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Anil Trivedi Vs. M.P. State Road Transport Corporation - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported inII(1984)ACC131
AppellantAnil Trivedi
RespondentM.P. State Road Transport Corporation
Cases ReferredIn Prem Prakash Singh v. M.P. State Road Transport Corporation
Excerpt:
.....said injury held, appellant is therefore liable to be convicted under section 324 of i.p.c., sentence of 3 years imprisonment reduced to period undergone by appellant considering mental agony suffered by him - 6. the contention of learned counsel for the corporation is not well founded. in our opinion the ratio of the said decision applies to the present case also and the distinction sought to be made by the learned counsel for the corporation is not well founded......with effect from 1-11-1983 according to which it started charging a sum of rs. 2/- per ticket as service charge from those passengers who do not purchase their tickets from the booking widows but from the conductor of the bus. the petitioner contends that the charging of rs. 2/- per passenger by the corporation in the name of service charge is not authorised by law in asmuch as under the notification issued by the state government under section 43(1) of the motor vehicles act (for short 'the act'). the corporation is. not entitled to recover any amount from the passengers over and above the fare fixed pursuant to the directions issued by the state government in that notification. the petitioner has prayed that the charge of rs. 2/- per passenger as service charge introduced by the.....
Judgment:

R.K. Vijayavargiya, J.

1. The material facts giving rise to this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution are as follows:

2. The petitioner is an Advocate and a social worker and a resident of Indore city. The respondent is a Corporation constituted under Section 3 of the State Road Transport Corporation Act, 1950. The respondent-Corporation is providing transport services throughout the State of Madhya Pradesh and is also running stage carriages on inter-State routes. The respondent-Corporation introduced a scheme with effect from 1-11-1983 according to which it started charging a sum of Rs. 2/- per ticket as service charge from those passengers who do not purchase their tickets from the booking widows but from the Conductor of the Bus. The petitioner contends that the charging of Rs. 2/- per passenger by the Corporation in the name of service charge is not authorised by law in asmuch as under the notification issued by the State Government under Section 43(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act (for short 'the Act'). the Corporation is. not entitled to recover any amount from the passengers over and above the fare fixed pursuant to the directions issued by the State Government in that notification. The petitioner has prayed that the charge of Rs. 2/- per passenger as service charge introduced by the Corporation with effect from 1-11-1983 be declared void and the respondent be restrained from recovering the said charge from the passengers.

3. In the return filed by the Corporation it is admitted that the Corporation has introduced a scheme with effect from 1-11-1983 under which it has started charging Rs. 2/- as service charge from those passengers who do not purchase their tickets from the booking windows but purchase their tickets from the Conductor of the Bus. It is also not disputed that the authority to recover the said charge is not found in the notification issued by the State Government under Section 43(1) of the Act. It is denied that the Corporation is not entitled to recover any other charge from the passengers besides the fare authorised under the notification issued by the State Government under Section 43 of the Act. The Corporation has justified the levy of the said charge on the ground that it was introduced to encourage purchase of the tickets by the passengers from the booking windows and to discourage the passengers from boarding the Bus on way-side. It is further stated in the return that the service charge is recovered from those passengers only to whom additional services are rendered by giving them their tickets in the Bus and who want to save themselves from the inconvenience of going to the Bus-stand to purchase their tickets from the booking windows. As the service charge is optional and is not a compulsory execution and is recovered from only the willing passengers and the passengers who do not want to avail of the additional service are free to purchase their tickets from the booking windows by paying the prescribed fare, the petitioner has no right to assail the levy of the said charge and the petition deserves to be dismissed.

4. Having heard the petitioner in person and the learned Counsel for the Corporation we have come to the conclusion that this petition deserves to be allowed.

5. By notification No. 7-4-1982/VIII dated 26-12-1982 published in the Rajpatra dated 26-12-1982 the State Government in supersession of the earlier notification issued directions to the State Transport Authority regarding the fixing of fares for stage carriages. It is not disputed that if the matter is governed by the aforesaid notification the charge of Rs. 2/- per passenger as service charge introduced by the Corporation with effect from 1-11-1983 is without the authority of law. However, the learned Counsel for the respondent contended that the service charge introduced by the Corporation cannot be said to be fare and as the matter is not governed by the directions issued by the State Government under Section 43(1) of the Act the Corporation is free to levy such a charge from the passengers who want to avail of the additional service provided by the Corporation in the regard.

6. The contention of learned Counsel for the Corporation is not well founded. It is difficult to appreciate the contention that the Corporation has a right to recover from the passengers any amount besides the fare fixed by the State Transport Authority pursuant to the directions issued by the State Government under Section 43(1) of the Act.

7. Section 43 of the Act empowers the State Government to issue directions to the State Transport Authority regarding the fixing of fares and freights including the maximum and minimum in respect thereof for stage carriages contract carriages and public carriers.

