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C. Kunhikutty Vs. the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Ernakulam and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberO.P. No. 2276 of 1962
Judge
Reported inAIR1964Ker253
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 47(1)
AppellantC. Kunhikutty
RespondentThe State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Ernakulam and anr.
Appellant Advocate V.B. Krishna Iyer and; V. Sivaraman Nair, Advs.
Respondent Advocate Govt. Pleader, for Respondent No. 1,; V.K.K. Menon,; M.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredAnnamalais Bus Transport(Pt.) Ltd. v. Kunhippalu
Excerpt:
- - ' 2. appeals were taken by the unsuccessful applicants before the state transport appellate tribunal, the first respondent herein, and the state transport appellate tribunal by order produced along with this writ application, ext. it is only in cases where they deviatedfrom well-established principles or took into consideration extraneous matters or had bound themselves by rigid rules which have affected the exercise of the free discretion vested in them will thiscourt be entitled to interfere......to this route should be rejected.'2. appeals were taken by the unsuccessful applicants before the state transport appellate tribunal, the first respondent herein, and the state transport appellate tribunal by order produced along with this writ application, ext. p-3, cancelled the issue of the permit to the petitioner and granted the permit to the second respondent. it is this order ext. p-3, that is challenged in this writ application.3. various contentions were raised by counsel on behalf of the petitioner. firstly it is submitted that g. o. no. 1298 and the principles laid down therein have been relied on by the regional transport authority and the state transport appellate tribunal and that this should not have been done. support for this proposition was sought to be gained from the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

P. Govindan Nair, J.

1. By an order passed by the Regional Transport Authority, Kozhikode, at its meeting held on 30-10-1961, a permit was issued to the petitionerwho was applicant No. 2 on the route Murad-Azhiyur Sub Registry Office, via Badagara. The seventh applicant before the Regional Transport Authority is the second respondent to this writ application. The Regional Transport Authority allotted the highest marks among the applicants to applicant No. 7, but denied him a permit on the ground that

'Applicant No. 7 the Punchiri Motor Service has as many as 9 routes overlapping portions along this route and hence it is considered that in the interest of maintaining healthy competition his claims to this route should be rejected.'

2. Appeals were taken by the unsuccessful applicants before the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, the first respondent herein, and the State Transport Appellate Tribunal by order produced along with this writ application, Ext. P-3, cancelled the issue of the permit to the petitioner and granted the permit to the second respondent. It is this order Ext. P-3, that is challenged in this writ application.

3. Various contentions were raised by counsel on behalf of the petitioner. Firstly it is submitted that G. O. No. 1298 and the principles laid down therein have been relied on by the Regional Transport Authority and the State Transport Appellate Tribunal and that this should not have been done. Support for this proposition was sought to be gained from the observations in a Judgment of this Court in Writ Appeal No. 67 of 1962. That Judgment in Paragraph 2 commented on the cancellation of the above G.O. and the direction given by the Government in their D.O. letter dated 23-1-1959 to the District Collectors Kozhikode, Palghat and Can-nanore, who are ex-officio Chairmen of the respective Regional Transport Authorities. In the letter dated 23-1-1959 it is said:

'That the principles laid down In G. O. (ME) No. 1298 dated 28th April 1956 of the Madras Government which has already been cancelled may as far as possible be followed in deciding whether a stage carriage permit should be granted or refused.'

Regarding this procedure, this Court observed:

'Motor Vehicles Act is in operation throughout the State; and applications for stage carriage permits under it are being disposed of in every district of the State. The relevance and necessity of a uniform set of rules in the matter are alike throughout the State. It may be that, in the light of er-perience gained and rulings rendered, the Madras G.O. may be found to require amendment in certain respects. The Government of a welfare State is bound to do such things promptly and issue revised rules for the guidance of the authorities throughout the State. Cancelling the rules and requesting some only of the statutory authorities in the State to follow the principles therein cannot be a matter of satisfaction to any Government. We hope that the Government will take particular notice of the above facts and do the needful soon.'

I do not think that the petitioner is entitled to submit that the principles underlying the G.O, should not have been followed on the facts of this case. It is, no doubt, desirable, as has been mentioned by the Division Bench Ruling in the Judgment, the relevant part of which I have extracted above, that a uniform principle should be applied. But the petitioner had not challenged the application of the principles contained in that G.O. It is not as though the principles stated therein are irrelevant or extraneous to the questions arising for determination. It is stated in paragraph 4 of Ext. P-3:.

'It was not contended before me by any of the appellants that the R.T.A. acted without jurisdiction or was wrong to have followed the principles of the said G.O.'

4. In the light of the above, the petitioner cannot be heard to say that the State Transport Appellate Tribunal or for that matter the Regional Transport Authority erred in following the principles laid down in the G.O.

5. Even so, it was contended that the following of the principles in the above G.O. has fettered the discretion vested in the Transport Authorities. It was suggested that the petitioner's longer experience and his alleged experience in town bus service have not been given their due weight because the authorities felt themselves bound by the marking system adopted in the G.O. already referred to. Reference was made to the decision in Merchandise Transport Ltd. v. British Transport Commission, (1961) 3 WLR 1358. At p. 1368 of the above decision it is said:

'Where discretion lies it should not be hidebound by authority.'

And at p. 1377 of the above decision there is the following passage:

'a tribunal must not pursue consistency at the expense of the merits of individual cases. If the discretion is to be narrowed, that must be done by statute; the tribunal has no power to give its decisions the force of statute,'

6. It was also pointed out that para 2-A (4) of the very G.O. relied on has provided that

'In cases where this system works unfairly the Regional Transport Authority may ignore the marks obtained for reasons to be stated.'

7. It is clear from the facts of this case that both the Regional Transport Authority and the State Transport Appellate Tribunal found that applying the principles of the G.O. the second respondent is the most qualified person to whom the permit should be granted. The Regional Transport Authority, notwithstanding this, declined to grantthe permit to the second respondent for the reasonmentioned in the order which I have extracted abovethat 'it is considered that in the interest of maintaining healthy competition his claims to this routeshould be rejected.' I do not think this is a validground for ignoring the claims of a person who hadobtained nearly double the marks obtained by thepetitioner. The first respondent, the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, understood this remark asamounting to a finding that the second respondenthas monopoly on the route. So understanding theremarks may be right or wrong. Those facts alonecannot create monopoly and this Court had held inthe decision reported in Annamalais Bus Transport(Pt.) Ltd. v. Kunhippalu, 1961 Ker LJ 1135 thatmonopoly will be a ground for excluding an applicant only when the grant of a further permit tohim would be against public interests. Neitherthe State Transport Appellate Tribunal nor the Regional Transport Authority has come to any conclusion, nor is there material for reaching such aconclusion, that the grant of the permit to thesecond respondent would be against public interests,(8) The first respondent has considered the various aspects and the facilities available to the different applicants and has come to the conclusion thatthe second respondent is the person most deserving.I do not think that the approach of the first respondent is wrong. Neither do I think that he hasviolated any of the principles on which counsel forthe petitioner relied. I do not think that the petitioner is a person who can be said to have hadgreater experience with greater facilities whichshould over-ride other considerations. By and large,the assessment of the rival claims of tie differentapplicants must be left to the authorities underthe statute. It is only in cases where they deviatedfrom well-established principles or took into consideration extraneous matters or had bound themselves by rigid rules which have affected the exercise of the free discretion vested in them will thisCourt be entitled to interfere. I am unable to discern any such infirmity in Ext. P2 order or in theapproach made by the first respondent. I dismissthis writ application. There will be no order asto costs.


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