. and Pancha-pakesa Ayyar J. held that the renewal having been obtained on the basis of a permit which had been subsequently cancelled, it could not be regarded as a fresh permit, that when the original permit was set aside, it must he taken to be non-est for all purposes and that the renewal must therefore be held to be a nullity. On a certificate of fitness under Article 133(1)(c) of the Constitution, an appeal was filed against the decision in the Supreme Court. While dismissing the appeal, the Supreme Court observed:-
'Thus, there is no legal obstacle to implying a condition that the renewal should stand cancelled if the right of the appellant to the original permit was negatived by the High Court (page 493)'.
'But it is argued for the appellant on the strength of the decision in 1952 SCR 583 : (AIR 1952 SC 192) that the mere knowledge on the part of the authorities that the rights of the parties were under litigation is not a sufficient ground to import, a condition in the permit that it is subject to the result of that litigation, when in its terms it is unconditional. We do not read that decision as authority for any such broad contention'. (page 493).
8. It would appear from the case of V. C. K. Bus Service, (S) AIR 1957 SC 489 that the condition impugned here is not a modification or alteration of the terms of the permit. It is a condition subsequent on the happening of which the permit would stand cancelled. That being so, there is no legal obstacle to laying down such a condition when granting a permit. Nay, even if the condition were not there, the Supreme Court case is an authority for the view that, in the circumstances of this case, it could be implied. The reason is that the reversing appellate order wipes out the order appealed against and stands in its place for all legal purposes.
9. The second contention is that the order of the State Transport Appellate Authority dated 25-1-1960 is bad because not only there was no appeal against the basic order dated 28-3-1958 but the petitioner was also not heard in support of the order appealed against.
In this connexion, our attention was invited to New Prakash Transport Company Ltd. v. New Suwarna Transport Co. Ltd. (S) AIR 1957 SC 232, Nagendra Nath v. Commissioner of Hills Division, AIR 1958 SC 398 and Shivji Nathubhai v. Union of India, AIR 1960 SC 606. In our opinion, these cases are distinguishable on facts and need not be examined in detail. Section 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act vests in the Transport Authority a discretion to penalise the holder of a permit in certain specified circumstances after giving to him an opportunity to furnish his explanation. Since, in taking action under the section, the Transport Authority acts on its own, there is no lis and no other person, not even the person who has subsequently obtained that permit is a person interested in the appeal;
In support of this view, we may refer to two Division Bench decisions of the Court, namely Patli Transport Co., v. Regional Transport Authority, Misc. Petn. No. 132 of 1952, D/- 7-10-1952 (MB) and New Motor Transport Co. v. Regional Transport Authority Misc. Petn. No. 224 of 1953, D/- 7-12-1953 (MB). In our opinion, the petitioner here, who was not a party to the proceedings in which the order appealed against was passed, was not a person interested in the appeal within the meaning of Rule 75(b) of the Motor Vehicles Rules and was therefore disentitled to be heard in support of that order. That being so, the order passed in appeal cannot be challenged on the ground that the petitioner was denied a hearing by the Appellate Authority.
10. The minor point that there was no appeal against the basic order dated 28-3-1958 is without, substance for the reason that the permit of the respondent 3 was not cancelled by that order.
11. Before closing, we would also observe that there is no merit in this petition which, contrary to the express agreement of the petitioner, seeks to deny to the respondent 3 the fruits of its successful appeal.
12. The petition fails and is dismissed. Thepetitioner shall bear its own costs and out of thesecurity amount the costs of the respondent 3. Theoutstanding amount of security shall be refunded.Counsel's fee Rs. 75/-.