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Biharilal Chaurasia Vs. Regional Transport Authority and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMisc Petn. No. 238 of 1964
Judge
Reported inAIR1965MP132
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 45, 57, 57(4), 58, 58(2), 63, 63(1) and 63(3); C.P. and Berar Vehicles Rules, 1940 - Rule 63; Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantBiharilal Chaurasia
RespondentRegional Transport Authority and anr.
Appellant AdvocateK.A. Chitaley and ;R.K. Tankha, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateY.S. Dharmadhikari, Adv.
DispositionApplication allowed
Excerpt:
.....permit expired on 9th august 1963, and an application for renewal as well as an application for counter-signature should have been made before the regional transport authorities concerned by 8th june 1963; and that the application for 'renewal of counter-signature' was filed on 7th december 1963, that is, nearly six months after the expiry of the limitation period. learned counsel for the company also said that the petitioner should not be granted any relief as the impugned order of the regional transport authority was open to revision under section 64-a of the act and the petitioner had failed to avail himself of this alternative remedy within the prescribed time due to his own fault. it is, therefore, easy to see that for the operation of the second provision to section 62 in the..........and confirmation of the grant made by the regional transport authority having jurisdiction to grant permit for the inter-regional route; that the counter-signature was necessary not only when the grant was made for the first time but also whenever it was renewed; that under section 63 (3) of the act the provisions of chapter iv of the act relating to the grant, revocation and suspension of permits applied to the grant, revocation and suspension of counter-signatures of permits; that, therefore, the provisions contained in sections 57 and 58 about the making of an application for the grant of a permit, the time within which it must be made and the procedure that must be followed in its disposal applied equally in the matter of the grant of counter-signature; and that as section 58.....
Judgment:

Dixit, C.J.

1. By this application under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, the petitioner Biharilal Chaurasia seeks a writ of certiorari for quashing an order made by the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, on 17th March 1964 granting an application of the respondent No. 2, M/s. The Bundelkhand Motor Transport Co. (hereinafter called the Company), for counter-signature of a permit held by the Company in respect of the inter-regional route, Jabalpur-Chhattarpur, on its renewal by the Regional Transport Authority, Jabalpur.

2. The material facts are that the petitioner holds a permit for Chhatarpur Damoh route, which is a portion of the Jabalpur-Chhatarpur route. In 1957 a permit for Jabalpur-Chhatarpur route was granted by the Regional Transport Authority, Jabalpur, to the Company. It was renewed and countersigned by the Regional Transport Authority of Jabalpur and Rewa in 1960. The validity of the renewed permit and the counter-signature was upto 9th August 1968. On 7th June 1963 the Company made an application for renewal of the permit, which was granted by the Regional Transport Authority, Jabalpur, by its order dated 6th December 1963, and the permit was renewed upto 9th February 1966. Thereafter the Company applied on 7th December 1963 to the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, for the grant of counter-signature of the permit renewed by the Regional Transport Authority, Jabalpur, by its order dated the 6th December 1963. This application for counter signature was published on 2nd January 1964. The petitioner has averred that the publication of the application by the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, was on his own authority and without obtaining any sanction of the Regional Transport Authority for it; and that on 9th January 1964 when the Regional Transport Authority Rewa, heard one Jogindarsingh on his objection to the renewal of the grant of counter-signature, the Authority made an order that the application for counter-signature should be published 'in a regular manner'. According to the petitioner, there was, however, no fresh publication of the application for counter-signature. When the application for counter-signature was published, the applicant filed his objections against the grant of counter-signature furnishing a copy of the same to the Company.

