1. Along with this petition, Miscellaneous Petition No. 482 of 1966 is disposed of, as common questions are raised.
2. The facts of the case are that a stage carriage permit on Burhanpur-Ded-talai route was held by M/s Tirathdas & Brothers. Tirathdas applied for renewal of the permit, though out of time. The petitioner Mohanlal filed an application on 8-2-1965 for grant of a fresh permit on the said route in lieu of the permit held by Tirathdas. The third respondent, Thakur Navalsingh (the petitioner in Misc. Petition No. 482 of 1966) also filed an application on 25-4-1965 for grant of a permit in the vacancy caused because of the failure of Tirathdas to apply In time. The application of the petitioner was published on 2-4-1965 while the application of the third respondent was published on 8-12-1965, after about eight months of the filing thereof. The Regional Transport Authority Indore, took the application of Tirathdas alone for consideration in 14-10-1965, though the application of the petitioner, which was filed In lieu of the permit of Tirathdas, was ripe. The application of Tirathdas was dismissed on the ground that It was barred by time. After this, on 18-12-1965, the Regional Transport Authority considered the application of the petitioner and granted the permit to him on the ground that he was the only applicant. The Regional Transport Authority failed to take note that for that very route the third respondent had already filed an application, which was also published on 3-12-1965 and was ripe for consideration, and that no notice was given to the third respondent when the application of the petitioner was considered. In these circumstances, the third respondent filed a revision petition before the State Transport Authority. Gwalior, challenging the order of the Regional Transport Authority granting the permit to the petitioner.
3. The State Transport Authority, by its order dated 23-7-1965, set aside the grant in favour of the petitioner and remanded the case to the Regional Transport Authority with a direction that fresh applications should be invited for the route in question and the permit should be granted on merits. The petitioner as well as the third respondent beine aggrieved by the order of the State Transport Authority, have filed Misc. Petition No. 396 of 1966 and Misc. Petition No. 482 of 1966 respectively.
4. The contention of the petitioner is that the State Transport Authority acted without jurisdiction in setting aside the grant in favour of the netitioner. while the contention of the third respondent is that the State Transport Authority was in error in directing the Regional Transport Authority to invite fresh applications. On this matter, the petitioner also joins with the third respondent.
5. Shri Tankha, learned counsel for the petitioner urged that the proper remedy for the third respondent was to prefer an appeal against the order of the Regional Transport Authority, if he was of the view that he was also a co-applicant for the grant of a permit. He urged that the grant of permit to the petitioner amounted to rejection of the application of the third respondent and as such he should have preferred an appeal. Shri Tankha relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Ram Gopal v. Anant Prasad, AIR 1959 SC 851 wherein it was held that where there are two applications in respect of the same permit, one of which is by way of renewal and the other is a fresh application and an order granting a renewal of the permit is made the order amounts, in fact, to a refusal to grant the permit to the person making the fresh application and he would be a person aggrieved within Clause (a) of Section 64 of the Motor Vehicles Act, and the fact that an express order refusing the permit is not made cannot operate to his prejudice Though the third respondent had filed an application and though it was published in the gazette the third respondent was not noticed about the hearing of the application of the petitioner. It cannot, therefore, be said that the third respondent was a party to the proceedings and that the grantof the permit in favour of the petitioner would amount to rejection of the application of the third respondent. The order of the Regional Transport Authority itself makes it clear that the grant in favour of the petitioner was made on the ground that there was no other applicant. As the third respondent was not a party to the proceedings, in which the grant was made in favour of the petitioner, his only remedy was to file a revision petition before the State Transport Authority.
6. Shri Tankha, then urged that when the Regional Transport Authority rejected the application of Tirathdas for renewal, a vacancy was created. The petitioner's application could, therefore, be treated as an application for grant of permit in the vacancy caused and the application of the third respondent was also for grant of permit in the vacancy. As the petitioner's application was first processed and became ripe, there was no reason why the Regional Transport Authority should wait till all the applications become ripe and that they should be considered together. In support, he relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Purshottam Bhai v. State Transport Appellate Authority, M. P. Civil Appeal No. 762 of 1963, D/- 14-4-1964 (SC). In that case, two persons, namely Purshottam Bhai Patel and Babulal had filed applications for grant of permit on Burhanpur-Uiiain route via Indore. Both of them claimed one permit each. The Regional Transport Authority, however directed that one permit should be shared by both the applicants. This was because the applications of other operators for extension of their permits held on Bur-hanpur to Indore route upto Ujjain were pending before it the consideration of which was deterred. In other words, the Regional Transport Authority was of the view that in view of the Deriding applications of other operators for extension of their route, there was no scope for grant of permit to each one of the two applicants. That order was modified by the appellate authority and each one of the applicants was granted a full permit. That order was quashed by the High Court.
