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K.M. Shanmugam Vs. the S.R.V.S. (P) Ltd. and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1963SC1626; [1964]1SCR809
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 43A, 47 and 47(1); Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantK.M. Shanmugam
RespondentThe S.R.V.S. (P) Ltd. and ors.
Cases Referred and AbdullahRowther v. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal A.I.R.
Excerpt:
motor vehicles - stage permit - sections 43a, 47 and 47 (1) of motor vehicles act, 1939 and article 226 of constitution of india - appellant got more marks than respondent and permit issued to him for route from 'x' to 'y' - appeal preferred before appellate tribunal - contended that respondent entitled to some marks under 'residence or place of business' on ground that it had place of business at 'y' - contention rejected on ground that respondent had branch office at certain other place and therefore office at 'y' could not be treated as branch office - supreme court observed that refusal was an error apparent on face of record and matter remitted back to tribunal for fresh disposal. - section 9: [s.b. sinha, dr. mukundakam sharma & asok kumar, jj] jurisdiction of civil court-suit.....subba rao, j.1. this appeal by special leave is directed against the judgment of adivision bench of the high court of judicature for madras confirming that asingle judge of that court allowing the petition filed by the respondent underart. 226 of the constitution and quashing the order made by the state transportappellate tribunal granting a stage carriage permit to the appellant for theroute tanjore-mannargudi via vaduvoor. 2. the facts relevant to the question raised may be briefly stated. theregional transport authority, tanjore, called for applications in respect ofthe issuing of a stage carriage permit for the route tanjore-mannargudi viavaduvoor. 11 persons applied for the permit. the regional transport authority,adopting the marking system prescribed in g.o.ms. no. 1298 (home).....
Judgment:

Subba Rao, J.

1. This appeal by special leave is directed against the judgment of adivision Bench of the High Court of Judicature for Madras confirming that asingle Judge of that Court allowing the petition filed by the respondent underArt. 226 of the constitution and quashing the order made by the State TransportAppellate Tribunal granting a stage carriage permit to the appellant for theroute Tanjore-Mannargudi via Vaduvoor.

2. The facts relevant to the question raised may be briefly stated. TheRegional Transport Authority, Tanjore, called for applications in respect ofthe issuing of a stage carriage permit for the route Tanjore-Mannargudi viaVaduvoor. 11 persons applied for the permit. The Regional Transport Authority,adopting the marking system prescribed in G.O.Ms. No. 1298 (Home) dated April28, 1956, awarded marks to different applicants : the appellant not the highestnumber of marks, viz., 7, and the first respondent got only 4 1/4 marks, withthe result the appellant was preferred to the respondent and a permit wasissued to him. It is not necessary to notice the marks secured by the otherapplicants before the Regional Transport Authority, for they are not before us.Total of the said marks secured by each of the said two parties was arrived atby gadding the marks given under the following heads :

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Viable Work- Resi- Experi Special Total

Unit shop dence ence circums-

tances.

1 2 3 4 5

______________________________________________________________________

K.M.S 4 1 1 1/2 1/4 7

S.R.V.S. 1 1 1 1 1/4 4

______________________________________________________________________

3. It would be seen from the said table of marks that if the 4 marks securedby the appellant under the first column 'Viable Unit' were excludedfrom his total, he would have got only a total of 3 marks under the remainingheads and the first respondent would have got a total of 4 1/4 marks under thesaid heads. Under the said G.O., as interpreted by this Court, the marks underthe first column, i.e., those given under the head 'Viable Unit', wouldbe counted only if other things were equal; that is to say, if the total numberof marks obtained by the said two applicants under Cols. 2 to 5 wereequal. It is, therefore, obvious that on the marks given the Regional TransportAuthority went wrong in issuing a permit in favour of the appellant, as heshould not have taken into consideration the 4 marks given under the 1st Columnsince the total marks secured by him under Cols. 2 to 5 were less than thosesecured by the first respondent. Aggrieved by the said order, the firstrespondent preferred an appeal to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal,hereinafter called the Appellate Tribunal. The said Appellate Tribunal recastthe marks in respect of the said two parties in the following manner :