Before the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, the petitioner opposed the grant of counter-signature inter alia on the ground that the application for counter-signature was barred by lime under Section 58 read with Section 63(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, and Rule 62 of the C. P. and Berar Motor Vehicles Rules, 1940, as applied to Vindhya Pradesh region, inasmuch as it was not filed within sixty days before the date of the expiry of the permit; that the Company's permit expired on 9th August 1963, and an application for renewal as well as an application for counter-signature should have been made before the Regional Transport Authorities concerned by 8th June 1963; and that the application for 'renewal of counter-signature' was filed on 7th December 1963, that is, nearly six months after the expiry of the limitation period. This objection was overruled by the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa. That Authority found that the application for 'renewal of counter-signature' presented by M/s. Bundelkhand Motor Transport Co. was filed after the due date, but took the view that this was merely an irregularity of which serious notice need not be taken. The Authority observed--

'According to Rule 63, the R. T. A., Jabalpur, could have sanctioned renewal of the counter-signature also while granting renewal of the permit which had been counter-signed earlier by this authority. Need for moving this authority for getting the counter-signature renewed certainly arose when the R. T. A, Jabalpur declined to sanction the renewal of counter-signature. The operator has filed the application the very next day from the date when the order of renewal was obtained from the R. T. A. Jabalpur. This would appear to be an expeditious presentation of an application from an operator who had to obtain the counter-signature, I do not feel that the present application need to be thrown out.' (sic).

3. While assailing the order of the Regional Transport Authority, Rowa, Shri Chitale, learned counsel for the petitioner, urged that in the case of an inter-regional route the counter-signature of the Regional Transport Authority concerned was essential for the validity and confirmation of the grant made by the Regional Transport Authority having jurisdiction to grant permit for the inter-regional route; that the counter-signature was necessary not only when the grant was made for the first time but also whenever it was renewed; that under Section 63 (3) of the Act the provisions of Chapter IV of the Act relating to the grant, revocation and suspension of permits applied to the grant, revocation and suspension of counter-signatures of permits; that, therefore, the provisions contained in Sections 57 and 58 about the making of an application for the grant of a permit, the time within which it must be made and the procedure that must be followed in its disposal applied equally in the matter of the grant of counter-signature; and that as Section 58 laid down that an application for renewal of a permit must be made in the case of a stage-carriage permit not less than sixty days before the date of its expiry, it necessarily followed that an application for counter-signature on the renewal of a permit for an inter-regional route had to be made to the Regional Transport Authority concerned within sixty days before the date of the expiry of the permit as counter-signature could not be effective beyond the date of the expiry of the permit.

Learned counsel also submitted that Rule 62 of the Motor Vehicles Rules also provided that an application for renewal of counter-signature on a permit must be made in writing to the Regional Transport Authority concerned within the 'appropriate period' prescribed in Rule 61 and in the manner laid down in Rule 62; that in view of the amendment made in 1956 in Section 58 of the Act prescribing the period of limitation for filing a renewal application, the words 'appropriate period' must now be read as referring to the period prescribed in Section 58; that Rule 63, on which the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, relied for holding that the filing of an application for counter-signature beyond time was merely an irregularity, had no bearing at all on the question of limitation for an application for counter-signature; that Rule 63 while giving to the Regional Transport Authority renewing the permit the power to countersign in certain cases, pre-supposed the existence of an application for counter-signature filed within time; and that as the Company's application, filed on 7th December 1963, was plainly out of time, the Regional Transport Authority had no jurisdiction to countersign the permit. It was also contended by the learned counsel that the Company's application for counter-signature was not published at all in conformity with Section 57 read with Section 63(3) of the Act; and that the publication by the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, on his own initiative was not a valid publication when the said Authority had not delegated to him the power to order publication of applications under Section 57 (3) of the Act.

4. In reply, Shri Dharmadhikari, learned counsel appearing for the Company, submitted that the period of limitation prescribed by Section 58 had no applicability to an application for counter-signature of a renewed permit; that the question of counter-signature could not arise unless and until the permit was first renewed; and that, therefore, it would be erroneous to say that an application for counter-signature should be made even before the permit was renewed and within the time prescribed by Section 58. Learned counsel suggested that there was no such thing as 'renewal of counter-signature' that counter-signature proceedings were proceedings independent of the proceedings for the grant of a permit or its renewal, and that being so, in the very nature of those proceedings there could be no period of limitation for the initiation of the same. Learned counsel proceeded to say that 'appropriate period' mentioned in Rule 62 meant 'appropriate period' after the permit was renewed. It was also argued that Rule 62 was repugnant to Sections 58 and 63 of the Act and, therefore, ultra vires; and that the rule being in operation only in the Vindhya Pradesh and Maha-koshal regions of the State of Madhya Pradesh also offended Article 14 of the Constitution. Learned counsel opposed the petition also by raising the contention that the petitioner's objection to the Company's application for grant of counter-signature was received by the Company on 3rd February 1964, that is, two days after the date prescribed by the notification dated 2nd January 1964 publishing the application for counter-signature; that a copy of the objections was not furnished to the Company 'simultaneously' as required by Section 57(4) of the Act; and that, therefore, the petitioner's objection that the application for counter-signature was barred by time could not really be considered by the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa.

