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Sugan Chand Vs. the Transport Appellate Tribunal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Special Appeal No. 74 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1971Raj186; 1970(3)WLN511
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Rajasthan Motor Vehicles Rules, 1951 - Rule 78
AppellantSugan Chand
RespondentThe Transport Appellate Tribunal and ors.
Appellant Advocate D.P. Gupta, Adv.
Respondent Advocate J.P. Jain, Adv. for Respondent No. 3
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredGullapalli Nageswara Rao v. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation.
Excerpt:
.....the votes of the members.;the act and the rules thus do not envisage collective deliberation and thinking an contemplated by the learned single judge in motters which can be decided by circulation under rule 78 of the rules. - - the secretary thereafter prepared a supplementary note on 4-2-67. on the supplementary note shri tripathi and shri mathur, superintending engineer, recommended the grant of permit to the appellant. the learned judge further observed, (2) that 'there is, however, nothing to show on record that the chairman had considered the supplementary note as well; this clearly implied that she felt aggrieved by the priority given to the appellant and not with the method of circulation by which the matter was decided. (2) no man shall be condemned unheard. on an examination..........the members were just counted and the chairman recorded the decision as a majority decision. the learned judge further observed, (2) that 'there is, however, nothing to show on record that the chairman had considered the supplementary note as well; and that (3) 'there is no such decision of the chairman under rule 81 (c) of the rules ordering for deciding this matter by circulation.' in this view of the resolution of the regional transport authority, the learned single judge refused to interfere with the order of the transport appellate tribunal and dismissed the writ application.4. the appellant has filed the present appeal.5. we have heard mr. d. p. gupta for the appellant and mr. j. p. jain for the respondent no. 3.6. the appellant's first contention is that the learned single judge.....
Judgment:

Chhangani, J.

1. This is an appeal by Suganchand against the order of a learned Single Judge dated 28-8-1969 dismissing the appellant's writ petition andmaintaining the order of the Transport Appellate Tribunal dated 3-5-1969 by which it cancelled the permit granted to the appellant and remanded the case for deciding the application afresh along with other applications.

2. The material facts are these--The respondent No. 3 Mst. Pritam Kaur was once one of the existing bus operators on Bayana-Bhusavar via Weir route. The permit granted to her was not renewed as she had no bus of the requisite model and thus there was one vacancy for the issue of a permit. The Regional Transport Authority received applications for the grant of permit for this vacancy. The names of the applicants and the dates of the publications of their applications are given below:--

S.No.

Name ofapplicant

Date ofpub.

1.

Subhash Chand Mittal s/o RamDayal Bhusavar

31-3-68

2.

Smt. Pritam Kaur Devi w/o Late Sh. RameshSwamiBhusavar

-Do.

3.

Ramanand s/o Sh.Moolohand, Weir

-Do.

4.

Smt. Narangi Devi w/o. B. L. Sharma,Jalebi Ohowk, Post Office, Jaipur

Notpublished.

5.

Sh. Sugan Chand Saraf s/o Sh. BishanLal, Bhusawar

29-9-66

None filed representations against any of the above applications which were published. On 7-11-66 the appellant submitted an application stating that his application for permit had been published on 19-9-66, that he had a ready bus and praying that as no representation had been received against his application, he may be granted a permit by circulation. This application was being dealt with In the office. In the meanwhile, on 3-12-66, the appellant submitted yet another application stating that there was a vacancy on the route and that he had a ready bus R. J. D. 2322 and repeated his request for issue of a permit by circulation. On the earlier application after some office noting, there was an order for the issue of a circulation note under the signatures of the Secretary. On 17-12-66 the Secretary prepared a circulation note mentioning the pendency of the five applications and the non-publication of the application of Smt. Naraini Devi and seeking the opinions of the members of the Regional Transport Authority as to whom amongst the applicants the permit be granted. The copies of the circular note were sent separately to the members of the Regional Transport Authority. On one of such circular notes, Shri M. P. Tripathi. Member, made a remark to the following effect:--

'To be clarified if any one has ready vehicle.'

