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Mathuradas Regular Motor Services and ors. Vs. State Transport Authority and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMisc. Petn. Nos. 124 and 193 of 1963
Judge
Reported inAIR1963MP361; 1963MPLJ787
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 45
AppellantMathuradas Regular Motor Services and ors.
RespondentState Transport Authority and ors.
Appellant AdvocateA.P. Sen and ;A.H. Saifi, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateM.M. Sapre, Adv. for Respondent No. 3
DispositionPetitions allowed
Cases ReferredKannon Lorry Service v. Nataraj Motor Service
Excerpt:
.....conviction of appellant is liable to be set aside. - 's case, air 1962 madh-pra 59 (supra), and the cases which were heard along with the said case, that their principal place of business was within the territorial jurisdiction of the regional transport au-thority concerned, it was observed in that case that these claims were not investigated and we can neither say that they are well founded nor can we proceed on that basis......grant of permits' to the regional transport authority, bhopal. the route in question is an inter-state route. the major portion of the route lies in this state and the other in the state of maharashtra. under an agreement concluded between the state of maharashtra and the state of madhya pradesh permits for the route are granted by the regional transport authority concerned of the state of madhya pradesh. the petitioners' applications were rejected by the regional transport authority which granted the permit to balwant regular motor transport service. the two petitioners then preferred separate appeals before the state transport appellate authority, which were dismissed by that authority, the petitioners now pray that the decision of the appellate authority and that of the regional.....
Judgment:

Dixit, C.J.

1. This order will also govern the disposal of M. P. No. 193 of 1963.

2. The circumstances in which these two applications under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution have been filed are that in response to a notification issued by the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal, inviting applications for the grant of stage carriage permits on Paratwada-Chicholi via Bhainsdehi and Betul route, the two petitioners and the third respondent in each petition, namely, Balwant Regular Motor Service of Amaraoti, made applications for grant of permits' to the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal. The route in question is an inter-State route. The major portion of the route lies in this State and the other in the State of Maharashtra. Under an agreement concluded between the State of Maharashtra and the State of Madhya Pradesh permits for the route are granted by the Regional Transport Authority concerned of the State of Madhya Pradesh. The petitioners' applications were rejected by the Regional Transport Authority which granted the permit to Balwant Regular Motor Transport Service. The two petitioners then preferred separate appeals before the State Transport Appellate Authority, which were dismissed by that Authority, The petitioners now pray that the decision of the Appellate Authority and that of the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal, be quashed by the issue of a writ of certiorari.

3. The ' Appellate Authority held that the selection by the Regional Transport Authority of Balwant Regular Motor Service for grant of a permit has justified on the material on record, and added that the petitioner -- Mahuradas Regular Motor Transport Service was not present before the Regional Transport Authority when its application was taken up for consideration and so its claim went 'by default'. The Appellate Authority overruled the contention of the petitioners that as Balwant Regular Transport Service did not have its principal place of business within the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal, it was not entitled to get a permit for the route. In the opinion of the Appellate Authority, the matter was concluded by our decision in S.H. Motor Transport Co. v. R. T. Authority, AIR 1962 Madh Pra 59.

4. Before us, the grant of permit to the respondent Balwant Regular Motor Transport Service was assailed on the ground that as its principal place of business was not within the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal, it was not entitled to get any permit in view of the second proviso to Section 45 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. (hereinafter referred to as the Act); that in AIR 1962 Madh-Pra 59 (supra), it was expressly pointed out in regard to applications for renewal of permits on inter-State routes, including the route in question, that the Regional Transport Authority must first ascertain whether the persons applying for renewal of permits resided or had their principal place of business within the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal, and that the State Transport Appellate Authority, Bhopal, totally misconceived the effect of the decision in S. H. Motor Transport Co.'s case, AIR 1962 Madh-Pra 59 (supra), and the objection raised by the petitioners when it overruled the objection by saying that the question whether the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal, had Jurisdiction to entertain applications for grant of permits on this inter-State route was concluded by the decision in S. H. Motor Transport Co.'s Case, AIR 1962 Madh-Pra 59 (supra). It was said that the Appellate Authority and the Regional Transport Authority erred in not investigating and determining the question whether the aforesaid respondent had its principal place of business within the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal, and if it had not, whether a permit could be granted to it in view of the second proviso to Section 45 of the Act.