_____________________________________________________________________

Viable Work- Resi- Experi- Special Total

Unit shop dence ence circums-

tances

1 2 3 4 5

______________________________________________________________________

K.M.S. 4 2 1 3/4 1/4 8

S.R.V.S. 2 - 1 1 4

______________________________________________________________________

4. It would be seen from the marks given by the Appellate Tribunal that thetotal of the marks secured by the appellant under Cols. 2 to 5 is equal to thatsecured by the first respondent under the said columns, each of them securing 4marks. It was contended before the Appellate Tribunal that the first respondentwas entitled to some mark under the column 'Residence or place ofbusiness' on the ground that it had the places of business at Tanjore andMannargudi and that the Regional Transport Authority had given one mark to thefirst respondent under the said column; but the Appellate Tribunal rejectedthat contention on the ground that the first respondent had a branch office atKumbakonam and, therefore, the office at Tanjore or Mannargudi could not betreated as a branch office. Aggrieved by that order, the first respondent fileda petition before the High Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution for settingaside that order. Ramachandra Iyer, J., who heard the said application allowedit. The main reason given by the learned Judge for allowing the petition wasthat the Appellate Tribunal omitted to give any mark in respect of residentialqualification, which amounted to refusal to take into consideration theadmitted fact, namely, the existence of a workshop at Mannargudi and therefore,it amounted to a breach of s. 47(1)(a) and (c) of the Motor Vehicles Act. Thesame idea was expressed by the learned Judge in a different way thus :

5. He held that the said refusal was an error apparent on the face of therecord; and he accordingly quashed the order and at the same time indicatedthat the result was that the State Transport Appellate Tribunal would have todispose of the appeal afresh. The Letters Patent appeal filed by the appellantwas heard by a division Bench consisting of Anantanarayanan and Venkatadri, JJ.The learned Judges dismissed the appeal and the reason of their decision isfound in the following remarks :

6. They also observed :

7. In dismissing the appeal the learned Judges concluded :

8. The appellant has preferred the present appeal by special leave againstthe said order.

9. It will be seen from the aforesaid narration of facts that the High Courtissued the writ as it was satisfied that there was a clear error apparent onthe face of the record, namely, that the Appellate Tribunal refused to takeinto consideration the existence of the branch office at Mannargudi forawarding marks under the head 'residence' on the ground that therewas another office of the first respondent at Kumbakonam. While it gave marksto the appellant for his residence, it refused to give marks to the firstrespondent for its office on the aforesaid ground.

10. Mr. Sen, learned counsel for the appellant, raised before us the followingpoints : (1) The Court has no jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari underArt. 226 of the Constitution to quash an order of a Tribunal on the ground thatthere is an apparent error of fact on the face of the record, however gross itmay be, and that, in the instant case, if there was an error, it was only oneof fact; (2) this Court has held that directions given under s. 43 of the MotorVehicles Act are only administrative in character and that an order made by aTribunal in breach thereof does not confer a right on a party affected and,therefore, the Appellate Tribunal's order made in derogation of the saiddirections could not be a subject-matter of writ.