In consequence of Mr. Tripathi's remark, there was a Office report to the following effect-

'Amongst the aforesaid applicants. Shri Sugan Chand has a ready bus No.RJD 2322 of 1962 model as stated by him.'

On this report, there is an order of the Secretary dated 5-1-67 that it may be found out from others also whether they have ready buses. In pursuance of the Secretary's order, letters were issued on 7-1-67 to the various applicants and their replies were received. The respondent No. 3's reply is contained in letter dated 19-1-67 (Annexure 4). In this letter, it was stated-

'That the applicant as prepared to engage bus within 15 days of the grant of permit as she has already contracted with a party to purchase his bus, but the bus would be got transferred in the applicant's name when the permit is granted, Otherwise she is bound to suffer irreparable loss of taxes and the cost of the vehicle.'

On 20-1-67, respondent No. 3 submitted another reply in which she submitted the registration number of the bus No. R. J. X. 554 of 1963 model T. M. B. and further stated that the bus was lying idle with her. The Secretary thereafter prepared a supplementary note on 4-2-67. On the supplementary note Shri Tripathi and Shri Mathur, Superintending Engineer, recommended the grant of permit to the appellant. The Secretary observed that the appellant and the respondent No. 3 had already buses and that it was difficult to pick out one out of the two. The matter was put up before the Chairman on 24-2-67 and agreeing with the majority, he directed the grant of permit to the appellant. This was followed by a formal resolution directing the grant of permit to the appellant. The respondentNo. 3, feeling aggrieved by the resolution of the Regional Transport Authority, filed an appeal before the Transport Appellate Tribunal praying for the grant of a permit to her in place of the appellant. The Transport Appellate Tribunal, after hearing the parties, noted-

(1) that an earlier application of Mst. Naraini Devi was not published in the Rajasthan Gazette;

(2) that no reason was assigned why the application of Smt. Pritam Kaur and two others, which had been published earlier and against which no objections had been received, were not considered earlier by circulation but were considered along with the application of the appellant Sugan Chand; and

(3) that no reasons were given by the Regional Transport Authority as to why the appellant Suganchand was more suitable for the grant of a permit. After noticing these three reasons, the Transport Appellate Tribunal observed as follows- 'In the circumstances stated above, I am inclined to hold that the decision contained in the impugned orders is liable to be set aside.'

The Transport Appellate Tribunal, therefore, accepted the appeal, set aside the order of the Regional Transport Authority, Jaipur, and cancelled the permit granted to the appellant and sent the case back to the Regional Transport Authority for deciding afresh on merits the case after hearing the applicants for grant of permit in a regular meeting of the Regional Transport Authority, Jaipur.

3. Aggrieved by this order, the appellant filed a writ petition which came before a learned single Judge of this Court. The learned single Judge did not attach much value to the three reasons given by the Transport Appellate Tribunal. However, emphasising the direction in the Transport Appellate Tribunal's order for deciding the matter in a regular meeting, the learned single Judge inferred that the Transport Appellate Tribunal did not think that the Regional Transport Authority had acted properly in dealing with the matter by a circulation note. Proceeding to examine this aspect of the matter himself, the learned single Judge recorded a conclusion that there was non-observance, on the part of the Regional Transport Authority, of the principles of natural justice and the norms of the judicial procedure. In support of this conclusion, the learned single Judge observed, (1) that 'when a matter is required to be dealt with quasi-judicially it is expected that the members bring to bear their collective thinking on a certain proposal so that the outcome of their thinking may be the decision of the body as such......'and that 'collective deliberation is thevery essence of the judicial procedure.' He noticed that in the present case, the proposal travelled from the office to the Regional Transport Authority to each member separately and the opinions given by all the members were just counted and the Chairman recorded the decision as a majority decision. The learned Judge further observed, (2) that 'there is, however, nothing to show on record that the Chairman had considered the supplementary note as well; and that (3) 'there is no such decision of the Chairman under Rule 81 (c) of the Rules ordering for deciding this matter by circulation.' In this view of the resolution of the Regional Transport Authority, the learned single Judge refused to interfere with the order of the Transport Appellate Tribunal and dismissed the writ application.

