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Nathulal and ors. Vs. Union of India (Uoi) and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Petn. Nos. 2400, 2446 and 2482 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1976Raj202; 1976(9)WLN238
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 68D(1), 68D(2) and 68D(3); Rajasthan State Transport Services (Development) Rules, 1965 - Rule 6(4); Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantNathulal and ors.
RespondentUnion of India (Uoi) and ors.
Appellant Advocate R.R. Vyas, Adv.
Respondent Advocate H.N. Calla, Deputy Govt. Adv.,; R.N. Munshi, Adv. for Raj. State Road Transport Corpn.
DispositionPetitions partly allowed
Cases ReferredSharma Roadways v. Sohanlal Soni
Excerpt:
.....in 'navjoyti'--held, provisions are complied.;(b) motor vehicles act, 1939 - section 68d--draft scheme not published in sindhi but published in hindi--held, validity of publication is not affected.;(c) rajasthan state road transport services (department) rules 1965 - rule 6 & constitution of india--article 226--objections--petitioner not filing objection to draft scheme of nationalisation--held, he is precluded from raising objection in writ petition.;(d) motor vehicles act, 1939 - section 68d-rta misconstruing order of the joint legal remembrancer--held, order of the rta suffers from apparent error.; the reginonal transport authority, udaipur misconstrued the aforesaid order and committed an obvious error in directing that the route of the permits of the petitioners would..........route (hereinafter referred to as 'the notified route) and portions thereof. the proposed draft scheme of nationalisation was published by the corporation vide its notification dated january 3, 1973 in the rajasthan gazette extraordinary dated january 6, 1973. by the aforesaid notification all persons affected by the proposed draft scheme of nationalisation were required to file objections, if any, before the secretary to the government of rajasthan in the transport department, within thirty days of the date of the publication of the aforesaid notification in the rajasthan gazette. it is the admitted case of the parties that none of the three petitioners filed any objections in accordance with the aforesaid notification, within thirty days of the publication of the draft scheme.....
Judgment:
ORDER

D.P. Gupta, J.

1. These three writ petitions arise out of similar facts and circumstances and similar questions of law are raised therein and as such I propose to dispose them of by a common order.

2. The petitioner in each one of the three writ petitions, was an existing operator, plying his vehicle on a non-temporary stage carriage permit on Asind-Deo-garh route in the State of Rajasthan. The State Transport Undertaking, known as Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (hereinafter called as 'the Corporation') published a proposed scheme of nationalisation under Section 68-C of the Motor Vehicles Act (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') in respect of Udaipur--Beawar via Kailashpuri, Delwara, Nath-dwara, Kankroli, Gomti Daver-Kamlighat Choraha-Kamlighat, Deogarh, Barar, Bhim and Jasakhera route (hereinafter referred to as 'the notified route) and portions thereof. The proposed draft scheme of nationalisation was published by the Corporation vide its notification dated January 3, 1973 in the Rajasthan Gazette Extraordinary dated January 6, 1973. By the aforesaid notification all persons affected by the proposed draft scheme of nationalisation were required to file objections, if any, before the Secretary to the Government of Rajasthan in the Transport Department, within thirty days of the date of the publication of the aforesaid notification in the Rajasthan Gazette. It is the admitted case of the parties that none of the three petitioners filed any objections in accordance with the aforesaid notification, within thirty days of the publication of the draft scheme of nationalisation in the Rajasthan Gazette or at any time even thereafter. The objections received in respect of the aforesaid draft scheme of nationalisation were thereafter considered by the Joint Legal Remembrancer No. 2, Government of Rajasthan, for and on behalf of the State Government, under Section 68-D (2) of the Act and the aforesaid proposed draft scheme of nationalisation was approved by him by order dated February 15, 1974. The approved scheme of nationalisation relating to the notified route was published in the Rajasthan Gazette dated February 16, 1974 under Section 68-D (3) of the Act. According to the aforesaid draft scheme and the approved scheme of nationalisation, the petitioners were to be excluded from plying their vehicles on the notified route or any portion thereof, as the scheme was one of total exclusion of private operators and it was provided therein that no person, whether plying his passenger vehicle on the whole or portion of the route specified in Clause (2) of the Scheme or overlapping whole or any portion of such route, would be allowed to ply his passenger transport vehicle on the whole or any portion of the route or overlapping whole or any portion thereof. In other words, only the Corporation would be entitled to ply its passenger transport vehicles on the notified route or portions thereof. The Regional Transport Authority, Udaipur (hereinafter referred to as 'the R.T.A.') in pursuance of the aforesaid approved scheme of nationalisation, intimated to the petitioners by its order dated August 3, 1974 that the route of the permits of the three petitioners would stand curtailed from Deogarh to Bhim, a portion 35 Kilometres long, on the ground that it overlapped the notified route.