11. The argument of Mr. Viswanatha Sastri, learned counsel for the firstrespondent, may be summarized thus :

The petitioner (appellant herein) has a fundamentalright to carry on business in transport. The Motor Vehicles Act is a lawimposing reasonable restrictions in public interest on such right. TheAppellate Tribunal can decide, on the material placed before it, whether publicinterest would be better served if the permit was given to the appellant or thefirst respondent within the meaning of s. 47 of the said Act. The Government,in exercise of its powers under s. 43 of the said Act, gave administrativedirections embodying some principles for enabling the Tribunal to come to aconclusion on the said point. The Tribunal had jurisdiction to decide the saidquestion on the basis of the principles so laid down or dehors them. In eitherview, it only decides the said question. The first respondent raised before theTribunal that public interest would be better served if a permit was issued toit as it had a well equipped branch office at Mannargudi. The said question wasrelevant in an inquiry under s. 47 of the said Act, whether the Tribunalfollowed the instructions given by the Government or ignored them. In coming toa conclusion on the said question, the Tribunal made a clear error of lawinasmuch as it held that in the case of the first respondent, as it had abranch at Kumbakonam, its other branch at Mannargudi should be ignored. This,the learned counsel contends, is an error apparent on the face of the record.He further contends that the scope of an inquiry under Art. 226 is wide and thatit enables the court to issue an appropriate direction even in a case of anerror of fact apparent on the face of the record.

12. It is not necessary to express our opinion on the wider question inregard to the scope and amplitude of Art. 226 of the Constitution, namely,whether the jurisdiction of the High Court under the said Article to quash theorders of Administrative tribunals is confined only to circumstances underwhich the High Court of England can issue a writ of certiorari or is much widerthan the said power, for this appeal can satisfactorily and effectively bedisposed of within the narrow limits of the ambit of the English Court'sjurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari as understood by this Court. If itwas necessary to tackle the larger question, we would have referred the matterto a Bench of 5 Judges as it involved a substantial question of law as to theinterpretation of the Constitution; and under Art. 145 thereof such a questioncan be heard only by a Bench of at least 5 Judges. In the circumstances areference to the decisions of this Court cited at the Bar, which are alleged tohave expressed conflicting views thereon, is not called for. We shalltherefore, confine ourselves to the narrow question.

13. Adverting to the scope of a write of certiorari in common law, thisCourt in Hari Vishnu Kamath v. Syed Ahmed Ishaque, : [1955]1SCR1104 laid down the following propositions :

(1) Certiorari will be issued forcorrecting errors of jurisdiction, as when an inferior Court or Tribunal actswithout jurisdiction or in excess of it, or fails to exercise it.

(2) Certiorari will also beissued when the Court or Tribunal acts illegally in the exercise of itsundoubted jurisdiction, as when it decides without giving an opportunity to theparties to be heard, or violates the principles of natural justice.

(3) The Court issuing a writ ofcertiorari acts in exercise of a supervisory and not appellate jurisdiction.One consequence of this is that the Court will not review findings of factreached by the inferior Court or Tribunal, even if they be erroneous.

(4) An error in the decision ordetermination itself may also be amenable to a writ of certiorari but it mustbe a manifest error apparent on the face of the proceedings e.g., when it isbased on clear ignorance or disregard of the provisions of law.

14. This view was followed in Nagendra Nath Bora v. The Commissioner HillsDivision and Appeals, Assam : [1958]1SCR1240 , Satyanarayan v. Mallikarjun : [1960]1SCR890 , Shri Ambica Mills Co. v. S. B. Bhutt : (1961)ILLJ1SC and in Provincial Transport Services v. State Industrial Court, Nagpur : (1962)IILLJ360SC . But the more difficult question is, what is the precisemeaning of the expression 'manifest error Apparent on the face of theproceedings ?' Venkatarama Ayyar, J., attempted to define the saidexpression in Hari Vishnu Kamath's case : [1955]1SCR1104 thus:

SuratMunicipality

15. It would be seen from the said remarks that the learned Judge could notlay down an objective test, for the concept necessarily involves a subjectiveelement. Sinha, J., as he then was speaking for the Court in Nagendra NathBora's Case : [1958]1SCR1240 , attempted to elucidate the point further andproceeded to observe at p. 1269-70 thus :

16. This decision assumes that the scope of a writ in the nature ofcertiorari or an order or direction to set aside the order of an inferiortribunal under Art. 226 of the Constitution is the same as that of a common lawwrit of certiorari in England : we don not express any opinion on this in thiscase. This decision practically accepts the opinion expressed by this Court inHari Vishnu Kamath's Case : [1955]1SCR1104 . The only additionit introduces is the anti-thesis it made between 'error of law and errorof fact' and 'error of law apparent on the face of the record.'But the question still remains in each case whether an error is one of law orof fact and that falls to be decided on the facts of each case. Das Gupta, J.,makes yet another attempt to define the expression when he says in Satyanarayanv. Mallikarjun : [1960]1SCR890 , thus :