4. The appellant has filed the present appeal.

5. We have heard Mr. D. P. Gupta for the appellant and Mr. J. P. Jain for the respondent No. 3.

6. The appellant's first contention is that the learned Single Judge was in error in recording a conclusion that the Transport Appellate Tribunal thought the procedure adopted by the Regional Transport Authority by getting the matter decided by circulation as improper. It was pointed out that the Transport Appellate Tribunal, in its order, mentioned three facts and felt inclined to set aside the Regional Transport Authority's order in view of these three facts. There is nothing to indicate that the Transport Appellate Tribunal applied its mind to the validity of a method of circulation adopted by the Regional Transport Authority.

7. In our opinion, there is considerable force in this contention. As it appears from the recital in the order of the Transport Appellate Tribunal the respondent No. 3 desired the grant of a permit to herself in place of the appellant. This clearly implied that she felt aggrieved by the priority given to the appellant and not with the method of circulation by which the matter was decided. Besides, there is nothing in the order of the Transport Appellate Tribunal to show that it applied its mind to the validity of the procedure adopted by the Regional Transport Authority. The mere casual direction for the future hearing at a regular meeting by itself cannot be considered sufficient to justify an inference that the Transport Appellate Tribunal considered the procedure adopted by the Regional Transport Authority as improper or opposed to the principles of natural justice.

8. After going through the order of the learned single Judge and the relevant provisions of the Act and the Rules.we are also of the opinion that there is no adequate justification for a conclusion that there was non-observance of the principles of natural justice and the judicial procedure. The rules of natural justice broadly speaking are two and they are generally stated in the following words:--

(1) No man shall be a judge in his own cause;

(2) no man shall be condemned unheard.

We are concerned here with the second rule. All that it means is that the person concerned should have a fair opportunity of making an adequate representation. In the absence of an express statutory requirement, natural justice does not imply any right to be heard in person or through lawyer. The requirements of natural justice may be dispensed with either by express words of a statute or by necessary implication and a departure from these rules may also be justified by necessity. In the absence of any statutory rules regarding the procedure to be observed by a tribunal the requirements of natural justice will depend on the nature of the enquiry. Where statutory rules have been framed laying down the procedure for the enquiry and they have been followed the question of violation of any rule of natural justice cannot arise unless it can be shown that these rules are ultra vires. For the Legislature will be deemed to have taken into consideration the fact whether or not the procedure prescribed provides a fair opportunity of making a representation which is sufficient to meet the requirements of natural justice having regard to the nature of the enquiry which the tribunal is called upon to make.

9. In the New Prakash Transport Co. Ltd. v. The New Suwarna Transport Co Ltd.. AIR 1957 SC 232 the Supreme Court observed:

'The question whether the rules of natural justice have been observed in a particular case must itself be judged in the light of the constitution of the statutory body which has to function in accordance with the rules laid down by the legislature and in that sense the rules themselves must vary.'

Similar observations were made in Nagendra Nath Bora v. Commissioner of Hills Division and Appeals. Assam. AIR 1958 SC 398:

'The rules of natural justice vary with the varying constitutions of statutory bodies and the rules prescribed by the Act under which they function. The question whether or not any rules of natural justice had been contravened should be decided not under any preconceived notions but in the light of the statutory rules and provisions. Where no such rules, which could be said to havebeen contravened by a tribunal, are brought to the notice of the Court, it is no ground for interference either under Article 226 or 227 simply because the tribunal had viewed the matter in a light which is not acceptable to the Court.'

The same view was reiterated in Gullapalli Nageswara Rao v. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation. AIR 1959 SC 308.

