Shamsher Bahadur, J.
(1) This judgment will dispose of three letters Patent appeals Nos. 19-D, 22-D and 30-D of 1959, and also the civil miscellaneous application of Raja Singh Bhasin all Directed against the judgment of Bishan Narain, J., who dismissed five writ petitions on 6th of April 1959.
(2) In the writ petitions before Bishan Narain, J., Nav Hind Finance and Transport (Private) Ltd., Parbat Bus Service (Private) Ltd., Soldiers United Motor Transport (Private) Ltd., The Crown Co-operative Transport Society LTD. and Raja Singh Bhasin, had impugned the validity of the appellate order of the Chief Commissioner dated 17th of December 1958, granting a stage carriage permit for the Delhi Lampur route to the Delhi Ex Servicemen Co-operative M. P. Society Ltd.
(3) The State Transport Authority, Delhi, invited applications from the Delhi residents by notice dated 30th of March 1957 for a stage carriage permit between Delhi to Lampur which is a distance of 17 miles. The Co-operative societies, companies and individual owners were entitled to apply for this permit. Many applications together with objections came for hearing before the State Transport Authority held on 13th of September 1957, certain criteria were laid down for their guidance in the issue of permits for stage carriages.
After giving a detailed consideration to the applications of various parties who had applied for permit, the state Transport Authority by its resolution of 23rd of May 1958 directed the issue of a permit for a period of three years for one brand new vehicle to Nav Hind Finance and Transport (Private) Ltd, which is the appellant in Letters Patent Appeal No 19-D of 1959.
Right appeals were preferred from the order of the State Transport Authority and the Chief Commissioner, Mr. A. D. Pandit, by his order dated 17th of December 1958 made an order in favour of the Delhi Ex-Servicemen Co-operative M. P. Society Ltd. On the ground that there was a manifest error on the face of the record in the order of the Chief Commissioner, as many as five writ petitions were filed in this court and these came up for hearing before Bishan Narain, J., who saw no reason for interference in certiorari proceedings.
Three Letters Patent appeals under clause 10 of the Letters Patent have been filed by Nav Hind Finance and Transport (Private) Ltd. (No. 19-D of 1959); The Crown Co-operative Transport Society Ltd. (No. 22-D of 1959) ; and Parbat Bus Service (Private) Ltd.(No. 30-D of 1959).Raja Singh Bhasin has also presented an application, the purpose of which has been made clear neither in the application nor in the arguments which he personally addressed to this Court. It appears that in so far as he wanted the entire matter to be reopened, he supported the appellant in Letters Patent appeal No. 19-D of 1959. He preferred no appeal of his own and not being desirous of attaching the order of the Chief Commissioner on the grounds of appeal of any of the three appellants, we could not see our way to give him an opportunity of saying all that he wanted. Indeed, the purpose of Raja Singh is to serve his own interest which he could not clearly do, not having preferred an appeal himself. Nothing more therefore, need be said about the application which has been made by Raja Singh Bhasin.
(4) In disposing of the three Letters Patent appeals, it would be necessary to analyses and closely examine the rationale of the Order of the Chief Commissioner which is sought to be impugned under the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court. It is common ground that the order of the Chief Commissioner being of a quasi-judicial nature, the jurisdiction of this Court can be invoked only if there are manifest errors of law therein. After a detailed statement of facts and a summary of the resolution passed by the State Transport Authority, the learned Chief Commissioner summarised the legal position. Neither side has challenged the principles which the Chief Commissioner deduced from the judicial authorities cited before him and indeed what he has stated to be the correct legal position is unexceptionable. The Chief Commissioner then proceeded to examine the resolution of the State Transport Authority 'in the light of the principles laid down in these rulings' and critically analysed the criteria which the resolution had adopted in making the selection.
The State Transport Authority, in pursuance of Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act, laid down for itself certain basic factors which should determine the selection. The experience of stage carriage operations, the financial position, efficiency in management, were some of the considerations which had to be examined, while on the other hand, the disqualifications included such matters as the predominance of inter related persons as share holders and possession of unduly large number of permits. Broadly speaking, the Chief Commissioner came to a conclusion that the financial test was illusory as none of the applicants had furnished and certificate of the Bank regarding cash balances in their favour. He considered as sufficient the minimum capital requirements of Rs.20,000/- so far as co-operative societies are concerned. As regards the experience of share holders. the appellate authority came to the conclusion that all the parties to the appeal may be said to have satisfied this criterion. In the matter of efficiency of management, the Chief Commissioner was of the opinion that their was no material to judge the relative efficiency of the different applicants.
