1. Appellant Malik Ram Kalra was an, existing operator on the Jhunjhunu Delhi (via Pilani) inter-State route when a scheme of the State Transport undertaking for providing road transport service from Jaipur to Pilani, hereinafter referred to as the Scheme, was approved. He felt aggrieved because his route was overlapped by the Jaipur-Pilani route from Jhunjhunu to Pilani and the Scheme was of complete exclusion of all other persons. He filed his objections before the Joint Legal Remembrancer, but without success. He then filed a writ petition in this Court, but it was dismissed by a judgment of a learned Single Judge dated August 22, 1974. He has therefore filed the present special appeal on a number of grounds. The learned counsel for theappellant has however urged five points for our consideration and we shall examine them one by one.
2. It has been argued by Mr. Vyas appearing on behalf of the appellant that the Scheme was illegal inasmuch as it was published without the prior approval of the Administrator of Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation and contravened Section 68-C of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, hereinafter referred to as the Act. It has been urged that a perusal of annexures P/7 and P/8 shows that the Administrator did not, at any rate, form any opinion about the preparation of the scheme. We find that the learned Single Judge, before whom the point was raised for consideration in the first instance, has examined it, and has given his reasons for taking the view that it was not tenable. We are in agreement with the view taken by the learned Single Judge. It may be mentioned that we have, as a matter of abundant caution, gone through the original file in the presence of the learned counsel for the appellant, and have found, on an examination of paragraphs 28, 29, 30 and 33 of the notes that the Administrator gave his approval to the scheme, along with some other schemes, on September 25, 1972. We have no doubt, therefore, that the view taken by the learned Single Judge is correct and does not call for any interference.
3. It has next been argued that the scheme is illegal as it does not fulfil that requirement of Section 68-C of the Act which provides that the proposed road transport service shall be a properly co-ordinated road transport service'. It has been argued that while the scheme provides for road transport service from Jaipur to Pilani, it has the effect of disintegrating the existing services on the route by providing for their complete exclusion and cannot be said to be a co-ordinated' road transport service within the meaning of Section 68-C. Reference in this connection has been made to Automobile Transport Rajputana Private Ltd., Ajmer v. Transport Appellate Tribunal 1966 Raj LW 409 - (AIR 1967 Raj 114).
4. The question whether the proposed transport service was a properly co-ordinated road transport service or not was obviously a question of fact, and we cannot be expected to go into it when the Joint! Legal Remembrancer, who examined the scheme has expressed the view that it did not suffer from the defect of lack of co-ordination. The learned Single Judge bas also taken a similar view. We asked the learned counsel for the appellant to point out to us any instance of lack of co-ordination but he could not do so, All that he could argue was that as some of the existing overlapping services would be discontinued, that was likely to cause inconvenience to the travelling public. We are unable to think, however, that if a scheme provides for complete exclusion of other road transport services, it should be presumed that it would, as a matter of course, sufferfrom lack of co-ordination within the meaning of Section 68-C of the Act. Reference in this; connection may be made to A. VisKwanath Rao v. State of Mysore AIR 1968 Mys 104 which supports the view we have taken. Reference may also be made to C. P. C, Motor Service, Mysore v. State of Mysore AIR 1966 SC 1661 and to M. S. Sadananda v. State of Mysore, AIR 1969 Mys 319 in which that judgment has been followed. We have gone through Automobile Transport Rajputana Private Ltd. v. Transport Appellate Tribunal on which reliance has been placed by the learned counsel for the appellant, but that was quite a different case and has no bearing on the point under consideration.
5. Then it has been argued that what has been nationalised under the scheme is road transport service on the Jaipur-Pilani route, to the total exclusion of other operators, but that does not mean that the surface of the road has also been nationalised and there is nothing to prevent the petitioner and other private operators from plying their vehicles on that portion of the surface which overlaps the notified route. The argument is however of no consequence for it is not disputed before us that the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation has been given the exclusive right to run its vehicles on the Jaipur-Pilani route, or any two places on that route, so that the overlapping routes would transgress the provisions of the scheme and will have to be discontinued as required by Section 68-C. The provisions of that section have been interpreted by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Mysore State Road Transport Corporation v. Mysore State Transport Appellate Tribunal AIR 1974 SC ) 940 and it has been held that where a State Transport undertaking has been granted the exclusive right to run on a certain route, a private operator cannot be granted permit on that route if his route overlaps even a very small portion of the notified route. So when any overlapping of the notified route would transgress the provisions of the scheme, there is no justification for the argument that the learned Single Judge committed an error in taking the view that the appellant was not entitled to ply his vehicle on any part of the notified route. In fact, as has been observed by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Nilkanth Prasad v. State of Bihar AIR 1962 SC 1135, when once a route has been notified, the duty of the Regional Transport Authority is merely 'mechanical' and it has to adapt its orders to conform them to the notified scheme. There is therefore nothing wrong with the view that private operators like the appellant were disentitled to run over any portion of the notified route because the portions over which the private operators] were providing road transport services were portions of the routes from which they stood excluded by virtue of Section 68-F (2) (c) (Hi) of tbe Act.
