1. This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution arises out of a case relating to the grant of stage carriage permits on the route, Tikamgarh-Gwalior via Niwari, Jhansi and Dabra. This route is inter-statal and inter-regional falling within the States of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The portion of the route which is within the State of Madhya Pradesh falls within tworegions viz., Rewa and Gwalior. Under the inter-statal agreement two single trip permits can be issued for this route by the Madhya Pradesh Authorities. Ratanlal who is respondent No. 3 to this petition made an application for permit on the route on 20th October, 1964 to the Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior, No action was taken on that application and on 20th December, 1964 the Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior decided to invite fresh applications. This order, however, was not carried out and no notification was published inviting applications. In the meantime, the petitioner and some others applied to Regional Transport Authority, Rewa for getting permits on this route.
The petitioner's application was made on 15th July, 1966 and was published in the Gazette on 2nd September, 1966 along with other applications. The State Transport Authority realising that the exercise of concurrent jurisdiction by the Regional Transport Authorities of Rewa and Gwalior in the matter of grant of permits on this route may not be in the interest of the public and may result in conflict, issued a direction that the applications for permits on this route, though received by both the Authorities, shall be decided only by the Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior. In view of this direction of the State Transport Authority, the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa sent all the applications received by it for grant of permits on this route, including the application of the petitioner, to the Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior.
It seenis that the respondent No. 3 came to know of the order of the Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior deciding to invite fresh applications sometime in July, 1966 and on 15th July, 1966 he filed a revision against that order before the State Transport Authority. This revision was allowed by the order of the State Transport Authority on 31st May, 1968, in which it was held that the Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior should have decided the application of the respondent No. 3 and should not have passed the order inviting fresh applications. On this ground the order proposing to invite fresh applications was set aside and the Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior was directed to first determine the application of the respondent No. 3. After this order, the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, GWAlier by a memo anted 4th June, 1903 returned the applications including the application of the petitioner, which were received from, the Regional Authority Rewa, back to that Authority on the ground that applications submitted to one Authority cannot be transferred to another Authority.
The Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior then published the application of the respondent No. 3 in July, 1968 and proposed to consider that application alone on 24th September, 1968. The petitioner then filed this petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution praying that the order of the State Transport Authority in revision and the order of the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior, returning the petitioner's application to the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, be quashed. It is also prayed that the Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior, be directed to dispose of the applications of the respondent No. 3 and the petitioner together in accordance with law.
2. The main contention raised by the learned counsel for the petitioner is that by the direction of the State Transport Authority issued on 16th November, 1966 the Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior got jurisdiction to decide the applications that were made at Rewa including the application of the petitioner, and therefore, the Secretary. Regional Transport Authority. Gwalior should not have sent back those applications to the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa. It is also argued that as the applications of the petitioner and respondent No. 3 are all ripe for hearing, these applications and such other applications for permits on this route which may also be ripe for hearing should be heard together by the Regional Transport Authority. Gwalior. In answer, the learned counsel for the respondent No. 3 argued that the direction of the State Transport Authority was in excess of the power conferred on that Authority and therefore the Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior rightly refused to decide the applications made to the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa.
3. The rival contentions raised in this petition relate to construction of subsections (3) and (4) of Section 44 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 which read as follows:
'(3) A State Transport Authority shall give effect to any directions issued under Section 43, and subject to such directions and save as otherwise provided by or under this Act shall exercise and discharge throughout the State the following powers and functions, namely:--
(a) to co-ordinate and regulate the activities and policies of the Regional Transport Authorities, if any, of the State;
(b) to perform the duties of a Regional Transport Authority where there is no such Authority and, if it thinks fit or if so required by a Regional Transport Authority, to perform those duties in respect of any route common to two or more regions;
(c) to settle all disputes and decide all matters on which differences of opinion arise between Regional Transport Authorities; and
(d) to discharge such other functions as may be prescribed.'
(4) For the purpose of exercising and discharging the powers and functions specified in Sub-section (3) a State Transport Authority may, subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, issue directions to any Regional Transport Authority and the Regional Transport Authority shall, in the discharge of its functions under this Act, give effect to and be guided by such directions.'
4. Before we proceed to examine the submission in relation to these Sub-sections, we will first examine other relevant provisions. The power to grant stage carriage permit is vested in the Regional Transport Authority under Section 48 and this power is to be exercised on application for permit made to that Authority under Section 46 Section 45 provides as to which Regional Authority application for permit should be made. The second proviso to that section enacts that if it is proposed to use the vehicle or vehicles in two or more regions lying in different Slates, the application should be made to the Regional Transport Authority of the region in which the applicant resides or has his principal place of business. After application for permit is received, the Regional Transport Authority has to publish the same under Section 57 inviting representations and fixing a date for hearing of the application. The application is then to be granted or refused having regard to the matters set out in Section 47.
Under the scheme of these sections an application for permit is to be disposed of by the Regional Transport Authority to which it is made. In case of an inter-statal route which passes through two or more regions the Regional Transport Authority of all these regions may receive applications for grant of permit if contestants for permits on such a route reside or have their place of business in different regions, for application for permit on such a route can be made to the Regional Transport Authority of the Region where the applicant resides or has his principal place of business. This is what happened in the instant case. As already stated the respondent No. 3 made his application to the Regional Transport Authority. Gwalior whereas the petitioner and some others made their applications to the Regional Transport Authority. Rewa. In the normal course these applications cannot be heard together or disposed of by one Authority, The Gwalior Authority must dispose of the application made to it and similarly the applications made to the Rewa Autho-rity must be disposed of by that Authority. The total number of permits that can be granted on the route by the Madhya Pradesh Authorities is limited by the inter-statal agreement to two single trip permits.