Regarding the two tests which operated as disqualification's in the mind of the state Transport authority, the Chief Commissioner considered that so far as interrelationship of the share-holders was concerned, the criterion had not been properly applied. The Chief Commissioner further was not satisfied that the disqualification with regard to previous convictions for offences like over-loading, and over-speeding, could attach to some of the appellants. No definite finding was given on this question nor on the disqualification regarding monopolistic control. The Chief Commissioner then proceeded to apply what in his opinion are the factors which ought to prevail in the matter of granting permits under Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act and discussed the case of some individual appellants. He came to the broad conclusion that the grant of one permit to any other party would not adversely affect the standard or efficiency of the existing services on the Delhi-Alipur route. It I understand the views of the Chief Commissioner correctly, he did not regard any of the tests, both of merit and disqualification, which had weighed with the State Transport Authority, to be of any decisive importance. He therefore, considered it appropriate to apply the proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which is to this effect:
'Provided that other conditions being equal, an application for a stage carriage permit from a co-operative society registered or deemed to have been registered under any enactment in force for the time being shall, as far as may be, be given preference over applications from individual owners.'
As the conditions mentioned from (a) to (f) in sub-section (1) of section 47 were not adequately satisfied by any of the claimants of the permit, he considered it legitimate to resort to the proviso which enjoins the Transport Authority to give preference to co-operative societies over individual owners. This considerably narrowed the filed of selection and only two competitors had to be considered namely, Delhi Ex-Servicemen Co-operative M. P. Society Ltd. which is the respondent, and the Crown Co-operative Transport Society Ltd. The Claim of the Delhi Ex-Serviceman Co-operative M. P. Society Ltd. had not commended itself to the State Transport Authority, in whose opinion they had been guilty of hiring their stage carriage permits on previous occasions. The Chief Commissioner considered that this allegation has not been made good and relied on the report of the Registrar for his conclusion that this society had not been guilty of the mal-practice of which they had been accused. The Crown Co-operative Transport Society Ltd. was not considered to be at the level of the Delhi Ex-Servicemen Co-operative M. P. Society because its paid up capital was Rs. 12,200/- as against Rs. 20,000/- which is the minimum prescribed by the State Transport Authority for such organizations. It is also clear that only one of the members of the Crown Co-operative Transport Society had any experience of running bus service. He therefore allowed the appeal of the Delhi Ex.-servicemen Co-operative Society and granted the permit to it in preference to the Crown Transport Co-operative Transport Society Ltd.
(5) The learned Single Judge did not see any manifest error of law in the decision of the Chief Commissioner and accordingly dismissed the five writ petitions which had been filed by some of the parties who felt aggrieved at the decision of the Chief Commissioner.
(6) The three Letters Patent Appeals from the Judgment of the learned Single judge are now before us for decision. So far as the appeals of Nav Hind Finance and Transport (Private) Ltd. (L. P. A. No.19-D of 1959) and Parbat Bus Service (Private) Ltd (L. P. A. No. 30-D of 1959) are concerned, the points are almost identical. Mr. Narula, who has presented the case of behalf of the Nav Hind Finance and Transport (Private) Ltd., has contended firstly that the proviso to sub-section (1) of S. 47 of the Act does not entitle the Co-operative societies to claim preference over private limited companies who are not individual owners. It has also been urged by him that before this proviso could be pressed into service, it has to be shown that other conditions have been proved to be equal, and lastly, it is submitted that the Chief Commissioner in making the final selection in favour of the respondents, Delhi Ex. Servicemen Co-operative M. P. Society Ltd., has been influenced by extraneous reasons and therefore the order suffers from the infirmity of a manifest error of law.
