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C.M. Abraham Vs. Regional Transport Authority and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberO.P. No. 2930 of 1972
Judge
Reported inAIR1973Ker202
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 57, 62 and 64A
AppellantC.M. Abraham
RespondentRegional Transport Authority and ors.
Appellant Advocate S. Easwara Iyer and; E. Subramani, Advs.
Respondent Advocate Govt. Pleader for Respondents Nos. 1 and 2,; V. Sivaraman Nair,;
DispositionPetition allowed
Cases ReferredLakshmi Narain v. S. T. Authority. U. P.
Excerpt:
- - alanellore, and mela-ttur was a representation requesting for better transport facility for them to reach guruvayoor. they did not complain about any of the existing operators, nor did they want the transport facility to be served by any particular bus service. an order under section 47(3) affects the future working on a route and we are of the view that such an order would have repercussion on the working of the existing operators, whether for their good or not. are clearly in the wrong in considering the matter in the way they did. this is clearly unsustainable and beyond the jurisdiction of the appellate tribunal......a. at the earlier instance the s. t. a. t. directed the grant of an extension to guruvayoor to the existing service between thiru-vazhamkunnu-pattambi. this is clearly unsustainable and beyond the jurisdiction of the appellate tribunal.5. in the result. i allow the original petition to this extent, namely, the direction in ext. p-5 to grant an extension of the permit to the 3rd respondent is set aside. i direct also that if any per-son applies for a fresh permit on the route thiruvazhamkunnu guruvayoor via ale-nellore. melattur, perinthalmanna and pattambi or an extension of the service on an existing permit, the r. t. a. must consider that application in accordance with law and uninfluenced by what was stated by the r. t. a. and the s. t. a. t. in exts. p-3 and p-5 orders. there will be.....
Judgment:
ORDER

G. Viswanatha Iyer, J.

1. The petitioner, a bus operator conducting a bus service in the route Malattu-Pattambi, has filed this original petition seeking to quash Ext. P5 order passed by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal in Motor Vehicles Act Revision Petition Case Nn. 6 of 1972. The 3rd respondent is another bus operator conducting a bus service on the route Thiruvazh-amkunnu-Pattambi. This route goes along Alanellore, Ucharakadavu, Melat-tur, Perinthalamanna, Koppam, Muthu-thala and Pattambi. Some members of the travelling public of Thiruvazh-amkunnu, Alanellore and Melattur submitted a memorandum to the R. T. O., Malappuram on 7-8-1971 pointing out the difficulties felt by them to go to Guruvayoor. The difficulty pointed out was that the travelling public of this area have no through bus service facility to go to Guruvayoor. They have to get down at Pattambi and wait for getting into other bus to reach Guruvavoor. They requested to provide for such facility. Incidentally they pointed out in the representation that there will be some temporary relief if the bus service conducted by the 3rd Respondent is extended to Guruvayoor. This representation was considered at a meeting of the R. T. A. held on 11-12-1971. Notice of this matter was given to the permit holders in that route. Some of the existing operators appeared and objected to the granting of any relief on this mass representation. The 3rd Respondent orallv supported the representation. The R. T. A. disallowed the prayer stating three grounds: (i) the route claimed is a circuitous one. (ii) shorter routes connecting Guruvayoor are available, and (iii) there is no temporary need established. The copy of the order is Ext. P3. The travelling public did not take up the matter further. The 3rd Respondent filed a revision petition before the State Transport Appellate Tribunal against this order. The petitioner was also made a respondent to that revision petition. The S. T. A. T. came to the conclusion that the reasons given by the R. T. A. are unsustainable. The copy of the order is Ext. P5. By Ext. P5 order the revision was allowed and it was also directed that the R. T. A. should grant a permit for extension of the stage carriage service on the route Thiruvazhamkunnu-Pattambi up to Guruvayoor. It is this order that is challenged in this original petition.

2. Counsel for the petitioner contended that the revision petition filed before the Appellate Tribunal was not maintainable at the instance of the 3rd Respondent. According to him. none of the rights of the 3rd Respondent are affected by the order. He did not apply for any relief before the R- T. A. The mass representation of the travelling public of Thiruvazhamkunnu. Alanellore, and Mela-ttur was a representation requesting for better transport facility for them to reach Guruvayoor. They did not complain about any of the existing operators, nor did they want the transport facility to be served by any particular bus service. There is no specific provision in the Motor Vehicles Act requiring the Transport authority to consider this mass representation alone in any particular manner and in the absence of an application for a permit by anybody. The fact that notice for consideration of this representation was given to persons conducting bus service on the route in question will not in any way alter the character of the mass representation. Any decision on that will not be illegal or affect the rights of anyof the existing operators in the route. This in short is the submission made on this point.

