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Shantilal Shiv Kumar and ors. Vs. Transport Appellate Tribunal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles;Civil
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Petn. Nos. 1821 and 1822 of 1964 and Civil Spl. Appeal No. 11 of 1965
Judge
Reported inAIR1967Raj138
ActsEvidence Act, 1872 - Sections 31, 92 and 115; Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 57
AppellantShantilal Shiv Kumar and ors.
RespondentTransport Appellate Tribunal and ors.
Appellant Advocate M.M. Tewari, Adv.
Respondent Advocate J.P. Jain, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....in their permits and as the matter subsequently proceeded on the basis of the attitude that the writ petitioners themselves adopted, it should not be scrutinised by us in exercise of our extraordinary jurisdiction under article 226 of the constitution of india. 8 and for the reasons best known to them, they did not pursue the matter thereafter in appeal and got it dismissed. section 60, to our mind, clearly shows that it clothes the transport authorities with the power of taking action against an operator if he contravenes the conditions of his permit. 1a clearly mentions that the route of the writ petitioner messrs, shantilal shivkumar was jhalawar-chawli river-himatgarh-pirawa, while that of messrs patel ramanlal chunnilal was jhalawar-chawli-himatgarh-pirawa. 8. in adopting the..........20th november, 1964 by which the said resolution was upheld in appeal, has been challenged. these writ petitioners seek writ, order or direction against the transport authorities, i.e. respondents nos. 1, 2 and 5 to forbid them from interfering with the running of their stage carriages upto river chawli, which, according to them, is covered by their permits granted by the regional transport authority for jhulawar-pirawa route they also question the validity of the conditions imposed by the transport appellate tribunal while extending the area of their route by ordering that the writ petitioners shall ply their stage carriages both on the portion of the route added subsequently as also on their old route alternatively. 2. the special appeal before us is by messrs. jhalawar transport.....
Judgment:

Kan Singh, J.

1. We have three matters before us. The first two are writ petitions filed by Messrs. Shantilal Shivkumar and Messrs. Patel Ramanlal Chunnilal respectively by which the validity of a resolution of the Regional Transport Authority, Kotah, dated 4th January, 1964 and the order of the Transport Appellate Tribunal Jaipur dated 20th November, 1964 by which the said resolution was upheld in appeal, has been challenged. These writ petitioners seek writ, order or direction against the Transport Authorities, i.e. respondents Nos. 1, 2 and 5 to forbid them from interfering with the running of their stage carriages upto river Chawli, which, according to them, is covered by their permits granted by the Regional Transport Authority for Jhulawar-Pirawa route They also question the validity of the conditions imposed by the transport Appellate Tribunal while extending the area of their route by ordering that the writ petitioners shall ply their stage carriages both on the portion of the route added subsequently as also on their old route alternatively.

2. The Special Appeal before us is by Messrs. Jhalawar Transport Service Ltd. and is directed against an order of a learned Single Judge of this Court dated 22nd February. 1965 by which the learned Judge dismissed its writ petition by which it sought to impugn the legality of the order of the Transport Appellate Tribunal dated 20th November, 1964 granting extension to the route of the abovementioned writ petitioners. As the three matters arise out of a common order of the Transport Appellate Tribunal, they can conveniently be disposed of together.

3. A short history of the matter may be given here for understanding the points in controversy.

4. The writ petitioners before us were plying their stage carriages on Jhalawar Pirawa route in Chawli-Himmatgarh since the year 1958. This was done at the inception on the basis of the temporary permits granted by the Regional Transport Authority from time to time. As the portion of the route between Chawli and Himmatgarh was rendered unusable during the rainy season, the writ petitioners used to ply their buses during the rainy season over a diversion from Chawli river to Soyat and Daulatpura from where they would be coming on their original route. Eventually, on applications by the writ petitioner under Section 57 of the Motor Vehicles Act, non-temporary permits were granted to them sometime in 1961. Ex. P. 1 was the permit granted to Messrs. Patel Raman Lal Chunni Lal and Ex. P. I/A was the one granted to Messrs Shantilal Shivkumar.

