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Sumer Singh Vs. State Transport Appellate Tribunal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Petn. No. 1202 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1976Raj144
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 48(3) and 57(8)
AppellantSumer Singh
RespondentState Transport Appellate Tribunal and ors.
Appellant Advocate J.G. Chhangani, Adv.
Respondent Advocate A.K. Mathur, Addl. Govt. Adv. and; B.L. Maheshwari, Adv. for Respondent No. 3
DispositionPetition allowed
Cases ReferredThe Akal Transport Co. Pvt. Ltd. v. District Judge
Excerpt:
.....of section 48 of the act, authorising the regional transport authority to vary the condition of an existing permit, by altering the route or area covered by such permit, the legislature clearly intended expeditious action by the regional transport authority concerned in matters of variation, which may be brought about by deviation, curtailment or extension, of the route of the existing permit, so long as it related to short distances only not exceeding 24 kilometers in any case, and when the said regional transport authority came to the conclusion that such variation would serve public convenience- it is absolutely clear that the intention in making the aforesaid provision was that where the regional transport authority, on the representation of the travelling public or on its own motion..........in section 48 (3) (xxi) of the act is wide enough to include any variation of the route of an existing permit by deviation or extension or curtailment and the only restriction imposed on the power of the r. t. a. in this respect is that such variation should be limited to a distance of 24 kilometers only.5. i have considered the rival contentions. clause (xxi) of sub-section (3) of section 48 of the act runs as under:--'48 (3) (xxi) that the regional transport authority may, after giving notice of not less than one month,-- (a) vary the conditions of the permit; (b) attach to the permit further conditions: provided that the conditions specified in pursuance of clause (i) shall not be varied so as to alter the distance covered by the original route by more than 24 kilometers, and any.....
Judgment:
ORDER

D.P. Gupta, J.

1. There was a bus route from Borawar to Pushkar (hereinafter referred to as 'the route') about 90 Kilometers in length, which lay partly in Jodhpur region and partly in the Jaipur region of the State of Rajasthan. The operators of the route appear to have submitted an application for the extension of the route from Pushkar to Ajmer, but the State Transport Authority, Jaipur (hereinafter referred to as 'the S. T. A.') rejected the aforesaid application by its resolution dated February 5, 1973 and did not grant the desired extension. The petitioner No. 1 is the Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat, Baser in Nagaur district, while the petitioner No. 2 is the Sarpanch of Gram Panchayat, Kadel in Ajmer district. The two petitioners, acting on behalf of the inhabitants of the area and the Panchayats of which they were Sarpanchas some time later submitted representation to the S. T. A. that the route in question should be extended upto Ajmer so as to make available the inhabitants of the area a direct bus service for reaching Ajmer and thereby avoid unnecessary change of buses at Pushkar.

The S. T. A. then got a survey conducted in the matter and the survey report favoured the grant of an extension in the interest of the travelling public. The S. T. A. thereupon gave notices to the existing operators of the route under Section 48(3) (xxi) of the Motor Vehicles Act (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') to show cause as to why the route of their permits be not varied by inclusion of the portion of the route from Pushkar to Ajmer, which is only about 10 kilometers in length. Bachhraj Singh, respondent No. 3, who is an existing operator of Makrana-Ajmer route though a different via, objected to the grant of extension of the route upto Ajmer. It may be mentioned here that Makrana-Ajmer route over-laps the route from Makrtna to Bhadasia and thereafter it takes a turn and passes over a different course via Harsor for reaching Ajmer. The S. T. A. did not agree with the contentions raised on behalf of the objector, Bachhraj Singh and held that the extension of the route upto Ajmer would serve public interest, as it would remove the hardship of the passengers going from different places on the route to Ajmer. Thus, in view of the persistent demand of the inhabitants of the area, the route was extended upto Ajmer by the resolution of the S. T. A. dated August 30, 1973.

Bachhraj Singh filed an appeal before the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Rajasthan, Jaipur (hereinafter briefly referred to as 'the S. T. A. T.) against the aforesaid resolution of the S. T. A. dated August 30, 1973. Initially the petitioners were not made parties to the appeal before the S. T. A. T., but on their application, the S. T. A. T. directed the appellant Bachhraj Singh by its order dated November 14, 1973, to add the petitioners as parties to the appeal, representing the Gram Panchayats Baser and Kadel. The petitioners were accordingly added as parties to the appeal and after hearing all the parties concerned, the S. T. A. T. allowed the appeal by its order dated December 10, 1973, on the sole ground that the extension granted by the S. T. A. under Section 48 (3) (xxi) of the Act was without jurisdiction, as a variation of the route of a permit by changing one of the terminii thereof could be directed only under Section 57 (8) of the Act and not under Section 48 (3) (xxi) of the Act. According to the S. T. A. T., under Section 48 (3) (xxi) of the Act only a diversion of the route between the two terminii fixed for the original route could be permitted and an extension beyond any one of the two terminii was outside the scope of the provisions of Section 48 (3) (xxi) of the Act.