10. In the light of these observations, a consideration of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter to be referred to as the Act) and the Rajas-than Motor Vehicles Rules (hereinafter to be referred to as the Rules) is of great importance in the determination of the question about the observance of the principles of natural justice. Section 57 of the Act prescribes the procedure for the grant of permits. Sub-section (3) thereof requires the publication of an application so that representations against grant of the permit may be made by a prescribed date. In case a representation is made against the application it has to be disposed of at a public hearing. The section thus enables a person desiring a public hearing of the application to ensure such a hearing by filing a representation against the application. If one fails to file any representation he can claim no right of public hearing. Rule 78 of the Rules empowers the Regional Transport Authority or the State Transport Authority to decide all matters, for which no public hearing has been provided, by circulation without holding a meeting by the majority of the votes of the members. Sub-rule (d) thereof prescribes the mode of circulation and states that. 'The Secretary shall send to each Member of the Authority such particulars of the matter as may be reasonably necessary in order to enable the member to arrive at a decision and shall specify the date by which the votes of members are to be received in the office of the Authority. Upon receipt of the votes of members as aforesaid, the Secretary shall lay the papers before the Chairman who shall record the decision by endorsement on the form of application or other document as the case may be according to the votes received and the vote or votes cast by the Chairman.'

The Act and the Rules thus do not envisage collective deliberation and thinking as contemplated by the learned single Judge in matters which can be decided by circulation under Rule 78 of the Rules. The learned Judge himself expresses this view when he says that 'It is true, the rule, as it stands, is capable of taking in even a kind of circulation that has taken place in the present case.' It is significant that there was no challenge to the validity of Rule 78 of the Rules before the learned single Judge and hehimself has not held the rule to be invalid. The procedure of circulation adopted by the Regional Transport Authority being in accordance with Rule 78 of the Rules, it was hardly open to the learned single Judge to ignore the rule and to reach a conclusion that the procedure of circulation adopted by the Regional Transport Authority, even though being in accordance with the Rules was not a proper procedure being in disregard of the principles of natural justice and norms of judicial procedure.

In determining the correctness of the procedure, the provisions of the statute and the Rules relating to the constitution of the Administrative Tribunals and the exercise of powers are indeed very important and they cannot be brushed aside lightly. There are great differences between various kinds of cases in which the principles of natural justice are sought to be made applicable and, therefore, the guiding principles must vary and consequently, the observance of the procedure prescribed by the Act and the Rules should ordinarily be held to accord with the principles of natural justice. We are unable to agree with the learned Judge that in spite of Rule 78 of the Rules, the Regional Transport Authority was required to adopt a procedure so aa to ensure collective deliberation and thinking and exchange of views. In our opinion, the Regional Transport Authority adopted the proper procedure as prescribed by the Rules and its resolution cannot be vitiated, on what the learned single Judge has described as 'the absence of collective thinking and collective deliberation'.

11. Another ground relied upon by the learned single Judge in support of his conclusion is that there is no evidence to show that the supplementary circulation note was sent to the Chairman of the Regional Transport Authority. We are unable to agree with the learned single Judge in this behalf. Previously a circular note was sent to the members individually on 17-12-66. On some clarification sought by one Member further information was collected from the applicants and thereafter a supplementary circulation note was prepared. After the members recorded their opinions on the supplementary note, the matter was put up before the Chairman of the Regional Transport Authority and the Chairman, after consideration of the opinions recorded by the members, gave his decision agreeing with the majority. It will be hardly proper to presume that the Chairman gave his opinion without considering the supplementary circulation note.

12. The learned single Judge also emphasised the absence of any orders of the Chairman of the Regional Transport Authority in setting the matter decidedby the method of circulation. On an examination of the proceedings of the Regional Transport Authority, we are satisfied that the decision of the matter by circulation, had the authority and sanction of the Chairman of the Regional Transport Authority.

13. From the above discussions, it is clear that the resolution of the Regional Transport Authority did not stand vitiated on account of non-observance of the principles of natural justice and norms of judicial procedure and the learned single Judge was not justified in treating the resolution so vitiated in the exercise of extra-ordinary jurisdiction, specially when the Transport Appellate Tribunal did not record any such finding and we find it difficult to sustain the decision of the learned single Judge.