Though this contention is seriously pressed for consideration before me, in the light of the decision of the Supreme Court in Lakshmi Narain v. S. T. Authority. U. P., AIR 1968 SC 410 it cannot be said that the revision petition is not maintainable at the instance of the 3rd Respondent. In that case the Regional Transport Authority decided to limit the number of stage carriages on a route under Section 47(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act. An existing operator filed a revision petition against that order before the State Transport Authority. That revision petition was dismissed on the ground that a mere decision limiting the number of stage carriages under Section 47(3) could not form the subject-matter of a revision petition. The matter was taken up to the High Court. The High Court took the view that an existing operator can have no say in the matter of the determination of the strength on a route under Section 47(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act and it was in the discretion of the R. T. A. to determine the strength after considering the various matters enumerated in Section 47(1). On the merits the order of the R. T. A. was found to be correct. On that basis, without going into the question whether a revision petition is maintainable before the S. T. A. T.. the High Court dismissed the writ petition. It was against that that an appeal was filed before the Supreme Court. In deciding the question of maintainability of the revision petition the Supreme Court held thus :--

'If we look at the section, it would be noticed that Section 64-A is very wide in terms; the only condition necessary for filing a revision is that it should be against an order made by the Regional Transport Authority and against which no appeal lies. The word 'order' is wide, and there is no doubt that an order made under Section 47(3) is an order within Section 64-A because, as held by this Court in (1963) 3 SCR 523 = (AIR 1963 SC 64), it binds the Regional Transport Authority and the State Transport Authority in dealing with applications under Section 48, read with Section 57 of the Act.'

Again, in para 7 of the Judgment their Lordships observed as follows:--

'We are unable to say that no existing operator can be aggrieved by an order made under Section 47(3), increasing or decreasing the number of stage carriages; it would depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. In a particular case it may be to his advantage and he then would not file a revision against it, but if he files a revision when an order made under Section 47(3) isprejudicial to his interests, there is no ground for denying him the right to approach the revisional authority and seeking its order. An order under Section 47(3) affects the future working on a route and we are of the view that such an order would have repercussion on the working of the existing operators, whether for their good or not.'

In the light of this decision interpreting Section 64-A of the Motor Vehicles Act it has to be held that if the 3rd Respondent is aggrieved by the order of the R. T. A., whether the order is administrative or quasi-judicial, he is entitled to file a revision petition.

3. The further question is whether the 3rd Respondent can be said to be aggrieved to any extent by the order passed by the R. T. A. Even though the R. T. A. was considering a mass representation, really from the subject discussed and the decision taken at the meeting of the R. T. A. it is seen that the R. T. A. was really considering the feasibility of extending the service of the 3rd Respondent to Guruvayoor treating him as an applicant for the extension. The three reasons given by the R. T. A, for dismissing the mass representation may be put against him, if on a future occasion he applies for an extension of his service to Guruvayoor by those who are interested in opposing him. Therefore, even though he was not an applicant for an extension, in the way the matter was discussed at the meeting and in the nature of the order, the petitioner may be at a disadvantage on a future occasion if he applies for extension. Therefore, he is a person aggrieved by the order of the R. T. A.

4. The three reasons given by the R. T. A. were analysed by the Appellate Tribunal and their correctness verified with reference to the reports of the Motor Vehicle Inspectors and other records in the file, and the S. T. A. T. came to the conclu-sion that the three grounds mentioned by the R. T A are unsustainable. But the R. T. A. and the S. T. A T. are clearly in the wrong in considering the matter in the way they did. They omitted to note that there was no application for an extension of the service of the 3rd respondent. A mass representation may be relevant in considering an application made under Section 57 or 62; but it cannot be a substitute for an application either invited or suo motu. If it is discussed at a meeting it should have been discussed only as a mass representation and any decision thereon -- not being a decision under any provision of the Motor Vehicles Act - is not binding on the Authority itself and much less any existing operator in future. Instead of directing a consideration of this question of a needafresh, as and when any application is made either for the issue of a fresh permit or for the grant of an extension to the existing permit, uninfluenced by what has been stated by the R. T. A. at the earlier instance the S. T. A. T. directed the grant of an extension to Guruvayoor to the existing service between Thiru-vazhamkunnu-Pattambi. This is clearly unsustainable and beyond the jurisdiction of the Appellate Tribunal.

5. In the result. I allow the original petition to this extent, namely, the direction in Ext. P-5 to grant an extension of the permit to the 3rd Respondent is set aside. I direct also that if any per-son applies for a fresh permit on the route Thiruvazhamkunnu Guruvayoor via Ale-nellore. Melattur, Perinthalmanna and Pattambi or an extension of the service on an existing permit, the R. T. A. must consider that application in accordance with law and uninfluenced by what was stated by the R. T. A. and the S. T. A. T. in Exts. P-3 and P-5 orders. There will be no order as to costs.


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