17. The learned Judge here lays down the complex nature of the arguments asa test of apparent error of law. This test also may break, for what is complexto one judicial mind may be clear and obvious to another : it depends upon theequipment of a particular Judge. In the ultimate analysis the said concept iscomprised of many imponderables : it is not capable of precise definition, asno objective criterion can be laid down, the apparent nature of the error, to alarge extent, being dependent upon the subjective element. So too, in somecases the boundary between error of law and error of fact is rather thin. Atribunal may hold that 500 multiplied by 10,000 is 5 lakhs (instead of 50lakhs); another tribunal may hold that a particular claim is barred bylimitation by calculating the period of time from 1956 instead of 1961; and athird tribunal may make an obvious error deciding a mixed question of fact andlaw. The question whether the said errors are errors of law or fact cannot beposited on a priori reasoning, but falls to be decided in each case. We donnot, therefore, propose to define with any precision the concept of 'errorof law apparent on the face of the record'; but it should be left, as ithas always been done, to be decided in each case.

18. The only question therefore, is whether the State Transport AppellateTribunal committed an error of law apparent on the face of the record. A lookat the provisions of s. 47 and s. 43 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, asamended by the Madras Legislature, will facilitate the appreciation of the problem.Under s. 47, a Regional Transport Authority in considering an application for astage carriage permit is enjoined to have regard, inter alia, to the interestsof the public generally. Section 43-A, introduced by the Madras Legislature bythe Motor Vehicles (Madras Amendment) Act, 1948, says that the State Governmentmay issue such order and directions of a general character as it may considernecessary in respect of any matter relevant to road transport to the StateTransport Authority or to a Regional Transport Authority and such TransportAuthority shall give effect to all such orders and directions. It has been heldby this Court in M/s. Raman & Raman Ltd. v. The State of Madras 1959] Su. 2 S.C.R. 22], that s. 43A conferred a power on the State Government toissue administrative directions, and that any direction issued thereunder wasnot a law regulating rights of parties. It was also pointed out that the ordermade and the directions issued under s. 43-A of the Act cannot obviously addto, or subtract from, the consideration prescribed under s. 47 thereof on thebasis of which the tribunal is empowered to issue or refuse to issue a permit,as the case may be. It is, therefore clear that any direction given under s.43A for the purpose of considering conflicting claims for a permit byapplicants can only be to enable the Regional Transport Authority to dischargeits duties, under s. 47 of the Act more satisfactorily, efficiently andimpartially. To put it differently, the direction so given cannot enlarge orrestrict the jurisdiction of the said tribunal or authority but only afford areasonable guide for exercising the said jurisdiction. Concretely state, anapplicant in advancing his claim for a permit may place before the Authority animportant circumstance in his favour, namely, that he has a branch office onthe route in respect whereof he seeks for a permit. He may contend that he hasan office on the route, and that the interests of the public will be betterserved, as the necessary amenities or help to meet any eventuality in thecourse of a trip will be within his easy reach. The Government also under s.43A may issue instructions to the Regional Transport Authority that theexistence of an office of a particular applicant on the route would be in theinterests of the public and, therefore, the said applicant should be given apreferential treatment if other things are equal. The issue of such aninstruction only emphasizes a relevant fact which an authority has to take intoconsideration even if such an instruction was not given. But if the Authorityunder a manifest error of law ignores the said relevant consideration, it notonly disobeys the administrative directions given by the Government, but alsotransgresses the provisions of s. 47 of the Act. The disobedience of theinstructions which are administrative in nature may not afford a cause ofaction to an aggrieved party, but the transgression of the statutory lawcertainly does. What is position in the present case

19. The Government issued G.O. No. 1298 (Home), dated April 28, 1956,introducing a marking system for assessing the merits of applicants for stagecarriage permits. Column 3 reads thus :

This qualification not only is infavour of local enterprise but also secures that the owner will pay prompt andfrequent attention to the service entrusted to him. One mark may be assigned tothis qualification.'