It would be therefore more in public interest as also fair to all applicants if all those applications could be heard and disposed of by one Authority. The question is whether this can be achieved by issue of a direction of the State Transport Authority.
5. We now revert to Sub-sections (3) and (4) of Section 44 which we have reproduced earlier. It is first argued by the learned counsel for the respondent that these sub-sections cannot be utilised for depriving a Regional -Transport Authority of its jurisdiction to grant permits. Such a broad statement is plainly wrong. A look at Sub-section (3) (b) will show that in case of a route which is common to two or more regions, the State Transport Authority may, if it thinks fit or if so required by a Regional Transport Authority, perform the duties of a Regional Transport Authority. If the State Transport Authority decides to perform the duties of a Regional Transport Authority for an inter-regional route it can certainly issue directions under Sub-section (4) to the Regional Transport Authorities concerned not to exercise that duty. Otherwise the object of taking over the duties of the Regional Transport Authorities by the State Transport Authority will not be served. 'Sub-sections (3)(b) and (4) therefore clearly authorise the State Transport Authority to perform the function of granting permits on an inter-regional route and to deprive the Regional Transport Authority of their jurisdiction to that extent.
6. But the point is whether instead of adopting the course under sub-section (3)(b), it was open to the State Transport Authority to authorise one of the two Regional Transport Authorities to dispose of all the applications made to both. This action of the State Transport Authority is sought to be justified by the counsel for the petitioner under sub-section (3)(a). Clause (a) of Sub-section (3) empowers the State Transport Authority to co-ordinate and regulate the activities and policies of the Regional Transport Authorities. The power to co-ordinate and regulate the activities and policies of the Regional Transport Authorities, however wide it may be, does not, in our opinion, include the power to deprive one Regional Transport Authority of its quasi-judicial jurisdiction and to confer the same on another Regional Transport Authority.
The words 'activities and policies' are more appropriate to describe administrative functions rather than judicial or quasi-judicial. Moreover, the words 'coordinate and regulate' postulate the continuance of that which is coordinated and regulated; they do not ordinarily include deprivation. Under the scheme of sections in chapter IV to which we have already referred, an application for permit is to be heard and disposed of by the Regional Transport Authority to which it is made. The duty to dispose of applications made to it is a judicial function and cannot be co-ordinated or regulated, by issue of directions by the State Transport Authority.
In B. Rajgopala Naidu v. S. T. A. Tribunal, Madras, AIR 1964 SC 1573, Their Lordships held that Section 43-A (Madras Amendment) of the Act which empowered the State Government to issue orders and directions to State (Transport Authorities or to?) Regional Transport Authorities in respect of any matter relating to road transport was limited in its application to administrative matters. One of the reasons that their Lordships gave in support of this conclusion was that judicial functions conferred on tribunals established by statute cannot be regulated by issue of administrative or executive directions. The same consideration applies in limiting the scope of Section 43(3) (a) by construction to administrative activities and policies of the Regional Transport Authorities.
Indeed at one place their Lordships in Rajgopala's case, AIR 1964 SC 1573 also adverted to Section 44 of the Act and said that 'the field covered by Section 43-A like that covered by Sections 42, 43 and 44 is administrative and does not include the area which is the subject matter of exercise of quasi-judicial authority by the relevant tribunals. Following Rajgopal's case. AIR 1964 SC 1573 a Full Bench of Rajasthan High Court in Jagdish Prasad v. Transport Appellate Tribunal. AIR 1966 Raj 127 (FB) has held that the State Transport Authority cannot by issue of directions under Section 44(3)(a) regulate the grant of permits as it will encroach upon the judicial functions of the Regional Transport Authorities. These cases support the conclusion reached by us.
7. The learned counsel for the petitioner drew our attention to the decision of a Division Bench of this Court in Rewa Transport Services v. General Manager C. P. T. S. (1961) MP No. 295 of 1960, D/-31-7-1961 (MP). In this case It was observed;
'We may in this connection point out that where an inter-state route is also an inter-regional route in one or both States, the permit should be dealt with under Section 44(3) of the Act by the State Transport Authorities, who could also, in exercise of their power, Issue suitabledirections under Section 44(4) of the Act to the subordinate Regional Transport Authorities.'
The reference in the above passage to Section 44(3) is obviously to Section 44(3) (b) because it is only under Clause (b) of Sub-section (3) that the State Transport Authority can itself deal with the grant of permits on an inter-regional route. The view expressed in this passage is in line with our interpretation of Clause (b). But this case does not in any way support the argument that judicial functions of Regional Transport Authorities can be affected by issue of directions under Clause (a) of Sub-section (3).
We have already expressed the view that it was open to the State Transport Authority, if it thought fit so to do, to have exercised its power under section 44(3) (b) and to have assumed jurisdiction for granting permits on the inter-regional route. Had this course been adopted and suitable direction issued under sub-section (4), all applications for permits could have been decided by the State Transport Authority itself. This course would have also been in public interest and fair to all the applicants. It would still be open to the State Transport Authority, if it so thinks fit, to act under sub-sections (3)(b) and (4) of Section 44,
8. On the conclusion reached by us that the State Transport Authority had no jurisdiction to direct that the application for permits made to Regional Transport Authority, Rewa be also decided by the Regional Transport Authority, Gwalior, this petition fails and is dismissed. In the circumstances of this case we do not make any orders as to costs. The security amount shall be refunded to the petitioner.