3. The petitioners have challenged in this Court, by means of separate writ petitions, the aforesaid approved scheme of nationalisation relating to the notified route as well as the order passed by the R.T.A. curtailing the route of the petitioners' permits from Deogarh to Bhim, in pursuance of or in implementation of the approved scheme of nationalisation relating to the notified route. Learned counsel for the petitioners confined his submissions before me to two matters only.

4. The first submission made by the learned counsel was that the provisions of Section 68-D (1) of the Act were not complied with in their case as the petitioners did not receive any notice of the proposed scheme of nationalisation and thereby the aforesaid provisions of law as well as the principles of natural justice were violated. Section 68-C of the Act authorises the State Transport Undertaking to prepare a scheme of nationalisation in respect of any route or area and cause such scheme to be published in the Official Gazette and in such other manner as the State Government may direct. Sub-section (1) of Section 68-D provides that the proposed scheme of nationlisation prepared by the State Transport Undertaking shall be published in the Official Gazette of a State and in not less than one newspaper in regional language circulating in the area or route which is proposed to be covered by such scheme. It is further provided therein that any person already providing transport facilities by any means along or near the area or route proposed to be covered by the scheme of nationalisation or any association of such persons or local authorities or police authorities, within whose jurisdiction any part of the area or route proposed to be covered by the draft scheme of nationalisation lies, may file objections in respect of the proposed scheme of nationalisation before the State Government within thirty days of the publication of the draft scheme in the official Gazette. Rule 5 of the Rajasthan State Road Transport Services (Development) Rules, 1965 (hereinafter called 'the Rules') makes provision for the filing of objections by any person authorised under Section 68-D (1) of the Act, within thirty days of the date of publication of the draft scheme in the official Gazette of the State. It has also been provided that memorandum of objections shall be addressed to the Secretary to the Government of Rajasthan in the Transport Department and that a copy thereof shall be sent by the objector to the General Manager of the Corporation. Sub-section (2) of Section 68-D of the Act makes provision for the consideration of the objections submitted in the aforesaid manner, by the State Government, after giving an opportunity of hearing to the objector or his representative and the representatives of the State Transport Undertaking and to approve or modify the scheme. Rule 6 of the Rules provides the procedure to be followed in respect of the hearing of objections, including the giving of notices to the persons concerned regarding the date fixed for hearing. Clause (4) of Rule 6 makes it clear that no objector shall be entitled to be heard by the State Government under Section 68-D (2) of the Act unless he has preferred objections in respect of the proposed scheme of nationalisation in accordance with the provisions of Rule 5. In the cases before me, the petitioners having failed to file any objections at all, they could not complain that they were not afforded an opportunity of hearing by the State Government. So far as the question of preferring the objections is concerned, the only requirement of Sub-section (1) of Section 68-D is that the proposed draft scheme of nationalisation should be published in the official Gazette and in not less than one newspaper in the regional language, circulating in the area or route which is proposed to be covered by such draft scheme. In its reply the respondent Corporation has stated that the proposed scheme of nationalisation was published in the Rajasthan Gazette on January 6, 1973 under Section 68-C of the Act and objections were invited in respect thereof within thirty days of the date of publication of the proposed scheme of nationalisation in the official Gazette. It has been further stated on behalf of the Corporation that the proposed scheme of nationalisation was also published in the Hindi daily newspaper 'Navjyoti' dated January 6, 1973. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners was that the publication of the proposed scheme of nationalisation in the newspaper 'Navjyoti' was not sufficient compliance with the provisions of Section 68-D (1) of the Act, as the said newspaper did not have wide circulation in village Asind, in which the petitioners reside. It is common knowledge that the Hindi daily newspaper 'Navjyoti' is published from Jaipur in Rajasthan and has wide circulation in this State. It has not been denied by the petitioners that the aforesaid Hindi daily newspaper has wide circulation in Rajasthan and in the area situated around or near the route running from Udaipur to Beawar. What has been argued by the learned counsel for the petitioners is only that the said newspaper did not have a wide circulation in the village Asind, of which the petitioners are resident. Merely on that basis alone, it cannot be held that the newspaper 'Navjyoti' does not have wide circulation in towns and villages situated around or near the route proposed to be covered by the draft scheme of nationalisation, namely Udai-pur-Beawar route. What has to be considered in this connection is the question of wide circulation in the vast majority of towns and villages, which are situated around the route or portion thereof and mere lack of circulation in one village or a few villages is of no consequence in the matter. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners, in these circumstances, cannot be accepted that the principles of natural justice were violated or the provisions of Section 68-D (1) of the Act were ignored in these cases, inasmuch as the Corporation fully complied with the specific provisions relating to the publication of the draft scheme of nationalisation, by publishing the same in the official Gazette and in the daily Hindi newspaper 'Navjyoti', having wide circulation in the places situated near the route, which was proposed to be covered by the draft scheme of nationalisation. In the writ petition of Kishan Chandra, the petitioner's submission was that he only knew Sindhi and was not conversant with the Hindi language. The absence of knowledge of the regional language by one operator could have no effect on the validity of the publication of the draft scheme of nationalisation, as there is no requirement of law that the draft scheme should be published in the language which may be known to each one of the individual operators, who may be affected by the said draft scheme. What is required by law is that the scheme should be published in the official Gazette and in one newspaper published in the regional language and having wide circulation in the area or near the route which is proposed to be covered by the draft scheme of nationalistion. There can be no doubt that Hindi is the principal regional language of the area traversed by the Udaipur-Beawar route.

