1. The circumstances in which thisapplication under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India has been filed are that the petitioner-company held stage carriage permits forthree routes, namely, (1) Administration Office ofBhilai Steel Constructions to Sambalpur, via Durg.Balod; (2) Balod-Dhamtari via Gurur and Karhibadar; and (3) Durg-Raipur. When these permitswere about to expire in 1962, the petitioner filedapplications for their renewal before the RegionalTransport Authority, Raipur. The respondent No. 3.Janata Motor Transport Co-operative Society Ltd.,Durg (hereinafter referred to as the Society) alsoapplied for the grant of fresh permits to it inrespect of the routes (1) and (2) mentioned abovein lieu of the permits held by the petitioner company.
The applicant-company preferred objections to the grant of permits to the respondent-society, Both the renewal applications of the petitioner and the applications of the respondent No. 3 were taken up for consideration by the Regional Transport Authority on 31st December 1962, and on 3rd January 1963 the said Authority made an order refusing to renew the permits of the petitioner on all the aforesaid routes and granting permits to the respondent-society for Administration Office of Bhilai Steel Constructions to Sambalpur route and Balod-Dhamtari route on the condition that the society should 'produce two new vehicles not later than 28th February 1963 and commence the service from 4-3-1963' The Regional Transport Authority also made an order on that date inviting applications for Durg-Raipur route in respect of which the petitioner's application for renewal was rejected.
2. The petitioner then filed three separate appeals before the State Transport Appellate Authority against the rejection by the Regional Transport Authority of the renewal applications, grant of permits to the respondent-society for two routes, and the invitation of fresh applications for the third route. The appeals are still pending before that Authority. After the filing of the appeals, the petitioner applied to the Appellate Authority for interim order staying the operation of the decision of the Regional Transport Authority with regard to the grant of permits to the respondent-society and inviting fresh applications for Durg-Raipur route On 14th January 1963, the Appellate Authority stayed the operation of the Regional Transport Authority's order inviting fresh applications. It, however, refused to stay the operation of the decision of the Regional Transport Authority granting permits to the respondent-society taking the view that as the petitioner had not filed any copy of the order of the Regional Transport Authority there was nothing which could be legally stayed. The petitioner again moved for the issue of an interim stay order after filing copies of the order of the Regional Transport Authority. These applications were also rejected by the State Transport Appellate Authority on 8th February 1963 on the ground that the petitioner's prayer for stay had already been considered before, that is, on 14th January 1963 and that there was no ground for varying that decision of rejection.
The respondent-society also preferred an appeal before the Appellate Authority against the order of the Regional Transport Authority assailing the legality of the condition imposed by that Authority that the society should produce two new vehicles before 28th February 1963. That appeal is also pending before the Appellate Authority After the filing of that appeal, the society applied for an interim order so as to enable it to operate the services on the routes in respect of which the Regional Transport Authority had taken a derision to grant permits to the society on the fulfilment of the condition of production of new vehicles with two buses of 1962-model which were in its possession. On 7th March 1963 the Appellate Authority made an interim order in the appeal preferred by the society directing the Regional Transport Authority to issue permits to the society if it puts two 'existing buses of 1962-model on the routes pending disposal of the appeal.' The petitioner-company has averred that on the request of the society the Regional Transport Authority had extended the time for production of new vehicles to 31st March 1963 and that the society did not disclose this fact before the Appellate Authority when it applied for an interim order for being allowed to operate the services on the aforesaid two routes with 'existing buses of 1962-model.'
3. The petitioner now prays for the issue of a writ of certiorari for quashing the order of the Regional Transport Authority, dated the 3rd January 1963 refusing to renew its permits and deciding to grant permits to the respondent-society for two routes. It is also prayed that a writ of prohibition be issued restraining the Regional Transport Authority from giving any permit to the respondent-society in pursuance of its order, dated the 3rd January 1963. The petitioner also prays that the interim order passed by the Appellate Authority on 7th March 1963 in the appeal preferred by the society be quashed by a writ of certiorari and the society be restrained from operating the services pursuant to that order A general prayer for the issue of suitable directions has also been made by the petitioner
4. Several grounds have been taken in the petition assailing the legality of the decision, dated the 3rd January 1963 of the Regional Transport Authority. It is not necessary to consider any one of them as the petitioner as well as the society have filed appeals against that order of the Regional Transport Authority and those appeals are still pending before the Appellate Authority In those appeals it is open to the petitioner as well as the respondent-society to canvass the question of the legality, correctness or merits of the decision of the Regional Transport Authority. Before us, the controversy centred round the question as to the legality of the orders passed by the Appellate Authority refusing to stay the operation of the decision of the Regional Transport Authority in the two appeals preferred by the petitioner and in making an interim order in positive terms in the appeal filed by the respondent-society. We have no hesitation in saving that these orders of the Appellate Authority are manifestly contrary to the well-established principles in regard to the issue of stay orders or temporary injunctions.