6. It has also been argued that the Joint Legal Remembrancer was obsessed bya desire to provide complete monopoly of passenger transport service to the Corporation, which was extraneous to the considerations provided by Section 68-C of the Act and that the Scheme is illegal for that reason. We have gone through the relevant portion of the Joint Legal Remembrancer's order Annexure /P/11 and we find that there is no justification for the argument that he has upheld the scheme in order to secure a complete monopoly of the passenger transport service to the Corporation. On the other hand, we find that he has taken into consideration the requirement of Section 68C of the Act that the scheme should provide an efficient, adequate, economical and properly co-ordinated road transport service in the area, and has shown how each of these conditions has been fulfilled by the scheme. He has no doubt used the word 'Monopoly', but that is by way of stating the effect of the scheme, and it cannot be said that he has disregarded the requirement of Section 68-C. As has been held in Ajantha Transports (P) Ltd. Coimbatore v. T. V. K. Transports, Pulampatti AIR 1975 SC 123, on which reliance has been placed by the learned counsel for the appellant, the dominant object in such cases should be the interest of the public generally, and we find that the Joint Legal Remembrancer has borne it in mind while examining the scheme with due regard to the requirement of Section 68-C.
7. It has lastly been argued that as the appellant was an existing operator on the Jhunjhunu-Delhi inter-State route, the powers conferred on the State Government under Chapter IV-A of the Act were, by virtue of Section 68-1 of the Act, exercisable only by the Central Government and not by the State Government, and that, in the absence of any order of the Central Government, the appellant was entitled to operate on the Jhunjhnu-Delhi inter State route. It has been urged that the decisions in Nilkanth Prasad v. State of Bihar (AIR 1962 SC 1135), S. Abdul Khader Saheb v. Mysore Revenue Appellate Tribunal, AIR 1973 SC 534 and Khazan Singh v. State of U. P., AIR 1974 SC 669, on which reliance has been placed by the learned Single Judge, have no bearing on the controversy as they were rendered before the insertion of Section 68-J of the amending Act of 1969,
8. In order to appreciate the argument of the learned counsel, we have gone through the provisions of Section 68-C with due regard to the provisions of Sections 68-D and 68-J of the Act. Section 68-C provides for the preparation and publication of a scheme of road transport service, and it does not exclude the preparation of a scheme for an inter-State route. On reading the provisions of that Section with Section 68-D, it becomes quite clear that if the scheme relates to an intra-State route, it is the State Government which has the power to approve or modify it, and that, by virtue of the proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 68-D, thescheme has to be published in the Official Gazette with the previous approval o the Central Government only it it relates to an inter-State route. The term 'route' has been defined in clause (28-A) of Section 2 of the Act to mean 'a line of travel which specifies the highway which may be traversed by a motor vehicle between one terminus and another', so that if both the termini of a route are in one State, it cannot be said to be an inter-State rout(c) at all so as to require the approval of the Central Government. There is a clear pronouncement of their Lordship of the Supreme Court to this effect in B. H. Aswathanarayana Singh v. State of Mysore, AIR 1965 SC 1848 as follows: -
'An inter-State route is one in which one of the termini is in one State and the other in another State. In the present case both the termini are in one State. So it does not deal with inter-State routes at all. It is urged that part of the scheme covers roads which continue beyond the State and connect various points in the State of Mysore with other States. Even if that is so that does not make the scheme one connected with inter-State routes, for a road is different from a route. For example, the Grand Trunk Road runs from Calcutta to Amritsar and passes through many States. But any portion of it within a State or even within a District or a subdivi' sion can be a route for purposes of stage carriages or goods vehicles. That would not make such a route a part of an inter-Stata route even though it lies on a road which runs through many States. The criterion is to see whether the two termini of the route are in the same State or not. If they are in the same State, the route, is not an inter-State route and the proviso to Section 68-D (3) would not be applicable,'
Reference may also be made to the decision of their Lordships in S. Abdul Khader Saheb V- Mysore Revenue Appellate Tribunal, (AIR 1973 SC 534) where it has been held that government can nationalise an intra-State route even though a portion of it overlaps in inter-State route because that does not make the scheme as one connected with an inter State route. If we may say so with respect, the decision of their Lordships has a direct bearing on the present controversy.
9. We have gone through the provisions of Section 68-J of the Act which has been inserted by an amending Act of 1969. It provides that the powers conferred on the State Government under Chapter IV-A shall, in relation to a corporation or company owned or controlled by the Central Government or by the Central Government and the State Government 'be exercisable only by the Central Government in relation to an inter-State route or area'. The section thus deals with an inter-State route or area, and appears to have been inserted as a matter of administrative convenience. It does not, at any rate, provide that a scheme for an infra-State route or area must be approved by the Central Gov-eminent merely because it overlaps a portion of an inter-State route or area. So if an intra State route is proposed to be operated by a road transport undertaking, it is permissible for that undertaking to prepare a scheme under Section 68-C even' it it involves the exclusion of other operators like the appellant operating on a portion of that route under a permit for an inter-State route. The provisions of Section 68-J therefore have no bearing on tbe present controversy for they only provide that the duties of the State Government in regard to a scheme which relates to an inter-State route or area shall be exercisable by the Central Government and not by the State Government. A similar view has been taken in two Bench decisions of this Court in Sitaram v. State of Rajasthan 1975 WLN 917 and M/s. Cram Transport and S. Kripal Singh v. The State, Civil Special Appeals Nos. 168 and 197 of 1973 decided on 14-12-1973 (Raj). The latter judgment relates to the route which is the subject matter of the controversy before us.
10. There is thus no force in the arguments which have been advanced by the learned counsel for the appellant, and we have no hesitation in dismissing the appeal with costs.