While setting aside the order of the appellate authority one of the grounds which found favour with the High Court was that the Regional Transport Authority was bound, under the Motor Vehicles Act, to take into consideration the possibility of the grant of the applications for extension filed by other operators which were pending before the Regional Transport Authority It may be noted that in that case no ceiling was imposed and a number of permits could have been granted commensurate with the cope and the public need. Dealing with this aspect of the matter, their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed.
'If it were held that immediately an application is made for a permit on a route which is the same as that for which applications are being considered by the Transport Authority under Section 57(5) or which might have a material bearing on the grant of permits on that route, the Transport Authority would have to hold its hand and wait till all the applications could be considered together, then it would be apparent that if there are successive applications at intervals for these permits the stage might never be reached when the applications could be considered and a permit granted. Once it is recognised that the grant of permits to transport operators to ply their carriages on specified routei is primarily for the benefit of the travelling public, it would be seen that such a result would mean that the public would be deprived of a transport service for appreciable length of time and this could not have been contemplated by the Act.'
It is convenient to note at this stage that the learned counsel in that case had advanced an argument that each application for the grant of a permit constituted a separate proceeding which had to be dealt with in isolation and without regard to other applications for the same or related routes which might be pending at the time any one application was heard and disposed of by the Transport Authority under Section 57 (5). Regarding this submission, their Lordships preferred not to express any final opinion, but observed:
''We might, however, observe that having regard to the terms of Section 47 (1) (c) of the Act we are unable, as at present advised, to accept the submission in the absolute form he presented.'
From this observation it is clear that their. Lordships were not prepared to go so far aw to say that when more than one applications are made for the grant of a permit on the same route, the Transport Authority is entitled to dispose of each application as and when it becomes ripe. The proviso under Section 47(1) clearly indicates that the Regional Transport Authority is required to consider the relative merits of all the applicants for a route and the person best suited is to be granted the permit, preference being given to the registered societies, if other things are equal. This is much more so if because of the ceiling order only one permit or limited permits can be granted. We are of the view that what the Supreme Court laid down in that case was that the Transport Authority, while considering the question of adequacy of other passenger transport services operating or likely to operate in the near future on the route, that is to say, while considering the scope need not defer the decision on the applications for the route on the ground that other applications, which may have some bearing on that subject, are pending. If we have correctly understood the decision of the Supreme Court, referred to above, the contention of Shri Tankha that the Regional Transport Authority was not bound to consider the application of the third respondent along with the petitioner's application must fall, and the order of the State Transport Authority setting aside the grant in favour of the petitioner must be upheld.
7. In the vacancy resulting from the rejection of the application for renewal by Tirathdas two applications were already pending before the Regional Transport Authority. There was, therefore, no justification for the State Transport Authority to direct the Regional Transport Authority to invite fresh applications. This direction of the State Transport Authority must, therefore, be quashed. There is agreement on this point between the petitioner and the third respondent.
8. Shri Dabir, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner in Misc. Petition No. 482 of 1966 (third respondent here) urged that the State Transport Authority had found that the application made by Mohanlal, the petitioner in this case, had not been filed by a properly authorised person and that, therefore, no permit could be granted to Mohanlal. It is no doubt true that the State Transport Authority held that Mohanlal's application was defective by making the following observations:
'There is nothing on record to show if Ratanlal had any power of attorney. It is unaccompanied with the application. The counsel for the non-applicant No. 2 Mohan-lal Rizumal (the petitioner here) was unable to reply on this omission. The presentation of application dated 8-2-65 is, therefore, held defective '
But, in our opinion, the finding of the State Transport Authority that Mohanlal's application was defective is vitiated inasmuch as the Transport Authority reached that finding without applying its mind to the question whether Ratanlal did or did not in fact hold a power of attorney from Mohanlal, Merely because Mohanlal's counsel was unable to say whether Ratanlal held any power of attorney from Mohanlal and could not explain as to why a power was not filed along with the application, the Transport Authority could not reach the conclusion that Mohanlal's application had been filed by an unauthorized person. The Transport Authority's finding that Mohanlal's application was defective must therefore, be quashed.
9. For these reasons both the petitions (Misc Petitions Nos. 396 of 1966 and 482 of 1966) are allowed in part. The order of the State Transport Authority setting aside the grant in favour of the petitioner Mohanlal is upheld: but its finding that Mohanlal's application was defective is quashed. The direction made by the Transport Authority that the Regional Transport Authority shall invite fresh applications is also quashed. The Regional Transport Authority, Indore, shall now consider only the applications of Mohanlal son of Rijumal and Thakur Naval Singh together and dispose them of in accordance with law. The Regional Transport Authority shall also consider for itself the questionwhether the application filed by Mohanlalwas by a duly authorized personand in order. In the circumstances of thecase, we leave the parties to bear their owncosts of these petitions. The outstandingamount of the security deposit shall be refunded to the petitioner in each case.