The principle that a stay order or an ad interim injunction is issued to maintain and preserve the status-quo existing at the time of the institution of the proceedings cannot be doubted. The real point, which has to be decided when an application for stay or for a temporary injunction is made, is not how the question ought to be investigated; but it is whether the matter should not be preserved in status-quo until the question can be finally disposed of. A stay order or an order of injunction is not granted to disturb the status-quo. It is no doubt granted to restore the status-quo. It is never granted to establish a new state of things differing from the state which existed at the date when proceedings were instituted. If any authority is needed for the proposition, we need only refer to the decision of the Calcutta High Court in Nandan Pictures Ltd. v. Art Pictures (S) AIR 1956 Cal 428, where it has been emphasized lucidly, if we may say so with respect to the learned Judges of the Calcutta High Court, that it is only in very rare cases that a mandatory injunction is granted on an interlocutory application and instances where such an injunction is granted by means of an ad-interim order pending the final decision of the application itself are almost unknown.
5. Now, in the present case, the status-quo obtaining at the time when the petitioner filed appeals was that the petitioner's services on the three routes mentioned earlier had stopped because of the Regional Transport Authority's decision refusing renewal of the petitioner's permits; the respondent-society was also not operating any services on the routes for which it was to get permits according to the decision, dated the 3rd January 1963 of the Regional Transport Authority on the production of new vehicles before 28th February 1963, which date was later on extended to 31st March 1963. The petitioner's application for stay of the operation of the decision of the Regional Transport Authority in grant permits to the respondent-society on the fulfilment of the condition of production of new vehicles was for the preservation and maintenance of the status-quo. In connection with this application of the petitioner, what the Appellate Authority was required to consider was whether the status-quo should be maintained having regard to the facts of the case and the relevant considerations of irreparable or serious injury and balance; of convenience. The Appellate Authority, however, totally ignored these principles and rejected the petitioner's stay application first on 14th January 1963 just by saying that as a copy of the Regional Transport Authority's order had not been filed, there was nothing which could legally be stayed, and then when a copy of the order of the Regional Transport Authority was filed, on the ground that the prayer for stay had already been considered and rejected.
One cannot but feel amused at the reasoning given by the Appellate Authority for rejecting the petitioner's stay applications, first on 14th January 1963 and then again on 8th February 1963. The existence of the decision, dated 3rd January 1963 of the Regional Transport Authority in no way depended on the production of a copy of that order. A copy, if produced, would have been no doubt evidence of the fact that the Regional Transport Authority had given the decision embodied in it. If the petitioner had not produced a copy of the Regional Transport Authority's decision, his application for stay could have been kept pending till the fifing of the copy and not rejected on the ground that the Appellate Authority assigned. Again, it was altogether disingenuous on the part of the Appellate Authority to reject the stay applications made by the petitioner after filing copies of the decision of the Regional Transport Authority on the ground that the prayer for stay had already been considered and disallowed thereby suggesting that the application for stay had been considered earlier on merits and rejected. The previous order of the Appellate Authority rejecting the stay application on the ground that the copies of the Regional Transport Authority's order had not been filed did not in any way bar the Appellate Authority from considering the merits of the prayer on a second application made after the filing of the copy. Indeed, on the other hand, the earlier order made by the Appellate Authority rejecting the, stay application on the ground of non-production of copies of the order of the Regional Transport Authority cast a duty on the Appellate Authority to consider the prayer when copies of the order were filed before it subsequently. It is thus plain that the rejection of the petitioner's prayer for stay of the operation of the Regional Transport Authority's order deciding to grant permits to the respondent-society on production of new vehicles was altogether on unsound grounds and manifestly erroneous.