20. Under this instruction the location of the residence or the place ofbusiness is considered to be in the interests of the public, for whose benefitthe service is entrusted to a permit-holder. The first respondent contendedbefore the Regional Transport Authority that he had branch offices at Tanjoreand Mannargudi and therefore that fact should be taken into consideration and amark should be given to him thereunder. The Regional Transport Authority gaveone mark to the appellant and also one mark to the first respondent under thatcolumn. But the Appellate Tribunal refused to give any mark under that columnto the first respondent for the following reasons :

21. In regard to the Tanjore office the said appellate Tribunal has given anadditional reason by holding on the facts that it was not an office at all. Wecan, therefore, ignore the Tanjore office for the purpose of this appeal. Sofar as the mannargudi office is concerned, the decision of the AppellateTribunal was based upon an obvious error. It took the view that if a companyhad a branch office at one particular place, it could not have in law any otherbranch office though it had one in fact. Whatever conflict there may be, onwhich we do not express any opinion, in a tax law or the company law, in thecontext of the marking system and the evaluation of an amenity in the interestof the public, it is obviously an untenable proposition to hold that even if acompany has a well equipped office on a route in respect of which a permit isapplied for, it shall be ignored if the company has some other branch somewhereunconnected with that route. That was what the Appellate Tribunal held and inour view it is an error apparent on the face of the record. On that erroneousview, the Appellate Tribunal did not decide the relevant question raised,namely, whether the respondent has any such office at mannargudi. BothRamachandra Iyer, J., at the first instance, and Anantanarayanan andVenkatadri, JJ., in appeal, rightly pointed out this error. As this is an errorapparent on the face of the record, they quashed the order of the AppellateTribunal and left the question open for decision by it. In our view, theconclusion arrived at by the High Court is correct.

22. It remains only to notice the decisions on which strong reliance isplaced by learned counsel for the appellant in support of his contention.

23. In M/s. Raman and Raman Ltd. v. The State of Madras [1959] Su 2 S.C.R. 227, the relevant facts were : the appellant and the 4th respondenttherein, along with others, were applicants for a stage carriage permit. TheRegional Transport Authority granted the permit to the appellant on the basisof instructions issued by the State Government under s. 43A of the MotorVehicles Act; on appeal, the Central Road Traffic Board set aside that order onthe footing of fresh instructions issued by the Government; and a divisionBench of the Madras High Court dismissed the writ petition filed by theappellant. It was, inter alia, contended before this Court that theinstructions given under s. 43A being law regulating rights of parties, theappellate authority could not ignore that law and set aside the order of theRegional Transport Authority on the basis of subsequent instructions. Thecontention was rejected on the ground that instructions under s. 43A were notlaw, but were only administrative directions and that the fact that theappellate tribunal ignored them would not affect its jurisdiction if it hadcome to a decision having regard to the considerations laid down in s. 47 ofthe Act. The question before the tribunal was whether a small unit or a largeone would be viable or would be in the interest of the public. There was scopefor taking different views on the question, and the appellate tribunal,contrary to the earlier directions, came to the conclusion that smaller unitswould be more in the interest of the public than larger ones. This judgment,therefore, is an authority only for the position that a tribunal in issuing orrefusing to issue a permit to an applicant would be acting within itsjurisdiction notwithstanding the fact that it ignored the administrativedirections given by the Government under s. 43A of the Act, provided it hadcome to a decision on the relevant considerations laid down in s. 47 of theAct.