5. It is difficult to accept that the petitioners, who were providing transport facilities on Asind-Deogarh route for quite a long time and were plying their vehicles on non-temporary stage carriage permits on the aforesaid route remained unaware of the publication of the proposed draft scheme of nationalisation. A similar objection relating to the publication of a scheme of nationalisation was taken before their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Sobhraj Odharmal v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1963 SC 640 and their Lordships were pleased to observe as under in this connection:

'It is also manifest that he had to deal with operators of motor vehicles a class of persons-- who in order to carry on efficiently their business have constantly to acquaint themselves with the State Government Gazette in which the Rules framed under the Act, the Schemes, notices and the directions which the Government issue for acquiring control over road transport are published as required by the Motor Vehicles Act................It appears that the Legal Remembrancer was of the opinion that those who had not been personally served with individual notices sent by registered post had still notice that the proceedings was to commence on June 26, 1961. The inference raised by the Legal Remembrancer cannot be said to be based on no evidence. The High Court has also held that the Legal Remembrancer was satisfied about service of the notice on the objectors in accordance with law and that in proceeding to hear the objection the Legal Remembrancer acted according to law...... ...... If the objectors were duly served and they failed to appear to press their objections before the Legal Remembrancer, they cannot seek to challenge the scheme after it is duly published and which by the statute is declared final.'