14. Next, it was contended that the learned Single Judge did not record any positive finding with regard to the three grounds relied upon by the Transport Appellate Tribunal for setting aside the decision of the Regional Transport Authority and, therefore, even though the grounds on which the learned Single Judge maintained the order of remand may not be sustainable still the decision of the Transport Appellate Tribunal calls for no interference on merits. We are unable to accept this contention. The various reasons given by the Transport Appellate Tribunal are not relevant and material and cannot justify the order of remand. (1) Omission on the part of the Regional Transport Authority to publish the application of Mst. Naraini Devi and to consider it simultaneously with the application of the respondent No. 3 can only give a cause of grievance to Mst. Naraini Devi and she having not felt aggrieved, it was not open to the respondent No. 3 to make a grievance out of it. (2) It is true that applications of the respondent No. 3 and two others were presented sometime before the presentation of the appellant's application. Their simultaneous disposal by the circulation method cannot vitiate the decision of the Regional Transport Authority. The respondent No. 3 and others did not take any steps to secure their disposal at any earlier stage. It was only the appellant who took steps for early disposal of all his applications and it was on his move that all these applications were considered simultaneously. Nobody can claim to suffer prejudice on this account. (3) There is no substance in the third ground relied upon by the Transport Appellate Tribunal. A mere perusal of the letters of the respondent No. 3 dated 19-1-67 and 20-1-67 (Annexures 4 & 5) reveal that the respondent No. 3 initially stated that she had contracted to purchase a vehicle and that she intended to purchase it after the grant of permit and that her subsequentstatement that her motor vehicle was lying idle, was not accurate. There was thus material on record on which the Regional Transport Authority could have adeauate justification for preferring the appellant to the respondent No. 3.

15. It may be pertinently pointed put that the appellant came forward with specific allegations in paragraph 8 of the writ application against respondent No. 3. These allegations were (1) that the petitioner was not the owner of vehicle No. RJX 554 (2) that the vehicle was registered in the name of M/s Sureshchand Isarchand holding a permit on Bayana-Dholpur route. (3) that M/s Sureshchand Isarchand got this vehicle replaced on Bavana-Dholpur route and the Regional Transport Authority, Jaipur had allowed the said application for replacement by circular note dated 17-12-66. and contended that the assertions of the respondent No. 3 that she was having the vehicle No. RJX-554 with her, which was lying idle and was available for plying immediately on the route, was entirely false to her knowledge.

16. In her reply, the respondent No. 3 did not deny the allegations about the vehicle being in the name of M/s Sureshchand Tarachand. She did not choose to reply the detailed allegations by observing that they were superfluous. She, however, came forward with a case that M/s. Sureshchand Tarachand decided to sell the vehicle to her and that the vehicle was permitted to ply on Bavana-Dholpur route, till the transfer of the registration certificate on the condition that M/s Sureshchand Tarachand shall give half of the total returns of the business and shall bear the cost of the business themselves. This shows that her assertion in her letter dated 20-1-67 that the bus was lying idle with her was positively false and was a deliberate misrepresentation.

17. We cannot help observing that the conduct of the respondent No. 3 has not been straightforward and that being so there is no justification for the cancellation of the permit of the appellant on any move made by her. The grant of the permit to the appellant having been made in accordance with the procedure prescribed and the conduct of the respondent No. 3 being such as not to warrant the cancellation of the permit on her move, the cancellation of the permit by the Transport Appellate Tribunal is wholly unwarranted and evidently erroneous and we have no alternative but to accept this appeal.

18. We, therefore, accept the appeal, set aside the decision of the learned Single Judge dated 28-8-69 and the order of the Transport Appellate Tribunal dated 3-5-69 and upheld the resolution of the Regional Transport Authority granting permit to the appellant. There will be no order as to costs.


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