5. In our judgment, the contention advanced on behalf of the petitioners is substantial and must be accepted. In S. H. Motor Transport Co.'s case, AIR 1962 Madh-Pra 59 (Supra) it was ruled by this Court that the agreement dated the 1st July, 1958, concluded between the State of Madhya Pradesh and the State of Maharashtra constituting the transport authorities of the Madhya Pradesh State as sole originating authorities for certain inter-State routes, including Paratwada-Chicholi route, was valid and consistent with the provisions of the Act and that the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal had jurisdiction to entertain applications for grant and renewal of permits in respect of inter-State routes portions of which lay within its area. Dealing with the plea of the petitioners in S. H. Motor Transport Co.'s case, AIR 1962 Madh-Pra 59 (supra), and the cases which were heard along with the said case, that their principal place of business was within the territorial jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Au-thority concerned, it was observed in that case that

'These claims were not investigated and we can neither say that they are well founded nor can we proceed on that basis. It is, however, obvious that the Authorities had to ascertain and decide whether, on the basis of these claims they were entitled to apply to them for renewal.'

These observations are plain enough to show that an applicant desiring a permit for an inter-State route covered by the reciprocal agreement dated the Ist July, 1958, must reside or have his principal place of business within the region of the Regional Transport Authority which under the agreement is constituted the sole granting authority. The Appellate Authority should have, therefore, ascertained whether the respondent Balwant Regular Motor Service had its principal place of business within the region of the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal. It did not do so and totally misunderstood the objection raised by the petitioners by rejecting it on the ground that theRegional Transport Authority, Bhopal, had jurisdiction to entertain the applications for the route. The petitioners' objection was not that the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal, had no jurisdiction to entertain the application made by them or the respondent Balwant Regular Motor Transport Service. It was that the said respondent did not have its principal place of business within the region of the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal, and could not, therefore, claim a permit for the route in question.

6. The second proviso to Section 45 plainly shows that the applicant for a permit on inter-State route must reside or have his principal place of business in the region of the Regional Transport Authority competent to grant the permit. Section 45 lays down that every application for a permit shall be made to the Regional Transport Authority of the region in which it is proposed to use the vehicle or vehicles. The second proviso is as follows -

'Provided further that if it is proposed to use the vehicle or vehicles in two or more regions lying in different States, the application shall be made to the Regional Transport Authority of the region in which the applicant resides or has his principal place of business.'

The reciprocal agreement concluded between the State of Madhya Pradesh and the State of Maha-rashtra' under which the transport authorities of the State of Madhya Pradesh were made the sole originating authorities for certain inter-State routes does not override this proviso. The agreement has to be given effect to in a manner consistent with the proviso. If, therefore, under the agreement the transport authority of one State has been made as the sole originating authority in respect of an inter-State route, then it follows that the applicant for a permit on that route must reside or have his principal place of business in the region of the Regional Transport Authority concerned of that State. There is nothing in Section 45 or in any provision of the Act to indicate that the second proviso to Section 45 has no applicability where there is a reciprocal agreement between two States in regard to certain inter-State routes.

7. Shri Sapre, learned counsel appearing for the respondent Balwant Regular Motor Transport Service, however, submitted that the second proviso to Section 45 had no applicability where there was a reciprocal agreement between two States with regard to certain inter-State routes making the transport authority of one State as the sole originating authority in respect of certain of those routes; that the said proviso only provided that an application for a permit shall be made to the Regional Transport Authority of the region in which the applicant resided or had his principal place of business; that when the forum was determined by a reciprocal agreement, then the proviso could not come into play; and that where there was a reciprocal agreement of the type indicated above, it was not necessary that the applicant for a permit should reside or have his principal place of business within the region of the Regional Transport Authority concerned. To support his contention, learned counsel pressed into service the following observations of the learned Judges of the Madras High Court in Kannon Lorry Service v. Nataraj Motor Service, AIR 1962 Mad 198.