In Ex. P. 1 the route mentioned is Jhalawar-Chawli--Himmatgarh-Pirawa and in the other permit the route mentioned is Jhalawary Chawli-river-Himmatgarh-Pirawa. It appears that Messrs. Sharma Transport Service Respondent No. 3, which was formerly plying its bus on Chechat to Raipur route, was given an extension in its permit from Raipur to Chawli river, This led to some trouble between the writ petitioners before us who were already plying over this route and respondent No. 3 which came to have its permit on this route subsequently. Respondent No. 3 felt that the writ petitioners were not authorised to ply their buses upto Chawli river and that they were doing so without the authority of a permit for the same. It therefore, lodged a complaint with the Regional Transport Authority, Kotah, for taking action against the writ petitioners.

The Regional Transport Authority took up the matter and issued a notice dated 12th December, 1963 (Ex. P. 6 on the record) to the petitioners calling upon them to show cause why action be not taken against them on: the basis of the complaint filed by respondent No. 3 and they were also informed that the matter would be considered by the Regional Transport Authority in its meeting to be held at the Circuit House, Kotah, on 4th January, 1904. The writ petitioners submitted a reply to this show cause notice which is Ex. P. 7, on the record, wherein they took the position that river Chawli is included in their route and was only one furlong from the bifurcation point from where they would be going towards Himmatgarh. They also submitted that they were going upto river Chawli for public convenience as the bus stand was existing there for the last several years and that they had not contravened the conditions of the permits.

This matter was considered by the Regional Transport Authority in its meeting on 4th January, 1964 and it took a decision which is embodied in its resolution No. 56 (Item No. 82) dated 4th January, 1964, As considerable argument has centred round the implication of this resolution, we propose to reproduce the same for ready reference. It runs as under:

'Complaint by Shyamsunder Sharma against Shri Shantilal Shivkumar of Jhalawar and Ramanlal Chunnilal,

Application of Shri Shyamsunder Sharma dated 20-5-63 against Shri' Shanti Lal Shivkumar of Jhalawar and Ramanlal Chunnilal of Ramganjmandi for plying their buses on Jhalawar-Chawli Via Himmatgarh-Pirawa route and for cancelling their permits as they are plying buses in contravention of the, conditions of the permit. The applicant-complainant and the operators are present. They have been heard. It was found on admission of the operators themselves that they had been plying upto Chawli river and that the same is not covered by their permit. Their contention is only that they should be allowed to run upto Chawli for the convenience of the public at large. This does not allow them to run without permit. They have been asked not to run upto Chawli river without having first permitted to do so and they have agreed to abide by it and they were informed of it also in writing. As for plying upto Chawli river unauthorisedly so far, if a reply has already been received to the show-cause notice, that should be put up and if not received, it be go[ and put up in the next meeting But in the meanwhile the two operators Shri Shantilal and Shri Ramanlal should refrain from plying upto Chawli river unless it is included in the permit Announced.'

It is clear from this resolution that while, on the one hand, the Regional Transport Authority directed the writ petitioners not to ply their buses up to Chawli river, unless they got the same included in their permit, it still kept the matter pending and observed that if a reply has already been received to the show-cause notice then the same should be put up and if it had not been received, then a reply be obtained and the same be put up at the next meeting of the Regional Transport Authority. Against this order of the Regional Transport Authority, the writ petitioners went in appeal to the Transport Appellate Tribunal and they prayed for a stay order for not giving effect to the aforesaid resolution of the Regional Transport Authority pending the disposal of the appeal The Slate Transport Authority granted a stay order to the writ petitioners, but subsequently, on an objection by the respondents in the case the Transport Appellate Tribunal vacated the stay order.

