1. The writ petition has been referred to a Division Bench to consider the question whether the fare-table is a condition of the permit issued to a bus operator, Though there are other grounds as well in this case to support our Conclusion, still, since there is a difference of opinion between two learned Judges of this Court regarding the question whether the time-table given to a bus operator is a condition of the permit (and it is claimed that a fare-table is on the same footing), we propose to express our opinion on this question.
2. The controversy relates to the route between Kandassankadavu and Trichur; and the petitioner is a stage carriage operator on this route. The distance from Kandassankadavu to Trichur is 10 miles and 2 furlongs; but from Trichur to Kandassankadavu the distance is only 9 miles and 5 furlongs, the difference being the result of restrictions regarding one-way- traffic under the Police Act The buses on this route were collecting 50p for the whole route. The Bus Passengers' Association, Kandassankadavu, which is impleaded in this petition as the second respondent, made representations to the authorities that the Trichur-Kandassankadavu route was really shorter than the claim made by the bus owners, who collected fares on the claim 'that the route was 11 miles and 4 furlongs in length. The R.T.A. thereupon gave notice to the President of the Bus Owners' Association, Kanjani as well as' the President of the Bus Passengers' Association, Kandassankadavu: and a meeting was held on 31st October 1962 for the purpose of resolving the controversy. Both the Associations were heard and it was decided that the question regarding the exact length of the roule be referred to the Executive Engineer, P.W.D; and it has now turned out that the distance from Kandassankadavu to Trichur, as already stated, is 10 miles and 2 furlongs and from Trichur to Kandassankadavau 9 miles and 5 furlongs.
3. While the question of refixation of the fare-stages, resolving the disparity between the up and the down routes, was still pending, the Government, under section 43 of the Motor Vehicles Act, increased the rate of fare per mile. The bus owners including the petitioner thereupon commenced collecting enhanced fare of 60 P. on the basis of the longer distance of the route claimed by them. In the meantime, the Government directed that the distances of all the routes in the State be converted into kilometres from miles; and in implementation of this direction, on the basis of the report of the Executive Engineer already mentioned, the length of the Kandassankadavu-Trichur route was fixed at 16.5 kilometres and fare-stages were also settled by the R.T.A. at its meeting held on 26th October 1963. Thereafter, the Secretary of the R.T.A implemented this decision; and in pursuance thereof issued an orderto the Bus Owners' Association on 26th Sept ember 1964, which is now sought to be quashed in this writ petition.
4. We may at this stage observe that the petitioner denies that he is a member of the Bus Owners' Association and that he had any notice of the meeting of 31st October 1962. The second respondent, on the other hand, alleges in the counter affidavit that the pell tioner was a member of the Bus Owners' Association, Kanjani, which is now functioning as the Kanjani Motor Union. Though this is a disputed question, we are inclined to accept the version of the second respondent and proceed on that footing.
5. We shall now consider whether the time-table given to a bus operator is a condition of his permit. We may point out that the fare-table is claimed to be analogous to the time-table; and we propose to proceed on that basis. In M. Kali Mudaliar v. A. Vedachala Mudaliar AIR 1952 Mad 545, Rajamannar C. J. and Venkatarama Iyer J. hold that the table of timings fixed by the R.T.A. at the lime of grant of the permit was not one of the conditions of the permit. Their Lordships also held that the R.T.A. was given the power to regulate the timings of arrival and departure of stage carriages and that power had nothing to do with the grant of permit to individual owners. The only condition in this mailer, the learned Judges observed, would be that the timings as fixed from time to time should be exhibited on the stage carriage and the timings so exhibited should be observed. Vaidialingam J. followed this decision in P. C. Oommen v. Road Traffic Board, Kottayam, 1958 Ker LT 110: (AIR 1958 Ker 339) But, in a subsequent case Thomas v. Stale Transport Authority, 1960 Ker LT 108 :(AIR 1960 Ker 111), Vaidialingam J, express ed a different opinion, that the fixation of timings at the lime of the grant of permit was a condition of the permit under the Motor Vehicles Act as amended by Act 100 of 1956 Our learned brother was of opinion that whatever controversy there was prior to the amend ing Act, the position after the amending Act was that the fixation of timings was a condition of the permit.
6. Yet another case, Ninan v. Secretary, Stale Transport Authority, Trivandrum (1960 Ker LT 504): (AIR 1960 Ker 359), came before Raman Nayar J. Our learned brother considered the Madras decision and the decisions of Vaidialingam J. and held, disagreeing with the later decision of Vaidialingam J., that the time-table was not a condition of the permit and it was adherence to the approved time-table that was the condition. However, Raman Nayar J. did not refer the case to a Division Bench, because there were other grounds in the case on which his decision could be rested. Raman Nayar J. also pointed out that the amending Act 100 of 1956 had not brought about any alteration in section 48 of the Motor Vehicles Act so as lo justify the view of Vaidialingam J. in his later decision the position was different after the amending Act.