It was said that the publication of the application for counter-signature was only a ministerial act which the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority was empowered to do and did not require any special authorisation from the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa; that the petitioner had not in his written representation taken the objection that the publication of the application for counter-signature by the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa, was invalid; and that the objection was not even raised before the Regional Transport Authority. Learned counsel for the Company also said that the petitioner should not be granted any relief as the impugned order of the Regional Transport Authority was open to revision under Section 64-A of the Act and the petitioner had failed to avail himself of this alternative remedy within the prescribed time due to his own fault.

5. The main question to be determined in this case is whether any period of limitation has been prescribed by the Act or any rule made thereunder for making an application for the grant of counter-signature of a permit on its renewal. The material provisions to consider in this connection are Sections 63 and 58 of the Act. Section 63(1) lays down that, except as may be otherwise prescribed, a permit granted by the Regional Transport Authority of any one region shall not be valid in any other region unless the permit has been counter-signed by the Regional Transport Authority of that other region. This requirement is on the basis that a Regional Transport Authority appointed for an area has jurisdiction to grant a permit in respect of only those routes which He within its region and an application for an inter-regional route has to be made under Section 45 of the Act to the Regional Transport Authority of the region in which the major portion of the proposed route or area lies, and to case the portion of the proposed route or area in each region is approximately equal, then to the Regional Transport Authority of the region in which it is proposed to keep the vehicle or vehicles.

Where a person applies for an inter-regional route, the grant of a permit by the Regional Transport Authority having jurisdiction to give it is not sufficient to enable the person to operate on the route. As the permit granted is for an inter-regional route, the person cannot operate on the strength of that permit only on that portion of the route which lies within the region of the Regional Transport Authority granting it. He cannot, on the strength of that permit, operate on that portion of the route which is beyond the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority granting the permit, unless the permit has been counter-signed by the Regional Transport Authority of the other region.

6. It will thus be seen that in the case of an inter-regional route the counter-signature of a permit is an essential and integral part of the grant. The counter-signature only confirms or gives validity to the grant made by the Regional Transport Authority of one region in another region. The counter-signature of an inter-regional permit is essential for its validity and effectiveness in the regions concerned, but the proceedings for counter-signature in each region are separate proceedings. This is clear from Section 63(3) of the Act, which is in the following terms--

63(3) 'The provisions of this Chapter relating to the grant, revocation and suspension of permits shall apply to the grant, revocation and suspension of counter-signatures of permits.'

The effect of this provision is that an application for the grant of counter-signature of a permit has to be made to the Regional Transport Authority concerned, and that in the making and disposal of that application the procedure laid down in Section 57 has to be followed. There is no dispute that it is necessary to follow the procedure laid down in Section 57 for the grant of counter-signature of an inter-regional permit where the permit granted for the first time by a Regional Transport Authority is required to be counter-signed by the Regional Transport Authority of the other region. It is also not disputed that an application for counter-signature has to be made and published as required by Section 57 even when there is the grant of renewal of an inter-regional permit. Learned counsel for the Company, while contending that there was no limitation for the making of an application for counter-signature on the renewal-grant of a permit, did not go so far as to say that no application was at all necessary. Even if such an argument had been advanced, that would have been rejected in view of the express direction contained in Section 63(3) of the Act that the provisions of Chapter IV relating to the grant, revocation and suspension of permits shall apply to the grant of counter-signatures of permits.