The writ petitioners then did not pursue their appeal and withdrew the same with the result that it was dismissed. The writ petitioners also applied before the Regional Transport Authority for including Chawli river in their permits. At the same time, it appears that while the application about the inclusion of the Chawli river in the permits of the writ petitioners was pending, the Regional Transport Authority considered the question of fixing some timings for the running of the buses on this route and on 1st February, 1964 by its resolution No. 13 (Item No. 17), it decided with the agreement of the parlies before it that Messrs Ramanlal Chunnilal should reach Chawli river at 1.30 P.M. and depart from there at 1.40 P.M. For respondent No. 3, it observed that it would depart from Chawli river at 2 P.M.

This resolution of the Regional Transport Authority was challenged before the State Transport Authority by respondent No. 3 and the State Transport Authority accepted the revision and set aside the resolution of the Regional Transport Authority granting timings to the writ petitioners upto river Chawli. The petitioners also applied, as already observed, for inclusion in the route of Chawli river, and for the exlension of the route to cover Dungargaon, Fatehgarh and Himmatgarh in their permit and eventually both the matters, namely, one for inclusion of the Chawli river route in the permit of the writ petitioners and the other for the extension of their route, came to be considered by the Regional Transport Authority and by its resolution No. 6 (Item Nos. 30 and 37) dated 11th September, 1964, it declined to accede to the request of the writ petilioners. A copy of that resolution is Ex. P. 15 on the record. Aggrieved by that resolution the writ petitioners went in appeal to the Transport Appellale Tribunal, which, by its order dated 20th November, 1964 (Ex. P. 16 on the record) accepted the appeal partially. While the Transport Appellate Tribunal declined to include Chawli river in the permits of the writ petitioners, it granted them the extension of the route as prayed for, but it superadded a condition that the writ petitioner's shall have to ply both over the newly added portion of their route as also the old route and they will have to divert from the main route at Kali Talai.

5. Mr. Jain appearing for the writ petitioners challenges the order of the RegionalTransport Aulhorily (Ex. P 1.5) as also that of the Transport Appellate Tribunal (Ex. P.16) and submits that the Transport Authorities have proceeded to deal with the matter on the basis of the earlier resolution ofthe Regional Transport Authority (Ex. P. 8),which, according to him, was based on' incorrect recital of facts. He also submits thatthough the resolution (Ex. P 8) was of aninterim nature, the Transport Authorities hadtaken the same to be a final one and thereafter on its basis they dealt with the matterThey did not care to see as to whether the facts were as mentioned in the resolution (Ex. P. 8) or otherwise. He points out that the main question that should have been examined by the Transport Authorities was whether the writ petitioners were plying their stage carriages upto river Chawli contrary to the conditions of the permits Ex. P. 1 or Ex. P. 1A.

Mr. Jain strenuously contends that these permits do not appear to have been even perused and if that were done, the mailer before the Regional Transport Authority or for that matter before Transport Appellate Tribunal would have assumed a wholly different complexion about the so-called admission of the writ petitioners as contained in Ex. P. 8. Shri. Jain submits that this admission being contrary to facts should not have been taken to be conclusive against the writ petitioners. According to him, as the matter, even according to the Regional Transport Authority's own observation, was required to be considered further, this should not have been taken to be the sole basis of the decision given against the writ petitioners.

6. The writ petitions have been opposed by the respondents. Mr. Tewari appearing for them submits that the resolution Ex. P.8 cannot, in the circumstances, be characterised as an interim one. According to him, the writ petitioners had clearly admitted before the Regional Transport Authority that they were not entitled to ply their buses upto Chawli river and this was confirmed by their own conduct when they themselves applied for the Inclusion of the Chawli river in their permits and as the matter subsequently proceeded on the basis of the attitude that the writ petitioners themselves adopted, it should not be scrutinised by us in exercise of our extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

He further points out that the writ petitioners themselves filed an appeal against the resolution Ex. P. 8 and for the reasons best known to them, they did not pursue the matter thereafter in appeal and got it dismissed. Mr. Tewari also invited our attention to the application filed by the writ petitioners for the extension of their existing permits and pointed out that even in that application they took the position that the Chawli river was not included in their permits.