Before I deal with these points which have been argued at great length before us, it would be well to point out that the appellant, Nav Hind Finance and Transport (Private) Ltd. has been continuously enjoying the benefit of the permit which was granted to it by the State Transport Authority from 1-10-1958; the operation of the Chief commissioner's order and also that of the learned Single Judge being held in abeyance all the time. Thus, the appellant has enjoyed the benefit of the permit for two out of the three years for which it is to run. I mention this point in passing not because the decision of this appeal turns on this question.
(7) The language of the proviso, in our opinion, gives preference to co-operative societies over 'individual owners' which term in the context must include limited companies as well. If the preference is restricted to individual owners as opposed to corporations like limited companies, it would create a hierarchy of preferences which would be a result wholly unintended by the legislation. If individual owner alone is to be preferred a against a co-operative society, it would mean that the joint stock companies would rank in priority over an individual owner. This would create a graded order of preference which from the 2tenor of the Act does not appear to be a justifiable inference. A bare perusal of the Co-operative societies Act shows that a co-operative Society is an organisation which is designed to promote thrift and economy in the management of business. The constant control which is exercised over such societies by the Government through its Registrar ensures their proper working and the obvious reason for making a preference in favour of co-operative societies is to encourage these organisations which have the benefit of collective experience, regulated control and organised capital. It is axiomatic to say that an individual owner or person includes a joint stock company which is a legal entity. The use of the word 'individual' in juxtaposition with 'owners' does not alter the position that an individual in this context must be deemed to include a limited company. Any other interpretation would defeat the very purpose for which the proviso has been inserted.
We are, therefore, in agreement with the learned Single Judge that the proviso has been correctly interpreted by the Chief Commissioner, in granting preference to co-operative societies over other claimants which term, in our opinion, includes limited companies both private and public. In our opinion, the decision in In relied Holt and Co.'s Trade Mark, (1896) 1 Ch. 711, relied upon by Mr. Narula, does not help as in the solution of this aspect or the case. What was held in that case by the Court of Appeal was that the term 'Trial by' did not refer to any person and was used in a metaphorical language and could not, therefore, be regarded as an individual. It was observed in that case that the legislature could not have meant 'individual' to be taken in a fanciful or metaphorical serve, or meant it to denote an imaginary person who has not, and never had, any real existence. Indeed, an individual according to Wright J., in Great Northern Ry. Co. v. Great Central Ry. Co. (1899) 10 Ry and Can. Tr. Cas. 266, at page 275, seems to be any legal person who is not the general public (vide Stroud's Judicial Dictionary, Volume 2 (1952 edition) page 1437).
(8) The next point which has been pressed by Mr. Narula that the Chief Commissioner did not arrive at a definite finding and his discussion does not lead to the inference that other conditions qua the claimants to the permit are the same, appears to us to be devoid of reason. The Chief Commissioner, in our opinion, was at paints to point out that the tests which the State Transport Authority had paid down for itself in making a selection for the permit, could not enable it to come to a definite conclusion one way or the other in favour of any party. It is not necessary to go over again the entire discussion which has already been summarised. We are unable to subscribe to the submission made by the learned counsel that there can be perceived in this discussion a view favourable to the claims of the appellants on the various tests which came for examination by the Chief commissioner.
It seems to us that the Chief commissioner was clearing the ground for the application of the proviso by first examining in detail how the application of the various criteria would affect each party in respect of these particular tests. The Chief Commissioner did not give any positive conclusion and at best it could be said that every party was at par with the other regarding the tests of efficiency, finance and management. In the matter of disqualifications also, the Chief Commissioner considered that the tests could not be applied to the detriment of any party and more particularly against two or three parties who had received adverse comments form the State Transport Authority.
From the material which has been placed on this record, it seems to us that the Chief Commissioner correctly applied the proviso. Though he did not specifically give a finding that other conditions were equal, it appears to be an 'inarticulate major premise' of his discussion. We would ourselves on this material have come to the conclusion that each party was situated more or less in an equal position so far as the different tests and criteria discussed by the State Transport Authority and the Chief Commissioner are concerned. A mere omission of the Chief Commissioner to say that in his opinion other conditions were equal before applying the proviso does not and cannot create an error in law which would justify interference of this Court in certiorari proceedings.