The word 'grant' used in Section 63(3) means not only the original grant but also the grant of renewal. Renewal is no doubt a continuation of the permit previously granted. But the continuation is on the grant of renewal. It must be noted that Section 63(3) speaks of 'grant of counter-signatures of permits'. This signifies that when an inter-regional permit is renewed and counter-signed, then there is renewal of the original grant of a permit and the renewal of the grant of counter-signature also. The counter-signature of an interregional permit is an integral part of it, and the proceedings for getting a grant of counter-signature are required to be taken separately in accordance with Sections 57 and 58. If, as is not disputed, an application for the grant of counter-signature on the renewal of a permit has to be made under Section 63(3), ' read with Sections 57 and 58 together, in the same manner as an application for renewal of the permit, then the provision contained in Section 58 with regard to limitation for filing an application for renewal of the grant must necessarily apply to an application for renewal of the grant of counter-signature.

It is noteworthy that under Section 62 of the Act a temporary permit can be granted once during the pendency of an application for the renewal of a permit. A temporary permit for an inter-regional route also requires counter-signature of the Regional Transport Authority concerned. This is clear from the fact that Section 62 is one of the sections included in Chapter IV of the Act which has been made applicable by Section 63(3) to the grant of counter-signature of permits. A temporary permit in respect of an inter-regional route cannot be granted under the second proviso to Section 62 unless an application for the renewal of permit is pending and an application for the renewal of such a permit cannot be said to be pending unless an application is made to the Regional Transport Authority, which granted the permit, for its renewal, and an application is also made to the Regional Transport Authority concerned for the renewal of the grant of counter-signature. It is, therefore, easy to see that for the operation of the second provision to Section 62 in the case of an inter-regional route, it is essential that both the application for the renewal of the permit as well as an application for the renewal of the grant of counter-signature must be made within the time laid down in Section 58 of the Act.

7. The argument of the learned counsel for the Company that the Act does not contemplate any such thing as 'renewal of counter-signature' and that counter-signature proceedings are independent proceedings and, therefore, there can be no period of limitation for the initiation of such proceedings is altogether fallacious. It is no doubt true that there can be no such thing as 'renewal of a signature or counter-signature'. But when an inter-regional permit is renewed and counter-signed, there is clearly a renewal of the grant of counter-signature. As pointed out earlier, the counter-signature of an inter-regional permit, whether the original one or a renewed one, is an integral part of it. The grant of counter-signature of permit does not and cannot subsist beyond the period of the permit itself. It is, therefore, erroneous to say that proceedings for obtaining grant of counter-signature are totally independent and different from proceedings for obtaining the inter-regional permit intended to be countersigned.

If, as is the combined effect of Sections 63(3), 57 and 58 of the Act, an application for renewal of counter-signature has to be made in conformity with Section 57 in the same manner as an application for the renewal of the permit itself, then both on principle and on the provision contained in Section 58 the limitation prescribed for the making of an application for renewal of a permit must apply also to an application for the renewal of the grant of counter-signature. The further argument that the period of limitation prescribed in Section 58 (2) cannot apply to an application for the grant of renewal of counter-signature as the question of countersigning a permit cannot arise unless the permit itself is renewed first, overlooks the fact that the making of an application for the renewal of the grant of counter-signature is one thing and the time of its disposal is another. The effect of a provision that an inter-regional permit granted by a Regional Transport Authority of one region shall not be valid in another region unless it is counter-signed by the Regional Transport Authority of that other region, in substance is that there must be agreement between the two Regional Transport Authorities with regard to the grant of an inter-regional permit. Though the counter-signature of a permit presupposes its existence, there is nothing to prevent the authority competent to grant the counter-signature from expressing its intention even before the permit is granted whether it would or would not countersign. The validity of an order passed by the Authority competent to grant counter-signature, is in no way affected by the fact that the order was passed before or after the Regional Transport Authority, before whom an application for the grant of inter-regional permit was made, disposed of that application.