6. It may also be pointed out here that not only a scheme of nationalisation and notices in connection therewith are published in the official Gazette but the applications for grant or renewal of a non-temporary stage carriage permits are also published in the official Gazette under the provisions of Section 57 (3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, read with Rule 81 (b) of the Rajasthan Motor Vehicles Rules, 1951 and such publication, along with pasting of copies thereof on the notice board of the office of the Regional Transport Authority concerned, are considered as sufficient compliance with the provisions relating to the giving of notice of the dates by which representation in connection with such applications for grant or renewal of non-temporary stage carriage permits may be submitted and ofthe dates which may be fixed for the consideration of such applications by the concerned Regional Transport Authority. Thus it is apparent that a person providing transport facilities by plying a stage carriage vehicle is expected to keep himself fully conversant with the State Gazette, in order to carry on his business in that particular area or on route on which he is plying his vehicle. I am, therefore, not impressed with the submission of the learned counsel for the petitioners that the petitioners or any one of them had no notice of the publication of the proposed draft scheme of nationalisation or that they were unable to file objections in respect thereof for any such reason. In so far as the hearing of objections is concerned, Sub-rule (4) of Rule 6 of the Rules precluded the petitioners from taking part at the hearing before the State Government in respect of objections under Section 68-D (2) of the Act, because they did not prefer any objections in accordance with the Rules in respect of the proposed draft scheme and as such the petitioners cannot now complain that they were not given any opportunity of hearing by the State Government in respect of the draft scheme of nationalisation relating to the notified route.

7. Learned counsel for the petitioners sought to challenge the validity of the approved scheme of nationalisation in these proceedings before this Court. However, it may be observed that the petitioners having failed to prefer objections in respect of the draft scheme of nationalisation, they were rightly precluded from being afforded an opportunity of hearing by the Joint Legal Remembrancer, in view of the provisions of Sub-rule (4) of Rule 6 of the Rules and for the very same reason, the petitioners on account of their failure to file objections to the draft scheme of nationalisation at the relevant time, are further precluded from raising any objections about the validity of the approved Scheme before this Court in the present writ petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution of India In Dharm Chand v. State of Rajasthan, 1974 WLN (UC) 82 Hon'ble Joshi, J. took the same view and observed that in case a party having a right to file objections failed to avail of the said opportunity, it was not open to him subsequently to contest the scheme of nationalisation under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. I am in respectful agreement with the aforesaid observations. A similar view was also taken by a Division Bench of this Court in Sharma Roadways v. Sohanlal Soni, 1965 Raj LW 340 wherein a person providing road transport facilities, who could have raised objections or made representations under Sub-section (4) of Section 57 of the Act in connection with an application for the grant of a non-temporary stage carriage permit, published under Section 57 (3) of the Act, failed to make the necessary objections. The Division Bench made the following observations:

'We agree with the learned single Judge that Section 57 (4) makes it obligatory on the part of the person who wants to contest the application for permit, to make a representation in writing before the appointed date and furnish a copy thereof to the applicant, and if he fails to do so, his representation would not be considered by the Regional Transport Authority. This Sub-section (4) provided a specific remedy to the petitioner and if he failed to avail of it, he was not entitled to file any writ application.'

In my view the principle of the aforesaid case would govern the cases of the petitioners as well, inasmuch as the petitioners also did not file objections in respect of the draft scheme of nationalisation and having failed to do so, they were rightly precluded from raising any objection before the State Government at the time of hearing under Section 68-D (2) of the Act and as the petitioners failed to avail of the statutory remedy available to them in respect of the draft scheme of nationalisation, they are also not entitled to maintain any writ petition in this Court challenging the validity of the approved scheme of nationalisation, relating to the notified route.