(9) The last submission of Mr. Narula must also in our opinion be repelled. It is true that the Chief commissioner has made reference to some promises which had been held out by the Delhi Administration in its letter of 23rd of June 1948 to the Delhi Ex Servicemen Co-operative Multipurpose Society Ltd. for the grant of 40 permits. As against this promise, only three permits appear to have been sanctioned in favour of this Society Ltd. L. P. A. No. 47-D of 1960, D/- 8-8-1960: (AIR 1961 Punj 24) that a Transport Authority cannot travel beyond the scope of S. 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act in granting the stage carriage permits. 'A promise or assurance given by Government many years ago, however laudable it may be for the appropriate authority to honour it, is not a valid ground for the grant of permit under S. 47.' It seems to us, however that in this case the Chief Commissioner made a mention of this assurance after he had come to a conclusion in favour of the Delhi Ex. Servicemen Co-operative M. P. society as against the Crown Co-operative Transport Society Ltd. Earlier, he had made a mention of the two decisive considerations. namely, finance and experience, which placed Crown Co-operative Society, beneath the level of the Delhi Ex: Servicemen Co-operative Society. A preference had already been indicated in the order the promise which had been made by Government. It has been contended by Mr. Narula that a consideration of extraneous matter vitiates the entire decision. It is sought to analogize this case with the decisions of Federal Court and the Supreme Court in which the orders of detention, one or two of whose ground were found to be invalid to be void in toto. The basic decision is that of Keshav Talpade v. Emperor, AIR 1943 FC 1 where it was stated by Chief Justice Gwyer at page 8 that 'if a detaining authority give four reasons for detaining a man, without distinguishing between them, and any two or three of the reasons are held to be bad, it can never be certain to what extent the bad reasons operated on the mind of the authority or whether the detention order would have been made at all if only one or two good reasons had been before them.' Reading the Chief Commissioner's order, as we do, we do not think that the consideration of honoring past promise influenced his mind at all as there is intrinsic evidence in his order to show that he had already come to a conclusion in favour of the respondent, Delhi Ex. Servicemen Co-operative M. P. Society Ltd., before he made a mention of the past promise which had been held out to them. In our opinion, no extraneous matter was taken into consideration by the Chief Commissioner who arrived at a conclusion in favour of the Delhi Ex. Servicemen Co-operative M. P. Society Ltd. At any rate, this ground does not seem to be available to the appellant, Nav Hind Finance and Transport (Private) Ltd. whose claim stands superseded in pursuance of the provision of the proviso to sub-section (1) of S. 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act.
(10) In our opinion, there is no merit in L. P. As nos. 19-D and 30-D of 1959 which must fail and are accordingly dismissed. we make no order as to costs.
(11) As for the appeal preferred by the Crown Co-operative Transport Society Ltd. Which remained the only competitor of the Delhi Ex. Servicemen Co-operative M. P. Society Ltd., once the Chief Commissioner had decided to apply the proviso to sub-section (1) of S. 47, two submissions have been made by Mr. Kapur, the learned counsel for the appellant in Letters Patent Appeal No. 22-D of 1959. It has been urged by him that the two circumstances which were taken against the appellant were those which the Chief Commissioner had already rejected as inconclusive to make a preference between the claimants inter se. The two considerations which went against the appellant were that its paid up capital was only Rs. 12,000/- as against Rs.20,000/- which is laid down by the Transport Authority as the minimum required for a co-operative society and the second being that only one of the members of this Co-operative society had experience of running bus service.
Undoubtedly, these two matters were referred by the Chief Commissioner when discussing the questions of finance and efficiency as between the entire body of claimants. He had come to the conclusion that on the questions of efficiency and finance, it was not possible for one point to claim supremacy over the other. This could not preclude him from taking into consideration these two factors when he had to decide the rival claims of two co-operative societies, which remained in the field after the others had been eliminated. It is not denied that the Transport Authority has laid down that a co-operative society should have a minimum paid up capital of Rs. 20,000/-. This requirement is not fulfilled by the appellant, Crown Co-operative Transport Society Ltd. In the running of bus service, finance is not an unimportant and irrelevant consideration and the interest of the travelling public may be better served by a society with a sound financial backing and support. A comparison between the financial position of the two rival claimants is not inapposite in such a situation.