7. We propose to devote consideration to the writ petitions first The controversy between the parties lies within a narrow compass and it had arisen on account of the complaint lodged by respondent No. 3 against the writ petitioners. In the circumstances, it was necessary for the Regional Transport Authority to see whether the case fell within the, mischief of Section 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act so as to warrant the taking of appropriate action against the writ petitioners. From a perusal of the relevant sections of the Motor Vehicles Act regulating the plying of stage carriages, it is clear that the legislature has emphasised the necessity of having a proper permit by an operator and then to ply the stage carriage according to the conditions of the permit.

We need not make any detailed reference to the various provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act. It is evident from the tenor of Section 42 of the Motor Vehicles Act that no owner of a transport vehicle (which includes stage carriages) shall use or permit the use of the vehicle in any public place save in accordance with the conditions of the permit granted or counter-signed by a Regional Transport Authority. Section 48 lays down as to what will be the conditions of a permit and inter alia states that no such permit shall be granted in respect of any route or area not specified in the application and in the permit the route has to be specified. Section 57 lays down the procedure for applying for and the granting of the permits. Section 58 deals with the duration and renewal of permits. Section 59 relates to the general conditions at tached to all permits.

Then, in this context, comes Section 60 which relates to cancellation and suspension of the permits under the circumstances mentioned in that section. This section provides that the Transport Authority which granted the permit may cancel or suspend it for such period as it thinks fit on the breach of any condition contained in the permit, or where the holder of the Vehicle uses or causes a vehicle to be. used in any manner not authorised by the permit. While under Section 57 the Regional Transport Authority gives a decision on an application after following the requisite procedure whether a permit should or should not be granted, the operator gets the right to ply his bus on the basis of the permit given to him as that alone can enable him to fulfil the requirements of Section 42 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

Section 60, to our mind, clearly shows that it clothes the Transport Authorities with the power of taking action against an operator if he contravenes the conditions of his permit. Thus, the question whether in a particular case an operator has or has not contravened the conditions of his permit, is the main question of importance. According to the frame of Section 60 it appears that the Transport Authority which has granted the permit, has been constituted the proper authority to see as to what are the conditions of a permit in a given ease and it has then to consider whether the operator has acted contrary to the conditions of his permit.

From this it follows that it is for the Regional Transport Authority to see whether a particular place is covered by the conditions of a permit which it has to consider. By far the most important document that can enable the Regional Transport Authority to determine whether a particular place is or is not covered by a permit is the permit itself. In this case, it does not appear that when the Regional Transport Authority came to consider the matter by its resolution Ex. P. 8 it had considered the permit al all.

As we have already observed, the permit Ex. P. 1A clearly mentions that the route of the writ petitioner Messrs, Shantilal Shivkumar was Jhalawar-Chawli river-Himatgarh-Pirawa, while that of Messrs Patel Ramanlal Chunnilal was Jhalawar-Chawli-Himatgarh-Pirawa. We arc not a little surprised that instead of doing the simple thing of seeing the permit itself, the Regional Transport Authority permitted itself to be guided by what was orally alleged before it.

We are again surprised to note that in the subsequent stages of the proceedings, the Transport Authorities have tried to pin down the writ petitioners to what they are alleged to have orally admitted before the Regional Transport Authority vide its resolution Ex. P. 8. In adopting the course which the Transport Authorities did, they have clearly overlooked two important legal principles, namely, one that oral admissions as to the contents of a document are not relevant unless and until the party proposing to prove them shows that he is entitled to give secondary evidence of the contents thereof according to law, and the other that admissions as such are not conclusive proof of the matters admitted, though they may operate as estoppel, if they fulfil the conditions relating to such estoppel. It is equally well settled that an admission in ignorance of the legal rights of a party creates no estoppel.