2. The two petitioners have challenged the aforesaid order of the S. T. A. T. dated December 10, 1973, by means of the present writ petition and it is urged by Mr. Chhangani on their behalf that the view regarding the relevant provisions of the Act taken by the S. T. A. T. was apparently erroneous, as there was no such limitation contained in Section 48 (3) (xxi) of the Act that an extension beyond any one of the two terminii could not be ordered under the said provision.

3. Mr. Maheshwari, appearing for the respondent Bachhraj Singh, has raised a preliminary objection that the petitioners are Sarpanchas of the village Panchayats and they have no personal interest in the subject-matter of the writ petition and as such a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution is not maintainable on their behalf. Some decisions were cited by the learned counsel in support of his contention that the existence of a legal right is the foundation for the exercise of jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution and that ordinarily a petitioner must be able to show a subsisting personal right and its infringement, in order to maintain a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. It is not necessary in the present case to go into the larger question as to whether the existence of a subsisting personal right or interest is necessary for maintaining a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. It is not denied that it was at the instance of the two petitioners that the S. T. A. issued notices under Section 48 (3) (xxi) of the Act to the existing operators of the route for varying the conditions of their permits by inclusion of the Pushkar to Ajmer portion in the route of their permits. It is also on record that the S. T. A. allowed the aforesaid extension in view of the persistent demands of the inhabitants of the village situated on the route and included in the Gram Panchayats represented by the petitioners.

It is further on record that on the application of the petitioners, the S. T. A. T. held that the petitioners had sufficient interest in the matter of variation of the route and directed the respondent Bachhraj Singh to make the petitioners parties to the appeal before that Tribunal. The respondent No. 3 complied with this direction and the amended memo of appeal (Annexure P/15) shows that the petitioners were added as respondents Nos. 7 and 8 to the appeal filed by the respondent Bachhraj Singh before the S. T. A. T. Thus the petitioners were parties to the proceedings before the lower authorities, leading to the passing of the order of the S. T. A. T. dated December 10, 1973. There is no doubt that existence of a subsisting legal right in the petitioner is the foundation for the exercise of jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution and such legal right which could be thus enforced, should ordinarily be of the petitioner himself, but in some cases this rule can be relaxed or modified, if exigencies of the case so require. In the peculiar circumstances of the present case, I am inclined to entertain the writ petition filed by the two petitioners, although they have no personal or individual right to enforce.

4. On the merits Mr. Maheshwari supported the order passed by the S. T. A. T. and placed reliance upon the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in The Akal Transport Co. Pvt. Ltd. v. District Judge, Ludhiana, AIR 1973 Punj and Har 338, which was the very basis of the decision of the S. T. A. T. On the other hand, Mr. Chhangani argued that the language employed in Section 48 (3) (xxi) of the Act is wide enough to include any variation of the route of an existing permit by deviation or extension or curtailment and the only restriction imposed on the power of the R. T. A. in this respect is that such variation should be limited to a distance of 24 Kilometers only.

5. I have considered the rival contentions. Clause (xxi) of Sub-section (3) of Section 48 of the Act runs as under:--

'48 (3) (xxi) that the Regional Transport Authority may, after giving notice of not less than one month,--

(A) vary the conditions of the permit;

(b) attach to the permit further conditions: Provided that the conditions specified in pursuance of Clause (i) shall not be varied so as to alter the distance covered by the original route by more than 24 Kilometers, and any variation within such limits shall be made only after the Regional Transport Authority is satisfied that such variation will serve the public convenience and that it is not expedient to grant a separate permit in respect of the original route as so varied or any part thereof;'