6. The interim order directing the Regional Transport Authority to issue permits to the society for enabling it to operate its services on Administration Office of Bhilai Steel Constructions to Sambalpur route and Balod-Dhamtari route with 'two existing buses of 1962-model' pending the disposal of the appeal preferred by the society was altogether unwarranted and contrary to the well settled principles adverted to earlier in this judgment. By issuing that order the Appellate Authority brought into existence a new state of things which did not exist at the time of the filing of the appeals. That order was not made for preventing any party from taking advantage of his own act defeating the appeal preferred by the society
7. Shri Tankha, learned counsel appearing for the respondent-society, strenuously argued that even if the Appellate Authority erred in rejecting the petitioner's stay application and in granting an ad interim order in favour of the society, this Court should not interfere with those orders in these proceedings as the matter of the grant of stay or issue of an interim order of the nature made in the society's appeal was entirely in the discretion of the Appellate Authority. Learned counsel referred us to a decision of a Division Bench of this Court in Sheikh Rasool Motor Transport Co. v. S. T. A. Authority, M. P. No. 13 of 1963, dated 8-2-1963 (MP). We are unable to accept this argument. It is no doubt in the discretion of the Appellate Authority whether to grant a stay or make any interim order in an appeal pending before it. But the discretion has to be exercised according to settled legal principles and not contrary to them. As we have pointed out, in making the impugned orders the Appellate Authority approached the matter entrust- ed to it in an arbitrary manner and against all legal principles. The present case is clearly one which calls for interference under Article 227 of the Constitution. As has been held by the Supreme Court in Waryam Singh v. Amarnath, AIR 1954 SC 215, the power of superintendence under Article 227 is not restricted to cases of non-exercise or illegal exercise of jurisdiction but extends also to cases where there has been an obvious miscarriage of justice because a Court or Tribunal has approached the matter entrusted to it in an arbitrary manner, and may be utilised for correcting miscarriages of justice which have been occasioned by errors of law or procedure which cannot be corrected otherwise
The Supreme Court has further observed that the power of superintendence conferred by Article 227 should be exercised most sparingly and only in appropriate cases in order to keep the subordinate Courts and Tribunals within the bounds of their authority. In the case before the Supreme Court, the lower Court had refused to make an order of ejectment totally ignoring the provisions of Section 12(2)(i) of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949. The Judicial Commissioner of Himachal Pradesh set aside the order of the lower Court holding that the lower Court had acted arbitrarily in refusing to make an order of ejectment against the tenants. The Supreme Court upheld the order of the Judicial Commissioner by observing that the Judicial Commissioner had rightly pointed out that the lower Court in refusing to make an order of ejectment had acted arbitrarily and that, therefore, it was a case which called for an interference by the Court of the Judicial Commissioner and it acted quite properly under Article 227 in doing so. In our opinion, there could be nothing more arbitrary than the orders passed by the Appellate Authority rejecting the petitioner's application for stay and in granting in favour of the society an interim order so as to enable it to operate its services during the pendency of the appeal preferred by it with two existing buses of 1962-model.
The decision in the case of Sheikh Rasool Motor Transport Co. M. P. No. 13 of 1963, dated 8-2-1963 (MP) (supra), is of no assistance to the respondent-society. In that case, this Court declined to interfere with an interim order of stay by the State Transport Appellate Authority restraining the Regional Transport Authority, Jabalpur from issuing permits to the party concerned in respect of a route during the pendency of an appeal. In that case the stay order was made for the maintenance of status quo which existed at the time of the filing of the appeal before the Appellate Authority. This Court had expressly observed in that case that the object of the petitioners in that case was not so much to secure the quashing of the stay order passed by the Appellate Authority 'as to bring to the notice of this Court the highly unsatisfactory manner in which proceedings are held and conducted, by the Appellate Authority. The decision in Sheikh Rasool Motor Transport Co.'s case M. P. No. 13 of 1963, dated 8-2-1963 (MP) (supra), is no authority for the proposition that under Article 327 of the Constitution this Court will not disturb an order passed by the Appellate Authority during the pendency of an appeal even if it is in flagrant violation of settled legal principles or if it involves a grave dereliction of duty on the part of the Appellate Authority in making the order.
8. Shri Tankha, learned counsel for the respondent-society, suggested that if the orders passed by the Appellate Authority are quashed, then it should be left to that Authority to consider afresh the question of stay of the operation of the decision, dated 3rd January 1963 of the Regional Transport Authority, Raipur. The course suggested by the learned counsel is no doubt, the normal one. But in the circumstances of the case, and regard being had to the fact that the consideration of the stay matter afresh by the Appellate Authority will only result in the postponement of the hearing of the appeals themselves, we think it would be proper to make a direction staying the effect of the decision of the Regional Transport Authority till the disposal of the appeals pending before the Appellate Authority. It cannot be disputed that in a petition under Article 227 the High Court cannot only quash the decision of the inferior tribunal but also issue further directions in the matter or pass a substantive order in place of the order which it has quashed.
9. For all these reasons, the orders passed bythe Appellate Authority rejecting the petitioner'sstay applications as also the order passed by thatAuthority on 7th March 1903 in the appeal preferred by the society directing the RegionalTransport Authority to issue permits to the societyso as to enable it to operate its services with twoexisting buses of 1962-model till the disposal ofthe appeal are quashed. The operation of thedecision, dated 3rd January 1963 of the RegionalTransport Authority, Raipur, is stayed till the disposal of the appeals preferred by the petitionerand the society before the Appellate Authority.The Appellate Authority shall see that those appealsare disposed of at an early date and in any casebefore 30th June 1963. In the circumstances ofthe case, we leave the parties to bear their own costs. The outstanding amount of security depositshall be refunded to the petitioner.