24. In Abdulla Rowther v. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal, MadrasA.I.R. 1959 S.C. 896, the Regional Transport Authority issued a permit eachto the appellant therein and to one Gopalan Nair. On appeal, the AppellateTribunal set aside that order and gave the permits to respondents, 3 and 4.Both the Regional Transport Authority and the Appellate Tribunal considered theapplications on the basis of G.O. No. 1298 issued by the Government of Madrason April 28, 1956. The Regional Transport Authority gave 4 marks each to theappellant and Gopalan Nair under Col. 1, which dealt with the building strengthto viable units, and refused to give any marks to respondents 3 and 4 under thesaid column on the ground that they were fleet owners; with the result that theappellant and Gopalan Nair secured more marks than respondents 3 and 4 andwere, therefore, given the permits. But the Appellate Tribunal held that theappellant and Gopalan Nair were not entitled to claim the benefit of the marksunder Col. 1, as they had secured less marks than respondents 3 and 4 under Cols.3 to 5, for they held, on a fair obstruction of the said G.O., that it was onlywhen the marks obtained by applicants under Cols. 2 to 5 were equal, recoursecould be had to Col. 1. On that basis, the Appellate Tribunal quashed the orderof the Regional Transport Authority and gave the permits to respondents 3 and4. The appellant challenged the said order by an application under Art. 226 ofthe Constitution for a writ of certiorari in the High Court of Madras.Rajagopalan, J., dismissed the application on two grounds, namely, (1) that theconstruction of the G.O. was not shown to be wrong, and (2) that even if theG.O. was misconstrued, it would not justify the issue of a writ of certiorari,as the said G.O. embodied only administrative directions. The Letters PatentAppeal filed against the said order was dismissed. The appeal filed to thisCourt was also dismissed. This Court followed the decision in M/s. Raman andRaman Ltd. v. The State of Madras [1959] Su. 2 S.C.R. 227, and held thatthe instructions given under s. 43-A of the Motor Vehicles Act were onlyadministrative direction and that, therefore, even if the rule as to theassignment of marks was infringed, it was not an error of law at all. Thisdecision only follows the earlier decision and lays down that instructionsgiven under s. 43A of the Motor Vehicles Act are only administrative directionsand that a wrong construction of the said instructions would not enable theparty affected to apply for a writ of certiorari. The instructions laid down amethod of evaluation of the respective claims vis-a-vis the considerations laiddown in s. 47 of the Act. The Regional Transport Authority and the AppellateTribunal have borne in mind the said considerations, in deciding upon the rivalclaims, though they may have wrongly interpreted one of the instructions. Itmay be pointed out that in that case the interpretation put upon theinstructions was a correct one, though this Court proceeded on the assumptionalso that they might have been wrongly interpreted. But the decision cannotobviously be an authority for the position that on a wrong interpretation ofthe administrative directions or dehors the said directions, a tribunal canignore the relevant considerations laid down in s. 47 of the Act or on thebasis of an error of law apparent on the record wrongly refuse to decide on anyof such considerations.