8. The second submission made by the learned counsel for the petitioners is that the Asind--Deogarh route via Bhim and Tal Lasani on which the petitioners plied their vehicles, overlapped the notified route only for a short distance of 5 miles from Bhim to 'Mod', the point of bifurcation of the road leading to Tal Lasani and that the draft scheme of nationalisation proposed the curtailment of the route of the permits of the petitioners in so far as the said route overlapped the notified route, namely from Bhim to 'Mod', Learned counsel argued that even if the petitioners did not prefer any objections then also the Joint Legal Remembrancer could only approve the draft scheme as proposed, in so far as it affected the rights and interests of the petitioners and the Regional Transport Authority also, in pursuance of the final scheme of nationalization, was authorised to curtail the route of their permits only to the extent it was proposed to be done in the draft scheme, but the R.T.A. was not authorised to curtail the route of the permits of the petitioners from Deograh to Bhim, a distance of about 35 kilometres, while the route of the petitioners' permits overlapped the notified route for a distance of only five miles i.e. 8 kilometres from Bhim to 'Mod'. A perusal of the order of the Joint Legal Remembrancer approving the proposed draft scheme of nationalisation, for and on behalf of the State Government, shows that he only intended to approve the draft scheme in so far as it affected the rights of the petitioners of plying their vehicles over a portion of the notified route and the route of the petitioners' permits was to be curtailed only in so far as it overlapped the Bhim to 'Mod' portion of the notified route. The final scheme of nationalisation, which was subsequently published on February 16, 1974 after the order of Joint Legal Remembrancer was passed on February 15, 1974 also intended to affect the plying of the vehicles of the petitioners, in so far as the route of their permits overlapped a portion of the notified route. Thus the petitioners can have no grievance in this respect with regard to the order of the Joint Legal Remembrancer approving the draft scheme as well as in respect of the approved scheme of nationalisation relating to the notified route. However, it appears that while proceeding to implement the approved scheme of nationalisation, the Regional Transport Authority, Udaipur, instead of directing the curtailment of the route of the permits of the petitioners to the extent the same overlapped the notified route, erroneously ordered that Deogarh to Bhim portion of the route of the petitioners' permits would be curtailed. The aforesaid order of the Regional Transport Authority, Udaipur is not in consonance with the approved scheme of nationalisation, as published in the Rajasthan Gazette, Mr. Munshi, appearing for the Corporation was not unable to support the order of the R.T.A. directing the curtailment of the route of the petitioners' permits from Deogarh to Bhim. Mr. Munshi submitted that the Regional Transport Authority, Udaipur probably could not properly construe the order passed by the Joint Legal Remembrancer while approving the draft scheme of nationalisation. Mr. Calla, learned Deputy Government Advocate, was also unable to support the curtailment of the route of the petitioners' permits from Deogarh to Bhim, in pursuance of the aforesaid approved scheme of nationalisation. It appears that the Joint Legal Remembrancer, while approving the draft scheme of nationalisation relating to Udaipur-Beawar route, only directed that Asind-Deograrh route would be curtailed in so far as it overlapped the Deograrh--Bhim portion of the notified route. The Regional Transport Authority, Udaipur misconstrued the aforesaid order and committed an obvious error in directing that the route of the permits of the petitioners would be curtailed from Deogarh to Bhim, which is clearly in derogation of the order passed by the Joint Legal Remembrancer as well as the provisions of the approved scheme of nationalisation relating to the notified route. The route of the petitioners' permits was only intended to be curtailed from Bhim to 'Mod', in so far as the same overlapped the notified route. It is common ground between the parties that from the point of bifurcation called as 'Mod', the petitioners' buses did not traverse the same highway which was traversed by the vehicles plying on the notified route and therefore the route of the petitioners' permits could only be curtailed from the point called 'Mod' to Bhim. The order passed by the Regional Transport Authority, Udaipur and the notices issued to the petitioners on August 3, 1974 in pursuance thereof by the Secretary of the aforesaid Authority suffer from apparent error to the above extent. It is also not disputed that the illegal part of the order of the Regional Transport Authority, Udaipur is sever able from the remaining part thereof, which still stands valid being in accordance with the approved scheme of nationalisation. It is, therefore, necessary to set aside that part of the order of the Regional Transport Authority, Udaipur and the notices issued by the Secretary of that Authority in pursuance thereof, in so far as they relate to the unlawful curtailment of the route of the petitioners' permits from Deograrh to 'Mod'.

9. The result of the foregoing discussion is that all the three writ petitions are partly allowed to the extent that the resolution of the Regional Transport Authority, Udaipur and the notices issued in pursuance thereof by the Secretary of the aforesaid Authority to the petitioners dated August 3, 1974 curtailing the route of their permits namely Deogarh-Asind via Bhim and Tal Lasani route, from 'Mod' (the point of bifurcation of the road for going to Tal Lasani) to Deograrh is set aside. It is, however, made clear that the curtailment of the route of the permits of the petitioners from Bhim to the point 'Mod', referred to above, is valid and shall also remain effective. In the circumstances, the parties are left to bear their own costs.


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