8. As the statutory provisions, namely, Section 63(3), read with Sections 57 and 58, require that an application for renewal of the grant of counter-signature must be made within the time prescribed in Section 58 of the Act, it is not necessary to consider the effect of Rule 62 on which also the petitioner relied. It is sufficient to say that if in prescribing the period of limitation for an application for the renewal of the grant of counter-signature the rule is inconsistent with the statutory provisions, then to that extent the rule cannot prevail. In regard to Rule 63 in which the Regional Transport Authority found support for its conclusion that the making of an application for the renewal of the grant of counter-signature after the prescribed time was only an irregularity, that rule does not contain anything lending support to any such conclusion. Rule 63 does not dispense with the necessity of counter-signature of an inter-regional permit and is not a provision ruling out the applicability of Section 63(1) of the Act. That rule only gives to the Authority by which the permit has been renewed the power to make on the permit an endorsement about the renewal of the grant of counter-signature after the Regional Transport Authority competent to countersign has agreed to the renewal of the grant of counter-signature. The rule must be read in consonance with Section 63(1) and (3) of the Act. It cannot authorise the Regional Transport Authority granting the renewal of an interregional permit to make an order about the renewal of the grant of counter-signature when the Act itself says that the renewal of the grant of counter signature shall be by the Regional Transport Authority of the other region on an application for the renewal of the grant of counter-signature made in conformity with Sections 57 and 58 of the Act. Rule 63 thus presupposes the making of an application for the renewal of the grant of counter-signature in accordance with Sections 57 and 58 of the Act by the Regional Transport Authority of the region concerned, and then authorised the Regional Transport Authority granting the permit to make an endorsement of counter-signature on the permit.

The reason for giving power to the Regional Transport Authority granting renewal of the permit to make this endorsement is obvious. When an application for renewal of a permit is made, Part A of the permit would ordinarily be before the Authority renewing the permit. When the grant of renewal of counter-signature is made, the permit should in the ordinary course be endorsed by the Regional Transport Authority competent to countersign it. This is what Rule 62(c) says when it provides that the Regional Transport Authority granting the renewal of counter-signature shall call upon the holder to produce part A of the permit, if it has not been produced, and Part B of the permit and shall endorse Parts A and B accordingly and return them to the holder. Rule 63 gives authority to the Regional Transport Authority renewing the permit to make this endorsement and communicate it to the Regional Transport Authority competent to countersign it. The Regional Authority granting the permit can make the endorsement only if the Regional Transport Authority competent to countersign it has not by general or special order prohibited the Authority granting the permit from making the endorsement. Rule 63 thus deals with an endorsement on a permit of renewal of the grant of counter-signature and not with the making of the renewal grant of counter-signature.

9. There remains for consideration the contentions raised by the learned counsel for the respondent-company that the petitioner could not raise the objection that the application for renewal of the grant of counter-signature was barred by time as he failed to furnish to the Company a copy of his objections 'simultaneously' as required by Section 57 (4) of the Act and that he had also an alternative remedy of a revision petition under Section 64-A. The short answer to the first contention is that even if it be taken that a copy of the petitioner's objections was not furnished simultaneously to the respondent-company as laid down in Section 57(4), that did not relieve the Regional Transport Authority from the duty of determining for itself whether the application for the grant of renewal of counter-signature had or had not been made within time and in conformity with Sections 57 and 58 of the Act. Sub-section (4) of Section 57 does not mean that if in connection with an application for the grant of a permit no representation is made by a party, then the Regional Transport Authority has the power to grant a permit in contravention of the provisions of the Act. The petitioner had no doubt the alternative remedy of preferring a revision petition under Section 64-A of the Act against the order of the Regional Transport Authority, But the existence of an alternative remedy is not an absolute bar to the exercise by this Court of its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, Having regard to the nature of the question raised in the petition and regard being had also to the fact that the exercise of revisional jurisdiction is entirely discretionary with the revising authority, we do not think that this is a case in which the petitioner should be refused relief merely on the ground that he had an alternative remedy of preferring a revision petition under Section 64-A of the Act.

10. For the above reasons, our conclusion isthat the application made by the Company for therenewal of the grant of counter-signature was barred by time, and the Regional Transport Authority,Rewa, had no jurisdiction to entertain it and renewthe grant of counter-signature. This application is,therefore, allowed and the order dated 17th March1964 of the Regional Transport Authority, Rewa,granting the respondent No. 2's application forcounter-signature of its permit in respect of Jabalpur-Chhatarpur route is quashed. The petitionershall have costs of this application. Counsel's feeis fixed at Rs. 110/-. The outstanding amount ofsecurity deposit shall be refunded to the petitioner.


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