25. To the same effect is the decision of this Court in Ayyaswami Gounder v.M/s. Soudambigai Motor Service [Civil Appeal No. 198 of 1962 (decided on17-9-1962). There, the Regional Transport Authority followed the marking systemas laid down by the Government of Madras and gave to the appellant (therein) 5marks and to the respondent 6 marks. Though the respondent got 6 marks, he wasnot given the permit, as in the view of the said Authority he was guilty ofmisconduct. As between the other applicants, the appellant having secured thehighest number of marks, he was given a permit. But on appeal the AppellateTribunal reallotted the marks and under the reallotment the appellant got thehighest number of marks; and because of that fact and also for the reason thathe was a small operator of two buses, who should be given an opportunity tobuild up a viable unit as quickly as possible, he was given the permit by theAppellate Tribunal upholding the order of the Regional Transport Authority. Oneof the question raised there was whether the appellant was entitled to marksunder Col. 2 for repair and maintenance facilities at Dharapuram - theAppellate Tribunal found that he had such facilities. The appellant filed awrit in the High Court and the learned single Judge thought that some mistakeshad been committed by the Appellate Tribunal in the allotment of marks and thatit acted in contravention of the directions given by the Government under thesaid G.O., but dismiss the petition on the ground that, as the saidinstructions are only executive directions, their contravention did not conferany right on the parties before the tribunal. On Letters Patent Appeal aDivision Bench of that Court set aside that order on the ground that theAppellate Tribunal had taken into consideration the following two irrelevantconsiderations : (i) the appellant's claim should suffer because of thepunishment for his past misconduct, and (ii) the third respondent being a smalloperator, he would be entitled to better consideration than the appellant whowas a monopolist. On appeal, this court followed the decision in M/s. Raman andRaman Ltd. v. The State of Madras [1959] Su. 2 S.C.R. 227 and AbdullahRowther v. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal A.I.R. 1959 S.C. 896, andheld that under the said G.O. the Government issued only administrativedirections and that the failure of the transport authorities to follow themwould not entitle the respondents to a writ. As regards the two reasons givenby the High Court, this Court came to the conclusion that they were notirrelevant considerations, but were considerations germane in the matter ofissue of permits. In the result this Court allowed the appeal. This decisionaccepts two propositions, namely, (1) misconstruction or even disregard of theinstructions, given by the Government does not confer a right upon an aggrievedparty to file a writ, for the said instructions are only administrativedirections, and (2) the decision implies that if the Tribunal decides onirrelevant considerations, the Court can issue a writ. But in that case it cameto the conclusion that no such irrelevant considerations weighed with the Tribunal.

26. The last of the cases relied upon is that in Sankara Ayyer v.Narayanaswami Naidu [Civil Appeal No. 213 of 1960 (decided on 10-10-1960].There too, the Regional Transport Authority and the State Transport AppellateTribunal considered the applications for the grant of a permit for a new routeon the basis of the administrative directions given by the State Government.The regional Transport Authority gave the appellant 3 marks on the basis thathe was a small operator, but the Appellate Tribunal came to the conclusion thathe was not entitled to any marks as a small operator. A single Judge of theHigh Court set aside the order of the Appellate Tribunal on the ground that itmisconstrued the directions contained in the Government Order relating to smalloperators. But a division Bench of that Court in Letters Patent appeal held,relying upon the earlier decision of this Court, that the said directions wereonly administrative in nature and that they did not confer any legal rights andin that view allowed the appeal. This Court again following the earlierdecisions dismissed the appeal holding that by construing the administrativedirections the Tribunal did not take irrelevant considerations or refused totake relevant considerations in the matter of issue of permits. It is always acontroversial question whether the issue of a permit to a small operator or toa big operator would be in the interest of the public and a Tribunal iscertainly entitled to take either view.

27. It will be seen from the aforesaid decisions that this Court only laiddown that the instructions given under s. 43A of the Motor Vehicles Act wereonly administrative directions and that the infringement of those instructionsby the Tribunal did not confer any right on a party to apply of a High Courtfor a writ under Art. 226 of the Constitution. In all those cases the Tribunaleither ignored the instructions or misconstrued them, but nonetheless decidedthe question of issue of permits on considerations relevant under s. 47 of theAct. They are not authorities on the question whether a writ of certiorariwould lie, where a Tribunal had on an obviously wrong view of law refused todecide or wrongly decided on a consideration relevant under s. 47 of the Act,whether or not it was covered by the instructions given under s. 43-A. For ifon the basis of such an error of law, it refuses to decide a relevant question,the fact that the Government also issued instructions to the Tribunal to applysome objective standards in deciding such a question does not make the saidquestion anytheless a relevant consideration under s. 47 of the Act.

28. That is the position in the present case. As we have already indicated,on the basis of an error manifest on the record, namely, that a company cannothave a branch office on the route in question, if it has another branchelsewhere, it refused to take into consideration a relevant fact, namely,whether the respondent has an office on the said rout. The High Court,therefore, was right in quashing the order of the Appellate Tribunal and givingan opportunity to the Tribunal to decide that question on merits.

29. In the result, the appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.

30. Appeal dismissed.


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