6. This clause authorises the Regional Transport Authority concerned to vary the conditions of the existing permits, after giving notice of not less than one month to the permit-holders concerned. The proviso to this clause has been newly added by Act No. 36 of 1969 and it has placed two restrictions on the power of the Regional Transport Authority in the matter of grant of variation of the condition of the permit relating to the route or area of the permit, as specified under Clause (i) of Sub-section (3) of Section 48 of the Act. One of the restrictions, which have been placed by the aforesaid proviso is to the effect that the distance traversed by the altered route, after such variation, should not be 24 kilometers more or less than the distance covered by the original route. In other words, the Regional Transport Authority is authorised to alter the distance covered by the original route to the extent of 24 kilometers only, under the aforesaid proviso. The other condition imposed by the aforesaid proviso is that while granting a variation, under the abovementioned clause, the Regional Transport Authority must be satisfied that such variation would serve public convenience and further that it would not be expedient to grant a separate permit for the route so varied or any part thereof.

In my view, the ward 'vary' employed in the aforesaid clause has a wide connotation and it embraces within its ambit not only deviation from a defined path between two given terminii but it also embodies a modification or alteration of the original route by extension or curtailment thereof at either or both the terminii. Deviation or diversion is one of the modes by which an existing route can be altered or varied but there can be other modes by which variations could be brought about in an existing route. The meaning assigned to the word 'vary' in Webster's Third New International Dictionary is to bring about difference in, to make a minor or partial change in, deviate, depart etc. In the proviso to Clause (xxi) of Sub-section (3) of Section 48 of the Act there is nothing to indicate that the condition with regard to area or route could only be varied within the specified terminii. As I have already observed above, the only restriction in this respect is that the distance covered by the altered route should not be different from the distance covered by the original route by more than 24 kilometers.

In this view of the matter, it would be difficult to uphold the decision of the S. T. A. T. that under the proviso to Section 48 (3) (xxi) only a deviation of the original route between the two terminii fixed for the original route could be allowed and not an extension beyond any one of the two terminii of the route. There is no reason to import any such restriction in the aforesaid provisions, apart from those which have been specifically provided therein. In my opinion, it would make no difference if the original route is extended beyond one terminus or it is curtailed at either end or the road traversed by the original route is altered so as to bring about a deviation thereof, so long as the change brought about by such variation in either manner does not exceed 24 kilometers, which is the permissible limit under the proviso to Section 48 (3) (xxi) of the Act, and the Regional Transport Authority concerned is satisfied that such variation would serve public convenience.

7. The argument of Mr. Maheshwari was that a provision for variation of the route by extension thereof has been made under Sub-section (8) of Section 57 of the Act and that if the Regional Transport Authority was allowed to alter the existing route of a permit by inclusion of a new route under the provisions of Section 48 (3) (xxi) then the two provisions would be overlapping. The reasons as to why the new proviso was inserted to Section 48 (3) (xxi) are quite obvious. Under Sub-section (8) of Section 57 of the Act an application submitted for varying the route of an existing permit, by inclusion of a new route or area therein has to be treated as an application for the grant of a new permit and in that case the lengthy procedure prescribed in Sub-sections (3) to (7) of Section 57 of the Act has to be followed, which requires considerable time to comply with. The other important consideration appears to be that an application under Sub-section (8) of Section 57 of the Act for an extension of the route of an existing permit could be submitted only by an existing permit-holder and the Regional Transport Authority could not bring about the desired alteration of its own even if public convenience necessitated the same.

By making such a provision in Clause (xxi) of Sub-section (3) of Section 48 of the Act, authorising the Regional Transport Authority to vary the condition of an existing permit, by altering the route or area covered by such permit, the Legislature clearly intended expeditious action by the Regional Transport Authority concerned in matters of variation, which may be brought about by deviation, curtailment or extension, of the route of the existing permit, so long as it related to short distances only not exceeding 24 kilometers in any case, and when the said Regional Transport Authority came to the conclusion that such variation would serve public convenience- It is absolutely clear that the intention in making the aforesaid provision was that where the Regional Transport Authority, on the representation of the travelling public or on its own motion thought it expedient in public interest to extend the route of an existing permit, say by a short distance of 5 or 10 kilometers or curtail the same by a like distance or change the course of the route slightly, then the entire lengthy procedure prescribed in Section 57 of the Act need not be resorted to.