'The place of residence or the principal place of business of the applicant for a permit is relevant only for the purpose of defining the forum of the application in the particular circumstances which are indicated in Section 45 of the Act, namely, when the route is an inter-district route (i. e., lying in the areas of R. T. As. of more than one region in the same State) or an inter-State route. But it does not affect the jurisdiction of the Authority to grant the permit, provided the application is properly made to him in regard to a route that lies exclusively within his jurisdiction and for which his powers are conferred by Section 44.'

8. We are unable to accede to this argument, which proceeds on the basis that Section 45 deals only with the forum for the making of an application for a permit and not with the authority competent to grant a permit. The opening words of Section 45 'Every application for a permit shall be made to the Regional Transport Authority'', as also the expression 'the application shall be made to the Regional Transport Authority of the region in which the applicant resides or has his principal place of business' occurring in the proviso, themselves point to the fact that Section 45 does not deal merely with the forum for the filing of an application. The 'making of an application for the grant of a permit to the Regional Transport Authority' means the 'making of a formal request or petition to the Regional Transport Authority' for a permit the grant of which is within the power or discretion of the Regional Transport Authority under the Act and the rules thereunder. The words 'apply for a permit' do not connote mere act of filing an application for the grant of a permit. Nor do the words 'the making of an application for a permit' have that connotation. One applies to an authority for the grant of something when that authority has the power or discretion to grant it.

If, as we think, Section 45 indicates the Regional Authority competent to grant a permit, then it follows that under the second proviso, in the case of inter-State routes, it is the Regional Transport Authority of the region in which the applicant resides or has his principal place of business that has jurisdiction to grant a permit for such a route, and it is to such a Regional Transport Authority that an application has to be made for the grant of a permit on that route. It further follows that where a reciprocal agreement fixes the sole originating authority for the grant of a permit on an inter-State route, then the applicant for a permit in respect of such a route must reside or have his principal place of business in the region of the Authority competent to grant permit. To hold otherwise would be to give effect to the reciprocal agreement in a manner not in consonance with the second proviso to Section 45 but in violation of it. As we have said earlier, the reciprocal agreement concluded between the State of Madhya Pradesh and the State of Maharashtra cannot override the provisions of the Act.

9. It was also urged by the learned Counsel for the respondent No. 3 that the application ofthe second proviso in the present case would result in debarring persons from other States from applying for the grant of a permit on an inter-State route. We do not agree. The applicability of the proviso does not prevent other persons from applying to the Regional Transport Authority of this State for a permit in respect of an interstate route, provided they reside or have their principal place of business within the region of the Regional Transport Authority. The provision about the residence or principal place of business is no doubt a restriction. But it is a reasonable restriction imposed for securing control by the transport authorities under the Act over the persons to whom inter-State permits are granted and over the vehicles operated by them.

10. In the case of AIR 1962 Mad 198 it has no doubt been stated that the place of residence or the principal place of business of the applicant for a permit is relevant only for the purposes of defining the forum of the application when the route is an inter-district route or an inter-State route but that it does not affect the jurisdiction of the Authority to grant the permit provided the application is properly made in regard to a route that lies exclusively within his jurisdiction and for which his powers are conferred by Section 44. With due deference to the learned Judges of the Madras High Court, we are disposed to think that these observations are obiter. In the case before them, the route under consideration was neither an inter-district route nor an inter-State route. What we have said earlier is sufficient to show our disagreement with the view expressed in Madras case that Section 45 only indicates the transport authorities before whom applications for permit should be filed and not the authorties having jursdiction to grant a permit.

11. For the foregoing reasons, these petitions are granted and the decision dated the 21stJanuary, 1963, of the State Transport Appellate Authority is, quashed by the issue of a w: it of certiorari. The Appellate Authority shall now dispose of the appeals preferred by the two petitioners after first determining the question whether the Balwant Regular Motor Transport Service fulfils the condition mentioned in the second proviso to Section 45 of the Act for the making of an application for the grant of a permit to the Regional Trans port Authority, Bhopal. It is needless to add that if the Appellate Authority finds that there is no material to decide the question, then it is at liberty to remit the matter to the Regional Transport Authority for a fresh decision. The third respondent, Balwant Regular Motor Transport Service, shall pay to each of the petitioners costs of its application Counsel's fee in each case is fixed at Rs. 100/-. The outstanding amount of security deposit after deduction of costs shall be refunded to the petitioner.


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