D.P. Gupta, J.
1. This writ petition deserves to be dismissed as the grounds sought to be raised therein already stand concluded by this Court and the Supreme Court.
2. The Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (hereinafter referred to as 'the Corporation') published a draft scheme for the nationalisation of Dun-garpur-Peeth route under Section 68-C of the Motor Vehicles Act (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'). The aforesaid draft scheme was published in the Rajasthan Gazette dated April 3, 1976 inviting objections in respect thereof from the concerned operators. The petitioner and several others raised objections. The Joint Legal Remembrancer No. II, Government of Rajasthan, who is empowered to hear the objections in respect of the draft schemes of nationalisation on behalf of the State Government, under the provisions of Sub-section (2) of Section 68-D of the Act, decided some of the objections styled as preliminary objections by his order dated September 25, 1976. The matter is yet to be heard and decided on merits by the aforesaid Joint Legal Remembrancer. The present writ petition has been filed in this Court challenging the order passed by the Joint Legal Remembrancer on September 25, 1976.
3. Mr. Munshi has raised a preliminary objection to the maintainability of this writ petition, namely that the order passed by the Joint Legal Remembrancer is an interlocutory order and his submission is that this Court should not entertain a writ petition against such an interlocutory order. As I have heard the learned counsel for the parties on merits, I consider it proper to dispose of the writ petition on merits rather than to reject the same on the aforesaid preliminary objection raised by Mr. Munshi.
4. Learned counsel for the petitioner pressed only two grounds before me out of the five preliminary objections, which appear to have been raised before the Joint Legal Remembrancer. The first contention raised by the learned counsel is that although the Joint Legal Remembrancer has agreed to issue summons to help the objectors in securing the attendance of their witnesses, yet he has held that he has no power to compel thewitnesses to attend and give evidence before him in the proceedings Under sub-sec. (2) of Section 68-D of the Act and in view of the aforesaid order of the Joint Legal Remembrancer, there would be no effective hearing in the matter. This contention, which is now sought to be raised again before this Court has already been rejected twice by their Lordships of the Supreme Court on earlier occasions. In Nehru Motor Transport Co-op. Society Ltd. v. The State of Rajasthan, AIR 1963 SC 1098 and in Capital Multipurpose Coop. Societies, Bhopal v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1967 SC 1815, their Lordships of the Supreme Court repelled similar contentions advanced before them that without the help of the coercive process to secure the attendance of a witness, there could be no effective hearing under Section 68-D of the Act. In the case of Nethru Motor Transport, (AIR 1963 SC 1098) their Lordships of the Supreme Court were pleased to observe as follows in this connection fat p. 1102),--
'As to the contention that the Rules do not provide for compelling the attendance of witnesses and all that the Legal Remembrancer can do is to summon witnesses who may or may not appear in answer to the summonses it is enough to say that the proceedings before the Legal Remembrancer though quasi-judicial are not exactly like proceedings in court. In proceedings of this kind, it may very well be concluded when a witness is summoned and does not appear, that he does not wish to give evidence, and that may be the reason why no provision is made in the Rules for any coercive process. We think in the circumstances of the hearing to be given by the Legal Remembrancer, it is enough if he takes evidence of the witnesses whom the objectors bring before him themselves and if he helps them to secure their attendance by issue of summonses. But the fact that the Rules do not provide for coercive processes does not mean in the special circumstances of the hearing before the Legal Remembrancer that there can be no proper hearing without such coercive processes.'
5. This question was again raised before their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Capital Multipurpose Co-operative Societies' case (AIR 1967 SC 1815) wherein it was observed that the authority hearing the objections under Section 68-D (2) of the Act was not bound to summon witnesses as it has no autho-rity to compel the attendance of witnesses if they did not obey the summonses. It was held by their Lordships that in the absence of such power all that the authority can do is to issue letters requesting persons to appear and it is open to those persons to appear in response to such a request or not to appear. The procedure in respect of hearing of evidence by the authority empowered to hear objections under Section 68-D (2) of the Act has been summed up by their Lordships as under (at p. 1821):--
'..... If the party concerned wishes toproduce any document or produce any witness, the authority may take the documentary evidence into consideration or take the evidence of the witness, if it considers such evidence relevant and necessary. But there is in the absence of any provision in the Act or the Rules, no power in the authority or the State Government to compel attendance of witnesses or to compel production of documents. This is of course not to say that if the authority wants any party before it to produce any document for satisfying itself whether the scheme is for the purposes mentioned in Section 68-C it cannot so ask; and if the party asked to produce documents does not do so, the authority would be entitled to draw such inferences as it might consider justified from the non-production of documents. But apart from this, there is no power conferred on the authority under the Act or the Madhya Pradesh Rules to compel production of documentary evidence or to summon any witness.'