7. The counsel of the petitioner has drawn our attention to yet another decision, the Division Bench ruling of the Mysore High Court in K. Siddalingappa v. The Revenue Appellate Tribunal, AIR 1962 Mys 161. The Mysore High Court held therein that the timings assigned to a stage carriage permit-holder by the R.T.A. at the time of grant of the permit constituted a condition of his permit; and that the argument that under section 48(d) in the time-table was not made a condition of the permit, but that it was its observance that was made the condition, rested upon an arti-ficial construction of the provision. The Mysore High Court considered the Madras decision and both the decisions of Vaidialingam J., but did not consider the decision of Raman Nayar J. Their Lordships however pointed out that the later decision of Vaidialingam, J. could not be rested on the amending Act, because no amend menl was made to section 48 which would bring about that result.
8. We have ourselves considered the question; and we do not think that the view expressed by Vaidialingam J., in his second ruling can be justified by the amending Act 100 of 1956. May be that our learned brother merely followed the Madras decision in his earlier ruling without any discussion, but expressed a different opinion in the subsequent decision after consideration of the relevant provisions. What we have to consider is which of the two views is the correct one.
9. We do not propose to embark upon an exhaustive consideration of the question and the reasonings in the several decisions cited. What clause (iii) of section 48(3) shows is that the approved time-table shall be exhibited as indicated in that clause; and what clause (iv) shows is that the approved time table shall be adhered to in operating the service They do not make the time-table itself a condition of the permit. As pointed out by the Madras decision and the decision of Raman Nayar J., it is the exhibition of an adherence to the approved time-table that is made a condition and not the time-table itself Similarly, clauses (xii) and (xiii) make it obli gatory that fares shall be charged in accord ance with the approved fare-table; and that the fare-table shall be exhibited on the stage carriage and at specified stands and balls. Here also it is the charging of fares in accordance with the fare-table and the exhibition of the fare-table that is made a condition and not the fare-table itself. With due respect to the learn ed Judges of the Mysore High Court and Vaidialingam J., we express our dissent from the reasoning adopted by them. We agree with the Madras Division Bench and Raman Nayar J., and hold that in this case the alteration in the fareslages by the R.T.A, cannot be challenged on the ground that no notice was given to the petitioner, as our conclusion is that the fare table containing the fare-stages was not a condition attached to the permit granted to him.
10. There are other hurdles also for the petitioner. Under section 48(3) the R.T.A. may attach to the permit any one or more ofthe several conditions enumerated in that Subsection. The word 'may' is not 'shall' in this sub-section as pointed out by Raman Nayar J. and unless it is established, oven if the lime-table and the fare-table can be considered to be conditions of the permit, that they were so incorporated among the conditions in his permit, the petitioner cannot succeed in the writ petition. He has not pro duced any of the permits of his buses run ning between Kandassankadavu and Trichur. Ho has produced the permit of a stage carriage. K.L.B.. 3700, issued on 14th September 1964 running between Kandassankadavu and Vadanappilly. The petitioner chums that he has permits for buses between Kandassankadavu and Trichuir for the last about 15 years: but none of them is produced. Therefore, it is not possible to conclude that the time-table and the fare-table have been attached to the permits of petitioner's stage carriages plying between Kandassankadavu and Trichur.
11. Again, though it is disputed by the petitioner, the direction to the Executive Engineer, P.W.I), to measure the route appears to have been issued by the R.T.A. only after notice to the Bus Owners' Association, Kanjani, which now functions under the name, the Kanjani Motor Union, and also to the second respondent. Therefore, the claim that there was no notice does not also appear to have been suitstantiated.
12. The counsel of the second res pondent requests us to view the ques tion from another angle. He argues that the power of fixing the fareslages by the R.T.A, falls under section 44 of the Motor Vehicles Act; and that the field covered by section 44 'is administrative and does not include the area which is the subject matter of the exercise of quasi judicial authority' by the R.T.A; so that, such exercise of power is not liable to be corrected by this Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution. The counsel seeks support for this from B. Rajagopala Naidu v. State Transport Appellate Tribunal Madras, AIR 1064 SC 1573; and we are inclined to think there is considerable force in this contention.
13. Wherefore, the writ petition is dis missed with costs. The respondents will get Rs 150 each as advocate's fee.