8. Now it cannot be disputed that the owner of a stage carriage is not entitled to recover from a passenger fare in excess of the fare fixed by the State Transport Authority pursuant to the directions issued by the State Government. If that is so the owner of a stage carriage is also not entitled to recover any excess amount from the passengers by giving it any other name. If the owner of a stage carriage is desirous of realising from the passengers any extra amount either by way of fare or otherwise steps have first to be taken under Sub-section (2) of Section 43 of the Act for variation of the notification issued by the State Government under Section 43(1) of the Act. If the owner of a stage carriage is permitted to recover any amount from the passengers in excess of the fare fixed under Section 43(1) of the Act by giving the charge any other name the salutory provision of Section 43 of the Act would be frustrated and there is no knowing to what extent the owners of the stage carriages will go and start recovering extra charges by giving them different names.

9. In Prem Prakash Singh v. M.P. State Road Transport Corporation (Misc. petition No. 138 of 1980) decided on 11-12-1980, the respondent-Corporation levied a sur-charge of 10 paise per passenger in the name of 'Durghatana Sahayata Deposit 10 paise.' A Division Bench of this Court held that the said charge was invalid and was not authorised and the Corporation was restrained from levying and collecting the said charge from the passengers travelling in the stage carriages belonging to the Corporation.

10. The learned Counsel for the Corporation sought to distinguish the said decision on the ground that the said surcharge was a compulsory levy from all the passengers travelling in the stage carriages of the Corporation, while in the present case the service charge is optional and is payable only by those passengers who do not purchase their tickets from the booking windows but purchase them from the Conductor in the Bus. In our opinion the ratio of the said decision applies to the present case also and the distinction sought to be made by the learned Counsel for the Corporation is not well founded. If the charge is without the authority of law it makes no difference whether it is compulsorily recovered from all the passengers or whether it is made payable at the option of certain passengers because in that case as for instance, the owner may recover excess charge from certain passengers by allotting them front seats and may justify it on the ground that it is not a compulsorily payable by all passengers but only by those who elect to occupy the front seats. Such a recovery although optional would obviously be without the authority of law.

11. The recovery of Rs. 2/- as service charge from the passengers after they had boarded the Bus is open to another serious objection.

12. Section 4 of the M.P. Rajya Sadak Parivahan Seva (Bina Tiket Yatra Ki Rok) Adhiniyam 1974 (Act No. 28 of 1974) (for short 'the Adhiniyam') provides that no person shall enter or remain in any motor vehicle comprised in road transport service carried by the State Transport Undertaking for the purpose of travelling therein unless he has with him a proper ticket. If a person without having a proper ticket with him boards a Bus he commits an offence Under Section 6 of the Adhiniyam.

13. Issue of tickets under the scheme to such passengers by recovering service charge from them would amount to composition of the offence. Under Section 8 of the Adhiniyam such a passenger may be removed from the motor vehicle by any servant of the Corporation unless he then and there pays the fare. Thus, if a person who has boarded the Bus without the ticket pays then and there the fare he cannot be removed from the motor-vehicle. The Corporation in such a case cannot insist on the recovery of service charge from such a person for issuance of a ticket in the vehicle.

14. Lastly it was contended that the object of the introduction of the scheme was to encourage purchasing of tickets from the booking windows and to discourage issuance of tickets outside the booking windows. Several advantages accruing from the introduction of the scheme were enumerated in the return filed on behalf of the Corporation. Now if that is the object of the scheme it can easily be achieved by insisting that the tickets to all the passengers will be sold at the booking windows and that no ticket would be issued in the motor vehicle or outside the booking windows.

15. It may also be said that the issuance of tickets to passengers in the motor vehicle by charging from them service charge may cause inconvenience and hardship to the passengers who purchase their tickets from the booking windows because when they enter the Bus after purchase of the tickets from the booking windows they may find that the seats in the vehicle are fully occupied and in such a case they may have to travel in a standing position.

16. It is not necessary to deal with the further inconveniences and disadvantages caused to the passengers or benefits accruing on account of the introduction of the scheme as respectively contended by the petitioner and the learned Counsel for the respondent because as stated above in our opinion the levy and recovery of Rs. 2/- as service charge is without the authority of law and therefore the Corporation is not entitled to recover the same from the passengers travelling in the motor vehicle owned by it.

17. As a result of the discussion aforesaid this petition is allowed. The scheme introduced by the Corporation with effect from 1-11-1983 by which a charge of Rs. 2/- per passenger is recovered as service charge from those passengers who purchase their tickets not from the booking windows of the Corporation but otherwise, is quashed, and the respondent-Corporation is restrained from recovering such a charge from the passengers travelling in the motor-vehicle owned by it. In the circumstances the parties shall bear their own costs of this petition.


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