6. Learned counsel referred to certain observations made by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Malik Ram v. State of Raiasihan, (AIR 1961 SC 1575) and urged that the authority empowered to hear the objections under Section 68-D (2) has the same powers regarding the recording of evidence as are enjoyed by a court of law. In my humble view, the observations of their Lordships in Malik Ram's case cannot be read as urged by the learned counsel for the petitioner but they have to be construed in the context in which such observations were made by their Lordships. In Malik Ram's case, the Legal Remembrancer had refused to examine any evidence at all while considering the objections under Section 68-D (2) of the Act. It was held by their Lordships of the Supreme Court that the hearing envisaged under Section 68-D (2) of the Act compre-hended the production of evidence both documentary as well as oral of the objectors as well as the State Transport Undertaking. It was observed by their Lordships that the opportunity to lead evidence should not be allowed to be misused by permitting the parties to produce any amount of evidence so as to prolong the proceedings inordinately, but the State Government or the Officer hearing the objections on its behalf has the power to control the giving and recording of evidence and in this context it was held that the concerned authority has such powers as were exercised by any court. Thus the aforestaid observations related merely to the controlling of the proceedings by the State Government or the authorised officer. The crux of the matter is that the objector should be given a reasonable opportunity to produce his evidence, both documentary as well as oral, but it must not be forgotten that the State Government or the officer hearing the objections on its behalf under Section 68-D (2) is only exercising quasi-judicial functions and is not exercising the powers of a court of law in the matter of securing attendance of witnesses, either for producing documents or for giving evidence. The observations made in Malik Ram's case in this connection have been explained by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Capital Multipurpose Co-operative Society's case (AIR 1967 SC 1815) and it has been observed that Malik Ram's case only decided,--
'..... that if any party desired to produce evidence, whether documentary or oral, the authority should take that evidence, subject to its right to consider whether the evidence was relevant or not and to reject such evidence as it considered irrelevant. It was also pointed out in that case that the authority would have full power to control the proceedings and a party would not be entitled to prolong them by producing irrelevant or unnecessary evidence.'
7. It may be pointed out that the provisions of Sub-section (2) of Section 68-D only empowered the State Government or the Officer authorised by it to decide the matter after giving an opportunity to the objector or his representative and the representatives of the State Transport Undertaking to be heard in the matter. Even the Rules also do not authorise the State Government or the authorised Officer to compel the attendance of witnesses. The two decisions of the SupremeCourt referred to above have clinched the matter finally and any further argument, in my view, does not survive in this respect.
8. The second contention raised by learned counsel is that a draft scheme of nationalisation under Section 68-C of the Act could be framed by the State Transport Undertaking in respect of an existing route and not for a portion of an existing route. This question has also been decided and stands concluded by the earlier decisions of this Court, wherein it has been held that a draft scheme for nationalisation can be proposed under Section 68-C of the Act by State Transport Undertaking in respect of a new route. A portion of an existing route can be a new route within the definition of the term 'route' contained in Sub-section (28-A) of Section 2 of the Act, A route as defined in the Act means a line of travel which specifies the highway that may be traversed by a motor vehicle between one terminus and the other and there can be no doubt that Dungarpur-Peeth is such a route and a draft scheme of nationalisation could have been proposed under Section 68-C of the Act by the Corporation in respect of Dungarpur-Peeth route. There is no requirement in law that the route in respect of which a draft scheme of nationalisation is proposed must be an existing route, prior to the publication of the draft scheme. The question came up for consideration before a Division Bench of this Court in Bam Sahai Somani v. State of Rajasthan (Special Appeal No. 19 of 1974 decided on December 10, 1974) (Raj) wherein it was held that there is no justification for the argument that the scheme pre-pared under Section 68-C of the Act should relate only to an existing route or routes. The question was also decided by another Bench of this Court in Shanker Lal Khamesara v. State of Rajasthan (Civil Special Appeal No. 177 of 1973 decided on December 14, 1973) (Raj) where a similar contention was repelled by a Division Bench of this Court, of which I was a member. The learned counsel for the petitioner also informed that an appeal preferred before their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Ram Sahai's case was dismissed and as such; this question also stands concluded.
9. No other point was argued by the learned counsel. The writ petition is consequently dismissed.