We express no opinion on the question whether the permits Ex P. 1 or Ex. P. 1A recited the route correctly of whether it was or was not in conformity with the relevant resolution of the Regional Transport Authority granting the aforesaid permits. From a perusal of the resolution Ex P. 8, we are left only to speculate as to what would have been the decision of the Regional Transport Authority if it were to see the permits for itself instead of being led away by what was orally submitted to it. A perusal of the subsequent resolutions shows that the Transport Authorities have been guided by and large by the resolution Ex. P 8 in dealing with the matter.

Thus, the obvious illegality which is writ large on the resolution Ex. P. 8 has been impressed on all the subsequent resolutions which take Ex. P. 8 as their basis. These are the order of the State Transport Authority dated 21st July, 1964 (Ex. P. 14), resolution of the Regional Transport Authority dated 11th September, 1964 (Ex. P. 15) and the order of the Transport Appellate Tribunal dated 20th November. 1964 (Ex P. 16) and all of them will have to be quashed, in the circumstances placed before us, we may make it clear that the quashing of the order of the State Transport Authority dated 21st July, 1964 will have nothing to do with the fixation of the timings on 1st February, 1964 and we quash the order Ex. P. 14 only in so far as it follows the resolution Ex. P 8.

8. We may now deal with the other question relating to the portion newly added to the route of the writ petitioners and the condition superadded by the Transport Appellate Tribunal about their being required to ply their buses alternatively on the supposed old route from Kali Talai and over the extended route. It is common ground between the parties that the writ petitioners only asked for the extension of the route in place of the portion from, where the writ petitioners used to leave the main road for Pirawa directly and it was not proper for the Transport Appellate Tribunal to give to the writ petitioners the additional route over and above the portion beyond the bifurcation on the main road when they asked for the extension in substitution of the portion over which they were plying after bifurcation point on the main road.

Mr. Jain submits that though the addition of this condition while extending the, route is illegal, the same should be separated from the other part of the resolution and the writ petitioners be allowed to ply over the newly added route. Mr. Tewari, on the other hand, submits while arguing special appeal that the illegality is not separable and the whole order stands vitiated. We have considered the matter and are satisfied that the Transport Appellate Tribunal was not justified in passing the order in the manner in which if did. It was not proper on its part to mix up the two matters. It should have dealt separately with the matter as to whether the writ petitioners should be granted extension or hot and when they dm not wish to ply over the portion, it was to be considered whether the extension should not be granted at all. In mixing up the question of timings, it has obviously committedan error and its order accordingly calls for interference.

9. In the result, we order as follows :

We allow both the writ petitions and hereby quash the resolutions of the Regional Transport Authority dated 4th January, 1964 (Ex. P. 8) and 11th September, 1964 (Ex. P 15). We also quash the order of the Transport Appellate Tribunal dated 20th November, 1964 (Ex. P. 16) and that of the State Transport Authority dated 21st July, 1964 (Ex. P. 14) in so far as it adopts Ex. P 8 as its basis for this order The result will be that the complaint of respondent No. 3 shall be deemed to be pending and it will be for the Regional Transport Authority to dispose it of according to law. The writ petitioners will be free to ply their buses according to the conditions of their permits so long as such conditions are not varied according to law The writ petitioners, however, will not be plying their stage carriages over the extended route.

10. We hereby accept the Special Appeal and quash the order of the Transport Appellate Tribunal dated 20th November, 1964 in so far as it grants extension of the route to the writ petitioners, that is, Messrs. Shantilal Shivkumar and Messrs. Patel Ramanlal Chunnilal. Their applications, in the circumstances, will he deemed to be pending before the Regional Transport Authority and it will be al liberty to dispose of them according to law.

11. In the circumstances of the case, we leave the parties to bear their own costs.


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