It was only to obviate the following of the lengthy procedure prescribed under Section 57 of the Act and the consequent delay, that the Legislature introduced the proviso to Clause (xxi) of Sub-section (3) of Section 48 of the Act by the Amending Act No. 56 of 1969. The intention of the Legislative in this respect is abundantly clear from the language of the aforesaid proviso. The explanatory note added to the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill, which resulted in the Amending Act No. 56 of 1969 also expressed the same view. In respect of Clause 21 of the Bill which introduced the proviso to Section 48 (3) (xxi) of the Act it has been stated in the explanatory note:--

'Unlike Sections 51 and 56 which relate to the grant of contract carriage and public carrier's permits, Section 48 does not authorise a Regional Transport Authority to vary or extend or curtail the route or area of a stage carriage permit. Since it may not be possible or desirable in certain cases, to open new routes, e.g., when services are required to be provided over a small stretch beyond the terminii of an existing route, it is expedient to treat any such extension as variation of the existing permit. The proposed amendment will facilitate this procedure. Care has been taken to ensure that variation is granted only to serve the public convenience and only for short distances.' (Emphasis given).

8. In Akal Transport Company's case AIR 1973 Punj and Har 338 the learned Judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court after quoting the definition of 'route' given in Sub-section (28-A) of Section 2 of the Act observed:--

'From this definition it is clear that if one of the two terminii of the route is to be changed it can be done under Section 57 (8) of the Act and not under Clause (xxi) of Section 48 (3). Clause (xxi) applies to the variation of the distance covered by the original route, that is, the termini: prescribed for the original route should remain the same or in other words this clause applies only to a diversion of a route between two terminii fixed for the original route and not for the extension thereof beyond one of the two terminii. If a route has to be extended beyond one of the two terminii, the application has to be made under Section 57 (8) and not under Clause (xxi) of Section 48 (3) of the Act.'

9. The definition of 'route' as specified in Sub-section (28-A) of Section 2 of the Act may also be reproduced here:--

'2 (28-A). 'Route' means a line of travel which specifies the highway which may be traversed by a motor vehicle between one terminus and another.'

10. With great respect to the learned Judges, who decided the Akal Transport Company's case, AIR 1973 Punj and Har 338 I am unable to infer as to how the aforesaid definition of 'route' leads to the conclusion that if one of the two terminii of the route is to be changed, then the same could be done only under Section 57 (8) of the Act and the same result could not be achieved, within the prescribed limitations under Section 48 (3) (xxi) of the Act. As I have endeavoured to point out above, although the provisions of Section 57 (8) and Clause (xxi) of Sub-section (3) of Section 48 of the Act may be over-lapping to a certain extent, yet the proviso to Clause (xxi) of Section 48 (3) has been clearly inserted by the Legislature for expeditious action where the Regional Transport Authority is required to act in the interest of public convenience and only for short distances to the extent of 24 kilometers. The obvious intention appears to be that for such variations for short distances the lengthy procedure prescribed in Section 57 may be dispensed with, if the Regional Transport Authority concerned was satisfied in the matter.

The word 'vary' occurs both in Clause (xxi) of Section 48 (3) as well as in Sub-section (8) of Section 57 and it is difficult to construe the same word employed in the aforesaid two provisions to imply two different meanings. Sub-section (8) of Section 57 provides not only for varying the conditions of a permit by inclusion of a new route or routes or a new area, but it also provides the procedure for altering the route covered by the existing permit, in the case of stage carriage permits with which we are concerned. Thus variation in the aforesaid provision comprises of not only the inclusion of a new route or area but also of alteration of an existing route, which may be brought about by curtailment thereof or by deviation.

11. For the reasons, which I have indicated above, with great respect, I am unable to agree with the view taken by their Lordships of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in The Akal Transport Company's case AIR 1973 Punj and Har 338 regarding the scope of the proviso to Section 48 (3) (xxi) of the Act. The provisions of Clause (xxi) of Section 48 (3) as well as Sub-section (8) of Section 57 of the Act should be harmoniously construed and it cannot be inferred from the language employed therein that Sub-section (8) of Section 57 excludes the operation of Clause (xxi) of Section 48 (3) of the Act, in respect of variation even by inclusion of a short distance upto the extent of 24 kilometers, when public convenience demands expeditious action on the part of the concerned Regional Transport Authority.

12. In view of the aforesaid discussion, I hold that the decision of the S. T. A. T. is apparently erroneous. In my opinion the S. T. A. was duly empowered under Clause (xxi) of Section 48 (3) of the Act to vary the route by inclusion of the portion from Pushker to Ajmer, which is a distance of about ten kilometers.

13. In the result the writ petition is allowed. The order passed by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Rajasthan. Jaipur dated December 10, 1973 is set aside. In the circumstances of the case, the parties are left to bear their own costs.


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