(12) Again, it is not disputed that only one member of the Crown CO-operative Transport Society has the experience of running bus service, as against the background of wider experience of the Delhi Ex. Servicemen Co-operative M. P. Society Ltd. which consists of demobilised army personnel who had been specially engaged in transport business. It is these two factors which have influenced the choice of the Chief Commissioner. we do not find any force in the second contention of Mr. Kapur that if finance and efficiency factors are eliminated, as they had been by the Chief Commissioner earlier, the only matter which went in favour of the Delhi Ex. Servicemen Co-operative M. P. Society Ltd. was the previous promise and assurance given to them by the Government. The Chief Commissioner after having expressed his preference in favour of the Delhi Ex Servicemen Co-operative M. P. Society Ltd. merely observed that this would also enable the Government to honor a past promise. It could not in our opinion, be said that the Chief Commissioner was in fact actuated by this consideration at all.
Though this appeal must fail as in our judgment no extraneous circumstances have been taken into consideration, We will say a few words about the further elaboration which has been made by Mr. Kapur on this aspect of the case. Mr. Kapur, in the first place, relied on paragraph 121 of Halsbury's Laws of England, Volume II, at page 64, where it is said that.
'in a case where certiorari or prohibition may not lie, the proceedings being regular on their face and the tribunal having jurisdiction, mandamus to hear and determine may nonetheless issue to the tribunal on this ground, if the tribunal has been influenced by extraneous consideration' Reference may also be made to a decision of Bose, J. in Satya Narayan Transport Co., Ltd. v. Secretary, state Transport Authority, West Bengal, (S) AIR 1957 Cal 638, in which it was held that
'where the R. T. A. has given 8 reasons for granting a permit to a person and if one of the reasons given is extraneous or irrelevant, even then the order granting permit to such person must be held to be invalid if there is nothing before the Court to show how far or to what extent this extraneous consideration had actually influenced the decision of the R. T. A.'
The ruling of this decision is not applicable to the circumstances of this case as, in our opinion, no extraneous consideration actually weighed with the Chief Commissioner in giving his reference to one society over the other; the choice having been decisively made before even the mention of the extraneous consideration.
(13) The counsel also relied on the authority of R. V. Bowman, (1898) 1. Q. B. 663, where the decision of the licensing authority was based on what was regarded as an extraneous consideration. This ruling is also not applicable as, in our opinion, the decision of the Chief Commissioner was not influenced by the extraneous consideration. The extraneous consideration was merely mentioned as a circumstance to support the conclusion which had already been arrived at. As observed by Sinha, J. (now Chief Justice Sinha) in New Prakash Transport Co. Ltd., v. New Suwarna Transport Co. Ltd., (S) AIR 1957 SC 232,
'the Appellate Authority under Motor Vehicles Act does not administer justice as a Court of law, though while deciding as between the rival claims of the applicants for a permit it has to deal with them in a fair and just manner'.
may be that the mention of the previous promise by the Chief Commissioner was somewhat unfortunate but we do not think that it had affected his decision which had been arrived in a fair and just manner. This appeal also must fail and is accordingly dismissed. We would, however, make no order as to costs.
(14) The result is that all the three appeals are dismissed without any order as to costs.
(15) If there ever was a case which reminded one of the saying 'Justice delayed is justice denied', it is precisely the present one. I have been induced to make this observation by the disclosure made at the Bar during the course of arguments that the appellants-The Nav Hind Finance and Transport Private Ltd.-are by virtue of a stay order still utilising the permits granted to them by the Delhi Transport Authority on 1st August, 1958, though this order in their favour was set aside by the Chief Commissioner as far back as 17th December 1958. What is more lamentable is that these appeals have somehow not been set down for hearing earlier in spite of a specific order by a Division Bench Consisting of Bhandari, C. J. and S. B. Capoor J. dated 23rd April, 1959, that they may be set down for hearing in the month of May, 1959. It is delay like this which may tend to make litigants in this country less enthusiastic to come to Courts for redress of their grievances.
(16) The permits are usually granted for three years and in the present case in spite of there having been a specific order by the Chief Commissioner passed on 17th December, 1958, the party in whose favour that order was passed has not so far been able to reap its fruits and that for no particular fault of his.
(17) With the above observations, I agree that these appeals should be dismissed with no order as to costs.
(18) Appeals dismissed.